Skills rebalance proposal
|Classes and Skills|
|Final Mission (Spoiler!)|
- 1 Introduction and purpose
- 2 Skills
- 2.1 Rapid Clearance
- 2.2 Manual Control
- 2.3 Sneak Attack
- 2.4 Quick Aim
- 2.5 Boom Blast
- 2.6 Adrenaline Rush
- 2.7 Bloodlust
- 2.8 Onslaught
- 2.9 Vanish
- 2.10 Brawler
- 2.11 War Cry
- 2.12 Ready for Action
- 3 Other
- 3.1 Vengeance Torso
- 3.2 Bash and melee
- 3.3 Advanced Lasers
- 3.4 Biochemist
- 3.5 Frenzy
- 3.6 Certain AI behaviors
Introduction and purpose
This document is solely for discussion purposes among players, primarily in the Community Council. This is an attempt at identifying OP skills (and a few other items in the tactical layer), describing why they are OP and presenting suggestions.
Some common themes:
- Stacking damage buffs (from the skills #Bloodlust, #Brawler and #Sneak Attack, the personal perk Reckless and weapon profiencies perks, the Vivisection and Moon Data Analysis) and mixing them with skills/abilities that reduce AP cost ( #Adrenaline Rush, #Boom Blast, #Vengeance Torso, #Quick Aim and Rage Burst) can result in absurdly high DPS. This can be appreciated in the 'damage map' presented here. Absurdly high damage is not fun, because it renders any challenge trivial
- Things that are OP as part of a meta-build are often of little use outside of it, not fitting the 'natural' role of the class
- Things that are OP are often not 'tactical' because they render mute a choice between different alternatives
- Things that are OP are often 'immersion breaking'
Not all the members of the Community Council were involved in the discussions that resulted in this document. Expressions such as "in general", "everybody", "nobody", "some of us", refers to participating members.
The discussions focused on issues, rather than solutions. Some suggestions appear to be generally well-liked, while others are only liked by a few; as a rule, these suggestions should be taken as attempts at solving the issues, rather than as preferred solutions.
This is, of course, not a comprehensive list of everything that could be improved in the tactical layer, but of the most pressing issues that diminish or prevent the enjoyment of the game by the more 'tactically' inclined players (as contrasted with players coming from the 'RPG' end of the playerbase), particularly those with some experience of the game.
If this exercise proves useful, a similar one could be carried for the Geoscape/Strategic layer.
- #Rapid Clearance
- #Manual Control
- #Sneak Attack
- #Quick Aim
- #Boom Blast
- #Adrenaline Rush
- #War Cry
- #Ready for Action
The skill can be used to gain more AP than those spent on the kill, particularly when combined with skills that reduce the AP cost of attacking ( #Adrenaline Rush #Quick Aim #Boom Blast, or the #Vengeance Torso) and skills that increase damage (most notably #Brawler, #Bloodlust or #Sneak Attack). This can result in very long "kill chains", up to cases where an operative can singlehandedly clear the whole map.
This trivializes the challenge and breaks immersion.
Some of us feel that even when the skill does not refund more AP than those spend on the skill, it can still be too strong with extreme mobility builds that take advantage of damage buffs and skills that reduce AP costs.
Until the end of the turn, the next attack after a kill costs 2 AP less
Reasoning: prevents net generation of AP from kills
Reasoning: skill too strong already, synergies with other skills can be OP
There is some discussion as to whether this is due primarily to
- Amount of damage that turrets deal and that they have too much ammo
- Technician being able to cast an unlimited number of times, only limited by AP (which can be refunded via #Onslaught)
- That each device can be activated an unlimited number of times
However, there is a general agreement that to some extent all of these elements contribute to the above-stated issue.
In addition, some players feel that this is also immersion breaking because it unexpectedly stretches out time - why is the device capable of taking an unlimited number of actions?
