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Focused Feedback: Advanced Difficulty Options and Challenge Mode


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This is a Focused Feedback Thread

  • Please note that Focused Feedback threads are heavily moderated to ensure they remain on topic.
    • Any off-topic posts in these threads will be removed without warning.
    • The thread will be locked when no more feedback is required, but you are more than welcome to continue the discussion in a new thread.
  • The most up-to-date version of the changes will be listed in the first post.
  • The changes in each build will be posted as replies.
    • Changes from the previous beta build are listed in green.
      • Green text will become white text in the next set of patch notes.
    • Any changes or fixes that are only relevant to the beta builds are listed in blue.
      • Blue text will be deleted in the next set of patch notes as it is only relevant to highlight changes between beta builds, not a changes from live.
    • Known issues are listed in purple.

 


 

Advanced Difficulty Options 

With the release of the Dr. Aeon Strike Force, we’ve completely rewritten the challenge settings code and greatly expanded what we can do with future content in terms of accommodating difficulty options and delivering curated challenges to players seeking that type of gameplay experience.

 

These optional difficulty settings are accessed from the Challenge Settings menu for content that has been added to the feature (as of Page 3 this will only include the Dr. Aeon Strike Force). These options require being level 50 to select, and change the content in various ways. These new difficulty modes were hand-crafted and balanced, and are not based on the previous Challenge Settings that exist currently.

 

Facing content with these Advanced Difficulty Settings enabled will grant the team more rewards for overcoming challenges, additionally, some badges may only be available by going above the normal difficulty setting. The design goal of these options was to ensure all roles on a team (tank, damage, control, support) could contribute in a rewarding way, and give Incarnate level characters using Invention-Origin enhancements something to test their fully-built characters against.

 

For the new Advanced Difficulty Settings, the difficulty levels are named after the old reputation difficulties and each changes the content in various ways. The specifics below are the current settings for the Dr. Aeon Strike Force:

Villainous:

  • Normal difficulty, this is what the option is set to by default, and doesn’t change the content at all.

Malicious:

  • Boss rank or higher enemies have access to additional powers, including those needed to earn certain challenge badges.
  • Certain enemy groups can sometimes have Elite Bosses spawn in-place of Bosses in regular enemy spawns.
  • Certain static encounters have rank increases such as Lieutenants spawning as Bosses instead.
  • Arch-villains have Praetorian base to-hit (63.75%).
  • Certain powerful Arch-villains have double base health (with normalized regeneration numbers).
  • No other additional stats, defeat rewards, or restrictions.
  • In addition to all standard rewards, completion of this difficulty will reward 1 Empyrean merit.

Vicious:

  • The minimum mission difficulty is locked at +2 and the team size at x8.
  • Boss rank or higher enemies have access to additional powers, including those needed to earn certain challenge badges.
  • Certain enemy groups can sometimes have Elite Bosses spawn in-place of Bosses in regular enemy spawns.
  • Certain static encounters have rank increases such as Lieutenants spawning as Bosses instead.
  • All enemies receive the following baseline buffs: +10% Resistance[All], +15% Defense[All], +20% Damage[All], +10% ToHit, 66ft Perception radius
  • Arch-villain ranked enemies have Praetorian base to-hit (63.75%).
  • Arch-villain ranked enemies will reward 1 Astral merit per defeat.
  • Certain powerful Arch-villains have double base health (with normalized regeneration numbers) and will reward 2 Astral merits per defeat.
  • Players will be unable to use non-revive large/super Inspirations.
  • In addition to all standard rewards, completion of this difficulty will reward 2 Empyrean merits and an Incarnate reward table containing your choice of: A random Incarnate salvage, an Empyrean merit, or two super Inspirations.

Ruthless:

  • The minimum mission difficulty is locked at +3 and the team size at x8.
  • Boss rank or higher enemies have access to additional powers, including those needed to earn certain challenge badges.
  • Certain enemy groups can sometimes have Elite Bosses spawn in-place of Bosses in regular enemy spawns.
  • Certain static encounters have rank increases such as Lieutenants spawning as Bosses instead.
  • All enemies receive the following baseline buffs: +15% Resistance[Lethal/Smashing], +20% Resistance[All, but S/L], +20% Defense[All], +30% Damage[All], +20% ToHit, 66ft Perception radius
  • Arch-villain ranked enemies have Praetorian base to-hit (63.75%).
  • Arch-villain ranked enemies will reward 2 Astral merits per defeat.
  • Certain powerful Arch-villains have double base health (with normalized regeneration numbers) and will reward 3 Astral merits per defeat.
  • Players will be unable to use Temporary Powers or non-revive medium/large/super Inspirations.
  • In addition to all standard rewards, completion of this difficulty will reward 3 Empyrean merits and an Incarnate reward table containing your choice of: A random Incarnate salvage, an Empyrean merit, or two super Inspirations.

