I have a large set of ideas / criticisms regarding pet builds as they stand, and instead of dumping entire-page posts of ideas directed toward the devs, I’m going to break them up into separate threads. As I expand upon each major point, I’ll link all the threads together so that everything has some consistency; here are the threads I have in mind to spark some ideas:
- Investing Skillpoints in Mastery Pets is useless (this thread)
- The combination of constant death pools and hordes of charging enemies (and their never-ending swarms of adds) constantly dumpsters pet builds’ DPS as the player has no way to navigate toward fighting the one enemy in the pack they have to beat (healers, add-spawners, pool-droppers, those types) and each pet is too swarmed by enemy mobs that they can’t coordinate to beat down a path.
- The complete lack of itemization that grants both pet bonuses and skill bonuses for masteries that pet builds would love to use (skills like Temper, Steel Resolve, Storm Spirit, Blood Pact, Aura of Conviction)
- The focus of having to combine pet offense, pet defenses (Health and Resistances) and having to invest heavily in pet buff skills make pet builds utterly unviable compared to tanks that just need to invest 26/16 in their main attack skill, which allows the player to use the rest of the gearing to invest in primary/secondary resistances, Damage mitigation / healing / absorption, and 5,000 DA.
- The fact that multiple builds using the same Soldier set (Warborn & Justicar are the big offenders) can easily troll 170 with no buffs and no banner, and yet when a pet skill exists that allows them to clear 150, they get nerfed (primarily talking about the Primal Instinct nerf and ruining Raise the Dead by making it player-scaled). Not even that, but most well-designed melee/ranged builds have the same clear times if not better than pet builds with none of the downsides - compare Dual Pistol Purifier with Pet Conjurer that uses hilariously OP potion and still only gets 3s better kill time.
Anyway, onto the thread itself:
Why is investing skillpoints in Mastery Pets Useless?
Short answer is: There’s no point in investing in one pet when you can invest in pet buffs (and by that I mean both skills that specifically benefit pets like Manipulation as well as party-wide buffs like Blood of Dreeg) that benefit 10 pets and provide 10X the reward. Raise Skeletons gets around this by having a separate skill that adds multiple pets, so a Necro investing into 3 skeletons easily turns into 9 skeletons as the player levels up. Summon Briarthorn and Summon Hellhound have none of this, meaning they are only useful for their buffs (and that’s only if they don’t die too quickly, something that’s easily a problem when you fight bosses that pile death pool onto death pool).
There are numerous item modifiers that grant additional bonuses to single pet skills such as the Conduit of ___ Whisper’s Conversion, Bloodsworn Codex’ “Increase total damage by X%,” and the Overseer Medal’s “Increase Crit Damage by X%.” Not only do many pet builds stack enough Crit damage that these types of modifiers don’t have the same effect, but pet skills are the only skills where adding these modifiers are actively worthless, at least compared to skills such as Forcewave that vastly benefit from conversions and additional damage.
Now let’s view the Summon Hellhound skill, as it’s the biggest offender:
Summon Hellhound at 1/16: 15858 Health, 5 Physical Damage, 4 Fire Damage
Summon Hellhound at 26/16: 35861 Health, 145 Physical Damage, 127 Fire Damage
Ignoring the fact that a single Primal Instinct Swarmling does more damage than a 26/16 Hellhound (and that’s a pretty egregious point to ignore), the Health bonus is essentially meaningless as there’s no way to obtain the resistance overcaps necessary to deal with the endless stream of resistance-reducing death pools without neutering your pet build’s offense.
If we were to focus on the fire damage, the Hellhound gains 123 Fire damage and 165% bonus damage going from 1 point to 26 points. Why would anyone want to take the gear necessary to get the skill bonuses necessary when one can invest in Storm Spirit and Hellfire and obtain bonuses not just for that one pet, but every pet alongside it?
The other reason one could feasibly place skill points into one pet is to attach a devotion ability to it that provides serviceable AoE to complement pet builds’ single-target nature. It’s no surprise that Flame Torrent is one of the best devotion abilities in the game, and it all stems from its short cooldown and 35% Weapon Damage component. What other devotions can pet builds use to have a similar effect: Bull (32% Weapon Damage, Physical AoE that’s easier to convert), Dire Bear (56% Weapon Damage, also Physical Damage), and Blind Fury (70% Weapon Damage, small Pierce, mainly Bleeding). None of those devotions really stick out for a single pet to make it worth investing in skillpoints where it stands out compared to stacking more damage bonuses (and by damage I mean the gauntlet of Pet OA, Crit and flat damage).
What can we do to fix this problem?
The simple way to approach it would be to treat mastery pets like Reap Spirit, where investing skill points leads to multiple pets being summoned, something like 1 pet up till level 16, 2 pets from 16-25, and 3 pets at level 26. That way, the item modifiers become much more useful because you’re affecting more than one pet; additionally, devotions bound to pets become that much stronger, especially ones like Rend that can affect many enemies at once.
If you’re hesitant about that, there are other ways to go about it. One way is to increase its natural resistances (before gearing that affects pet resistances is included) as you invest in skill points: maybe something like 0 at level 1, 30% at level 16, and 60% at level 26. That way, you can feel secure in your pet tanking for you and not have to worry about your 26 point investment failing you every time an enemy lays down a death pool.
Another way would be for pets to have natural taunts that become more effective as you invest: having pets at level 1 means that you can easily peel agro away from them, but putting them at level 16 makes their taunts much stronger that prevents enemies from reaching you. Bosses already have a natural taunt resistance, and most areas have so many monsters that they can easily surround you and isolate every one of your pets.
You can also provide additional attacks in their cycle as you invest skill points, similar to how investing in Raise Skeletons provides you with Archers, Mages, and Revenants. Perhaps at level 16, the Briarthorn gains a temporary defensive buff that stacks with Emboldening Presence, while the Hellhound gains a temporary frenzy skill that adds fire damage and shorten cooldown timers for Ember Claw / Infernal Breath.
These are all ideas meant to have you think about how to make investing in pets worthwhile. In fact, there’s a pet that already does provide nice bonuses for investing points into it: