What is the appeal of playing a spellcaster in Grim Dawn? The answer “because you want to” does not really cut it for me. In most other games casters trade protection for the ability to rain fire and destruction on their enemies from a safe distance. In Grim Dawn the first part is certainly true, but the second part is not. Honestly, the whole system appears to be designed for the get-go to screw with every aspect of playing a spellcaster.
On caster armor and attributes
- First of all you start off with the worst armor. Casters wearing robes is as cliche as it gets, but I suppose trading the Plate for some Robes can be worth if the spells deliver…
- Then comes the energy management. Since casters are using spells and not attacks they are forced to pay more energy by design, hence all the crappy armored robes have added energy regeneration on them. Essentially a caster trades protection for the ability to use his attack.
- Next comes the stat destribution. Tanks get to put points in Physique, which gives them life and DA. Fair enough. Non-spellcaster attack characters invest in Cunning which boost their damage both directly and indirectly via OA. Now lets look at casters. Their Spirit attribute boosts their damage, but instead of useful OA or DA we get energy. Ugh.
- CC effects are useful on all character archetypes, but naturally the squishies characters tend to get the most usefulness out of them. Not in Grim Dawn. CC effects are just as available on non-casters as they are on casters. As an added benefit all difficult bosses are immune to CC, which leaves facetanking as the only option. Naturally casters are screwed the most by this due to having the weakest armor.
But wait, it gets even worse…
- Since casters in GD traded all the good stuff other archetypes get for the sole benefit of being actually able to afford the cost of their spam ability they are left to discover that their abilities are actually weaker compared to that of the other archetypes. This is mostly to how important %weapon damage is.
- Useful debuffs like “Reduced Damage, Reduced Resistance”, as well as “Attack Damage converted to Health” are completely useless to a caster because they either have no %weapon damage attached to their abilities or that % is really low. These debuffs add a disproportional amount of damage, character survivability and overal quality of play due to their exclusiveness.
Surely casters must get something good after these negatives
- What casters DO finally get is high numbers of flat damage on their abilities, which theoretially should allow them to do more damage. But this does NOT allow them to actually do more damage than other archetypes simply because the numbers aren’t large enough and because %weapon damage debuffs contribute a disproportional amount to a character’s damage output.
To exacarbate the problem abilities which have a cooldown are almost equally useful to casters and non-casters alike, which allows other archetypes to cherry pick the best abilities without having to worry for high energy consumption that much (due to CD).
So a Grim Dawn caster is basically pigeonholed to wear the weakest armor in order to pay the energy maintainance of a spell-type attack that is inherently weaker than the autoattack of a heavily armored character.
So I ask again - we all know what are the disadvantages of playing a caster.
But where are the advantages?