My experience with modding group size; a re-evaluation of mages and some skills
Hey all, yet another post. Previously, I played all the classes about a fifth of the way through the game (level wise. I've completed the main quest chain). This time around, I hit up a few resources around here and changed up the party size.
I think this post will be applicable to those who've always wished their other covenant members could be more productive. It'll also speak a bit towards mages and those, like me, who think they're a miserable gaming experience. This is irrespective of programming ability/modding capability. I've got 0 programming experience and had to have my hand held just to change the version number displayed on load up (Thanks Delve). If I can do it, so can you. So, if you're curious, read on. Be advised, these are my perspectives and, as such, being a severely twisted individual, your mileage may vary.
---Cutscene at the covenant house---
Eystink: Thanks for letting me join your club or guild or whatever.
PC: It's a covenant, actually. *points to the red crystal* This big red deal is our lifestone. If you die, it will bring you back to life.
PC: Indeed. Now sometimes, actually, most of the time, our bloodthirsty neighbors are going to come running in here and try to destroy it. Your job is to fight and die, over and over, defending the lifestone.
Eystink: But... you said I'd get to go adventuring!
PC: Inasmuch as death is the "last great adventure", yeah. You're going to be doing a whole lot of it.
(stole from http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1679)
I figure I've got a dry enough style as it is, gotta give folks some reason to come in... At any rate, if you're like me and -tired- of all the other guys just standing around the crystal all the time, you'll mod the game a tad so you can take those guys with you. Eystink, the time is now.
I'm not sure what I expected the game to be like with a full party. Certainly I figured I'd be able to take on some bigger challenges, but otherwise, I hadn't considered any of the other changes that might've been wrought.
Here's what happened:
On load up with my priest, rogue, and mage (My warrior's rotation hasn't come up yet, but I'm sure the experience will be similar to the rogue), I grabbed up all the guys in my covenant and headed out in a six man group
General things I noticed that are applicable to all of the classes when mass grouping:
1) Experience from killing mobs is split six ways, so I didn't make as much XP from monster hunting, unless it's quest involved.
2) Only me and my first party member (the one directly below the portrait) received XP from quest turn in.
3) I ain't the life of the party anymore. I used to be the covenant MVP, but without intentionally gimping my covenant, the five of them together are better than I can ever be on my own.
4) They will aggro things all over the damn place. In other words, the fight's never over. =D
5) It strengthens the strategy aspect of the game, specifically tactics, with a slight resemblance to RTS. With 6 guys, there's now a line. There's a rear. I've got frontline fighters holding back the mobs. I can be flanked by incoming mobs who bypass the front and head straight for the casters. It just adds to that dimension which wasn't as strong before. Likewise, the party can also be overrun. This becomes important in point 6.
6) You can be overrun. What I mean by overrun is this, because of the self-judging difficulty scaling of the game, if you're like me, you'll be deep downrange, fighting mobs 10+ levels above you en masse. This is okay as long as your warriors and rogues are taking the shots while the mages and priests toss in a bit of damage. When you reach that critical point where A. you've been flanked or B. the frontline reaches the backline due to deaths, you've lost the battle. The casters will go down extremely quickly. You'll follow suit if you don't get out.
It nearly happened to me a few times and I was able to fight through it, but it was extremely difficult because I was completely encircled by mobs that were 10 levels or so above me. Luckily, I managed to survive long enough for my party to respawn and join me, but... it can happen.
7) Dimensional gates and other spawning mobs do not bother me anymore.
8) Covenant management is much easier. When you find a nice piece of armor or a weapon, I don't have to run around checking all my guys at the covenant, port back, then vendor or whatever. Instead, I can simply click on a portrait and check to see if it's better or not. All while standing directly next to the armor smith. And I love convenience.
9) I can take the game a bit slower. Meaning, unless I'm being overwhelmed, I can take the time to pick up loose items or whatever. Without modding, if I stop fighting, that's at least 50% of my combat power. Usually more. But with five other guys to pick up my slack, I can grab the stuff and, if I want, identify items or swap out better equipment. It's really quite nice.
10) I don't have to rely on my portal stone as much. Now, I only use it if I'm in danger of death or my bags are full. In the case of the mage, being in danger of death happens less often.
11) Aggro management becomes an important aspect of the game. Due to the randomized skills, for me, this played out in covenant recruitment and selection. Now, my party is only as strong as the frontline.
