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The passive trees.. improvements.. or traps?

This is going to be a bit of a lengthy post, discussing a lot of the issues I have with the passive skills available for classes. In this situation I’d like to discuss this issue on the side of necromancer, as I think it will serve the purpose of my argument reliably.

I personally love the passive tree system. It’s very easy to pick up and understand what’s happening. However, I’d like to talk about what ultimately hurts my enjoyment of this game. The game has its quirks, it’s bugs, complicated crafting, that’s all fine. The issue I have are the passive trees and how it feels like your character “never feels right”.

I touched up on this awhile back, but I’d like to talk about it. Let’s start off with the first row of the Acolyte tree. Your first three points available are either Blood Aura (You and minions deal 6% increased damage), Bone Aura (grants you and your minions 15 armor), and Forbidden Knowledge (1 intelligence and 15 necrotic protection).

At a first glance, You are immediately drawn towards either FK or BA, while they’re both strong, choosing one of them is always a trap. Say you take BA, this increases all damage you and your pets do, that’s great, you do more damage, now you suffer from taking a lot of damage if you take a hit. Then because of not having a certain amount of armor or hp based on the damage you take you’re more prone to stun… which is another stupid mechanic that shouldn’t exist, but that’s for another time. If you take FK, you’re then choosing a node that also doesn’t help protect you from damage, and doesn’t give as much damage as much as taking BA, but it makes your pets have more health. That’s fine and all, but what purpose is that? I’ve tried running tanky pet builds and it’s just terrible, you can’t deal any damage at all, You have no ability to kill things because pet hp means nothing if they can’t kill. So then your third choice is bonus armor… again, another trap. You take less damage, probably don’t get stunned when playing a necromancer… but your pets no don’t do any damage now.

I get that each talent is supposed to have this rewarding feel about it, but ultimately it feels like no matter what build you take, no matter what choice you make, you’re making the wrong one. Let’s look at another example…

In the new necromancy tree, you’re given the choice to go left, up the middle or to the right. The left caters towards ward allocation, and crit reliant builds, similar to frost archers with the new skeleton rework. the middle is just pure damage and armor shredding, while the right is all about increasing yours, and your minion’s, max hp, and getting more skeletons as a result. I took the right side because i wanted to try building into a pure skeleton build. Guess what, taking all these health nodes was a waste of time. I possess no damage despite having minion damage on most of my gear. Having +1 to skeletons doesn’t do ANYTHING if those skeletons are worthless to begin with. These talents are just traps. Nothing on the right side provides bonus damage, outside of +1 skeleton. So what’s the point of this entire side of the tree. If you try to play a blood wrait build of some kind, it feels terrible because even though they last for so long, they don’t do enough damage to warrant not building into damage.

I love the passive tree ideas and systems, I hate that the choices you make feel punishing 90% of the time. Very rarely has a choice felt 100% rewarding.

I don’t really understand the core issue honestly. It’s not like you lose any stats by taking a passive node, only what Bonus you get is up to you.
Feel like you do too Little damage? Take damage nodes. Feel you or your pets are too squishy? Take defensive nodes. Want to improve Overall? Take Int (or whatever main stat your class has).

Feel like you do too Little damage, are too squishy and you just Keep dying? Either your build, your Equipment, or both are probably sub-par, or you just want the game to be easier than it is.
The starter nodes from your example: Wether or not you have 50 armor more, do 50% more damage or have 5 Int more is pretty irrelevant in the Grand scheme of Things, as themselves. You’ll have +500% damage easily at some Point, thus 50% more Ends up just being somewhere around a ~10% increase. Same with armor and int. The passive bonuses stack up the more you get of Course, so you have some choices. Do you go full-on glass cannon with offensive passives and gear stats? Get your defense from gear or from passives? etc.

Sorry, I can’t really relate to your Problem with passives. Each single Point does very Little and doesn’t feel rewarding/impactful when you take it 90% of the time, but Overall it allows you to finetune your build and sometimes even Change the way your build works rather heavily.

The issue with the acolyte tree is that you need “x amount of points” into something to progress the tree, so if you want the +1 skeleton nodes you have to build into nodes that only give +hp and hp regeneration, locking you into not having good damage. So the damage nodes you get from the end of the trees don’t give you enough damage to make up for the lack of damage you get from those 5-10 levels.

At the end of the day (high-Level), you don´t get to choose between the Right, the middle, or the left part of Necromancer tree. You can choose many. You reach the top at a 65 Point Investment (20 acolyte, 45 into necromancer). With passives from quests in total, I dont know how many them are - let`s say it is 15 or 20. We can even estimate that with that, at lvl 50 or 55 at worst, you reached the top of your ascended passive tree.

Gives you another 40-50 Points to invest and fine-tune. Took more +skelletons and +minion hp, lacking dmg? Time to invest in Damage.

Took the +skelletons and +minion hp? Awesome. Now I Need less of that on my gear, and I can focus more on dmg stats /my own survival.

In a philosophical way, you are pointing at a deterministic problem revolving around choice and decision: whatever I choose, I choose everthing else not. Which makes choosing in itself a pain in the ass, from that point of view- because every choice leaves you with more of what you dont have or didnt get, and less of what you actually get. Because choice is in itself a limiting Thing. Decision comes from decidere - which means to “cut off/cut away”.

I think this is intended for Balance reasons. After all, Skeletons are highly expendable, but an additional Skeleton is absolutely great. Now if you could freely choose, you wouldn’t have a real choice, as +damage and +Skeleton would be the obviously besser decision in almost all circumstances.
That’s what good skill trees are all about, making choices difficult because many paths are viable. This automatically means that you will miss out certain viable Things. If you wouldn’t miss anything you didn’t get, the passives you didn’t get are useless, or the ones you DID get are overpowered.

I don’t have exact numbers, but just as an example:
When you’d go from 4 to 5 Skeletons, that basically equals 20 (25?) percent more damage, additively, since your other damage stats now apply to 5 instead of 4 minions.
Now all you have to ask yourself is: Would another passive path give me more than that in total DPS, considering those would be added multiplicatively?

And think about all the other implications, each skel having more health, having 1 blocker more, having 1 more aggro distractions etc. etc.

So yeah, IMHO it’s a good Thing that you feel like “missing out” on something, if one path would be obviously better the passives would be unbalanced.