Let's Talk About.................. Difficulty

Let’s talk about… Difficulty

There’s a lot of bru-haha about the difficulty at the highest level on these fora. Almost every thread has some comment that something is too easy in legend, or people are cruising through legend difficulty with a blindfold on, wiggling their mouse and hammering F every two seconds. You know who you are.

Taking into account all of the patch changes of the last year(!) that have basically been fixing bugs the player-base are now expecting a fairly hefty patch to correct vast swathes of balance problems – but the real issues might be hidden until this patch is in place. Are we tackling the symptoms of difficulty issues rather than the issues themselves?

Dropping down to lower difficulties has been something of means of studying the difficulty challenges for me to observe others at lower levels and here’s my thoughts, based upon my time playing Legend and frequently going back to champ, veteran and recruit to try to identify why players are either cruising through the top difficulty or struggling with veteran and champion.

Here’s my thoughts;

Sweeping issue number 1)

The ranged game is still so strong because the difference in the level of risk between a Melee and Ranged player is like Chalk and Cheese. With hyperstacking of hordes, bosses thumping your through block, stacked patrol overheads often removing all stamina and disablers much harder to kill through melee, it all persuades the player that playing a ranged class is the easier way to garner your accolades – whether this is green circles or Emp Vaults and Reds. My opinion - Irrespective of the broken classes that REALLY reward ranged play, the punishment for Melee classes is more severe, with the ranged classes having a much easier time of it due to the main threats being simpler to kill at ranged. This is the state of play across all difficulties. Anyone who’se run Kruber or Slayer tootling through levels while enemies get pinged left right and centre by arrows before you get near… well… you know.

Sweeping issue number 2)

Hordes are a walking Medikit once you get to level 20. Feeling relief that a horde is coming because you’re at 20% health is the opposite of the experience I was hoping for. Defeating a level by triumphing over formidable odds is always the better experience for me, and by not taking the Temp Health on Kill talent and dropping down a level or two I have more exhilarating games due to the level of tension ramping up and not being able to boost my own health by slaughtering a walking Heal Pot. It promotes better teamplay too as people tend to stick together a bit more if they’re likely to succumb at the next horde rather than windmill into the whole thing getting healthier along the way. 0.o. This mechanic also gives a big jump in how easy the game gets once you go above level 19. IT might give players a poor impression of difficulties above Vet as they’ve plugged away, getting killed a lot in Veteran below level 20.

For those of us knocking on a bit, Tomb Raider 1 on PS1 had some of the best tension in a game purely because you could only save when you found a blue diamond, and limping through a cave complex hoping you don’t meet a bear really heightened the gameplay and tension of the whole thing. In Tomb Raider 2 they made it so you could save anywhere you liked, which made it much easier – so they put in some ludicrously frustrating jump puzzles and enemy spam to compensate and those who loved TR1 slated TR2 for the design choice to allow people to save all the time. This is what we have here.

Sweeping issue number 3)

Losses at Legend are more often caused by Hyperstacking or Special Spam than slowly being overwhelmed. By this I mean that games go from OK, to absolutely not OK in the blink of an eye due (largely) to specials spawning like a MoFo or Hordes or patrols hyperstacking hits. I can count on one hand in over 700 hours play occasions when there has been a slow failing of team members who have put up a valiant defence before falling in battle. Usually its 1 or 2 down damn quick with the final 2 players deleted almost immediately. Often the end scene is 2 players getting stabbed up while another is getting kerb-stomped by a patrol and the final player is in a gas cloud. No fighting defence, No forlorn last stand, No extended two man valiant struggle to revive your homies, not very often anyway.

For me, that’s the three big underlying issues with difficulty that underpin the problems with ALL difficulties. It is compounded in Legend but the same issues are in recruit, and if you ever go back to recruit and play with new players, they’re getting hammered into the floor quite hard by these three issues – before they even get into the whole business of broken builds and Meta ranged gameplay and optimum weapons. Fix these things and then look at balancing the more detailed things.

Fix Pyro though. Please Sigmar Fix Pyro.

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The smoothest runs for me are normally 1 ranged and 3 melee. Our groups normally look something like Merc, Zealot, Slayer and WS. Or UC, shade/HM, Merc and RV.

I wouldn’t mind a higher difficultly though. We’re already regularly clearing Legend Deeds with Twitch mode enabled. Anytime there’s at least 4 people on discord, that’s what we do.

Now, jumping down to QP is a completely different story. Half the players I meet don’t run Curse Resistance, or look something like Dual Swords HM with Swiftbow. lol wut? Champion QPs are 10x worse. The average champ player doesn’t even know how to block push attack, or in the case of a WS I saw, didn’t know you needed to use heavy attacks for armour. They had used glaive for so long, they just light spammed everything with daggers thinking it would kill CWs.

