I finished a 160 run yesterday and wanted to give some feedback on high Weaves gameplay. I also would like to make a couple of suggestions. There have been numerous threads on surrounding issues like matchmaking, etc. So, this thread is not one of those, it’s focused on Ranked Weaves gameplay itself.
The main issue, ever since it had been raised during WoM closed beta, still is: over the top damage scaling. Every other gameplay issue concerning playstyle, exploits, career and build variety stems from this.
The current damage scaling - I don’t know how to describe this properly - is sadistic. But first and foremost, IT IS NOT FUN. Not a single bit. It never was. I dare you, Sharks, I double dare you to play a set of 8 weaves, one per each of the existing winds, with 1000% enemy damage, try to figure it out and complete them. Please, do it and tell me if you liked it.
Alternatively, conduct a quick survey among those ~40 players who have completed all high weaves (120-160) as of writing. I’d be surprised if any of those, but the ususal outliers, told you they had fun and looked forward to doing it again next season. From personal experience and talk with high weave players, none of them enjoyed it. None. Sure, we might be somewhat proud that we managed to endure all this but I kinda hate myself for feeling that way. That’s the point, right? If the damage scaling is sadistic, you’ve got to be a masochist to deal with it.
Make a guess how many other players are conditioned like this. Not many. Just because there are people who engage with this obscene content does not translate to them actually liking that content. Also, please don’t play the numbers game and think: ‘Only a tiny fraction of players do high weaves anyway and therefore we don’t want to spend more resources other than for necessary maintenance and reshuffling every few months’. The players who play high weaves are usually the most dedicated to Vermintide as a game. You gotta love something to suffer that much. Maybe I’m being unfair making uneducated guesses on your stance on how to handle Weaves. But, for what it’s worth, that’s the impression I got.
Now, let’s get to the issues that all are a consequence of damage scaling.
or: how to punish players for engaging in melee combat in a melee-focused game
If you want to fight mobs in melee then you should not play high weaves. Since here the very core of Vermintide’s praised gameplay loop is cast aside and almost made impossible to engage in.
Depending on your career’s base HP and/or (inherent) damage reduction, you will get oneshot by melee hits starting somewhere in the range of ~250% to 450% enemy damage (ie. weaves ~125 to 135). Crank enemy damage up a little further and players will also die to some ‘secondary damage’ sources which they usually don’t even notice as much: long distance gatling gunner bullets or random arrows from archers. Other damage sources like ground fire from flamers or Stormfiends, Troll puke, blighstormer vortex’ DoTs are not as punishing (as in: those don’t oneshot you) but deal considerable amounts of damage.
Concering wind modifiers, lightning strikes oneshot you, thornes deal 40 to 50 damage each, fire DoTs - funnily enough - become obsolete because you already die to the melee hit that would apply the DoT afterwards. Ghost and Light wind effects also become meaningless in a sense because you exist in just two states: either you are alive or you’re dead. The entire health bar is of no use, 1 HP has the same value as 180. Ironically, the only exception (or utility rather) comes with Natural Bond since this trait, when at 100% green HP, lets you survive one melee hit that would have downed you otherwise. Amber wind doesn’t have any effect as totems are destroyed asap anyway. So, in general, most wind effects lose their overall impact on gameplay in higher weaves completely. That’s sad.
Considering all issues related to damage, engaging in melee combat is neither the safest strategy (it’s close to not being a strategy at all) nor the most efficient. This is insane. We’re playing Vermintide after all, right? So, what playstyle derives from this. A cheesy one that many players rightfully deem not fun and entertaining. The central idea is that three players camp at a convenient location to kill mobs as safe as possible while the fourth player triggers spawns, directs aggro and does the map objectives. You’ll get one or two tanks that only exist for the sake of crowd control and staying alive so that the remaining players can play off of them staggering enemies permanently.
Whatever your group’s career composition, I’d wager that in high weaves more than 66% of all damage dealt (at least) comes from ranged options, mostly flamethrowers/shotguns. The remaining percentage is melee damage dealt against permanently staggered enemies or during cheese like invisibility (Shade) or while in safe spots. The moment you can’t take the occasional hit during fights anymore, or chip damage of any kind, the core gameplay of Vermintide is dead. All that is left for players to do at this point is to come up with coping strategies. Actual fun is nowhere to be found near these, obviously. Oh, I think I forgot to mention that you’re always holding block whatever you do to minimize the chances of getting hit randomly - that’s some wrist pain right there.
or: just don’t get hit 4Head
From my personal experience, the meta for high weaves is ridiculously stale and shallow. For the last two, if not three seasons, my group has been playing ~90% of all high weaves with Shade, FK, BW and IB. We found this to be the most efficient and safest way to tackle high weaves revolving around the playstyle mentioned above. So our composition looks like this: Staggerknight for main tanking and CCing, IB as tank support/CC utility; BW as main damage dealer for the ‘camping group’ and support CC with her kit; and Shade for main elite/monster damage dealing and mobility/utility for map objectives.
