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Weapon variety, class roles and combat efficiency

weapons class roles combat play style

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#1
Aargh

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After reading the recent update, there's something that's been gnawing on my mind.

 

Most classes seem to have a fairly obvious preference for melee or ranged combat, while others can go either way depending on preference. A Fighter seems to have a melee bias, a Ranger would likely use ranged weapons exclusively, and a Rogue could put either option to good use. So far, so good. This distinction makes sense given the combat roles of each class.

 

The thing I'm not sure about is when it comes to different weapon types in the same range category. A typical example would be a melee Fighter vs a melee Rogue. Assuming they're both interested in dealing damage, an archetypal fighter might choose to go with a big greatsword to cleave his foes in half, while a typical Rogue would be more inclined to grab a dagger in each hand for quick, precise stabs and slices at the enemy's vulnerable spots. Something similar can be imagined for ranged weapons, where you might have a choice between an arquebus (high damage but hard to reload and not accurate at long range) or a longbow (less point-blank damage, but better range and speed).

 

Does Eternity have such a distinction? Is there any reason to pick one weapon type over another, or will there be a "best choice" for every situation? For example, D&D somewhat simulates this situation by giving the Fighter a higher damage modifier when having high strength and using a two-handed weapon, while the dual-wielding Rogue won't miss that modifier since he has lower strength and would rather get extra attacks to apply his sneak attack bonus to. Note that I'm not necessarily talking about damage types (like a club doing crushing damage vs a sword doing cutting damage), but more a general sense of choosing what weapon type your character will specialise in. In some games there is a clear "best choice", where for whatever reason one weapon type is simply more efficient in any given situation. For the sake of this question, I am completely disregarding the fact that many players simply choose their weapon type for flavor reasons. While that's of course a very valid way to pick your preference, it's not really relevant to the mechanics of the game.

 

The way I see it, looking at the various games I've played in the past, there are factors that can influence what is "best" and often multiple of those can play a role at the same time. A few examples include:

  • All classes have a default preferred weapon type, which means they either can't use any other weapon types or they simply get artificial bonuses to one type that make other types less desireable. This is a very simple to understand and straight-forward system, but does tend to restrict player choice. Even if it's just a bonus or penalty to certain types, it still feels restricted and artificial because it's just some arbitrary modifier that isn't based in the rest of the game's mechanics.
  • Some weapon types simply have better options available. Like there are some awesome magical spears in the game while the best mace is kind of lame, so specialising in maces is less desireably than spears. While this makes sense, I feel that it rewards "spoilers" (how else would you know about those spears when you make your character) and penalises players for making choices that they have no way of knowing that they are bad for the endgame.
  • Weapons have different damage types. For example is the game has many enemies that resist piercing damage, this will make spears a very undesireable weapon. On the other hand this tends to be one of the most frustrating options, like when your strongest character specialises in spears and you are in an area with many enemies immune to piercing damage. Suddenly your main source of damage is useless and the game becomes much harder than it would be if you chose to specialise in axes.
  • Mechanical differences like attack speed are in my opinion one of the more interesting options. A light dagger can swing faster than a heavy axe even though it deals less damage, so you have to choose whether a character needs to hit fast or hard. However this can also quickly devolve into a simple DPS race, where an axe does 12 damage every 3 seconds while a dagger does 5 damage every 1 second, so the dagger ends up having a simple statistical advantage and there's no real reason to choose the axe.
  • In some games, all weapons are more or less equal (with minor penalties in one area roughly evening out against minor bonuses in other areas, for example damage vs accuracy) which offers the best options for character customisation (you want a Rogue with a giant mace and a Wizard dual-wielding hatchets? There's no reason not to do it!), but makes some sacrifices in terms of variety since all choices end up feeling very much the same.

 

So after all that text, my question is simply how does Eternity handle the differences between weapon types. Does it encourage a certain weapon type to be used with certain classes or play styles and if so, how?


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#2
Sabotin

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As far as I gathered weapons will have different attack speeds and damage values, with the "inferior" ones having a non-standard extra bonus (higher accuracy, longer reach, deflection bonus, etc).