I very much agree on the temp health point you bring up, just like you say I’ve had times where I’m on low health fighting elites or whatever, and am relieved when the horde horn sounds. Because baby, that’s some easy temp health I’m about to get back. This should really not be the case, it wasn’t in vt1. The slow death was much more prevalent in that game, and the games were in a way a lot more varied that way, with players going down and out without a run-ending scenario presenting itself.

I’d like to see some kind of nerf to the temp health talent on kill. Either nerf the amount, or drastically increase the rate of which temp health deteriorates. I think this would do a lot to increase the difficulty in a more “orderly” manner, not just the game director spawning in 5 groups of plague monks with quad disablers and things like that to make the game difficult. It would also be a step to make the other temp health talents more useful, simply by making temp health on kill less trong.

Maybe remove temp health on ranged kills entirely? Make it so you only get it on melee kills. That would mean all the pyros and bhs would have to switch to melee to get their health back, not just wiggle some more far away from danger. Just a suggestion, might not be a good one.

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While you’re clearly an accomplished player who is part of an expert group, I suggest you’re in the top 0.5% of the player base being able to complete legend deeds in Twitch Mode. If Temp Health was removed completely or as @Fattigkussen suggests, this would markedly increase the difficulty.

20+ Plague Monks isn’t a gradual overwhelming of the players, it’s a fairly cheap tactic to incapacitate at least one player damn fast. No so much Vermintide as Vermin-instant-beatdown.

You make good points about players understanding of the game mechanics though, but not everyone gets so involved as us. Tooltips being improved possibly? Maybe voicelines says “Take a hefty swing to kill that thing!” Rather than “Go for the eyes”?

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Well, the fact most people I meet in QP currently struggle with Legend. I think taking away Temp HP would make it nearly impossible for them, while not affecting my groups really at all. It’s not uncommon for us to finish a game and the highest damage taken across all four of us is 180 in a normal legend game. Now, drop down to QP Legend or Champion QP, I sometimes take over 200 damage just in FF incidents. lol…

Here’s a Legend Twitch Deed done by our group leader and a few others,

Details:

Legend Righteous Stand - Twitch 30/30 / DHDD / Vanguard / Sudden death
8 bosses / 92 Specials / 165 Elites

I would say a higher difficulty would look something like, no temp HP, and the deed modifier “DHDD”, or double health, double damage on all the time.

Increasing the caches of healing for the majority would encourage teamwork to move to the next point of healing while being able to remove Temp Health.

Tweaking Hordes is a way of increasing the difficulty, as dealing with a horde on Athel is harder than Into the Dark as the funneling of hordes over ledges or jumping up ledges is painfully easy. I always get a horde in the boneyard where the 2nd Grimoiire is, and they ALWAYS hop up the ledge to die, and then run from behind to die. Everyone Temp Health, no big problems. Even a boss here doesn’t cause too much issues as the horde is so funneled into your blades…

Strongly agreed on point 2 (that’s not a comment on other points). I think it’s kind of funny that characters/weapons that are too good at dealing with hordes can be ultimately detrimental to the team if the player insists on taking all the kills, when all 4 players could “leech” white HP off of them relatively risk free.

Easiest fix/bandaid is probably to scale HP gain based on enemy type. Eg. slaverat = 0.25 HP, clanrat = 1HP, marauder = 2 HP, etc.

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I only play Legend difficulty, and my old squad of regulars have pretty much moved on from Vermintide 2. So that leaves me playing QP quite often. Yes, now I see we tend to wipe a LOT… and this is the summary of reasons:

  1. players rushing forward, get out of position and in a dangerous spot… suddenly surrounded, then downed.

  2. poor teamwork or lack of teamwork play.

  3. players and teams that have poor sense of surroundings - do not know how to avoid a patrol.

  4. players who leave the battle to grab a grim or tome mid boss… or dont attack a boss while it is occupied aggroing another teammate.

  5. poor positioning, teams that do not synergize well because people are too “self” focused than team focused.

  6. players who just play poorly. Slow reaction to disablers, slow reaction to reviving a downed teammate. In Legend QP there are quite a few players who really need to step down a difficulty.

  7. teams that have players looking forward only. High lack of situational awareness. They see horde coming from front, handled well by front 2. Then the whole party immediately just looking forward when theres enemies dropping in or rushing from behind or flanking… then suddenly you are surrounded and poke damage failure occurs. When I am playing in a team like this, can usually expect to wipe at some point. Instead of taking out rear angle specials or flanking enemies, they start attacking people who were originally on front line duty. Again symptom of extremely poor team play.

I think the main reasons why teams wipe is not fault of actual skill in game - its more because they are out of place, out of position, mismanage their build, or simply risk the whole team by walking in front of a patrol line of sight.

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And this, I’d say, is actually partly the fault of the temp health system and the ranged combat difficulty.

These people wouldn’t be as numerous on Legend if they hadn’t been empowered to reach it without learning these basic things. They’d be seeded out before they got there, but instead, broken builds and horde killing empowerment allow them to make their way to Legend and win often enough to believe that that is where they belong, which isn’t true. That’s not a good thing at all.

