Emilia's feedback and testing summary

As per the title, the following is Emilia’s feedback and testing summary. I am only posting it at Emilia’s request, and am in no other way related to the following text.

Good Day,
so I’ve been testing a lot of stuff the last couple of days and now I want to give my two cents about the current state of the classes and some other mechanics. This is going to be the only reminder that everything I now talk about is purely subjective and you might not perceive it this way and I am fine with that. I am not expecting anything to change the way I want it to; actually I am sure other people have even better ideas for some fixes. Still I feel like I need to put down my thoughts:
Table of content:

  1. Classes
    1.1 Guardian
    1.2 Blademaster
    1.3 Engineer
    1.4 Marksman
    1.5 Evoker
    1.6 Summoner
  2. Other mechanics
    2.1 Cube
    2.2 Elemental attack strength modifier and defense
    2.3 Endgame content and Seasons

1.0 Classes

1.1 Guardian
Not a big fan here. But what did I expect after the shrapnel nerf that was the only viable build at that time (not that it wasn’t broken). Ever since that day the guardian got two new changes in form of Bloodletter and updated shield skills. Bloodletter is indeed a nice addition because it works favourably without crit. For some reason, the dot that supposedly lasts 2 seconds sometimes takes like 4 seconds to actually stop – some inconsistency there. I don’t like the idea of fighting mobs and waiting for a dot to finish ticking on a mob that I focus all my damage on, it just feels sluggish in general. Maybe reduce the dot to 1 second.
Shield skills are very underwhelming and a build surrounding it isn’t viable with mid game gear (stuff like TC set, Merkhaba and Bloodletter – without perfect augments or mythic heavenly gear +AA). The major issue lies within shields themselves. Their damage is just too low; looking at Merkhaba it is something like 20-60, which is nothing compared to swords and don’t forget we can’t really get that much crit damage that we would need to take advantage of the 50% cc from shield throw. I would suggest to remove the cc from shield throw and try to make it viable without crit. An possible solution:

  • remove cooldowns from all shield skills to make them spamable
  • drastically increase shield damage found on shields (200-400%)
    There isn’t really much to talk about otherwise. If there’s anything, it would be an idea I came up with a few days ago: Ever since all TC sets items have been improved (for Cabalists and Hunters), I thought about adding at least some thorns damage to the Templar set. This would improve both Templar’s AoE damage capabilities (compared to other classes) and fit the playstyle/lore. Additionally, with more base thorns damage, aura of thorns becomes valuable again. The thorns skill of Blademasters needs to be tweaked, but it should follow the general idea of helping him ST (single target) while being worse than an aura of thorns that has been buffed by 8 enemies in AoE situations. If game mechanics allow it, you could try to implement a skill that applies all your thorns damage to the target you are hitting (in addition to the damage of the sword itself) or maybe to all surrounding enemies. Also: decrease all auras in the skilltree from 10 skillpoints to 5 or 7 and rescale them. – Guardians already need +1 head and +1 shield to get anything going.

1.2 Blademaster
SoJ has been nerfed, but it is still viable and probably the best build right now. Thanks to the strength buff, the damage is probably overall the same minus the increased power cost. However, since added ele/inc damage mods now always cost willpower, you should have a big enough power pool to sustain SoJ when making use of power and hybrid pots. Even pre-nerf I don’t remember being able to spam SoJ without power pots anyways, so maybe the nerf went a little overboard.
The other semi viable build right now is crosscutter and sword typhoon. Especially crosscutter makes for a very unique playstyle that falls short due to the 2 seconds cooldown. I tried to use 2 Bloodletters and “increased swordsmanship skills usage” in an offhand/gloves/mods, but the cooldown was still something like 1.2 seconds, which felt very slow and unsatisfying to play. The damage was alright because you can skill 50% cc for these skills, but sadly neither crosscutter nor sword typhoon procs and surges, so you are back to SoJ for that (thorns help too, but not much). Sword typhoon looks cool and has a short cooldown with all that increased usage on gear, but still falls short due to bad mechanics. It is very unreliable and often misses targets that a practically right in front of you. Same goes for the piercing of crosscutter. Possible solutions for this build:

  • Remove cooldown of crosscutter
  • Increase the hitbox of the swords thrown by crosscutter and sword typhoon
  • make them be able to proc surges
    A skill that people always wanted to be viable is Whirlwind. Sadly, it is one of the worst skills right now. I would suggest turning it into a channelling skills such as evoker’s firestorm with a power point cost similar to SoJ. It should keep its mechanics, where you get 100% movement speed and hit everything around you twice per second with both swords for 50% (100% if maxed out). The range should be increased to a massive radius of like 5-6meters. It should accel in killing hordes, while being worse than SoJ in ST fights.
    Some notes: Surges are too difficult to proc in my opinion, and this gets even harder with two or more different surges. I would suggest to massively increase the bonus that surge mastery provides. Also, I think we could use a surge that provides a shield regeneration buff as an alternative for BM that want to rely on shields, but have no way of recharging them (use-items excluded). A second idea for a surge would increase the elemental attack strength. Lower the skill points required to max a single surge from 10 to 5 and rescale them. And: remove any way of monsters dealing more damage to your shields by means like shield overload. It is already not affected by armor.
    Overall: Guardians and Blademasters have decent single target damage, but lack AoE capabilities compared to some other classes and therefore have a hard time clearing a room in catacombs. Blademasters are squishy without surge of healing, because his 3k-4k shields are done in an instant and he can’t refill it. Compared to them, evokers and summoners are immortal tanks. In groups they are easily outdamaged by Marksmen and probably even Engineers in ST and even AoE situations.

