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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.