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Thoughts on Balance/Difficulty Post Potd+Expert Completion

Balance Difficulty PotD Expert

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#1
LiterallyAHorse

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Difficulty:

 

 

 

I'm sure that some of these suggestions will be fairly contentious, however, I beat the game on PotD using only story NPCs, didn't use figurines/potions/scrolls/traps, had expert mode on, and found it to be more of a 'hard' mode (hard mode was much too easy) than a ridiculous, unfair challenge. I even ended up using Cheat Engine to drastically reduce my party's experience on multiple occasions. If they're too much for expert mode/PotD, maybe they could be implemented, with others, into an even higher difficulty mode for the expansion/sequel, 'Way of the Grognard'?

 

 

-Only one figurine should be capable of being used at a time (maybe even only one total per battle), not one per character. When every PC can use a figurine simultaneously and some figurines summon multiple creatures, it's equivalent to an instant win button (to a game-breakingly absurd extent in the early/mid game) that completely trivializes any fight in the game.

 

-Characters should be granted a brief period where they have an increased resistance to whatever hostile effect just ended. When currently afflicted with a hostile effect, characters should also have an increased resistance—perhaps even total immunity—to that same effect. The capability to effortlessly resolve a significant percentage of the combat in the game by simply stun-locking enemies indefinitely at a choke point using mental binding (a 2nd level spell!), and with only one cipher in the party to boot, is ridiculous.

 

-The total absence of immunities leads to numerous preposterous in-game scenarios. For example, blights (elementals) take damage from their respective elements; they shouldn't just have a total immunity, they should actually be healed by attacks featuring their respective elements. Oozes can be knocked prone. How do you knock a gelatinous mass on its back... where is its back for that matter? Spectral enemies that hover above the ground can slip on a 'slick, oil-like substance' that 'coats the ground'. Flying enemies are also vulnerable to being knocked down by an oily, ground-based attack. Enemies without eyes can be blinded... clearly wizards are some sort of inverse-Jesus. This a wide-ranging problem that contributes to the bland uniformity that defines much of the combat and is in no way limited to the handful of examples listed above.

 

-Figurines should be single use items, not one use per rest. A few more figurines could be introduced into the world to compensate for this. It would be even more interesting if some figurines summoned hostile creatures or ones that turned on the summoner once the enemies were slain. Hell, there could even be one that summoned a creature/person that gave a quest to slay the person who imprisoned them in the figurine.

 

-Enemy humanoids should use potions/scrolls/figurines and intelligent (sentient beings) ranged/spell casting enemies should ruthlessly target the player's casters/squishies, forcing the player to disable them or immediately burst them down.

 

-If PCs can have, at a minimum, two weapon sets, why can't other humanoids? If enemies were given alternative methods to attack—be it ranged or melee with extended reach—the common indoor tactic of blocking a doorway with your tank becomes a lot less OP and makes for far more interesting and dynamic encounters. The engagement tanking cluster**** that most fights occurring in the open devolve into would also be mitigated to a large extent by such a change. Of course, this is contingent upon a semi-decent AI being implemented into the game.

 

-Failing a scripted interaction's option should always have some contextual punishment, on many occasions actions were attempted and failed, yet no ill effects resulted from those failures. For example, if a character attempts to climb up to a window via vines—instead of immediately using a grappling hook—and fails, falling to the ground in the process, they should have a twisted ankle debuff (or something similar) until they rest. If a character attempts to push some rocks out of the way—instead of immediately using a hammer and chisel—but isn't strong enough, they should get a sprained back debuff or something similar.

 

-Bounty experience should be 1/5 of what it currently is... if not less. Side quests in general seem to grant too much experience. This seems to be a problem inherent in the amount of experience required to level up... the curve is much too gentle from around level 3 onward. It honestly feels like there is enough experience in this game to level two full parties.

 

-Bestiary grants too much experience, as the player is over leveled quite quickly after reaching the first major city without even doing a certain keep or exploring a certain multilevel dungeon. It really seems like the side quest exp wasn't reduced once the bestiary exp was tacked on at the end of development. At the very least, expert mode and/or PotD should reduce—if not remove—bestiary experience. Another possible solution is to offer bestiary experience only for enemy archetypes instead of every individual variant of said archetype.

 

-Chests/traps shouldn't grant experience. The reward for opening a chest is whatever is inside of it; the reward for disarming a trap is the removal of a dangerous obstacle. Reclaiming traps should be a 50% chance at the same level of mechanics and +/-10% per level above or below.

 

-The endurance regenerated after a battle should be taken from the health of that character, with the caveat that the total health couldn't go below 1hp. This would make the 2 camping supply limit on PotD actually impactful. It would also make potion/scroll use important, if not necessary, in certain sections of the game.