Reduce damage and ammo capacity of all turrets
Reasoning: prevents a device from being activated more than once, more respectful with the integrity of the time-space continuum
Reasoning: prevents a Technician from spamming the skill, easy to understand
Damage dealt while not spotted is increased by 100% (passive)
There is general agreement that
- the damage buff of +100% is too high in general but some of us think it is necessary for the crossbows, which is probably more likely a problem with the weapons itself
- it stacks too well with buffs from other skills ( #Bloodlust, #Brawler), perks ( Reckless and weapon proficiency perks), researches (Vivisection and Moon Data Analysis) and combined with skills that reduce AP cost ( #Adrenaline Rush, #Quick Aim, #Boom Blast, #Rage Burst and #Vengeance Torso); this allows dealing absurd amounts of damage, like 1016 with a Scyther for one hit and 1 AP (multiplier of 3.39), or one-shooting a Scylla, using #Rage Burst and a Deceptor MG. See Damage Map for concrete numbers
- the condition ("not spotted") is trivial, as at most it requires a single casting of #Vanish per turn
- trivializes the challenge
- means there are no interesting tactical choices in using this skill, beyond the meta combinations; it's a pure massive damage increase for all attacks as a result of reaching LVL7
In general, nobody is happy with this skill and everybody would prefer if it was replaced with something else.
Nevertheless, here go some suggestions:
While not spotted, attack a target with a proficient direct fire or melee weapon dealing 50% extra damage. Character will be revealed unless weapon is silent (4WP + standard AP cost of firing the weapon)
Reasoning: 1) reduces damage buff, 2) prevents the damage buff from scaling further with #Quick Aim, #Boom Blast, #Adrenaline Rush and Rage Burst, 3) introduces a double cost, of WP and loss of stealth, to make decision to use skill none-trivial
There is general agreement that
- Allowing an unlimited number of 0 AP attacks is bad because they are free attacks, which can make the game too easy. However, some of us think that discretionary (on the player's turn) free attacks are always bad, while some of us think that what's bad is that they are unlimited.
- The skill is too spammable: it can be used any number of times, the WP cost is easy to recover (as killing enemies refunds spent WP) and there is no reason not to use it every time as a means of increasing damage output by up to a 100% (for 2 AP weapons, or if considering 3AP weapons used twice in the same turn); optimal choice is no choice, no choice means no tactics.
Reasoning: prevents spamming the skill with 1AP weapons to get free attacks, but allows the most common use of the skill to shoot twice with a sniper rifle per turn and keeps a limited synergy with 1 AP weapons; also similar solution to Dash, so easy to understand
Reasoning: prevents getting free attacks altogether, but allows the most common use of the skill to shoot twice with a sniper rifle per turn
Note that some of us feel that these suggestions, though improving the skill overall, don't address the fact that casting it is a "no brainer" because of how easy it is to recover WP in the game and it would be good to add accuracy penalty to the shot.
Explosives can be particularly powerful weapons because they do Blast Damage (and typically Shred Damage) damage, have area of effect and don't require Line of Sight. They also scale too well with damage buffs, such as those from #Sneak Attack and #Bloodlust.
This skill allows a single operative to use a launcher and a mounted weapon, or throw up to 4 grenades and use a mounted weapon or shoot the Vidar Grenade Launcher an unlimited number of times (when used together with #Ready for Action), in a single turn, at very long range.
This trivializes the challenge, making the game too easy.
There is some discussion as to whether the extra 50% range plays a relevant role, or the ability to deliver a large number of explosives at different points on the map very accurately (as with grenades using a high-strength build).
General comment: There seems to be close to universal agreement that Berserker skillset is uniquely unsuited for its nominal role of melee fighter
There is general agreement that:
- The skill is not useful to its class outside of a meta build; there is no reason to use it for melee attacks ( #Vengeance Torso is a much better option in every regard) or with the Nergal's Wrath (an unpopular weapon, that even at double DPS isn't impressive, especially for a capstone ability).The real utility of this skill lies in using 3 AP weapons, which 1) the Berserker is not proficient in, and 2) do not fit the class nor the skill thematically, all but forcing the player into using Berserker as a meta class.
- The skill is too effective in meta builds (with #Bloodlust + #Rapid Clearance/ #Sneak Attack + Deceptor MG/Sniper Rifles /launcher): even when the meta- Berserker is unable to clear entire maps on its own, it can deal too much damage, trivializing the challenge.
- The malus piled on the skill (50% accuracy malus, dazed next turn and can't use WP abilities) in reality further pigeonholes the Berserker into contrived meta builds and prevents certain natural synergies (like Stomp, Tentacle Attack and all Priest active abilities), while the dazed next turn malus simply forces the player into giving all Berserkers the Armored Head mutation.