1.3 Engineer
Drone: First of all, the drone is significantly squishier than options other classes have access to such as evoker’s ember or everything a summoner summons. You can semi counter that by using the melee weapon that provides 650+ armor etc., but the idea behind the drone has always been a supportive one (in my opinion). I don’t know if a drone can dish out any relevant damage (with minion damage gear), but it can surely provide decent elemental effect support. Similar to summoner’s warper, the drone has never seen a buff to its survivability iirc, so you might wanna consider it.
Bots: Do they scale with minion damage? If not - they should, but I haven’t tested it. Also, I don’t really like how mandatory haste bot feels. Why not allow Engineers to use all bots at once? Their usefulness is capped by skillpoints.
Strikes: The only way to increase the damage I know of is Ravager. In Catacombs they have a hard time killing trash, because they don’t inherent your damage buffs or shield penetration. I would suggest to buff the damage by about 50-100%, if you wanna pursue your idea of non critting strikes, which I can support. Also: they take way too long to actually do anything after being thrown. I would suggest to let them explode immediately once they bounced and have stopped moving.
Grenades: Engi only has phase grenade and I don’t know why. Add all other grenade to the skilltree and rework Hu’s Hypershot, so it provies +2-3 to all Grenades. Additionally, increase the cooldown of all grenades and make them worth using (even stop shooting for that matter). If game mechanics allow it, maybe turn all of them into some sort of cluster grenade, where they explode multiple times with a higher radius. The damage needs to be increased too, as you cannot do it with gear (maybe add an augment such as +combat damage to the table on every gear piece). They should act similar to strikes, but with a more concentrated area of effect. Damage, radius and elemental attacks strength should be scaled with grenade skill synergies in mind. Reduce the maximum skill levels of all grenades to 7.
Overall: Engi has a hard time soloing cata (compared to to other classes) and the drone dies far too quickly. However, soloing content is easier than Marksman in my opinion and Engi sure deals less damage, but it enhanced teamdamage, so it fulfils its supportive role.

1.4 Marksman
If you think Engineers have a hard time soloing content, imagine having no meatshield at all. Marksmen need to kill almost every single enemy in cata to not get randomly killed when fighting a boss etc. However, they do have the highest single target damage and the ability to throw 3 strikes at once. So basically, they are a good boss killer when being in a party with an engi (haste bot) and a tank (summoner, maybe guardian with taunts and hamper) and technically have decent AoE capabilities aswell. The gameplay is very similar to Engineers; therefore, they share the same problems I talked about.
-Strikes could hurt a little more and be quicker to get going.
-Grenades could use a rework.
Not much else to say there, I just realized that hunters are probably the fraction that has the most in common between both classes.

1.5 Evoker
This is the class you play if you want to have some fun. They have always been very dynamic and versatile but the recent buffs made them killing machines. Let me say this: they are super tanky, deal the highest AoE damage in terms of being able to clear a room in cata and they have multiple valid options for skills/builds depending on your gear. In mid-game gear (TC gear no rare augments) ember and spectral serpent can really carry when stacking some minion damage, which is quite easy to get and can be shared with a summoner. In late-game when near BiS gear, you probably go all out yourself and just spam flame shards, hellfire and maybe bone spear and tempest (I still don’t know how good tempest is compared to serpents once your gear is optimal, since serpents don’t scale with anything but minion damage and foci power, while tempest does scale). However, there are certain mechanics and skills that need to be addressed:
Spectral serpents: They usually need 2-3 seconds to start attacking at all, which is just very irritating. It feels like every head has its own RNG. Sometimes, mostly when there is just a single enemy or boss left, they can’t seem to see the enemy and do nothing, which is very frustrating. So in order to fix this skill, they just need to attack as soon as they spawn and keep doing that – all there is to it.
Spectral bolt: Has received a mechanical change, but the damage is still underwhelming to say the least. Same goes for Spectral lash. Buff spectral bolt; spectral lash could be a spectral tree alternative to the omnipresent hellfire, if the explosion triggered by spectral lash would just wipe out surrounding enemies. To be competitive, both skills needs severe damage buffs, but the mechanics are quite decent (increase explosion range on lash).
Boneshards/Skullsplitter: Still bad in terms of damage and mechanic (unreliable). Hard to make viable and I’ve got not real solution to this as both skills would need a mechanical change and severe damage boost. Maybe Skullsplitter could work similar to a reworked grenade, where it explodes like a cluster and deal many high damaging explosions in a certain, smaller area on a high cooldown.
Venomous spirit: Remove fear and add poison multiplier. Poison as a status effect is still very bad but I will talk about this one at a later stage.
Spectral curse: Increase amount of enemies hit and duration. Severely increase damage of explosion. No need for a super high radius, but the damage needs to deliver.
Overall: Probably the best class overall in terms of diversity, fun, solo and party performance, easy to gear etc. The aforementioned skills could use some tweaks and would result in a class with lots of great skillchoices and builds.

1.6 Summoner
Similar to Evokers, they are easy to get going (probably the easiest class to get mid-game gear), are masters of soloing content and are just as useful in parties. End-game gear can become very hard to get, as you would need several mythic pieces with the domination affix and a second minion damage augment. However, I’ve got some cube recipes to tackle that issue (see below). It is to no surprise that this class is in a good state, since it has received the most changes/buffs until now.
Warper: Hasn’t received any buffs out of all elementals and minions until now. The damage is and has always been fine, but nowadays it feels as I need to recast it way too often, because it was standing in some random AoE ground or was standing right next to a mob. Even with decent minion armor + health on my gear and summoning circle, it only has around 1600HP and sometimes dies in an instant. Recasting any minion takes a while so I feel like buffing its base HP and armor by 100% would be acceptable.
Dark offering: Should deal more damage and have a higher radius. This change would benefit melee summoners the most.
Bloodlink: Pretty sure the last time I used this skill it did not work as intended.
Elemental Drain: The same skill as the Evoker version. Pretty sure this skill hardly makes a difference when trying to apply elemental effects. However, I don’t think buffing the numbers would be the right choice. I would rather see it mechanically changed into a skill that either works like a curse and being able to hit multiple enemies (spectral curse as an example) or be faster in its animation. Also: I will talk about elemental attack/defense changes, so this skill might be in a good spot once the changes are in place (this skill would effectively increase elemental status effect duration).
Overall: Not much to say about summoners. They can do it all and have an easy time getting mid-game gear (end-game is harder to get so that is the tradeoff). Tons of changes in the past means not much work left.