 

-Swapping weapons shouldn't be instant; it's too easy when you can equip a caster with a hatchet and a large shield then just immediately switch to that set when anything gets within striking distance, gaining an immediate and significant bonus to deflection. When wizards have multiple spells that buff deflection and are not instantaneous, like switching weapon-sets is, it seems like weapon switching isn't working as intended. By making weapon switching take some time it also allows a talent to be introduced, making it faster, or even instantaneous, further diversifying meaningful build options.

 

*Mild Early Game Spoilers*

Spoiler

 

-An enemy should only be capable of being charmed once per encounter and should go hostile immediately upon taking damage from the player.

 

-Enemies shouldn't immediately attack their charmed allies if they have other available targets. Currently enemies will frequently immediately target—and even chase (eliciting engagement attacks in the process!)—a charmed ally of theirs, completely ignoring what or whomever they were just fighting.

 

-Resting bonuses should only last until the next rest, not until they are replaced by another bonus. I suspect this to be a bug since it occurs sporadically.

 

-Great sword needs to be buffed as choosing the estoc is currently a no-brainer.

 

-Enemies 'leashing' leads to some very exploitative scenarios and thus should be removed.

 

-Dunryd Psion hireling is garbage: 100cp per day and -2/+2... why would anyone hire it? Brutish Warrior is +3/+2 and 50cp per day for comparison.

 

*Mild Act 2 Spoiler*

Spoiler

 

-The 'Overbearing' enchantment should have its prone duration halved... a buffed (or even unbuffed) carnage barbarian with high intelligence is currently too powerful when using weapons with it.

 

-Pale Elf's Burn and Freeze DR should be reduced to +5 from +10.


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#2
Khalid the bear

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great sword has two damage types that compensate for estocs DR reduction (you target the weaker of two damage type DR)



#3
Ohioastro

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Figurines are, first of all, completely optional to use.  I also understand that they are pretty important for solo runs, so crippling them in the name of balance is odd.  It would be nice if there was an achievement, for those so moved, for wins that didn't use them at all.


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#4
Noin

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-The total absence of immunities leads to numerous preposterous in-game scenarios. For example, blights (elementals) take damage from their respective elements; they shouldn't just have a total immunity, they should actually be healed by attacks featuring their respective elements. Oozes can be knocked prone. How do you knock a gelatinous mass on its back... where is its back for that matter? Spectral enemies that hover above the ground can slip on a 'slick, oil-like substance' that 'coats the ground'. Flying enemies are also vulnerable to being knocked down by an oily, ground-based attack. Enemies without eyes can be blinded... clearly wizards are some sort of inverse-Jesus. This a wide-ranging problem that contributes to the bland uniformity that defines much of the combat and is in no way limited to the handful of examples listed above.

 

 

This. So much.


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#5
Trimitri

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Agree with the OP 100%

I experienced the same with PotD + story NPC (1st playthrought).

Especially these two : need of a limited usage of figurine (1 or xx limited charges per item) + give immunities to encounters (Boss in the first place)

As already mentionned in so many posts in the forum, the XP of bounties/trap/bestiaryshould be decreased or removed (at least in PoTD).

 

One missing thing that didn't appear in your list : fix the pathfinding and aggro of ennemies nearby standing still for no reason.


Edited by Trimitri, 29 April 2015 - 10:21 AM.


#6
Cronstintein

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100% agreement with OP. 

 

Especially about immunities that has a thread all it's own.

 


Figurines are, first of all, completely optional to use.  I also understand that they are pretty important for solo runs, so crippling them in the name of balance is odd.  It would be nice if there was an achievement, for those so moved, for wins that didn't use them at all.

 

Um... he's just saying the player should only be able to use one figurine at a time. That wouldn't have any effect at all on solo runs (since they can already only use one).  Spamming multiple figurines at once basically creates a completely disposable meat shield that you can bomb to hell, trivializing the bigger encounters.



#7
kaiki

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-Bestiary grants too much experience, as the player is over leveled quite quickly after reaching the first major city without even doing a certain keep or exploring a certain multilevel dungeon. It really seems like the side quest exp wasn't reduced once the bestiary exp was tacked on at the end of development. At the very least, expert mode and/or PotD should reduce—if not remove—bestiary experience. Another possible solution is to offer bestiary experience only for enemy archetypes instead of every individual variant of said archetype.

 

*Mild Early Game Spoilers*

Spoiler

 

-Enemies shouldn't immediately attack their charmed allies if they have other available targets. Currently enemies will frequently immediately target—and even chase (eliciting engagement attacks in the process!)—a charmed ally of theirs, completely ignoring what or whomever they were just fighting.

 

-Great sword needs to be buffed as choosing the estoc is currently a no-brainer.

