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End-game Survivability Discussion

While balancing is going to be an everlasting concern with this game, I’d like to approach the idea of ensuring that multiple survivability measures are in place to expand the diversity of “viable” builds. The Ward + Potion thread led to a lot of good discussion on how people expect to mitigate damage, reduce the chance of one-shots, and passive, active, and reactive defenses. I wanted to bring all defensive measures into one thread so that people can discuss ways to spread the defensive measures between equipment, passives, and skill choices.

Glancing Blow

For many characters, this will be the defining defensive measure for a build. A 50% straight reduction in damage after block, armor and protections becomes exponentially more powerful for builds who don’t have the luxury to stack other defensive measures. However, glancing blow is a stat that you either have to go 100% or 0%; nobody wants to have the fear of a 1% chance of getting hit by a large attack for double damage.

No class has a passive for glancing blow, so it is wholly covered by equipment passives. The Chest slot has the largest chance, sitting at around 20% per T5 prefix, which you can combine for up to 40+% Glancing Blow chance. If you’re using a Unique Chest equipment or have other Chest-unique prefixes, however, you’re out of luck. Excluding the Chest, you’ll need 8 prefixes between the shield, helmet, gloves, belt, boots, and 2 ring slots, and a good number of those slots will be taken by other unique prefixes, such as Cooldown Recovery for the helmet or Cast / Attack speed for the gloves. This will heavily reduce the amount of options you’ll have for other slots like Rings or Belt, making the majority of those prefixes comparatively useless.

It is for others to decide whether they like this arrangement, but I would like to suggest raising the Glancing Blow values on Shields to match that of Chest slots, as that is a great way for non-Sentinel classes who aren’t loaded with Block passives to effectively use the Shield / off-hand slot.

Armor and Protections

I know that the prevailing Dev opinion is that they don’t want fire-and-forget skills that take up a skill slot and don’t have an active component to it. However, I would like to suggest that skills have node routes that better emphasize protections so that people have more meaningful choices in selecting not only skill selection, but node paths within those skills themselves. This is already seen in skills like Sentinel’s Lunge which provides up to 100% increase in Void and Elemental Protections for 4 seconds after using it. The player has to effectively cover for 7 damage types: Physical, Elemental (3), Void, Necrotic, and Poison, and there will be enemies throughout that punish you if you don’t have the proper protection.

Question becomes: how much % protection would you like players to aim for? I am personally in the camp of either 50% protection with Glancing Blow, or 75% protection without it, as it would otherwise be too easy for glass cannons to blast their way through the game and AoE + health leech quickly becomes the only viable way to reach the higher waves, as the more damage you do, the more health you gain back to temper the low-resistant hits. The downside of that is that you have to dedicate most, if not all, of your suffix slots in equipment to reach that, assuming you’re not already covered by passives such as Shaman’s “Double Elemental Protections when you have a Totem.” This can be partially mitigated by providing multiple avenues for players to obtain Attunement and Vitality, as then it becomes a meaningful choice for players to choose between going for stats or going for Glancing Blow.

Health and Ward

The other major side of ARPG balancing is health pools. As Armor and Protections add 1 effective health point, it is feasible for builds who can’t build around protections to jack up health and provide other ways to mitigate damage. For example, a build with large health and 100% Glancing Blow or Block can be just as effective as a build with small health and 75% protections. This is good as it encourages people to have multiple different avenues around which they can build, but how to best encourage building around health? Most health passives I’ve seen are largely weak, as they only provide small bonuses and are easily overshadowed by more offensive options. I’m not sure what the gold standard will be for health, but I see around 1,000-2,000 health being a good start, as we don’t want to go for massive numbers right off the bat. The only classes I see that bring a tank-style roleplay would be the Sentinel base class and the Druid Mastery. Hopefully when Wearbear’s damage gets tuned down, perhaps people can explore more ways for a defensive transform-based build can succeed so that it’s not “go for 100% Crit or your build’s useless.”

