This thread is about overall game (and end-game) design in most ARPGs, but I will limit it to LE, of course.
Systems which currently exist: Campaign, Monoliths, Arena, Dungeon
In three of these systems - Campaign, Monos & the Dungeon - There is a fundamental game design in play, which I will describe.
- The system gives you an objective
- There are obstacles in the way of the objective
- Players often have the desire to complete the objective quickly and/or efficiently
Let’s take one of those to discuss: Monoliths
The Objective is a Gate, Spires, stationary mini boss, wandering hardened Rare targets or a mini-arena (will discuss this later), plus specials like Orobyss, Beacon or Vessels of Memory & Chaos. The obstacles are any monsters which aren’t the Objective. The Objective grants a large reward - completion - which grants loot, Stability and progress towards the Echoes.
It is very natural for players to therefore desire to complete the Objective as fast and efficiently as possible. It’s not that the Obstacles aren’t rewarding at all. It’s that they aren’t nearly as rewarding as the Objective is. So often, players try to avoid the Obstacles by killing them fast, or ignoring/bypassing them if able.
This leads the players to design (and favor) builds which are good at that method of gameplay. Builds which are not good at that, regardless of how fun, interesting, or unique they are, don’t find that level of favor and aren’t played as much.
So, as you can see, the very design of the game subsystem has a pretty direct effect on the builds players make, and which skills, gear, etc. are “best” and which are “worst”.
Now, I said I’d address Arena (real and mini-mono Arena). Mini-mono Arena’s objective is quite different, as there isn’t anything to rush past, no efficient path to traverse, and no object to kill or interact with to trigger a completion. Real Arena is that on steroids. There are players who have built characters for real Arena, and often times (if not virtually all the time), the skillset of those builds does pretty radically differ from builds for running Monolith.
So, again, the very design of the game subsystem has a pretty direct effect on the builds players make, and which skills, gear, etc. are “best” and which are “worst”.
I would therefore suggest to EHG, that perhaps when designing future “end-game systems”, you really stretch your brains, and try to think of something pretty fundamentally different from both Arena and Monos/Dungeons (which are very similar to Monos, imho, in the spirit of game play/style). I haven’t come up with any ideas yet, because if you boil down Arena vs Mono, its really Sustain vs Speed. I’m not sure I know of a 3rd attribute to focus on. Perhaps we might just need a 2nd “Sustain” mode to enjoy, to help diversify builds. Something different than Arena, but with the same core design in that there are no concrete “objectives” to “rush to”, and where the rewards are baked into it rather than gated behind those objectives.