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Focused Feedback: Dr. Aeon Strike Force


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38 minutes ago, Drakwatch said:

Today, I lead a team on Vicious difficulty. 5 Incarnates. 1 brute, 1 tank, 2 scrappers, 1 corruptor.
Enemies were at 52+ x8.

Feedback and spoilers below:

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This run was very punishing. Our Corruptor was doing a good job with seismic and storm, but we didn’t have a lot of holds or ranged damage and support.  Got punished quite a bit for pulling extra mobs, which I know is intended. We muscled our way through though, the hospitals were very helpful.

Some players understood the danger for the self-destructs pretty fast, and then others did not catch on until later missions.Some folks were initially annoyed at the 1 hit kill, and then they were okay with them. Other players felt that it was unfair, and that it should be tankable if desired. Dimensional disruption was very punishing for melee characters. Some players did not understand that they were being killed while standing in Dimensional disruption puddles until later missions.

 

In the first mission, we tried to get the Elite Boss Scientist to turn into an arachnoid, but we killed him too fast.

 

During the first Zoe encounter, she flew away and summoned her enemies but we were able to keep her in the same spot for the rest of the encounter. Her invulnerability phases played normally, however she was not able to escape us.

 

Portal markers were very helpful in mission 4 (with the ripples.)

 

We attempted to fight the 5th Column leadership, but got our butts kicked accordingly. Pretty difficult with the mob aggro and Nictus essence floating around. Some players mentioned it was “tedious”.

 

Did not attempt to aggro the Devouring Earth in the 2nd ripple.

 

3rd ripple encounter, several players reported excessive lag in the Portal Court area. May be caused by the rain FX.

 

Hero 1 boss fight seemed bugged.

  • We fought him and Incandescent, we didn’t aggro the rest of the Vanguard.
  • We defeated Incandescent first.
  • He was taunted away from the portal towards the entrance of the room.
  • He would super-speed run / fly back and forth, from the portal to the other end of the room and sometimes out to the other vanguard room. Very strange movement behavior, he was running laps around us basically.
  • Then he would teleport by the portal with full health and no indication of what happened.
  • This happened about 4 times until our timer ran out. We did not do enough damage to survive.
  • The overall feel from the team was disappointing.

The Ripplesurge fight was pretty brutal until everyone caught onto the effusions healing and then dropping the damage puddles. Additional mobs getting aggroed did not help. The fight started off with players being annoyed at lack of combat log messages for damage puddles (needs confirmation? I did not read my logs closely to confirm.) Once we got into the groove, it went by smoothly as the effusions were getting killed as they spawned.

 

In the final mission, when destroying the devices, it was pretty difficult to navigate the map due to the increased sight range of enemies. We accidentally aggroed 2 or 3 mobs several times.

 

The Midas boss fight went smoothly, as I was able to lead the team through the mechanic of taunting Midas into the smelting cauldrons while avoiding the blue damage puddles. It became tedious when Midas’s AI would get stuck on the lip of some of the cauldron pots.

 

Everyone was in agreement that 40 merits is NOT enough for a challenge run that goes for 3 hours. This should be adjusted to reflect the time played and the Challenge presented. Final completion time was 3 hours 19 minutes. Other rewards, such as Astral Merits at the end of missions were welcome, but the current rewards seem very lackluster compared to doing BAF or Lambda for Incarnate rewards.

 

At the end of the final mission, I didn’t use the “exit mission” button, and instead used the teleporter door in the room and I arrived in the Grandville portal room.. Not sure if intended.

 

Overall, not a whole lot of bugs, and everyone agreed that it was miles above Synapse and other long TFs. The map design, enemies, mission flow, and writing all received much praise. Everyone agreed it was a “solid” Strike Force. As people become more and more accustomed to playing this Strike Force, I think the challenge runs will become less punishing.

This was my first run this weekend, and I plan to  do a few more. Unfortunately I did not have my skip-back recording on at the time. I’ll try to get a recording so I can have more media / screenshots for this.

 

Another thing I forgot to mention - During the Ripple cutscene / flashback with Dr Aeon, there were duplicates of several party members. I'm assuming this was to "fill" the missing squad members for a full team of 8. There were also a few duplicates of several characters during the Midas doppelganger boss battle. (Two brutes, two tanks, ect.) Not sure if that was intentional.

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2 hours ago, Apparition said:

 

 

I'm seeing the length of the Dr. Aeon SF being complained about quite a bit from others I know.  But, I'm sure it will get faster as people learn strategies and get more efficient with it.