2.0 Other mechanics

2.1 Cube
I really enjoy the recent changes to the cube and it made me realize that the cube is a key factor in endgame motivation. I am going to list some potential cube recipes that allow progress by crafting random items out of materials that you get by simply playing and some other ideas:

  • 100 nanos, 2000 of all rare components + 3x swords OR 3x shields OR 3x 1h guns(hunter) OR 3x 2h(hunter) guns OR 3x foci OR 3x 1h guns (cabalist) OR 3x 2h gun (cabalist)
    = Random mythic sword OR shield etc. with random amount of sockets (10% change to get a TC item for the respective type)

  • 100 nanos, 1000 of all rare components + 3x armor piece of the same type (e.g. 3x head piece of cabalist OR 3x head piece of hunter OR 3x chest of templar etc.)
    = Random mythic of the same type e.g. cabalist head etc. (10% change to get a TC item for the respective type)

  • 3 random mythic mods + 10 nanos
    = random mythic mod lvl 50

  • 10000 (a stack) of any non rare material
    = 1-200 nanos

  • 10000 (a stack) of rare material
    = 1-300 nanoshards

  • 100 nano + 1 expertise retrainer
    = Add a random augment to a mythic mod that only has a single affix (the mythic one)

  • 5000 nano + 3 expertise retrainer
    = add maximum amount of sockets to a weapon (should make expertise retrainer, that are always low in demand compared to others, be valuable again) the idea is that this recipe is used when getting a well rolled mythic weapon of your choice with less than maximum amount of socket. Perfect augments will still be very hard to get and 5000 nanos means, this cannot be used frequently.

2.2 Elemental attack strength modifier and defense
There is no denying that both affixes are in a weird state. Strength modifier are usually only useful when they appear as a secondary roll on a mythic mod (e.g. +11% fire damage, + 12% spectral damage, + 177 phase attack strength). Elemental defense seems to be useless right now as the numbers are way too small on gear to make a difference and enemies with heavy elemental attack pressure (e.g. talox minions) don’t really care how high your resistances are anyways. There is no doubt that SFX needs a rework.
First of all, I would rework elemental attack strength in a way, where it is always relative to your attack speed. A gun that hits 10 times per second with 100 ignite strength should have the same percentage based chance to ignite as a sword that can hit around once a second (a sword with 100 ignite). I know this is already how it works (kinda), but ever since certain weapon’s RoF has been buffed, the expected chance to apply certain effects feel random.
Elemental defense should no longer affect the chance to receive an elemental effect, but decrease the debuff time, starting at something like 5 seconds and down to 2 seconds with high def. So basically, your chance to apply an elemental effect is always the same on every enemy, but they sometimes burn for 5 seconds and sometimes for just 2 (bosses). This way elemental attacks become much more reliable and a better alternative to flat added damage. Once we know how much attack strength results in what kind of percentage based chance to apply an effect and how much we need to get incoming status effect debuffs down to a certain number, it becomes very intuitive and easy to balance (for players and monster’s stats). Monsters could always have low defense against shock and therefore have a duration of 5 seconds, because it is not as useful as ignite or phase. On the other hand, certain skills come with modifier not only increasing the chance to apply an effect but increasing the duration as well (mostly for shock and poison). Monsters should not have such multipliers.
Of course stacking elemental attack strength and defense should come naturally with diminishing returns. If 100 ignite means 10% chance to ignite 200 ignite should result in less than 20% to avoid 100% ignite rate outcomes at 1000 etc. Furthermore, once we know how long certain bosses burn taking 5% damage each second, it becomes easy math to determine, if another 20% added ele/inc damage or a chance to ignite results in better overall dps and kill speeds. To put things short: reworking the mechanics will result in an easier time balancing elemental attacks vs. pure damage and give player an idea what to expect from elemental strength mod(x) in their weapon.
Poison: The only elemental status effect that makes me worry. The idea behind this one is, to stop any healing of a mob or (boss for that matter). Sadly, most bosses that have access to some sort of healing are unaffected by poison rendering it completely useless. For bosses with inherent healing such a Dessy, it’s quite decent. Bosses that get healed by minions such as Moloch, it appears to do nothing. Even stacking poison strength and using swarm + elemental drain, actually poisoning Dessy was a different matter. Luckily the swam multi also affects the duration so it’s not super bad. Since it only really affects 2 or 3 bosses in the game, it’s still quite useless. You could improve the effect by giving it an additional mechanic such as decreased enemy armor and damage similar to phase so it works like a poor man’s version of ignite and phase combined.

2.3 Endgame content and Seasons
The current endgame isn’t bad after all the changes, but it’s still improvable.
First of all, I like to talk about shiny crystals: The idea is good enough, it’s basically a new currency to craft stuff and progress gear, but the way to acquire them is bad in my opinion. Currently you do some sort of repeatable quest that results in running for 2-3mins and oneshotting a named mob (didn’t do much of those so I might be wrong). I would appreciate it, if there were repeatable quests in parliament street, where you would visit the different areas nearby and kill bosses with decently high HP (maybe even a quest that leads to an ancient blood). These quests should have different difficulties and rewards (1-3 shines). Furthermore, you could add shiny crystals to the droptable of catacomb bosses with increasing odds (e.g. cata 1 boss 1%; cata 15 boss 15%).
Rifts: I would love to see the system of PoE integrated into hgl. We could have 10 different maptypes such as: forest, streets, cave, catacombs, river, park, arena (molochs place) etc. The enemies are randomised but the required items to create the rift could be changed in the cube with essences to spawn mainly demon or beast enemies, or add affixes such as “more rare enemies” “enemies deal more damage” etc. Upon killing x enemies in the rift a random boss spawns that is either random or matches the general map (e.g. necro mobs = necro boss). You should be awarded with palladium and experience upon completion. Every map (in terms of area of location), should come with a difficulty multiplier called “tier 1,2,3,4 or 5” that also increases itemfrequency, palla and maybe experience if possible (if not just grant a higher reward for finishing a higher tiered map). You can use items to enhance the tier of a map or just clear a rift and inside the rift you find other map-items that lead to the same tiered rifts or +1.
Seasons: Once everything is in place (content-wise), we could introduce seasons as a means to get people back to playing after a break and also use this time to introduce new content ideas or balance patches. If a skill was underwhelming the first seasons, that could be the reason to buff it and let people run wild in the next one (that’s basically how PoE does it). To complement this, we could also introduce new weapons or armors that benefit certain playstyles.

