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Budcakes

Locke and Midgame Balance

41 posts in this topic

15 minutes ago, Mishrak said:

What part of the game are you referring to as mid-game?

Forgive me if this has been answered, but there is far too much in here to really read every word of it. 

Nowea addressed the major points about being too high level, and he was correct about how those affect a perceived balance shift.

wrt: C/C, keep in mind characters that can do this effectively usually have to trade status mitigation or damage relics to utilize it.  Almost none (except Celes) can do every piece of what makes C/C most potent and even she doesn’t have the best of stamina.

 

I'd say~ For midgame, the final stretch of WoB - Magitek Facility through FC.

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8 hours ago, Mishrak said:

What part of the game are you referring to as mid-game?

Probably best if we use mid-WoB, late-WoB, early-WoR, instead. Even mid-WoR is kinda ambiguous, as it could be split into two.

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9 hours ago, thzfunnymzn said:

Probably best if we use mid-WoB, late-WoB, early-WoR, instead. Even mid-WoR is kinda ambiguous, as it could be split into two.

For the big mid-WoR part, I think that restrictions could allow for a better balance curve.
As is, you can go basically everywhere after early WoR. This makes balancing all the different areas rather... difficult. Personally, I only encountered any sort of resistance in the Veldt Cave(Probably cause I got there rather early) and felt like I steamrolled every other dungeon without much trouble, despite working hard to keep my lvls in check.

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19 hours ago, Mishrak said:

What part of the game are you referring to as mid-game?

Essentially around the FC scenario.

19 hours ago, Mishrak said:

C/C, keep in mind characters that can do this effectively usually have to trade status mitigation or damage relics to utilize it.  Almost none (except Celes) can do every piece of what makes C/C most potent and even she doesn’t have the best of stamina.

Anyone that can equip the Ninja Mask (Locke in particular) does have a free Relic slot, but I see no reason not to use a power glove (thief glove), or mystery egg possibly, on that spot. Status mitigation is situational, and for almost every situation a Remedy (item) solves the problem. The only time I really worry about status mitigation is when an enemy hits the entire party with debuffs, and even then you just need 1-2 people protected, they can Remedy the others.

20 hours ago, Vaylen said:

The burning house in Thamasa felt like a joke to me, too(Aqua Rake=GG).

I think this is actually okay. This is more like an introduction to Strago. You're forced to have a particular party composition. I guess if anything the fights could be tweaked to make them tighter, but I don't mind having these little side stories be easier than a typical dungeon. I feel similarly about the collapsing house in the WoR, where you meet up with Sabin.

23 hours ago, thzfunnymzn said:

While better than other parts of the WoB, for the player's current power, the FC mobs aren't as strong as the Zozo and IMF mobs were for the player's current power then. So, a buff to FC mobs isn't necessarily a bad idea.

I feel that after a certain point, maybe after the IMF, certain characters (maybe all of them) have the ability to deal such high damage that the difficulty curve is kind of thrown out of whack, specifically for the random mobs. I need to replay the WoB and pay more attention to this. Given that the FC is similar to a final dungeon, the difficulty should be set pretty high, I feel. Honestly, it should be the most brutal dungeon of the entire WoB. Again, I'm not including the boss fights in this. Generally the boss fights seem fine. Maybe it's an issue about different party compositions, and the balance is set so that you can still make it through with the most gimped party setup, which makes the powerful party setups breeze through. Though with all of the options available, I'm not sure any party is really gimped.

Maybe we would all be smart to remember that this is not a difficulty mod, and that no matter what the vanilla game was much easier. I think part of the logic about monster difficulty in the latter portions is, as you say, some areas seem to have a higher difficulty than others, and some of those others seem intuitively as though they should at least maintain that level of difficulty.

In any case, I am enjoying the hell out of all of the new options and mechanics.

