I wanted to write this up as a way to make the Companion skills more interesting. Right now, all of the pets are mainly confined to “do maximum Physical damage” with “maximum attack speed” and “maximum leech.” In my opinion, that makes the companion skills far too cookie-cutter for them to stand out, especially compared to other ARPGs. Last Epoch can have itself really stand out by not only having the pet skills interplay with each other, but interact with the Primalist in a way that other ARPGs simply don’t have.
The general flavor of other games is “stack all the summon bonuses you can get and the summoner is useless outside of buffs and debuffs.” With a multitude of nodes that rely on the player only using one companion, this game has a really good shot of making summoner-companion gameplay stand far beyond what other games do.
Now, I’m not nearly as skilled in writing out all the paths as @Stormquake and his great skill re-work threads, but I do have good ideas about how to make the trees different enough that playing a Beastmaster provides real and unique decisions on what companions to use, instead of the current “metagame” of “pick the pets with the best DPS and don’t bother with anything else.”
Here are some general Notes About Pets and what makes a good skill tree node and what doesn’t:
- Dodge in general I find to be useless unless it has a particular bonus associated with it. Something like “increased Movement Speed for 4 seconds on Dodge” would make going for 50% Dodge Rating to be worth it. Otherwise, it’s just filler that’s there to be filler.
- Health Regeneration and Health on Hit is useless on Wolves because there’s not enough synergy that makes it worth replacing other paths for it.
- The Vitality nodes are also useless if you don’t benefit from the Vitality boost as well.
- Stun Avoidance is useless for players and doubly useless for pets.
Now, for the skill trees themselves. For each skill, I provide some additional nodes that can be useful and then propose multiple build types that players can incorporate:
Summon Wolf: Largest problem is that Life Leech is found right next to Extra Companions. Two of the best buffs should not be right next to each other.
The nodes that give flat Cold Damage and Chance to Chill look like they’re not going to be used that much. There’s no conversion to Cold damage and Lightning Wolves take up too many node points for Cold to also be effective. The Crit path on the top left is a large point sink which will likely not be worth it either since Wolves don’t have the best base damage.
Leap ability - unless it does large damage - is not worth dedicating a percentage of node points on something that only activates once every 10 seconds. As it stands, the only way to play Summon Wolf is to go to the bottom left and summon multiple Wolves. If the right side is going to see play at all, the Leap nodes should be replaced with a great ability that’s fully worth only having 1 or 2 Wolves (assuming you’re using the Fang unique).
“Familiar Pack:” Damage multiplier and increased attack and movement speed if Summon Wolf is your only companion. This could be used in conjuction with the Fang Unique and grabbing both +1 Wolf Nodes so you can be a personal Wolf Master with 4 Wolves and no other companions. Due to the large node requirements to get both +1 Wolf Nodes, I suggest putting it to replace the Health Regen nodes or replacing the Health Leech nodes while putting leech off to replace the Leap / Stun Avoidance nodes.
“Fend off:” Increased attack speed and Chance to Blind or Slow when another Wolf takes damage. Something to add to the “Wolf Loyalty” type of build. If Summon Wolf is the only companion skill to summon multiple Wolves, I think it’s best to give people a potential build option to emphasize it. The best place to put it would be to replace the chance to chill nodes.
*Lightning + Attunement pets on Bottom Right [2/5 health multiplier + 1/1 Lightning Retaliation + 5/5 Lightning damage multiplier + 1/1 Attunement scale + 4/5 Health Regen + 1/1 Extra Wolf + 5/5 Extra Lightning Retal + 1/1 Extra Companion] I think this is a solid route for Attunement + Lightning pets.
*Damage Over Time route on Top [6 points to get 150% Bleeding Chance + 3 points to get 150% DoT multiplier + 4/6 Damage Multiplier + 1/1 Extra Wolf and either 5/5 extra attack speed or 4/5 Leech nodes + 1/1 Extra Companion] Leech may make this too powerful, so if that is re-routed, the rest of the path should be fine.
*Wolf Master Route (full left route)= taking the two +Extra Wolf slots and the +Extra Companion slot while also working in the “Familiar Pack” and/or “Fend Off” nodes. Sadly there’s not room to fit in Attunement Scaling or Lightning Retaliation, but there can be some way to give additional benefits to have 4 Wolves and no other companions.
The largest problem with this tree is that not only is there no interplay with other pet skills, there’s something like 8 points that can go into Health Regen and another 8 that go into increased Health Multiplier. So many useless point slots.
