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Thoughts on Items, Weapons, and Armor

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After beating the game yesterday I've been thinking a bit about research strategy for my next play through and realized that there are really only 3 items I care about researching (Health Potions, Ultralixir, and Wunderpants) and that I would go straight for my favorite armors (Veil, Adv Alchemist, and Bone) and maybe pick up some of the weapons when I have some spare cycles.

I know you guys want people to experiment with different combinations of items, armor, and weapons but I feel that in the current state of the game the health potions are just far too important to give up for anything except Wunderpants on you front line characters when fighting Wrinklers and lots of Lapses. So, I got to thinking about how you guys could encourage more diverse item usage and here are my thoughts:

Item Sizes and Slots:

My first thought on items is, that's easy, just lets us carry more items, but then I thought some more and I think that you could make it more interesting by breaking the items up into different sizes (small and large) and have the armor upgrades open up new slots to make them more attractive. For the number of slots I'm thinking:

Tier 1 - Base Armor - 1 small item or 1 large item

Tier 2 - Refined Armor and Cadence Armor - 2 small items or 1 large item

Tier 3 - Advanced Armor - 3 small items or 1 large item and 1 small item

In addition the Alchemist extra item skill would still give you an additional large or small item slot.

I can't say I've used enough of the items to know what would be small and what would be large but the best example would be Health Potions (small) and Ultralixirs (large). This would still make the basic health potions relevant in the late game and give you more reasons to try out other items yet still forces a tough decision on what is the best loadout.

Weapons:

Ultimately, the Relic weapons are far superior to all of the weapons you can research, and while I think that should be the case, it is a bit disappointing because there are some really cool looking and useful weapons that you can research. You currently can't get a relic from the weapons you can research but it would be nice if you could. To balance base weapon relics with research weapon relics I think I would cap research weapons at level 5 and make it so the research weapons only increase in damage per level and do not get a crit chance bonus (or have a much smaller crit chance)

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I'm going to disagree on a couple of points. First, I never use health potions, and I've never missed them. When not up against Lapses and Wrinklers, I give my Caberjacks Haste Hooch or Dodging Stockings, and everyone else gets Steady Handers (unless they're high level and Tranquil, in which case I might swap for Dodging Stockings). While leveling up I'll sometimes use Experience Scarves, but it's a tough choice between getting those early and getting Veil Armor.

I do think that opening up the number of items heroes can use is a good idea, though, because one item per hero pushes you to focus on a few key must-haves, at which point you ignore everything else because your must have is all you have room for. Right now I barely touch item research for most of the game until I've done everything else and I'm just trying to keep my Sagewrights busy. They could always take a page from XCOM: Enemy Within and make an extra item a mid game research project, with Alchemists getting an extra use out of limited use items.

On the subject of Relics, I feel like there's a good trade off for Caberjacks and Alchemists. Ramcap Cabers are amazing, because any time you can knock an enemy into something else they basically do double damage and that enemy is stunned (as well as any enemies you knocked that enemy into). Being able to knock back and stun more or less at will is amazing, and definitely compensates you for the lack of criticals that you could be getting from a relic. Similarly, Anarchy Slingers increase the AoE of Alchemists' flasks, which is very useful, especially late game when the Cadence tends to swarm. The other area where I feel relics outshine the researched options is for Hunters, because both of the alternate Hunter weapons have their own disadvantages (Bone Barb Bows have decreased damage, Blunderbows have decreased range and knock your Hunter back), which make relics seem like an all around better choice.

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I never use Wunderpants, but swear by Steady Handers, and use Experience Scarves for heroes I'm grooming to be regents or standards. I also use Healing Potions and Ultralixirs, though. That we disagree on what items are good means the items have been well-designed enough to present real options, so I don't think they need a change there.

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I'm finding situational use for a lot of the items.

- If you don't have Tranquility on a hero, that can be fixed with a Steady Hander. It's also great for maxing out your hit rate early on and later when Advanced Wrinklers, Lapses and Seeds come along. A Tranquil Alchemist with a Steady Hander can throw potions at max range with extremly high accuracy.

- If you are going to fight Lapses and/or Wrinklers, then anyone who isn't a Hunter gets Wunderpants. You can usually keep Hunters out of that kind of trouble, but not Caberjacks and sometimes not Alchemists either.

- If you don't need the Steady Hander on your Hunters, then the Dodge Stocking is pretty nice because you already have a pretty good dodge rate.

- I use the Health Potion and Ultralixirs when first going up against Bulwarks and Cradles because one hit from them can put a character next to death's door and you can't always plan it so they are stun-locked or killed in one round. Its also great in the defence missions where you have to plow into huge swarms fast if you want to win well. For instance, I had on Ultralixir on each of my two Alchemists in the final battle.