If you are reading this, you probably read all of the above and thanks for doing so. After a little hiatus from hellgate I did some testing the last couple of days and some general ideas came to mind that I tried to explain within this wall of text. This isn’t by any means a list of demands I need to see fulfilled in order to play or enjoy hellgate, but It was something I wanted to do for myself in order to sort my thoughts about hellgate’s future. If there is only one thing on this list that helped the game advance in a better direction, that would make me happy.
(I wrote this rather quickly; I didn’t really proofread it; English isn’t my native tongue)

2 Likes

I agree with a lot of it, but not so much with the mapping/Rifts.
What makes Hellgate so special is that it feels like a world, places are connected to each other.
Rifts are just portals to nowhere.
That sayed, here is an idea:

Another place is added in stonehenge or abyss. It can be named like “the chaos realms” and the story about is, that there is a new uber boss in it wich you have to defeat.
You can see in the Map that you have to run 10 areas to get to him, BUT these areas need keys “Chaos/realm/demon? keys” and these keys you have to craft like you mentioned and these change the appearance and outcome of the “chaos” realm map.
After doing all 10 you enter the last level wich is always the same and has the uber boss in it.

The 10 maps get harder so map 10 is the hardest and 1 the easiest.
You can also farm just the maps and dont do the boss, you can rush to map 10 and after completing it you run back in to map 9 and reopen map 10 to farm it, if you wish to.

So if feels still like a place wich is there, it has a purpose (the uber boss with new loot,different not better/no powercreep allowed!)

And to the daily quest for crystals:
“Dailys are the most cancerous bullshit, you failed as a game designer to put that shit in to the game,
stupid repetitiv non fun garbage should not be the standart in video games.” - David Brevik

I love his rants on twitch, but he is right so. Its just not fun.

Respect to Emilia. Person came back to game and made a big report after what happened. After being called ‘annoying’ with ingame mechanics discussion. After admin showed disrespect, ignorance and arrogance to testers who dig alot deeper than ‘heeelp, no rift in british museum’ testers. I think it suggests that there is no interest about listening and hearing players thoughts, at least as a man of equal influence into game process. Rejection of ANY criticism and relying on cards like the “server cost” and “ungrateful community” etc taught me to be just a viewer. it appears that being an admin comes with the tendency to feel superior/special etc. I have tried to discuss some moments via pm to you Bryan but the walls of text stops me - because my english is not a the level I can argue and defend my opinion. Anyway i doubt any my observations have a power.
P.S. about observations - ‘tester’ since jan 2017

@ILikaDoDaChaCha

Wtf? Take your negativity and put it elsewere, your message dont add to the topic and is just here to provoke.

I never thought I’d disagree with dear Brevik, but I do.

For one, “stupid repetitive non-fun garbage” could just as well be grinding. I’m sure there’s a certain threshold after which the fun factor is eliminated, and players just seek better ways to reduce farm times. That’s the essence of loot-based games, and that’s exactly what Hellgate’s own horrendously low drop rates for build-central Uniques entail. I don’t quite understand why sandbox grinding is not boring, while quest-led grinding is.

Second, the reason why dailies work (outside of cashgrab F2Ps that base revenue off floodgating/withholding resources) is exactly the reason why quests work; players like objectives. That’s why some players object to detouring from the storyline to farm in SH/Abyss, and that’s why people consider quests to be content; they’re objective-based tasks. Time limitations simply twist the base formula from “complete quest A>proceed to quest B” to “complete quest A every day” - and since there’s a finite number of objectives quests can have, this prolongs objectives. Which in turn also gives developers time to develop without leaving the game stagnant or exclusively stuck in suboptimal sandbox mode - I’d expect Hellgate’s own TCv4 drop rates and Rift counts to be regarded as, quite literally, identical in both function and purpose.

This is not directed at your argument, but Brevik’s - at face value, at that. I do lack the context of that quote, but I strongly disagree with its basic premise.
I could of course discuss it with you, if you wish; I’m not personally too keen on dailies, but I don’t dislike them either. I like them more than I don’t, frankly, and our current dailies were implemented because of player feedback. I’d love to hear the other side of that, so we can better grasp how different sides view them.

Agreed. She’s been very respectful in her conduct, and her views go in very decent depth. I also appreciate that she phrases much of her feedback as personal preference, not strictly objective truth. Say;

“I don’t like the idea of fighting mobs and waiting for a dot to finish ticking on a mob that I focus all my damage on, it just feels sluggish in general. Maybe reduce the dot to 1 second.”

That’s not a claim that, objectively, DoT builds are shit. There’s no loaded language that Guardians “need” a tweak/buff in DoT - just that it “feels” off, so an optional change. I’m hopeful that if someone responds with “to me it feels fine, and DoT should take time by definition” what will follow will be a discussion of subjective perceptions, not an argument over objective reality.
Or;

“I thought about adding at least some thorns damage to the Templar set. This would improve both Templar’s AoE damage capabilities (compared to other classes) and fit the playstyle/lore.”

Reasonable, and within class concepts. Thorns are quite isolated and fairly useless, so that can be safely tested without breaking anything.

That is not a personal jab at anyone. All I mean to say is that her conduct is very helpful towards having constructive discussions.

I won’t address the surrounding parts, because those are personal evaluations. I’m sure I can’t change anyone’s mind on such topics, especially given my position.

What I can say is that player feedback is absolutely our primary concern. The vast, vast majority of everything we’ve done so far has been in response to player feedback - that’s why we’ve had threads, surveys, and discussions on many topics, and that’s why I’m personally so interested in collecting feedback.
I’ve tried to outline the monumental task that is finding the middle ground, back when I had time for such endeavors. I understand how one may feel wronged or unheard - the vast majority of my own ideas were not implemented, exactly because they don’t land close to the middle. I’ve made countless internal documents and public analyses on various topics over the years, and most could not be acted on for practical reasons. See ones on the TC, TC Cabalists, CCM, and Elementals, for examples; most of the fanbase seems to detest the idea of removing CCM, so that can’t be done. Enough of the fanbase agreed with reducing Elementals that we did, but my sfx-based ideas on them were not implemented. That is by no means because I’m not heard - it’s only because not every piece of feedback can be acted upon at once, and there can’t be solutions that satisfy all sides.