For instance, I've got mostly mid to high 20's for my covenant, but I ran into a wandering lvl 36ish priest. Of course I recruited her. To my horror, her holy bolt, which all priests have, was pulling the target mobs to her, overrunning my frontline and making her the focus of mob attention. This has certain side effects such as diminishing HP, poison, fire debuff, and death.
Had she been a level 36 mage with AoE skills, it'd basically reduce my effective party from 6 members to 5, on account of the hypothetical mage being dead all the time. In most instances, my frontline crew will catch the mob, but if it's a fast one, they tend to get maybe on shot off. If the power differential had been greater than 10 levels, it's doubtful if the one or two hits they'd get in would be enough to out aggro said mage. Just another consideration.
12) A few monsters have a perma-buff that basically casts frost nova when you hit them. This is now even -more- devastating. When I see one of 'em, I get far, far away. 2-3 melee party members will send out shockwaves of freezing death like my mage wishes he could do.
This was a very different experience because the support aspect of the priest started outweighing her melee goodness. Case in point, on my global record, she's #1 for most damaging blow evar [sic]. However, though I still had her run up and whack-a-mob every two seconds, I used the two second cooldown on zeal to cast a heal spell or two on the party. In other words, my priest now feels twice as useful. For the first time, with the exception of power draining mobs, I actually notice my faith go below the 75% point. =O
1) Area heal now has a place in the game, besides raids. At rank 1, for 10 faith, it will heal 120 HP, making it extremely efficient. Although it won't replace the point healing capability of lesser heal, it's great for topping off the party and I highly recommend it for those of you that choose to mod the game in this way.
2) Prayer is a bit more attractive now. If the fight is going on and you're out of faith, you can pray to get it back and the party will still be fairly productive.
3)Cure poison may also be a bit more useful at this point. When fighting high level mobs, I'm looking at 14+ DPS just from poison. Though the same can be said of the fire debuff, I can do something about the former. Not sure if casting it more than once will continue curing the poison, but I think it will, e.g. at one rank, it'll remove, what, 1.5 poison damage. Cast it a couple of times and the it should reduce the poison damage to something manageable. I'll have to test this one, but I think that's how it'll work.
4) Smite may be more useful with a fast one-handed mace. I still wouldn't recommend it.
5) Protection buffs are more beneficial when attempting to counter AoE damage.
This was more or less like the regular game. There were a few exceptions, but not much. For one thing, I like to stealth and run towards my objective until my stealth breaks. At that point, I'll fight off the mobs until they're all gone, re-stealth, and continue. With the larger group, fighting off the mobs when stealth breaks is faster and easier. I'm also able to just go around picking up the loot while the party fights. So much loot drops from all the fighting that if I choose to, I can spend the entire battle just collecting the pretties. In addition, I was able to capitalize on my covenant's skills better than before. My MO with all my characters thus far has been to basically partner up with my vitality casting priest unless I need the big guns. This is to give 'em experience and encourage higher ranks of vitality. Now, I can enjoy my NPC mage's flash and my NPC rogue's dazzle.
1) Charged strike is a little more attractive now due to the AOE debuff.
2) Dazzle is still not recommended because, even though you'd be hitting -lots- of mobs with it, I found that it doesn't stack up well when the opponents are that high in level. Gouge also gives a minor debuff, but still lasts five seconds no matter the level.
3) Caltrops is pretty good for helping to keep the mobs within reach of the frontline should the casters draw them in.
4) Disarm traps, though still a terrible point sink, is more attractive now because the second most threatening thing to my party at this point is traps. A good trap can knock the party out of commission fast.
Yep, my mage is off hiatus. He's still not as fun to play as the other classes, but he's not as useless as he once was. With five meatshields, I can now, in relative safety, nuke away. My focus for the mage has branched away from slightly away from AoE damage to include debuffing, which I consider his most significant contribution to the group. My mage is much more like the commander/support by fire class than any of the other three, something that was lacking with only one party member. Basically, I use fire and forget spells on the frontline, where the mobs are concentrated, then apply the debuffs to the most formidable opponents. It's a helluva lot more gratifying than the other playstyle I used to use. You know, dying.
Also, he's now the loot whore of my characters. Seeing as mages aren't really an equipment based class, and the option to take skills that require less oversight, I just have him running around in nothing but +magic find gear. About a step above naked and more profitable.