- Vitaliband can be an OK option if you don't want to waste time using a potion, especially on Caberjacks with their high HP values. I personally didn't use it much.

I know some people really like Sponge Stones, but I just couldn't get into them. The healing they do is only really useful against basic Seeds (and Bulwarks when you have Refined Armor), but those guys die so easily anyway. I didn't like Experience Scarfs either as 10% extra XP really doesn't feel like enough to be worth it next to anything else. Maybe if Experience Scarfs automatically applied to trainees they would be worth having.

Having said that, I do think it would be nice to unlock an extra item for everyone at some point. It's one of the good ways to ramp up the power of heros through research and it gives you more chances to play around with exotic items.

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I know that item choice comes down to personal preference and play style and I didn't really mean for this to be a discussion on which items were best for how you play. This was really meant to address encouraging more variety in load outs than anything else. For those of you who have played through the game a few times, do you feel like you always use the same few items or do you mix it up?

I, for example, feel pretty confident that I will always use the same armors from here on out (unless maybe they are nerfed or changed). It sounds like most people like Veil armor on the Hunter so do you think having the ability to have an extra item slot might encourage you to us the Advanced armor instead on some occasions? I definitely think I would be much more tempted to make the switch than I am now.

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This is really complicated, and there really isn't that much benefit over the current system.

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This is really complicated, and there really isn't that much benefit over the current system.

I program for a living and in terms of amount of work it would take it should be trivial. The hardest part would be deciding which items are small and which are large.

There are only three inputs that matter for it to work. The armor equipped, whether or not the character has the extra item skill, and the first item the user selected.

The first slot always allows you to pick from large and small items.

If the armor is Tier 2 or 3 and the first item selected is small then you add an extra small slot.

If the armor is Tier 3 then you add an extra small slot.

If the character has the extra item skill add an extra large or small slot (current functionality)

You could even add some text to small item names so it's clear you get an extra slot when picking the first item. Something like "Health Potion (+1 item)"

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This is really complicated, and there really isn't that much benefit over the current system.

I program for a living and in terms of amount of work it would take it should be trivial. The hardest part would be deciding which items are small and which are large.

There are only three inputs that matter for it to work. The armor equipped, whether or not the character has the extra item skill, and the first item the user selected.

The first slot always allows you to pick from large and small items.

If the armor is Tier 2 or 3 and the first item selected is small then you add an extra small slot.

If the armor is Tier 3 then you add an extra small slot.

If the character has the extra item skill add an extra large or small slot (current functionality)

You could even add some text to small item names so it's clear you get an extra slot when picking the first item. Something like "Health Potion (+1 item)"

I didn't actually mean from a developement standpoint, but from a player one. There would need to be a good reason for there to be "large" and "small" items for the system to feel intuitive, and I don't think there really is a reason to do that right now. I don't think adding more of this type of micromanagement on top of the current item system really benefits the game.

Personally, I have found use in my playthrough for potions, haste hooch, Wünderpants and "the evasion socks". That's a pretty wide vairety, and I've seen other people go for completely different setups (with potions still being very popular, obviously)

If they re-design the system to fit this model, and add more items to it, then it becomes viable, but I don't think it fits with just swapping the current items in.

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Recently, Brad was talking about getting more player power into the research system.

Currently, levelling your heros and relics gives you 90% of your real power in battles and is the primary factor in determining research capability. It is the sole source of intuition. It is a major source of HP, accuracy and damage (both through hero stats and relic stats). It is a roughly equal source to research for armor, resistance and evasion.

The major benefits of research are in armor, resistance and evasion. Largely through actual armor and you only benefit in armor and evasion OR evasion and resistance. You can get some damage upgrades in weapons, but they are generally sidegrades or worse (depending on the class). You can research various situational items that can help you out, but you can only take one (or two for alchemists by mid-game).

There are some special research projects that turn up after the first half of the game, but they have decidely minor effects on your combat abilities. The national armor research project adds a single point of armor to each class. The others are indirect benefits (more xp, more fertility, longer lives).

There is definitely room to take some power out of the levelling system and put it into research options.

For instance (and these are just examples):

* Some kind of accuracy increase through researching "combat training" that you can only pick up after certain years. Maybe you'd need X of each type of Cadence to use it. Maybe it would be per class. Accuracy from levelling could be a little less high. It would become available when the first of the Advanced Cadence appear.

* Class based training. One for each class. Caberjacks get stronger, etc. Possibly multiple levels that appear after a hero in that class hits a certain level. For instance, levels 3 and 7 (to give some of the non-skill levels a good reason to exist). It could be a percentage based increase. Relic damage and crit damage could be reduced to compensate, giving the cadence based weapons a small boost overall.