Relentless:

  • The mission difficulty is locked at +4 and the team size at x8.
  • Boss rank or higher enemies have access to additional powers, including those needed to earn certain challenge badges.
  • Certain enemy groups can sometimes have Elite Bosses spawn in-place of Bosses in regular enemy spawns.
  • Certain static encounters have rank increases such as Lieutenants spawning as Bosses instead.
  • All enemies receive the following baseline buffs: +20% Resistance[Lethal/Smashing], +30% Resistance[All, but S/L], +30% Defense[All], +40% Damage[All], +30% ToHit, 66ft Perception radius
  • Arch-villain ranked enemies have Praetorian base to-hit (63.75%).
  • Arch-villain ranked enemies will reward 3 Astral merits per defeat.
  • Certain powerful Arch-villains have double base health (with normalized regeneration numbers) and will reward 1 Empyrean merits per defeat.
  • Players will be unable to use Temporary Powers or any non-revive Inspirations.
  • In addition to all standard rewards, completion of this difficulty will reward 4 Empyrean merits and an Incarnate reward table containing your choice of: A random Incarnate salvage, an Empyrean merit, or two super Inspirations.

 

Challenge Modes 

The old TF and Flashback challenges have been rewritten using the above code. This has resulted in a number of changes to the way certain badges are obtained:

  • The various Flashback badges for completing challenges at various levels now do it based on the storyarc maximum level, instead of the hidden Stature Level which made it difficult to know which storyarcs counted for what. Only storyarcs that reward 5 merits or more will count towards the challenge badges.
  • Options for 'No Incarnate Powers' and 'Only Alpha Slot' added to the powers options for any arc in the SL9 (Level 45-50) categories. Completing a Flashback arc using these two new options rewards two new Ouroboros category badges.
  • Task Forces & Strike Forces that have a "Master of X" badge associated with them now have a dedicated challenge option for the badge. The individual power restriction and defeat limit options no longer work for receiving these badges.
  • Selecting the "Master of" challenge for a given TF will set the team size to 8, maximum defeats to 0, disable temporary powers, and disable Incarnate powers. When successfully completed, the challenge will award the "Master of" badge and a Rare Incarnate Component.
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So much info to digest......and it's the Inspiration change that jumps out at me. Because that one is gonna seriously hurt all my toons without a heal.

 

 

Doesn't it strike you as...I don't ...wrong.. to give an Incarnate Component as reward for completing a task without Incarnates.

Edited by SuperPlyx
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16 minutes ago, SuperPlyx said:

So much info to digest......and it's the Inspiration change that jumps out at me. Because that one is gonna seriously hurt all my toons without a heal.

 

The goal of the mode is relying more on the team vs. eight individually self-sufficient players all soloing the same content at once. It gives support characters more chances to make a difference. Additionally, this was needed as a measure to mitigate mass spamming of Super/Team Inspirations for balance purposes.

We're looking to find a solution in the future that lets you use Inspirations but on a limited basis in these difficulty modes (something like using Inspiration causes you to go on a 30 second cooldown before you can use another). That won't be on Page 3 though, expect it go live where it currently is.
 

 

16 minutes ago, SuperPlyx said:

Doesn't it strike you as...I don't ...wrong.. to give an Incarnate Component as reward for completing a task without Incarnates.

The higher difficulties were balanced around level 50s using Incarnate powers and IO enhancements. It's not 'Incarnate' content in that there are Incarnate Shifts or it has to do with the Well, but it's absolutely endgame content, warranting an endgame tier reward.

It's also not without precedent, several of the max level TFs give Incarnate Salvage Components even though they don't deal strictly with Incarnates. It just seemed like the lesser option to make a brand new Alpha Slot Component for the ASF for parity when those were already superseded by the Incarnate Thread components.