 

That said, I wouldn't use Hamidon raids as a baseline to compare with, because Hamidon raids are far too easily farmed as is and is a serious issue, IMO.  When you can do a Hamidon raid for 80 reward merits in five minutes (not counting time forming), compared to live when it took quite a bit longer, that's an issue.

I want to stress the comparative measure of length is a weird scale in a game where the latest new group content is weighed against far older content.

Existing TF content has had many years for people to memorize every facet of their maps, objectives, enemies, and challenges. Which means they've been extremely optimized.

The Aeon Strike Force is brand new, and many people playing it are opting to play through it at a slow pace to fully immerse themselves in the new maps, new enemies, etc. Because of that, and the lack of familiarity with the content, the completion time is inflated as a result.

I'm feeling fairly confident that a few months from now, when the content is no longer the 'brand new shiny', the average completion time will not remain that high.

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Just finished my first run. Very cool. It's on the long side and I have mixed feelings about that. This is not the kind of SF that I'd run every day after work and 40 Merits feels low for a default difficulty run, what if the run awarded 2 random D-Sync enhancements with 1 more bonus awarded for the highest difficulty?? That might entice people to run it beyond the first time for badges and generate surplus for all the new enhancements.

 

Also the crafting workbenches work on the Vanguard base map so you can take a mini break and get your craft on!

 

Lastly the vacuum effect is cool and puts a spin on the kind of controlled choreography of the fights on live. However dying to something that you can't do anything about is not a good game mechanic. I haven't learned the nuances of this mechanic since it's my first run through so I may be completely off base. But if the effect is indeed uncounterable, then can we look into player buffs adding resistance to the effect so that squishier ATs have a fighting chance to get out of a kill zone they are being sucked into?

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Jezebel Delias

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We ran this on relentless today. I have to stop due to time constraints just before King Midas, we were close to three hours.

 

It's by a huge margin the best TF in the game. But being the only tank was exhausting.

 

If you're going to run on relentless bring two tanks. So, one can take a break.

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11 minutes ago, Nemu said:

40 Merits feels low for a default difficulty run

2 hours ago, Drakwatch said:

40 merits is NOT enough for a challenge run


The 40 completion is a placeholder, as with all content like it, until we have an acceptable data point on average completion times to assign a proper amount.

Also, the bulk of the challenge mode reward comes from the Astral/Empyrean merits that come from fighting the AVs. Check your salvage, if you fought everything you should walk away with a mountain of merits.
 

 

2 hours ago, Drakwatch said:

[REDACTED] boss fight seemed bugged.

Ripple 3's final boss AVs are tethered to that room, and if you pull them too far from their spawn point they will reset.

That being said, the aggro doesn't seem to be resetting with the tether, so we're looking for an alternative solution to ensure that those AVs are fought only within the confines of that room. Expect changes in the next Page 3 build.

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Cobalt Arachne I understand that higher difficulties award more salvage but merits and salvage are accessible through other content as well. People are lazy, they will take the path of least resistance. If they can get meirts/salvage through leeching on BAF or farming burden of the past I think they will take that path rather then spend 2+ hours with multiple deaths with the risk of not completing this Strike Force. The one reward they absolutely can not shortcut are the new enhancements. And since there are a lot of new permutations to these enhancements I can see supply being very low and inaccessible to a lot of players. Given the length of this Strike Force and the commitment it requires of players I think it might be worthwhile to examine the payoff.

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3 hours ago, Cobalt Arachne said:

The Vanguard AVs cannot be pulled out of the room they are fought in, if you try to pull them too far away from their spawn location (about the length of the room), they will run back and reset to full health.

I was on the team with shardwarrior.  Initially we fought him away form his spawn point.  But even after pulling him back to the spawn he continued to reset to full HP.  He kept teleporting and resetting his HP even though we were right there.

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7 minutes ago, Nemu said:

Cobalt Arachne I understand that higher difficulties award more salvage but merits and salvage are accessible through other content as well. People are lazy, they will take the path of least resistance. If they can get meirts/salvage through leeching on BAF or farming burden of the past I think they will take that path rather then spend 2+ hours with multiple deaths with the risk of not completing this Strike Force. The one reward they absolutely can not shortcut are the new enhancements. And since there are a lot of new permutations to these enhancements I can see supply being very low and inaccessible to a lot of players. Given the length of this Strike Force and the commitment it requires of players I think it might be worthwhile to examine the payoff.

There's nothing we can design in this game that can compete with the ease and speed of soloing Dark Astoria story arcs on -1 difficulty in terms of ease/payout. Trying to compete with the bottom baseline isn't a feasible benchmark. The main draw of higher difficulty is the gameplay experience.

