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Animal Companions [Feedback and suggestions]


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Well, there hasn't been any real discussion about animal companions and I think it's one of those gameplay mechanics that needs a lot of polish.

 

Lets start with what we know:

 

  • Rangers and their animal companions share their health and endurance pool.
  • Animal companions have their own stats (accuracy, damage, action speed, deflection, reflex, fortitude, will, damage threshold and damage resistance), most of them increase by 3 every level without anything other than talents influencing them (I may be wrong here)
  • Each animal companion has a unique bonus

 

Lets have a look at some gameplay scenarios

 

  • The brainless strategy: you send your animal companion into combat and you both die like flies in a matter of seconds (like using a wizard as a front liner, but even a wizard could survive longer with the right gear)
  • Conclusion: Suicide most of the time

 

  • Somewhat more strategic: The ranger starts shooting from the back line while the front liners engage the enemy. You send your animal companion in after lets say the 2nd hit trying to make it go around and target an enemy from the back to make good use of Stalker's Link or even knock down a spell caster and interrupt the spell.
  • Conclusion: A lot of micromanagement for little to no benefit.

 

  • Being cautious: The ranger and the animal companion both stay back. The ranger is shooting while the animal companion is just waiting for something to come and attack them providing some support and additional damage to finish it off quickly. Staying together may be dangerous tho. An AOE spell may hit both and Defensive Bond may help lower the damage by one category at best still taking a lot of damage due to both being hit.
  • Conclusion: Not much benefit from not sending your animal companion in and risk of taking ~1.5x damage.

 

I could come up with a lot more but the conclusion would be very similar: the animal companion seems more of a nuisance. The main issue I see is the lack of customization. All animal companions are very much the same, even the bear with its +3 DT and +15% DR. Lets have a look at the possible solutions.

 

  • Solution 1: Have the ranger and the animal companion have their separate health pool.
  • Personally I like the way it is right now and would look for some other solution, but it's a start. Of course the animal companion would still die like a fly, but at least it wouldn't take the ranger with it.

 

  • Solution 2: Lets increase this "strong spiritual connection" and let the animal companion benefit from the ranger's stats (attribute bonuses/maluses and equipment bonuses) that make sense to be shared.
  • I don't expect 100% of everything, maybe even 50% would suffice. I haven't done any calculations here.

 

  • Solution 3: 2 equipment slots for the animal companion with animal specific gear.
  • It doesn't have to be anything major and it doesn't have to be visible either. I'm sure some of you would like to see an armored wolf while others wouldn't like the idea at all. On top of that it's a lot of extra work for the devs. A good example would be the mabari war paint and collar from DA:O.

 

The TL;DR version

You can't adjust the animal companion to your play style due to lack of customization. The fixed bonuses gained per level just don't cut it and the animal companion ends up being more trouble than it is worth.

 

Feel free to discuss!

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In terms of the shared health pools, I think that, in and of itself, doesn't have much bearing on the animal companion going down too easily, etc. That's really up to other factors, and I think those should be tweaked/adjusted before trying to fix or affect such issues with drastic mechanic changes.

 

What I do think might be interesting is some sort of modal toggle with only two settings, one favoring the Ranger, the other favoring the animal. Whenever toggled, the favored would take half damage, while the other would take 1.5x damage or something. It doesn't have to be those numbers, and it doesn't have to be damage mitigation. But, you get the idea... Some kind of yin and yang type options with the Ranger and companion might spice things up a bit.

 

Of course, off the top of my head, the first problem I see with that is that giving your Ranger half incoming damage would be great for melee-oriented Rangers (or even just tactical bouts of melee combat when advantageous), but I believe that the vast majority of all animal companion capabilities are melee, as well. So, the obvious use of that with the current system would be to always toggle it in favor of your companion, while your Ranger lets fly arrows from a distance. *shrug*

 

As for customization... I think there are a lot of areas of the game, at the moment, that could use an extra dose. :) You don't need to be able to build a bear that's like a hawk or anything, but, ideally, Ranger A's bear could be pretty different from Ranger B's bear. Even if the brunt of customization just comes from a pool of talents/options common to all animal companions, and only a few things specific to each individual animal are branching in nature, that would still be better than just having every animal companion be only like 5-10% different from any other animal companion of that type.

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Well, there hasn't been any real discussion about animal companions and I think it's one of those gameplay mechanics that needs a lot of polish.

 

Lets start with what we know:

*

*

*

*

 

  • Solution 3: 2 equipment slots for the animal companion with animal specific gear.
  • It doesn't have to be anything major and it doesn't have to be visible either. I'm sure some of you would like to see an armored wolf while others wouldn't like the idea at all. On top of that it's a lot of extra work for the devs. A good example would be the mabari war paint and collar from DA:O.

 

The TL;DR version

You can't adjust the animal companion to your play style due to lack of customization. The fixed bonuses gained per level just don't cut it and the animal companion ends up being more trouble than it is worth.

 

Feel free to discuss!

 Solution 3 rings true. We're already going to have our hands full micromanaging a party of 6, so anything that can be done to ensure that the animal companion is a boon rather than a burden will go a long way towards making the ranger a rewarding class to play. Barding might be a bit much to ask, but a collar capable of supporting magical enhancements can't be all that difficult to implement.