1) Ice storm rocks. Five second duration lets me evaluate or reposition during the cooldown. It comes back fast enough so I can cast it where it'll do the most good. It doesn't do much damage, but the debuff is the same no matter the level of the target.
2) Ball lightning is now my second choice of spell, as opposed to fireball. I cast it, does okay damage to groups, and let's me feel like my mage is doing his part while picking up the loot.
3) Petrify is slightly more attractive than before. Reason being, although it still only lasts a short time, a lot can be done in 3 seconds with the large party. It lets me temporarily isolate the big bad guy while we take out the trash. I may get rid of it however, as the mobs are getting to the point where it lasts half the cast time. Potentially useful, just not where I'm at.
4) Chain lightning may be the replacement I choose for petrify. It's better than most of the direct damage spells due to the instant travel time and is more effective than single target spells for my usual situation.
5) Blinding flash is still useless due to the relatively small radius and the whole damage breaks effect thing.
6) Armor melt might be okay, not sure how it'll scale though. But with all the meatshields, maybe it'll be more beneficial than comparative damage from chain lightning when fighting a lone boss.
7) Hidden magic rocks. With the sudden importance of aggro management combined with massive battles and AoE, it keeps me alive noticeably longer.
8) Ice mastery is not recommended. I had it, but it didn't seem to affect the output of ice storm, in terms of damage or debuff.
9) Lightning mastery had the same shortcoming with regards to lightning ball.
I'll edit this post shortly with the warrior experience. He's next on my rotation.
too long, exceeded 15K character limit ;_;
Still my favorite class, though the rage generation has become more of an issue than in the regular game. Not getting hit enough reduces my rage generating ability. Having to bounce around my party members increases the time it takes me to reach a mob, therefore rage generation suffers. But still, I think it's worth it from a performance standpoint. Although my warrior is comparable to the rogue in terms of damage output, the playstyle slightly differs. Without options for controlling the fight, outside of threat generation, it's harder for the warrior to get to those high priority targets, like spawning mobs and scavengers. It's still very doable, but not as easy as with the rogue.
1) Whirlwind is less useful, due to the difficulty of gathering four mobs around me. It's like trying to drop a mage AoE, except now I have to move my mage to where I want to cast it as opposed to just putting the mouse cursor in the general vicinity. This is a function of my warrior no longer being the center of attention. Cleave may be more viable at this point, we'll see what happens.
2) Taunt and enrage are now kinda useful. I still won't pick them up because I am totally unconcerned with the welfare of my party members.
3) Armor focus might be good, as opposed to nothing but rage focus, if I, for some reason, decide I want to take the heat off my party members.
4) Retaliation is less useful at this point, due to the weight my party members are shouldering. The opportunities for it to come up are few and far between, whereas before, I couldn't wait for the cooldown to finish up because it was nearly always ready to go.
That's about it for my experiences with modding group size. I wanna see about having an NPC priest with healing skills next, in the large group setting. Though I'd read on the forums that the priest basically just spams heal if anyone in the party/raid is at all damaged, that's is kinda what I'm looking for. I figure yes, there'd be one less person contributing damage. On the other hand, expanding the life of myself or the other damage dealers would more than make up for the priest being preoccupied. They're generally not the NPC stars of DPS anyhow.
If anyone else wants to try this, then drop this file straight into your Assets folder and load up the game. Quick and easy®.
WRT point 8 at the top, the recruit detail screen has arrows allowing you to scroll through all your recruits regardless of where they are, or whether they're alive. Also in the inventory screen you can press the left and right arrows on the keyboard to look at what your recruits currently have equipped instead of what you have equipped in the comparison popup.
On point 11, that's less of a concern as your entire covenant starts to get higher level than you. Imagine that priest as a warrior as well. You'll eventually find that many wandering recruits. My level 50 warrior had 4 recruits level 60 or more. The sole weakling is only holding on by virtue of her Fortitude spell.
As for playstyle, I always ran around with armor focus hauling a dragnet-of-death behind me in the highest level zone I could survive in. Worked quite well, though I felt rather useless. It would probably have been more fun if I'd had fewer frontliners in my lineup. More mages and priests would have left me more room up front to get my sword dirty.
Oops, kinda forgot about that. Yeah, I'm aware of the arrow thingy, I just never use it. Being a more visual guy, I like to actually hold X item up to the recruit's slot and seeing the difference.
