It’s Mike, back again with another devblog for you. This time we’re talking about skills and their augment trees. In Last Epoch each skill has an augment tree associated with it. As a skill is leveled up through gaining experience, the same way that players do, you can invest points into its tree. These trees unlock the potential of your skills. In this devblog I’ll give an overview of how skills are distributed in our classes and what sort of design philosophies we have around the skill trees themselves.
In Last Epoch we have 5 unique base classes that each have their own skills. Currently we have 12 skills planned out for each base class but like every other specific number, it could change before launch. When you pick a mastery class for your character, you will then slowly unlock the mastery class skills for that class. Currently that is another 8 skills. This gives your character a total of 20 skills available at around level 40-55.
When you pick your mastery class, you retain all the skills and selections from your base class. This means that every Void Knight and Paladin will have the same set of Knight skills. These Knight skills could be ones that both mastery classes can use effectively like Might and Juggernaut Stance. These skills can also lean towards one mastery or the other like how Shield Rush favors the Paladin gameplay style or how Sunder favors the Void Knight gameplay style. This means that even though most Void Knight skills will favor using big 2 handed weapons, they can still bring out a shield and use Shield Rush. There will always be a little piece of each mastery class in its pair.
While you are out adventuring in Eterra, you will only be able to have 5 skills equipped. This is a really important component of Last Epoch as it forces you to pick which skills to bring with you very carefully. At first, this might seem like an arbitrary and silly constraint to put on players. As a small aside, I play a lot of Magic The Gathering (more specifically the commander variant) and one of my favorite things to do is build a deck with some very odd restrictions. When all the cards in the game are available to me, I often end up with very similar decks. For example, most of my decks have the card Sol Ring in it. It’s just so reliably good in almost every situation that it finds a way into almost every one of my decks. Now, if I make a deck with the restriction, no artifacts (Sol Ring is an artifact) then I suddenly need to get creative to find alternative ways of fulfilling that same role without using Sol Ring. The point that I’m trying to illustrate here is that, if you apply restrictions to a system like this then it makes for interesting decision making. If we allow you to take 10 skills with you out into the wild then several of them will be the same ones you always take because they are just good supplemental skills to always bring. This is not interesting decision making.
This system will mean that not every Sorcerer will bring Teleport with them and not every Beast Master will bring Fury Leap. With this difficult decision of which 5 skills make up my build, it is unlikely that you will run into another player playing the same loadout as you are. Even if you do come across someone with the same skill selection, it is unlikely that the two characters will even play the same way. This is where skill specializations come into effect. As you level up you will unlock skill specialization slots. You will only have 5 specialization slots total. This means that once again, you need to decide carefully which skills you want to specialize in. While we will have systems in place to help respec your character to some degree, but it will be a little punishing to change a decision that you have already made. If you decide to change one of your specializations then you will likely need to start leveling up that new skill from scratch.
Once you’ve specialized in skills and leveled them up, you can drastically change how they function using their skill tree. I’m going to use Fury Leap as an example, so here is a quick look at the Fury Leap skill tree:
If you take the path down to the left then you’ll be able to bring your summons with you when you leap into combat. This would synergize well with Summon Wolf and Summon Bear. If you take the path up to the right then you’ll be able to rain lightning down upon enemies that you leap over. This might be used as a skill to leap over the front line and get up close to caster type enemies while still softening up the front line. Each branch includes something different that will alter your playstyle.
A nice example from the Sorcerer kit is the skill Meteor. Depending on which path you take, you can have the fiery ball of awesome become multiple fiery balls of awesome with meteor shower. You can make them fall faster or launch shrapnel from the impact site or you can even make it cost all your remaining mana to summon one ultra powerful meteor. These different options allow you to specialize your meteor to play the way you want to play.
These trees are specifically designed to not be completable. You will only obtain 20 points to put into each tree total. This means that certain powerful nodes are inherently mutually exclusive from each other. This creates an interesting decision point. Which nodes are going to be the best for your character? Do you want to use a particular skill to be defensive, offensive, or as a utility? In the end a single node in a tree can be like adding a whole new skill to the game.
Overall, our goal with the skill system is to give you plenty of options to pick how you want to build your character. We make certain decisions prevent certain options to help streamline the process and breed creativity. By giving you constraints to work within, you’ll need to pick your skills carefully and pick which nodes you take with equal attention to detail.
Thanks for checking out this devblog. Let me know what you think about our skill system or which skills you have had the most fun specializing so far.