Perfectly understandable. I do try to be easy to communicate with, but I understand I’m often rather extensive. I try to be brief, but working on the game for years has left me with a …particular way of thinking and approaching it.
For what it’s worth, I’ve stopped stating my own opinions for similar reasons; between having to defend them against many people at once (thus having to argue with each individual at length, when my time is now very limited) and (more rarely) being openly mocked or attacked (from direct irony to ad hominem attacks due to my status) I’ve had to. My own English doesn’t suffice for productive communication in these conditions either, it seems.

That said, I’ll only touch on this;

I can assure you that we know much, much of the community is not ungrateful. We’ve seen it in feedback and surveys, and we see it on Discord every day. That’s what keeps us going.

However, we’ve also had some extremely unpleasant interactions with a vocal minority. Our work and time have indeed been severely undervalued by those people, and their conduct has ranged from insulting to entitled. Such people have intentionally left bugs unreported, hoarded resources we handed out for personal gain at the expense of their fellow players, withheld balance information that our small team can’t realistically discover alone, and generally carried themselves very poorly in public. We can’t be eternally immune to such behavior, especially when we’ve never once asked for anything in return for all we’ve done over the years.

All I mean to say is, there are reasons for this mentality. We do know the latter group is the exception, not the rule.

1 Like

I am on the same page on some of the suggestions:

-shield skills are not good enough in many ways. I suggest orienting on the melee summoner as it is a tank that can also do enough dmg, eg having a spammable good damaging single target skill and a superior aoe skill on a relatively short cooldown. A damage shield Guardian definitly needs to make compromises but currently general skill costs are way too high on the guardian even with two +1 thingies.

-grenades need a skill point reduction and a way to scale them a bit more (just dont overdo it).

  • I also support giving the Engi the option to spec into another bot but only if he doesnt use the drone for starters -droneless build may be back then.

-Shinies are a good idea but the length of the grind to put them at use is way too high. I’d say either increase droprate or reduce recipe cost.Ont the other hand i’d also say that creating a mythic mod should cost one shiny.

I disagree though on a couple of other things:

  • I think Evokers are way too good almost to a point where they spoil the fun for others in the party. I dont think their current state can be used as a benchmark for other chars viability. The same goes for Summoners. Both chars currently heavily take advantage from their imho overtuned AOE abilites.
    All other chars are alot closer to each other.

-Crosscutter and Sword Typhoon are pretty good when used as main skills. And that is because you only use one hand and the other hand can be a buff stick.

-Whirlwind is also not as bad as its usage suggests. It got very good mobility, certain amount of aoe, okish dmg and proccs surges pretty good. If anything i would make it independant on prerequisites.

-Bloodletter is hands down the best dmg sword in the game and yes the dot can be annoying to squishy characters but thats a good trade off and can also be mitigated to an extend by stun.

-The drone is pretty good when you a have a minion dam stat on every piece and i predict it being totally op when tactical mode really does what it says. It is squishier than the ember (his hp should be point dependant as everything around him- he is currently to good as a 1 point wonder) but it can be repaired quickly which is fun imho. Minion Health and Armor should have a meaning too.

-the problem with alot of underused skills is also an effect of the gear options being narrowed down by the superiority of the Abyss gear. Where there exist affixes which help certain skills (like userate, heavenly affixes, skill points) they sit on old gear in low amounts which have a very hard time to be used over abyss gear. I’d love to see a way to augment affixes on older uniqes that are simply not available for Abyss gear in order to get them into the game again. Maybe collect 5 scrapper x-flexers, stuff them into the cube and get an additional affix that is not normally augmentable like skill points or combat damage or userate or even crit. It is a bit of a risk as op stuff can suddenly arise but we already have additional mythic affixes on additional items and super op mods.

Dont interpret to much in it, it was just a funny rant from him without deep design analysis.
It was against the chore off bad mmo dailies.
The core massage is, you can make dailies good and not good, but near always they are bad.

I will take the Crystal quest as an example here.
The difference between the loot grind in hellgate and a daily grind is that you are direct in action, hellgate grind feels meaningful you can just go and directly do it, it gives more freedome. Dailies are time based (in getting those) you cant do it whenever you wish.

What do i mean with meaningful, it feels like part of the game. The enemies have your lvl or higher, you know it can get dangerous you are always in action and when it becomes easer then only because you made up for that by getting better gear and such, it shows that you did good.
You have also more ways in endgame how to get loot and therefore more variations.

Crytsal dailies: Timed to get it, you have to first run/rush through multiple low lvl areas and then bitch slap the boss, end.
Have fun searching for the quests and doing it over and over and over again for 1-3 crystals wich you need hundreads off. (i m hopefully over-exaggerate here but you see the point)

I think the idea of Dailies was they should be like side quest, but dailys ending up being side quest wich you forgot to do in the tutorial and now after finishing the game you have to got back and do them for all eternity. (I thinks thats how hell must be like)

Another point is, if a daily is… well… daily, then you have always in mind that you have to do the daily today or you dont get your extra loot. You have no freedome here you feel like missing out on something if you dont do it. Its like having to bring out the garbage and if you dont then it will haunt you the hole day. Thats not fun.

How to fix Crystal dailies:
Dont make them Timed.
Let them feel more like endgame activities(sidequest) Or star with bringing them to endgame.
Dont let people do chore, like letting them run through useless areas before getting to the quest.

Example:
Stonehenge: There is a board maybe before every zone entrance, with bounty quest, kill this and such.
When you farming heads you can take these and now the areas you go through have more meaning because of it. It adds to the game as if it where part of it.
The quest are randome(you can only have 1or 2 at the same time) and not timed based,
you complet a quest, you get a quest. If you wish too. So you have the freedome the choice if you want to farm that now, later or never.
You can use that to fill gaps in the loot grind.

For the Dailies during story, make it a fillbar daily.
Whats that? Its a quest wich says you have to defeat x number or other stuff it is not area based.
If you fill the bar a boss apears(or so) and after that your daily is done. These things can be kinda timed based like the crystal quest but its still a bit annoying to always port to town and check.

