✪ Part 4 – Itemization Philosophy.
Clearly delineate the purposes of crafted gear vs gear with unique effects vs gear with a set bonus, as well as target the general intended power level of gear vs content. Currently whenever a new piece of gear is added, it either automatically invalidates every other item on that gear slot, or it is already invalidated itself. For meaningful itemization this needs to change.
Make both crafted items and dropped items useable in the long term.
Make chase items more interesting and in some cases more expensive.
Add back an element of choice to itemization.
Structure rewards better, to make planning future rewards relative to content easier.
Currently, crafted gear and dropped gear compete for the same slots. Crafters are faced with the frustration that often anything they create does not persist for longer than a single module and they spend more time than not being unable to craft anything meaningful. To resolve this, I propose that items come in 3 categories, Stat sticks, Unique bonuses and set pieces.
Stat sticks are exactly what the name describes. They are items that exist for the purposes of filling out your stats. I propose that while levelling, some basic stat sticks drop and that vendors sell some for gold when your character begins campaigns and then endgame stat sticks are crafted gear. They will provide much higher combined rating than they currently do, to help combat my proposed change to items with unique bonuses. They also will not come with any bonuses in addition to stats. Pet gear is the only item which will always be a stat stick and is the notable exception to the rule, competing with nothing for its item slot.
Items with unique bonuses are there to help players customize their character. Currently they come in the form of items like enduring boots, which have small bonuses which are not particularly interesting and come on statted items. I propose that all items with unique bonuses come without a combined rating at all and potentially, do not have any stats on them either aside from HP and Power, which will remain unchanged from current values. What they will have however, is extremely potent bonuses, instead of the small bonuses we currently have. They drop from challenging open world content, for example hunts. The bonuses on unique items should be a horizontal progression system and new bonuses as well as old ones should aim for a certain power level then stay there.
As a base line I recommend each item’s bonus is intended to be roughly a 5% damage increase, so at most you are using 5 of them for a 25% increase. This makes them impactful to the point a player can feel the difference between using one and not using one but maintains the same level of improvement of adding together the bonuses on all current existing pieces of gear a player may have slotted.
Set pieces are things like the artefact weapon sets we have currently, or the artefact neck/belt/artefact set. I propose expanding this to allow for body armour sets as well, but not making them a prerequisite for the slots they currently exist on (so you can have unique weapon pieces, or stat stick weapons). The bonuses they provide should in general be stronger than a unique item bonus, with the downside that it occupies more slots. They should specialize a character in a certain direction (potentially towards that type of content), and they are only obtained from dungeons/raids.
How I see these systems engaging with each other:
Game content is designed with the idea that when considering all the possible gear, the hardest content in the game available to you at any given time is completable with 70-90/95% of the obtainable stat pool. The final 5/10% should be chase items and should not be factored in to content design, as it is more for bragging rights then content completion. A very skilled player should be able to complete the content with 70% of the obtainable stats, where as a less skilled player then has some cushion room in the remaining 20/25%. This means that the first dungeon a player encounters, will require them to at minimum reach 70% of the required gear level, before being able to enter it.
Some of the counter stats for dungeons should be intended to be capped, for example a DpS should always cap their offensive counter stats if they are prepared for a dungeon. With the best available crafted gear, this should be possible with 5 open item slots. A player with less good items could then use more item slots to cap the ratings, in exchange for having less unique slots.
Once the player has capped their stats, since there is no further benefit to investing in statted items, they then choose which unique bonuses or set bonuses they want on their remaining item slots.
The result of this change to itemization should be the following:
You always want to have some crafted gear and crafted gear for every spot will hold value, since it is the best obtainable statted gear and the only deciding factor for which statted piece you use is which unique bonuses you want (in other words, you pick the statted pieces that complement your other gear choices).
You always want some items with unique bonuses, or some items with set bonuses as once you have capped your stats with the best available stat sticks, there is no point to equipping more of them and the only remaining way to improve your character is through investing into unique bonuses.
You can introduce new gear to a single item category without automatically invalidating gear in every category. For example, adding new crafted items will only potentially invalidate old crafted items. Adding new unique items should not invalidate any older unique items and the same is true for set items.
Item bonuses can be more meaningful, due to lower overall stat pools and only using a limited number of items with bonuses.
Crafting becomes a much more effective currency sink, as the gear it creates always has some demand.
Examples of the types of bonuses I would like to see on unique or set items:
3 Set bonus Neck/Belt/Artefact for a set which has no stats - Gain an additional encounter power slot.
Gloves or Helmet Bonus - Overloads decay twice as fast but give twice the bonus.
Helmet Bonus - Your encounter powers have half their current cooldowns. You cannot change your encounter powers. After using an encounter power, it is switched out with another encounter power at random.
Helmet Bonus - You cannot see further than 20' from your character. Deal 10% increased damage to enemies within 10'.
Gloves Bonus - Gain Sequence of Skill. For the First 5 seconds of combat, your At-Wills do 10% increased damage. For second 5 seconds of combat, your Encounters deal 10% increased damage. For the third 5 seconds of combat, your daily powers gain 10% increased damage. For the next 5 seconds of combat all 3 power types gain 10% increased damage. The cycle restarts after reaching the final part of the sequence. Powers currently boosted have a sparkling UI panel like when the OP Divine Barrier has critical touch active.
Gloves Bonus - After using 5 altering power types (for example, encounter, at will, encounter, at will, encounter) your next used power will deal double damage. Dealing double damage or breaking the sequence resets the counter.
Boots Bonus - All feats are allocated but grant 55% of their full value.
Gloves Bonus - Your at wills no longer generate Action Points. Your dailies have their Action Point cost cut in half.
As you can see, these bonuses are much more impactful, both to performance and to character gameplay than current item bonuses.
Risks and Concerns.
Cannot be done in a single change, it modifies too many aspects off itemization at once.
Necessitates that all older items become obsolete.
Necessitates that players properly understand the counter stats system, otherwise it is very easy for them to equip too many items with unique bonuses and end up with a character that is not functional.
Requires that items with unique bonuses are balanced very carefully, to prevent players from all using the same items.
Requires rebalancing the amount of Counter stats on all items and rebalancing the number of counter stats all enemies have.
This is a little too detailed/definitive for me to really comment on currently (This isn't your fault). Let me explain why. We are currently working on elements of CDP 1and therefore we will use this particular post along with others to help inform our decisions.
Edit: Actually in re-reading your post this is something I will come back to in Phase 2 of this CDP.