feedback about game progression

Started a new account out of boredom, here's some feedback about progression based on a complete fresh account

1) apprentice and warmage tier can actually be combined. There isn't a significant difficulty spike and progression feels smoothly (meaning no grinding needed, natural leveling up is sufficient for all maps)

All apprentice and warmage maps are a bit too easy. Both of them can be soloed 5 star with starter deck. Here is my youtube channel with videos about soloing warmage maps with underleveled account and a starter deck, if anyone is interested.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCshS3HoqdjcboAYVLE22htA

2) there is a huge difficulty spike in master tier. First of all, the entry level is 20 to unlock master tier while the lowest level requirement for master map is 26. Combining with the penalty of damage received/dealt when underleveled, this has caused a major frustration. The difficulty is not caused by lack of skills, I know I managed my cooldowns well, I know I set my killbox right, but I just can't defend when my hero tickles minions with double digit damage. The only way for me to beat master maps is to grind my account level. Natural progression is just not enough.

Suggestion: lower maps difficulty in master

I know there is another solution to just simply raise the entry level requirement to 26, but please don't do that. The natural progression after warmage is around 20, which is good.

Second of all, because being unable to solo master tier maps without grinding, I have to go to matchmaker, however current matchmaking finds maps based on player's account level, therefore all maps I can find are those few over and over again. This gets boring pretty fast.

3) summarizing 1) and 2), it becomes obviously that the root of all problems comes from the account level. When account level doesn't have its effects, things feel good and smooth; when it actually impacts game, it causes lots of problems including forced grinding and limited map choice in matchmaker.

The game difficulty should come from different minion combinations that require skills in both managing cooldowns and designing killboxes. It is an intellectual competition between map designers and players. However current difficulty is based on penalties from account level. Minions are not smarter, minion combinations are not harder, they just become damage sponges that requires you to grind your level to deal with, which isn't really fun.

4) there is a significant restriction on deck building due to the RNG loot system. I get some rare/epic traps but I just can't use them. It is always better to spam floorspikes with a low account level, simply because it is the highest tier available. Players are discouraged to design a killbox that enables high combo, but are forced to spam floorspikes to provide enough damage output.

I'm not saying spamming floorspike isn't a good way to play this game, but it becomes a problem when it is the ONLY way to play at low account level. Using 10 trap quota, a killbox with barricade/T1 brimsone/T1 shock zapper/T1 tar/T1 wallcharger would never compete with 10 T3 floorspikes, no matter in damage output or money cost. You may argue that T3 traps should be better than T1 traps, but why give player the rarity difference that when they got T3 floorspikes and other traps can only be T1?


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Comments

  • ShadeDevShadeDev Member, Robot Entertainment, Early Access, Apprentice Founder, Featured Developer
    edited March 4
    Statistically, the largest difficulty spike is from apprentice to warmage.

    If we were to remove account level restrictions, the game could be completed in an extremely short period of time. 

    Don't get me wrong, I wish we didn't have to account level gate things, but that would require about 10x as much content as we have right now.  It's just not something we can afford to change, unless someone has a better idea.  I think our focus right now is finding alternative activities so that you don't feel like you are grinding.
    Doug Houserman
    Robot Entertainment | Lead Balance Designer
  • TimeMasterTimeMaster Member, Early Access
    Keep in mind that you are one of the players with more hours spent in the game lately, starter deck and being underleveled isn't a comparable experience of a brand-new player.

    I disagree with 1)

    If the progression feels smooth for you, then it's well done and it shouldn't change much. Unlocking stuff and being very visual for new players it's a good and important thing imo.


    2) is tricky. Adding a couple of maps (or spreading the current ones better) as a smoother "transition" on the earliest levels of warmage would solve it?

    I'm not sure if I would like to have a game where is blatantly easier to play solo for people that prefer that setup instead of encouraging people to group up. I know it's not an MMORPG but it's still an online game. Playing with other people around your level should be all benefits, playing with friends is fun. Don't make the solo expierence horrible either but no need to make it too sweet I think.