* Some kind of base health increase. Maybe you research how to feed your heros better and that translates to better health. Or maybe it is just a flat increase attached to your armor. This would mean smaller health increases as part of levelling.

* Research into item use that allows you to equip an extra item.

* Research into an equipable item that lets you improve your resistance (no such thing exists).

* Research into better research techniques that raises the benefit from intuition across the board. Xzibit heard you like to research and put some research in your research so you can research researching while you research.

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On the subject of Relics, I feel like there's a good trade off for Caberjacks and Alchemists. Ramcap Cabers are amazing, because any time you can knock an enemy into something else they basically do double damage and that enemy is stunned (as well as any enemies you knocked that enemy into). Being able to knock back and stun more or less at will is amazing, and definitely compensates you for the lack of criticals that you could be getting from a relic.

I find that the Ramcap Caber is just plain better than my level 10 relic. My relic caber means I can hopefully one-shot a hard enemy, if I happen to crit. The Ramcap Caber lets me GUARANTEE I kill him, since I get 200% damage, and at the same time I can throw damage AND a stun onto a second target! That's insane! The only requirement is that the positioning has to work out, which is extremely common. Having a piece of terrain OR another enemy available to get the collision is almost always guaranteed.

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I find that the Ramcap Caber is just plain better than my level 10 relic. My relic caber means I can hopefully one-shot a hard enemy, if I happen to crit. The Ramcap Caber lets me GUARANTEE I kill him, since I get 200% damage, and at the same time I can throw damage AND a stun onto a second target! That's insane! The only requirement is that the positioning has to work out, which is extremely common. Having a piece of terrain OR another enemy available to get the collision is almost always guaranteed.

I totally agree. I found myself chosing ramcap cabers over lvl 10 relic weapons, because ramcap cabers basically deal double damage which is good enough (if you have base damage of 40 in late game) to insta kill all enemies. In comparison to the other weapons available (I didn't have the timefist yet though, so don't know about that one) I feel like the ramcap caber at the moment is just plain too strong. Knocking cadence into terrain and stunning them is already good if it would do 4-5 damage like the caber ability, but making it double damage is overkill in my opinion.

That said, after a little nerve on the ramcap caber, I would totally welcome the idea of alternative weapon relics. Also adding a personality trait from the creator of the relic (as was previously mentioned by someone I can't remember, sorry!) is super interesting to me.

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I think the Personality passed on through a Relic idea is pretty great too. There are some questions that beg answering about the concept though.

Do you pass a random Personality from the originating Hero or only a good Personality?

How about sometimes passing down a Trait instead?

What do you do if the Personality/Trait being passed is the opposite of one the Hero using the Relic already has?

What if the Relic is passed through several generations? Can it pick up an extra Personality/Trait at some point?

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I personally feel like peronalities suit the purpose better. It feels weird imbuing a genetic trait on a relic weapon. If the weapon captures some of the essence of its wielder, it should probably come from how the person is or isn't throughout his time spend with the weapon.

It will probably be too much if each generation gets to add a personality element to the weapon. I don't know exactly what triggers making a relic weapon in the first place (if it is kills, if it is the same as getting a nickname), but that trigger could maybe be the trigger of adding a personality element as well.

I feel like the element needs to be random, good or bad.

Conflicts with his own personality is interesting, I almost feel like bestowing the weapon on the character should overwrite the personalities of the character that conflict the weapon's personality. Changing the characters personality permanently by adding or changing elements, depending on the relic weapon. I am not sure about this though.

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One idea that occurred to me recently (and maybe this is something for the "expansion pile") as I was playing yet another game where I ended up with way more relics than I needed, was that relics that provide benefits when held by a Regent/Partner might be interesting. Maybe a relic that has an associated personality trait that's a bit more likely to be passed on to offspring, or one that skews the odds on the genetic lottery a bit in your favor, making negative genetic traits a bit rarer and positive ones more common.

As far as what generates a relic, I know getting a nickname guarantees it, but I've gotten relics from heroes without nicknames, so that can't be the only criterion. Maybe there's a certain threshold of earned experience? That would explain why extra relics start showing up out of nowhere late in the game.

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As far as what generates a relic, I know getting a nickname guarantees it, but I've gotten relics from heroes without nicknames, so that can't be the only criterion. Maybe there's a certain threshold of earned experience? That would explain why extra relics start showing up out of nowhere late in the game.

