Let's talk about Nullification and debuffing

Okay, so lately I have been thinking about Nullification and I would like to propose some idea(s) and share my thoughts regarding this skill (and debuffing, generally).

My main concern with it is that there is simply no counterplay to it.
While I have no problem with the mechanics itself, its current implementation is not only annoying but also leaves the player unable to protect themselves against it. This is even more of a problem in hardcore where you want to control as many aspects of the game as it is humanly possible. And since in GD characters are generally so much more dependant on toggled skills than they were for example in Titan Quest, it has a much bigger impact on the gameplay (even if you do not encounter them very often).

So I was thinking it could be modified in a way that would introduce the player’s choice(!) in this game mechanic, which is what makes aprgs and hack’n slashes addictive and fun to play (in my opinion).

I had lots of ideas (many disregarded) and what I think could make it better is to let the player choose one toggled skill of theirs which will be unaffected by Nullification, debuffing.
This way, we would be forced to choose a skill and prioritize it over others for these risky situation. Whether it is a defensive or offensive skill, it is up to the player’s CHOICE, playstyle and preferences.
I do not know in what way it would be the easiest to implement it in the game from a pure technical, developer perspective (maybe a quest reward, or as skill modifier) but this would definitely give one more layer of character optimazation, customization (albeit a small layer, I admit).

If this is not possible, my other idea was to make the Exclusive skills “immune” to debuffing. They are, after all, Exclusive skills that you can turn on only one of. To the best of my knowledge, some Nemesis bosses are already enjoying this priviledge.
I’d definitely prefer the first implementation but this would not be a bad start either.

And this should not be purely a buff to the player. Yes, in a sense this would make our character’s life easier but as we are also able to nullify monsters, this “one aura debuff immunity” could be applied to more “lesser” monsters and not only nemesis bosses.
Since Nullification is easily one of the best spells in the game anyways, this little nerf would not make it unusable at all (far from it, just think about the % reduced elemental damage).

tl,dr: It would be good to have the player’s choice involved in the game’s debuffing mechanism since these games are all about player’s choices.

Also, I would be more than happy to hear your opinions, ideas and suggestions about this, so please chime in! It would be great if someone from the developers also read this and reacted. :slight_smile:

I’m conflicted. Yes, Nullification is super annoying, especially Loxmere cause sometimes you just don’t notice him and it kills the majority of ungeared chars if you forget about him. But one part of me also says “just git gud” and be careful of the things that use nullify. I’m interested how the community thinks about this.

Any ability that gets rid of all buffs should have a super telegraphed ability that is really obvious giving you time to avoid it.

That or whomever does this should be a weak enemy which would merely be annoying have to constantly re-apply your buffs.

Good thread. Fantasizing, if there’s sleep res and petrify res, imo there should also be null res (rolled for every active buff).

How about drastically culling the sfx density so these abilities are better noticed and avoided or mitigated (via cc and movement)

Loxmere has a set spawn. You practically have to go looking for Grava and you’ll have advance warning. Few builds will have trouble bursting down an Arcane hero if you’re half paying attention.

If the Arcane heroes had bundles more health I’d be concerned, but given that Grava is off in his own corner of the world null currently isn’t a problem aside from git gud.

However with Grava showing up in Shattered Realm… perhaps he needs another look.

I was also thinking about debuff resistance but the problem I see with it is that I’d imagine it would be hard and therefore inefficient to stack it high enough to be practically effective with this dice rolling method. I fear players just would not bother. When you base something on chance, you need at least 75% to be really reliable in a real scenario (based on playing a lot of D&D :)) and even then the chance is still there…
Moreover, other resistance types either reduce direct damage or reduce the duration of the negative effect. Nullification on the other hand is “double or nothing”; you either get debuffed or not, there are no inbetween states.

However, I just got an interesting idea when reading your comment.:

It could be linked to the character’s Spirit level. The more you invest in Spirit, the more toggled skills would become protected (lore-wise: as your spiritual power “rises” you become more adept at protecting your mind or spiritual energies). Like for example, you need to have 450 spirit on your character to be able to make 1 of your toggled skill immune to debuff. The next “checkpoint” would be even higher like 550 spirit or so for the second buff immunity (obviously you can play around with the numbers).

I think this would yield more benefit to the game overall.
For one, there would be one more incentive to put points into spirit (and potentially losing some health and defensive ability, because you cannot put it into physique -->> player’s choice).
It would not be unfair to classes with lower inherent mastery spirit reward (usually the melee, warrior type) as they would relatively easily be able to get enough Spirit for at least one buff immunity (and the “2 masteries for 1 character” system helps with getting stat points anyways). But those niche builds depending on more active buffs would need to invest more points in spirit to be able to protect their buffs. Or at least they would have an option.

(Or maybe, it could be linked only to hard points invested in Spirit but I am not so sure about this. I need to think it through first).

Normally, I would say that this unbalances the power of the stat points as one of them gets a buff while the other two do not but since Physique being the absolute king, I’ d imagine this solution only helps a bit (even if it does not solve the problem entirely).

tl,dr: Make players invest more points into Spirit if they wish to obtain debuff immunity. This might also help with balancing the power/usefulness of stat points.

I understand your reasoning and of course, in most cases it is not the end of the world.
However, I think if the game mechanics itself would be fixed then we would not need to ever talk about whether Arcane heroes have way too much health or not, or when do they get way too powerful in a given situtation or what happens when they add a new monster with this ability.

