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Feelings after my first three BNW playthroughs

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Hello all! I'm a lurker from old Insane Difficulty. I had always intended to play BNW, but I got held up playing too many other mods. A few months back I finally had the opportunity to play BNW 1.9 and I’ve now gone through the mod three times. I generally do what I call “quickplays” in that it’s nowhere near the stress or dedication of a speed run, but I’m not casually meandering either. I generally finish the game in 20ish hours hitting Floating Continent around level 15 and Kefka’s tower around 25. I have to say that I LOVE THIS MOD! Huge "thank you's" to all who have made it amazing and continue to do so, I know it's been a labor of love for many years and it truly shows! I have too many positive observations to really share (otherwise I could easily post a short novel). In an attempt to keep my initial thoughts short I'll say that I found the mod to be pretty spot on for difficulty and I never had too many issues. I think I died 3-4 times from random encounters each play-through due to either carelessness on my part or straight-up bad RNG. My first boss death was to Ultros 4, but after rethinking my life choices a little I didn't have too many other problems. All of the big bosses were fun (Minus Kaiser Dragon which bored me a little). I enjoyed the script changes! I heard some negative comments about the script changes of BNW in the past, but either things have been changed or the complaints were exaggerated because I thought the changes were fine. I admit, it's still strange to see Dadaluma snap into a slim jim and go crazy on me, but I think it's a nice homage to the original goofiness of vanilla FF6.  I enjoyed exploring every story area for changes and I'm sure I still have some more secret script changes to find. Speaking of secrets I've enjoyed piecing the game together, I feel that I've found out most things in the game now and I have my theories about the Mystery Egg and the Refract backdoor. For the sake of feedback and discussion I have a number of insights and minor gripes about the game that I'll share. I understand with 2.0 on the horizon my feedback on 1.9 may be moot, but I'd still like to contribute what I can:   

 

Feelings on Bosses:

I understand this mod is not intended to be a difficulty mod, but I feel there is some inconsistency with boss fight difficulty. Some bosses stick out as epic skirmishes and others feel easier than half of the random encounters in the mod. For instance, Kefka at the Narshe battle, feels like he’s supposed to put up a decent fight as the end of the gauntlet, but other than some random spells and status infliction he drops easily (in fact, I often have to work to keep him alive if I want to steal his tiara). I understand it’s at the end of a gauntlet, but there are two parties to divide the grind as needed. I also understand that most of the Kefka fights are kind of supposed to be joke fights, but I feel that this specific battle has the potential to be an enjoyable and challenging early game boss. Likewise, I was looking forward to Ifrit and Shiva putting up a gnarly fight, and the BNW changes do make the fight more interesting, but I’d appreciate the fight to have a little more bite to it as it’s one of the few times you get to fight unfrozen espers (albeit Shiva and Ifrit are weakened from Kefka, but that's still no excuse to pull punches in a boss fight). Another boss that I feel cheated by is Chadarnook in Jidoor. I’ve gone for Jidoor early and late in WoR and it doesn’t matter how you go about it, Chadarnook is a complete pushover. I find this a shame because he is such unique boss in the game with the rotating portrait component. Isis also deserves mention as the easiest of the Statue/Goddess fights. I think the new innovations for her using charm and such is awesome, but I wish she was amped up a little more to better match the other two encounters (Maybe initial haste like the others would be enough?). I was a little sad to see Wrexsoul got an easy mode version in BNW with killing the flame minion things, admittedly the vanilla version of the fight was kind of stupid in its own way, but it did present a unique challenge. Lastly, Kaiser Dragon is kind of a boring shield change fight and it’s kind of silly that you can spam your way through it with non-elemental attacks... perhaps the saddest part is that it's actually less monotonousness to do that as the honest way to fight him is just so slow.    