 

I am almost certain that there will be extremely few if any out right immunities. If you've followed Sawyer's posts for a bit you've seen that the idea for combat is more about efficiency rather than hard counters. So while your spear guy may not be as effective against spear resistant foes it will not make him useless.

And I think weapons will be grouped differently, not swords/maces/daggers... I believe someone mentioned the Cowboy perk in F:NV, which gives a bonus to damage dealt with dynamite, lever-action firearms, hatchets, knives, and revolvers as an example of the direction they wanna go.



#3
JFSOCC

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Mechanical differences like attack speed are in my opinion one of the more interesting options. A light dagger can swing faster than a heavy axe even though it deals less damage, so you have to choose whether a character needs to hit fast or hard. However this can also quickly devolve into a simple DPS race, where an axe does 12 damage every 3 seconds while a dagger does 5 damage every 1 second, so the dagger ends up having a simple statistical advantage and there's no real reason to choose the axe.

Depends. If the first 3 damage of every hit is absorbed by armour, for instance, it's definitely better to have the heavy axe.

 

This is also assuming that you win the damage race via direct damage only. There will be, buffs and debuffs, conditions, abilties and spells.


Edited by JFSOCC, 29 January 2014 - 05:15 AM.


#4
KaeseEs

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  • Mechanical differences like attack speed are in my opinion one of the more interesting options. A light dagger can swing faster than a heavy axe even though it deals less damage, so you have to choose whether a character needs to hit fast or hard. However this can also quickly devolve into a simple DPS race, where an axe does 12 damage every 3 seconds while a dagger does 5 damage every 1 second, so the dagger ends up having a simple statistical advantage and there's no real reason to choose the axe.

 

 

In a system like PE's where DT is a dominant defensive stat (and to a lesser extent other systems where DT is a significant but not dominant stat), DPS is not the best way to compare two weapons.

 

For illustration, let's look at the even simpler case of a purely DT based defensive system found in unmodded FONV.  You might have a chaingun that does twenty damage per shot and fires ten shots per second, and a large bore lever-action rifle that does 100 damage per shot and fires 1.5 shots per second.  The DPS of the former is 200 and the DPS of the latter is 150, so it looks like the chaingun is a clear winner, and in a system where DR was the dominant stat it would be.  And against "soft" foes with a DT near zero each weapon does near its theoretical DPS and the chaingun is the mathematically better choice.  But against enemies with a DT of 15, the chaingun is putting out only 50 DPS and the levergun is doing about 128 DPS, and against enemies with a DT of 25 it's a non-competition.  So what looks at first glance like a slam-dunk is actually not so: some weapons are better at chewing through soft enemies, others excel in punching through turtles or "cracking tough nuts", so to speak.

 

On top of this, if DAM of some weapons is balanced such that it can one-shot some enemies, it may be preferable in some circumstances to use a high-DAM weapon even when its effective DPS after DT is applied is lower than that of another faster-firing weapon.

 

On top of this wrinkle, we can add weapon accuracy, making some weapons better close range choices and other weapons better long range choices.

 

On top of this, in some systems we may have variable ammo types, the ability to dip a weapon or projectile in poison to alter or augment its damage with damage of another type, etc.

 

On top of this, in PE we have a variety of different armor types to attack which resist physical attacks from different weapon types with different efficiencies (I don't recall whether this is based on having DR-ish ratings against each attack type, or whether it's a different ACish bonus to the roll that determines whether an attack is a miss/graze/hit/crit).

 

And on top of that, we of course have in PE the various defenses against different classes of attack (deflection, psyche etc).

 

So, to borrow a phrase the team has a great number of "knobs to turn" to make different weapons feel different while remaining useful.  As you said in the OP, this will certainly be a challenge to balance, but given the goals the the team has espoused (esp. Mr. Sawyer) wrt. having multiple options with distinct tradeoffs and different effectiveness while retaining viability (I think the video for update #28 goes in to this), and having plenty of content to use each different specialty spread throughout the game (I think it was in a formspring answer where Sawyer noted that "If there's a read ancient poetry skill, there had better be a bunch of ancient poetry in different places" or something to that effect), I think there are good reasons to be optimistic that the result will be satisfying.


