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Heroic Healing – Stop that healer!

September 27, 2009 1 comment
Charging Haymaker

Charging Haymaker

Beta gave me the impression that healers are powerful and I still have that feeling during Retail. So I will discuss a few methods to counter healers. Of course, there’s a counter for those tactics as well. Generally, healers are rare in MMORPG’s, but in Champions Online most characters will end up with some kind of healing power. The current flavor of the month seems to be Mindful Reinforcement from the Telepathy framework. It’s a shield and a heal combined that’s very strong at ranks 2 and 3.

The following tricks work well:

  • Holds
  • Knockbacks/Pulls
  • Separation
  • AOE
  • Heal reduction

Actually, the biggest item stopping healers at the moment is that they are not rewarded fairly for their effort compared to damage dealers. My own healer is not really shelved, but leveling rather slowly for that reason.

Holds

The healer will have to break out of the hold before he can continue healing again. As pure healers will probably not have Strength or Ego superstatted, hold should be fairly effective on them. Either use the hold period to kill the healer or kill the one he’s healing. Holds have to be charged to get a decent strength on them so try to charge them out of the healer’s direct line of sight

counter:

  • use crafted/questing gear which reduces hold time.
  • move away during the charge
  • block during the charge if you expect to be attacked.
  • holds are not affecting Swinging characters. I assume this is a bug.

Knockbacks/Pulls

Haymaker hits

Haymaker hits

It is not possible to heal during a knockback/pull. While these effects will generally last shorter than pure holds, they’re a good interrupt. Also, while Holds have to be charged to become powerful, knockbacks and pulls can be done instantaneously. Knockbacks and pulls are also great to separate the healer from the team. Having the opponent land into a hazard like lava (UTC Fire Temple) or near NPC’s/turrets (Stronghold) is a bonus and possibly even fatal. Also, fall damage itself is significant.

counter:

  • use crafted/questing gear which reduces hold times.
  • keep away from characters using knockback/pulls
  • you will not take fall damage while flying

Separation

A healer can only keep a team alive if they’re in his range. An organised team will keep close to their healer, but pick-up groups can often be lured away. Long, charged knockbacks are great to remove one member of the team.

counters:

  • be aware of the location of the healer/team at all times
  • put a shield like Mindful Reinforcement on the target before he goes of out range

AOE

Single target healing is very strong, but AOE is not that great. If it is not possible separate the opponents from each other, the use of AOE may overtax the healer. AOE that has a secondary fear/disable effect is especially effective.

counters:

  • AOE zones are smaller than healing range. Warn the team not to clump up too much.
  • 3D movement works as well as 2D movement to avoid AOE’s.

Heal reduction

Unspecting Dummy...

Unsuspecting Dummy...

Haymaker, an ability from the Might framework has the advantage Nullifying Punch which temporarily shuts down healing over time effects and causes all incoming heals to be 50% less effective. This ability hurts both the healer as well as the one being hurt.

counter:

  • go to the Powerhouse/use an alt to see the animation. If someone is hitting like that, either avoid them, crowd control them or make sure you team focuses them. Or look at the pictures accompanying this post.

Wrapping up

While healers are powerful, there a plenty of counters. The greatest of those I did not mention, because it is a real no-brainer: team-work.

In solo PvP everyone needs a heal. Check all the frameworks even if healing does not seem to be fitting in your concept, there’s probably one with the right flavor.

...gets to fly.

...gets to fly.

Nemesis Wishlist

September 20, 2009 1 comment
Nemesis vanquished...for now
Nemesis vanquished…for now

The Balrog does not care who I am and neither does Onyxia. The Lich King may be looking to corrupt players, but he’s not particularly out to get me. In Champions Online, the Nemesis is after you personally. At level 25 you get a call to go to the police station where you make a unique character which will become your personal archenemy. It uses the same character creation tool as for player characters. You also have to choose a power framework for both the Nemesis and his minions (those can be different). After you stop him/her the first time, he will be out for revenge, but while he will send his minions to ambush you at random times, those minions will also drop clues about his current plans. After a while you will defeat him and send him to jail. A new nemesis can be made at that point.

The Nemesis option makes CO a more personal experience than most MMO’s. Also, the random minion attacks add some variety to the predictability of PVE, because they can appear anywhere in the open world and they will often teleport in while you’re already fighting other enemies. Also, the Nemesis quests add much needed XP to get to 40. However, the system still needs some fleshing out. Therefore I present my top 5 wishes for Nemesis content improvement.

1. Personality

I wrote in my first Nemesis’ bio that he hated magic and I thought to cover that by making his framework Gadgeteering and giving him Soldier minions with Munitions. During our first few encounters, he empowered himself through a mystical object, he summoned zombies and he released an ancient goddess. Oops.

So I would like to see options for his motivation: power, wealth, mania etc. as well as a like/dislike for magic, technology. A honorable/dishonorable option could also be implemented. Even some small changes in his dialog would flesh out the Nemesis’ personality a lot more.

2. Nemesis Team-up

Let Nemesises from different people team-up during group content and let our own Nemesises occasionaly work together. They share a common goal after all: the complete destruction of you. If their personalities clash, I would like to see some bickering between them as well.

The Sinister Six are a group of Spider-Man villains who have teamed up against him in the past. Now every one of those would singlely give Spidey a good fight, but together they form a monstrous challenge. A Sinister Six type instance would not just be a team-up mission, but a large mission in which the player would be taxed to the limit.