 

As for customization, coloration and behavioral settings should be no less important to the look and feel of an animal companion than to an NPC or party member.

Edited by Tsuga C

http://cbrrescue.org/

 

Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forests and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoors experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.----Fred Bear

 

http://michigansaf.org/

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In terms of the shared health pools, I think that, in and of itself, doesn't have much bearing on the animal companion going down too easily, etc. That's really up to other factors, and I think those should be tweaked/adjusted before trying to fix or affect such issues with drastic mechanic changes.

 

Yes, tweaking may help a lot... After giving it some thought I'd increase DT like this:

From lvl 1 to 9: 9/11/13/15/17/19/21/23/25 (and +3 for the bear). I think it's balanced this way. I agree with Josh: "it's not a meat shield" and it shouldn't be sent into combat to absorb damage for your PCs, but in its current state it's way too weak to be used as a front liner.

Your ranger can easily go beyond 25 DT with proper equipment. Other stats seem pretty much fine to me (except the antelope which doesn't receive the defense bonuses, but that's a bug)

 

Talents can be considered a way of customizatio, but those are limited. If you want them all to improve your ranger you can't customize your animal companion. I also like my #3 suggestion the best. Even one equipment slot for lets say a collar would make a huge difference. Stats on the collar (with my suggested DT numbers) wouldn't even have to be just bonuses. A simple +x to something and -x to something else trade-off would also be OK. You could build it the way you want. If you want a front liner you can do it, if you want an aggressive back line caster killer you can do it.

 

As for customization, coloration and behavioral settings should be no less important to the look and feel of an animal companion than to an NPC or party member.

 

I think some simple tinting could be done without too much work. You can see wolves, bears and boars in various colors, but the others... the only thing I can think of is an albino variant, but it's a fantasy game after all and doesn't have to be that realistic.

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Another suggestion is that, perhaps, they could implement some sort of hit-and-run leap-style options, instead of purely ranged combat. Basically, your animal wouldn't just stand there and tank, and could attack from a range, but wouldn't just stand a ways back, hurling... quills? *shrug*. BUT, I don't know how leaps and the like (into melee range) would work with the engagement mechanic.

 

That's the thing with ranged animal options, though... I dunno what they'd attack with. 8P

 

But, yeah, you should really be able to make many different kinds of bear. Maybe a bear that specializes in knocking down, or one that specializes in slashing/bleeding, etc. One that's swifter and more agile, or one that's bigger/tougher and more stationary, etc.

Edited by Lephys

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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That wouldn't be a bad idea at all, although I think it's quite difficult to implement. Talking of leaps... that reminds me of the other thing that bugged me: animal companion abilities/bonuses.

 

The thing that bugs me most: wolves receive a speed bonus. Wolves (top speed roughly: 64.4 km/h (40 mph)) aren't fast at all; they are agile and stealthy. Antelopes (top speed roughly: 88.5 km/h (55 mph)) on the other hand are quite fast. I'd totally swap the antelope and wolf bonuses with each other. It would make a lot more sense.

 

Boars... Imho boars have the least appealing ability and it doesn't make much sense either. An on demand knock back/launch attack on the other hand would make it on par with the others.

 

To summarize the suggested changes:

  • Antelope: Increased speed
  • Bear: leave as it is or replace with a mauling attack (but that'd be redundant since it's yet another knockdown with added damage)
  • Boar: knock back/launch attack similar to a bull's charge, but since boars have a lower stature and a short neck they don't really need to move.
  • Lion: leave as it is
  • Stag: leave as it is, I couldn't come up with a more suitable ability even if I wanted to
  • Wolf: Increased defenses
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Maybe the wolf should just get way-easier disengagement, since it's supposed to be more agile than others. So, you could feasibly have the wolf keep changing targets without getting annihilated. *shrug*

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Well, voluntarily doing away with engagement would also wreck one of the Fighter's main advantages. I know engagement isn't perfect right now, but it needs to be fixed, not done away with. And, truth be told, if you choose to voluntarily mod something out of the game, you can't rightly complain that something else suffers for it, or that the game wasn't designed with your mod's system abolishment in mind. I mean, IF animal companions had engagement-related abilities, and you modded out engagement, you'd think the person modding out the engagement mechanic would mod in replacement abilities. *shrug*

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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  • 2 weeks later...

Maybe the wolf should just get way-easier disengagement, since it's supposed to be more agile than others. So, you could feasibly have the wolf keep changing targets without getting annihilated. *shrug*

Standard wolf tactic when engaging large prey or enemies such as moose or bears: bite from rear & fade while another wolf attacks the newly exposed rear or flank of the opponent turning to attack or defend against the original wolf. "Disengagement" is a fine description.

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http://cbrrescue.org/

 

Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forests and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoors experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.----Fred Bear

 

http://michigansaf.org/

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  • 4 months later...

I know  it is too late now (game is out in 7 days), but I think they missed the boat entirely on the Rangers companion - it ought to be a bird/bat/flying  creature that can scout and do some single damage hit.  Think Mordecai's Bloodwing in Borderlands 1.

It could do other cool  things like listen in on conversations.

 

I also wish companions could be called when needed.  I really don't want to walk around with a Lion.

 

Cheers

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