This post has been a moderately-long time coming (about two weeks) and it’s about how Albrecht’s Aether Ray needs a buff.
I don’t post in the forum much because I’m not big on private forums, but I feel the need to share these thoughts here. For those who don’t know me, I do Grim Dawn youtube videos and I’ve been running an AAR Sorcerer as one of my main builds since early access. I have an extensive playlist of videos showing the beam through its highs and lows across the history of the Arcanist.
The reason I’m linking that is to relay that I’ve been using this ability for a long time and I can tell you that right now, it may be AAR’s lowest point in its entire history, save for the very beginnings of the Arcanist. In truth, it’s never been the strongest ability and it’s always required many other abilities and gear pieces to support it. Now, I’m not asking for an AAR meta, this post is about getting the beam to a level of usability. And actually, I hope this post doesn’t come across as rampant fanboying or whining.
I’ll point out before sharing the my ideas about buffing and changing the beam, I have to list a few negative points about the ability. Not because they need changing, I think the negatives are fine, but they need to have a reason to exist and right now, the negatives outweigh pretty much anything about the ability.
1st: AAR requires you stand still and channel, which is, in general, detrimental to your health in a game like Grim Dawn unless you have a form of sustain.
2nd: The crazy energy cost the beam has in order to channel it. Which I actually like as it puts weight into Energy Regeneration as a stat, something that few other abilities do with other stats in the game. This doesn’t need changing.
3rd: There are a lot of high Aether resistance enemies in the game, which is to be expected given there are high resistance enemies for all resistances, but the Aether enemies tend to also have high hit point pools and can stun you, canceling the beam and making it difficult to deal with. Plus, they make up two factions in the game.
4th: Lastly, the beam is forward focus, single target damage, which makes it tricky to handle the waves and waves of mobs in the game. This last one is less a problem, because other abilities exist across the class combos, but bears mentioning as a negative aspect.
What’s the positive? What makes up for the negative aspects of the ability compared to other abilities that don’t carry negatives? What’s the fantasy of the ability? Looking at the ability, you’d think it was ultra high damage output, but it’s not doing that.
Therefore, in my opinion, Albrecht’s Aether Ray needs a buff.
I’ve listed two changes for Albrecht’s below with the reasons for them.
Change the First - Weapon Damage and/or Attack Damage Converted to Health
AAR should either get an item that adds weapon damage to the beam or it should get weapon damage by default. This comes after seeing Arcanum Sigilis and Mythical Spellgaze, both of which grant Panetti’s the ability to have weapon damage. This will enable the beam to lifesteal, which is crucial now for survivability across most, if not all, builds. Secondarily within this change, granting the beam some lifesteal through an item ala Mythical Spellgaze would help as well. Now, given the beam’s ability to tick damage like crazy, neither of these need to be a lot. Like 10% weapon damage, 2-3% lifesteal would be golden. A caster off-hand, weapon, or Aethereach would probably be the safest slots to put this in (like a Legendary version of the Codex of Malligosta but with these as direct lines instead of a proc, since it’s so similar to the idea, or a weapon so you don’t have to worry about balancing against Warpfire, Wrath of the Ascendant, etc., or Aethereach because, well, it’s Aethereach). (Oh, and as an aside, make it an AETHER based item. I think I’ve been pretty nice throughout this post, but the Chaos beam has support already, it has a whole set; the Aether version, the default version, needs support. There’re a million one-hand Forcewave items, but Aether AAR items?) And I’d say make the item as class combo agnostic as possible so that Sorcerers, Mage Hunters, Spellbinders, etc. can utilize it.
Reason: AAR cannot sustain right now. Even with proper resistances, relevant DA and armor, and a shitton of health regen, it just can’t hold position to channel. I’m not saying you need to be immortal while channeling, but it’s difficult to hold the ability. Compare this to your average melee build, which can dive into hordes of monsters and hold their own, all thanks to 6% or whatever life steal on top of proper defenses (and sometimes improper if we’re being honest). I have a Spellbreaker who can do just this, and although he does have a constant heal and lots of avoidance, the point I’m trying to make is this character with some sub-standard, sub-level gear can move wherever he wants, fight whatever he wants, and can do all this without worry. I’ll also note that although Albrecht’s can fight at range, keeping the range is difficult, especially with the Sorcerer because of how weak crowd control is at level 100. Some other combos can deal with this, but the issue exists regardless of build.
