My feelings about difficulty and pace

So first of all, allow me to say that I have played ARPG since the very first diablo. I loved that game so much that I actually got into modding it, I spent countless hours on it.
And then its sequel, which did many things right, others not so right (lost a lot on atmosphere for example), but I still enjoyed it for years, especially after the expansion.

Many other arpg that followed were very boring for me though, and with diablo 3 I eventually realized what I was missing about those games.

The feeling of being vulnerable. The feeling of not knowing that I may find in the next door. The feeling of not knowing where to go, how to get to the next level, and so on.
Basically, the survival aspect. Having to play in a careful way.
Eventually, you would still get very powerful, but for a long time, you needed to play carefully.

Right now, in games like diablo 3 and many other arpg, you can level up extremely fast, get to the end game extremely fast, and then the end game becomes a race against time to see who can clear levels faster.
That’s as boring as it can get for me. It limits the way you can play the game, because to get the best rewards and in general to get the most out of the game, you are forced to play in a certain way. You completely give up on exploring and watching your surroundings, you just focus your build and play-style on erasing everything you stumble across.

What I loved and made me back up Grim Dawn at the very beginning, was the feeling it had on veteran level while it was still in the early betas.
I needed to be careful, I felt like in order to survive I had to exploit my surroundings, choke points, be careful about not getting stuck somewhere, going door to door, taking advantage of double access to places to escape and so on.

As the development kept going forward, I got the feeling that the design was changing, things became easier, and even with a tanky build I still feel like I can dispose of everything too quickly, I can sort of charge mindlessly in the middle of swarms of monsters and suffer no consequences most of the times.

It doesn’t really have anything to do with difficulty “in general”, but more in the way difficulty is handled.
Instead of incentivize an insane level of dps, in order to dispose of enemies before they can one shot you, I’d rather have a slower paced survival style gameplay.
The game’s atmosphere is PERFECT for that, it’s an amazing game from that point of view.
I just wish it won’t become like diablo 3. A rush through the game to mindlessly see your character clearing up everything in the least amount of time.
If I wanted that, I would stick with diablo 3, but from Grim Dawn I am expecting something different.

That’s why I hope you devs will at least read this thread and keep it in mind as you keep balancing the game, because I feel that it got too easy and too much fast paced for my liking.
You obviously have to please the majority, and I might likely be alone into thinking this, but I still wish to let you know that there’s at least someone out there who prefer a slower and harder paced game.


This shouldn’t be the case:

…because of this:

People who don’t want a more old-style and hardcore experience already have their spare-time full of entertainment: Diablo 3, World of Warcraft, and who knows what else (I don’t keep up).

Who needs more games like that? It seems like madness to try to compete with the big titles. I think that perhaps once Crane realise this, they might go back to just developing a good game instead of trying to bend to the wishes of some imaginary majority.

And whatever, why not do both? If I were developing this game, I’d do two builds of it, one called “New Grim Dawn” for the mainstream people, and one called “Old Grim Dawn” for the old-schoolers. Think outside the box - and you CAN please everyone.

I’ve been thinking about this. It would be nice if a veteran mode for elite and ultimate was introduced, except monster stats/numbers don’t actually change. They just start to behave much more intelligently and start using more brutal tactics of their own.

Seriously, most of the enemy units that you encounter on your way to Log have secured/been patrolling their particular parcel of in-game land for a while now. Surely they must have done something constructive with their time, like lay traps or build special turrets for their casters to safely hide in and nuke you from waaaaayy over yonder. Whoever thought that there should be enemy land mines in the Fields of Despair got it right with that line of thinking.
Titan Quest was different because the monsters there basically just decided to stop hiding and run amok, spurred by the sudden appearance of the Telkines and only marginally kept in line by a few lieutenants that the player character manages to kill off early on. According to Grim Dawn lore the Aetherials and Ch’thonians have been planning their little invasion for a while now (centuries? millenia?) so I expect them to be more organized.
It would make sense that veteran mode takes this into account.

That’s not a bad idea at all Tyr.

In general though, I think that if a better / more aggressive AI is not possible, they could try to work more on the level design/enemy placement and the kind of enemies you find.

Something I like a lot about Grim Dawn for example (but that it’s still very bugged in some places, so not really reliable) is that it doesn’t have a binary line of sight, meaning there is a full obstacle, or no obstacle at all like most arpg.
If you are inside a house, and there’s a window, you can shoot through the window.
There are different kinds of projectiles, which can even BOUNCE on objects.

These are all things that should be more exploitable by enemies if placed correctly to make life harder for the player.

Destructibles: why is everything destroyable with a single hit? even random aoe destroyes them.
Make them more resistant, in my opinion. It should be something that can be used tactically, like cover, and destroyed if needed to escape if you are getting overwhelmed in front. Something you can do now, but only at the very beginning, when you don’t need it and you do it only because you like to play safe.
In fact generally speaking, the part I enjoy myself the most while playing has remained the first act with veteran enabled.
Later on not only you are too strong, but you have a million of random % aoe attacks that simply destroy anything on your screen.
It looks cool, but doesn’t add anything tactically.

