Talent design feedback & critiques

Ever since the new batch of talents appeared in the 2.0 beta, I have been troubled by several, sometimes repeated, designs choices. I highlighted my issues with these choices in several posts on the Winds of Magic beta boards. But seeing as how we are now more than half a year removed from the beta (and the beta boards have been closed), I thought it would be prudent to speak up yet again.

NOTE BEFORE CONTINUING.
I am, emphatically, not discussing talent balance in this topic.
I am discussing my issues with the mechanical design of these talents.
I will only bring up balance where it is absolutely necessary.
I also will, mostly, refrain from providing suggestions. I am not a game designer, nor do I know what can and cannot be done in the game like an actual Fatshark employee does.

KURNOUS’ REWARD vs DEATHLY DISSIPATION

Kurnous’ Reward
Killing a special or elite enemy with Trueflight Volley restores 30% ammunition.

Deathly Dissipation
Killing a special stops your spells from generating overcharge for 10 seconds.

On the surface these talents are remarkably similar, both effectively reward ammo for killing specific enemy types. The devil is in the details. Kurnous’ Reward works on both specials and elites, while Deathly Dissipation only works on specials.

Pressingly, Sienna’s ranged weapons are not all paragons of special killing like Trueflight Volley is, or crossbows, or handgun, or many other weapons. The Pyromancer player can easily be shut out of gaining value from their talent by the presence of a superior special sniper on the team depending on their weapon. I believe that deserves some consideration, especially since the Pyromancer lacks for talents that would otherwise give them ‘ammunition’ management (outside of Exhaust, which has its own issues).

MASTER HUNTSMAN
Just going to stick this in here since it is tangentially related to the prior discussion. There is a glaringly obvious problem with this talent; not every mission has a boss, even in Cataclysm. Thus this talent can be rendered 90% useless by pure chance. That’s just awful.

MAINTENANCE TALENTS
‘Maintenance Talents’ is the label I am giving to the group of talents that provide the player with a limited duration buff for a period of time after performing a specific action. Thus enticing the player to periodically continue performing said action to maintain the buff.

Some examples of Maintenance Talents includes: the Witch Hunter Captain’s ‘Heretic Sighted,’ the Battle Wizard’s ‘Soot Shield’, and Handmaiden’s ‘Willow Stance.’

Now, on the whole, I don’t have any deep seated issues with the mechanics of these talents. In fact, there are a good number of talents in this vein that I believe are perfectly acceptable and well implemented. Talents like the Ranger Vet’s ‘Exuberance’ or even effects like the Mercenary’s passive ‘Paced Strikes’ are very good and do not deserve much, if any, scrutiny.

The problems arise when the activation requirements are not carefully chosen. Poorly chosen triggers can negatively affect the player psychologically. Let us consider the Slayer’s talent ‘Grimnir’s Focus.’

Hitting an enemy with a charged attack reduces damage taken by 40% for 5 seconds.

The major issue should be apparent to anyone who has played Bardin for any great length of time: many of his melee weapons do not use their charged attacks every 5 second. Some weapons, like warpick, have charged attacks that are more situational, and some like 1 handed ax or dual axes simply have weak charged attacks.

Thus ‘Grimnir’s Focus’ presents a conundrum for the thoughtful player. The player must either stick to weapons that make constant use out of their charged attacks or force themselves to consistently perform an attack they don’t want to use in order to maintain the buff.

I find the latter of these to be utterly unacceptable. A player should not have to contort their play in an unnatural way to accommodate a talent. The former might possibly be acceptable were it not for the fact that the Slayer’s other damage mitigation/avoidance talents in the same row (‘Oblivious to Pain’ and ‘Barge’) are both pitifully inadequate at the task.

Thus even after the nerfs to Q canceling & a buff to his base health the Slayer is still dominated by greathammer builds, because it is a powerful weapon that can easily take greater advantage of the Slayer’s available talents that most other weapons.