That being said, right now the Aeon Strike Force on the highest difficulty pays out around 300 reward merits if you take all merit options at the end, and convert all the Astrals/Empyreans into reward merits. That number is likely going to go up as well once the placeholder 40 merits on completion is adjusted later.

I don't think it's wholly an unworthwhile payout and is only set to go up.

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Minor spelling, grammar, formatting error here. Might update if I find more.

 

image.png.a3f5250fb007c6be908092da7769fccd.png ('farther')

 

Found another little one, this time in the dialog between mission 3 and 4 (..i think?)

image.png.16ff69eac1be8053f1413ef325cd8f7b.png

('...some degree of interdimensional shifting?')

 

 

 

Edited by twozerofoxtrot
added stuff.
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Have to say this was a lot of fun.  I want to give props to whomever designed the new maps.  Beautifully done.  This runs a little too long for my taste on higher difficulty though.  The Council AV fight can be very overwhelming.  Hero 1 seems buggy to me as well.  Beyond those things, I liked it.  Nice work.  Definitely something different.

 

2 hours ago, Cobalt Arachne said:

Also, the bulk of the challenge mode reward comes from the Astral/Empyrean merits that come from fighting the AVs. Check your salvage, if you fought everything you should walk away with a mountain of merits.

 

Still going to be significantly easier/faster to farm these in BAF/Lambda than running ASF on higher difficulty.

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50 minutes ago, Excraft said:

Have to say this was a lot of fun.  I want to give props to whomever designed the new maps.  Beautifully done.  This runs a little too long for my taste on higher difficulty though.  The Council AV fight can be very overwhelming.  Hero 1 seems buggy to me as well.  Beyond those things, I liked it.  Nice work.  Definitely something different.

 

 

Still going to be significantly easier/faster to farm these in BAF/Lambda than running ASF on higher difficulty.

Easier? Definitely.

Faster? Not so sure...
A single AV defeat in Relentless gives 3 Astral merits, which is the total of all three main objectives of the whole BAF, and the ASF has... nearly twenty possible if you do the optional ones. Also a couple of the big AVs give Empyreans instead.

You'd have to run the BAF ~20 times within the duration of one ASF on Relentless difficulty for equal merit payout.

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3 hours ago, Cobalt Arachne said:


The 40 completion is a placeholder, as with all content like it, until we have an acceptable data point on average completion times to assign a proper amount.

Also, the bulk of the challenge mode reward comes from the Astral/Empyrean merits that come from fighting the AVs. Check your salvage, if you fought everything you should walk away with a mountain of merits.
 

 

Ripple 3's final boss AVs are tethered to that room, and if you pull them too far from their spawn point they will reset.

That being said, the aggro doesn't seem to be resetting with the tether, so we're looking for an alternative solution to ensure that those AVs are fought only within the confines of that room. Expect changes in the next Page 3 build.

Thanks for addressing the rewards! I understand that the incarnate rewards table at the end of the SF isn't -quite- in yet so maybe it felt extra rough for my team at the end of a long run to select "40 merits".  I also didn't realize how many Astral / Empyrean merits were rewarded - I only noticed the Astral Merits after defeating AVs. I'm looking forward to seeing how the reward payout is when it's more finalized.

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A big factor in people running the ASF will be for the new D-Synch enhancements. I see quite a few of these being highly sought-after, and folks wanting to +3 them (especially since the OTHER new hard thing, the Classic LRSF, disables set bonuses, I suspect Hami-Os and D-Synchs will be the new hotness to take the edge off there). Sure, you could try your luck on the AH, but I'd surmise they'd go for a lot, especially if there's an inverse correlation between one's patience and how much inf they have banked.

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15 minutes ago, Drakwatch said:

maybe it felt extra rough for my team at the end of a long run to select "40 merits".  I also didn't realize how many Astral / Empyrean merits were rewarded - I only noticed the Astral Merits after defeating AVs.

 

While we can move all the rewards for killing AVs and such to the end of the TF so you get the dopamine hit of seeing "300 merits", that means that if you fail to finish the TF, you get no rewards from the AVs you defeated on the way to the end. Players may need to de-program themselves from expecting the bulk of the reward to be in the end-of-TF dialog, because being incremental during the TF is objectively better.

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1 hour ago, Cobalt Arachne said:

Easier? Definitely.

Faster? Not so sure...
A single AV defeat in Relentless gives 3 Astral merits, which is the total of all three main objectives of the whole BAF, and the ASF has... nearly twenty possible if you do the optional ones. Also a couple of the big AVs give Empyreans instead.

You'd have to run the BAF ~20 times within the duration of one ASF on Relentless difficulty for equal merit payout.

