Hi, big lurker here, been in an off and on relationship with this game since launch day. I was inspired a bit by Scottz0rz and all of his big wordy topics, and while I can’t hold a candle to his feedback, I haven’t really seen anyone else talk about this in particular and after quietly mentioning it periodically throughout the betas I thought maybe i’d try and make a more public attempt at it before letting it shrivel and die like the probably-bad idea that it is.
I thought the initial concept for the combat changes was an interesting one when it was introduced in the first beta, with the understanding and hope that this wasn’t all that was going to change. Dodging was going to get nerfed eventually(even if i’m not entirely sure this was the way to go about it, but that’s another topic entirely), and stagger had/has untapped potential as a mechanic to try and enforce some level of teamplay. Not that teamplay doesn’t already happen, it’s just one more way to try and tighten formations, punish stragglers, all that jazz. There’s been a lot of buzz on both sides about the strengths and weaknesses of the new system, and while I think a lot of the arguments have been strong, I think people are focusing too much on only one side of the issue. In my eyes, it’s not that stagger is inherently flawed(even if it is a little muddy mechanically right now) - it’s that the current size and composition of hordes can’t accommodate the system as well as it maybe could be.
People like the combat now because it presents a ‘simple’ solution to trying to recapture what VT1 eventually did so well. It provides a meaty challenge, reinforces cooperation, and allows other primary and secondary traits to see some action(not all builds see crit chance and attack speed anymore). On the other hand, a majority of peeps have expressed a great deal of concern all the way back through July about the changes - that it slows the game down too much, that it causes problems in trying to parse information, hyperstacks becoming an issue again, a whole new mess of weapon balance concerns. I submit that reducing the overall density of waves and roamers/patrols/etc will positively address all of these concerns, and it can be done in a way without having to risk alienating people that happen to like the changes.
Here are some examples, in no particular order, of what I think you get out of reducing enemy ranks:
- Dodging and pushing groups of 4-7 is more reliable and satisfying than trying to deal with the amorphous blobs of who-knows-how-many standing inside of one-another. Hyperstacking is just an unavoidable part of the experience, at this point - my suggestion mitigates this significantly.
- Low cleave weapons will suffer less when there are fewer enemies to chew through, giving them some of their potential value back. Weapon balance in general will be easier to manage, in my opinion - fewer ‘special exception’ buffs like what we’d seen bits of in the betas would be necessary.
- The ability to finish runs in a timeframe similarly to before, since you aren’t fighting huge numbers of ‘spongey’ clusters forever. Enemies being tough should be plenty to ensure a map’s run time is a decent length.
- Intimate combat is exciting combat. Fewer, tougher enemies allows you to make more consistent use of the stagger system via being able to actually attack the same enemies more frequently over individual runs. You may still need enough numbers to force players to watch their backs, obviously, but the point of the stagger inclusions(at least, in my mind) is to force teammates to cooperate - when you don’t need all four players to hold flanks by themselves, suddenly you are allowed these coordinated takedowns and strategies. Satisfying.
- Visual clarity is important for reacting to threats, and taking the game this way means you can give enemies more versatility and players will be able to react to it in time. More attack patterns, more AI strategies, etc. I’m just imagining giving combo attacks to stormvermin and maulers, more sweeps or even letting them dodge as well to break away from players ganging up on them. When there aren’t as many enemies to deal with, they can all become more complex.
- In making elites in general a more infrequent occurrance, you can enhance the excitement and threat of seeing, for example, even just one chaos warrior charging you. Remember that poor guy waiting for you across the walkway/bridge on Against the Grain? Imagine if he was actually a threat.
- The new beastmen units require space and line of sight in order to properly handle. Bestigors need to be dodged, banners need to be either shot before placement or reached on foot which would be more reliable to do in chokepoint scenarios, and archers require line of sight on the regular to deal with.
- Performance will improve across the board. I’ve seen people complaining about it again, so I thought this might be something to consider as well.
Obviously this is hurting the game’s overall feel of being swept over by a huge tidal wave of enemies, but it’s been made abundantly clear that they are committed to these changes, and if that’s the case then I think this is the most graceful way to achieve compromise…I guess what i’m trying to say is if you’re convinced this new system will work, go all the way with it.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, it’s a little wordy but I felt like I needed to make the points clear. Please have a lovely weekend.