Ward and Energy Shield (otherwise known as “Damage to Mana before Health”) are other interesting ways to build for defenses. I especially love the very creative “keep at low-life” Necromancers that build to stay around 33% health but keep their survivability at 100% by jacking up Ward. From what I’ve seen in other end-game suggestions, the standard is to go for roughly 500% Ward Retention, but outside of the new potion mechanics, there aren’t any equipment slots that help with ward generation or retention, leaving that mostly to skills.

I would speak up if any skills that mainly pertain to Ward are weak and need improvements, so that Ward builds can feel they can compete with Protection based builds. I would also like to see more applications of “Damage to Mana before Health,” as there is only one affix that provides that and that is confined solely to the Chest Slot.

Passive Health Generation (Health Regen + Healing Novas)

There are multiple healing novas in this game that have variable effectiveness: the best nova coming from Paladin’s Judgment move. It’s a bit wonky to activate and the radius isn’t that much even when you put max points in increasing it, but it recovers a lot of health and prepares you well for facing hard-hitting single targets. Judgment is also really nice in that healing effectiveness also increases the ground damage against enemies. It’s a nice way to make healing effectiveness a affix worth getting.

The other healing novas come from the Primalist class: there’s the Druid passive that grants a healing nova every X seconds, but it comes from Melee attacks and the cooldown makes it basically useless, even with all the cooldown reduction nodes. The other healing nova comes from Entangling Roots and is worth taking because it’s on the way towards the Mana Efficiency nodes. I’ve found it nice to use on my Beastmaster, but it isn’t worth increasing Healing Effectiveness.

Sadly, most of the direct healing abilities (Healing Wind, Healing Hands, Eterra’s Blessing) don’t have skill trees yet, so the Healing Effectiveness bonus is useless for now. Druid’s minion healing effectiveness can be useful either through Spriggan pet for pet users (I’m trying this out for my Beastmaster) or Healing Totems for Spriggan form Druids (I can guess that 5 Healing totems can lead to substantial healing if you increase that stat).

Other builds I wanted to bring up regarding health regen:

  1. I love the Aura of Decay Lich idea where your major source of damage also hurts you and that you need to bump up your passive Health Regen + Poison Protection so that you can increase your damage without also killing yourself. I find this very creative and kudos to people who build around it.

  2. I’ve mentioned this in the previous threads, but between building around weapons that summon creatures: Bone Harvester & Torch of the Pontifex, I’d love to see minion builds where the focus is not increased minion health, but increased minion regen where you summon pets with rapidly decaying health (the wraith when the Necro reaches half health is another one like this, but sadly you can only summon 1 and if you keep the first one alive, the second one replaces the first) that do a lot of damage but can only stay on the field if you give at least 3 affix slots for minion regen. I hope you consider fun ideas like this because it gives a sense of real build diversity.

Dodge

Dodge is now very hard to build around, as you need increasing amounts of it for it to be effective in level-scaled areas and you need to prepare yourself for when the dodge chance doesn’t roll in your favor. I don’t have the build nearly ready to test it out yet, but I’m trying a primary Dodge build for Reaper Form, as Reaper Form is a second health bar that can make good use of Dodge. I appreciate the increased values on the “Dodge on Potion use” belt slot, though I’ve been having a much harder time finding the affix in the first place.

The other place I can see Dodge working is high Health + Ward builds, as the constant Ward regen can mitigate the one-off chance an attack breaks through. Since you don’t have much space for Ward + Protections + Dodge rating, however, I hope that skills can make up for it with high Dodge investment - skills like Maelstrom’s flat dodge rating per stack.

Active Health Leech, Health on Hit, and Health on Kill

I’ll expand on this later, but I do hope that leech gets tempered early on so that builds are not focused on “all leech, all the time.” Necromancers get more of a pass as they have many nodes that led to constantly decaying health, but I’d like to make sure that the other melee classes can’t just skate on health leech and not have to worry about protections or anything else.

Everything below “Health and Ward” is a work in progress, but I have enough material so far for good discussion on the above topics.

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is there a OH S^%T passive yet? something that procs on hit to defend from that one hit kill that happens sometimes. i mean that seems to be a staple in every game that there is ARPG wise.