There should DEFINITELY be more traps, think of the battlefield before arriving to the necropolis. That’s a good example. They are dangerous for both the player and the enemy, they can sometimes spawn in very hard to spot places, you can use them tactically, like using pushbacks abilities on mobs to make them land on them. They do need their damage tweaked though, as they hardly make enough damage as they are at the moment.
That’s only an example of what can be done with traps though, just look at the three diablos and torchlights for more example of that.

I think that a static level design like Grim Dawn, justifies a better enemy placement and kind of enemies placed.
Making them partially random is okay, it does help with replay value, but by randomizing them too much you will find some playthroughs being a breeze, because you will find too many slow melee mobs getting stuck everywhere, making it too easy for the player.

Of course tweaking the numbers also help, being a glass cannon should be possible but at the same time require perfect playing. You should expect to be one shooted most of the times if you make a mistake, otherwise there’s just no point playing anything but glass cannons since you clear everything faster and with hardly any REAL danger since 90% of the mobs/situations are so slow that you can always run away.

I almost forgot: another thing I love and consider part of the whole survival thing, is being LOST. I simply ADORE the levels when you go through the chtonian portals, and you get randomly placed on the map, with no clue of where they exit or your objective is. Every time you are put in a different place AND the portals DO NOT show on the minimap, THANK GOD, not to mention, NOT BEING ABLE to open your own rift to get away.

That’s probably the place I enjoy the most aside from act I (because of level design, which is obviously one of the most polished).

Don’t change that for ANY reason, I would be extremely sad if you did. The game needs every little bit of that feeling as it can get, as once you explored all the map, it gets old faster than a game with randomized levels.

So those chtonian levels and the rogue like dungeons are the best parts of the game especially as end game content as far as i am concerned.

The game is already know as being slower in general then other Arpg!
Also, what do you mean by ‘‘suffer no consequences most of the times’’. Are you playing softcore and dieing quite often? I mean the only consequence that i can see if ‘‘death’’ of your character. If you’re already dieing, making it harder isn’t the solution!

Also do you play in Ultimate?

Futhermore, the current difficulty is like this to promote many builds and possiblities in your character developpement. It used the be WAY much harder in B29, but just a few builds were able to go through Ultimate. They Nerfed the difficulty and some skills to even out builds, and buffed other skills that felt lackluster!

I know that it is, exactly because most of the arpg players nowadays are used to the pace of diablo 3, which feels arcadish at best.

About consequences, yes I meant dying, which I know that doesn’t matter in softcore, but what I mean is that If you are playing with an aggressive style without thinking about the consequences, you should die more often, that’s how I feel.

I understand what you mean about build diversity. Is all and well to promote different kinds of builds, and I don’t want to say that it’s easy to find some equilibrium in that.

I am just saying that in general, no matter if we are talking of veteran, elite or ultimate, I think that the pace should be slower.

It is slower than most other arpg, but it used to be more slow, and that’s how I liked it and the way I would like to play it.

Lately I am under the impression that Crate realized some people prefer fast paced combat, and they are adjusting things that way.

I think this game is quite fine where it is. It’s not as ridiculously meticulous as PoE and it’s a lot more engaging than D3. It’s right where it needs to be.

I’m not sure if monsters laying “traps” and cataclysmic dungeon tactics. It needs a balance between hardcore and softcore. I mean, it’s a dungeon crawler. Half the time the monsters just swarm you. That’s what we want in an ARPG. At least, that’s what I want. If I wanted a mind bending challenge, I would go play Myst.

Combat is different for each mastery and GD is unique in that respect. A lot of other titles don’t have nearly as much diversity as GD does. It’s truly enjoyable to struggle over what build, item, devotion, mastery set up to choose. I love figuring this all out on my own. Diablo 3 is a joke and PoE just takes way too long to get into. GD is just fine thanks :slight_smile:

We already established that. Hence the veteran mode suggestion for Elite/Ultimate, because it’s optional and you can simply turn it on/off.

If the game was slower paced it mine as well just be Titan Quest then, and no thank you to that. As Titan Quest’s pace bored the shit out of me. I get everyone likes different paces/difficulty so any change they make to the pace would need to be optional. As I would stop playing and not buy the expansion or any DLC if they were to slow the pace down.

I’d say, at least so far, Grim Dawn’s at least as difficult as Diablo 1 was. Low to mid 30s, just got to the Barren Highlands rift and I’ve died twice (I’m playing a tank-focused Commando, focused on defense/on-hit-and-retaliation abilities and resistances; my LAN play partner’s playing a damage druid [sky shard and wind devil] and has died about 10 times). LOTS of near-death experiences (I always feel great, “And saved by the Turtleshell!” my main devotion. Playing on Veteran. Hell, sometimes even normal mobs (not even those with bosses of any sort) make me have to chug a potion and curse not waiting until my shield skill [Overguard] recharged

Maybe what’s changed is (A) shared loot, so you can ‘twink’ your new characters and (B) the Internet, so you’re looking up builds/optimizing more than just playing and seeing where the game takes you?