“Protective Leap:” When the Primalist is hit, the Sabertooth leaps in front of him to absorb further hits. Leap is a fairly poor ability right now and it’s a no-brainer to take the extra damage multiplier while removing the Leap ability. This is a way to give Leap a useful function where players have to make a real choice as to whether to take the damage or have the Sabertooth occasionally take hits for the player.
“Storm Roar:” When Frost Nova or Vortex Retaliation activates, place a stack of Maelstrom on the Primalist.
Ice Tiger route looks to me to be blatantly inferior to regular “max speed and damage” route or the DoT route. Giving the Ice Tiger the ability to interact with other Cold skills may make it a much more worthy route to take. You can also buff the Ice Tiger route by giving the 1/1 node the 100% Physical damage taken as Cold damage bonus.
Potential Build Options:
*DoT Route: Extra bleeding node (1/1) + 5/5 Attack Speed + Heavy Damage & Damage Taken Nodes (1/1) + 5/5 Damage Multiplier + 7/7 DoT nodes. Only recommendation is to put the DoT nodes to replace the Lineage nodes on the bottom right or shift the node spot so it’s directly to the right of the 1/1 Bleeding Node. That way you can replace the second “Ice Tiger” requirement with a second Cold-related ability like the Cold Protection nodes.
*Ice Tiger Route: 5/5 Melee Cold Damage or 4/4 Cold Protection (see notes above) + 1/1 Ice Tiger Node + 1/1 Cold Vortex + 1/1 Frost Nova + 3/3 “Storm Roar” (which may also reduce the cooldown of these abilities) + 7/7 Cold damage multiplier
*Crit Damage Route: Taking the bottom left and either some defensive nodes (the new top left nodes since the Cold route will be placed to the right) or the more damage nodes at the bottom right. Due to the Sabertooth’s increased damage multipliers in exchange for higher damage taken, the Sabertooth can be the real glass cannon pet that does huge amounts of damage in exchange for needing Spriggan pet or Primalist’s multiple healing skills so that Sabertooth can withstand the damage it takes.
*Defensive Route: Lineage (the nodes on the bottom right) can be moved to the upper left which will reduce the cooldown of Leap and its instant cast. Replace the 8/8 Health Regen nodes with “Protective Leap” and perhaps add some “on Dodge” bonuses that make stacking Dexterity or the Beastmaster Dodge passive nodes worth it.
The largest problem with Scorpion is that it has way too many skills on large cooldown. The Poison Pools are a neat concept, but are not reliable enough to consider building around, especially since standing pools in a game with constantly moving enemies is not likely to be useful unless the buffs are worth it. I think the Acid Lob ability on the Top Center should make a Poison Pool once it lands so that the Lob is more than just a slow projectile on 6 second cooldown.
I’d consider scrapping the Cold and Lightning nodes altogether. Scorpions don’t even like the cold, so giving it flat Cold damage is just confusing. Given that scorpion stings give a nice burning feeling, I propose going all in on the Mortal Kombat references and making the Scorpion the champion of Fire Damage to replace the other out-of-place flat damage nodes.
“Enraged Swarm:” When Scorpion is hit exceeding 20% of its health, all baby Scorpion attacks inflict plague Poison with each hit. This is to add something to the baby quadrant that emphasizes the young protecting their mother.
“Fertile Ground:” Poison Pools summon 1 Vine per point in a random location within the pool. Vines are in a rough spot right now, but I think the concept of using the Poison Pool as “water” to grow a Poisonous Vine would be an interesting concept, especially if Vines get more useful by granting heals or damage boost so that they can be useful even when the enemies in the immediate area disappear.
“Desert Pincers:” Adds 5 Fire Damage per point. Designed to replace the random Lightning nodes. There will likely need to be a node that allows it to scale off Attunement since most of the Fire abilities in the Primalist toolkit scale off Attunement.
“Fiery Home:” Increases Melee damage by 15% per point (multiplier) to ignited targets. This gives more synergy to Shaman’s other Fire abilities (Fire Tornado, Earthquake)
“Burning Sensation:” All Poison and Physical damage is converted into Fire Damage. Poison and Bleed chances are converted into Ignite chance. Meant to synergize with the Poison pools and Poison Nova.
“Pincer Uppercut:” When Scorpion enters melee range, it attacks with both claws and its tail at once, doing 200% Melee damage per point. Maximum 3 points. Slow cast speed and a 10 second cooldown. Mortal Kombat uppercuts are notorious for doing large damage, so I wanted to give the Scorpion a “Get over here” into Uppercut Haymaker combo.
“Detachable Pincer:” Increases Physical Melee damage & Bleed chance for all allies within a x meter radius. Losing the Poison chance is a big reason why you choose Scorpion in the first place, so full Physical Scorpion needs a large buff to compete with the other companions.
