Letter from the Game Director - March 2010
This month’s letter gives me the opportunity to write the type of letter that I know some of you crave. This month we will be getting down to some of the details of the expansion. To be specific we are going to talk about some of the new armor items, and to be even more specific, the new faction armors that are coming with the expansion.
This one will be going into a lot more detail than normal, as there is quite a bit to cover, so here we go, let’s take a look at the new faction armors…
Before we start
As always the details here are subject to change during the beta process, and indeed part of the reason for revealing this information in this month’s letter is not just to explain to you all how it will work, but also get your feedback on the plans. So the usual disclaimer applies here as well, thing may change before the expansion launches!
Factions and how they reward you
Each faction offers four visual and power tier of armor sets, across two different armor types giving us a total of eighty different armor sets visually. That though is only the start of the faction armors. In order to distribute the various armor sets out over each class and create unique and interesting sets for each class you will find that every class has the ability to choose from five different possible sets.
So some classes may share a visual look from a faction tier on occasion, but they will have five sets available that are specifically designed to be useful to their class. So in effect there are actually far more armor sets (with unique names and statistics) than there are the eighty different visual sets.
At a top level each class has these five functional sets. Those sets are loosely categorized as follows:
One set that offers general increase to your DPS
One set that offers general increase to your health
Three sets that offer different class specific utility
So for example the first two sets of the five available to the Ranger class cover their two base sets (general health and general DPS) and then you have the three specialist sets. The first of which focuses on critical damage, evades and hit rating, the second set focuses on protections and immunities and a third specialist set that focuses of taps and regeneration.
Of course you will also be able to mix and match pieces from the different sets if you wish to.
The intention here is to offer players viable choices in their selections. You can use your armor choice alongside your alternate advancement abilities to further specialize your role, should you wish to do so.
So who needs to seek out which faction? Let’s take a look at each class individually
Assassin – Wolves of the Steppes, Scholars of Cheng-Ho, Scarlet Circle, Brittle Blade, Shadows of Jade
Barbarian – Hyrkanians, Tamarin Tigers, Yellow Priests of Yun, Children of Yagkosha, Brittle Blade
Bear Shaman - Hyrkanians, Tamarin Tigers, Yellow Priests of Yun, Children of Yagkosha, Shadows of Jade
Conqueror - Wolves of the Steppes (Plate), Tamarin Tigers (Heavy), Last Legion (heavy), Last Legion (Magical Plate), Last legion (Physical Plate)
Dark Templar - Wolves of the Steppes (Plate), Tamarin Tigers (Heavy), Last Legion (heavy), Last Legion (Magical Plate), Last legion (Physical Plate)
Demonologist – Wolves of the Steppes, Scholars of Cheng-Ho, Scarlet Circle, Shadows of Jade, Brittle Blade
Guardian – Wolves of the Steppes (Plate), Tamarin Tigers (Heavy), Last Legion (heavy), Last Legion (Magical Plate), Last legion (Physical Plate)
Herald of Xotli – Wolves of the Steppes, Scholars of Cheng-Ho, Scarlet Circle, Brittle Blade, Shadows of Jade
Necromancer - Wolves of the Steppes, Scholars of Cheng-Ho, Scarlet Circle, Shadows of Jade, Brittle Blade
Priest of Mitra – Hyrkanians, Scholar’s of Cheng-Ho, Yellow Priests of Yun, Children of Yagkosha, Scarlet Circle
Ranger – Hyrkanians, Tamarin Tigers, Yellow Priest of Yun, Children of Yagkosha, Shadows of Jade
Tempest of Set - Hyrkanians, Scholar’s of Cheng-Ho, Yellow Priests of Yun, Children of Yagkosha, Scarlet Circle
Remember though, this is just for the armor items! It may well be that a faction also offers you a choice of weapons or other benefits that you may want. Those factions may not always be the same as the ones who provide you with armor choices. You may to even choose between two rival factions.
The way in which you will attain these armors is a slight variation of what you might expect if we had just approached in a traditional sense. We didn’t want these rewards to just be seen as a pure ‘grind’ through faction ranks. We didn’t want to see all of these items as simple vendor rewards just for gaining as much faction as fast as possible. We want to incentivize players to also enjoy the great encounters and group play opportunities in the expansion.
Faction armor will be available through three different ways. Buying it straight from a faction vendor, as drops from encounters and dungeon encounters and finally from a token vendor who will accept tokens as payments (these tokens are found throughout the expansion content from boss encounters)
So how are the items attained? Let’s take an example and display it visually for you.
So as you can see the system effectively distributes the sets are designed both horizontally and vertically. You can collect one set, the vertical set from the faction vendor, entirely from solo play, including two pieces of epic quality. So you can choose to either collect the sets with the same suffix or the same prefix, or any combination.
New armor statistics
The expansion also introduces new statistics in relation to critical damage. Many of the new armor pieces will have a new ‘critigation’ statistic that allows you to mitigate critical damage. This is a major new mechanic that has allowed us to create these new armor tiers without making them overpowered in the old world content.
The enemies you will face in Khitai, in particular as you progress further will be more capable of performing critical strikes and using the faction armor against these enemies will be part of your journey through Khitai.
So what does this mean?
Choice and consequence
Anyone who saw the coverage of our presentations at GDC recently knows that choice and consequence play a large role in how we built the expansion. It is also very relevant to this design. With the system described above we feel we are offering players a lot more flexibility and options in terms of their armor choices, and the functionality that it affords you.
It also means however that you will have some meaningful choices to make. It is by design that these choices exist. You won’t necessarily be able to get everything, at least not immediately, and you will have choices to make. Some of the faction rewards are in effect mutually exclusive and you will have to make choices about what suits your character best.
This was an important layer of depth that we really wanted to add with the expansion and when combined with the alternate advancement system will really offer you all a lot more options for choosing how your character will be built.
Bear in mind that the factions will have many other rewards as well, not just the armor pieces.
Also, the faction armors are not only the armor rewards in the expansion! In addition there are a number of general sets that can be found across the expansion content.
There are exciting times ahead, with the 1.07 update, complete with the new PVP feature – ‘The Shrines of Bori’ – coming to the live servers (hopefully next week) and the expansion just around the corner, the world is about to get a lot bigger with expanding horizons and we are all anxiously preparing to see what you all think of it!