 

I understand this is purely subjective and my personal opinion so take it with a grain of salt, but I'll take those 20 BAF runs over 1 ASF at relentless difficulty any day of the week.  The pace is much quicker, the action faster and it's 24 incarnates running through the content vs 8 potential non-incarnates under heavy debuff fighting buffed enemies.  That's not to say the ASF isn't fun because it definitely is so don't take it that way.  You all did a great job with it.  I personally am more into the faster pace of BAF/LAMBDA/Tinpex.  Running a trio of those wouldn't feel as long to me as an ASF on max difficulty. 

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Fun SF, a little bit long, or short depending which setting you're on and what crazy blaster you team with.  But as you say @Cobalt Arachne which I thought just after finishing it, there has gotta be parts we could have skipped by but being on Relentless you don't know where and who will spike you hard if you try to sneak by.  Plus you don't want to miss something new.  

 

I ran with a well coordinated team where we had lots of defensive buffs and a good mix of things.  I was the only control toon on the team but being in domination while alive the control I was laying out felt very meaningful.  It's real apparent a good balance of a few things on the team would be very beneficial.  Just about everyone had the Leadership pool which made it feel like it was an old school power team.  

 

One thing to note is the big Brit can get stuck in the concrete between the two depressions.  He eventually squeezed his way out but it took him a good while.  Also killing the guy on the tank too fast can bug being able to access the portal.  

 

All in all good stuff, it was fun to fight enemies with these advanced abilities.  

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ASF on max difficulty will take a while to get used to, because people are far too used to Council radios and everything being easy. That's legitimately it - that it has been so lengthily ingrained into them. Things are fast, easy, and anything not fast & easy is often ignored or done less.

Relentless ASF puts a stop to the 'go go go' mentality, and aims to put more of a thinker's cap. The rewards are being worked on, but if you prefer getting fast and easy rewards? Relentless won't be for you.

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2 hours ago, Shadeknight said:

ASF on max difficulty will take a while to get used to, because people are far too used to Council radios and everything being easy. That's legitimately it - that it has been so lengthily ingrained into them. Things are fast, easy, and anything not fast & easy is often ignored or done less.

Relentless ASF puts a stop to the 'go go go' mentality, and aims to put more of a thinker's cap. The rewards are being worked on, but if you prefer getting fast and easy rewards? Relentless won't be for you.

 

I can only speak for myself and those I run with on a regular basis, but I cannot remember the last time I ran a Council radio mission.  So no, that is not "legitimately it".  There are many reasons.  In my experience, it is more about people simply not having a 3+ hour window of playtime for a single TF.  I would also add not everyone is running around on a fully decked out Incarnate.  Lower level TFs/SFs are still plenty challenging for lower level characters that do not have all the bells and whistles yet.

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Well, that's the thing - Relentless isn't meant to be a super quick easy thing. The three hour marks are because people are still kicking old habits, getting used to the challenge, and so on. It's meant to be a challenge, and it's meant to be for Incarnates / fully IOed characters. The base ASF (without all the added powers, for example) has been getting around regular 45 minute runs from what I hear. That can easily be cut down once more people get out of the 'ooh new lore/new shinies/new maps' phase and more used to what it offers.

From my experience, you should not go into Relentless unless you can commit to most of it. The Midas fight is tedious but manageable, for example, without a tank. It's the other fights that you will have a hellish time with depending. I do think the 3 hour timer will start to drop as people figure out effective skips, figure how to focus bosses, and get used to having to play as a team again. It will still be a lengthy TF, but that's okay. Not every TF needs to be done in 10-15 minutes like the TinPex easy-farm. This isn't TinPex or the ITF or PennyYin - not with all the additional powers and mechanics.

The additional thing is that this is all optional. I have run Relentless three times so far, and I can tell that the adjustment period will last a little while and some people may swear it off. I personally find it to be fun to try and see how each team composition handles it. How certain power sets can make things go from bad to good - I've seen insane recoveries from deaths. I've also seen pulls go from "We're good." to "oh god the pain."

Which is what's been lacking. A real challenge that doesn't get easy-moded by a team of 7 blasters and a corruptor.

People aren't used to telegraphed mechanics, their maxed out characters being challenged, or anything else the challenge mode offers. Things are going to need to get used to, but nothing about the difficulties should change or needs to change until more data comes in. Personally, it's shippable besides a few typos and some tweaks to how Midas' blue beam blast works.
 

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5 minutes ago, Shadeknight said:

Well, that's the thing - Relentless isn't meant to be a super quick easy thing. The three hour marks are because people are still kicking old habits, getting used to the challenge, and so on. It's meant to be a challenge, and it's meant to be for Incarnates / fully IOed characters. The base ASF (without all the added powers, for example) has been getting around regular 45 minute runs from what I hear. That can easily be cut down once more people get out of the 'ooh new lore/new shinies/new maps' phase and more used to what it offers.

