One Month Later: Poking and Proding at the Game's Systems

For the last month, I’ve made it a personal quest to attempt to the play the game in manner different from the current popular meta of stun-locking opponents consistently to complete the game’s story mode and see how far I could get and to attempt to engage with as many game systems as I could to better understand them and offer feedback.

Assisting me in providing me feedback was the elusive Lyranica, who plays GoW with a casual playstyle. She was more than happy to finally be able to help me with “one of my beta tests”.

So, for now, were either of us able to reach the end of the story playing the story without stunlocking? Short answer: no. She made it to Chapter 10 (which surprised me), and I threw in the towel acknowledging that by Chapter 11, enemies cannot be straight-up tanked even at green Normal difficulty. More on this in the Gear Score portion of the post.

Next up, one at a time, my thoughts on the various systems in the game that have not already been discussed to death on these forums where possible (and of which the answer to all of these would be “it’s being re-balanced in the future” anyways).

These have condensed down into sections for readability.

VIP Offerings

I want to call out this system first, because this one is the system that caused the most conflict between Lyranica and myself.

Everyone sees the standard daily loot screen a ton of times each day. But, for the average casual player, they misread the screen frequently (as Lyranica did and still does).

They read the Daily VIP offer to be strictly the same as the big blue callout with Scorch on it. Two extra wood keys, one iron key, and one ruby key. While the ruby key is nice, players like Lyranica scoffed at only receiving four extra keys per day for the $10 USD subscription fee. This is because these players stop right there and do not tap on the VIP button to see the full list of VIP daily offerings.

If a player taps on the VIP pass button, there is an entire second set of keys offered in addition to the four keys listed on the top-level screen.

Players receive all of the rewards on the left side of the screen every day for free in addition to the four keys that everyone sees in the general advertisement.

As such, many players are perceiving the value of the VIP pass to be much less than the actual value of the pass are are potentially passing on VIP pass purchases because of misreading the value proposition being offered to them before making a decision about whether to purchase a VIP pass.

Space limitations are surely an issue here, but a stronger callout to show the full wealth of VIP offerings to players need to be made on the top-level screen, as many will never drill drown to see that second-level VIP offering screen.

Quality v. Quantity of Chest Loot

The chest system is interesting because it serves as an alternate proxy for keys, an intentionally scarce resource. A concept that I have seen talked about a lot is the need to constantly be sending pets on a missions for Ruby and Diamond chests. While this tactic does grant the player the highest quality loot, it does not necessarily give the greatest quantity of loot (especially when considering ore and food). Sending pets off on missions for low-rarity chests to more quickly farm food and ore is a good a trade off mechanic at the expense of higher quality gear, spell, and evolution components. I personally like this trade-off system.

Co-Op

This is a wonderful system, IMO. Even as we are halfway across the country from each other currently, Lyranica and I get to play with each other for multiple hours each night. This mode will surely be big for driving social engagement, especially if when Events are implemented, that Kingdom-mates can Co-Op together with each other to complete these Events. If this occurs, that would drive much stronger social bonds than what is currently capable with Guilds in GoW.

I really hope this happens in the full launch PQ3.

Gear Score

So… as I mentioned in the opening paragraphs, I focused purely on raising my gear score as high as possible to see how that would carry me through the story mode.

At the end of the 30th day of this account, I finally reached the 1000 Gear Score milestone.

By the time the enemy is in the 30’s, the scaling of damage far outscales the advancement of gear score to mitigate it. Yes, the gear score could have scaled to the 1200ish range at 30s across the board, but it really would not have made much of a difference at all. My +200 bonus armor effect from my epic breastplate does not even cover a single auto-attack’s worth of damage.

This problem is compounded with elemental weakness bonuses. If, in an encounter, the opponent is the color of the player’s elemental weakness, that match is almost a guaranteed loss for the player outside of either a fortunate starting board or some lucky skyfalls.

Because, otherwise, this happens (Chapter 10 screenshot).

And yes, there’s an obvious Mutiny Vance one-liner that could caption that screenshot. :stuck_out_tongue:

Farther in, even more silly damage numbers were appearing in Chapter 11.

That’s not a boss fight, that’s a skirmish encounter at Normal gear score difficulty.

And with bosses generally hitting for 2x normal damage on auto-attacks, boss encounters are pretty much “win in two rounds (at best) or die” (assuming the boss doesn’t crit on that first round…)

Yeah, this will be balanced out, but that’s the current state of the game where I am at.

Spell/Gear Leveling

On one hand, 50 levels of advancement to invest in gear can lead to becoming engaged with a specific set of gear. On the other hand, 50 increments of advancement can lead to some extremely minuscule power-up increments that are not satisfying at all to obtain.

The big problem is that the spread between Common level 1 and Legendary/Mythic level 50 is too small. As such, I agree with many of the forum posters here that currently, it is not worth the effort to level up spells for the most part. The rarity bonus of a spell is far more potent than the level component of a spell’s effectiveness currently.

The problem could be addressed with more of an curve-style advancement system than a linear one. While this obviously would not work with percentage based spell effects, for damage effects leveling up at levels 30+ should a stronger benefit than levels 1-9 for players. Gaining 1 point of damage for farming and spending 30+ spell shards sucks bigtime.

Armor and Resistance scores on gear fall into the exact same issue as spells.

I am looking forward to seeing how the game continues to grow and develop. :smile:

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I haven’t leveled a single spell past 1 since I had to scrap my common level 10 starter spell on Assassin. The rare at level 1 was stronger than the common at 10. Good legendary and mythic spells are essentially the only ones worth leveling in the current state of the game.