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#5
Lephys

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Yeah, I think the main thing most games do wrong with this is to not balance the sheer content. I mean, if you wanna, for example, make armored enemies even more armored later in the game, that's fine. But, that doesn't automatically mean it's fine to just start making more and more enemies armored.

You have an offense, and a defense: extra armor piercing/higher damage, versus higher armor/DT value. That's a factor pairing. The trick is balancing that against other factor pairings,. All the system balancing in the world is meaningless if 80% of the enemies in the game favor one-or-more of the distinct "tactical" factors.

It also helps to have overlaps. A la, a high-damage weapon may not pierce armor (based on whatever criteria you use for armor penetration -- weapon type, sheer PER value, etc.), but it STILL is going to be more useful against higher DT ratings than a lower-damage weapon. So, instead of the counter to heavy armor being armor penetration, high-damage works, too. With the optimal solution being the highest damage AND penetration you can find, in conjunction. Then, maybe you've got the ability to debuff or otherwise detriment a foe's DT-rating, etc. What makes this all tactical, though, is in how it is achieved. You have tools that serve various purposes under the right circumstances.

Also, it's never just about one factor. Even when you've got the "I can pierce through 10 armor, and that guy's got an armor rating of 10," you're not golden, because you still have to effectively deal with his ability to kill you and/or prevent you from hitting him, etc.

It's kind of a dance. It's gotta have a lot of active factors in it, too. If everything's just a passive factor, it doesn't work very well, because then it's just "do some math"/rock-paper-scissors.

#6
Aargh

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Well, like I said usually multiple factors play a role. So in a system where speed and damage are the only factors, you can just do the math and get your DPS. But if other factors, like flat damage resistance, are also factored in it becomes a more complex (and thus more interesting but also harder to balance) system as a whole.



#7
J.E. Sawyer

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PoE's weapons do have efficiency tradeoffs in RoF (well Rate of Attack) and raw DAM vs. DT.  Two-handed melee weapons almost universally attack slower but have higher per-hit damage and, when opposed by moderate DT compared to their damage, are more efficient than single-handed or (especially) single-handed fast weapons.  So, let's take somewhat comparable weapons:

 

* Dagger - Fast single-handed

* Sword - Single-handed

* Greatsword - Two-handed

 

Daggers do the least damage per hit, greatswords do the most damage per hit.  However, due to attack rate, daggers do the most damage assuming armor is not an issue.  Greatswords do the least damage over time when armor is not an issue.  When armor does become an issue, that's where the per-hit damage becomes more important.  All that said, the efficiency differences should register somewhere between "noteworthy" and "significant".  The more important efficiency issue is often what damage type is being done relative to the defensive properties of the target.  E.g. if the target is wearing mail, using a crushing weapon of any type is likely to be more effective than using a slashing weapon of any type.

 

This is a difficult balancing act and I'm going to be monitoring more as we do more playtesting.  I don't want it to wind up being a soup of numbers, but if the differences can be clearly and easily communicated, I think it can make interesting choices for players.

 

On top of that stuff, and arguably more interesting overall, all weapon types have an inherent passive bonus property that comes with them.  All daggers have an Accuracy bonus.  All pikes allow you to attack from farther away.  All war hammers use the better of two damage types, pierce or crush, when opposing DT.  All morningstars have a brutal Interrupt rating.


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#8
Prometheus

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 All morningstars have a brutal Interrupt rating.

Have morning stars both two damage types and high Interrupt or have you changed the bonus from two Damage types to high Interrupt?


Edited by Prometheus, 03 February 2014 - 03:48 PM.


#9
J.E. Sawyer

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Have morning stars both two damage types and high Interrupt or have you changed the bonus from two Damage types to high Interrupt?

 

Changed it to the high Interrupt.  A number of weapons had two "best of" damage types and it felt less distinctive.


