Tree of Savior

Dear IMC: Please be braver; give us more challenges


#1

Introduction

I am quite certain most people know of the [Re:Build] by now, IMC’s attempt to rework the core structure of the game’s class system. With it comes a renewed enthusiasm for the game and what it could be. However, enthusiasm is often accompanied by pessimism and many players are caught up in talks about how the game has many problems that need to be addressed before it can be truly great. These include things such as optimization, punishing RNG, and PvP balance. This is not a post to talk about those things. I think plenty has been said and IMC would have to be blind and deaf to miss these comments (whether you believe IMC can see or hear is a separate subject entirely).

As changes happened on the test server, one particular change piqued my interest. One iteration of the rebuild resulted in rather tough monsters. In situations where players expected to get past stage 5 in challenge mode, they were unable to get past even 3. It got me thinking about how I would need to adapt my builds and play patterns to make the most of a new situation before it even arrived. Unfortunately things have since changed and the current iteration of the rebuild seems to make monsters weaker than they are now. Maybe it’s too late to change how strong the generic monster is, as the rebuild is going live on kToS in the next couple of days, but this thought experiment got me thinking about why I would get excited about the idea of making the game more difficult.

Perhaps just making all monsters stupid tough shouldn’t be the goal. I’ve heard that was the state of the game at one point, but I started playing late in 2017, so I wasn’t around for that. Besides, maybe keeping field mobs, hunting grounds, and challenges modes somewhat easy is okay. That sort of grind can be something relaxing to do. But I’m afraid everything else would also be too easy! I feel like we need bigger things to work towards. I don’t want the game to continue down the trajectory of ‘grinding just to grind better’.

I also think that adjusting difficulty will be a central part in achieving the goal of class and build diversity. I’m under the impression that the main goal of the [Re:Build] is to encourage diversity. When I heard that mobs were getting tougher, I immediately started thinking of how I might want to have different farming builds to farm different areas. If the mobs were going to become tougher, I’d need more specialized builds to thrive in the rebuild. Perhaps that’s one way to bring about diversity, but it’s probably not the best. It does scratch the surface of the main idea that has been stewing in my mind though: Class diversity should come about due to a diversity of challenges . If the rebuild is trying to give us class diversity, it should also give us a diverse set of reasons to play differently. If everything in the game is too easy, build choices will feel moot because you’re going to succeed either way. At that point, people will probably feel forced into playing a few meta builds that are good at everything. Honestly, there will always be meta builds, but there should also be space for more specialized builds to succeed. If the game is too easy there won’t be a need for specialized builds. So, let’s talk about how we might create challenges that encourage unique builds.

Scenarios

I think that there is already some degree of challenge diversity in the game. There’s the obvious one of PvP versus PvE, where CC and survivability excels in PvP and raw damage typically wins out in PvE. Then there’s the difference between AoE and single-target builds in PvE, where AoE feels best in challenge modes and mobbing situations where single-target damage is suited for world bossing and raid dungeons. There’s also some role diversity, where many parties will call for damage dealers, a buffer (typically thauma-linker), and a healer (typically cleric/priest/kabbalist in tough content). Right now most of those roles are fulfilled by only a few classes/builds and the unique things other builds could bring to the table largely amount to nothing. Note that there is no real need for tanks in the game. Here I want to talk about different hypothetical situations could encourage the use of different classes.

  • Wipe mechanics - The Velcoffer raid and the Asio raid originally introduced what seemed like wipe-mechanics to the game. That is, situations where the entire party could be obliterated if the players approached the situation incorrectly. Unfortunately, I think the game made them too soft. In some cases it’s possible to be tanky enough to just ignore these mechanics. In other cases (Asio in particular) you could just stand far enough away to not be touched by damage at all. I think that these telegraphed mechanics need to be more punishing. Mechanics should force players to confront them . Players could either deal with them as they are meant to be dealt with or find workarounds. For instance, if Asio’s magic orb mechanic were threatening enough then players might bring a paladin to delay the orbs to buy time to break them, or use CC to slow them down. Alternatively, players might be encouraged to bring the future Oracle to give the team invulnerability to survive the mechanic’s punish.