Thats of course just an example and hope i could explain what i meant.

Thank you, that was both thorough and clear.

So it seems we agree on the dichotomy of sandbox/objective, or freedom/chore - but where we land on it depends on how we view and frame both.

Those are fair arguments. I think we agree on what is is we observe, but we view it differently; I’m inclined to believe an objective-based activity is more engaging than a sandbox one, but that seems to depend on what the player values most.
To me, quests frame progress with a figurative progress bar; there is a clear narrative structure, “do X for Y reward”, in stark contrast with grinding which is a constant dice roll. Dailies also bypass said dice roll by introducing guarantees; 100 Shinies guarantee a Mythic, when 100 sandbox grind sessions may not.
That said, I understand that the compulsory activities don’t really suit the more sandbox-minded. It is indeed less freedom by those standards, and I understand the psychological implication that they must be completed so as to not miss out. I personally like that, as it gives my daily sessions a purpose outside of dice rolls and thus gives them a figurative progress bar - but if one doesn’t, I can see why that would be a burden more than a gift. So with that in mind, I see the point of this;

But I’d still be mindful of making the areas “too” useful; Shinies as they stand already bypass the RNG rolls for Mythics, so combining that with more useful farm areas could accelerate player progress a bit too much. That said, I understand that has more to do with Shinies and less with dailies, so I’ll move to Shinies specifically with this.
“To me, the solution to that is to make Mythics useful; have unique affixes, or massively increased affix caps, or different base stats and behaviors. If so many affixes are useless, that’s an issue with the grade and affixes and builds. If a Mythic affix that just flat-out adds X sfx to all your attacks is useless and scrap-worthy, the system framing the affix is shit - it’s not that you need more dice rolls, but better dice.”
Which seems to fall well in line with the argument made by @aladinf ;

That, coupled with this (which I agree with)

seems to be a productive direction. Global already achieved this, both with the Messenger system and the Abyss boss bars. So we should take inspiration from that, and combine our innovations into a system that works without overperforming.

This all hopefully ties well with Emilia’s suggestions on the Cube and Shinies, so we’re on topic.
Which, speaking of, brings me to this;

This is the apex of my own views on balance. At the moment, I believe Cabalists vastly overperform, and thus shouldn’t be used as a benchmark.
Coupled with how all classes overperform, in my books, I believe we should redefine challenge levels through reducing player performance, not by inflating enemy numbers/multipliers further. It is preposterous, to me, that we now farm lv60 mobs; there is no deterrence factor tied to level anymore by the endgame, which I find to be a very healthy mechanic.

That’s why I often recoil at the thought of further buffs; some skills do need buffs or redesigns to make them viable or comparable, which is why I also agree with a decent amount of Emilia’s suggestions, but I feel we too often use the highest performers as a benchmark. Case in point,

I believe this is backwards; Hellfire should be nerfed down to not wipe out screens at a time, and Lash shouldn’t provide this unhealthy performance itself.
Similarly;

This I find to be equally counterproductive. Guardians should not match BMs (or others) in damage, at least not without severe compromises. The class is a tank at its core, and damage should, to me, come with a loss of defensive capabilities - tying damage to shields combines both.

That said, it could be balanced through pointsinks (which the class does do well) and perhaps shield types that come with high damage but very low defense (or even negatives, a la Misery’s Gift). That would need to be framed by higher defense dependency on shields, which I believe the class now severely lacks (ie losing the shield doesn’t really matter), but I believe it’s possible.

Of course, again, this all boils down to what one wants classes to do; ARPG folks prefer standalone, complete classes, and MMO folks prefer party-based, incomplete classes. Unless we find common ground and compromises there, we’re bound to not find solutions - if we judge classes based on different criteria, we’ll always end up with different ideal outcomes.

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I can see some ways to give Guardians more damage (and even nearly as much as Blademasters) and still being totally different.

I would focus the Guardians damage on anchor and maybe buff that skill a bit (could even help gunguards) Because Anchor defines the way a Guardian plays namely taunting, anchoring and then unleashing while enduring incoming damage which is different to how the Blademaster plays. This should would work in the aoe department with shield turn and shield throw.

Single dps is a different story as the other skills of the Guardian that boost single dps require alot of skillpoints (SOR, Hamper and Heavenly Condemnation). From what i can say having Shield Bash and SOR is kindof weird in the current state of the skills. Shield bash does measily dmg over SOR and its FX is weaker as shield turns. You’d rather drop in a shield turn for fx than using shield bash at all.

So in adittion to a slight Anchor buff i would like to see a different shield bash with a stacking (to some extend) buff (not a debuff) for the guardian in a way that for dps the guardian has something more to set up dmg bursts. EG first hit buffs Guardians dmg by 2% for 3 seconds, second hit by 5% for 3 seconds going up to a max. The more often you use it the bigger the buff gets and when done you unleash Shield Turn and phase it and Shield Throw to do a high dmg hit followed by a couple of spammable SORs.

Hamper and Shield bash have to be compared so that the buff of shield bash is stronger than the debuff of Hamper so people see a trade off.

Skill point investment should then be lowered to be able to add in Anchor, Taunt,the stamina skill and a big (needed for the taunt) Aura but should be so scarce that the guard has to decide wether to boost his own damage or go group damage with a max heavenly condemnation/Hamper setup.

In fact i would start buffing the Guardian by increasing Anchor and by lowering skill points investments across the board before changing anything skillwise. As the investment he needs is totally crazy compared to other chars.

A few notes on this, since Guardians just so happened to be the class I picked up recently. Also to clarify some points or expand on them.

I’d note that them being different is crucial, true, but them being equal should be very tricky to do. Especially considering what we view as “equal”.
The skillsets of both classes establish them as what they are role-wise, so there would need to be balance in regards to their max potential in either role; for the sake of numbers, say, 10 dps to 0 defense, or 8 to 2, or 5 to 5. If Guardians are inherently better suited for defense they should either stay lower damage-wise (say, 3 to 7) or become equal through pointsinks so massive that they disable defense down to equal grounds with BMs (say, 7 to 3?) - as you say further down.

That’s still before considering secondary assets such as taunts, where opinions will differ even more wildly, but that’s my general primary concern.