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#10
TrashMan

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PoE's weapons do have efficiency tradeoffs in RoF (well Rate of Attack) and raw DAM vs. DT.  Two-handed melee weapons almost universally attack slower but have higher per-hit damage and, when opposed by moderate DT compared to their damage, are more efficient than single-handed or (especially) single-handed fast weapons.  So, let's take somewhat comparable weapons:

 

* Dagger - Fast single-handed

* Sword - Single-handed

* Greatsword - Two-handed

 

 

Sounds good, but I do have one plea:

Dont' make all two-hadned weaposn have the same speed.

There is no way a zewihander/greatsword would be as unwieldy as a two-handed hammer or axe. These weapons were well-balanced.

 

 

Also, can weapons use more than one damage type?

In some game wepons have multiple ways of attacking listed (swing, thrust, etc..)

 

So a normal hammer would only have a swing (chrushing)

A hammer with a spike on top would have swing (chrushing) and thrust (piercing)

A greatsword would have swing (slashing) and thrust (piercing)..maybe even crushing (pomell was used in such a way)

 

Of course, one (or two) ways of delivering damage would be primary, and using others would have penalties to hit.

Sounds a bit complicated, but in reality it is simple (all things considered) and adds a lot more depth and realism to the weapons.

 

The player would set an attack mode or the AI could auto-use or change it, depending on what attack type is best for a given target.

 

 

On a more personal note, I was never concerend with balance in a singleplayer game.

In fact, such "forced" balance often rubs me the wrong way.

 

I don't care if class X is stronger than Y, given that I have a party and will have multiple classes.

I don't care if weapon X is the most powerfull in the game, because I will be using multiple weapons (party)..nad as long as weapon Y isn't redicolously inferior, it's all good.

 

I doubt many gmaers share my views tough.


Edited by TrashMan, 04 February 2014 - 04:28 AM.

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#11
Aargh

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...

Very cool, thanks for the post.

 

Is there any distinction between what classes use what weapons? Are there any obvious incentives for certain playstyles or classes to stick to certain weapon types, or is it more about what kind of defensive properties the enemy has?

 

In other words, could I end up having a Paladin dual wielding daggers and a Rogue two-handing a warhammer and be just as efficient as the other way around? Or even equip my entire party with spears because for some reason I just love spears that much?


Edited by Aargh, 04 February 2014 - 04:31 AM.

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#12
Wombat

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Now one thing has been bugging me is that the inventory limitation.  In IE context, the players don't feel the need of changing equipment often.  However, since, in PoE, there is basically no restriction on common equipment at least, it will probably make me eager to try out different equipment and change my tactics often than just rest points.  So I have to ask the designers:  Do you think the inventory, which was asked by the backers who were thinking under IE context, works well with the new format of PoE?



#13
Lephys

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Also, can weapons use more than one damage type?
In some game wepons have multiple ways of attacking listed (swing, thrust, etc..)


It seems so, though I don't think we have a full list of all of them and their damage types, yet. But...

On top of that stuff, and arguably more interesting overall, all weapon types have an inherent passive bonus property that comes with them.  All daggers have an Accuracy bonus.  All pikes allow you to attack from farther away.  All war hammers use the better of two damage types, pierce or crush, when opposing DT.  All morningstars have a brutal Interrupt rating.


Bolded the part that confirms that, at the very least, war hammers will use multiple damage types. And, since they're specifically using the "best of" as their unique, passive bonus, it seems HIGHLY likely that other weapon types will also have multiple damage types, but will not automatically passively use the "best of" one whenever they oppose DT.

Plus, this:

Have morning stars both two damage types and high Interrupt or have you changed the bonus from two Damage types to high Interrupt?

 
Changed it to the high Interrupt.  A number of weapons had two "best of" damage types and it felt less distinctive.


That "number of weapons" could've been 2, I suppose (war hammers, and, before the change, morning stars), but, again, it seems like at least one other weapon/weapon-type utilizes multiple damage types.

I certainly hope we get thrust-vs-slash-type usage options for various weapons, with various damage-type ratings for each weapon (one better at piercing damage because it's designed for thrusting but CAN be slashed, versus another that CAN thrust but is better at slashing, etc). So I'm with you there.





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