Other Maintenance Talents that I believe could use a stern review are: Drakira’s Alacrity, Hunter’s Pursuit, Blood Drinker, & Spring-Heeled Assassin. They all either require the player to go out of their way to maintain said buff or are completely random procs that are outside of the player’s control entirely.

SKULL-SPLITTER & A THOUSAND CUTS
I really, really dislike that these talents attempt to force the player to use very specific weapon setups. It means there is so little choice in this talent tier. I believe it is a deplorable concept that sucks the fun out of the Slayer’s special niche of being able to pick two complementary melee weapons. The fact that Hack & Slash exists as an alternative is not comforting in the slightest.

Between these two talents and the whole Grimnir’s Focus thing above, I can’t bloody stand playing Slayer anymore. It offends my sensibilities on an almost spiritual level, like putting the milk in first.

RIDE THE FIRE WIND
Another vexatiously random talent. Sure, unlike things like Master Huntsman this always provides some benefit. But the issue is that it is an entirely random element that cannot really be planned around by the playser. It just gives a fluctuating power buff. Nothing dependable, nothing that will affect the way the player plays. Just a buff to their ‘Damage Dealt’ number at the end of the mission.

It’s a talent that is taken because ‘well at least it will always be buffing my ranged attacks’ rather than because it excites the imagination of the player with the possibilities it provides. This talent somehow manages to be more boring than its neighbor that only gives 5% attack speed. At least the player can depend on flat attack speed to be there when it counts.

HELBORG’S TUTELAGE & SMITE
These talents are just inefficient. Especially Tutelage due to Mercenary’s innate crit bonus. These should be good talent options for giving slower weapons like the greathammer & greatsword better proc uptime, but the whole “no random crits” bit scares people off. Especially since Mercenary and Zealot don’t really have much reason to not stack crit, so the talents don’t end up really providing much benefit than being able to pick two minor properties on your gear. Gear that many players might not have due to wanting crit gear on their other careers.

If these talents didn’t have anti-synergy with normal crit stats they would be much better. I rather like the idea of a talent that can generate and store a guaranteed crit. Perhaps something like “After not being hit by an enemy for X seconds, your next hit will be a guaranteed critical strike.” Something that that would be very valuable to slower weapons since they could start out every fight with Swift Slaying active.

SPIRIT-CASTING
Why does the reckless, half mad Pyromancer who benefits from slinging spells willy nilly and living dangerously get a talent that promotes playing safe & defensively?

The only other talent in the game that takes health into account is the Zealot’s ‘Castigate’ talent, which rewards the player for living dangerously like the Zealot passive does. Meanwhile Spirit-Casting works at cross purposes with the Pyromancer’s passive of “shoot lots of spells, get lots of damage.” Critical Mass encourages the player to chew through their health via aggressive manual venting to keep the fireworks going and the damage rolling. But Spirit-Casting says “no, be more conservative and don’t vent away your health.” Why this talent exists on the Pyromancer is truly beyond my comprehension.

3 Likes

This is what you get, when 1 person does the entire talent rework for 15 classes.
Maybe in a year or two, when FS kicks the game together to a state where another BB can be done, this will be addressed.

It’s true that sienna isn’t as good at killing specials compared to longbow for example, but she can still kill specials at a reasonable speed at medium to close range.

This is true, the more talents revolve around special and elite killing the more people are gonna focus that to get their buff active, its the same as dealing the killing blow while you know players use temp on kill.

She does have plenty, she has crit refund, temp hp on ult, exhaust, (deathly dissipation)

Huntsman also has a talent which gives ammo only on special killing. Making it so deathly dissipation works on elites would make it super strong, most players already pick it, adding elites would make it be able to proc all the time and stop once you killed all elites.

Yes thats an issue. Making it the same as bh talent wouldnt again make it that more players are competing for those elite kills.

This is a fine talent, not hard to keep up at all.

Fine aswell, you’ll prob be using fire as bw so i dont see this being an issue being procced alot or atleast when in a fight.

Handmaiden’s career is kind of focussed around dodging, also this isnt hard to keep up at all when fighting, you’ll mostly dodge anyway without thinking.

