[Balance] Is this how it's supposed to be?
I've finally managed to get my wife to try Drox, so I have had a chance to look at Drox through some non-jaded eyes. She's an experienced Action RPG player, and a bit less of a strategy nerd than I am.
As soon as she reached the 50-70 levels, she hit a wall, strategy-wise. Basically, T/O/L are overpowered to the point that it's simply ridiculous.
A few facts:
- A single Talon ship can fight five equal-level Cortex ships for 7 minutes, and remain at full structure. Then it kills the first enemy. Two of the other the Cortex ships were at death door by then.
- Talon can fight a four to one war against Zombie, Drakk, Cortex, and Brunt, and steadily expand, while its enemies are losing planets, mostly to quest problems. With literally hundreds (in a small sector) of these, the player can hardly make a dent.
- Against a player ship that claims 95% to-hit rate, and 15% to-be-hit, a Talon ship with three virus debuffs, three botnet debuffs, and one EM debuff of the appropriate level hits every time, and dodges quite often. The debuffs add to about 5500 defense and attack. Yes, with -5500 to attack, a Talon ship hits about 95% against a 4000 defense ship of the same level.
This was my wife's experience, with a ship that I would expect to be better than average for its level.
So I took my best ship (one that is comfortable at level 200) and rolled level 100 sectors (small, established) until I got Talon and three other races. I started questing exclusively for one of the other races (Telepath, as it happens) and turning in quests.
Twenty minutes of this, and of course, everyone ganged up on the Telepaths. At this point, everyone but the Telepaths was completely swamped by problems.
Once the fighting started, I played by very simple rules:
(1) I cleared everyone else from every sector with a Telepath presence.
(2) If I saw a Telepath planet being attacked, I went in that sector and cleared it of everything but Telepath ships. (With that ship, it was trivial. Everyone that comes in EMP range dies instantly, and 20K hp planets melt under two seconds under its beams)
(3) If the Telepaths were not under attack, I would quest, prioritizing to the best of my knowledge: bosses that create problems, crowds that create problems, devices, etc... while pausing constantly, and doing all the fedex and plague clearing quests that were local to whatever I was doing.
So, I had an insanely good ship, and was trying to help the Telepaths to the best of my ability EXCEPT FOR ACTUALLY GOING OUTSIDE THEIR BORDERS AND KILLING EVERYONE.
Within thirty minutes, the Telepaths were down to one sector, and Talon had three times as many planets as they had at the time I finished evicting them from Telepath's sectors.
Well, when the player is near a sector, all problems worsen at much higher rate. Despite having an extremely good ship, I could physically protect only the planets of the sector I was in. The planets in the neighboring sectors were simply dying, because five problems were occurring for every one I cleared. (And I cleared 148, in less than an hour, with a lot of pausing and thinking)
When the player is far from a sector, the problems worsen, but the planets do not die unless something extra happens. The Talon invading was that extra. The races that I was not helping could not stand against the Talon, because their planets were slowly dying, and once the Talon showed up, the defenders could do little.
Note that despite all this, the race that was worst off was still the one race that I was helping, and by helping I mean that I stopped every attack dead as quickly as it took me to go through a gate and double boost (auxiliary and consumable) to the planet being attacked.
This is IMMENSELY frustrating to any player.
I have been around for a while, and I understand the mechanics of what is happening. I do not allow things to get out of control in my normal games. I always have wars started and lines drawn before I allow myself to turn quests in and to align with a race, which upsets everyone else unless you have planned for it.
But to a new player, this is extremely discouraging. You appear to be doing everything right, and the people you are helping are getting wiped out. You help someone, and immediately, everyone hates them.
I know that Soldak is working on a new game, and I doubt much will be done. But just in case someone has the time and desire to address the problem, I wanted it out here.
Agreed! The game still needs to be adjusted to keep things like this from happening. The devs haven't quit on Drox!
I've felt this (What your wife felt) for some time. The game get's way to hard for the average player (at the defaults) and it's not fun for them after level 30 or so. Some players (Truidjy) are totally masters, but most are not. Soldak needs to accommodate everyone. This can be difficult. We need to strive to make as many happy with our games as possible.
BTW, I read everything you write. Thanks for everything!
Great post. Perhaps something can and will be done about it. Shadow put out a few patches for dins and DoP several years after their release, so I suspect Drox will still get updates. Posts like this are quite helpful.
I'd be perfectly happy if I just knew that there will be a Drox 2 or at least an extension pack at some point. This game has so much potential that it sometimes makes me nostalgic about game development. Not for long, though.