From my experience, you should not go into Relentless unless you can commit to most of it. The Midas fight is tedious but manageable, for example, without a tank. It's the other fights that you will have a hellish time with depending. I do think the 3 hour timer will start to drop as people figure out effective skips, figure how to focus bosses, and get used to having to play as a team again. It will still be a lengthy TF, but that's okay. Not every TF needs to be done in 10-15 minutes like the TinPex easy-farm. This isn't TinPex or the ITF or PennyYin - not with all the additional powers and mechanics.

The additional thing is that this is all optional. I have run Relentless three times so far, and I can tell that the adjustment period will last a little while and some people may swear it off. I personally find it to be fun to try and see how each team composition handles it. How certain power sets can make things go from bad to good - I've seen insane recoveries from deaths. I've also seen pulls go from "We're good." to "oh god the pain."

Which is what's been lacking. A real challenge that doesn't get easy-moded by a team of 7 blasters and a corruptor.
 

 

Speak for yourself.  Teams I've been on haven't been trying to zerg rush it and have been "playing as a team", whatever that's supposed to mean.  There's a fine line here between encouraging a specific team makeup/style of play and turning the game into yet another WoW clone with heavily scripted dungeon encounters.  I'd hate to see this game become that. 

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I don't think it's really heavily scripted.

Let's look at the fights with scripts/mechanics;

Cauldron

  • One mini-boss after another
  • Boss has two times where you probably want to switch off of him - turrets & additional mobs

Nothing too heavy there. Teams just need to switch. Burning the AV down won't end well.

Zoe

  • She calls Brickers to her side, especially ones left on the map
  • 3 times, a group of adds spawn in. Two sets of Brickers, one set of harmless dudes. She goes immune during this.

Again, a little add control and some thought of stealthing vs clearing. Not meant to be a speedy fight.

Roller, Ripples

  • Roller calls for aid on engagement, nothing like the bad bosses but still some additional mobs
  • 3 times, he sends you into a Ripple
  • These ripples have optional fights for a badge.
  • #1: Fight four AVs with new abilities, take them out, and fight a fifth with the main ability from each AV. That's pretty cool. Also ambushes, but can burn him down to get yoinked to Roller
  • #2; Fight four monsters or dogpile the creature in the middle to fight everything in the room. You can try to burn the middle creature to get yoinked back
  • #3; 2 AVs, one with a telegraphed Nova-like ability. The other a beefy dude who also hits like a truck.

Nothing out of the ordinary here, but now a dangerous ability has telegraphing.

 

Rodney, Round 1

  • Nothing special here, he teleports away

 

Surge

  • He summons two adds. Kill them or he heals & spawns puddles

This should not be difficult once you get used to the puddles.

Rodney, Zoe Part II

  • Surrounded by mobs, but otherwise they just use abilities with no real mechanics. BEat em up, ez pz

The King

  • Blue beams. Like Battle Maiden. Nothing new.
  • 3 phases - Dopplegangers, Real Midas, and Zeon
  • Oh and he deletes the thing you need to be able to damage him.

The final thing is an advanced version of Reichsman, the second thing is a little different but with some inspiration from elsewhere (Dopplegangers)

None of this is WoW-like, given the vast differences between the two games. None of these mechanics are astoundingly difficult after you see them a couple of times. A few things are new or re-hashed from other areas in the game. Nothing that we've not seen before, but with additional things tied into it.

It should be noted that BAF, Lambda, and various other things have announced incoming attacks but only partly telegraphed some. Some TFs/Trials have had stuff like immune-unless-this-happens, etc. It just so happens that the mechanics hit you in the face with a crowbar if you think its just another ITF.

Edited by Shadeknight
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I was on a HM0 run yesterday, and we somehow prevented Zoe from flying away (mission 4). I don't know if it was -speed or the -fly or something else we had applied to her, but we somehow kept her on the platform for the entire fight.

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It may have been just her not doing her repositioning. According to Cobalt, she's meant to ignore -fly.

She's ignored Tar Patch in my Relentless runs so far, but maybe something else is up.

Edited by Shadeknight

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Funny thing is, she landed and started jumping around, but couldn't even clear the railing; then she stopped and became vulnerable again after summoning the ambush. I know what's SUPPOSED to happen, which is why I'm reporting what actually happened. Sadly, I didn't think to pull out the combat monitor to check her for debuffs or whatnot to diagnose the cause =/

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