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1 hour ago, Vaylen said:

For the big mid-WoR part, I think that restrictions could allow for a better balance curve.
As is, you can go basically everywhere after early WoR. This makes balancing all the different areas rather... difficult. Personally, I only encountered any sort of resistance in the Veldt Cave(Probably cause I got there rather early) and felt like I steamrolled every other dungeon without much trouble, despite working hard to keep my lvls in check.

I agree, but that seems like it would be beyond the scope of this mod. This same issue was present in the original game, and it's basically an issue with any open-world game. I like that aspect of the WoR. It makes the player evaluate an area when they arrive there. "I barely survived that encounter, maybe I should come back later." A problem might arise if you force your way through a higher level area and then get overleveled for other areas you should have tackled first from a difficulty perspective. Something that might help alleviate this problem somewhat is to provide a pretty clear recommended progression in game via NPC or PC dialogue, so the player has some idea what dungeon they should tackle next.

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1 hour ago, Budcakes said:

Something that might help alleviate this problem somewhat is to provide a pretty clear recommended progression in game via NPC or PC dialogue, so the player has some idea what dungeon they should tackle next.

All ready provided. Order of progression is Mt. Zozo -> Veldt Cave (also, nearby Terra and Gau) -> Owzer's Mansion -> Phoenix Cave -> everything else -> Cultist's Tower -> Kefka's Tower. The first three of those dungeons definitely feel easier than stuff like Cyan's Soul, Narshe, or Zone Eater's Cave, with Phoenix Cave kinda in the middle of these two sets in terms of difficulty. Outliers here are Ancient Castle and Ebot's Rock, which feel easy despite coming in the "later" set of WoR dungeons.

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Burning House being rather easy(As an introductory stage or smth) is fine... But it is not easy - it is a joke. That is not good, in my opinion.

Ebot's Rock and Ancient Castle feel like they could be buffed up, that's true.

Owzer's Mansion, Phoenix Cave and Cultist Tower stuck out to me as particulary easy. I did stuff in order(Aside from Veldt Cave) and did not grind one bit, often turning off exp - think by Cultist Tower, my party was about lvl 27-28, ELs at about 15-17.

 

So, to summarize the areas I felt were too easy~
FC(With proper setup, multi-party dungeon could alleviate the problem there).
Magitek Research Facility.
Burning House(And basically anything Thamasa).
Sealed Gate Cave.
Owzer's Mansion.
Phoenix Cave.
Ebot's Rock.
Ancient Castle.
Cultist Tower.

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3 hours ago, thzfunnymzn said:

All ready provided. Order of progression is Mt. Zozo -> Veldt Cave (also, nearby Terra and Gau) -> Owzer's Mansion -> Phoenix Cave -> everything else -> Cultist's Tower -> Kefka's Tower. The first three of those dungeons definitely feel easier than stuff like Cyan's Soul, Narshe, or Zone Eater's Cave, with Phoenix Cave kinda in the middle of these two sets in terms of difficulty. Outliers here are Ancient Castle and Ebot's Rock, which feel easy despite coming in the "later" set of WoR dungeons.

I say Owzer's Mansion is easier than Veldt Cave in my opinion so I would reverse this 2 but outside of that I agree.

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kool-aid-man.jpg

So, I didn't get in and reply to this thread when it first landed and now it's such a wall of text that Trump wants to put it on the border, so I'm just gonna throw out some general points rather than responding to everything.

First and foremost, I consider Locke to be easily the weakest character in the early game. I keep a chart detailing the "utility" use of each character (including both buffs and debuffs) and Locke is the only character with a ranking of zero on it. His multi-target damage is limited to his magic (which is generally weak) and his single target damage doesn't ignore defense until the end of the game. Healing and hitting things are all that he really brings to the table, and neither of those are fully developed until later on. So, I am glad to see anyone getting genuine good use out of him in the midgame.