I'm not sure the nickname thing is entirely true. I was trying to "farm" some relics in the mid-game and stopped killing with one of my heros the moment she got her nickname. When she died, she didn't generate a relic. I hadn't even researched any Cadence weapons yet. It was pretty disappointing :(

Of course, most heros that get a nickname while wielding their basic weapon do generate a relic, so I can only assume that the cutoffs for each are actually quite close.

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Hmm, if creating a relic is based off kill XP (or experience earned in general) and gaining a nickname is based purely off the number of kills, then it might be possible to get a nickname from killing a lot of Seeds while still not having enough experience to make a relic. And conversely, in the late game kill XP is high enough that you could probably cross the threshold on relatively few kills while not having enough kills to earn a nickname.

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In all seriousness does anyone else find the ramcap caber to be rather phallic looking?
You should probably see a doctor.

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Bumping this old topic, since now having some gameplay under my belt post release, so far with items, I haven't experimented much out of Health Vials / their upgrade, Experience Scarves, Wunderpants. I'll try to do a run where I do a little more experimentation on Hard.

What items do you find yourself using, and what items have you tended to ignore?

Smiles

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I just finished Hard where I researched 2 accessories, Health Vials and Sponge Stones.

Actually played around a lot more with cadence gear this time. Researched Bone Bow, RamCap caber, Boneshell Armour, Explosive Armour, Veil Armour, The TIMEFIST and the Boomslinger. So demonic. So much fun.

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I do think that opening up the number of items heroes can use is a good idea, though, because one item per hero pushes you to focus on a few key must-haves, at which point you ignore everything else because your must have is all you have room for. Right now I barely touch item research for most of the game until I've done everything else and I'm just trying to keep my Sagewrights busy. They could always take a page from XCOM: Enemy Within and make an extra item a mid game research project, with Alchemists getting an extra use out of limited use items.

Yeah I think more item slots and lower research times might encourage more item diversity.

As a brutal/iron player not sure items play a critical role in my strategy. Health Potions and Ultralixers. Maybe Wunderpants to stop heroes dropping from 10 to 9 in the last few fights. I used to like the old vitalibands.

I think you can get by without a lot of the items, which is sad. :(

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Yeah I think more item slots and lower research times might encourage more item diversity.

As a brutal/iron player not sure items play a critical role in my strategy. Health Potions and Ultralixers. Maybe Wunderpants to stop heroes dropping from 10 to 9 in the last few fights. I used to like the old vitalibands.

I think you can get by without a lot of the items, which is sad. :(

I'm also a brutal/iron player but I disagree here a bit. Exp scarves and steady handers were crucial for me in beating brutal/iron. I did use ultralixers a bit, but only on one of the five heroes at any given time, usually a designated trickshot with shoot items and a second item slot. I've done the same with alchemists before, but I find that the exp scarves can make a huge cumulative difference on the majority of heroes. Anyone with quick study gets steady hander to eliminate costly misses.

I don't know that I want it to be easier to research more things, though I agree it would encourage more diversity of item usage. I'm still not sure I would ever use some of them (vitaliband, hastehooch, age n rage) and it could also mess up the balance of the difficulty.

As for the Armors, I definitely think the refined/advanced armors need a boost. To me, they are a huge sink of research time and they are at best marginally more effective than the cadence counterparts. I haven't played around with the cadence weapons much, but I did not care for the Bone Barb Bow or the Timefist. Ramcap Cabers are the only one I've found much use for.

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The Blunderbow and Timefist are pretyy awful, Although the timefist can be clutch (1 time on my hard playthrough i had 1 caber vs 1 adv cradle and timefist won me the game lol - make it your grandsons problem).

Boom slinger has great AoE but accuracy is terrible. If you had a tranquil with a steady hander id probably love it but its only good at distance if enemies are on you the AoE is too big. Some people have stood up for barb bow but i dont like it

THe Ramcap cabers though are an absolute must. Onyl downside here is no relics can come from a cadence weapon, but i think the trade off is pretty great.

Armor however different ballgame. Veil armour is awesome and is only slightly less armor than expert hunter, with mor evade and Ultimate invisible! Bulwark defence on your cabers is very handy if you want to rush a pack as well. Combo that with rebound and the taunt one and yahtzee. Also as mentioned all of these will take significantly less research time than going expert armor on 3 classes, meaning you can research toher stuff or forego some sages.

I find myself having to go Pots early on but that might be a testament to my not being tactially masterful yet. Steady handers are definately a must to researcg but i only equip them on those that need them if i have a good heero with some dodgy aim. Haste Hooch seems to be the one to save the day the most. Can close down an enemy or haul ass and survive.

Ramcaps, Veil armor and Hooch seem to be to be the most important things to get as soon as practical. And ofc a tranquil and patriotic Standard (if only there was a god)

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I never seem to need steady handers or haste hooch.

Smiles

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