Sabin

I have a lot of mixed feelings about Sabin, but I can safely say he’s my least favorite character mechanically in an otherwise amazing roster. My dilemma is that Sabin feels so good for most of WoB and then just feels completely inferior in WoR and even on the Floating Continent. I dreaded using him every time I needed to in WoR. I tried Vigor builds first, then Stamina and then lastly some mixture with Terrato and none of them seemed good. Don’t get me wrong though, early game Sabin is a beast (more specifically, a bear)! In fact, through Zozo I always felt he was borderline overpowered. His Blitzes are kind of a mixed bag… Pummel and Suplex are great for the whole game. Aurabolt tends to come right on time for blinding Phunbaba and can be a strong holy attack with a Stamina build. Chakra is fine enough for managing MP for multiple casters in the party, but it does come pretty late in the game for me as I’m usually on Kefka’s doorstep by level 25. The others are rough…Fire dance is fine enough early on, but I rather it got a power buff and trade places with Mantra. Sabin has so few ways to really boost magic damage (especially pre-Nirvana Band) that Fire Dance has little utility late game, and early on Sabin is so powerful already he doesn’t need an AOE. Mantra really needs something, I think it could be useful if gained earlier, but as it stands now it’s a poor healing ability. A lot of the strength of mass healers is that they can sort of tank as they heal because they’re healing themselves along with everyone else. Sabin can’t do this, and it’s a shame because his highish HP could really benefit from this playstyle. In three play-throughs I think I used Sonic Boom once as I normally beat the game around level 30. In short, it was underwhelming even with the Stamina build for that point of the game, it probably would’ve been useful if I could’ve gotten it with Bum Rush the way Cyan gets all his sword abilities at once. Speaking of Bum Rush, it was fine. For a max battle power physical attack and ignoring defense it never seemed to really impress me; I mean 3k+ damage is acceptable and great, but it’s not on the same level as other character’s single target damage attacks. All of this aside, I feel equipment is where Sabin fails most. Other than Gaia Gear, Tiger Mask and Royal Jacket Sabin gets little in the way of elemental protection and come WoR claws become a little awkward. Not being able to change claws mid-battle hurts Sabin more than any other character and the fact his most powerful claws can’t be easily owned in pairs further complicates things. I tried to go to the Coliseum to swap them out often and every time I wished I could’ve quickly swapped to the other pair. I understand that restrictions lead to innovation, but most of the time I just felt my Vigor Sabin couldn’t be optimally built at any given time. If he could get both pairs of claws at the end I think that would help, or at least give his final claws some greater utility, like innate counter or increased physical or magical evade. Overall Sabin has powerful moments, but quickly becomes lackluster.  

Edgar

Although I prefer Edgar greatly to Sabin, I feel like he has some issues. He was plenty powerful (arguably overly so) at all points of the game. My first play-through I didn’t have money for Bio Blaster and just went crossbow and noise blaster and that served me well, but my second play-through I did get Bio Blaster and oh’ boy! That was crazy! Particularly at the battle of Narshe, I basically had Edgar with sprint shoes single handedly comb through the enemy ranks and gas everything that moved. However, in every play-through I found that somewhere in WoB the Bio Blaster basically stopped being useful (Magitek Factory period?) and it never really made a comeback for me and I kept wishing that I could get access to Flash before heading to the floating continent. Flash was decent in WoR (more acceptable with Siren levels), but by that point there are better AOE options. The other tools were fine enough. Drill was fine throughout the whole game for setting sap. Chainsaw was decent damage; Mana Battery is great for managing MP. I love Defibrillator as a free life spell. The crossbow upgrade in WoR is an excellent addition in the mod as well; brilliant in fact, I wish similar things existed for other characters. As for builds, Golem/Palidor seems the best to me as Dragoon Edgar can dish out real damage throughout the game. I really tried a Siren Edgar…but I just didn’t feel like it worked. Getting HP is important in WoB and Siren doesn’t help there, and the Magic just didn’t seem to help ever. Bio Blaster could hit like a truck, but so many random enemies later on in WoB have poison defenses so it’s pretty pointless. The main thing is that it made magic sword procs stronger (at least I think it did), but to be fair, jumping with elemental swords against appropriately elementally weak enemies was already good even without the magic bump. His magic stat doesn’t even scale that well with his spells (Okay, fine, Cure is cool). With all of that in mind I felt that Edgar’s build progression was on rails as Vigor based Dragoon was too good to pass up. His equipment selection was appropriate, and I think the new spear rules function quite well. His spell selection is also fine; I wish he had one offensive spell to benefit from Siren levels, like Break or Storm or something. Overall, a strong character that I wish had a little more flexibility in terms of builds.

Gogo Starting level

Gogo was a fun jack-of-all character, but I really wish he joined the party at level 30 like Umaro. I don’t understand the difference here. I feel that the Zone Eater is a decent enough deterrent to keep players from going to Triangle Island super super early, and if it isn’t, then fine make Gogo come at level 25 or something, but as it stands now he joins at an abysmally low level.

Relm w/interceptor

Two of my play-throughs I killed Shadow. I was really optimistic to see how the new interceptor change would impact the game without Shadow. The disappointing thing was that interceptor rarely made Relm's stamina build worth it though. I’m not sure what I’m missing with the Interceptor formulas or triggers, but Reprisal just didn’t happen that often. Sure, when it did trigger it was a 4k+ counter attack which was epic, but that happened maybe 10 times each play-through and I used Relm a LOT in WoR during those runs. Interceptor would evade attacks often, but rarely countered despite Relm having 80+ Stamina. Oddly, enough the main payoff for Stamina Relm were RegenXs that simply were out of this world (I think her regens started hitting 2k quite quickly)! This proved to work well with reflect rings as I could heal so well through them. Another thing I noticed with Stamina Relm was that she resisted just about everything sent at her and she took damage way better than her magic build counterpart. All of that aside, I still prefer the magic build, which is a shame because I feel that killing off Shadow should make her Stamina build highly attractive. Of course, part of the issue is that physical attacks become a little less common in WoR, but I can’t help but think something could be tweaked to allow interceptor to trigger more often for Relm. I think something that makes multiple play-throughs interesting is by rewarding choices like sacrificing Mog and Shadow. As it stands now Interceptor does not stick out to me as an interesting enough game change to warrant losing the amazingness that is Shadow. I understand that the interceptor change is more of an easter egg than anything, but I feel that it could be improved upon some to make it a legitimate feature of that play path.