On a similar note, I consider Kirin on Locke to be one of the few real "dud" options available, since in my mind you'd only give him Kirin levels for early-game bulk and then respec him later. The limited use he gets from stamina doesn't feel like it'd be worth the MP boost he gets from Phoenix along with the same amount of HP, so again I'm happy that cover/counter strats - the shiny new feature of the current version of Brave New World - is having the intended effect of making it a desirable option for him.

It's been pointed out that Locke is overleveled, and yes, this is the sort of thing that can occur without trying. The level curve is fairly linear excepting some "Humps" at levels 10, 20, and 30, and the mod was designed so that you'll often have large discrepancies between levels in your active party. The most common characters to see this happen are Celes and Sabin in the World of Ruin; it happens less often with Locke because, even though players are forced to use him a lot in the WoB, they will generally dump him when they're finally given the chance rather than keep him in the active party and give him a fair shake.

And for the record, I define "midgame" as post-IMTRF through getting your team reassembled in the World of Ruin.

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Speaking of overleveling, is flat out just reducing exp gains, at least in some critical areas, something worth considering at this point? With overleveling turning out to be such a common problem among players.. At least, many peeps in this community seem to struggle with it to some extent, whether a veteran or not - and even though it gets a bit murky where the difficulty is in the players' hands anyways(turning exp off etc), maybe it could stand to be just a little more conservative?

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5 hours ago, Hapanpappa said:

Speaking of overleveling, is flat out just reducing exp gains, at least in some critical areas, something worth considering at this point? With overleveling turning out to be such a common problem among players.. At least, many peeps in this community seem to struggle with it to some extent, whether a veteran or not - and even though it gets a bit murky where the difficulty is in the players' hands anyways(turning exp off etc), maybe it could stand to be just a little more conservative?

Some work to prevent people a bit more from overlevelling seems like a good idea.
However, one more feature I'd like to see: Turn of EXP without turning off EL gains. I find EL-training(Especially in Early-mid WoR) to be incredibly annoying. Some characters can really fall behind the EL curve - and, opposed to lvls, ELs represent a lot more... fun. Level ups aren't fun(No choice, "boring" powerboosts).

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Posted (edited)

7 hours ago, Hapanpappa said:

Speaking of overleveling, is flat out just reducing exp gains, at least in some critical areas, something worth considering at this point? With overleveling turning out to be such a common problem among players.. At least, many peeps in this community seem to struggle with it to some extent, whether a veteran or not - and even though it gets a bit murky where the difficulty is in the players' hands anyways(turning exp off etc), maybe it could stand to be just a little more conservative?

In my last playthrough of 1.9.0 I used seibaby's encounter patch v4, and I believe that by the end I was at least 2 or 3 levels lower than my 1.8.6 playthrough. I think I ended up between 28 and 32 for all characters, with EL's from 19 to 23,  I think that this is a good way of lowering levels without messing around with too much else. Also I never had to grind to keep up either. Im not sure if I play faster slower or what not, but  my playthrough was 52-54 hours. Which is a decent game, considering vanilla is usually 32 hours for me.

Edited by F-Bomb
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3 hours ago, F-Bomb said:

In my last playthrough of 1.9.0 I used seibaby's encounter patch v4, and I believe that by the end I was at least 2 or 3 levels lower than my 1.8.6 playthrough. I think I ended up between 28 and 32 for all characters, with EL's from 19 to 23,  I think that this is a good way of lowering levels without messing around with too much else. Also I never had to grind to keep up either. Im not sure if I play faster slower or what not, but  my playthrough was 52-54 hours. Which is a decent game, considering vanilla is usually 32 hours for me.

IIRC, work is being done to make seibaby's encounter patch fit for mainstream release. IIRC, currently, there are technical issues with it.

That said, I would definitely appreciate a patch that raises the minimum number of steps taken before an encounter. Hiking to fight the Ice Dragon in NHT got real annoying when every (other) step in town of Narshe was an encounter.

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For anyone wanting to play around with various (almost) even-levelled character build options for the FC, here's an Snes9x savestate with all characters at level 17-18 with 8-10 unspent ELs. If anyone wants an SRAM, I can try to make that happen too, though my setup seems to be mighty finnicky with persisting SRAMs for some reason...