  • Mixing AoE and Single Target - The Asio raid is structured around having a massive mobbing challenge at the beginning and some bosses at the end. On paper, this should force a party to balance around having enough AoE versus single target damage. As the game is right now, you just need enough AoE damage to clear the first part and you aren’t really punished for not having enough single-target damage. The main problem here is that most AoE damage dealers just happen to be really good at single target damage. There’s no real distinction in the game. Tune the game so that we need to put in more thought when choosing damage dealers in our parties. I like that both Velcoffer bosses have sections where the players get swarmed by additional monsters, but I feel like those parts could be made more meaningful somehow.

  • Double Bosses and Varied Defenses - I feel that a mainstay of MMO design are boss fights where the players have to deal with two bosses at the same time. I’m surprised ToS doesn’t have any! They could have different resistances, so different damage types are necessary to excel. Make us bring a wizard to kill one and an archer to kill the other. Or maybe persuade players to bring physical defense shred and brute force the entire fight with just physical damage dealers. Also, make it important for us to manage the HP of the bosses. It’ll be an interesting challenge, and it might be an excuse to have a tank to distract one of the bosses while the party deals with the other.

  • Make Boss Positioning Matter More - Velcoffer slightly cares where you are in the fight because you need to run to safe zones when he phases. But does it really matter when you can survive outside the safety zone (this goes back to the idea that wipe mechanics should be more punishing). Boss positioning is an incidental thing in the Asiomage fight because keeping him on the edge of the map avoids the magic orb mechanic (pretty lame, imo). I’d like to see things similar to the Velcoffer phasing mechanic, except maybe adjust the distances to be further or perhaps have random safety zones. This could make it important that the boss be positioned equally far from all the safety zones. Or perhaps have it be moving, so it’s important to carefully move the boss around during the fight. Either way, this could bring about the need for tank builds, or DPS players good enough to control the boss. Speaking of tanks, maybe we could have bosses’ single target attacks hit harder so tank builds look more attractive. And if people don’t want to play tanks, but we still need to be tanky, maybe people will try harder to maintain linker’s physical link.

  • Timing and Synchronization - Right now Velcoffer does this thing where he becomes invulnerable when he phases. He puts the brakes on the players so weird things don’t happen. I want there to be fights where there are no such brakes and the players have to slow themselves down, or else weird things happen. And sometimes, when weird things happen players need to adapt and that’s interesting. Alternatively, there could be situations where more damage could be demanded from the party. This could bring about a more unique need for chronomancers, where they can help to ‘resynchronize’ the party and set up for burst.


#2

I’d prefer if raids had easy and hard modes.

With an easy mode, less geared players (or players who just want an easy time) can enjoy end-game content, but while getting less rewards than hard mode. Hard mode would be challenging, but giving good rewards.

Imc has already talked a while ago about adding Easy/Hard modes for ET, but I guess the idea was scrapped.

And about the double boss encounters, Siaulai and Crystal mines mercenary post missions have them. They were challenging when we had to fight poata/glass mole/tree, but now they are way too easy. And on top of that, those missions are not rewarding at all. (In my opinion, mercenary post instances really need a rework)


#3

Hard mode would be cool! Extra rewards for extra challenge isn’t a bad idea. And keeping an easy mode isn’t bad either, because then players can enjoy certain content or work towards certain content without feeling too left out.

I forgot about the double bosses in the mercenary missions. The problem with these encounters though is that they’re not so much a pair of bosses designed around being fought together and in reality just two bosses that happen to be tossed together. It’s not an encounter designed around having interactions or synergy between the bosses.

That reminds me of another idea I had with random bosses in challenge modes. It’s probably not needed, but I think it’d be interesting if different zones used different subsets of bosses for challenge modes. That would add another consideration when choosing farming zones and might force people to spend more time carefully choosing where they do CMs. Between me and my guildmates, a bunch of us choose different regions to do solo CMs because our builds perform better in different areas, so having more specific boss pools would make the choice of CM area a bit more interesting.