What’s also not a good thing is that if this were to be fixed, these people would raise a humongous stink and call for nerfs slash buffs to everything. Don’t forget that all shatfark does is NERFING HEROESS!!!1111 EVERYTHING FUN GETS NERFEDDDDD!!!111 Yeah, we’d get that. Because the people propagating those opinions were typically newcomers that eventually got seeded out, and the ones that stayed around comprise the bulk of the players you’re talking about.

The sad thing is that if these two issues weren’t a thing, they would, by and large, not get any better. Instead, I’m quite sure they’d all have quit the game because it’s too difficult for them and doesn’t motivate them enough to improve. So, things would be bad no matter what! That’s reassuring.

EDIT: 30 minutes later, and fatfish release a patch that literally goes and fixes at least the temp health to a solid visible degree. Let’s see how full of wordfilter I was this time!

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Valid points regarding the sweeping issues, the most important being #3. Brutal Special Spawns = Death.

I’ve logged about 200 hours or so on VT2 and have gotten to the point where Champion is a breeze and only challenging in QP (~9 out of 10 successes). Legend, on the other hand, is still ridiculously hard, even moreso than before the patch (~1 out of 10 successes). And the vast majority of failures during Legend are not due to poor teamwork or bad gameplay, but rather to brutal Special Spawns. We’ll be tanking and tracking along no problem, only minor damage mostly, and then BLAMO - a horde, multiple hook rats and/or assassins, flame bastards or ratlings also in the mix, dead dead DEAD. And that’s not counting the patrols literally spawning right in front of you (during a horde, no less) or chaos spawns occurring while neck-deep in a horde and specials. What gives with the ridiculous spawn system on Legend?! It’s one thing to go down swinging, but spawning three hook rats to TPK the party during a horde?! Really?! And that’s not uncommon.

I believe FatShark needs to add another difficulty mode between Champion and Legend. Clearly, there are top-tier players out there as well as die-hard masochists who love Legend in all its brutal glory, but for the good-but-not-great players like myself who’ve put in the time and still want a challenge without being overwhelmed and killed almost every damn time, a middle-of-the-road solution makes sense. Champion as is too easy, Legend is too hard, and the difficulty divide between them is immense.

I think this discussion on difficulty might be a little out of date now the Beta is running for balance BUT, the new talents currently have made things a bit easier (for me at least) in Legend.

However I think I’m similar to you in that I can cruise through Champion without too much concentration but get ripped a new one regularly in Legend due to the Specials kerbstomping me. I think introducing a means of finding people who are about to START a deed in the lobby browser might be good… although joining deeds in progress should still not be possible. This might mean I could join a Champion game with some modifiers and have a bit of challenge without being systematically fisted by a series of Plague Monks.

I think there are ways of making things difficult other than spawning a Chaos Patrol directly up your Marmite Firtter, and I hope the continuing Balance changes will include a long look at the way the specials spawn in Legend.

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Argonaut, good points. I agree that FatShark needs to find ways to balance the Special Spawns somehow, inject a little less randomness into it. For example, set a limit of specials on the board at one time; or how many of one type of special at one time; something along those lines. It should also be balanced versus whether there is a patrol or boss on the board. Bottom line, the spawn system needs to be set to only provide a maximum level of difficulty at any one time so a group doesn’t get wiped no matter how good they are.

There is a limit of maximum 4 specials up at the same time. Of these 4, only 2 are allowed to be of the same type. You can for example never have 3 or more active gutter runners at the same time.

There is also an intensity mechanic involved for at least bosses. After fighting a boss for a while, hordes/specials will stop spawning in until the boss is dead and the intensity modifier resets.

They can of course always look at changing these, but they are very much present already.

I suggest you try finding people to try Deeds with. While I have the advantage of a ready-made group, that’s what we did. Besides helping to smooth the difficulty jumps (which, I admit, are quite big), they can teach you to deal with certain issues better. If you feel your biggest trouble is Specials, find some with Seek and Destroy on them, as that will force you (and everyone else) to be very wary of specials at all times, and to learn to deal with them effectively. (I also recommend bringing a Ranger Veteran with you; his passive is valuable there.) Even a few (failed, too) runs can drastically enhance your performance in normal situations.

Other modifiers can teach different things, and some combinations will take things even beyond the next difficulty for that area. Try The Vanguard and HBFS for an example of that; there’s more Elites and they hit harder and stand more damage on champ than they do normally on Legend.

Good to know on the max specials. Regarding two max, though, I have been in groups where three hook rats have spawned and wiped the party, in the middle of a horde no less. Three. This happened twice that I can remember off the top of my head.

Even with the limits on specials(which I think might be bugged) Having 2 hooks + Gas + Gunner while I’m in the middle of a Plague Monk Mosh Pit is a huge difficulty spike.

My smoothest runs are shade / huntsman true duos.

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