You know it’s a little bit like when in League of Legends (if you are familiar with it) when there is a champion with way too overpowered ability (or abilities), they sometimes try to “fix” the champion elsewhere in its kit, like nerfing damage or lowering health but the actual skill that is overpowered because of its mechanics stays the same. This usually ends up in a series of buffs and nerfs for the champion that can last for months and many many patches just because if they want to counteract the OP ability in a meaningful way, they need to nerf the champion so much that it becomes irrelevant. But if they buff it back a little, it become way too OP again. So the champion is either way too OP or way too weak. There is no inbetween. Unless you fix the ability itself which causes this whole mess. So in our case it is the debuff game mechanics.

I say: Fix the core mechanics and then you can even add more debuff monster for all I care. I also think if you introduce the player’s choice into the equation it becomes a better game overall.
And it seems to be in line with what the developers had in mind when they created GD or as they patched it throughout the years.
You see, as much as I liked Titan Quest (and I really like it, easily as much as Diablo 2, which says a lot :slight_smile: one of that game’s problem was that you could usually max out all your important skills, you got way too many + all skills, % cooldown reduction…etc.
While it was fun to become insanely powerful in Titan Quest, I think Grim Dawn improved a lot in this aspect, with reducing the +all skills as well as the cooldown reduction on items and generally making your character crave for skill points and really min-max where you put those few points. Essentially, making this game more “player’s choice” oriented, which I find to be very good (hard and frustrating sometimes, but very good).
I just wish to see debuffing more in line with this general concept. That’s all. :slight_smile:

Rather than player choice, I’d like to see a greater emphasis on the A component of the ARPG where you get to actively dodge it instead of having the solution be bigger numbers.

Nullification doesn’t necessarily have to be all or nothing. It could be a debuff pool which removes 1 buff/sec while you’re in the aoe starting with lower level skills first and moving up so exclusives and the like get removed last.

That way, even with all the sfx spam, you’d still be able to see it (or its effects at least since you’ll see your debuff icons steadily disappearing) and act accordingly that way.

I think adding a new stat like debuff resistance in a game that’s this mature would be a bit of a balance nightmare and I’m not sure the other debuffs really warrant a counter-stat like it.

(Going off on a bit of a tangent, if stats are being tied to resistances, wouldn’t mind seeing the DnD fortitude (physique), will (spirit), reflex (cunning) saving throws of sorts.)

How about keep the nullification but add a limit to how many skills get nullified in one go?

Perhaps 3 of those toggled-to-be-active skills @ one time, then 3 more @ a later time, or something along those lines? Losing it all in one go VS Grava is problematic, for example: you’re much more prone to being de-buffed and thus have problems creating enough space to turn on the skills that had been nullified, before he does it again.

Alternatively, have the periods between nullification increase so that it’s unable to be cast as often?

how about, rather than nullifying your buffs, it only nullifies the debuffs on nearby monsters, gives them DA and debuffs your elemental damage?

I don’t like when monsters do it to be honest. But at least when Grava does it he telegraphs it. And I still don’t like it. There is no way to counter it with your build.

I think that buff dispels in this game aren’t that bad. Arcane heroes are easy to identify by their blueish color scheme so you just plan ahead your combat strategy around it. The nullifying projectile is very slow and telegraphed, so it’s very easy to dodge. The same with Grava’s. The only thing I’d change is Loxmere out-of-no-where instant nullification. That indeed doesn’t offer any window for counterplay. Luckily, he spawns in only one area. Still sucks when you accidentally run into him.

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I would not mind if it was made to be a more easily dodgeable ability.
Like the animation is a big circle under you and you have certain amount of time to get out of it before it debuffs you. It would be better than the way it is now even though it is not clear how people like to see player-based dodging become more relevant in arpgs and hack n’ slashes, where the concept from the dawn of the time generally was to become strong enough (or get strong enough defensive abilities) to withstand whatever is thrown at you.
Imo, a D&D-like saving throw system would just give a new (and unnecessary) randomness layer to the whole game. What we get with OA and DA is just about enough. But maybe that is just me :stuck_out_tongue:

On the other hand, Spirit-based debuff immunity/resistance would be much easier to implement. No new resistance is needed to be added to the core game, no new item mod, no change to the actual Nullification or debuffing skill.
Everything could stay the same, you just get a unlockable buff protection by investing more points into a stat.

While I am at it, it would not be a bad idea to add certain bonuses to different stats (besides what you already get now by pumping points in them). I remember some of the best Titan Quest mods had something similar to this, the only difference was that your mastery gave you class-specific bonuses (as you leveled your mastery bar). I liked it back then and it was more fun than just having the same stats given to all the classes only in a different distribution (like it is now in GD as well). However, I also understand how difficult it would be to balance it so that every mastery gets equally important and useful bonus stats.
So what I was thinking is to rather tie these bonuses to stat points which are universal (accessable to all player regardless of the mastery choice).

It certainly is a possible (and easy-to-implement) solution. Or at least a step in the right direction. It makes the skill into an indirect “debuff” or nerf of the enemy’s damage by cleansing yourself of negative effects. So the skill turns into a purely defensive/supporting tool. Maybe even add a bonus to it like “5 seconds of negative ailment protection after using the skill” or something like this.
This would apply to the monsters as well and so you could not cheese them right away by recasting your debuff aura (like Veil of Shadow) after you see them use Nullification on themselves.

What do you think?