#4

The funny thing about this is that if you have high enough DPS to even do the DPS check at the beginning of Asio, you don’t even necessarily see the “wipe” mechanic on the Owl himself, because you kill him too fast.

This was the same for Froster Lord, he’s got a huge array of mechanics but with a high DPS party you never see them.

Problem is, on Rebuild, I think the opposite problem happened. Fights are long enough that we get to see everything a boss has to offer, but they aren’t punishing enough in any way.

That said, I’d love to see harder, more interesting content. Tree has so much to do as far as casual/daily content, and lots of events for people who don’t actually have enough ambition to bother with best in slot gear.

And lastly, boss positioning is a great idea for how to make things tough. Honestly, I’ll take anything but knockdown spam. I think we can all agree that that’s just… not how to make things hard.
:tired:


#5

I remember a similar mechanic at one of the dungeons on Dragonest where you have to kill 2 mid bosses at almost the same time… if you kill one boss too early the other boss will just resu him after 10? seconds… something like that. so you have to split up your party and kill both boss and have them both dead within that 10 seconds time.


#6

This is not difficulty, it’s just laziness. Sure, the mechanics will force people to cooperate more, but at the same time it enforces you to do certain things within the fight.

I think having the option to ignore mechanics if you’ve invested enough is ok, it offers more freedom in gameplay once you’ve hit a certain threshold.

All raids do have this feature already, you have huge amounts of mobs and then one big boss enemy.
About AoE vs single-target damage, it was changed a lot with Re:build, having low SFRs on AoE skills and high SFRs on targeted/low SAR skills.

Imo it would be very bad if you enforced having single target and AoE dealers, as it would slow down the run considerably and force certain party compositions, which is pretty bad for party diversity.

Double Bosses could be a random feature on normal raids so you have an RNG chance to get 2x cubes for the same amount of Raid Portal Stones.

About varied defenses, that could be easily achieved by just making one boss forced the opposite race of the other one (e.g. one Wastrel being demon and the other one brute, and one Asio Mage being brute and the other one demon).
This would change their attack,base stats, defense, crit resistance,etc.

another point where I disagree. Positioning is already fine where it matters, and enforcing people to spread out or stay close will destroy skill mechanics (e.g. Koinonia/physical link) and only lead to more confusion during the fight.
Yes, this game could do better like e.g. Monster Hunter where positioning really matters, but I don’t think Re:build ever considered changing game mechanics like this. The new Ignas raid at least seems to favor positioning to evade magic and arrow barrages, so new content might be in favor of rational positioning.

And I’m against tank builds,too. That’s just stupid and an excuse to have one otherwise pretty much useless character in the party. On the one hand you want to have positioning playing a role, and on the other hand you want a tank that keep the aggro so the other players can position as they like, which is it?

Timing is just another thing that’s already included into the game, as boss monsters have strong skills with CD that you need to synchronize your defense skills/pots with to survive. Basically timing is all about having the clock ticking in your head, which is on the one hand ok as a player mechanic but on the other hand boring.

I’d rather have more chaotic fights where the boss just uses skill x and has a random CD on it so it could be used again the next second or only after 2 minutes. This would be challenging, when you can’t anticipate what the enemy will be doing next. And, of course, the boss should no longer give away what he’s using.

A chaotic fight would feel much more of a challenge and rewarding than a timed and synchronized one where you feel like a robot playing dance dance revolution, pressing buttons as shown on the screen to clear the stage.

Please not, that’s just a bad idea to bring a bad Class into a raid that could be cleared previously without it.

Actually, the monsters weren’t tough, they were strong, and that was what made it difficult.

There are 4 ways to make monsters difficult to handle:

  1. A good A.I. :
    If monsters have a good skill set and can react to skills and positioning of the player (e.g. teleporting behind you if you cast an AoE skill on the ground or removing defensive buffs via Disenchant), they can be a challenge, be it challange to hit, challenge to overwhelm, challenge to CC or even challenge to kill (e.g. they run away or call for help on nearby monsters).