I dont understand why you would say this talent is easier to keep up, than for example soot shield or willow stance. Yes it forces you in a certain ‘playstyle’ but its not like they make you change to a bad playstyle. Talents like ‘last resort’ make you play different then how a career is supposed to be played. not talents like ignite enemies on a sienna or dodging.

This is true tho, if you wanna use this you should heavy every 5 seconds, this is a fine talent on 2h hammer but it can need a bit more micromanaging on different weapons, i think this talent is fine personally.

Yes correct, hack and slash is a boring and lazy talent, they should tweak this talent.

This talent is indeed like you said ‘it will just buff my attacks’, the 5% attck speed talent isnt more exciting tbh.
Also i’m confused by your views on talents. First you say you don’t like talents which make you change the way you play or use a weapon, for example grimnirs focus. But now you say you don’t like Ride the fire wind because it doesnt change how a player plays, its just there, and you can play around the buff you just need some more managing and most players including myself just range and if its at 20% thats a nice bonus. So from what i understand so far is that you want talents which dont depend on rng, doesnt need mechanics to activate, doesnt need specific kills to activate, just flat buffs like 5% attack speed?

For mercenary this does increase your crit chance on some weapons, and 2 properties are not really minor. also on zealot the attack speed talent kind of overshadows this. But i agree mostly i’d rather use other talents, except if i go something like merc + blunder crit xD. but yes a little tweak could never hurt here.

This talent is pretty strong. you do need temp hp on ult or a merc to keep this up, killing an elite sometimes to get temp hp, combine this talent with crit refund and you’re good. As long as you don’t get hit and you only take damage from venting you can keep this up consistently, if you do get hit it needs a bit of work to stabelise again. strong talent, even by just going melee pyro and using crit refund ult, it increases your refund chance alot and you dont really have to worry dropping below 80% hp if you can keep your temp hp up by meleeing.

Bonded Flame is also “ammunition management” because thp is your ammunition on pyro. This is why DD works differently than Kurnous’ Reward.

I think something OP is looking for is not flat stat buffs (hack n slash) but not something that forces you to play differently (grimnir’s focus). Things that activate from playing normally (paced strikes) but aren’t totally random in the sense that’s it’s top tier or worthless depending on the situation (master huntsman). I gotta agree for the most part - talents that encourage you to kill certain enemies can be kinda toxic in qp but from a gameplay perspective, I think it’s good to have different roles, only problem is not being able to decide your team comp in-game. And talents that require too much effort should use a different activation condition.

4 Likes

Why did you add Hunter’s Pursuit here? BH gets guarenteed ranged crits every 10 seconds. The buff lasts 10 seconds. You should be using your crit every 10 seconds.

Spring-heeled assasin & Blood Drinker - With DD builds, this is basically 100% uptime on 20% movement speed/DR during combat. This also doesn’t really fit the spirit of your critique. Also Dual Swords and SnD can maintain the buff at pretty much 100% without changing gameplay at all.

I read over those talents for some reason, i agree with you.

I am also confused what his point is, the reasoning on the talents are conflicting, so i’m unsure what his point is.

2 Likes

Very interesting read, and very focused on the core.
I’ll follow on that part

The issue there, for me, is not the specific weapons he asks. I, on the opposite, do like that thoses sort of talents exist (there’s kinda the same for kerillian and his types of bows). The issue there, is that there’s little choice in terms of gameplay. Either you happen to use 2 heavy weapon and you have to select this buff, or you have 2 lights and you have to use the other buff, or you have a mix and you have to use the last buff.

So there’s actually NO choice involved in this talent row, so NO versatility.
It could be a passive that select automatically the buff given the weapons you use. It’s what we can call an “auto select” talent. Not because the others choices are subpar, but because they actually do not work at all.