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If a player has purchased several hours worth of a temporary power (for example an Offense Amplifier from a P2W Vendor, which can stack up to eight hours), and enters into content running at Ruthless or Relentless, is the power suppressed or suspended and then resumes its effect and duration countdown afterwards; or is it cancelled, in which case the player has lost potentially several million Inf worth of purchase?

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On 11/2/2021 at 5:44 PM, Booper said:

These optional difficulty settings are accessed from the Challenge Settings menu for content that has been added to the feature (as of Page 3 this will only include the Dr. Aeon Strike Force).

I'm left hanging a bit by this section. 

 

It seems clear the intent is to expand these new settings to other content after it's been tested and tuned from the new Dr. Aeon SF; which sounds great. Is that content only to be new content, or will it also, perhaps in increments be used for prior existing content such as existing SF's/Tf's/Trials, old story arcs and newspapers and radios, and perhaps even to AE missions? In short, will this eventually be everywhere, or limited to new content?

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6 minutes ago, Andreah said:

I'm left hanging a bit by this section. 

 

It seems clear the intent is to expand these new settings to other content after it's been tested and tuned from the new Dr. Aeon SF; which sounds great. Is that content only to be new content, or will it also, perhaps in increments be used for prior existing content such as existing SF's/Tf's/Trials, old story arcs and newspapers and radios, and perhaps even to AE missions? In short, will this eventually be everywhere, or limited to new content?

 

I think most likely some of the prior task forces for sure.  I think they mentioned adding this option in the future to the itf so likely most of the level 50 task forces I'd bet is their target along with crafting their new content.  

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17 minutes ago, Andreah said:

If a player has purchased several hours worth of a temporary power (for example an Offense Amplifier from a P2W Vendor, which can stack up to eight hours), and enters into content running at Ruthless or Relentless, is the power suppressed or suspended and then resumes its effect and duration countdown afterwards; or is it cancelled, in which case the player has lost potentially several million Inf worth of purchase?

I need to check, but I think there was a plan to turn the amplifiers into toggles so you could use them when and where you want.

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1 hour ago, Cobalt Arachne said:

(something like using Inspiration causes you to go on a 30 second cooldown before you can use another). That won't be on Page 3 though, expect it go live where it currently is.

 

Yeah that'd be neat.  Though 30s seems a bit insignificant.  I'd think 3 minutes (or only once per complete run) would be more meaningful if you were to allow it and t4's can be in play just not the dual team ones.  

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5 minutes ago, Wavicle said:

maybe 90s

 

I'm one of those savages that gets suckered into running +4x8 itf's without using any inspirations.  Getting to use one every 90s will still feel like cheating.  But getting to use a good one once when you could really use one would be cool.  

Edited by Mezmera
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2 hours ago, Cobalt Arachne said:

I need to check, but I think there was a plan to turn the amplifiers into toggles so you could use them when and where you want.

I like this idea, a lot, but it may also be appropriate to make them a bit pricier since they'll be easier to economize on usage.

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  • Selecting the "Master of" challenge for a given TF will set the team size to 8, maximum defeats to 0, disable temporary powers, and disable Incarnate powers. When successfully completed, the challenge will award the "Master of" badge and a Rare Incarnate Component.

I love all of it except the disabling of incarnate powers. “Master of” runs currently allow them and it feels like they should continue to do so.  It might be better to create a second badge “Destroyer of ___” or similar with the incarnates turned off. Badges aren’t a competition but this does give those who ran the TFs before this change an advantage in acquiring the badge.

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As an initial reaction, the 30% global defense buff for relentless and the 30% to hit buff will probably require extensive adaptation to builds. 

 

It would seem that with 45% defense being the current softcap for most content, on relentless 75% defense is needed to reach the softcap. Perhaps a smaller to hit buff could be selected, but with a buff to accuracy added in as well. 

 

A global 30% defense buff for relentless means substantially more effort will need to be expended on raising to hit values.  Builds that rely on first hitting mobs to raise to hit values and to heal / buff could be at a relative disadvantage if whiffing becomes a lot more common. Power sets such as earth control, storm, cold domination, and other sets that have one or more powers which automatically debuff defense in a wide area will surge ahead of their peers for how well they help teams tackle relentless difficulty content. 

 

A key question that ends up arising is whether these particular global buffs for relentless will promote the importance of different roles, while also raising the value of particular powersets well above their peers in the same AT, at least on relentless. Not sure how this will play out. 