This problem probably stems from the fact that at levels 25, 50, and 75, when you progress to a new difficulty level, the monsters get huge multipliers to everything: hit points, attack, defense etc. I had to tone this way down in my old DC mod. In DC, it just meant that some characters had a very tough time fighting monsters in the higher levels. In Drox, the player is much more powerful than in DC, and therefore it's not a matter of the player surviving, but of the races no longer being able to put up a fight against the monsters at the higher levels.
The Talon and other monster races have the advantage that their specific races don't attack them. That may be enough of an advantage to dominate at high levels. Additionally, it seems like they may be able to recruit monsters from their races, which, if correct, would allow them to recruit very strong monsters at the higher levels. These monsters may be making the difference.
The Talon and other monster races have the advantage that their specific races don't attack them. That may be enough of an advantage to dominate at high levels.
T/O/L Empires are not being attacked by any T/O/L monsters, not just by their own. And yes, that is an incredible advantage, because standard races cannot mount any successful invasion if the player is around. In remote sectors, dice are rolled, and the standard races sometimes may achieve something.
If the player is nearby, fights are actually simulated with more accuracy, and:
(1) Standard planets get attacked by monsters, the defenders switch their targets, and the T/O/L pound them with impunity.
(2) Any standard race's invasion across sectors gets mired in skirmishes with monsters. The monsters are usually too quick to be destroyed by the standards, and the expeditionary force never gets to their target. Eventually T/O/L warships show up, and annihilate the standard races' ships.
(3) T/O/L defenders never have to go back to their planets (which do not get attacked by monsters) and so, if disturbed, go on rampage across their system, wiping every standard race's colony.
(4) And finally, T/O/L ships seems to be just better one-on-one.
So unless the player does ALL of the fighting, T/O/L completely and utterly wipe the floor with any standard race. In six race sectors, T/O/L wins handily 1-on-5 wars, as long as the player does not destroy them singlehandedly.
As a matter of fact, the only way I have found to destroy T/O/L in sector level 150+ is to fight them on my own WHILE INSURING THEY REMAIN AT PEACE with the standard races. Otherwise, even my best ships sometimes fail at protecting the standard races. These are ships that clear systems in a few minutes, if that. In any sector bigger than tiny, T/O/L still manage to ruin their enemies while I am doing so.
By the way, I am not naive enough to think that the game should be balanced at level 150. It's just that at level 150, the effects already present at levels 50+ are even more obvious.
In my experience, the most OP race of all are the Scavengers. I have yet to play a scenario where they are present and everyone else does NOT get steamrolled by them :D
It feels almost critical to side with or wipe them early on.
It would be nice if there was a little more balance between races, yes, but i guess the cannon fodder needs to be. Dryad, Lithosoid, Shadow... they're pretty much filling, always on the losing side.
I'm a relatively new player who has been utterly consumed by the game; I'm creating an account just to reply to this, even. I'm somewhere in the mid-to-upper 30s on a couple of ships and I am definitely noticing this. It's getting pretty predictable: I appear in a new sector and meet a couple of races, and decide to forge them into a mighty federation that will bring stability and order etc etc. Do a bunch of missions for them and manipulate them into being friends, find a third fairly compatible race and get them all aligned together... then fast-forward an hour or so. All three races have peaked in size and have begun to decline. All of the worlds in their shared home systems are constantly under attack by wandering monsters and slowly eroding into nothing, dotted with dozens of debuffs I can't begin to clear. Instant destruction by an emerging monster/ancient race has outpaced colonization, and the hostile fourth race (or worse, an ancient I didn't catch when it was just one planet) is now more powerful than the three I've been grooming for succession. I'm clawing my way through an ever-expanding mass of red/purple/orange bosses and starbases that choke the jump lane routs with troops (which level up into experts on a steady diet of diplomatic vessels and colony ships.) In the fairly immediate future lies the hollow "boom"s of my client races' final extinctions, the only question is whether I'll have enough legend points to move on before it happens or whether I'll have to farm a bit afterwards.
It's definitely frustrating: it's basically the tale of the inevitable extinction of star-faring civilizations in a hostile universe, and of the player's powerlessness to deflect the inevitable march of fate. Earlier on in my Operative career, it felt like the story of great empires rising and clashing while behind the scenes I pick the winners and losers and fate of the sector. THAT was seriously fun. Looting modules while random monsters gradually fill up the map and un-do by planetary extinction any shaping I try to do, decidedly less so. I don't know how to succeed in the game anymore and it's a bummer because otherwise SO FUN. I've read a decent quantity of posts here, enough to know I don't have anywhere near enough experience/understanding to suggest a remedy (even if there are ever future updates to the game) - so I guess I'm just complaining unproductively, which I try to avoid. Still, I wanted to at least say something because of the SO FUN. I don't often find a game that grabs me so, and so above all else thank you for it!
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