I Really think the way they went with the defensive skills was kinda a good start but i like the idea of maybe picking some of the more offensive skills that might not be as effective, possibly having a stronger route to go into a defensive skill “either cast and forget” or something you click that throws up a temporary Fire shield that absorbs x damage and then reflects x% back on targets in a circle. or something to that effect. maybe a OH S#&T button skill that pushes mobs away from you and stuns them for 1 second based on level etc.
I just feel like most skills are centered around offensive skills then defensive skills. i also noticed playing Sorc that you really have to dip every skill into some sort of defensive node otherwise you are very squishy. where as i think it should be you have one skill that is setup for single target one that is for clearing trash and then the other ones are for defensive purposes. but the problem with that becomes a meta game becuase skill a is stronger defense then offense. so maybe we should revisit the ability to hot swap skills based on a defensive need or offensive need. which breaks the way skills are done now…
i don’t have alot of knowledge on the other classes just on Sorc.

Theres a couple of OH S^%T buttons out there. ring of shields is 1. It can increase block change by 25% (putting you over 100%) and give you shiled that take hits for you and heal u when they die. Theres the invinibitly mode for 5 seconds on transplant for the acoylte class. 10 second cd but can have up to 5 seconds of no damage taken if you have the right nodes. Other skills like holy aura and ice ward aint Oh S^%T buttons but they help mitigate some damage and Flame ward will do the same

As for Glancing blow. That stat is being complete replaced by a different system soon so say goodbye to it while you have it.

“Invincibility” skills / passives have to be really carefully designed, as otherwise a person can mobility skill right into the center of a pack of mobs, throw up the invincibility, kill everything in the radius, and rinse and repeat for the next cycle. It ends up being grossly OP with no way of fixing it outside of revamping the class completely. The transplant one is a skill that does it properly; since you can’t move or attack for the duration, it’s only useful for either AoD builds that damage enemies on its own or minion builds that can do damage while you’re immobile.

What? When was this confirmed? Would you please quote the person who said this, as I don’t spend much time at the Discord. Something that huge should have been hinted in its own thread.

As much as I love the Glancing Blow stat, I am actually fine with them changing it because it is flat out mandatory if you want to push arenas. It is not needed, as of now, in monolith or the campaign itself. The stat just requires so many affix slots that it would be nice not to have that albatross around your neck where with every character you create you already have 8 affixes spoken for.

He is referencing something that I said a while back. It is indeed slated for replacement. That doesn’t mean that the stat will vanish completely but it probably won’t be on gear and you probably won’t be able to get anywhere near as much as you can now.

I’m not sure where that post is but the short version is this:

Glancing Blow fills a very specific and important role in gear as we can’t remove it until we have a good replacement that we are happy with. Gear interdependence is an important tool that we can use to make gearing a big picture event instead of just a direct comparison between two items. PoE and D2 do this very well with resistances. We really like the twist that we have put on resistances in general so we don’t want to change that. (The following number are just examples, don’t worry about them being impossible or silly). Say you have 10% GB on your boots and you find some unique boots that have a very important effect which you need but the boots don’t have an GB on them. You swap out the boots but now you’re under GB cap so you have to find it elsewhere in your gear. Maybe that means sacrificing a little power in another category to do. Suddenly it’s this balancing act where you have to find the right combination to progress further.

Typically, this effect is achieved with a defensive stat. We are still testing out replacements for it and will be probably more vocal about what that replacement is when it’s a little more finalized.

Guess that wasn’t really the short version.

3 Likes

I enjoyed reading the OP post, and

thoughts from those in charge.

I’d like to suggest that life leech be similar to the OH S#*T button: It will never be able to get enough stats or uptime that you can just build glass cannon builds and leech your way through it. So investing in life leech can get you out of tricky situations, and be part of well rounded defences, but it cannot get high enough that it becomes universally better to just cap it and then scale damage.
As an example, you could give life leech an off again, on again flavour, or give it a low maximum, exactly like the defences gained from ‘changing form’ in the druid tree.

This will make balancing monsters and items much easier, and will make players feel like investing in defences is a legitimate choice. If life leech remains as it is, then you will almost certainly never balance damage choices vs defence choices with meaningful monster fights.