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I'm not much a fan of turning off player's abilities or resources in order to create artificial difficulty. I understand it's always been a thing, and it's perhaps low hanging fruit to go this route.

 

I'd rather see, for example, instead of disabling inspirations or temporary powers, having in-mission means of suppressing them, which might possibly be overcome via strategy/tactics. Such as a suppressor node or mob that might be defeated.

 

Or, alternatively, instead of disabling inspirations, give them a failure chance which causes them to be used up and provide no benefit, or even a critical failure chance which causes them to have opposite effect. That provides a player with a decision to make -- is it worth it to me to chance this million-inf Ultimate Insp? It might fail and do nothing! Or worse, it might lower my combat level !😮 

 

Take both these ideas together, and it might offer layers of tactical subtlety onto the team's approach to a mission. Do we brute force through it, and hope for the best if we get in trouble? Or do we try to finesse our route to find and deactivate the deamplifier projector stations or take the time in each fight to prioritize taking down the deinspirator mobs?

 

Deactivating normal content tools that players have at their disposal just doesn't feel very exciting or interesting. Imagine if another way to achieve higher difficulty was just lowering everyone's level by one and turning off their T9 powers. Yes, it's harder but not for a what seems a good reason to me. I'd prefer higher difficulty was achieved by moving the opposing mobs up the power scale, not players down it.

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I get that the names of the levels of difficulty are a callback to the original difficulty level system, but I find them opaque.  Is Ruthless or Vicious harder?  I submit that there is no clue from the actual name of the level -- you can of course eventually memorize the order of them, but I think it would be better design if the name provided an actual description of where it was in the difficulty scale.

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1 hour ago, EnjoyTheJourney said:

As an initial reaction, the 30% global defense buff for relentless and the 30% to hit buff will probably require extensive adaptation to builds. 

 

It would seem that with 45% defense being the current softcap for most content, on relentless 75% defense is needed to reach the softcap. Perhaps a smaller to hit buff could be selected, but with a buff to accuracy added in as well. 

 

A global 30% defense buff for relentless means substantially more effort will need to be expended on raising to hit values.  Builds that rely on first hitting mobs to raise to hit values and to heal / buff could be at a relative disadvantage if whiffing becomes a lot more common. Power sets such as earth control, storm, cold domination, and other sets that have one or more powers which automatically debuff defense in a wide area will surge ahead of their peers for how well they help teams tackle relentless difficulty content. 

 

A key question that ends up arising is whether these particular global buffs for relentless will promote the importance of different roles, while also raising the value of particular powersets well above their peers in the same AT, at least on relentless. Not sure how this will play out. 

The intention with the challenge mode buffs is absolutely to promote teamwork. Sure, there will probably be some builds that are able to handle portions of it solo but it's 100% balanced around having teammates to provide you with things like that extra tohit (or defense, or -def/-tohit on the enemies, etc, etc.).

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5 hours ago, Andreah said:

I'm not much a fan of turning off player's abilities or resources in order to create artificial difficulty. I understand it's always been a thing, and it's perhaps low hanging fruit to go this route.

 

I'd rather see, for example, instead of disabling inspirations or temporary powers, having in-mission means of suppressing them, which might possibly be overcome via strategy/tactics. Such as a suppressor node or mob that might be defeated.

 

Or, alternatively, instead of disabling inspirations, give them a failure chance which causes them to be used up and provide no benefit, or even a critical failure chance which causes them to have opposite effect. That provides a player with a decision to make -- is it worth it to me to chance this million-inf Ultimate Insp? It might fail and do nothing! Or worse, it might lower my combat level !😮 

 

Take both these ideas together, and it might offer layers of tactical subtlety onto the team's approach to a mission. Do we brute force through it, and hope for the best if we get in trouble? Or do we try to finesse our route to find and deactivate the deamplifier projector stations or take the time in each fight to prioritize taking down the deinspirator mobs?

 

Deactivating normal content tools that players have at their disposal just doesn't feel very exciting or interesting. Imagine if another way to achieve higher difficulty was just lowering everyone's level by one and turning off their T9 powers. Yes, it's harder but not for a what seems a good reason to me. I'd prefer higher difficulty was achieved by moving the opposing mobs up the power scale, not players down it.

 

Inspirations / Temp powers would trivialize the new difficulty settings rather quickly, since inspirations are the most overpowered thing in city of heroes.