Throughout this run, I fought no more battles than necessary (applied the the Random Encounter patch and used Chocobos where possible), with the exception of hanging around Zozo until I had two Healing Shivs and a Mystery Egg after the Dadluma fight. I was regularly about 1-2 levels behind the expected level for any given point along the way, and chronically low on cash and Phoenix Downs. Under these conditions, most of the game felt like a decent challenge – some slip ups or rough RNG could mean dropping a character or two, but for the most part I felt like I was in control of my fate and didn't have to employ any fancy tactics. There were a few points where the struggle was a little more real, however:

Dadaluma: at Vaylen's request, I deliberately gimped myself a bit here with party composition. I brought along Cyan, Gau, Celes and Shadow. This party was well suited to dispatching (har) randoms, but really struggled with the big guy. Celes hadn't learned Slow yet (everyone was about level 10 here); and while Cyan and Gau could both theoretically set Sap to counter the Regen from Slim Jim, the add-ons made it tough to reliably land it. In the end, it came down to RNG – if Big D KOd Gau before he had the chance to set Rerise on himself, the resulting recovery spiral would generally result in a wipe. On my 4th try, I pulled through. I wonder if going Hornet with Gau would have been any better – but keeping Gau on his feet was the hardest part of the fight, and Conjurer definitely made that possible. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I brought Cyan and Sabin for the IMTRF segment, and that went fine. Had some really close calls with the Cranes and the boss on the tracks (I forget his number), but no wipes here.

The battle on the bridge at the Sealed Gate was another close call (IIRC, Edgar finished it off with a Bio Blaster with 1HP remaining), but again no wipes.

The Ultros fight by the statues was the hardest part of this run, but it was my own stupid forgetful fault. I savestated after the chitchat by the statues, and didn't feel like reloading an earlier save, so I was stuck with the loadout I had – and neither Terra nor Strago knew Shell, and I forgot to pick up Zoneseek prior to this segment. Party was around level 15ish here (maybe a 14 on Strago). Tentacle was a 1HKO for Strago and about 75% of Terra's max HP, and El Nino was knocking off about 80% of Locke's max HP, so it was too easy to find myself in a losing recovery spiral here. This one probably took me about 8 attempts to get past. Though again, probably would have been much different with access to Shell to take the edge off of El Nino.

The only segment along the way that felt too easy was the Opera House; but maybe that's just Sabin's Hell Claw talking?

Edited by SirNewtonFig
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On 7/10/2018 at 8:13 PM, thzfunnymzn said:

Anyone able to test Blood Sword + Scimitar C/C FC strats with Unicorn/Bismark Terra and/or Seraph/Phantom Celes?

Having now run C/C on the FC with Terra, Celes, Cyan, Shadow, Locke, Mog, and Edgar, I think I enjoy the ladies most. The others follow in the order just listed. Thoughts below:

Terra took around 3 Bismark levels with the rest in Unicorn, while Celes took around 5 in Seraph with the rest in Phantom (maybe one more Seraph before Atma). I found single blade preferable to dual wield, opting for Gold Shield/Mystery Veil/Power Armor with Power Glove and Hero Ring. This left them a little squishy (what's that, like 105 Defense?), but they proc potent tier-2s all over the place. Elec Sword for the IAF, and Icebrand for the rest. Blood Sword is ok, but the procs are limited in power and suicidal against Djinn. There are just so many capable healers you can bring along to keep your tank patched up, why not let your tank be monster DPS too?

Cyan is probably more dependable than the ladies, but with lower burst damage potential on his counters. He still hits moderately hard though, and he just never goes down. Empowerer doesn't care if you're undead, it eats your soul whoever you are. (I swear Cyan is secretly the resident Death Knight of this mod.)