    3) I kinda agree with this. I don't really like having so much dependance on account level to determine the difficulty of the game. It's fine for me that if you get more traps and higher tier, the past levels become easier (or atleast you have more choices) but the skill acquired by experience is what should make it easier in the end. (Altough I can understand that being higher level could have some perks like more dmg and HP but 4x damage on max level vs lvl 1 might be a bit too steep)

    4) I feel like this point is more about what the player feels about it rather than what actually is.
    The combo part might be right but there is no incentive or info about combos at all so I doubt anyone even care at early game.
  • BragdrasBragdras Member, Master Founder, Early Access
    I'm personally okay with level restrictions for first time playthroughs, but we need a way to manually scale our own level and our trap level down to match whatever maps we'd like to replay, right now it's bitter both ways, you play through the whole game while being underleveled and not having any control over the loadout you'd like to play, and when you finally get to a point where you do have your desired setup, you can play literally 0 maps that are level appropriate and soon after this you realise you could bring any crap loadout at this point, since you're so blatantly overpowered for any content except endless, which in itself feels more like a minigame about finding the most overpowered setup one-trick-pony kinda deal rather than clever loadouts and proper holding out against unbeatable odds.
  • SeanPoeSeanPoe Member, Early Access
    I don't think there was much of a difficulty spike going from warmage to master.  I still managed to 5 star every master map on my first try while being massively underleveled (e.g., level 24 doing avalanche/docks of eventide/Orcri-La which are level 40-45 maps) with a few exceptions.

    Failing Foley: took 2 tries to 5 star at level 21. Max just isn't able to handle the rock elementals fast enough on wave 1-2.  I had to swap to blackpaw in order to shave 30s off my clear time to make par (ended up ~40s under par with blackpaw).  I can easily see newer players failing this map entirely though before they understand how to deal with the rock elemental's massive hp, quick speed, and CC immunity.  Its definitely still very difficult but i'd say this map is in a good spot now compared to before.  Nothing needs to change here.

    Orcatraz: relatively easy map to beat but the par is insane. First try i was 2 mins over par with max, second try I was 1 min over par with gabby (not because of the hero swap, i just leaned how to improve the trap setup).  I think i could maybe manage this with blackpaw at level 23 with a few tries but decided to be a little more efficient with my time and just saved my blackpaw win for later until i'm at a higher level (at level ~30 i will try again).  I think the par time on this map should be increased by around 30s or change the way enemies spawn so you don't have to nearly clear one spawn before the next opens (so then you could fight multiple spawns at once to save time).  For example, you have to clear the west spawn before the north one will open up wasting massive amount of time if you have underleveled traps/hero. 

    Crogon Keep: I straight up failed to beat this map entirely at level 25 even thought i effortless 5 starred the previous 2 maps (which were both level 40-45 maps too). I failed on wave 9 and i wasn't on track to make par anyways.  The enemies' hp is just massively higher than on Avalanche, Docks of Eventide, and Orcri-La (all 40-45 maps).  This map specifically is the largest difficulty spike in the game so far.  It tells you something when i was able to 5 star most other maps on my first try but actually lost this map.  Granted my build was setup to try to make par time so i could probably beat this map (1-2 star) if i decided to ignore par entirely.  But still, even using a setup to maximize clear time i wouldn't have been even close to making par.  It seriously took me like 3 Es on max to kill one heavy enemy or 10s of holding LMB to kill even the medium orcs.  I will withhold judgment on this map until i'm at a higher level (~30-33), but just comparing it to other maps in the level bracket this map is maybe too difficult. 

    Shark's Island: haven't tried it yet but i imagine it will be easy to beat but incredibly hard to make par while underleveled.

    War Mage Shark's Island:  Very easy map to beat but the par time is pretty silly.  Even camping the spawns (literally standing on the boat killing things as soon as they came out) I failed to make par my first two tries (at level 14).  I highly doubt new players will ever think, 'hey, i need to camp the spawn on the boats to make par.'  I think the par on this map needs to be increased so it's actually possible to make par while killing things within about 5-10s of leaving the bridges (not the boats).  Something like 11:30 par instead of the current 10:45 would still be difficult enough for newer players. 

    With the exceptions of these three maps I think the difficulty in masters is about where it should be.  Even with a natural level progression (no grinding XP) and being massively underleveled the maps are still possible to beat and 5 star which means players that are grinding XP/traps will have an even easier time. 