There COULD be a choice if :

  • it target light and heavy strikes instead. So no dependant on the choice you make. (Your charged attack do this, your light attacks do this).
    OR
  • Each talent of that rows target the 3 cases with differents sort of buff =>
    Talent 1 :
    Speed
    If you have 2 heavy weapons, your charged attacks gain X% attack speed
    If you have 2 lights weapons equipped, you move X% faster
    If you have a mix, you can switch between weapons X% faster
    Talent 2 :
    Power
    If you have 2 heavy weapons, your charged attacks gain X% power
    If you have 2 lights attacks, your light attacks gain X% power
    If you have a mix, your first 2 attacks gain…

Well you get the idea. it actually provides more choices and more playstyle but will have to get a theme to stay simple. And they’ll be pretty lengthy in text.

I don’t follow your logic. Yes, I can see why you would say that Bonded Flame is another form of ‘ammunition management’ talent on the Pyro, but how does it follow that Deathly Dissipation must only work on specials due to Bonded Flame existing? I don’t follow that line of thought at all.

I’ll admit that Hunter’s Pursuit is of lesser concern due to the Bounty Hunter’s passive. But it’s still of the same breed as Drakira’s Alacrity, forcing the player to pull out their ranged weapon every few seconds to pop off a shot. It’s not a large burden on the player, but it still fits the criteria so it would have been hypocritical of me to not include it.

As for the Shade talents, I don’t see how they don’t fit. They are totally random procs entirely outside of the players control. They only reward some combination of slapping crit on your build, using weapons with extra crit chance, and praying. Surely the Shade has some other, non-random, mechanic that could serve as a trigger condition for some talents like these.

I believe we agree more than you understand. I would not mind these talents in the least were it not for the fact that the player has to give up both weapon slots to use them and make the talent tier a non-choice.

If these talents simply worked on the principle of “oh hey, you’re using a 1 handed axe, that means you get +10% attack speed! Hooray!” instead of the principle of “you must take two of these types of weapon or the talent is just waste of space and memory” then I would have absolutely zero issue with them.

1 Like

Deathly dissipation is not comparable to Kurnous’ reward, one of those only activates only on the career ability, Huntsmans’ shot crafter gives 10% ammo on special kill which would be a comparable talent.

I did forget about Shot Crafting somehow. That’s my bad.

But I believe that all 3 talents are very comparable with one another. Plus my point still stands, why does the Pyromancer only get rewarded for killing the type of enemy that the majority of her weapons are mediocre at killing?

Trueflight excels at killing specials and elites.
3 out of 4 of the Huntsman’s ranged weapons are extremely good for killing all specials.
And only 2 out of 5 of the Pyromancer’s staves have the range and accuracy needed to be particularly effective at special sniping.

If Deathly Dissipation procc’d on elite kill you’d almost never need to vent. Thus bonded flame becomes a flatline heal which is not the intent. The intent is that it gives you thp to fuel your venting. That’s why it functions as an ammo sustain talent. The difference between Kurnous’s Reward and Deathly Dissipation is that Kurnous’s reward is the elf’s only form of ammo sustain. If your whole point is to compare WS ammo sustain to Pyro vent sustain, you have to take into account the full range of talents that enable the ranged sustain.

I don’t understand this because it’s a ranged character. If you don’t want to pull out your weapon and shoot, why would you pick BH? I just don’t see how you can argue this is bad class designed when it’s designed perfectly around the other talents of the class and is made to work with the class mechanically.

Not every talent is made to work with every weapon. If you’re using DD, it has 10% increased crit chance, shade has 5% and the baseline is 5%. This means that you have 20% crit chance without even running crit. You run 5% on trinket and 5% on weapon and you’re at 30%. Given DD’s attack speed, there is 100% uptime on these two talents during combat. The same is true for SnD and Dual Swords. I see what you’re trying to say, but there is no other mechanic that could be as consistent for Shade unless you make it proc on all light attacks or you just make it a flat buff. Shade is a career built around crits and backstabs. These talents fit the class and work perfectly in practice.

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These are fantastic talents, the only issue is they’re on completely the wrong classes. Move them to FK and RV, or even replace Slayer’s 5% crit chance talent with one of these and they’d be instantly competitive, if not meta depending on the row they were put.

