To give insight to player about the changes involved with our Armor Up changes, Paladin buffs, and other balance changes we are writing a series of developer diaries to explain upcoming changes we have planned for the game.
In the last developer diary we discussed Physical Resistance Rating, Magical Resistance Rating, Melee Power, Ranged Power, and the mitigation that our heavier armors and shields will now provide. If you haven't read through it you can check it out here:
With this post we go into more depth about:
~ Using Melee Power to scale epic characters.
~ Melee in epic and Master's Blitz.
~ Changes to Two Handed Weapon feats.
~ Changes to Shield feats.
Melee Power, Epic Levels, and Epic Destinies
Before we talk about Paladins, their potential changes, and how they scale with Melee Power we wanted to talk about epic levels and Epic Destinies. This discussion will explain how Melee Power is distributed into the epic levels and throughout the Epic Destinies.
Currently on live an Epic Destiny power called Master's Blitz largely props up melee characters. Outside of some Druid builds that combine animal form with a convoluted combination of feats, enhancements and gear, most DPS heavy melee builds rely on Master's Blitz. To make things worse, there has been a great deal of player feedback indicating that Master's Blitz is also really annoying to use, to maintain, and to group with.
As we move forward with the armor revamp, we are examining the effect of Master's Blitz on Epic play. Although we like the new armor systems and how they interact thus far, the whole design and interaction with Master’s Blitz is problematic. We don't want to nerf melees in epic content. Instead we want to redistribute some of that damage into the Epic levels and the cores of melee Epic Destinies while at the same time making Master's Blitz more fun.
~ We hate the mechanic of spamming tactical powers 50 times to activate the power. Since the code doesn’t even require you to hit anything, this step is annoying and rather useless. We want to eliminate it.
~ We don’t like the group mechanic where melee has to try to convince other characters to not kill minions so they can build charges. We are discussing a system where this builds as the character hits opponents.
~ We don’t like that +250% damage is stacked into one tier 5 ability. Not only is this a poor leveling experience, but it overshadows the other melee oriented epic destinies.
We want to move some of this damage into the epic levels and core abilities so melee characters gradually build damage as you level them.
~ We want some other melee epic destinies to offer competitive DPS.
~ The dodge bonus goes against heavy armor, and adding a 50% dodge bonus that caps at the dodge cap is not only less than ideal, but it is too limited for characters wearing heavy armor.
~ We want to reduce the group scaling of hit points of bosses. This will reduce the hit points of bosses when you group, particularly on epic.
We want to roll some of the damage into the epic levels and the cores of the melee oriented Epic Destinies. In addition, with the changes to Master's Blitz, the ability will not only work better in groups but characters will be able to maintain the bonus of longer boss fights.
The plan is to convert the damage bonus of Master's Blitz to Melee Power and to roll some of that power into the epic levels and core abilities. Epic levels will provide 40 Melee Power, Epic Destiny innate abilities will provide 30 Melee Power, and Master's Blitz will provide 100 Melee Power when it builds up a full head of steam.
Here are our current changes for Master's Blitz and epic play for melee.
~ Master’s Blitz will be a multi-selector. You can choose the Dodge version which caps as it does today, or you can choose a version that adds 30 PRR and MRR as it builds up charges.
~ The requirement of spamming tactical abilities 50 times to activate the ability is removed.
~ When activated the ability builds as you hit enemies. You do not have to be the character who lands the killing blow. The rate that you build charges will be tweaked so it will build up at a decent rate.
~ Each epic level (from 21-28) will now provide a passive bonus of 5 Melee Power. This means that at level 28 characters will have an additional 40 Melee Power.
~ Legendary Dreadnaught will gain Melee Power in its innate abilities. Shrug Off Punishment, Action Hero, Unstoppable, Action Boost – Unmovable, Action Boost – Thick Skinned, and Combat Brute will each provide a passive and cumulative 5 Melee Power. This will provide an additional 30 Melee Power to characters when they complete the Epic Destiny.
Master's Blitz will now build up to 100 Melee Power through charges.
Note that with the Melee Power in epic levels, the melee power in the innate abilities, and Master's Blitz the character can build up to 250 Melee Power. That will provide a multiplier of 3.5 to weapon damage and effects that scale with Melee Power.
~ Shadowdancer also gains damage from its innate abilities. Shadow Training 1 through V and Shadow Mastery will each provide a passive and cumulative 5 Melee Power. This means Shadowdancer will gain 45 Melee Power from levels and 30 from innate abilities to keep it competitive.
~ Unyielding Sentinel also gains damage from its innate abilities. Vigor of Battle, Unbreakable, Stand Against the Tide, Stalwart Guardian, Heed No Pain, and Steadfast will each provide a passive and cumulative 5 Melee Power. This means Unyielding Sentinel will gain 45 Melee Power from levels and 30 from innate abilities to keep it competitive.
~ Primal Avatar also gains damage from its innate abilities. Strength of Spirit, Magic of Nature, Primal Travel, Mighty Amoung Spirits, Eternal Return, and Walk With Spirits will each provide a passive and cumulative 5 Melee Power. This means Primal Avatar will gain 45 Melee Power from levels and 30 from innate abilities to keep it competitive.
~ Fury of the Wild also gains damage from its innate abilities. Adrenaline, Brawn, Adrenaline II, Brawn II, Adrenaline III, and Adrenaline Overload will each provide a passive and cumulative 5 Melee Power. This means Fury of the Wild will gain 45 Melee Power from levels and 30 from innate abilities to keep it competitive.
~ Grandmaster of Flowers also gains damage from its innate abilities. Inner Focus, Centered Mind, Wholeness of Spirit, The Abiding Path, Ubiquity, and Balance in All Things will each provide a passive and cumulative 5 Melee Power. This means Grandmaster of Flowers will gain 45 Melee Power from levels and 30 from innate abilities to keep it competitive.
~ Divine Crusader also gains damage from its innate abilities. Just Cause, Aura of Purification, Extraordinary Virtue, No Remorse, Sword of Justice, and Zeal of the Righteousness will each provide a passive and cumulative 5 Melee Power. This means Divine Crusader will gain 45 Melee Power from levels and 30 from innate abilities to keep it competitive.
As we test these changes we can tweak individual Epic Destinies by changing the Melee Power provided by their innate abilities. If any particular Epic Destiny is doing too much melee damage we can dial back the Melee Power in the innates of that destiny.
What does this do for long term scaling? It means that we can change static abilities such as the Light damage that Paladins use to scale with Melee Power and increase substantially into the epic levels. As an example, the Knight of the Chalice ability Divine Light is fine in the earlier heroic levels but it is outscaled in the later levels.
By making it scale with 200% Melee Power an epic character with even the base 70 Melee Power from levels and innate abilities will see an increase from 18d6 to an equivalent of 43d6 damage.
This gives us long term tools to balance abilities.
Melee Power, Two Handed Fighting feats, and Shield Feats
To help further balance the system, some basic feats are being changed to add Melee Power as a passive bonus.
Two Handed Fighting adds 10 Melee Power while wielding a two handed weapon.
Improved Two Handed Fighting adds an additional 5 Melee Power while wielding a two handed weapon.
Greater Two Handed Fighting adds an additional 5 Melee Power while wielding a two handed weapon.
Shield Mastery adds 10 Melee Power while wielding a shield.
Improved Shield Mastery adds an additional 5 Melee Power while wielding a shield.
Improved Shield Bash adds an additional 5 Melee Power while wielding a shield.
In the next developer diary we will be talking about some of the Paladin improvements, including Knight of the Chalice changes, the redesign of Vorpal Weapon, and the increase in the duration of Zeal.