I've been playing around with these quite a bit the last week. Not as much as I would have wanted to because of the trap durability bug, but that one should hopefully be fixed soon. Here are some thoughts.
Currently husk PL scales with account level, which is the same as commander level. SSD progression and PL has no effect on what enemies you'll face. This was a very poor decision, especially as you've recently made a huge change to XP rewards, as well as introduced X-ray llamas, which has a massive impact on how fast people can level up in relation to their account level. It is impossible to scale according to account level in a way that would be fair to both pre-8.0 and post-8.0 accounts!
I started a second account after 8.0 and the XP increase. I understand how survivors work and I know what to prioritize when I buy llamas. The result is that at PL67 I'm facing PL44 husks in Wargames. Even a no traps challenge is super easy when I outlevel husks by that much. On the opposite end we have players who might have played for 100+ days without ever understanding what survivors do (shame on you Epic for not explaining this better), or maybe the players haven't been that interested in leveling up, they've played mainly for vbucks and to level up different weapons. These players might have a very high account level in relation to PL and face enemies 20+ levels above their PL. And the more they've played before the XP increase, the higher their account level will be in relation to PL.
I'm guessing you are reluctant to scale the difficulty by player PL, because players could game the system by unslotting survivors to get easier missions. The solution is very simple:
The difficulty should scale by the highest PL a player has ever been. Once you reach PL100, you are moved to the PL100 tier and from then on you can never go below it. You can only move up to the next tier when you've increased your PL enough to get there. This would ensure that everyone is placed in missions appropriate for where they are in the game. Lowering your PL, for example to increase trap durability, would not give you an easier mission, as it shouldn't. The only way anyone could screw themselves over is by retiring all survivors, which I would guess never happens.
Saving and resetting the SSD layout
A way to save materials is very much needed in a game mode like Wargames. The current model is not that bad for Wargames, but it is in my opinion very bad for regular storm shield defenses.
- It discourages building on the fly.
- It limits your options when selecting what amplifiers to place.
- It limits your strategic decisions.
- It robs the players of important information.
- It does not reward good play or punish bad play.
Building on the fly has always been an important part of SSDs. Some amplifiers are so close to the storm barrier that you cannot build before you start the defense. Sometimes you can get attacked from directions you did not expect to be attacked from, or maybe you got the direction right, but the spawn point is in a different location than expected. And there's of course also the situation where you got the spawn right but misjudged pathing and you need to adjust your tunnels to the path husks want to take. Not to mention when half of your trap tunnel is blown up and you would need to rebuild it.
As it is now (assuming the trap dura bug is fixed) the most efficient way to deal with unexpected situations would be to leave the defense, adjust your build, then start over. This way you don't lose any mats. An active and reactive playstyle is punished, as you lose 100% of the mats invested during the defense.
To avoid losing mats, you always have to choose the amplifiers with the most room to build. There are also many spots where you do have enough room to build some kind of defenses, but you would be much better off building at choke points further out after starting the defense. In these situations you now have to choose between building the best defenses and losing your mats, or building worse defenses and keeping the mats.
I'm guessing most of us are familiar with the situation where everything looks good, until you suddenly have a lot of husks coming in from a direction they shouldn't be coming from, or you go from nobody making it through your tunnels to lots of husks making it through your tunnel. This always means that something went wrong, but very often running into your tunnels to check what went wrong is not an option. Knowing what part of your tunnels failed, which walls have been destroyed and which traps might have run out, as well as which traps have never been used, is crucial to improving your defenses! When everything is reset the next time you load in, you never get this information.
Finally, I'm sure there will be divided opinions on this, but I do think that the system should discourage mistakes and bad play. If blowing up your trap tunnels means that you have to rebuild them, then hopefully you are less inclined to repeat that mistake.