For further examples: Right now an acolyte can struggle to invest in health and minion defences, to keep minions alive for an extra 5 seconds in a fight, or invest in life leech and they are always full health until they get one shot at whatever high arena wave the house of cards falls on.

Likewise, a beastmaster can invest heavily into glancing blow or dodge, minion health on gear to make a few extra arena waves, or they can invest in life leech and breeze through, doing more damage than a defensive build while beasts are effectively ‘tankier’ with just a few points of investment.

The math backs this up. Investing in life, dodge or resists gives ever diminishing returns, as each loses value each time your area level goes up, your enemy damage goes up, or your base stats go up.

Conversely, investing in life leech gives ever increasing returns, as player damage tends to scale up exponentially. Life leech also ‘works’ vs all damage types, whereas actual defences only work for one of 7 types of damage.

So 1% life leech (call it one skill or passive point, or one tier of item affix) on a character or minion hitting for 10K per second, will get 100 health per second.
100 life regen (call it 5-10 skill or passive points) get’s the same 100 health per second, but then has to find more spare points to deal some damage somehow. Since their damage and defences are lower, they now have more monsters hitting them for longer, and need to kite more, which means they have even less time to deal damage or apply ‘synergies’ such as setting up combos.

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One suggestion for glancing blows that would help eliminate it being mandatory, help reduce the amount of affixes it requires and reduce its effectiveness would be to model it after crit avoidance .

Have it be 28-37% roll on T5 but only 10-20% reduced damage not 50% as it is now. Keep them as prefixes. Now it only takes 3 slots to achieve 100 percent effectiveness but at a much reduced benefit.

In my opinion, LE’s skill system makes it easier to balance leech than other games, as your damage gets exponentially larger from the amount of multipliers from various nodes. Putting the leech nodes far from the biggest damage multipliers so you can’t grab both at the same time will go a long way towards tempering the biggest abuses. Mind you that melee builds need an active form of leech as they can’t afford to run away and hit from a distance like casters can, and throwing attack builds are confined to certain classes, which makes it easy for devs to limit their maximum leech far lower than builds that require staying in and taking more hits.

What is lost in the glancing blow discussions is that if it’s replaced by something that results in only 30% reduced damage compared to 50%, you need to scramble to make sure you have enough protections to handle that increased damage. Nobody so far has offered a “mitigation” amount that seems the most reasonable. Do we want players to be able to mitigate 70%? 85% like other ARPGs shoot for? How do Beastmasters, who have no passive nodes that give protection multipliers, reach that? As it stands, you need 3 affixes for each protection to reach a reasonable amount of mitigation, and even then the stronger enemies can easily wipe you if you’re not careful.

That’s the thing I’m most interested in: how many affixes will you require us to put towards mitigation? Will Uniques + Legendaries provide protections or will their offensive stats be so amazing that it’s worth giving up the remaining affixes to patch up defensive weak points? Will you provide skills such as the “Thorn Armor” in Ice Thorns where there is a node path where if you have enough damage from other sources, you can use one of your skill slots where the nodes give you such good stats when you apply all of your 20 nodes in protection where you don’t have to worry about that particular defense in your gearing? That keeps skills interesting and prevents “golden path” scenarios where you take your skills ONLY for offense and your equipment ONLY for defense.

Shorter version: Just remove it and be done with it. You can simply add a “get 5% dmg reduction per point” passive in each skilltree and people who want it can skill it and you have it out of the way untill you have the new system set. After this you can remove the skillnode. Glancing blow is simply the most obvious sample that something is still off when it comes to balancing but there is enough time to correct this I hope.

You cant just remove glancing blow without replacing it with somethings. GB is some of our life lines.

I was just thinking about all the people who would cry EHG a river if they dare to change stuff in a beta ^^.

Tears would just pour outta me. Of cours i could see how others would rather just have a simple 5% damage reduction passive to take since it doesnt require any thinking or management of give and take with affixes to balance.

Don’t get me wrong I think GB is stupid to begin with. I coud’nt care less if it’s gone tomorrow or the dmg reduction is reduced to 10% for testing. I just think some people would rage because they don’t want to give up on OP mechanics.

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