  2. A good amount of HP and defense:
    This is what is currently utilized by TOS, and which is the reason why some Classes are strong and others are weak/bad. It basically enforces meta to overcome the defense and hit hard enough with your skills to put them to death instantly.

This is the easiest and most lazy approach to make a game more difficult, because it forces people to use certain Classes and skills to deal with the majority of monsters in the game, which cuts down the possible build diversity by a lot.

  1. a good amount of block/evasion and high attack:
    This is the way fighting against monsters felt like before the 2017 rebalance patch,
    the monsters were strong and dealt a huge amount of damage while not being brought down so easily.
    Imo this is the best budget option (if you can’t afford 1.) to build up a difficulty curve, as you need to actively evade attacks as good as possible to survive while trying to kill the monsters.

  2. having a high aggressive mob density:
    This is the approach aimed at by Re:build to increase the difficulty of TOS.
    By increasing the amount of monsters that can harm you at once, you will eventually be forced into evading or potting.
    This difficulty increase can be used in a dumbed down way (i.e. Re:build by increasing the mob numbers and aggro limit) or an intelligent way with more frequent spawns/re-spawns (e.g. random monster portals showing up) and active aggression towards the player (i.e. monsters calling for help in the surrounding area, resulting in a huge amount of incoming monsters [50+]) to bring him down.

Another option to increase the diversity would be to bring back the effectiveness of weaponry types to the table.
Before the rebalance patch 2017, there were mali for specific types of weaponry/skills (e.g. strike dealing more against plate [50% iirc] and less against cloth [-25% iirc]) that made it harder for non-diverse builds/parties to deal with the game (i.e. a Dragoon>Lancer>Cataphract would suffer 25% damage penalty on all of his skills against a plate armor enemy).

If they had revived the mali on attack types, people would be more inclined to feature more different attack types so they can have a balanced amount of damage dealt against all types of enemies.
In the current state, only magic users suffer a penalty against specific elements, which makes physical damage builds no-brainers who can build freely without worrying much about anything.

Imo they should bring back armor property mali [imo -30% would be enough for strike,slash,pierce,arrow,cannon,pistol/musket] so you actually have a reason not to build straight and so you actually feel weaker against certain types of monsters.


#7

Thing is, I want people to need to cooperate more. It makes my experience more satisfying.

Currently the threshold for ignoring mechanics is too low. Cooperation isn’t really important and all I need to do is have enough gear on my own. That’s pretty boring.

Someone suggested having difficulty modes in dungeons, so if cooperating isn’t your cup of tea, then you can choose the version of the content that doesn’t require it.

I think whether or not a class is bad or good goes hand in hand with what challenges exist. If there are places that a class is needed then it will be good. If a class is needed everywhere, then it will be overpowered.

Consider world bosses with their extremely high defensive stats. Classes with huge amounts of of defense shred (linker, musketeer) are sought after when doing world bosses because they can overcome those defenses. Granted, some of these classes are inherently very strong, so you might argue that people are just bringing overpowered things everywhere (to some degree they are), but no where else in the game do people care quite as much about defense shred as they do when fighting world bosses. This is a situation that exists in the game that demands something unique that isn’t really as important elsewhere. I want things like this where some classes have clear advantages.

Ultimately the point of the discussion I want to have is that I want the game to have more distinct challenges so people need to come up with distinct builds to overcome those challenges. Of course, if the challenges are too insurmountable then it could bring about situations where it looks like there is only one solution. And maybe that could be okay as long as there are alternative challenges that people can take on that others can’t. Also, the key word here is ‘looks’ because I am a fan of scenarios where players find unintended or unexpected solutions to difficult content. That’s where imagination and creativity comes into play and that can be really fun.


#8

This

I am much prefer proper positioning avoiding AOE, timing on using certain skill/item to deal with boss mechanics or even merging few ideas e.g. Double boss enrage mechanics when one die etc.

Making mob hit harder/bullet sponge is not challenge but lazy, it won’t serve any purpose but create another equipment race, and meta build

As for the RPG trinity, I afraid there would be an issue as we have so limited choice in healer and tank build and against the goal of build diversity