Action based skills, weapon based focus.


Disclaimer: This post is a bit of a brain dump, I’ll try to go into more detail in later posts.

Inquisitor: Martyr (IM) uses a system whereby you equip weapons in 2 slots, an armour and a belt. This defines what abilities you bring with you on a mission. You can then optimise and customise your loadout by investing in skills which you feel are relevant.

I feel that this will leave us in a future state where 80% of players use cookie cutter builds. If you bring a Heavy Flamer to a mission you are going to have to put skills in Ranged, Heat, DOT and AOE etc to support the weapon along with what skills are suitable for defence (Suppression, Hit Points and Defence)

In an age of the internet and guides, there will be one build better than the others, and unless you chose to deliberately pick a sub-optimal build, you will invariably end up with the same skill build as every other Heavy Flamer wielding Crusader out there.

What if instead the skills were what drove the class and the weapon became just a focal point, a flavour or personal preference?

Imagine a scenario where you have 4 ability slots on your action bar. The abilities start out, like many ARPGs as move and default attack, but you quickly unlock skills depending on your initial class selection. Later, as you unlock more skills through heroic deeds, you will be able to customise your character in so many different ways.

A heavy Crusader gets access to the AOE skill tree, and the first skill point invested in the skill tree gives you a basic AOE ability.

AOE abilities will have parameters, some will be list based, while some will be integer based

Shape: Cone, Spread, Aura

Range: For a Cone and Spread this determines the leading edge of effect, while for an Aura this is how far from you the centre of the detonation can be placed.

Size of Effect: For cones and spread this is the number of degrees the area hits over, while for an Aura it determines the blast radius

Special: Does it apply a DOT, Stun, Slow etc.?

Skills and item affixes will alter the base ability parameters. There are not affixes, randomly rolled stats you get when the item drops. This is a feature of the weapon type. Some weapons will have larger cones (shotgun) some will have larger Aura’s (grenade launcher) and some will apply Specials (burning from flamer, toxin from needler)

Then you can have skills that alter parameters, single target skills can have parameters in the categories like Rate of Fire, “Can be used while moving?”, and have all the same specials based on weapon type.

At the moment we have skill trees that are sub-optimal and sometimes counter-intuitive. The Single Target tree has both melee and ranged specific skills, and often you have to pick BOTH to get access to the final skill. The Area of Effect tree has skills for both Cone and Aura type attacks. If instead we had a situation where Area of Effect had skills that just increased size, and size worked for both cone and aura skills, then you don’t feel like you are forced to waste points on skills that do not benefit you just to get access to the top tier.

The DOT tree can be a straight line (or zig-zag like Heat) where you increase your dot damage all along the main but you can get bonuses for different types of DOT through off-shoots, so you don’t have to buy “burns stop target from healing” when you use the needler. As for DOT skills, you can augment them in both potency and duration, chance to spread etc.

Now you are faced with decisions. Do you bring DOT skills, or AOE skills? You have 4 slots. If you work with your Cabal, you can focus on trash clearing, so you bring Aura or Cone based AOE skills, and some Party Aura skills. Other Cabal members can focus on Single target abilities, taking out the champions and elites. These characters take high damage single target abilities.

However, there’s no reason why BOTH these players can’t be wielding a Bolter. There’s going to be some weapons better suited for certain builds, but a lot of the time we have the chance to let the weapon determine flavour, not effectiveness. You could have the same build using a grav gun or a flamer depending on the type of enemy you are fighting, what status effects you want to apply, etc.

Melee and Ranged differentiation can mostly go away then, since a cleave is just a different type of cone, and a spin is just an Aura with range 0. This both simplifies the skill trees, and thus makes choosing one point over another much more important as they each have a much greater effect on how you play.

This will also make it easier to plan DLC (Free or otherwise) content packs that include new weapons, as it will be easier to balance them around the skills they support rather than have to balance them against all the other weapons in the game.

I know a lot of this looks like a complete overhaul of the combat system, and I don’t expect something like that to happen. However, there’s some parts of it that can still be applied to the current system, merging cone and Aura buffing skills into one category, or changing the layout of the DOT skill tree to make it more generic with specialisations as optional.

Thanks for reading.