Very rarely, if ever, do we deviate from this composition. For Gold weaves only, we tend to pick GK and BH/WHC instead of BW and FK since you need way more armored elite (burst) damage here and, usually, trash mob density isn’t as high to warrant picking BW to deal with this. If you happen to not like one of those careers or the gameplay that comes with it, well, you gotta take that bullet. It’s not about fun anyway.
Let’s take a closer look at those builds. FK and IB will bring shields for stagger and CC. Both careers are not meant to engage in melee combat to deal damage, they are just there to stay alive, and to provide space and opportunity for the BW to damage permanently staggered enemies. FK exceeds in stagger power and maintains some stagger breakpoints even on Cata3. IB’s ult is a fail-safe mainly for unpredictable monk/zerker movement (they like to glitch through all the slots there are) or to get a slim chance of actually reviving a downed player when everything oneshots. Rather rarely in comparison is IB’s ult used offensively to turn some backs so that Shade gets free damage. BW mostly plays around Famished Flames with Flamestorm staff and Flamesword’s H1 (against stacked elites). Shade is the most versatile and mobile since she is essentially the only career that ‘progresses’ through the map relying on chaining invsibility with Cloak of Mist/Vanish. You kite or hop into a safe spot as long as Infiltrate isn’t up and only with invisibility ready you take on whatever job you’re supposed to do. The combination of Cloak of Mist/Vanish also provides the safest DPS output for the group when you’re kinda on the run and can’t get the upperhand.
BH is picked to be Blockspyre, shooting stuff with guaranteed crits either from Rapier’s sidearm pistol (100% safe) or ranged weapons (not as safe). We only bring BH when there is no use for BW and/or we need some very safe double-shotting monster deletion. GK only accompanies Shade as main damage dealer in Gold weaves since he’s a power stacking abomination that can oneshot CWs (crit headshot with all powerups and power vs.) even on Cata3 because of the overall higher powerlevel in Weaves.
I know that there are other groups who pick different careers. I’ve also seen a few Handmaidens which might be a remnant of the old despawning meta, or just for some other cheese. But the core elements don’t change. Obivously, individual player skill can make a huge difference here. If you’re a godlike WHC or Slayer, for instance, and literally don’t ever get hit (no meme), you might pull this off in higher weaves. But looking at the leaderboards (blatant cheaters aside), those are quite rare in number. So, generally, the rest of us stick to the most meta and most boring and dull team compositions there are.
or: learn how to break the game
The amount of cheese you have to come up with to complete most, if not all, of the higher weaves is just silly. But it is the most efficient way to deal with that kind of damage scaling. Even with the most glaring exploit gone, the deliberate despawning of enemies, you still want to activate as many spawn triggers as possible by one player while the rest of the team kills the spawned mobs at a somewhat safe location. The only thing that changed in this regard is that the player triggering spawns has to survive while falling back to not lose aggro and to keep the distance to the rest of the team as short as possible in case he dies so that mobs still keep aggro on living players.
Invisibility has always been the go-to cheese as it lets you abuse the aggro system. Again, Cloak of Mist/Vanish Shade saves the day. Its usefulness for 100% safe damage and movement has been covered in the above section, its high utility to do objectives while invisible is the second part to it. Why engage with mobs anyway when you can just run past them? Chaining invisibility as efficient as possible is key - and such an awful way to play.
Next to invisibility shenanigans, and almost as important, is Battle Wizard’s teleport. Having played Sienna for four seasons now, I’ve come to know several out of bounds glitches and safe spots on all weave maps and I use them excessively without shame. I’ve been walking on skyboxes to deal free damage to mobs without aggro or hold monster aggro infinitely so that my team can do whatever. Looking at the leaderboards, scores and team compositions tell quite the story. BW is present in the majority of compositions not only because of her very safe and high DPS output (see above section) but because she can provide 100% succesful runs, or strategies, by exploiting her teleport. There have been a couple of groups pushing for 160 early on and two or three of those groups had players streaming their runs but, miraculously, all of them stopped streaming at some point soon beyond 120. Guess why? Mostly because none of them wanted to disclose the exploits that they were planning to use. No one wants Fatshark to patch these for obvious reasons. Hell, I myself am not even giving teleport spots away to other players asking me for help because I don’t want those gone. That’s fukced up.
Apart from invisibility and teleport exploits, there is a thing I like to call ‘dead spots’, ie. locations where you can shove mobs off a ledge and they die immediately. I’m not talking about ledging monsters at a cliff, that’s basic. I’m talking about finding a weird push angle to shove mobs down at the side of a set of stairs, for instance, where they die instantly because the game can’t find valid pathing for them anymore so they pop out of existence. That’s safer and more efficient than actual fighting and can be done just fine with the obligatory shields.
