Maelkoth's Corner : Ability Progressions

Ability Progressions

To me, this may be the single most important thing to balance high/low level units as well as commons/heroics. Right now, as we have just had an ap wipe that makes this even more obvious, I get to quickly compare how it feels to build high level (15ish) rares and heroics, and compare it to similar level uncommons, as well as medium (6-9) level uncommon and rares. I quickly managed to setup my high level rares and heroics, as I was able to decide what I wanted them to do and build towards a goal. However, for the lower level units and uncommons, it is much more difficult to find a purpose for them. The problem is that you wind up having to choose between choosing a early level ability, such as concentrate, or going towards a later level ability such as deadeye and not being able to fully get the benefits until later on, or choosing between light or medium armor when your level 12 character can only get medium armor to level 2 or 3 so far, or even deciding between drain and soon to come masticate for my level 13-14 huntresses.

There are 2 parts to my suggestion. The first part is spreading out the level requirements for the majority of abilities by having new levels being gained every 3 character levels, such as the way headshot works now, rather than every two. With this, the first level of abilities should be pushed way up. Instead of having many new abilities being introduced at level 15ish, almost all of these abilities should start at lvl 5 at the absolute latest. Having stronger skills not accessible until higher levels forces players to make a decision between making their characters strong now or strong later… For anyone who has played Diablo II or similar games, we all know the tactic of saving as many skill points as you can until you have access to the strong abilities that you want. I think this tactic should be discouraged, or rather made obsolete by granting low level access to these abilities. To be honest, I do not feel that there are any abilities that would be unbalanced to have to lvl 1 by a level 5 character, and if it is going up every 3 levels, the higher levels of the ability would not be reached until levels 14 and 17. There are many important abilities that could/should be started earlier, such as level 1-2, with level 5 in the ability being granted at around 13. For stronger abilities, the gap could even be pushed to every 4 levels, granting levels at 4/8/12/16/20 for example. For the most part though, I feel that we should avoid using late level skill access as a balancing tool. If it is powerful enough, increase the ap cost, or reduce the power… and again, I don’t know of any skills that are really overpowered at lvl 2 or 3, and this change does not really affect the lvl 4 and 5 accessibility requirements very much.

The other part is going through every skill individually and ensuring that the ability is actually useful in some way throughout the entirety of its progression from levels 1-5. An ability like leech life is one that comes to mind here, as the damage is so low to begin with, and then at level 5 it shoots up to being amazing. This will take time, and it is certainly something that has been improving, but there is still a lot of work ahead in this area, and this an area that is absolutely necessary to creating a fun progression for new and old players alike.

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