Nice observation. Hadn't considered that angle. I'd have to agree. Once the group (4 out of 6) reach sufficient level, my role would become less and less important to the group.
Hrmm. I don't know if this is something I can avoid. Although it hasn't been much of a consideration due to not finding a whole lot of wandering recruits in my DoP career, I'd hate to be in the position of being the weakest link who doesn't even provide vitality buffs.
I may not have a choice. Basically, I pick up the highest level guys I can in order to discourage raiding by other covenants. This'll be doubly important when I've got my entire covenant in the field. So... I'm not sure if I can avoid that fate or if it's really going to matter. Worst comes to worst, just because I can take 5 people with me, doesn't mean I have to. It'll get better in endgame perhaps?
I used the NPC healing thing extensively last night. It's -okay-. I could do better, but it's better than nothing. The priest doesn't heal enough, sometimes she's healing too much, etc. Aggro wasn't an issue with so many people in the group. Although she did get 'em pulled to her, none of my characters cared. To her credit, she was usually the first or second to die, if anyone did.
You also control exactly what recruits are allowed in. Further the random recruits in town are still appropriately leveled if you find yourself feeling useless, so it's not all bad. :)
Also consider that if your house does get attacked it doesn't really take a terribly long time to drop a portal and go defend it. You'll lose a bit of your lifestone for sure, but hopefully you've invested in some decent guards so the damage won't really be that bad. Alternately, grab the strongest recruit you can get hold of and just leave him hanging out. That will serve double duty, keeping your adventure party weak enough for you to play an active role and discouraging enemy covenants.
WRT recruit healing, that's sort of why I took it out. It was such a mixed bag and I could never count on it so it wasn't worth it. I just use priest recruits to stand around my lifestone vend-a-buff style now. My PC priest on the other hand specializes almost entirely in lesser heal, is always being chased (heal is big on the aggro meter :) ), and is loads of fun.
Yeah, the highest I've seen for recruit level in town is 3 over current.
I may just do that. I'm partial to a four man group and five other guys make walking a straight line difficult. Not to mention dungeon quest pathing difficulties.
Recruit healing wise, I just like how it lets me think less about healing and buying food etc. I haven't used food since I adjusted my priests. This allowed me to shave a bit of space out of my bags as previously my SOP had me carrying at least two stacks of food. Usually more. And multiple spaces taken up by healing potions.
I didn't like the vend-buff method just because I'd get into something and completely forget about going back for buffs. I don't even try to keep up resistance buffs, so that was usually a wasted skill. And wasted skills are annoying.
I definitely enjoy the heal aggro with my priest. Though she's more relegated to back-up spot healing at the moment, for when my NPC priest is slacking, it's kinda surprising. Usually, in RPGish games, heal aggro is the support caster's bane. But with the survivability of the priest class, I found, when I was solo or two-manning things, I'd drop a portal and never have to roam around in search of a fight. Kinda nice.
Matter of fact, classes in general in DoP are fairly different than in most games.
Warriors seem more skill based than in most games in this genre.
Priests are way more survivable than comparable methods that other games use to fill this role. Specifically, a lot of games have this "paladin" archetype with decent melee and poor healing ability. Priests usually have strong healing and are poor at fighting/taking damage. But in DoP, priests have decent melee and strong healing. Makes 'em a fairly strong, attractive class.
Rogues are... maybe a little lackluster it seems. Or at least different, but more of a variant than startling. Most rogue classes tend to be heavy on initial damage, have higher melee damage output than other archetypes, and are less survivable, tending to rely more on strength and speed than drawn-out fights. In DoP, the rogues seem to do damage comparable to warriors, are about as survivable as warriors, and the damage they do gets better the longer the fight goes on. Weird, but I like it.
I'm still not a fan of mages. Maybe that's an area where they should've gone more traditional, meaning, much more significant damage output. 1 spell, 1 kill, or more. I think, had the class been closer to the general attributes of mages in most games, I wouldn't have felt such a strong need to modify the game as I have. I mean, he's running around in his skivvies and keels over under a stiff breeze. He's gotta have some advantages. If those five mobs coming at him can send me on a soulstone collection run, my fireball should be able to waste all of them en masse before they can touch me. Something along those lines would've made it more playable, methinks.
This mod has made the game even more enjoyable!
A big thank you and kudos to whomever put the mod together. :)
Yes. All hail Warlord Delve!
Don't look at me. Shadow wrote the game. :P
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