Absolutely agreed on having damage be tied to Anchor. I’d push it a step further into Hamper, since that’s one of the very few skills that makes swords appealing/mandatory for a Templar class, but that’s already the case.

I’d be inclined to note that this wasn’t the case before; with a CD of 8, Shield Turn was far less reliable than Bash. In the time it took to perform a second Turn one could spam ~8 Bashes, thus making it a clear trade; more power consumption for a higher chance at single-target sfx, or less power for AoE damage and sfx with a lower chance.
I’ll agree that Bash isn’t appealing now compared to Turn, but I believe that’s due to a buffed Turn rather than Bash itself.

I actually find the Guardian skillset to be among the best in the game in terms of building. That’s because I believe it best achieves actual builds, in that X build can do one thing and Y build can do another. One can’t just grab it all or grab all the definitively best skills available, and has to make choices and use cast/alt sets instead.

That’s not to say that it’s perfect, of course. I do believe it’s a tad too strict, but at least the game frames it properly by allowing a +2 - like the Summoners’ +3, when most other classes are limited to +1. I do find it healthy that wider/stricter skillsets are supported by more +AS slots than others, but I do see the point that that might be fixed through skill caps instead.
Then again, we can’t remove the existing +AS options, so those plus skill cap/requirement reductions (some of which we’ve already had) might just give some classes a clear leg up… or enable a grab-it-all, which I really dislike.

The problem with hamper is, that it takes you away from shieldskills. I’d love to have hamper in the build up damage rotation (heavenly conviction too and phase) but you dont simply have enough points to get it IF you want to do shieldskills. And even if you go full Sword it will be hard to max both heavenly and hamper at the same time.

I actually reskilled my guardian now and i am going deep for a full shield skill build. It is starting to become fun and i see some viability here even though it is the most complicated char i have so far.

AOE and clearance is the lesser problem even though he can fumble easily like when he gets shocked he is basically taken out of the game which is bad when he anchored and surrounded by taunted mobs.

Bosses though are not satisfying atm. It is not as bad as one think but is definitly lacking.

Mote skillpoints would help because the means to boost single dps are in the skilltree. If you want to go max dps with shields then you need to max shield throw and shield master. I am currently undecided on shield turn but i assume more points in there could be turned into dps aswell if you could reliably phase which is hard to do with a shield for starters.

The dmg on my char is currently at a point where i think with heavy optimizing via augs it could be viable (but i have to say i got a godly dissector shield) but it needs either a form of phase or a cheesy strength vorpal. There is definitly no space for any meaningfull SOR or Hamper skilling.

I am using this tree:
https://london2038.com/skill-planner/#Guardian,50,50,0,v1.00001710222076000304001000000002490

And i would like to use this tree so i could go shield/sword (hough i assume strength vorpal will allways be superior but i havent experienced the power of Hamper by now - wish there was a sword with the same strength potential as a vorpal just for the looks):

https://london2038.com/skill-planner/#Guardian,50,50,12,v1.00001710222096000304001000000002490

Using a Merkabah is currently not working as i have found a bug with shield throw and honestly being fixed on one shield is kindof bad.

I’d suggest maybe 2 rounds of tweakage. One could be a skillpoint reduction of the goto skills by 5-7 points in total. The other would be augable +1 on shields. I wouldnt do it at once. Maybe one tweak is enough.

I progressed a bit further with my shield guardian and honestly i dont think THAT much has to be buffed.
He is using this skilltree:
https://london2038.com/skill-planner/#Guardian,50,50,0,v1.00001710222094000304001000000002490

I am pretty good equipped (Face +1, Abyss set, Jugulators, 2slot Mythic Dissector shield one with lots of dmg, one global but everything needs to be auged).
As weapons aside the shield i use a phase nova when not doing bosses, a global phase grenade launcher for the flyer/orbile levels (in combi with the global shield) and for bosses a vorpal with strength mods. But i am mainly using the shield skills to kill stuff.

I assume nobody really tested shield throw because it does pretty damn good dmg. When i dps the Cata 1 Boss i get good dmg chunks and a sense of meltage (DPS peaks at 600-700 at 1000 you are good inho). I am also pretty sure that i am not slower in clearing rifts than a Blademaster. With 3-4 rounds of mass taunting the rift is clear and all goes reasonably quick aside from the odd mob that refused to being taunted and lingers around at the other side of the rift. When i do the combi, anchor, throw, turn, throw not much can survive this and the more mobs the better.

I dont say everything is good because Cata 5 Boss is awfull, Cata 2 can be tedious and bossing only works if there is no other mob around because otherwise shield throw doesnt work so well as single dps. I also am pretty squishy for a guardian and super vulnerable to shock when surrounded.

I definitly have to tweak out more dmg but there is still potential of around 100 strength. But i wouldnt currenly suggest to go overboard with buffing the guardian. The most fun buff would definitly be some more skillpoints as there are so many options skillwise but you are so locked into essentials.

But i have currently a lot of fun with the Guardian and i was surprised how good the turn and throw animations are because in Global they are absolutely awfull. Playstylewise a nice variations.

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That’s been my main takeaway so far too; the class seems to really land into limitations well. Damage builds feel less sturdy, and tank builds feel less powerful (with the exception of some guns, which I do believe are slightly overtuned). That’s what “builds” should be, in my books - get X and lose Y or vice versa, but not both. X and Y both have a distinct purpose, so either can be built around (although in the case of Guardians I’d still discuss that front at more length).

Throw is still my main build spearhead, when I’m not focusing on SoR or gunning away like not-a-Guardian. It’s definitely decent for basic PvE and even some bosses, which is why my first Guardian guide focused on tank builds and Throw builds.
That said, I didn’t really cover it again in light of recent changes because a) time, and b) it doesn’t really do anything unique in terms of function. If it were, say, a great way to apply poison (which it is) and there were encounters that demanded it over other options (of which there don’t seem to be any), it’d likely be given the time of day. But it deals damage, mostly, and most players don’t seem keen on building around it for that when there are other, less costly options for damage - it’ll be a style choice more than one based on efficiency. It’s unfortunate too, because shield skills being designed for sfx could make them wildly useful and varied based on shield types and encounters. Alas, damage>sfx.