My proposed solution: When doing storm shield defenses, keep it as it was before, all structures that are up at the end of a mission are there when you re-enter, but the director can repair all existing structures and refill all traps. This could either be done manually through the storm shield menu or automatically when you load into the storm shield. I would prefer the first option, as it allows me to learn things from trap durability, but I do understand that this could cause confusion among people who don't read patch notes or listen to directions in the game, and then they'd be here on Reddit ranting about how they spent tons of mats replacing low durability traps before they realized they could have it done for free.
Potentially the refill and repair could apply only to structures and traps within the storm shield barrier. This makes sense, as the director shouldn't be able to head outside your shield to repair. It would make it slightly more expensive to rely on defenses outside the shield, which is a good thing, because otherwise the easiest strategy would always be to just run out and gas the spawn. The structures would still stay up, but not be refilled or repaired until you've expanded the shield enough to cover them.
The Wargames game mode
First of all, why scale the difficulty so much with amount of players? When soloing at max PL and account level, I get very small amounts of physical PL121 husks. This makes it laughably easy in all modes that allow killing husks with traps (didn't try the new mist pods yet). I mean, if I can handle the huge hordes of elemental PL140 mobs in Twine 10, a handful of physical PL121 enemies is nothing compared to that. I hope you will consider increasing the difficulty for us max level players to give us a better solo challenge. For now I've been playing around with close quarters in Stonewood to restrict the PL of my traps as well as the amount of space I have to build, but even in that scenario it is not too hard to set up mostly AFK defenses for solo play.
Working out how to best build tunnels for close quarters in all zones will probably take some time, but the question is, what then? As soon as I have my tunnels built and you have fixed the trap durability bug, where is the replayability value? I'll have daily challenges in all zones, which (unless there's a trapped out or head games modifier) require I load in and AFK for 15 minutes/zone. That's one hour of AFKing to earn close to 1000 gold and tickets. Maybe I sometimes have to shoot the occasional smasher, or I can run around collecting time cheats, but it's hardly what I would call fun and exciting gameplay.
I'll also have a zero cost gold and tickets farm. Whenever I leave my computer for 15 minutes, I should load into a storm shield, select some easy modifiers and let it play out while I'm away. Whenever I play on my second account, I can have my main account open on my laptop and just check in every 15 minutes to start up a new mission. I can do this all day, no matter what other activities I'm doing. I can train a monkey to start new missions so that I can earn tickets in my sleep. If a mission occasionally fails while I AFK, it doesn't matter since everything resets anyway. I'm sure a lot of people are welcoming a farm like this, but personally I find it quite game breaking.
The problem here is that Wargames is all about the preparations and once you have prepared well, the missions play themselves. The community has been asking for more content like Challenge the Horde and Frostnite, which were the opposite to this. In those we started with minimal or zero preparations and had to prepare the defenses during the mission. I doubt you will change the concept anymore, but I must express my disappointment in that you chose the path you did.
You could for example have made this a Storm Shield simulator that plays out like Challenge the Horde. It would be a separate zone from your regular Storm Shield, still the same map with the same amplifiers placed, but you are only allowed to build within 2 tiles of each amplifier before starting the defense (these builds would be saved and restored after the defense). When the defense is active, your backpack is swapped for the simulation backpack, which gives you a set amount of materials to work with, earning more materials for each wave. The amount of materials should not be too small as to make it very restrictive, but not so much that you can gas every single tile between the spawn and the objective. Not only would this have required active participation during the mission, but it would also allow players to learn a lot more from each other. When everyone can build without losing their own mats, you can learn how to trap your SSD by seeing how other people build.
I understand it is a work in progress and that you are still going to add new modifiers and possibly game modes. The new mist pods look like a good addition that require active participation to deal with. I hope to see more additions like that in the future.
Edit: forgot to include this, thanks u/phoenixfox444 for bringing it up. Adding an option to select difficulty would partially solve the problem, allowing more challenging missions for those who want to. Either you could allow us to adjust husk PL directly, or make the options 1, 2, 3, 4, 4+ and 4++ players, like in regular missions, with the minimum available option based on how many players are in your team.
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