Balance feedback concerns for the expansion

As the level cap increases, new balance problems will doubtlessly arise. Some of these are more obvious than others, and I wanted to share my perspective on some balancing concerns that are hopefully addressed as the level cap increases and certain items are added.

  1. Non-modified skill balance

Let’s not beat around the bush, a small subset of skills are lackluster, but the new addition of skill modifiers on items might make some of these skills more viable. I’m hoping that these item modifiers will not take the place of properly addressing flaws to the base skill though, since not all players will acquire these items and some might not fit their build. In essence, I’m hoping that item modifiers will make skills more specialized rather than simply buffing them across the board. I hope that they’ll be treated like skill transmuters in this regard.

  1. skill base damage balance

Higher levels means higher monster HP, so skills which have no weapon damage component will noticeably fall behind weapon skills. Higher level weapons will have higher base damage and thus will scale comparatively better than caster skills. Accordingly, I think it would be wise to slightly boost the base damage (or scaling, especially scaling in ultimate ranks) of all caster skills, item skills, and devotion abilities that do not scale with weapon damage. This is likely a large undertaking but keeping the power level of weapon vs caster skills is important to ensure build diversity.

  1. Components

Components (especially offensive components) are underwhelming. The vast majority of components can be used at or before level 20, and only two have a level requirement over 40. Unsurprisingly, only a select few components are sought after for use in equipment, and these sought-after components usually provide resistances since the flat damage, flat OA/DA, and flat armor on other components are low in magnitude and don’t scale well into Ultimate. In essence, I hope that the expansion will add a respectable amount of high-level components that are valuable in Ultimate. Since the very first iteration of Grim Dawn available to players, components have probably changed the least compared to other items; the vast majority of components present in the game now have been in the game since the game was in alpha. It’s not uncommon for me to wear Consecrated Wrappings for 50 levels straight in most of my character since component progression is nonexistent.

  1. Monster animations and mechanics

Many recently added monsters have mechanics that are punishing or hard to decipher. For example, the Mad Queen activates a retaliation aura which has the potential to almost instantly kill even tanky melee characters. Unfortunately, this aura has no unique visual “tell” that I’ve noticed, only a very subtle audio cue which I didn’t even know existed until I browsed the forums in frustration (I’m partially hearing impaired). As another example, if I kill the bosses of Port Valbury in the wrong order, some of my characters do not have the dps required to finish off the boss before he heals himself. By contrast, I like Loghorrean, Fabius, and Iron Maiden (all of the nemeses, actually) because they are challenging but their mechanics can be understood after quick trial and error. I hope the expansion has enemies like the latter rather than the former, and I hope Crate continues to add visual tells to enemies in consideration for their hearing-impaired audience.

  1. Loot Acquisition

More loot means it will be exponentially harder to find that piece of loot that you’re looking for. Even now, after 700 hours, I have yet to complete ANY four-piece legendary set. I dread to imagine how much harder this will be when the expansion drops. I don’t know what the best solution is for this, but it’s worth considering some changes to drop or crafting mechanics to compensate for the increasingly growing pool of items.

Hopefully other players agree with some of these suggestions, and I’m confident that some iteration of these suggestions are already being implemented in the expansion. Despite the concerns and criticisms, thanks for the great game Crate; no other ARPG has occupied my time for nearly as long.

Mad Queen does have a sound cue and visual cue. They used the same sound Draghouls use when they put up that red aura while they near death. This and she puts up a red aura.

Increasing the base damage of skills no with weapon damage is kind of funny because at the moment casters builds are some of the best. Stun Jacks, BWC and DEE have either no weapon damage or very little weapon damage and they are the main skills for some of the strongest builds currently. I do agree that some of the others need to be buffed though.

Agreed on 1, 2, 3 and 5

Point 1 especially since using items to solve problems while is good as it shows how well the itemization in the game. It shouldn’t be the only solution, currently Druid class specifically Druid casters are very lacking. Personally I feel Shaman tree could get some looking into particularly the Wind Devil line.