Shadow C/C is hilarious, and a close favorite behind Terra/Celes/Cyan. Has anyone collected enough stats on evasion's interactions with Cover to confirm that the evasion reduction is working? It feels like he's still dodging nearly everything, but maybe that's just some hot RNG. Behemoths and Ninjas laugh at the Wind Slash and Break procs, but they wreck everything else. Even Atma was getting a faceful of 2K+ damage from Shadow anytime he tried to smack anyone around with physical attacks. Watch out for those Discords from Djinn though, yowza. Probably best paired with Mog jamming on Forest Suite to keep everyone safe.

Locke evasion tanking isn't bad at all, but he gets less sword procs than the ladies with his setup (unless he trades his Thief Glove for some huevos misterioso, I guess?). He does, however, have the perk of being able to run Blood Sword with less worries by pairing it with the Demonsbane and hoping that dispatches the nasty Djinn before the Drain proc dispatches him.

Mog C/C with rod procs makes enemies dead fast. It also makes Mog dead fast. One amusing observation from these experiments is that Cover still seems to work while Dancing. I was under the impression that this was not the case, but maybe i'm misinformed. It's possible that its odds are simply reduced, but I'm still definitely getting Cover procs while Mog grooves out. This means that Mog can bodyguard while throwing around Harvesters and Sun Baths, which is pretty bomb. That all said, I don't recall seeing any Counter procs through all of this, so maybe he can't have it all. Could be streaky RNG too. In any case, I probably wouldn't advise any of this without the Hero Ring from the FC, as his squishy HP will not hold out long.

Edgar C/C isn't a complete waste here, but it is extremely meh. I want Unicorn Edgar to be a thing, I really do; but he just doesn't have the base stats to back it up. Going full Unicorn, I think he was packing a grand total of 39 Stamina if holding an Icebrand, though his pitiable 32 Magic makes for some sadder procs. With both relic slots dedicated to C/C, he's got no way to boost his procs in either frequency or power. Blood Sword actually isn't bad (42 Stamina now, and the procs don't care that his Magic sucks), but now the Djinn make fast work of him. Personally, I don't feel like the FC is Edgar's time to shine in general – maybe if he had access to his Flash pre-FC, a Siren build would have more to contribute here. Other than that, elemental sword jumping on a Golem build works, but it's a little sluggish.

 

Edited by SirNewtonFig
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Interesting.

For Shadow, is either he seeing full evasion under Cover, or is Interceptor's extra evasion chance actually working with Cover, despite Interceptor not countering? Shadow...really shouldn't be the team tank.

I'm torn on C/C Dance Mog. On the one hand, Forest Suite + c/c Rods seems like the ultimately in a defensive Mog set-up, and I'm not totally certain it's necessarily bad (probably because I find the random nature of Dances to be a limiting factor on Dance's power). Otoh, it completely runs all over my favorite Sage Stone Mog, since I perceive Dance + c/c as probably being far preferably to Dance + Sage. Course, this is all late WoR, once Mog's got actual HP (Terrato). Seems like, early on, he just needs to stick with Dance.

My initial thought on Unicorn Edgar is you'd want to two-hand a spear for the innate Cover + extra power. Otoh, yeah, c/c Edgar ain't hot b/c of low Cover% and weak counters. Cover ain't bad utility on Edgar, but it ain't making a build. (Problem with Cover being used more c/c purposes, rather than as mostly a defensive tool). While its disappointing that Siren Edgar lacks his defining support Tools on the FC, his speed + Edgar's normal tankiness should be enough to make him plenty useful on the FC. Though you'd still play him as an alternative vig Edgar at the time, rather than as raw support.

C/C is definitely becoming a way of weaponizing one's HP score. Which...probably makes HP-based builds even better than they all ready are? Personally disappointed that I hear more about c/c rather than Cover as a purely defensive strat, as I had initially pitched the idea to BTB as a way of building true Defender roles in FFVI. Still, lack of personal experience means I can only comment so much on balance.

 

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