The dynamic between armor and weapons has always been slanted toward weapons in ShatteredPD. Prior to 0.4.1, upgrading armor past a certain minimum was a terrible choice, where it had a major stat disadvantage vs. weapons. 0.4.1 improved this by making defense much more consistent, but even with that armor has still stood behind weapons in several ways. To some degree this is understandable, as a game where armor is overpowered would be very slow and boring, but that doesn’t mean weapons should have all the fun. In 0.6.5 I am not directly buffing defensive power, I think that’s fine after 0.4.1, but I do want to give more opportunity for variety, strategy, and synergy when it comes to armor.
One thing many people have suggested I do to improve armor is to implement different types of armor at each tier. I’ve always disliked this idea though, as armor fundamentally has less statistical variety than weapons, and is less flexible when it comes to synergy. Armor itself has damage blocking and perhaps evasion, while weapons have speed, damage, accuracy, reach, and a variety of more exotic possibilities. It’s also very possible to offer a lot of weapons to a given run and have most of them be viable. Armors are dropped less frequently and generally what a player wants out of armor is more narrowly defined. My worry with armor types is that the generalist option would be preferred in most runs, and then all the more exotic variants would be seen as a downgrade in most cases. Because you don’t control what items drop, this would likely end up being frustrating.
Of course, there is still some room for varying armor base stats, as I said we have evasion and defense. Perhaps it would work better if the player had control of these stats…
The Runestone of Augmentation!
The augmentation runestone extends the existing functionality of the weightstone (and replaced it), to allow you to modify the stats of armor as well! I’m steadily adding more runestones to the game, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to move the weightstone into that category and make it a bit more uniform with other items. Weapons can be augmented for speed or damage, just as before, but now armor can also be modified to enhance either blocking or evasion!
This significantly increases a player’s control over how their armor stats work, by letting them sacrifice some evasion for blocking, or vice-versa. Just as with choosing damage or speed for weapons, the numbers here work out to be a very even tradeoff, but specific effects and synergies can tip things in the favor of one stat or another. For example, magic attacks penetrate defense, so perhaps you would be willing to accept less blocking in exchange for an increased chance to dodge a nasty lightning bolt. Or perhaps you’re playing a run that’s going all-in on blocking, maybe you don’t care whether enemies can hit you more if they’re dealing almost no damage.
Glyphs are also getting some changes. Glyphs were originally designed to be ‘the’ variety option for armor, which led to some problems. I wanted glyphs to be balanced such that taking no glyph was a viable choice, but doing this led to a lot of glyphs which were more frustrating than anything else. Now that armor can be augmented, glyphs can instead be more about providing various bonuses, and less about tradeoffs and downsides. I still want enchantments to be more powerful than glyphs, but I am removing most of the downsides they used to have, so that using an arcane stylus doesn’t feel like such a big risk. Stone and Swiftness specifically are getting totally redesigned, as their mechanics have been largely replaced by augmenting armor for defense/evasion. Making glyphs more about bonuses also means I can put more emphasis on specific effects with synergistic potential.
All of these armor changes make this update an excellent opportunity to take a second look at the berserker as well. The berserker has been problematic since release, with an easy to access ability to cheat death. He has always massively outperformed other subclasses, even with recent nerfs. I could keep nerfing him into the dirt of course, but that would result in a watered down subclass that’s no fun to play. Even as it stands, many people have already complained that I have ruined the fun of the berserker with recent changes. I’ve opted instead to adjust his mechanics to make his power harder to unlock, but just as powerful as before his recent nerfs.
Rather than having rage based on his current HP, the berserker will now gain rage as he takes damage. Rage will dissapate over time, meaning that the bonus damage is more tied to damage taken recently than % health. Being at low health will still be helpful though, as it will let him hold onto rage for much longer. Crucially, the berserker builds rage from his damage before it is reduced by armor , meaning that he could completely block a strike, but still gain a full damage boost from it. All of this means that the berserker now has a clear synergy with armor, and has to plan out how he takes damage in order to maximize his bonus and access his death-cheating signature ability. Even if this new berserker is overpowered, I can now nerf him by making his power harder to access, rather than reducing the power itself. This is somewhat similar to the recent changes I made to the rogue subclasses, which have both been a great success.
It’s my hope that all of these changes will put a bit more emphasis onto armor’s gameplay potential, and give players more reason to develop strategies around armor use. 0.6.5 will be releasing in about a week, so look out for these, and other new things soon!