Here is a comment from discord I think you'll enjoy the idea behind though.

 

Number Six — Yesterday at 3:20 PM
They could potentially be an engaging gameplay mechanic if you were allowed to, for example, only use 2 inspirations during a boss fight. So which two and when?

Edited by Super Atom
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5 hours ago, Andreah said:

I'm not much a fan of turning off player's abilities or resources in order to create artificial difficulty. I understand it's always been a thing, and it's perhaps low hanging fruit to go this route.

 

I'd rather see, for example, instead of disabling inspirations or temporary powers, having in-mission means of suppressing them, which might possibly be overcome via strategy/tactics. Such as a suppressor node or mob that might be defeated.

 

Or, alternatively, instead of disabling inspirations, give them a failure chance which causes them to be used up and provide no benefit, or even a critical failure chance which causes them to have opposite effect. That provides a player with a decision to make -- is it worth it to me to chance this million-inf Ultimate Insp? It might fail and do nothing! Or worse, it might lower my combat level !😮 

 

Take both these ideas together, and it might offer layers of tactical subtlety onto the team's approach to a mission. Do we brute force through it, and hope for the best if we get in trouble? Or do we try to finesse our route to find and deactivate the deamplifier projector stations or take the time in each fight to prioritize taking down the deinspirator mobs?

 

Deactivating normal content tools that players have at their disposal just doesn't feel very exciting or interesting. Imagine if another way to achieve higher difficulty was just lowering everyone's level by one and turning off their T9 powers. Yes, it's harder but not for a what seems a good reason to me. I'd prefer higher difficulty was achieved by moving the opposing mobs up the power scale, not players down it.

I think they worked with what was possible in the game versus wild ideas that'd probably take a lot of coding / hacking at said code. This is but the first step to make Level 50+ content engaging. It's not going to be for everyone, but there's also many more stages to go. There's also a thing to be said that it's optional and will remain optional. I personally love the no insps part - it makes people rely on one another more.

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6 hours ago, Andreah said:

I'm not much a fan of turning off player's abilities or resources in order to create artificial difficulty. I understand it's always been a thing, and it's perhaps low hanging fruit to go this route.

 

I'd rather see, for example, instead of disabling inspirations or temporary powers, having in-mission means of suppressing them, which might possibly be overcome via strategy/tactics. Such as a suppressor node or mob that might be defeated.

 

Or, alternatively, instead of disabling inspirations, give them a failure chance which causes them to be used up and provide no benefit, or even a critical failure chance which causes them to have opposite effect. That provides a player with a decision to make -- is it worth it to me to chance this million-inf Ultimate Insp? It might fail and do nothing! Or worse, it might lower my combat level !😮 

 

Take both these ideas together, and it might offer layers of tactical subtlety onto the team's approach to a mission. Do we brute force through it, and hope for the best if we get in trouble? Or do we try to finesse our route to find and deactivate the deamplifier projector stations or take the time in each fight to prioritize taking down the deinspirator mobs?

 

Deactivating normal content tools that players have at their disposal just doesn't feel very exciting or interesting. Imagine if another way to achieve higher difficulty was just lowering everyone's level by one and turning off their T9 powers. Yes, it's harder but not for a what seems a good reason to me. I'd prefer higher difficulty was achieved by moving the opposing mobs up the power scale, not players down it.

 

I would usually agree with this, but Incarnate stuff is honestly just that busted that it'd be much easier to balance without it than with. In part because of the sheer variance of Incarnate power creep (how many level shifts a person may have or which tier are they up to/what levels are their incarnate abilities, etc). I think dealing with something that works by suppressing Incarnate abilities would make for an interesting mechanic though in new, regular content, as that seems like it could and should be something with a story focus rather than existing as a difficulty modifier.

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It sounds really good!! 
 

My thoughts would be not to confuse dangerous and challenging with slow and time consuming (and I’m not saying this is, but something to be mindful of).

By this I mean, the higher difficulty levels should be dangerous and there should be a risk of being defeated and wiping if you don’t play your cards right. What you don’t want is just mobs that take an age to kill but still don’t provide a lot of danger. That wouldn’t be fun. 
 

I’m okay with inspirations not being allowed. I would actually not allow wakes either and encourage more rezz powers to be taken and used. I think it would make death feel that much more powerful and make a lot of underloved powers suddenly very interesting.  

 

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