Seriously FS, give Helborg’s to FK. DO IT.

You’re getting into balance concerns, which are outside of the scope of what I wanted to talk about. Of course it would be dumb for Dissipation to keep its current effect and then also work on elite kills. I’m not criticizing the talent based on that criteria or asking for that change.

I am criticizing the talent based on two criteria: the fact that it works poorly with over half of Sienna’s ranged weapons, where similar talents do not have that restriction, and the lack of alternative talent in the same tier that provides a similar benefit to the other types of weapons.

It may be that having a good heat management talent of any sort on top of Bonded Flame is inherently imbalanced. I would not claim to know, I am not some paragon of game design and balance. But I do know this; balance is something that can be addressed in better ways than holding on to a talent that so poorly meshes with the tools available to the career.

I never stated it was “bad class design.” I stated that I dislike talents that force the player to think to themselves “even though I am performing Action X right now, I need to put that on hold to engage in Action Y in order to keep my buff going.”

Why can’t the talent simply trigger on a weapon agnostic effect like “on elite kill” or something? Why must it involve the action of potentially swapping weapons? What is the value of forcing the player to take that extra step? I don’t see one.

They work perfectly well so long as the player sticks to a specific paradigm.

I’m fine with talents only really affecting certain weapons under specific circumstances. Look at the 2nd tier row of talents for Shade, they all give damage bonuses in one way or another. Exploit Weakness realistically only benefits hagbane & dual daggers, but Cruelty is there for other crit heavy build that aren’t dual daggers and Exquisite Huntress is perfectly usable by basically everything, but requires a bit of skill to use. Thus we have a talent of very narrow scope and two talents of much broader scope that all offer the player a variation of “more damage.” Plus there’s even a spectrum of active vs passive in the tier, which also just gives the player that much more choice in the matter. This is all very good A+ stuff.

For the Shades 5th tier of talents we also have a theme going on: damage mitigation/avoidance. The big problem is that 2 of the available talents only cater to a small subset of potential builds, i.e. crit builds. And while it’s nice that Gladerunner exists for everyone else, I don’t see the value in having two crit activated talents in the same row doing kinda the same thing. And that’s not even getting into my distaste for effects that are tied to pure random chance. Why can’t there be a talent here that triggers on headshot? Or lasts for X number of seconds after coming out of stealth? Or any number of other things? Why must it be something that is both highly random and only services a small portion of the potential rainbow of available options?

Your reasons are super conflicting with each other.

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I guess you just forgot about burning head? This talent works very well with any weapon on Pyro.

So all talents should just be passive? Isn’t it good to have talents that are interactive and/or require the player to turn his brain on?

It seems like the only talents you would be happy with given your conflicting criteria is 5% to attack speed or 5% to crit. If they can’t be procc’d by performing a certain action or crit chance or shooting a ranged weapon, then it sounds like you would object to any proc-based talent. This leaves only passive talents. IDK man. I just can’t agree with your line of thinking here.

I do agree with some of your conclusions. Grimnir Focus on Slayer is hella clunky. However, I pointed out the talents that work very well in practice. Perhaps you haven’t tried using them? I just don’t see a basis for complaining about talents that work because of some fluctuating criteria.

I am absolutely baffled by the talent Weight of Fire on bounty hunter.
At first when i saw the talents, I figured it just took your maximum ammo pool, essentially giving you a huge boost if your weapon had a lot in the bank.

This would at least make it compete with Open Wounds somewhat(which also assists your team AND melee). The fact that it gives you at the very most 15%, if you are using the volleyxbox and it’s your first shot. Seriously, the person who made this talent, must be such a massive brainlet.

??
It gives you power based on clip size, not current ammo left in the clip.
So the volley crossbow always has 15% extra power, BoP always has 12%, etc

2 Likes

Huh, must’ve updated it then. I am sure it wasn’t like that when the talent was first introduced. Even then though, it’s still complete trash.