    I also don't fully agree about the deck building part either.  Even though spikes were my highest tier trap i never resorted to spamming them and never even thought it would be ideal.  I pretty much always used a proper killbox with tar, arrow walls, pounders, floor scorcher and brimstone/iceshards in the front and back to help clear runners or leaks.  That setup always seemed to do better than spike spam, especially because it would powerup my unchained meter very quickly from the combos and using 4-5 unchained per game made it possible for me to clear the tougher maps.  I can't even imagine it being possible to 5 star some of those master maps while being underleveled without the use of unchained like i did. 
  • SeanPoe said:
    I don't think there was much of a difficulty spike going from warmage to master.  I still managed to 5 star every master map on my first try while being massively underleveled
    Is this before or after patch 1.8 with the penalty on underlevels?

    It'll be impressive to solo cliffside clash with account level 20 after patch 1.8
  • SeanPoeSeanPoe Member, Early Access
    edited March 4
    After 1.8. I made a fresh account on EU to test the new pars and map difficulties so I could provide some feedback (will do a full write-up after I finish all the maps).  Cliffside Clash was definitely possible to 5 star right at level 20 with a full starter deck (with a full 2 minutes under par even). 
  • care to make a video?
  • SeanPoeSeanPoe Member, Early Access
    edited March 4
    Well i'm not level 20 anymore and my traps are like 2 tiers higher now.  I also don't have the programs/experience to make videos without looking into it a bit.  But I can just explain my generals strategy.

    Right Side: 2 cades in the room to force them along the wall into the corner.  3 tars, 1 brimstone, ~10 ice shards in the front near the gate, all walls filled with arrow walls, pounders on the ceiling spots that hit the minion path, and one floor spike in the front just for a combo (you won't have enough money for all this before the end of wave 2).  If you only have one shield guardian put him on this side. Later on (wave 5 or 6 or whenever it reopens) I overbuilt this side by putting ~10 floor spikes on the bridge area to help on the double hero wave and the troll boss wave and also allow me to focus on clearing the left side with my hero.  This is very important so you can kill the enemy hero on the left side with unchained and then get to the right side with minimal leaks and kill the second enemy hero without unchained up.  Also the troll boss needs to die on the bridge before he gets to your cades (or just use a dummy cade with revenge if you have it, but i didn't have it yet). 

    Left Side: As soon as the spawn opens I spammed about 10 ice shards near the door opening, 2 cades aimed into the east corner, 2 tar, 2 arrow walls, 2 pounders, and the forge guardian (or second shield if you have it).  This is the hardest wave depending on the rift spawn location.   Kill the rift and then clear the runners and then quickly get back to your killbox and build up with the money you got from the runners.  You will end up with a similar killbox as the right side spot: arrow walls on all wall spots, 3 tar, 1 brimstone, pounders on all ceiling spots that hit, but around 20 total ice shards near the gate to help clear runners before they get into your killbox and trigger your arrow walls. 

    Use unchained on the first wave with an enemy hero, the wave with 2 enemy heroes, and the Bulgod boss wave.  If you have a 4th you can use it to clear the troll boss and full right side on the last wave but you probably don't need it.  Wave 3 (when the left side first opens and you get a rift spawn) and the double hero wave (I think wave 6) will be the hardest waves but you should have plenty of time to kill enemies even if they leak past your guardians.  I know when i redid this map for my gabby chest (she's a horrible hero for underleveled maps) i leaked mobs on both lanes on the double hero wave all the way to the rift room but still managed to kill them all and make par by about 50s.   



  • ShadeDevShadeDev Member, Robot Entertainment, Early Access, Apprentice Founder, Featured Developer
    There are still difficulty and par time outliers that we will address.  It takes a little while to get a balanced level lineup.
    Doug Houserman
    Robot Entertainment | Lead Balance Designer
  • ShadeDev said:
    I think our focus right now is finding alternative activities so that you don't feel like you are grinding.
    well, like I've suggested long time ago, something like this would increase replay value



  • ProtoZealottProtoZealott Member, Early Access
    ShadeDev said:
    I think our focus right now is finding alternative activities so that you don't feel like you are grinding.
    well, like I've suggested long time ago, something like this would increase replay value



    It would be really interesting to take on rift lord maps with only level 1 traps. The current weekly challenge with a focus on traps over hero damage would be welcome too.
  • I think think the level restrictions are decently (not perfect) solid.  It encourages trying different heroes, which should be done on all maps any way.  However, I think as a gift to new players they should be taught that it will be worthwhile to at the very least buy 1 weeks worth of the Survival Pass and use Skulls to purchase heroes first instead of over upgrading traps. 

