Well it’s been a long time coming hasn’t it? The 3 other classes of Shattered PD have all received gameplay reworks, and it’s finally coming time for the huntress to get the same treatment.
Each time I rework a class I look to accomplish two things:
- Address any major design or balance concerns that exist with the class currently.
- Ensure that the class has unique gameplay opportunities presented to them by their mechanics.
Depending on the existing class the rework will lean more toward one direction or the other. The mage rework was almost entirely about giving him some really cool ways to interact with wands, as his balance was already fine. The warrior rework by contrast leaned more heavily on sorting out balance issues, as I wanted the warrior to be the simplest class to use effectively without also just being the strongest one.
The huntress is the first rework that leans heavily on both points. The huntress needed both more unique gameplay, and a solution to the troublesome balance that her boomerang presented. Depending on how you play Shattered, you’ll likely have one of two opinions on the boomerang: either it’s mostly useless, or a free win. That sounds odd, but it all comes down to willingness to dump all upgrades into it, and play to the strengths of that particular strategy. For players with the right technique, dumping upgrades into the boomerang is a surefire way to win the game almost every time. This is problematic because either the huntress’s unique item is a non-factor, or she becomes the ‘upgrade boomerang, ignore all other items, and win’ class. Either of these possibilities put her class in a really bad light.
The Rework Itself
So, firstly we need a solution to the balancing issues of the boomerang. I wasn’t too eager to abandon it entirely though, as the base concept of the huntress having a unique unlimited-use ranged weapon is a really good one. The problematic part isn’t the base idea itself, but rather how the boomerang interacts with the upgrade system. So, the solution is to simply remove that interaction! Rather than having a weapon which can be upgraded, have it scale in power along with the huntress’s levels, somewhat like the rogue’s cloak of shadows. This gives its baseline power a big boost, without letting it scale to ridiculous levels. I also took this opportunity to adjust the item thematically, to fulfill the desire of many players to have a bow-style weapon in the game:
Of course, this alone isn’t quite enough to fill the class out, so I also wanted to see if I could give the huntress something entirely new as well to enhance her interaction with the game’s environment. Environmental interaction has a lot of potential for the huntress, as it naturally ties into use of ranged weapons, and the existing nature theme of her warden subclass. As part of her rework, the huntress will no longer trample high grass, but will instead ‘furrow’ it. This furrowed grass can’t drop additional items, but still blocks vision just like tall grass. This means that smart huntress players can now use grass to give themselves a substantial advantage by breaking line of sight with enemies.
A rework of the huntress herself also comes with changes to her subclasses. Both of them are already really solid thematically, but need some changes to their base mechanics.
The Warden already has a substantially powerful ability in her barkskin, but it doesn’t encourage the player to really play substantially differently. The warden ends up being basically a warrior that wants to stand in grass when possible. I’ve decided to double-down on the theme of nature, and give the warden a grab-bag of benefits when interacting with plants, grass, and seeds. Her original barkskin boost is still there, but now has less direct power. The warden is also capable of seeing through grass, grows grass around seeds she plants, and gains various bonus effects when trampling plants. The intention here is to keep warden as the more flexible class choice which can work with regular equipment, but to also encourage some unique gameplay. This prevents the warden from just feeling like a weaker warrior. Of course, the furrowing grass mechanic of the base character also plays into this nicely.
The Sniper’s base mechanics played into the problematic nature of the boomerang. Her ranged powers mostly encouraged boomerang use, as regular ranged weapons were too limited to be used consistently. While the sniper definitely should want to use her bow, it shouldn’t be encouraged to the point that it’s the only real choice. Just like before the sniper gets some base bonuses to all ranged attacks, but now have two new unique powers. Firstly, she can see 50% further, which helps her see threats coming sooner, especially in darker areas. More importantly, she’s trading her old attack speed boosting sniper’s mark for a new one which encourages using a mixture of weapons. When the huntress attacks an enemy with a thrown weapon, she can then follow up with a special attack from her bow! This forces the sniper to use more than just her bow, but also gives her some really cool new powers when she does use her bow. Still, it does feel like there’s something missing here…
Thrown Weapons Again?
When designing the sniper one major problem came up: especially now that her bow isn’t upgradeable, what should the sniper upgrade? Investing in equipment by upgrading it is one of the cornerstones of PD, and as it currently stands the sniper has no way to invest in the items she’s meant to work best with. Thrown weapons have been showing this as a problem especially since 0.7.0, which gave a bunch of investment opportunity to most other consumable items. Currently thrown weapons have absolutely nothing, aside from dart tipping and one specific ring which enhances them. This is absolutely pitiful compared to basically every other item category. The thrown weapon rework of 0.6.2 fixed a lot of surface level problems with thrown weapons but failed to address this core issue.
So then how can the player invest in thrown weapons? Should they just be upgradeable?
But wouldn’t that be pretty weird?
Upgrading thrown weapons sounds absurd at face-value, but I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out a way to make it work. Thrown weapons are sort of one part equipment and several parts consumable, but as you upgrade them the equipment aspect grows while the consumable aspect diminishes. Thrown weapons will be upgradeable one at a time, scale in damage in a similar way to melee weapons, and will gain a massive boost to durability with each upgrade. Thrown weapons begin to turn from something you use in a pinch to a major source of damage which you can use in most or every fight. The ‘single use per battle’ is still there as a limiting factor, so non-sniper runs built entirely on thrown weapons aren’t too likely, but they can become an amazing assist tool with a few upgrades. A huge amount of the game’s power budget is tied up in scrolls of upgrade, so letting thrown weapons access that gives them so much more potential to be impactful and interesting.
0.7.1 is going to be out by mid December, so look forward these changes, and a few more, coming to ShatteredPD soon!