Finally, and this mainly applies to shadow weaves, you’re going to rigidly abuse LoS. Gunners, archers, flamers, and to some degree banners, are best dealt with by hiding around a safe corner to break line of sight and by simply waiting for mobs to come around. That’s so stupid that I can never believe I’m actually doing this when I do it.
All of this is such obnoxious gameplay! Yet, cheese and exploits almost look like the only way to get things done efficiently, if at all, in higher weaves. Unironically, I believe that even Fatshark is aware of this. If they patched the majority of those exploits they’d remove the only access to QoL for players in high weaves gameplay. Just let this thought sink in.
Tune down the damage.
Cap enemy damage at a threshold that would let beefier careers survive at least one occasional melee hit. Most importantly, tuning damage down would get rid of the REALLY frustrating stuff like archer one/twoshots or gunner long distance two/threeshots. So many issues would just fade away if you did this. And it’s literally just number cranking in terms of programming effort. Sure, some of the current spawn waves, etc. would have to be looked at again manually in order to rebalance them when players could tackle them way more offensively and aggressively - but any hour spent here would be worth it a dozen times!
With ‘rebalancing spawn waves’ I obviously don’t mean to increase them in size or number but in variety and challenge. Uncomfortable combinations of enemies have always created the best kind of difficulty and challenge in Vermintide. That’s why people like Onslaught’s take on several game aspects or even Twitch mode that spawns a ton of additional mobs into otherwise stale situations.
No rewards tied to 120-160 without drastic changes.
I think I’m not exaggerating stating that rewards (even if it’s just one portrait frame, for now) should not be tied to the completion of weaves 120 to 160 in their current state as this locks out 99% of the playerbase. Not only because of the difficulty-induced requirements but also because of the troubles in matchmaking and organizing/maintaining regular group play. Usually, I’m one of those appreciating ingame rewards that I can show off to tell others that I have put a certain amount of time, dedication, and/or skill into something. But Weaves make me hate myself for this attitude. Unless Fatshark is willing to make drastic changes to high weave gameplay, for the love of Sigmar, please refrain from tying rewards to them. At the moment, it is just a masochistic chore and so far removed from any fun and enjoyment I almost can’t wrap my head around it.
Expand the checkpoint system.
Currently, players who completed weaves 1 to 40 in any season will get a head start so they can start at weave 41 in a new season. This checkpoint system should be expanded. If you manage to beat 41 to 80 in a season as well, you should be eligible to start at 81 next season. I’m kinda torn whether there should be even a third checkpoint at 120 allowing players who beat 81-120 to start at 121 each season.
Considering weaves 1 to 80, difficulty values change gradually from Recruit to Cata3 without any damage scaling in place. Additionally, the amount and composition of enemies spawned in all fixed waves increases for each set of 40 weaves getting harder with every iteration. Concerning the amount and composition of spawn waves, the third set of 81-120 is identical with the fourth set of 121-160 (only difference here is damage scaling). So, there’s somewhat of a learning curve to be experienced in the two lowest weave sets (1-40 and 41-80), and to some degree even in the third set (81-120) where slight damage scaling starts to kick in at Weave 101. Anyway, advanced players could and should be able to skip at least weaves 1 to 80 and, arguably, even 81 to 120 once they’ve proven themselves and beat the respective sets once in any season.
Unlocking higher level achievements (Okri’s) should unlock lower level ones.
This one is very closely related to the previous suggestion. Technically, it should work like the Helmgart map completion challenges: You unlock one of those on Legend, then you automatically unlock Recruit, Veteran and Champion as well. You unlock the achievement for set 81-120, you should automatically unlock the ones for the lower sets 1-40 and 41-80 as well. This is meant to reduce the absurd, disrespecting and mind-numbing grind that comes with obtaining all portrait frames each season. I have played 1 to 120 four times now, once to 160 (this time) and once to high 130s (Season 1). I’m actually sick of it. Personally, I don’t feel challenged for repeatedly playing the lower weave sets. Rather, it’s just a huge timesink and another chore I will never look forward to.
Leaderboard placements should be based on consecutive weave completions only.
Ever since the introduction of leaderboards, they have been skewed. They’re meaningless in the sense that they don’t account for overall progression. Currently, players earn placements simply by their highest ever completed weave. A player who completed 120 to 159 will be placed lower than a player who was invited and only completed weave 160. Please make consecutive weave completions the primary condition for leaderboard placements.
Finally, I’m directly pinging @Fatshark_Hedge here in the hope that he’ll direct this feedback to whoever Shark is responsible for making decisions in regards to the Weaves game mode.