I think a more generic buff on enemies in PoTD is better than AR/PEN buff. The reason behind is that boosting enemy AR/Pen narrows our choices of classes we can pick. If the team cannot effectively reduce AR and boost Pen, it will have big issue on PoTD, thus force u to pick classes that able to do so.
Also high hp bosses favors classes that has unlimited resources (chanter/monk/cipher). So if you wanna solo the game and beat these mega bosses, u better pick a chanter or monk because one of the boss has 7600 hp on PoTD...
Of course improve AI is the best way to make the game more fun, but as we all know it is very difficult and requires a lot of work. But I do think we can find a better way to make enemies more challenging than just boost ar/pen.
For example, boosting enemy damage, attack speed and movement speed, giving random inspiration to mini bosses.
bullet sponge bosses can be problematic, but only if they are fairly common, which they aren't. you can actually bypass most of them and still beat the critical path, at least. contrast with heart of fury on IWD2 where burst damage spellcasters became very very poor because enemy health pools were so vast so the game heavily skewed towards casters who could cast Wail of the Banshee or tanky classes with huge amounts of sustain damage. chanter in particular does real well in drawn-out fights, but that's part of the chanter's strength. if the game was nothing but bullet sponges that would be a problem because then only a beckoner or something would do real well, but it's not the case.
even if you just made every enemy smarter, i think it's inevitable that the higher a difficulty, the narrow the path of "viability" in terms of what you can choose to do. Even in a completely "fair" (no artificial benefit to enemy), encounters are varied and asymmetric with your party, and the harder they are the more you have to rely on metagaming them. To wit, part of the skill of playing deadfire is knowing how to assemble a balanced, capable party, and it's pretty forgiving on lower difficulties but you can still mess up (moreso than on poe1 because subclasses and multiclasses open up avenues for more nonviability), and if PotD makes it completely unviable to make a party of i don't know 5x mage slayer barbarians, i'm fine with that.
(if the enemy AI was even slightly smart right now PotD would be brutal, because right now enemy casters/archers/gunners don't know how to focus-fire. for example, in the bridge ablaze part of BoW dlc, every single enemy archer is deathblows-powered and abuses confounding blind. if they even had the slightest inkling on how to focus fire and prioritize certain classes, they could wipe you out in a matter of seconds. instead, they attack different targets, and they have an artifical AI-script-enforced pause between successive uses of confounding blind, whereas a human could spam it nonstop. be careful what you wish for... this would thin out party viability way worse than anything currently in place or proposed)
I agree that raising AR on enemies on PotD is not the best decision that was made. I keep saying so since beta because of the reason Dunehunter posted: narrows down choices (classes, abilites, weapons - items in general).
In PoE's PotD difficulty enemies didn't get additional DR but "only" defenses (besides adding more enemies and tougher creatures, too).
Boosting enemies' damage output would be fine. Healing is very strong in Deadfire anyways - and usually PotD players know how to stack enouch healing sources so that they are nigh unkillable. Or giving enemies more abilites to play with.
frankly, the only time i actually find enemy AR relevant is on PotD with upscaling. I actually feel like the designers are doing the PEN/AR mechanic a disservice by not increasing it across the board on lower difficulties and upscaling it. increasing enemy PEN i'm a little more ambivalent about, since it basically has meant in PotD that only heavy armor will consistently provide damage reduction and the faster armors (even breastplate) basically just amount to avoiding overpen (and very occasionally spell damage interactions).
re: the last point - this is already true? At least for the damage bonus I don't think it's universal, but I remember seeing some sort of PotD-specific damage bonus added to some enemies (i believe mostly ranged). Also with the nid-late encounter rebalance that occured some patches ago, enemies do use more varied abilities (a lesson I learned when I had members of my party disintegrated in the Old City, which I don't ever recall happening before).
anyway, tl;dr: there's no "safe" way to increase difficulty and maximize viability when you have a finite number of patches and developer hours available to you to constantly retweak things. i actually find some of the suggestions to be horrendously worse ideas whan anything PoE or Deadfire has done. even something as seemingly "safe" as more across-the-board damage upgrades, people suggesting that should go play IWD2 on heart of fury mode and see how thoroughly consistently boosted enemy damage eliminates so many classes and builds from viable contention (e.g. Deadfire potd metagame could devolve into exclusively high-deflection builds, which is basically the IWD2 heart of fury metagame).
Edited by thelee, 07 January 2019 - 09:02 AM.