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Why are there so many generic increased damage nodes in skill trees?

I’m not a LE expert, but i’ve played action RPG’s before and i know how to read numbers. It is incredibly easy to tell from a quick glance that each skill tree has many “dead weight” nodes. Mostly they are just generic “% increased damage” or “% chance for random ailment” in there.

Now don’t get me wrong. I understand that some of these nodes are stepping stones to other more powerful nodes down the path, but in many cases this is not the case. In almost every ability in the game exists a node that goes absolutely nowhere and provides a minor benefit that would lead to less than 1% more damage for the ability itself. Some abilities even have whole tree branches that are so horribly bad that a single point put elsewhere would provide more value.

The cool nodes in skill trees are those which change how the skill behaves, those who have synergy with other skills and those that give conditional multiplicative damage. Everything else is flavorless stuffing that just misleadingly inflates the skill to look better than it actually is. Many skills have only 1 or 2 viable ways to build them because if this.

Adding “dead weight” nodes is not good game design. It’s wasted development time to code a feature that nobody would use. So please - whenever you re-balance abilities take a second to think if the node adds something inciting to the tree or at the very least adds multiplicative damage. If the answer is “NO” then said node has no place in the skill tree…

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It might be not as easy as you think, when you don’t have enough experience with the game systems and scaling.

This is not true,

Everything inside skill spec trees is multiplicative, with the exception of some global buffs, that affect more than just the given skill.

In alot of cases it’s worth more to take an additional %multiplicative node, that has lower numeric value, than spending more points into an already invested multiplicative node.

I would be really curious about specific examples.

There are a lot of skill spec tree nodes, that lead down a path, where a few of the earlier invested nodes become “wasted”, because the skill changes, but all of this is for balancing reasons.

I just recently gave an example of this in another thread:

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%damage in skill is more multiplier so it adds more than 1%. It do have a feel of filler nodes but that is balancing too.

%chance ailment nodes can actually be important in empowered mono.

Some branches do seem weaker, but it is expected out of an ARPG that is going for season model. Buffs and nerfs to skill node will change the meta of the season.

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Want some examples…

Lets take Marrow Shards as an example ability.

Treachery - up to 7pts investment for a relatively small heal on harsh trigger. Skill has no-in built healing effectiveness so you are entirely gear reliant. Leads to:

Dark Reverie - 2pts investment worth roughly one Idol suffix
Blood Reverie - 2pts investment gated behind on-kill mechanics

Right next you find…

Shredding Bones - 5pts investment that no sane person would ever take even if this was their only source of armor shred on their entire build. Leads to nowhere.

On the bottom we have…

Rip Marrow - 1pt investment for 3hp heal/hit leading to…

Marrow Eater - 3pt investment for 4hp heal
Life Blood - 2pt investment to double the effect of the other two

And finally Spirit Fest - on average if you took all other nodes on this tree - 2mana/hit

So you have two entire tree branches that sit pretty, and convincing, but no one ever takes them and for very good reason. Both of these trees can be easily and entirely replaced by a single leech affix on your gear. Thats 8 notables out of 28 and when we add Twin Malevolence, which is also quite bad makes for 30% of all skill notables being dead weight.

And on the other side we have base crit chance, crit multi and %more damage %… I dont need to be an expert at this game to realize a third of the tree is bad. Feel free to convince me in the usefulness of these nodes.

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~20 nodes per tree is really a lot. It’s quite difficult to fill that much space with valid choices let alone exciting ones. Things seem to be improving over time but it’s never going to be perfect because every node with interesting gameplay interactions creates an ongoing burden on the skill balance. It’s very difficult to describe the big picture or predict the consequences of any given change if there are a large number of relevant options, resulting in a conservative approach to any tree that already has a couple of worthwhile specs.

It’s interesting to consider how things could have gone with a different target number of nodes (eg ~10), imo it might paradoxically have made it easier to support a larger number of unique specs for each tree.

Some builds will always be better that others, such is the nature of an ARPG. But then there is weak, weaker and finally laughably bad skills and notables. And each of those took time - someone had to code them, debug them and release them.

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I am not a great fan of acolyte so I will leave it to other experts to comment on your example. I just have 2 points to add.

If we are using acolyte as an example, we have to take into consideration that it is still missing one more specialization that can provide synergy via another skill or passives.

