I posted this on the Steam forums, but I wanted to post it in the forums as well so it could have feedback in the general thread.
"Grim Dull – The Nerfening
*The amount of hours I put in this game is more due to the fantastic tools and community mods section rather than the game itself. Major thanks to Mamba for creating GDStash and Asylum, Ceno, and Grimer for making the piece-mods that make up Grimarillion. Last but not least, no review is complete without saying thank you to Dammit for creating Grimtools: theorycrafter and day-waster extraordinaire.
The game has a huge variety of Item Sets, Legendary items, and “Double-Rolled” items more influenced by RNG, but they are deeply divided into either mandatory items or vendor trash. Sets grossly overperform compared to non-set builds, as all the mandatory features needed in a build (attack / cast speed, resistances, enemy resistance reduction [RR for short]) are neatly packed into the set and in much higher quantities than you can get without the set. Then the sets become good to the point that later patches give monsters ludicrous abilities like “65% reduced damage + 30% slow for 5 seconds” so that full-set players can be challenged, but all that does is ruin the players who don’t have that luxury.
As for customization, slots are really interchangeable. Shield builds have no difference between Tower Shields and Bucklers, 1H Weapons have nothing to tell them apart, and most 2H weapons are outright weaker than DW or Sword and Board. Fashion Dawn is a beaut, I’ll give Crate that, but having cool outfits doesn’t negate the point that your playstyle primarily revolves around “press your primary attack button over and over again,” especially when multiple classes have passive buffs that debuff the enemy without you doing anything.
Debuffs that aren’t Resist Reduction are completely worthless in this game. Things like Stun and Freeze are completely immune by the monsters that matter, Slow is too highly resisted for it to make any difference, and Reduced damage is too inconsistent to rely on for your survival. Zantai had confronted this by saying “Crowd Control is for Crowds,” but then Crate decided to balance the game on fighting multiple Boss / Nemesis monsters which are – guess what – immune to these tactics. Anyone thought the new procedurally generated maps were going to be anything but “kill multiple random combinations of Nemeses + Bosses?” Ha. This caused players to go for massive AoE damage which immediately kills off any enemy that your debuffs would have worked on in the first place, so we’ve circled back to debuffs being completely pointless.
Debuffs that are Resist Reduction are pumped to a degree that people complain that 100 RR isn’t enough. This makes equipment slots that give RR mandatory and weapons that specialize in a particular skill get pushed aside for generic “+1 to skills and RR proc.” I was stoked about the possibility of item skill modifiers when the first expansion came out, but all that creativity was funneled into boring “gives your attack skill bigger numbers” or “gives your RR debuff even more RR.” The bigger joke is that classes that don’t have RR like Arcanists can’t benefit from skill modifiers as their skills don’t even have the template to make RR possible. So instead you get classes that have massive RR get even more RR while the other classes just sit and accept their place in squalor.
Pointless debuffs have the second unfortunate effect of having all the tough monsters charge at your face with no way of avoiding the onslaught. Whether it’s instantly teleporting to your location, going invisible so that your debuffs can’t hit them anyway, or charging at 3X your max speed, monsters come fast and come hard. This makes real ranged combat impossible and forces you to either stack up on defenses to facetank or perish. And getting the defenses to tank usually come from a small smattering of mandatory choices, dooming otherwise decent ideas into oblivion.
Combining 2 classes is the huge draw to this game, but in reality, you’re taking 1 class for your main attack and your other class for buffs / RR. And the other class is normally reduced to whichever provides the highest RR. I am not minimizing when I say that a good number of builds are simply 1-class builds with the RR skill + buff of the other class; builds like Physical Soldier, Lightning Shaman, Birds Occultist or Aether Arcanist. Several classes have such poor synergy that no amount of equipment or sets can help them – that’s right, I’m looking at you Battlemages and Warlocks. The emphasis on pure stat buffs has gotten ridiculous to the point that full-casters are bragging about using Melee attacks to get the buffs associated with them. You want to play a pure caster? Fuhgetabbutit.
Devotions are the other huge draw, but when you look closer into it, you’re really just picking the T3 devotion that matches your build, the RR devotion, and all the constellations that give you the requirements. There are other constellations that grant small procs or bonuses, but there’s nothing that can combine these small bursts to rival that of 1 big T3 ability, even with the ample amount of equipment that converts one damage type into another. Or if a devotion does get interesting and become worth using in non-traditional ways, it is certain to get nerfed.
Oh, the glorious nerfs. Come up with a truly original idea or find a way to maximize a build’s potential at levels previously unseen? Don’t facetank the Bantai. You may see our favorite set / skill nerfed 4 patches in a row, just for fun and giggles. Or you may see your skill get 80% reduced damage because it interacted with enemies in a unforeseen matter. Just spent a year getting all those pieces to your favorite set you watched on Youtube? People were begging for that to get nerfed after the first week of farming Crucible 20 hours a week. The worst part is that these nerfs are mostly celebrated. A Nightblade build that specializes in killing Humans easily? Can’t have that originality – nerf all the items that give bonus damage to humans.
This game had a limitless amount of potential and a canvas just ready to bust open with creativity, but the combination of funneling people into item sets, worthless debuffs, and far too much incoming damage have sucked the life out of this game.