Change the Second - More Damblage!
The second change I’m putting forth is a buff to the damage in some way. I have three suggestions for that.
1st - Make AAR the Ability it was Always Meant to be: Give it a damage boost. A big one. LIke 25%-30%. Just make it deal damage the way you think it would. Sound crazy? Vitality Conjurers and Pierce Tacticians exist (though I know THAT build is getting nerfed). Crazy is out of the barn!
2nd - Disintegration Should Disintegrate: I don’t know if this concept is possible in the engine, but what if Disintegration had “%Max Health damage” That is, the bigger the health pool of the monster, the more damage is takes. I see this stat in other games and got to thinking how the beam would work with it. Alternatively, giving Disintegration Health Reduction damage would be interesting as well. Just make Disintegrate doing something more than “more normal damage.” I don’t think it’s weird to ask when you have modifiers like Lacerate and Blindside or Hungering Reach that make abilities work a little differently. Hell, you could even add “side beams” like the Chaos Nexus ability from Diablo 3 that shoot out and ding secondary targets. I mean, if it’s just an ability that deals damage, I’ve mentioned already, it needs more of it regardless.
3rd - Intensify forward firepower!: Again, I don’t know if the engine allows this, but what if AAR dealt more damage the longer you channel it? On Disintegration, put a line that says something like: The percentage bonuses on this ability increase by their current amount each second Albrecht’s Aether Ray is channeled, up to five seconds. Ultimately with this idea, how the implementation is done doesn’t matter, if can be implemented at all, but the idea is to give a bonus for having to sit and channel. Hell it could even be Resource Reduction that stacks with itself as the beam hits a target.
Reason: The damage scaling for AAR seems to be really off at high level. Even with Mythical gear and rerolled gear filling slots, 2600 or more OA (about 400 up from 85), the damage just doesn’t feel there. I can’t quite pin down what’s going on here, it may be that weapons have increased base damage coupled with increased percentages, but AAR just feels really weak. This shows through especially against enemies with high hit point pools; Ugdenbog Golems, the new Cthonics, Aetherial Behemoth/Titan/Colossuses, and some bosses.
I think I’ve said my peace, AAR needs a buff, I put forth some ideas. I hope I didn’t sound too dickish or whiny or fanboy-y.
Let me know what you guys and girls and whatevers think!
I also had the idea of letting the beam pierce through a 4-set bonus, but let’s just try to get it working now then all the AAR fanboys like myself and work on getting that going. In case anyone is wondering, I was thinking it’d be for Sorcerers and Spellbinders, having Arcanist be the focus, fire for the Sorcs, and aether for the SBs. Just a thought to keep in mind, I think there are some fundamentals that need addressing before requesting full-on sets should be a thing.
New ideas since posting this.
Give AAR the weapon damage by default on the ability, then for the transmuter, have it completely convert to Chaos as usual but remove the weapon damage. This way, with the Black Flame set, its tankiness would be under control and you’d have more balanced life steal.
Someone also recommended that for the transmuter, you could half the length of the beam and make it pierce, in addition to converting the aether to chaos.
There was also the idea of giving the beam a damage boost by default, then having the transmuter drop the damage increase but the beam would pierce int he chaos version.
Something from me, maybe if the weapon would come from an item, a weapon may be better, given how stacking the idea with Wrath of the Ascendant or Mindwarp or Warpfire might be too strong.
Just more ideas bubbling up from the fanbase.
This was brought up in my chat last night.
Why not give the weapon to Aethereach instead of the AAR bonuses it has? The item is ready made for the ability, why not have it be even more so ready made.
Or, you could give Aethereach its proc back at mythical level and have the proc deal weapon damage. Actually, why was that proc removed in the first place?
Another idea, remove the caster off-hand requirement so things like Elementium and Will of the Living can be used with AAR.