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Action based skills, weapon based focus.
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336 days ago

I think in the long run only certain groups who need a certain skillset or someone who really wants to use a specific weapon will go this route with so many skills in so many areas i doubt there will be optimal build for everyone. we will have to see where it goes I suspect we will have followers / minions and all sorts of cool stuff and who knows they may add a skill tree or 3 for them as well 

337 days ago

I think having the skills as they are being more generic is actually more beneficial to how things work - as heat boosts ALL weapons that do heat-based damage, even if that isn't exactly always obvious given most weapons will say what the actual game-type weapon would do (like fire, plasma, las) instead of breaking it out into the three types they provide (warp, heat, physical).

That said, I'm not opposed to the weapons themselves having a selection of abilities to go from instead of just four (for those who have played it, think the original Guild Wars game). That would take somewhat what your wanting (the variety of builds), but still leave it tethered to the actual weapons with which they are associated. Of course, the largest restriction is honestly most likely coming from the massive amounts of 40k lore that already exists - most people associate a Plasma weapon with a single high-penetration shot with the potential to kill yourself shooting it (although nowadays with their newer rendition this has been changed to two different types of shot, at least the one of which making poor rollers like myself more prone to use it since it won't self-murder). 

337 days ago

Hmmm, really not sure about that. too many variables to keep the wh40k feel. Bolters are far from melta guns, even if they are both 2handed ranged weapons. it can't have the same dmg range / penetration. Bolters can spray bullets, mowing down hordes and medium sized enemies. Melta are armor destroyers: Space marines and vehicules should get destroyed by it.

Weapon needs different skills, not just graphic effects.

What i would like tho is reduced effectiveness of heavy weapons  at close range. 

337 days ago

I completely agree, and each weapon will bahave as that weapon is supposed to. Flamers will flame in a Cone effect when using the AOE ability, But a Bolter using the SAME AOE ability will have a different effect, their's will be a spray of bullets, who's range and spread is affected by skills. A Grenade Launcher using the same AOE ability will launch a grenade <range> distance for <size> area of effect applying <special> effect. 

Certain weapons will have different base attributes to make them more suitable for certain skills, so a pistol will not be as good as a flamer for AoE attacks. Instead, and this open a whole other topic, imagine the flamer has a high <movement penalty> while firing, while pistols do not?

337 days ago

I see some problems with your view. 1st ARPG are not RPG, so less buttons should be needed to clickm giving it more and 'action feel'.

Also, the weapon types are important in wh40k. a plasmagun and a meltagun are really different weapons, with different usage. So they need to have different skill sets. In my own suggestions (posted in this board), i proposed 3 common skills, but the fourth could vary according to the pattern of weapon you use. Maybe even split 2/2. That would alleviate the cookie cutter aspect.

But overall, Balance is important. If the game ends up really balanced, weapon types vs enemy types, then there will be less end all builds.

337 days ago

The DOT Skill tree, and How I’d overhaul it in this system.

The DOT skill tree has some interesting tools in it, but there’s also (which is odd for such a small tree) a lot of bloat and un-optional situational skills.

Let us imagine if we have a skill based combat system. The skill tree now becomes linear.

Tier 1:

This is where you unlock your ability. This will shoot (or slash or hit or flame) your target and it will place a Damage over Time effect on it. If you have a physical weapon, it will bleed, if it is a Flamer it will burn and if caustic, it will poison the target.

Tier 2:

This tier has your first “Increase DOT damage by X%”. It also has the optional ability, Bleeding Enemies are slowed.

Tier 3:

Second % increase and an optional “Burning enemies do not heal”

Tier 4:

Third % increase and optional “Poisoned Enemies do 20% less damage”

(Here’s where things get interesting)

The Tree Forks, and for the purpose of this discussion we will only discuss one fork in detail

Left Fork: (pre-requisite: The basic AOE skill)

Right Fork: (pre-requisite: The basic Single Target Skill)

Left Fork:

Tier 5:

New Skill (will replace Tier 1 Skill): AOE based DOT attack.

Tier 6:

DOT Effects have a % chance to spread to nearby targets

Tier 7:

Targets that die while affected by your DOT effects explode dealing damage (and/or) place a DOT on targets around them.