I also agree with the on-kill mechanic being a bad node to take and wish there are less of them in skills/affix/passive since I am not a fan of the arena. It is a huge drop in power when facing mono bosses if your skill revolves around on-kill. Wish it was on-hit instead even if the percentage will be low single digit.

let’s take a thematic skill and disagree with the thematic… cool :D. Play Lich and all the HP cost is pretty much no deal at all.
Let’s see how much cast speed and doubblecasts you can get with marrow shards and how fast the skill can trigger. Meaningfulld dmg nodes in said skill will make it fotm untill it’s toned back again.
Sure there are some blunt approach nodes but that’s okay for me IF it fits the skill. I realy get your point but you can say increased AoE nodes, AS nodes, crit nodes and so on are soooo generic. It’s hard to find a sweet spot but if you think some skillnodes should be weighted heavier you can give feedback to each and every node ingame and what you think will be better and why.

I agree that Marrow Shards is a very outdated skill tree.
The skill tree is very old and has a lot of 5+ skill nodes, which the devs moved away form, to make more interesting low point options.

Most of the examples you brought up are not even straight damage options, but rather utility and sustain options.

Spirit Fest for example is really good, it turns a zero man skill into a mana generator.

And both of the crit nodes Twin Malevolence and Dark Reverie are global.

Marrow Shards can hit multiple targets baseline, so all the HP on hit/hit nodes are actually pretty good.

A lot of these nodes are not necessarily balanced up to the modern standard of newer skills.

And marrow shard could definitely use a overhaul at some point, but I wouldn’t call most of these “dead weight”

Also from your OP i thought you were mostly talking about nodes, that gatekeep “more interesting branches”, all the exampels you brought up here are dead end nodes or entirely seperate branches, that you don’t need to take, if you are not interested in them.

Well my entire point was that there is no point to adding dead end notables that are not worth taking, Have some bad passives on the way to good passive is regrettable, but understandable design approach. Adding unusable dead end passive for the sake of making the tree look bigger is… bad.

And out of all discussed nodes only the mana generation is interesting and unique. Everything else can be replicated by leech affix on gear. So cutting all that dead weight and putting Spirit Feast on an actually usable location would make for a much better skill overall, right?

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Just because stats that are accessable in a skill spec tree, are “replaceable” by gear, doesn’t make them bad.

It gives you choices.

In fact your examples also was quite bad, because leech and heal are two entirely different stats that are scaled differently.

And it’s not that the devs “added” some of these nodes deliberately, to make bad nodes.
As I said, the skill is quite old and not up to modern standards, like the Rogue skills and overhauled sentinel skills.

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I think the faster you get the notion of LE’s game philosophy the better you suck it up.

“Make meaningful choices, regardless of mastery, skill points, passives.”

Not every node will matter and its intented game design, not bad design.

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Back in 2018, there was an open forum for passive and skill ideas; I don’t know how heavily used the discussions were for, say, Marrow Shards, but a small team can only be so creative in thinking of skill branches, and I hoped that there’d be lively discussion on exactly how to construct a branch tree so that there would be 4-5 unique paths to build around a particular skill.

I can only speak from my experience, as I’ve recommended multiple pathing options for both the Primalist minions and the Necromancer minions, but at this stage, it’s unlikely the devs are going to build new node branches from scratch. I’d be interested if they want to revisit 2+ year old skill trees and open the floor for people who want to make new and exciting applications for these skills.

Well… i understand that. A small team can only do so much unique content.

My argument was that all of those nodes still took time to implement. And they are bad - unusable so. So if you have limited time and resources it makes sense to focus on creating quality content. The game is still in beta, so creating a preview of patch notes can give plenty of feedback to make changes before its too late.

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The devs have done tree previews of new skills in recent patches (though without any of the damage numbers which make it impossible to determine whether something is overtuned or undertuned), so they are at least giving us an opportunity to speak.

It would be nice if the devs specifically called out ideas from us that they liked and wanted to include (like the patch notes that stated how people really liked that Javelin worked off of scaling healing effectiveness), or even ideas that sound cool in theory but would be too complicated to pull off. Numerical tweaks are easy. Finding ways to have skills play off each other, and using Idols to magnify their effect is much harder to do. I do hope the collaborative spirit continues in figuring out how to create interesting types of builds while also keeping the power levels appropriate.

In the past they made polls regarding skills/overhauls. I’d asume they took a step back from this approach since it might take up more resources to manage stuff like this.

We are still waiting for the community overhaul of Tornado that once won a poll.

In general I agree with OP. There are some skills that lack variety and interaction of today’s new skills.

Devs are propably aware of these skills, but I think it would be helpful to give as many examples as possible of skills and nodes that feel bad. On top some reasoning why and how it might be fixed.

Knowing that skill x needs an overhaul is one thing. But in what direction should they go? Should they keep some branches? Just alter values or rework mechanics?

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