But to build on your original post – the one thing I do think even Grim Dawn’s lacking is randomization. The “where”. The hand-crafted worlds are beautiful, but I want more randomization in it. More not-hand-crafted dungeon areas. Move the chests around more. Sometimes the devotion shrines are in different places. Sometimes that breakable-wall isn’t breakable, but another one elsewhere is.

OP, the major difference is, there was a single difficulty back in the days and limited content, thus game was artificially forced to be hard. To keep players entertained and satisfied with the few content game had, and to provide the illusion of “more” and “content”.

As long as they added the rest of the difficulties, it could be the same no more. Now it follows a well known pattern. Normal is to hook the newbies. Elite is where the game actually becomes a bit more challenging, for those still left to play. Ultimate is the real game. The latter brings the same level of threat and ingame feeling, as the game pre-off. release.

If we had to progress on normal and elite at the same pace we do on ultimate, leveling would be a pain. It will also discourage the new players. Elite could be a bit harder, though. Or with an option of veteran mode.

I think you have it backwards with regards to what is or isn’t “illusion”. A hard game that is short provides content by being what it is. Like, have you ever played actual rogue-likes? I’ve played ADOM dozens of times, sometimes getting further, sometimes dying early because I attempt a risky strategy like diving too deep into Infinite Dungeon. You try the game many times but it’s rich enough to provide a different experience each time or at least much of the time. Most importantly, it always makes you think and prepare, it always makes you play, rather than surf through content.

On the other hand, picnicking through a game twice before you get to play it on ultimate isn’t even a game, it’s just a picnic, and by the time you get to play the game you’re already bored with the content, which apparently in these latest versions of Grim Dawn is starting to resemble a railroad that never changes from playthrough to playthrough. That’s an illusion of content.

You ignore that the sense of “hard” varies between players, as it’s bound to personal skills, general knowledge, practice, experience. What you find ok, could be a nightmare for someone else.

On a side note, developers rely on sales, meanwhile trying to achieve the middle ground in balancing the game. Not to please all, as it’s impossible, but the majority of the target group they aim for. Creating super niche games is risky, and GD is already close to one.

I can afford to play the game no matter its difficulty. Advanced user with a fat stash. But if you ask me “Would you like to crawl your way to ultimate, every time, anytime?”, the answer is no. I don’t want to level a single char to 85 for months, nor to re-level in such conditions if he dies, or if I just want to create a new one.
I’m for options - add veteran difficulty for elite, raise the bar of normal veteran a bit, and let everyone decide what fucks him best.

I’m strictly against the making of an ultra hard “hardcore” game, made for masochists with all the time in the world. Though I play only HC and love the challenge, these are different things.

I think people playing this game have the wrong impression. You want a steady stream of new content? Play an MMO. That’s what those are for.
GD’s approach is actually quite novel because moddability gives the game a pseudo-MMO aspect.

ARPGs exist to give players a sense of accomplishment when they figure out particular build/item setups that allows them to tackle content flawlessly or which caters to their particular playstyle - something even Diablo has never been able to get right - even as they navigate a world with just enough lore to keep them with occupied.
If you have issues with GD’s early game, rush it. Why do you think you have a shared stash? Why do you think leveling is so ridiculously easy?
Or, you know. Use mods.

Finally found a copy of B26 with hotfix 3 - I can feel now that the 23 euros I paid for Grim Dawn weren’t a waste. I’ve been playing this beta version and it’s been fun to push through higher level areas after starting from scratch without shared stash or anything. And that’s just on normal (Veteran might or might not be too much; I’ll try that some day).

Kinda shame the Twin Falls bridge is down, I’d like to have tried the areas there without the long detour via Smuggler’s Pass. And those steel bulls are brutal when they come running in groups, and not much fun in terms of loot dropped.

Speaking of which, is the loot based on character level rather than monster level? I don’t seem to be finding anything of much interest in general (and of course Rare+ equipment tend to have those pesky level restrictions as usual).

Just wanted to pop in to say that this thread is really interesting :slight_smile:

Yes the conversation that developed is really interesting.

I definitely agree that any change should be made optional, as many people would clearly prefer a more mainstream approach.

However many advices has been given on how a veteran mode for all the difficulty levels could be added and what kinds of changes we think would work well: less hand holding and more randomization about where to go and how to get somewhere thanks to breakables walls and so on; better enemy placement/kind of enemies found in specific areas and their AI, like making more uses of certain abilities, running away from you earlier and more often, maybe even calling for help from other mobs nearby to make things harder for you, traps/hazards, working both ways possibly, additional spawns, in other words anything but number tweaking, as that should be left for the 3 main difficulties in general in order to have a better overall balance.

Modding sounds really interesting and all, but there’s always a limit to what you can do with it, so if some changes get actually coded in by the devs, it would be better.
I will surely try to see what I can do with the tools once they are out, even if I am by no means good at modding.