 

-Enemies 'leashing' leads to some very exploitative scenarios and thus should be removed.

 

 

(1)I like the bestiary xp as is, if only during my solo run I needed that xp to level up as I skipped a good amount of content that I couldn't complete at the level I was at.

 

(2) I disagree, as it is already for most of the encounters where there is a boss you can talk to before you begin combat I position my party and throw my big aoes down to start the fight. I regret missing out on the dialog but the positioning that happens in order to talk to the bosses is too much of a penalty.

 

(3) The AI has some problems with the engagement system. On the enemy and friendly sides that needs work, as to your main point...I would like it if it depended on the specific enemy. Just as some mobs aren't supposed to break engagement while other mobs do, it would be interesting if some mobs would never attack charmed allies and other would if under attack. I do agree that mobs shouldn't target charmed allies if they haven't been attacked.

 

(4) YES!

 

(5) YES! The "leashing" along with some other mechanics game PoE a slightly "MMO" feel that gave me a bad taste in my mouth. This is one of those mechanics that shouldn't have been included in PoE.


Edited by kaiki, 29 April 2015 - 01:56 PM.


#8
Matt516

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Great criticisms one and all.

#9
LiterallyAHorse

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Figurines are, first of all, completely optional to use.  I also understand that they are pretty important for solo runs, so crippling them in the name of balance is odd.  It would be nice if there was an achievement, for those so moved, for wins that didn't use them at all.

Shields are optional; ranged weapons are optional; even armor is optional, however, their use is accompanied by drawbacks that balance them within the game. Shields inflict a penalty to accuracy (they should also have a recovery time penalty but that's beside the point), higher DR armor increases recovery time, ranged weapons can be interrupted while reloading; they all have some mechanic associated with their use that maintains a semblance of balance. Six figurines, used simultaneously—potentially summoning 14!!! allies up to 5m(I think) away almost instantaneously—is laughably unbalanced. Especially considering they can all be very quickly buffed with increased DR, greater accuracy and a HoT supplied by one of the summoned creatures. Also, many of the summons have their own powerful skills/high innate DR. I hold no illusions that figurines won't be reduced to single-use items to be saved and used exclusively during the most challenging encounters, however, simultaneous figurine use needs to be excised. If its not removed, then, at the very least, it has to be penalized in some manner (perhaps 5 seconds of paralysis/confusion/dazed after using a figurine) so that if a player decides the whole party should use figurines at the same time there is some detrimental effect to balance out the overwhelming advantage they receive. I'd personally like to see a short debuff applied after using a figurine even if it was possible to have only one active at a time.

 

I recall at least one interview (sorry, couldn't find anything to provide a link(s)) where it was stated explicitly that the game was neither designed nor balanced around solo play. Single-use figurines certainly would hamper a solo run though, perhaps even rendering TCS impossible without major exploitation (which I strongly suspect is already the case).

 

Especially these two : need of a limited usage of figurine (1 or xx limited charges per item)

 

One missing thing that didn't appear in your list : fix the pathfinding and aggro of ennemies nearby standing still for no reason.

A limited quantity of charges per figurine is probably a more palatable solution than reducing figurines to single use items.

 

I agree, encountering lone enemies after pulling a large group was a disappointingly frequent occurrence.

 

(2) I disagree, as it is already for most of the encounters where there is a boss you can talk to before you begin combat I position my party and throw my big aoes down to start the fight. I regret missing out on the dialog but the positioning that happens in order to talk to the bosses is too much of a penalty.

 

(3).I would like it if it depended on the specific enemy. Just as some mobs aren't supposed to break engagement while other mobs do, it would be interesting if some mobs would never attack charmed allies and other would if under attack.

You're proving my point. A boss fight shouldn't be capable of being resolved using the exact same tactics employed against all the other encounters in the dungeon. It's a boss fight—the ultimate encounter of the dungeon—it should be special in some way, beyond the fact that it's a 'named' enemy, or the adds accompanying the defacto boss are tougher than all the other ones in the area. It's just poor encounter design if you can do the exact same thing to beat the boss that you've done throughout the whole dungeon, unfortunately encounter design as a whole is rather poor in this game.

 

That's a great idea, anything that increases meaningful diversity (mechanics as opposed to appearance) amongst enemies is a positive.

 

*EDIT*

great sword has two damage types that compensate for estocs DR reduction (you target the weaker of two damage type DR)

The 5DR bypass, in addition to the superior damage type (piercing), makes the estoc a better choice in almost any situation. Check the bestiary/armor types for DR and it's obvious that the compensation isn't adequate; it's a token attempt at balance, true balance would see great swords' damage increased.


Edited by LiterallyAHorse, 30 April 2015 - 06:52 PM.






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