Saturday, April 9, 2016

(New) Random Loot Weapons vs Named Loot Weapons

It started as far back as U14 and the +x[w] system...

Question:  how should loot progression work?

In (at least) one forum user's signature, there lies the progression of:

random loot < named loot < named raid loot

And, I think, for the most part, this is correct.  Now, that doesn't mean that on (rare) occasions, a nice random loot item can be better than some named loot, or even compete with some raid loot.  But those should be the exceptions, not the rules.  And when it comes to non-weapon items, I think that progression is, more or less, upheld.

But named weapons are a different matter altogether.

Back with U14, random-generated weapons that had a "+" value* of 6 or greater had their base damage die/dice modified by a multiplier - the +x[w] system.  E.g. a +1 longsword, which has a base damage of 1d8 + 1, with a +6 item† value would have a damage of 1.5[1d8] + 1.  The +x[w] system also allows for various feats and/or enhancements to add to the "x".  So an enhancement that adds another +0.25[w] would, in the above example, give the longsword a 1.75[1d8] + 1 damage, and even a +1 longsword that had a "+" value of less than 6 would be 1.25[1d8] + 1 damage.

In theory, this is a cool system.  And the feat/enhancement part works great (as far as I can tell),  The problem?  Named items don't have a "+" value.

So let's go back to before U14 (*wavy lines with strange sounds indicating a flashback*).  Two highly sought-after named items - the Sun Blade (ML6) and the Luck Blade (ML8) - are very (very) rare random chest drops, but can also be found in Garamol's chest in the Subterrane (Sub-T).  The Sub-T is a level 16 raid wilderness, and I believe the minimum level to even access the area is 14.  So you would have (relatively) high-level characters farming ol' Gorgonzola's chest for these items which you could sell on the AH for a premium price (100k plat was considered "reasonable" - 33k plat was considered "a steal").

Then comes U14 and some ML6 random-loot is now 'better' than the Sun Blade, but the Sun Blade is still highly sought after and still viable.

And then comes U17 and the new augment system.  It is recognized that a lot of named items (especially weapons) is now falling behind random-loot weapons.  No problem - augments slots are added to named loot to being them back up...sort of.  For the Luck Blade, this works pretty well, as it's about the only weapon with (3) red-ish colored slots (one red, one purple [red/blue/colorless], and one orange [red/yellow/colorless]).  Many others just get a single slot...maybe two.  I'm not sure if some of the higher ML weapons started getting the +x[w] system at this time or not.  Probably.  But let's continue...

Relatively, newly arrived U29 (*DUN-DUN-DAH*) - where random-loot weapons now get +x[w] changes based on the item's ML:  ML10 is +0.5[w],  ML20 +1.0[w], ML24 +2.0[w]. and ML28 +3.0[w].  Except, many named weapons do not follow this format - for example, the Rocksplitter, which is ML10, still has a base of [1d6], to name just one.

To be fair, there are some named weapons which get higher "+x[w]" than listed above, most of them "epic level" (ML20+).  But there are still many which have fallen behind random-loot, especially the lower ML items.  And just because a named weapon is ML8 (or ML6, or even ML4, for that matter), doesn't mean it should become 'obsolete' when the character hits L10††.

So what's the answer?  I don't know.  I don't think "more augments" are the way to go.  Perhaps it would be enough to give some under-ML10 weapons a nice +x[w] boost.  Or maybe some desirable clickies (like, oh I don't know - invisibility, shield, nightshield), since most random-loot clickies have gone the way of the do-do with U29.

All I do know is that named-loot - especially the lower-level named-loot - needs to be looked at and revamped.

Because the Sun Blade is cool and everyone should want one.

* Take a look at any items full description "pop-up" - not the icon of the item when it's in your inventory (or other storage), but the "pop-up" of it when you hover over the icon or hit the "exZamine" key ("z" by default).  Random loot will have a 'silver' border, named loot a yellow border, and raid-named loot a "white-ish that looks similar to, but lighter than, random loot in color" border (it also has 'fancier' corners). All** random loot has a "+" value located in the upper right-hand corner of the pop-up.  This "+" value is supposed to represent the relative "power" of an item - the higher the "+" value, the 'better' the item.

** OK, OK - "most" all, as the most recent random loot system change has managed to generate a few items (I have a new random-loot belt) with no "+" value assigned.

† Not to be confused with the item's enhancement bonus, as in a "+2 longsword" which can have a "+6" or higher value.

†† Yeah, OK, some of the really low level (ML1, ML2) items should (and pretty much always have) become obsolete around level 8 or so.  But that's the really low level stuff.

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