All abilities until the end of the turn cost -1 AP to a minimum of 1 AP, but cannot gain any WP. Does not work with #Quick Aim, #Boom Blast or Rage Burst (or #Sneak Attack, if changed as suggested) (5WP)
Reasoning: makes the skill useful for Berserker's nominal role, while allowing a much wider range of interesting synergies for multiclass builds (for example, a / that can , melee strike and Stomp on the same turn). Clear and easy to understand
After taking a shot with proficient weapon move up to 3 tiles and attack with melee strike or bash for free (5WP)
There are several problems with this skill, directly connected to the general problem with the class as a whole, in that its skillset is inadequate for its enunciated role (melee fighter).
- There is general agreement that there are problems with the way the skill is triggered and the speed and damage buffs obtained; nobody likes that the damage and speed buffs can be triggered by friendly fire or not healing the Berserker between missions, but for different reasons:
- Some of us don't like that the only way to control the amount of HP lost is through friendly fire/not healing the Berserker between missions, as this makes the skill less useful unless you attack your own operative, which some players are reluctant to do and is immersion breaking (how can the soldier remain under the effects of #Bloodlust for an injury suffered a month ago?). At the same time, some of us feel that being able to control the amount of HP lost makes the condition to obtain the benefits of the skill trivial.
- Some of us feel that the game ordinarily doesn't favor having an operative with low HP: it's too risky, as there are no bleed out mechanics, using the skill for melee is a sure way of getting the Berserker killed. However, some of us think that the skill could work for melee as a high risk high reward proposition, but that right now it's an unattractive option because the skill works just as well with ranged attacks without any risk.
- There is also general agreement that the speed and damage buff can be abused in a meta build, particularly using other skills that further increase damage ( #Sneak Attack, #Brawler) or Speed ( #Frenzy), and those that allow recovering AP ( #Rapid Clearance and #Onslaught), as well as skills that reduce AP cost of attacks ( #Adrenaline Rush, #Boom Blast, #Quick Aim and Rage Burst).
- The general feeling is that this skill is not very useful unless employed as an ingredient in a meta-build, in which case it is very much OP.
A variety of very diverse changes may be suggested, but the general consensus is that a serious discussion has to be preceded by a clear indication whether the Berserker class and/or this skill in particular can be geared specifically towards a melee role, or whether it has to stay as it is now; an abstraction that could be potentially useful for any class/build.
The same character can be the recipient of multiple castings of the skill by different soldiers ("Cheerleading"). This is immersion breaking, because a single soldier ends up with 8 AP or more (where is that time coming from?), and somewhat OP, in that you can channel AP towards an Uber soldier that can optimize their utility.
Reasoning: no reason to stop an operative from casting the skill twice, if each time it is cast on a different soldier
Reasoning: adds a real cost to the skill; as it already allows movement for 1 AP, cost is reasonable
Bash and melee attacks deal 50% more damage (passive skill)
This skill is not useful to Heavy outside of meta builds, either 'basher' (more on that below) or meta multi-class melee builds where this skill is used to buff melee damage (for example, /, or /, either of them in combination with #Vengeance Torso).
Bashing can deal too much damage when compared to melee (see #Bash and melee), which is unintuitive, as a proficient and dedicated melee strike should deal more damage than a bash, and when compared to the DPS of heavy weapons (more often than not clubbing with heavy weapons is preferable to shooting with them), and the drawback for bashing - damage to the weapon - is insufficient to compensate for the much higher DPS.
Some of us think that this is because damage to the weapon is not sufficient (25% of damage dealt - 20, for armor of the weapon); as weapons get repaired for free after the mission this drawback would only be effective if there was substantial risk that the weapon would be destroyed. Some of us think that damage to the weapon is not enough of a drawback, as it can be avoided by carrying many weapons.
Some of us feel that the skill should be removed and replaced with something else. It doesn't really fit the sandbox approach where all skills are useful to all classes, since it's only useful for melee. It's also singularly uninteresting, being a straight, unconditional buff to damage. Some of us think that it should be at least moved to Berserker, as it would fit its nominal role.
