View Full Version : Forests and Trees - the Enhancement Forest

04-12-2013, 11:05 PM
As I have not studied botany, I can only describe a tree based on observation. I know what a tree looks like. It is a plant that has roots to support it and a trunk above. Branches are attached to the trunk, and leaves to the branches.

What I am seeing on lama right now is not a tree. It is a forest of saplings. Tiny, independent trees. Limited action points. Three or more separate root systems and trunks that you have to build before you can even start the good stuff on the branches and leaves. Each is completely separated and isolated from each other, so that strong roots on one do nothing to help support another one.

We could call it the Enhancement Forest (not to be confused with the Enchanted Forest).

Now if you want to see a motherfiretrucking tree, go download Path of Exile. If Path of Exile offered DDO-style combat, movement and camera location/angles instead of feeling like Diablo, I would not have even considered ever touching DDO again after trying it. Their enhancement tree is a thing of beauty. It is more of an enhancement galaxy. I feel all warm inside just thinking about it.

I play DDO for variety and fun. I don't worry too much about flavour of the month, because by the time I would cap it, the nerfbat would arrive. Of course I do some min-maxing, and pick the most powerful abilities based on how I want to use the character. Everyone does. It's the type of people that played D&D long ago, who still comprise many of the most active players. I don't know anyone who puts skill points into swim, takes Diehard as a feat, or runs a multiclass 10/10 wizard/cleric. The game would have to go even further down the Hello Kitty wormhole to enable that type of thing for new players seeking a Bravery Bonus. If that's your goal devs, well, you're almost there. One or two more expansions and you'll be done.

The trees work well in Epic Destinies precisely because I can only spend points in one ED at a time. I could only have one ED active at a time. I am free to focus on that tree, and still have some viable options within that tree for different playstyles. I do not have to spread points across multiple trees to make a viable character, since my feats and enhancements make it viable, and the EDs are the whipped cream and cherry on top.

All this Enhancement Forest concept does is crudely bolt the Epic Destiny model onto the heroic enhancements. What I see on Lama right now is, quite frankly, the evidence of someone taking the lazy way out. All of the things that made the ED system a pleasant surprise? Not there for the Enhancement Forest. The Enhancement Forest is like having three or four seriously diluted and largely pointless EDs active at a time, with only enough action points to do something useful or interesting in one of them. Each tree is fully segregated from the others, but lacks any real variety - each is focused in a single area, and they do not share any common pre-requisites. With a few exceptions, any real power requires an expenditure of well over 40 AP into a single tree.

One of the things that everyone hates the most about prestige classes on live is that you have to take a few terrible pre-requisites to unlock the prestige. For any of my clerics, Prayer of Life (healing critical chance) and Prayer of Incredible Life (healing critical multiplier) are enhancements I would never touch were they not Radiant Servant pre-requisites. Empower Healing is a feat that only matters for two spells in the game, and it only became the norm for clerics after Radiant Servant was released. This isn't too bad on live, as it usually amounts to one feat and approx 4-6 AP invested into the useless enhancements to unlock a lot of power.

This enhancement pass takes that existing nuisance of ugly pre-requisites, and multiplies it five-fold or ten-fold. The number of action points I would have to invest in extra turning and similar items to get the healing aura on a cleric is disgusting. On the live servers, it is fairly trivial to build a level 12-13 cleric with Radiant Servant II that is capable of filling several roles as needed, and has useful enhancements like spell penetration, toughness, human improved recovery, etc. Not so under the new system - 40AP has to be dumped into one tree just to unlock the aura.

I can't even take the near-useless capstone without taking a bunch of absolutely useless pre-requisites like Pacifism or a Death Pact SLA. Two top-tier enhancements and the capstone means concentrating at least 46 AP into one tree. It wouldn't be quite as awful if the trees offered some variety or had more of the old enhancements available. There is a lot of new stuff in the trees that appears to be there solely for the sake of being new, or adds extra cost in action points for things that used to be bundled into the prestige. On the live servers, a capped character of mine might have 4-6 AP spent on pre-requisites that I don't want. On lama, that number is closer to 40 AP. That is a large amount of my character's power that will disappear unless this is changed.

Some of the new enhancements are headscratchers, and can only be there as filler that was injected because the person doing this ran out of ideas before the half-way mark. After spending 2 AP in order to get the (formerly free with the burst) radiant servant ability of regenerating a turn every two minutes, clerics can purchase the opportunity to regen turns 20% faster for the low, low price of 4 AP. So 2 AP for a 2 minute regen, and 6 AP for a 1:36 regen? Someone decided that would be a better option for clerics than keeping spell penetration available for a casting class? Who decided this? Why on earth would they do such a thing? Is this person proud enough of their "work" to come on over to the forums and chat with us about it? Perhaps we could have a nice chat over an anthill. I'll bring the rope, stakes, and honey.

I see the Enhancement Forest as imposing a high level of specialization and a plethora of frustratingly useless pre-requisites. These are the opposite of what I like about the game on live (variety and fun, remember), and it will affect all aspects of play.

From what I see so far, my characters will fill fewer useful roles in a party, and offer me less variety. In order to get one or two core powers from existing prestiges, they will have to completely give up on other abilities. This is going to hurt when leveling a character, and I strongly believe it will make DDO a lot less fun to play.

I had sincerely hoped that the enhancement pass would be an addition to the game, a breath of fresh air, and a burst of vitality. I wanted Tier 3 of Radiant Servant. I wanted to see dead prestiges like Deepwoods Sniper to become viable, for Bards to get some love, and for more options to become available. I longed for Warpriest, Exorcist of the Silver Flame, and the many other missing prestiges.

The current release on lama brings none of this to us - nothing that was promised so many times, for so many years. I am deeply disappointed with what I have seen so far. This has been in the works for far longer than the 3.5 years I have been playing DDO, when one considers the missing prestiges, the higher tiers of prestiges, and the two years on this enhancement pass. Is this really all you have to show for this much time, this much effort, and that many promises?

04-12-2013, 11:14 PM