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.