Point 4 while I only enjoy John Bourbon, Alkamos and Shar’Zul boss fights and absolutely hate Mad Queen
I can say this that challenges like here are very much required for the end game. Also Mad Queen has a very visible animation when she gets “Mad” (Ba Dum Tss)
She gets a red aura, which can be nullified using Cleansing Waters (a skill that needs its CD reduced imo) and Nullification

She does have the red aura, but it is really hard to notice the subtle red effect when it’s combined with other spell effects; I would prefer an actual animation. And yes, the caster skill buffs would be on a case-by-case basis, but many spells and procs could use it. Now that I think of it, item-based procs will likely already be buffed on their Mythical counterparts, so that just leaves some caster skills, component skills, and devotion procs

The thing i hate about the Mad Queen is that she heals a rather large percentage of health at intervals. This, combined with the fact that sometimes you have to back off when she puts the red aura, just makes the fight drag. It basically turns her into a DPS check.

This is also similar to Van Aldritch and his merry buddies because it just drags on the fight.

The healing is fine. It’s not too bad if you have some end-game gear. She is an end game boss after all. The only problem with mad queen is her attacks are not telegraphed enough. We need to able to see her tells and get out of the way, most of the time I get hit because either my char has slightly lower move speed or I read her move a little late. These don’t kill me or anything so it’s fine. But the aura telegraph needs to more than the red aura and the sound cue (really hard to see with all the lighting from the char procs). Especially if the char is melee. They need to do a COF kind of ground sign or something when she goes hyper so you know to GTFO.

The fight being too long is not that big of a problem. IMO all of the end game bosses need to have some challenge even if the build is super OP. I think they did a pretty good job in this regard.

This is, personally, my biggest concern. Completing sets is nigh impossible if you farm solo (and don’t play for 12 hours a day) and don’t aggressively trade or heinously cheat (No judgement for those who do, but I don’t want to just pluck the items I need out of a MOD that provides it). I think legendary drop rates need to be greatly increased on Ultimate difficulty, especially since the pool of available ones is drastically increasing with the xpack.

Legendary arent a problemm, realy they do drop regulary, usualy 2-3 item per SoT/BoC run. The biggest issiue is to get right modifiers on green items. Farming for some green pants is on korean grindfest MMORPG level of retardness. Farming for green rings is beyond D2 countess runeruns, and i dont know anyone that did it manualy without bots =)

I agree with your sentiment but I think you missed my main point: completing sets is an adventure in korean grinding for me, and I just don’t “enjoy” it that much to keep doing it. Very little reward for a lot of work.

Well thankfully GD’s stat scaling is fairly linear (as opposed to the exponential scaling found in Borderlands 2, which is a big reason why that game is fucking impossible to balance properly at high levels) so high-level balancing shouldn’t be too hard to work out.

[ul][li]1 + 2. I think that the new skill modifiers on items will compensate for this. Unfortunately it means we’re going to have to rely even more on item power as the level cap raises higher and higher, but that’s just the nature of the game.[/li]
[li]3. Components definitely need higher-level versions so they’re on-par with the new (and even current) items.[/li]
[li]4. Big reason why I play on SC. There’s so much going on at once and damage immunity/reflect shields have fairly subtle activation effects, so it’s easy to kill yourself on one of those reflect fuckers in the heat of combat.[/li]
Another really annoying mechanic are unavoidable debuffs, like that bullshit green skull the troll shamans cast and the slow from skeletal deathbolt archers. Why don’t these work similarly to Kilrian’s CC projectile? Sure, there’s no warning and it can be a bitch to dodge (since you really just have to wait until he wastes it) but at least you can dodge that shit.

Better visual cues for both of these things would help a lot in making the game feel more fair and less aggravating. If I get slowed it should be a penalty for failing to avoid it (or I should be able to remove it by killing the caster), not because some schmuck just decided to cast a curse on me that lasts forever.

[li]5. Yeah, Crate definitely needs to implement SOMETHING in this regard so that we can actually complete sets. Trading helps, but it still takes an eternity and there’s a decent chance that nobody else has the piece you need if it’s too rare.[/li]
Something that Borderlands 2 did right was to make certain Legendaries drop more often from certain bosses - e.g. the Hellfire from Scorch - so if you wanted something specific you could at least improve your chances by fighting certain bosses. GD has enough bosses for this sort of feature.

It might also be worth implementing full set blueprints that can be purchased at a high cost. This way players could craft sets without the hassle of RNG if they’re unlucky.

Or as others have suggested, Legendaries should just drop like candy in Ultimate. Might as well give us a chance to get something that synergizes with the build we’re using…