Just a suggestion for a heavy-oriented skill, 'Anchor':
- the number of enemies that are afflicted by a single casting, or, put another way, that 360°, 10 tiles, no LoS is too generous and makes the game too easy, as some enemies only have 3 AP ranged or 2 AP melee attacks which they can't use, and enemies AI often is unable to handle the War Cry status, wasting their remaining AP
- it's immersion breaking, especially for large Pandorans, particularly Scylla, and that it works through any wall or obstacle.
The cone to be of 60° and between 5-8 tiles high
Reasoning: limits the number of enemies that can be afflicted with a single casting
To address the immersion breaking aspect of the skill, it could be renamed suppression and tied to a special attack with the main weapon that always costs 1 AP, would be extremely inaccurate/low damage, but would grant the - 2 AP penalty to any characters caught in the cone.
Ready for Action
Reloading and inventory management costs 0 AP (passive skill)
Some of us find it immersion breaking that this skill can be used to allow operatives closely packed together to share a single weapon and to reload it for free. Some of us don't see an issue with this.
For those who do see a problem, the issue is that all manipulation of inventory, whether giving or receiving items is done at 0 AP cost. This is what creates a situation where the operative can get a weapon from soldier A, reload it, give it to solder B, who will fire it, then the operative will take it, reload it, and pass it on to soldier C, without anybody using up any time (or paying AP) for equipment sharing.
Reloading and inventory management of the operative costs 0 AP (passive skill)
and, inventory management of the operative and giving items to other characters costs 0 AP (passive skill)
- There is general agreement that the synergy between #Vengeance Torso and current #Rapid Clearance is too good, as with sufficient buffs you can one-hit kill an enemy, recoup 2 AP, use one for movement and another for the one-hit kill, etc.
- There is general agreement that #Vengeance Torso is the optimal melee option, making any melee build without it highly inefficient by comparison. This is also lore / immersion breaking in that Synedrion does not have any melee weapons, and has to use Disciples of Anu weapons, while Disciples of Anu and its Berserkers are particularly unsuited for melee even as a cross-class build. This is because viable melee builds are
By contrast, all that Berserker can offer is the speed buff from #Bloodlust (the damage buff from #Brawler being preferable in all other cases), and that only in a contrived meta-build to take advantage of extreme mobility. Particularly, there is no sense in using #Adrenaline Rush for melee when one can have #Vengeance Torso.
The problem at heart is that this a piece of equipment that gives an AP discount on an attack type, thus making it the to-go option for any build that is to specialize in that attack type.
Defense Matrix: After a melee attack on an enemy, #Vanish for free
Reasoning: removes the 1 AP attack, replaces with something that fits the Shinobi theme, similar to Templar's Momentum in WOTC. Possible uses: attack an enemy from behind to stun them and gain #Vanish, then attack a different enemy benefiting from #Sneak Attack. Synedrion could eventually get a lower damage 1AP weapon to fit this playstyle
Bash and melee
Bash and melee can deal too much damage when compared to other attack types, see Damage Map, or the comparison below:
|Bash (30 STR, using heavy weapon)||Bash (35 STR, using heavy weapon)||Melee (Marduk's Fist)||Melee (Marduk's Fist + Vengeance Torso)||Deceptor|
|Base damage per AP||150||175||80||160||140|
|+50% from brawler||225||263||120||240||-|
|+20% from Close Quarters Specialist||195||210||104||208||-|
|+50% from bloodlust||225||263||120||240||210|
|+10% from reckless||165||193||88||176||154|
|+ + +||345||403||184||368||224|
|+10% from vivisection research||165||193||88||176||154|
|+ + + + vivisection research||380||443||203||405||246|
|+10% from Moon Data analysis||165||193||88||176||154|
|+ + + + vivisection research + Moon Data analysis||414||484||221||442||269|
|+10 damage per attack from mark for death||160||185||85||170||260|
|+ + + + vivisection research + Moon Data analysis +||428||494||231||452||389|
- Melee can benefit from sneak attack, but not so bash, which means that melee can get can additional +50% ( has to replace either or )
- With Legacy of the Ancients Scyther the damage that can be dealt with 1 AP (using Vengeance Torso) goes up to 1018
- #Brawler could be replaced with something more useful for Heavy
- Bash should do more damage to weapon
- Bash should do less damage than dedicated melee
- #Vengeance Torso should not reduce AP cost of melee attack.