Terra/Gau Dispel?

This is closely related to the above, but in play-throughs that you let Shadow die the lack of dispel becomes a real issue. You’re basically forced to use Celes for a lot of key fights for the rest of the game. As such I wish Terra got Dispel at level 8 instead of Muddle since she learns muddle from Maduin. An alternative would be if one of Gau’s rages had a Dispel effect. I don’t think either would be overly powerful.

Odin EL Bonus

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Stamina Strago, but I really didn’t feel the need for +2 Stamina with him even when going for that build. I think a +20HP +1 Stamina would be much better on Odin or even a +1 Speed bonus. The speed bonus in particular may spawn a new kind of Strago build, but it may also step on Relm’s speed build a little. Either way I think Odin’s EL bonus could be something better or different.

Merton

Why does it have to be fire/wind hybrid? I feel this hurts Magic builds of Celes a lot and pushes players toward her other extremely viable builds. If Merton was just fire based it would allow Magic Celes to have a unique tool to differentiate her from other magic characters. If its power is a concern then increasing the MP cost further would help as Celes has to work for her MP unlike Strago and Relm (Soul Sabre, Runic shenanigans, Chakra and Mana Battery).

Setzer Glitches

I love Setzer! MVP every game! He's probably overpowered, but I don't care. Something that bugs me though is when he uses Jackpot while he or others have elemental shields equipped. He ends up trying to block Jackpot and moves around the battlefield a lot. A similar thing when Phoenix is summoned. Additionally, Summoning Palidor with Slots tends to make Setzer move off the screen after his jump animation. These are all little things, and I'm sure others are aware of them and perhaps there are reasons why such glitches can't be fixed. Either way, I figured I'd bring them up! 

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Posted (edited)

Hey, man, glad you enjoyed things. I could write a more detailed response, but I can mostly sum it up with that most of the issues you had are things that are addressed in 2.0. Some key points:

• Stamina contributes far more heavily to regen ticks, allowing low HP characters (Strago/Relm) to regain much more HP with high stamina
• Mantra got buffed
• Bio Blaster isn't sold until after K@N
• Enemy AI was rewritten entirely
• Most boss fights were rewritten, Kaiser being a notable standout
• Dispel is no longer required/useful for any boss fight where Shadow/Celes are not forced (except for MagiMaster)
• Merton is now Fire/Dark (i.e. poison)
• Flash is now more useful by virtue of blind being more universally effective; WoR humanoids have less magic resistance to the Bio Blaster
• The Jackpot bug is going to be fixed

Edited by BTB
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That all sounds awesome! Thank you for all the work you put into this awesome mod! I can't wait to take 2.0 for a spin!

 

Out of curiosity, how does interceptor work? Is it evade based and then stamina based to trigger Reprisal?

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You're welcome. Glad to oblige!

Interceptor uses stamina for damage. I *believe* that his chance to block is a straight 50% if regular evasion fails (hence why Relm sees him more than Shadow does). But I could stand to be fact-checked on that.

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Well, damn, I suck at coin flips... I'd wager that you're right about that though, thanks for the reply!

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2.0 beta Kaiser fight isn't finished being tuned yet and is already the best fight in the game, so stay tuned

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I think the best solution for Shadow/Relm/Interceptor would be:

1.  Make it so Shadow CANNOT die.  You get to the airship in the Floating Continent, and you don't have to wait-- Shadow automatically appears.  I've always found waiting to save shadow a kind of a janky gameplay idea anyway.  BNW helps you out with hints, but in the original knowing that you had to wait for Shadow kinda felt like a 'cheat code'.

2.  Trigger Relm's dream at some point during the normal playthrough.  Maybe right after you recruit her in Jidoor.  Beating Chadarnook can make her fall unconscious or something.  Or make it happen at random if Relm is in the party-- I don't know how difficult that would be.

3.  Add interceptor to both Relm AND Shadow, all the time.  It doesn't make good gameplay sense to have a build that's only viable on one character if the another character is dead.

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5 hours ago, Deschain said:

2.0 beta Kaiser fight isn't finished being tuned yet and is already the best fight in the game, so stay tuned

It kinda depends on my part it has the potential to become the best fight of the mod, but for me the gimmick is kind of hard to figure out entirely (not really an issue in itself but when taking into account that there is no save point right before him and the fact that he becomes mandatory to beat him once he appears, it can be frustrating) and even when figure out his gimmick doesn't seem to work constantly.

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