*Baby Route (Bottom Left) = Replace the random resistance node with one of the size nodes; I think it’s a neat concept that the larger the scorpion, the more room it will have for babies. I don’t recall the exact nodes that relate to size increase, but I think it’s a good concept that the larger scorpion will not only have larger health and heavier melee attacks, but the ability to use the babies as well. There are 14 total baby-related node points, 15 if you include my proposed “Enraged Swarm” node.
*MK Scorpion “Get Over Here!” (Bottom Right) = “Desert Pincers” and “Fiery Home” provide more generic Fire buffs. The fun synergy will come with using the other abilities like Poison Pools and Acid Lob as Fire abilities, and combining “Get Over Here!” with “Pincer Uppercut.” Between its regular Poison damage and main conversion into Fire, Scorpion will stand out from the largely Physical + Cold (or Lightning) abilities of the other pets.
*Physical + Bleed Scorpion (Top Left) = There aren’t enough nodes to support a purely Physical Scorpion. When I see this, I think: “What can a pure Physical Scorpion do that Wolves + Sabertooth + Raptor + Bear can’t already do better?” Taking its niche away is a tall order to ask. Greatly increasing the Nova damage in IronClad form, giving it the Detachable Pincer nodes I suggested and perhaps a very good debuff that Slows or Blinds the opponent when it is Bleeding.
*Acid Lob + Blinding Poison + Poison Pools (Top Right) = My comments about this side is that the “summons poison pool on hit” nodes are completely worthless. The cooldown is too long and the likelihood that an enemy activating this ability will be affected enough by the pools to be worth it is so small that there are far better uses of your skill points. Considering that it’s instant cast Poison Nova and my proposed change to Acid Lob will both create Poison Pools, I would use the Attack Speed buffs to replace it and put the “Fertile Ground” Vine nodes above.
Since the instant cast was switched from a Fear to a Taunt + Heal, caster bear has to go. If you want to keep the retaliation part of it, let it take the Ice Thorns chance from the Scorpion as it’s much more suited to it, but it can’t afford to be casting off in the back.
“Girthquake:” Bear’s huge mass causes an Earthquake that benefits from your Earthquake Tree with a 5 second cooldown. Being the biggest companion should come with some sort of advantage outside the standard Health + Armor bonuses. This will likely be put with the other DoT nodes as Earthquake has a large DoT component to it.
“Primal Scream:” Bear’s Roar recovers at least 200 Health, even if there are no enemies around. This is used so that the Bear is not reliant on being surrounded by enemies in order for its Taunt Roar to be effective.
“Frantic Scream:” DoTs of enemies taunted by Bear halve in duration. Since Frenzy is left to the Wolves’ instant cast, I’d rather have the “reduce duration to double the damage” effect the Raptor currently has and give it to the Bear. The more you sweat, the more you bleed.
“Terrifying Roar:” Bear’s Roar stuns the bear and everything in its Roar radius for 1 second per point guaranteed.
“Mother Bear:” Terrifying Roar activates automatically if another companion is downed, regardless of whether the cast is on cooldown.
“Deep Bite:” Increased Bleed effect for all pets. There’s no Increased DoT effect for pets as there is in the Beastmaster passive tree, so I give it to the Bear as it has the largest bite of the animals.
“Hibernation:” Reduced damage taken by 5% per point for 5 seconds after being revived. As the tank pet, Bear should have something in its skill tree that pertains to it being revived from the downed position.
Possible Node Routes:
- Crit Route (Top left and Top Right) = 3/3 Damage multiplier + 3/3 Crit chance + 3/3 Crit multiplier + 1/1 Girthquake (meant to emphasize heavier initial hit instead of DoT route) + 3/3 Cooldown Recovery. This route is so that it can be the tank pet in a full pet group while still having decent damage.
- Claw Totem + Tank Route (bottom right) = 6/6 flat Health and Armor boost + 3/3 Claw Totem boost + 1/1 Ice Thorn route (meant to replace the caster bear + thorn burst route) + 4/4 Primal Scream (bottom left?). This route is meant to be used with my Spriggan Shaman build.
- Scream + DoT Route (bottom left to replace all the caster bear nodes) = 4/4 Primal Scream + 2/2 Frantic Scream + 2/2 Terrifying Roar + 1/1 Mother Bear + 5/5 Deep Bite + 1/1 Girthquake (meant to emphasize DoT components in Earthquake tree) + 3/3 Cooldown Recovery. This is meant to be for Bleeding Pets such as Sabertooth + Bear + Entangling Roots.