Atm i think the only thing i need is a form of boss debuff into my build because that is the only thing where it feels a tad too low. The thing is the guardian has all the options to do exactly that but as i said the point restrictions are very hard on the guard.
There is the option to heavenly condemn to get the armor of a single mob down. I am thinking of switching to Goldies tactic if the debuff lasts long enough. But that would add to the clunkiness of gameplay.
Then you could hamper but it would also involve a weaponswitch as strength vorpal is stronger and even a phase nova would be more benefitial. I tried different phase swords but they are not reliable for phasing. The best two are marlowes and a mythic one i have (this mushroom head thingy) with 1500 phase but they still suck at phasing (too short and not reliable).
Adding phase to your shield and shield turn needs you to put more points into shield turn to get to high enough values and also competes with dmg mods.
Adding in prayer of retribuition for phasing needs points and is also not that reliable.

There are options in the tree but in the end not reachable.

But how about a redesigned shoulder piece of the old uniques with denounce and heavenly condemnation on it. Shoulder is the only slot that doesnt have anything essential for the guard and by giving it a single dps only skill it wouldnt affect his already good aoe capabilites.
Shield throw would be more fitting for the shoulder but that is gated behind the skill scroll.

Not sure how this would really boost the Guard. I have to test it with Goldies Tactic. But i think that would be a decent and limited upgrade.

Speaking of the Guns you mentioned. I assume the grenade Launcher are in question but i dont think they are too good. I tried all combinations (pure dps phase ones, combination of fire and phase, global against non global but dmg ones) and they are strong aoe wise but suck at boss dps. I use a global phase one in one set for Catas with flyers and i used to have a flame and phase one on my previous gunner. I think they are viable and good (albeit super rare in global form) obviously the best guns for the guard but wouldnt say a serious issue also dont see alot of guards running around with them. Most guards are Cata 12 tanks.

Agreed, that sounds good. Guardians have always had Uniques with specific +skills, which come with their own setbacks; Sol’s and Warrior Belt are low-level and don’t provide the Seraphs’ shields, Misery’s is a very subpar gun that also prevents sword skills, etc.
I’d make it a midgame Order piece along these lines, myself, but I agree with the idea.

My issue with those is mostly what you outlined before;

At their core, guns compete with swords for damage and with shields for sfx. Them coming with AoE and high RoF makes them great for both, while they don’t synergize with the class skillset outside of Anchor,

It’s great that they’re not ideal for bosses damage-wise, but I still find them too good for a standalone option. Where a shield needs shield skills and a sword needs (and allows) sword skills, guns just work by themselves - becoming the de facto best farming option due to consistent costless AoE, with no need for build commitment (outside of gear, which can be swapped out).

That’s Flagship’s own problem with making swords appealing when guns exist, only amplified by our gun damage buffs. I’m not sure how that might be solved, myself, but I’d be leaning towards a few broad strokes.
Skill requirements; have, say, taunting require a sword or some such - so losing a sword would mean losing this utility.
Shield value; have shields match guns, and have shields’ defense matter - so losing a sword means losing sword skills for a gun’s AoE, then losing a shield for even more AoE means losing shield skills and more survivability.
Sword value; as above, consider skill requirements - swords can never compete with guns in AoE damage, so they should excel at single-target damage (as they do) and their pointsinks should have clear benefits, including skill use which Hamper presents very well.
Skillset synergy; have guns interact with the skillset in any way beyond Anchor - Global’s +CC passives could be a blueprint there.

All of those would need very careful consideration, and I’m not even sure it’s enough of a problem to warrant all the effort. But going back and forth on those issues can only be productive, as we get to entertain each other’s perspectives.

I find it generally ok when a guard doesnt use a shield. My Gunguard was ok and he used a skill that no one uses at all to great success and that is prayer of smiting and that is because he had the points for it and it is one of the few skills that are not shield or sword related and do dmg. It was very usefull when you had the increase dmg gunguard gear. And when you farm eg Brompton you generally dont want to anchor all the time and that is where these guns lose alot again. They still work great in Brompton but every Class has their Brompton ownage setup.

When i compare my gunguard and my current shield guard i think they are on par but the shield one has still options to increase his dmg where the gunguard was maxed out.

But i hope there comes a time when the general difficulty gets increased a notch.

I allways liked the very high difficulty of Sydonai NM in Vanilla and also the thingy in Global where you had to beat the waves (which was a bit borked because it was really only possible with the striker engi and even then i only succeeded once). But i long accepted that it is not what everyone wants.

Btw I have just beaten Morax with shield skills via dps and not stun. So some form of dps is possible.
Gonna do a guide when i have two more tweaks.

I finally gotten a Goldies Tactic and with a North Star you nearly max the debuff combo to switch to quickly and at 20% heavenly condemnation is a good addition to dps.

Agree with most of text, but only one thing i want to say about

I guess Emilia dont know about new cannonade build for marksman (yea this bugged ravager round skill) which gives mm more comfortable AoE damage than strikes (you dont need to wait for strike detonate, which is too long, i still find them too useless, maybe rework can change my opinion) and you can just run forward in cata without stopping and kill any trash on your way, so gameplay now is different than engineer which still have to use magnums, strikes and etc, and with cannonades soloing content on mm much easier than before (and easier than engineer, yes)

Weak mm with low killspeed in the past (If devs not going to kill him in future ofc :p)

My Engi with minimal infernous drone Max Rapid Fire and beacon is doing just fine - no problem.
The only thing i found about the Engi that is still not viable are Nanobots. Then there is advanced tactical mode with its fire rate increase which doesnt seem to work though if it would do what it says would be pretty imba.
I just wish there was the option to have 3 bots if you opt out of the drone.

Also on my suggestion with the shoulder item for the Guardian has become obsolete when using the Goldies Tactic/Keeper combination. So maybe a shoulder with shield turn would be more usefull in general. What also could be pondered about is making shield wall a skill that is not affected by shock. Because when you play damage guardian you want to pull alot of mobs and then use turn and throw. However when you get shocked while doing that it is basically game over because you cant move and cant use any skills (apart form prayer of smiting).