    You do not need Tier 5 traps in Master levels.  Use the skulls to buy a hero to get more skulls with in the long run. 
  • StatboyStatboy Member
    I agree with TerrysongCN, that the skill gap between Warmage and Master feels like the biggest leap in the game. I did not do master when it first opened, I grinded until my level was minimum suggested for the map. Then did falling folley (because it only had 2 lanes) and lost badly enough that I grinded until I had 5*'d all Apprentice and Warmage solo, only then going on once I was 5-10 levels over minimum suggested.

    The gap between Apprentice and Warmage might be statistically bigger, but if you beat every Apprentice map once you should be high enough level to go onto Warmage. The same cannot be said of Warmage>Master. I've found that being low level but building good kill boxes really carried through Apprentice and Warmage, making neither of them difficult to simply beat (though 5* on Stables was a bugger).
  • I have been playing master maps while under-leveled, all I can say is that it is definitely harder. It is not impossible to 5 star master maps while under-leveled, but it definitely requires more efforts than 5 star warmage maps while under-leveled.

    Plus, my point 4) is still valid. In most maps you have to spam either floorspike or ice shard for damage since a regular killbox just hasn't enough damage output if you aim for high combo. I have tried what Seanpoe suggested "killbox with tar, arrow walls, pounders, floor scorcher and brimstone/iceshards in the front and back to help clear runners or leaks", and the conclusion is that if you replace all damage traps with floorspikes/ice shards in this killbox, you will only get a better result.
  • Hrm. Alternatively, they could add a few maps to Warmage (3?), instead of making Master easier. Though, that's more work.
  • ProtoZealottProtoZealott Member, Early Access
    Hrm. Alternatively, they could add a few maps to Warmage (3?), instead of making Master easier. Though, that's more work.
    An easier Master map, and some harder Warmage maps would go a long way to smoothing the transition. The Bathes level on Rift Lord is  easier than most of the Master Maps, not taking into account the newer level penalty on damage (have not seen it first hand to know how big a difference it makes). Just make another really easy single lane map, put it as the first Master map, and players now have a level to wet their feet in while farming the first few Master character chests.
  • ShadeDevShadeDev Member, Robot Entertainment, Early Access, Apprentice Founder, Featured Developer
    The first attempt on Master maps has similar success rate to first attempts on Warmage maps.
    Doug Houserman
    Robot Entertainment | Lead Balance Designer
  • SeanPoeSeanPoe Member, Early Access
    In most maps you have to spam either floorspike or ice shard for damage since a regular killbox just hasn't enough damage output if you aim for high combo. I have tried what Seanpoe suggested "killbox with tar, arrow walls, pounders, floor scorcher and brimstone/iceshards in the front and back to help clear runners or leaks", and the conclusion is that if you replace all damage traps with floorspikes/ice shards in this killbox, you will only get a better result.
    The traps themselves might do more damage if you do ice shard/spike spam but the point of a proper killbox is to get unchained off the combos.  Being able to use 4-6 unchained per game (and even getting 2 unchained per wave) on the tough waves makes things a lot easier overall than having a slightly stronger trap setup.  At least that was my overall experience when I first got to masters. 

    But part of the problem is that arrow walls are a very weak, niche trap.  They don't do proper AoE damage since the arrows can each only hit one target.  They're very strong against trolls and ogres but basically useless against any smaller enemy.  That's why very early on in masters you have to use a lot of ice shards to help deal with the small enemies since you have no other better trap.  But at around level 24 I got some of the master tier traps (wall blade and viscous tar) and using the same killbox setup as before but replacing arrow walls with wall blade and regular tar with viscous tar was a night and day difference.  The game became much easier after that.  My killboxes practically hold everything on their own now.  It's definitely much stronger than spike spam.  Take Unchained Fortress for example, my trap setup could hold the satyrs off completely without even needing to use my hero.  Can ice shard spam do that?  On masters Crogon Keep my top-right killbox held that lane 100% by itself without needing a hero at all.  Can spike spam do that? 

    Anyways, based on my experience replaying the game you definitely don't need to spam spikes to 5 star any of these maps while being way underleveled and I personally felt like it was an inferior setup.  Different players have different playstyles and everything, but wouldn't my experience show that floor spike spam isn't a necessity and that there's definitely alternates that some players (like myself) think are possible even stronger? 
  • mind listing your killbox combination and tiers?
  • ShadeDev said:
    The first attempt on Master maps has similar success rate to first attempts on Warmage maps.
    This refers to solo players or all games?

    Because i share Terry´s opinion.
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