I know that writing this topic will be divisive, but i want to do it anyway because i feel its important. It should not be taken as criticism. Its obvious to me that the EHG team is dedicated to improving the game and polishing it to the point of it becoming a success. Nevertheless i feel like some practices should be identified as contradictory and possibly changed - as early as possible.
With that said i’ll talk about two topic - Math and Crutches.
I will coin crutch as a catch-phrase of identifying any bug, unintended or intended interaction that significantly empowers a mechanic over its core functionality. A crutch is something that enables a mechanic or playstyle to be late game viable (and possibly overpowered) and if removed renders the attached skill/mechanic too weak to be used in late game content.
Examples of crutches:
Dark Quiver giving x12 dmg multiplier to Hail of Arrows
Snowdrift boots giving hundreds of penetration to frostbite ailment
Ghost Maker giving 360% more damage to Infernal Shade
Ignavar+Gambler fallacy giving hundreds of more damage to disintigrate
Turani Bident providing 160% penetration to electrify
Poison stacking unlimited penetration (nerfed/removed)
Flurry attack speed stacking multiplicatively (nerfed/removed)
Rip blood procs on bone curse
…and many many more
What is the problem with crutches? Well for one they stifle build diversity. To use a certain mechanic you need to use its crutch. Crutches usually provides such a huge power spike that they often end up being overpowered in a way, but since they hold so much of the skill/mechanic strength removing them leaves whatever they were helping in a rather poor state. An excellent example of this effect is what happened when the bugged atk speed scaling got removed from Flurry. It immediately exposed how really weak the base skill is.
Lately I’ve seen new crutch items being introduced that try to enable certain playstyles by providing extremely powerful effects - like Ghost Maker 360% more of Fragment of the Enigma flat dmg scaling together with +100% more damage and AOE.
Adding such huge modifiers on items clearly indicates a problem of the core skill/mechanic. If a skill can take hundreds of extra more damage outside of its tree and not be overpowered then there is something seriously wrong with the base skill.
Is this a deliberate design decision in which the game is heading? To use skill X you must obtain item Y?
Balance is another contentious issue that seems like an impossible task to handle. No game is perfectly balanced and honestly changing the so called “Meta” periodically is a trick most ARPGs use to retain or rekindle player interest. Its healthy and good practice.
With that said some the numbers in LE are totally wild. On some skills you can find multiple multiplicative more nodes, while other skills are completely bare bone. A rather simple way to figure out the raw strength of a skill is to open its tree, write “more” in the search bar and do some basic math depending on how many you can get with your 20 points.
Now i understand tweaking skills and reworking them is a very demanding and time consuming process. A small team can tackle only so many changes at once, especially with bugs looming over every step of the way. But I believe the team (and the game) could benefit greatly from having a dedicated math guy (or small team) to normalize damage values and remove the biggest discrepancies.
A very simple example is a comparison between Fireball and Lightning Blast in mage. Both skills are functionally very similar - a single target basic spell (with the option to do multi-target), low mana cost and similar base damage. Yet one of them gets access to much more damage multipliers and powerful defensive utility.
But there are many many many skills that are mechanically solid and don’t need immediate extensive reworks. They just need number tweaks. Many of these skills need “normalization” between the more multipliers so that similar skills in functionality do not end in wildly dissimilar damage brackets.
Let the guys that are good at coding and designing code and design. Have someone who is good at math, data analysis and spread sheets take over the numerical changes. A lot of skills could really use just a little number nudging to be good. But that is best handled by a person who breaths end-game content, spends his day watching videos and discussing the meta with players that push the top end. I imagine the people who design skills enjoy playing the game, but don’t have no way near the time to push the end game on multiple characters. In the end the campaign is quite easy and new-player friendly and you don’t really need thousands of damage when hundreds will do, thus the distinction of numerically weak/strong skills is hard to spot. But for dedicated RPG fans late game matters a lot and there core problems are easily exposed.
League of Legends, as an example, hired a well known esports player back in the day to help on with competitive re-balancing. The Last Epoch community and even CT community is blessed with many dedicated people who work tirelessly to break the game every day. Even if you don’t have the budget allocation to add new members to the team to do something like this you can get pretty good advice on what needs tweaking from a fair number of dedicated players on these boards.