Titles are hard and this article will be exploring an idea that has been floating around in my head for some time. Like any longstanding game, new and challenging content has to be released to keep things interesting and we have seen some bizarre mechanics over the years. Some are more challenging compared to others but at least initially, had several ways to overcome them.
Sadly, I feel we may be starting down a less than ideal path due to GungHo releasing a new/dangerous mechanic and then unveiling a card who’s active can directly counter it. As such, players can now counter said mechanic and they can tune it upwards to the point where you must have the active or you lose.
In my opinion, this is not a good game design as it forces players to have these direct counters or simply lose the dungeon. This tends to be most punishing in longer content where one needs to cover so many mechanics already.
This article will explore my opinions on this matter and how it is possible to correct these problems before it gets out of hand.
–video coming soon–
Damage Absorb & Fujin
Upon the initial release, it was possible to defeat spawns who absorbed damage over X value simply because leaders had either lower multiplier or a scaling component to damage control. This peaked in Arena 3 where spawns had a realistic amount of health for the damage output leaders could pump out.
Sadly, almost none of this holds true today in higher level content such as Arena 5. In Arena 5, players will encounter spawns with hundreds of millions of health on numerous floors so those Arena 3 era multipliers will not make a dent; however, Arena 5 has a 50% chance of encountering an Absorption spawn who has a 4 million threshold.
The vast majority of teams who can clear Area 5 have no chance of overcoming this nor stalling the 99 turns due to random Gravity+Hit abilities. Thus, player MUST bring a Fujin-style active or simply lose 50% of the time. This is not fun and essentially gatekeeps any account from realistically attempting this dungeon if they lack one specific active.
Unable to match X orbs
In the past few months, we have started to see more actives that lower the duration of unable to match X orbs mechanic. At this point in time, (AA3 is not here yet), this mechanic is not that lethal and can be managed for the most part. At the same time, it would not surprise me if GungHo started to release a tide of spawns who prevent several colours from being matched for prolonged periods of time and players must have this direct counter to survive. This is obviously a worst-case scenario but would not be surprising if it did come true.
This is one reason why I strongly encourage players to acquire Altura from the DBDC Collab as it is the lowest rarity card to have this ability while also being in a machine with high value at the 5-star level.
How to correct this problem?
The best way to address this problem is to tune those problematic mechanics accordingly. There is no need to make Damage Absorbs last 99-999 turns and by simply making them last 5-10 turns would instill some fear but also a chance to dance it out and move forward. They could give these spawns slighted tuned-up stats to make the stalling feel more dangerous, but at least with stalling, players have numerous options to do so.
Eir Boss fight feels fair
For those players who have played through Eir’s Descend, you will remember that she has a series of 3 tests to overcome and your performance in each test influences her mechanics post-invulnerability.
This feels exciting and truly like a boss fight and has a skill component that tests your orb matching skills when various hurdles are thrown at you. While each one can be cheesed/overcome, each individual test still feels fair and teams do not need to grossly modify their compositions to succeed. Furthermore, even failing the tests does not immediately end your run, just makes it significantly harder but can be stalled through.
Use awakenings instead of actives
Each card is able to bring up to 9 + Super Awakenings + Weapon Assist awakenings into a dungeon and this is then multiplied by 6 for each card on the team. As a result, many mechanics can be covered and additional adjustments can be made by the Weapon Assist on a dungeon-by-dungeon basis.
By comparison, we have only 12 active skill slots (base + inherit) with many being tied-up for various things. As such, it is much harder to bring an active to counter an otherwise uncounter-able mechanic. Furthermore, actives have a much greater diversity compared to awakenings so many players may be left without the correct counter.
Damage Void was done right
By comparison, Damage Void (grey shield) was done right as it does not require players to have the direct/specific mechanic along with your progress not being lost like Damage Absorptions.
Having your damage cancelled out when overshooting the threshold does not feel as soul crushing as your progress is not lost and you can still steadily chunk them down. Furthermore, using the VDP awakening can still be used but only requires an orb changer to truly shine which players should have a wide variety of. Furthermore, we have a wide variety of cards with this active and it becomes a matter of finding what works best for your team and compromising as needed. For example, Zeus Verse in Arena 5 owns a Void mechanic but players do not have to always 3×3 Box to kill him. The option is there but is not mandatory.
Of course GungHo has introduced actives that cancel out the Void for a single turn, but these have so far been tied to 30 turn cards and is less efficient for the most part.
GungHo has the power to create problematic mechanics and then introduce actives with a direct counter. After a certain point of time the respective mechanic is heavily tuned up to the point where one must have the direct counter with Damage Absorb/Fujin being the biggest offender.
This drastically cuts down on the puzzling aspect of the game as players must have said counter to attempt almost any dungeon. By comparison, having counters tied to awakenings tends to make team building much less restrictive and gives more options overall. Furthermore, scaling back the severity of a mechanic and adjusting the boss accordingly can make for a more enjoyable experience.
Let me know what you think about this concept in the comments below along with what mechanics you feel could be adjusted.
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