3. UNITY

Since I hit 40 I’m not spending much time in the open world anymore except while flying to UNITY mission locations. As such, I barely see my Nemesis minions anymore so I’m not getting many clues. I would like to see ambushes inside UNITY mission locations (which would also help add some spice to those much too easy missions). Also, sometimes UNITY should pick up on something my Nemesis is doing. If I’m a worldclass hero, he/she is a worldclass villain!

4. Many more storylines

This is a no-brainer: there have to be many more different storylines and these should fit the different Nemesis personalities from point 1. More storylines would also allow the introduction of the first Nemesis at an earlier point in the game, because level 25 is pretty late.

5. Nemesis Apocalypse

A world event during which all Nemesises escape and threaten the world. They would be present in the open world and be marked by player (so: Nemesis <Character’s Nemesis>).  Not only would we be able to see many of other player’s creations, but also get inspiration for new enemies ourselves.

Defender shows up to help take the Nemesis to jail.
Defender shows up to help take the Nemesis to jail.

Bonus wish

I wish we could pick the Nemesis’ travel power. I had envisioned him on a floating disk, not walking like some common mortal!

Ton Anroc returns!

September 13, 2009 Leave a comment

sidenote: I hit 40 today. Thanks to Stronghold I only ran out of quests at 39.5. I like Stronghold, but being forced to grind it constantly for XP has somewhat soured it for me a bit (for now). Luckily, Cryptic has acknowledged the XP gaps and they’re working on it.

Ton Anroc is a player vs. player scenario from Warhammer Online. It plays in an underground cavern filled with lava. Players who fall into the lava get damaged and snared. Many people who used to play during the first days of WAR still have nightmares about it. For a long time it was the only scenario that popped up during t3 (about level 20->30) and RvR lakes were empty, so anyone who wanted to level mostly through pvp had to play that. Warhammer has two factions, Order and Destruction. The former had several classes with large knockbacks. Especially the Iron Breaker’s AOE knockback with build-in root was horrible. It was pretty funny the first time to see a dwarf storming solo into a Destruction team and knocking several of them off the central mountain into the lava below, but that quickly faded.

Lava is hot

Lava is hot

UTC Lava Temple is Ton Anroc’s little brother. There is only one level, so that reduces falling damage, but there’s plenty of lava around. It does not snare, but it hurts. Also, the big rocks can be picked up and thrown for massive damage. Actually, this is fun for a high Strength character, but I see it getting old soon for everyone else. A flying character with knockbacks and pulls can have some unbalanced fun, like floating above the lava and then pulling someone towards you. Yes, I have done that to try if it was possible. I believe that environmental damage should be very limited in small arena’s without objectives. The chance to take falling damage in the High Tech arena is a player choice, but not standing next to lava in LT is as good as impossible.

Contrary to Ton Anroc, Lava Temple almost never pops, because people are playing Stronghold for XP. Actually, I have only been able to get into a game with full teams on both sides during Open Beta. I hope that the other maps will be added for level 40’s, perhaps as a join random arena selection. Nevertheless, these are just first impressions. Time will prove if they are right. If not, I have plenty of other things to do in Champions Online.

Incoming: rock

Incoming: rock

Respec(t) for the launch

September 7, 2009 Leave a comment

cometgirllaunch

I completely forgot to take screenshots of the Head Start event, but it was rather bland anyway. I was having great fun with the game, but the alien invasions were basically a drop of some mobs every 1.5 hours and they were zerged within minutes. If you were on the other side of the zone, the event would be over before you got there. The game played well during head start and while there are plenty of bugs none that I encountered were game-breaking.

Launch was smooth and there was no need for any big emergency maintenance till Sept 3rd. Cryptic did drop a bomb in the form of a patch that great changed the apparant effectiveness of passive defenses just has the head start ended. The offical forums exploded with complaints. Personally, I have experienced almost no trouble at all and I think many people just had bad builds. However, we cannot all be expected to spend hours with the champion builder. Cryptic could have prevented a great deal of whining by just giving everyone a free respec immediately. Luckily, it did happen. It is not like characters have been really estabilished by this point in time. Also, respeccing is extremely costly. Going one step back is a serious decision, two or three can become unpayable.  Either they really do not want us to respec while leveling up or someone put a decimal point wrong.

I can understand that Cryptic does not want people to completely change their characters around.  Today I’m a Ninja, but tomorrow a comboy and the next week, I shall be an astronaut. However, in a game with this much freedom, there is the freedom to completely screw up. That said, not every build should be viable. If someone wants to make a retarded build, he should expect to perform like a retard as well.

Cryptic will have to find a balance that prevents everyone from switching to the Flavor-of-the-Month build continuously, while allowing people to tweak their build. The last in-first out respec stack is a good start (if you buy five items and you want to change the second one, you have to remove the last four items), but I honestly cannot see why it includes everything. A hero is defined by powers and those should be the most expensive. Stats are tied to powers, so those should be cheaper. Advantages are added flavor to the powers, but they can also greatly change how these work. Advantages are powerful, but these are often worded badly so they should be really cheap for now. An example of a badly worded Advantage is Crippling Challenge, which is available on most basic damaging abilities (e.g. lash, beatdown etc.). It reads like a taunt, but a sideffect is that it negates blocking for a short while on the target. And that makes it great for pvp.

In conclusion, Champions is great fun, but the respec system needs to be respecced.