I’d like to start this post by saying that I think spires have a lot of interesting potential. I don’t want to come off as hating them as a whole, but I do think that their current implementation is one of the weaker game design elements in the end-game.
To explain why, I’m going to have to go into some more abstract game design concepts so fair warning I guess. For this I’m focusing on 3 main elements of game design - Efficiency, Resistance, and Fun.
Any game could allow the player to attain a maximal level of efficiency, but that would be very boring. An ARPG, for example, could let the player make their character at max level with perfect gear but that game would be terrible. The game designers need to add resistance to prevent that efficient path (in this example locking levels and gear behind killing monsters) and then make that resistance fun to overcome. Not all resistance in a game is added by the designer though, sometimes players will add their own resistance by playing in a sub-optimal way that they find more fun. Challenge runs of games are a good example.
I talk about all of this because Spires add 2 types of resistance to the game, one good and one bad. The good resistance is when they are attacking in conjunction with other enemies. This changes the type of threat that the encounter presents, which then gives the player the fun that comes from adapting to that challenge. This is where Spire’s shine, and there’s a lot of potential to make them even better in this regard.
Then there’s the bad resistance. This is the bombardment when the player isn’t interacting with an enemy. The reason I call this bad resistance is because it’s irrelevant to players who are playing efficiently, so it doesn’t provide any resistance in that regard. It only matters to players doing things like checking items or leveling mid-Echo. Those types of actions are sub-optimal, so they’re already an example of the player adding their own resistance for fun. In this case the additional resistance from the Spire isn’t resisting efficiency, it’s resisting fun.
It’s the classic case of the game design telling the player “you’re playing the game wrong”, which players never react well to. An optimal player will hardly even notice that spires attack when enemies aren’t around, but to a player who does want to stop and do non-combat stuff mid-echo it will be a source of frustration that will push those players away from the game.
My feedback is to suggest that you enhance the good resistance aspect of Spires, and mitigate the bad resistance. Personally I’d do this with 2 changes, although there are certainly plenty of other ways to accomplish the same thing.
Add a ‘spotter’ requirement to Spire attacks. Basically, if the player is a certain distance from the Spire it will only attack when another enemy has aggro. These attacks can go on for a few seconds after the last enemy is killed to maintain their threat even when on-shotting packs, but should trail off after that. This basically wouldn’t change the efficient player’s experience because they’ll move from pack to pack fast enough that the Spire attacks will never stop, but less efficient players wouldn’t feel like the game was actively preventing their fun.
Modify Spires to interact more with the enemies directly. As a designer, if you know the Spires are specifically firing when enemies are around you can design Spires to take advantage of that. Spires could give enemies additional damage of their damage type, give them ward shields, boost their stats, spawn adds, teleport nearby enemies to the target location, ect. This can significantly increase the feeling that fighting enemies supported by a Spire feels different from a normal encounter, and can be made even better if the type of Spire determines the change making each Spire feel unique.