I’m not sure if this should go here or in the Testlive forum, so feel free to move accordingly. I also haven’t seen any feedback on this topic here yet. I hope this doesn’t come off as scathing.
I absolutely love this game and love how much Funcom cares for what they do, so it is with my passion for this game that I say that for this re-balancing initiative, the proposed fix (at least all we can see short term) seems flat. Reducing thrall HP and damage by a % only lightly changes the PvP experience, and PvE just feels more grind-y atm in testlive. You can (and likely should) still let your thrall do all the work. You’re just spending more time standing still and shooting a healing arrow every once in a while.
Overall change in experience: PvP- mildly positive. PvE- moderately negative.
Instead of a stale hp/dmg/stat reduction, what if thralls buff/heal us in engaging ways? Different thralls giving different flat stat increase buffs to the player would be a simplistic start to the direction implied (but not the full idea). What we’re working with right now is large numbers that don’t budge, and I think people are considering “what if we make the numbers lower but not too low that thralls are useless?”, but what if that’s taken a little further and consider that they could be much lower, just more volatile? They should have much less health, near to our’s, so that there is a real consideration of danger, but health needs to ‘rubber-band’ more than it does currently.
I’m not trying to imply it needs to spike so much it’s like watching a game of ping-pong, but something more than topping off a large cup with a tiny hole in it in a faucet. Maybe like, a flag blowing back and forth calmly in the wind if you get where I’m going. That’s not a thing currently on production, or on testlive, and I think is the biggest reason people are wanting combat tweaks and players don’t feel like the heroes at the moment.
How about a mechanic (abilities?) that allows the health to get back up quickly? Something with short cooldowns so you need to play tactically? Honestly, I think this is a great opportunity to consider some sort of skill system to be implemented, and could make this game really stand out. It doesn’t need to be robust to start. This could even be behind the scenes with thralls at first, and would be an amazing addition to roll out to players if possible. So what about something like this:
- HP at lvl 60: 600-1000. To allow us to take on bosses instead of standing back as a second seat to our thralls, we could use a bit more health. Scale some heavy-hitter bosses down a bit, bring some weaker bosses and world/‘trash’ mobs up.
- HP at lvl 20: 600-1500, assuming damage reduction is scaled the same as players. This always seemed so odd to me as a player starting out. Bring that health way down. This range could vary a bit more, but should be at least close to our’s. Right now, the experience of seeing a thrall with anything more than about 2.5k hp and seeing our health on average around 450-600 is just strange. But you get used to it as you play, I guess.
- Abilities that Heal, Buff (to player and/or self). Some AI already has attack patterns like slams, could this be implemented similarly?
I feel like this is at least within sight of possible, right? Maybe adding the abilities into the AI rotation is the most difficult speed bump here? I understand this would take more time than a percentage change, but this seems like a unique path for a survival game to take, and so fun to consider what all you could add on to this:
- Different thralls could specialize differently. Some are Healers (Burst and HoT, or to keep it simple at first, their heal is for more and/or more frequent), Tanks (much lower dmg, higher def- you know), Buff-oriented AKA Supports (could be separate from healers, or same thing. Either way), and some are true Fighters/Archers (higher dmg, lower health). Thinking simplistically, this is like what we already have with certain thralls having a higher likeliness to increase x stat when leveling up, but it would be cool if this wasn’t just a likeliness of random stat increase. *Note: Still, with that said, all thralls would have the basic ability to buff/heal you regardless of ‘specialization’ so they are supporting you and not the other way around.
- You could eventually introduce these types of skills to players, possibly? I think a way to do this with what’s existing is if there was a second bar (like the creative mod, but for abilities), and abilities can be “items” that you can’t drop or move in to your inventory. They’d only be able to exist on that bar. Create an ability tree panel to gain access to the abilities. With that, you’d have a survival game that brings in tried-and-true rpg-style elements to combat (I feel like Conan aims for that RPG/Survival mix as-is) that you just don’t see in current survival games.
- To address having overpowered thralls at low levels, could you not have them on a leveling system where their level is always fluid with the player’s level they are currently following? And then to have their own “levels” they could have a second system like rank, where you can increase their rank to progress them and that stays as a multiplier with them, regardless of who they are following currently.
I tried to consider what is currently in-game and if this can be done as realistically as possible. It feels within reach at least for a mid-term vision, and adds so much flavor to the game and so many options.
This just feels right to me. It addresses PvE, it addresses PvP, it adds fun depth to thrall variety, enemy stats don’t need much changing, combat is even more engaging, can cater to both casual and hardcore, and it makes the player the hero. I’m sure there are larger plans, so maybe what I’m saying is thinking way ahead and I need to- slow my roll, bucko- but with just a flat % change announced as an answer to thralls feeling too strong, it feels like this would be communicated as a short-term fix upfront if there’s more plans like this in the works. Is there something I’m totally missing?