I have done a similar approach to all gear. Despite having all dungeons completed on max difficulty, most of my gear is either at level 1 or 10 due to rarity of gear vastly outweighing the leveling of gear. There are many epic equipment pieces that have a passive that is 2x the effectiveness of the same piece of gear at rare.

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Great post! I’m in mid chapter 9 with my necro main. While I don’t avoid a good stun, I don’t play stun-lock. Necro has its own issues due to the ultimate making skulls and not helping mana. But thats another topic.

I too have more or less been keeping up with my gear score. I shoot for hard. But hard at level 1 and hard at level 30 are not the same. In my opinion, they should be. There are variables like rng of the board, for sure. But what I mean is that if you get exactly the same boards, a low level hard battle should be the same amount of hard as a mid or high level hard battle. Otherwise the term has no meaning. Perhaps a bigger pool of difficulty levels would help.

I don’t know. But my biggest issue with the game is that the difficulty badge (don’t know what else to call it) has no concrete meaning past level 30. Not good.

Like you, I am optimistic this will be worked out.

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One of the sections that did not make the final version of the original post was similar to your thoughts.

I was talking about this very subject with Lyranica last night during our evening play session. Necromancers focus (especially their late-game spells) on pure skull generation. In their current implementation, they don’t focus on mana generation anywhere near as well.

From a game “feeling” perspective, at the beginning of the game the player with their limited spell inventory has to focus on learning the board and how to play with skill. However, as the player progresses, the “feel” of the game currently shifts from playing with skill to simply spamming the board with the favored gem type of the player’s class and stun-locking opponents. Super-overgenerous gem creating spells/ultimates really drive this concept to the player.

For example for a level 50 necro, Corrosive Rain + Legion of Doom (or Funeral Pyre if below 50, but harder to work with being a red-colored and high-cost spell) + Death Lance is absurdly overpowered at generating massive skull amounts of skulls.

After playing one class to 50 (necro) and now two more classes to 45+ (Shaman + Paladin), I can confidently say that all three classes currently end up playing exactly the same way in the late-game, only differentiating on which gem type/color to focus on generating. “Rainbow” (four-different spell color utility builds) simply do not work at all in the back half of the game right now.

Agreed. The issue is really just a factor of scaling. Small numbers times a big multiplier yield smaller numbers than big numbers times that same big multiplier.

I’m sure all of these issues (and more) will be worked out before the game goes formally “live” at hard launch. This isn’t their first (PQ1), second (PQ2), third (Galactrix), or even fourth (GoW) rodeo at this type of game.

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I don’t think it’s inherently a problem that certain strategies, like rainbow builds don’t work - to my mind it is a problem that a lot of the game design suggests that kind of play (e.g. +mana per color equipped item; certain spells of one color that generate a different color gems), when the underlying math of the game rules it out as a viable way to play. This seems to be a problem with a number of game aspects, that there is a conflict between game design and game mechanics (there may be better terms for this, but I think you all understand what I’m getting at - status effects that don’t matter because attrition isn’t relevant, bounties for evolving items, etc).

Lyrian, may I know what is this Death Lance you mentioned about?
I try to find it in game or any guide but cannot find this Death Lance.
Is it a spell or a weapon maybe?
I try to create a build for my Lvl 50 Necro but cannot find any good one for now.
So I plan to try yours but I cannot find this Death Lance.
Hopefully you can help.

Took me a minute but Death Lance is the Necromancer’s ultimate.

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Death Lance is the necromancer ultimate spell. It creates death gems that in turn create skulls

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For reference for those Necros looking to emulate:

  • Corrosive Rain: (80 Mana) Necromancer Level 30 Spell. Decrease the target’s Armor by 30, plus an extra 10% for every skull on the board. If their Armor is then zero, create 2-7 extra skulls. (This one doesn’t even scale with rarity, the gem creation is just random).

  • Legion of Doom: (120 Mana) Necromancer level 50 spell. Convert Rarity: [5 - 10] yellow gems to skulls, with a Level: [35 - 85] % chance to also convert all Rarity: [5 - 10] red gems to skulls. Really powerful.

  • Funeral Pyre: (140 Mana) Necromancer Level 20 Spell. Deal Level: [11 - 43] damage as fire, then create Rarity: [2 - 7] skulls on the board.

  • Death Lance: Necromancer Ultimate. Create 2, 4, or 6 Death Gems, based on charges. Death Gems do not match, double-tap Death Gems to spawn some skulls.

OMG. I didn’t realize it at all. Thanks for the replies. I thought it’s a gear or something.
Hmm then Necro build is still a bit tricky in current “meta” - (not sure whether we can call it a meta lol).
The problem is not enough spell/spell slot to generate blue gems.
Maybe I’ll try to find channel ice or black ice.
Because matching skulls will not give you mana so I feel that this Necro class is the trickiest of the 5 classes.
I know that there is an alternative of creating a blue magic damage build for Necro.
But I just want to try to utilize the ultimate spell which creates skulls and create a skull spam build.
Anyway thanks a lot for the answer. Much appreciated. :slight_smile:

It is tricky. At least, I have been finding it to be. I have a red build that can really make the most of the ultimate but its heavily dependent on stun. Since necro doesn’t favor red it’s sketchy and weird, heh. I have a blue build that relies a lot on black ice, but I haven’t really found a solid strategy for maintaining board control with it.