- Advanced Laser Technology only requires basic Synedrion and New Jericho Research. As reaching aligned diplomacy status with both factions is very easy for experienced players, usually they get them before obtaining the inferior piercing technology variants of these weapons (Advanced Technician Weapons) and often at the same time as they gain access to basic variants.
- All Turrets are OP:
- they deal very high damage and are very accurate; they are an extra soldier that you carry around in your backpack
- make for small targets and are well protected, so difficult to destroy for most enemies; compared to their firepower it naturally creates a certain imbalance (very damaging, highly protected unit that can be added to the battlefield anytime)
- AI handles Turrets (and Drones) very badly, acting like extreme version of Deploy Decoy, except it shoots and hard to kill; as such Turrets can draw a lot of enemy fire and take a lot of it, and they have Return Fire too (see #Certain AI behaviors)
- Can be abused to extreme degrees with #Manual Control
- Gorgon Eye-A has too high DPS for an accuracy comparable to that of an assault rifle.
- Destiny III is too accurate for the damage it can do.
- Require Advanced Technician Weapons research in addition to Laser Weapons technology as a prerequisite for Advanced Laser Technology.
- Reduce damage of Destiny III to 60-70 per shot, reduce ammo to 9-18, increase cost of ammo. Lack of proficiency should have an impact in use - either chance to fumble or reduce burst to 2 from 3.
- Reduce damage (burst and damage per shot; or perhaps give all Turrets a burst of 8 and reduce damage) of all turrets, ammo (3 shots per mag? To make reloading during a mission something necessary), make AI ignore them, and break if stepped on.
- Reduce damage of Gorgon Eye-A to 35 (making it a 12.5% increase, vs current 25% vs lower tier Personal Defense Weapons)
All attacks that damage a target also inflict 1 virus damage (per bullet)
- Lore and immersion breaking: how does something like this even work and how can operatives have this power?
- Absurdly OP with long burst weapons, particularly using Rage Burst, while very ineffective with single shot weapons.
Reasoning: although this is faction technology and there are only 2 variants, it is quite common to have a bunch of Redeemers dropped by Tritons and Priests, so even players who don't align with Disciples of Anu could make use of them. The weapons are low damage and can take a 20% buff
There is general agreement that
- the speed buff scales too well with speed of both player and AI characters, making already fast characters too fast. This can make the game too easy (as extreme mobility is one of the main ingredients for a Terminator Build ), and sometimes too challenging (some Pandorans are already very fast, and #Frenzy allows them to unexpectedly traverse the length of the map). Some of us also consider that this is immersion breaking, as even more than "super-hero" it just looks "glitchy" (see / kitted out for speed with + + and + + #Frenzy casting ).
- it makes the other head mutations much less interesting options by comparison
Reasoning: making #Frenzy a flat bonus would still make the ability very strong, adding the equivalent of a little more than 1 AP of movement with max speed to all friendlies, but it would benefit the low speed characters relatively more than the already fast ones
Certain AI behaviors
Note: This refers to some very specific AI behaviors, rather than general improvement of AI
- Fire: enemies run into fire, even when it means outright death or disabled limbs
- Recover: enemies cast Recover when with recovered status, missing their chance to act when afflicted by Virus Damage.
- Healing: human enemies obsessed with healing themselves and friendlies, will even run into fire to heal a friendly.
- Turrets and Drones: enemies prioritize attacking Turrets and Drones, which are hard to hit (also, Turrets have Return Fire)
- Tritons with Blood Sucking Arms: prioritize healing over killing potential; the will attack targets with full HP instead of killing a weakened operative. This accomplishes very little, as the will be killed next turn.
- Last step out of cover: enemies use last movement point to step out of cover
- Enemies shouldn't run into fire if it's going to disable a limb
- Enemies should use turn with recovered status to act
- Enemies shouldn't heal unless they have less than 50% HP
- Ranged enemies should ignore Drones and Turrets
- Tritons with Blood Sucking Arms should prioritize attacking enemies with low HP
- Don't take the last step 🙂