In the original Dungeon Defenders, we used different colors to designate enemy difficulties. This was a clear way to show that one enemy was harder than another, but it didn’t allow for variety in the way enemies were presented during each wave.
In Dungeon Defenders II, we've thrown out the color system, and we're now using a tier system. A tier is basically an “upgraded” version of an enemy. We’ve shown you different enemy tiers in previous blogs from Javelin Throwers to the nightmare-inducing Ogres. These enemies and almost every other enemy in the game will come at your defenses in different tiers. Below, you can see a Tier 1 Orc, a Tier 2 Orc and a Tier 3 Orc.
As you can see, each tier is not a new enemy, but there is a visible progression between the three Orcs. The first Orc can be pretty threatening when first encountered, but then you meet the second tier of Orc. He’s stronger, hits harder and can withstand more damage from towers and heroes. Then you move on to fight the Tier 3 Orc. Basically a walking tank, this armored foe is no joke. If he’s not dealt with, a Tier 3 Orc can do some serious damage to your defenses.
Using this system, level designers will have more fine-tune control on how the difficulty of the game ramps up. We’re able to introduce enemies early on in the game like the Orc and the Kobold for players to learn how to respond to that type of threat. The higher-tier versions of those enemies allow the level designers to generate harder difficulty late game without needing to send out hundreds of Orcs and Ogres.
New Tiers, New Fears
Some tiers aren’t just stronger versions of an enemy. Many Dungeon Defenders fans are familiar with the tower-busting enemy known as the Kobold. He’s back in DD2, and by utilizing the tier system, we can vary the gameplay of the Kobolds to generate different difficulty from one enemy type.
The tiers of Kobolds progress not from the front, but from the middle. We have a standard Kobold or Tier 2 Kobold in the center. This run-of-the-mill exploding menace makes his return as he was in DD1. But his tier setup goes down to a smaller and faster version, the speedy Kobold. Upon setting off his wick, this Kobold skates his way at high speeds towards his target. His speed comes at a cost, though, as he does a smaller damage amount than his medium-sized compadre.
On the other side of the scale, we have our Heavy Kobold. This third tier of the Kobold is the heavy hitter. He packs a harder punch than the regular Kobold but at the cost of speed. He moves much slower, making it easier to take out before he is able to blast through the towers.
This new tier progression is a way to generate a much smoother and enjoyable ramp in difficulty for players. It also allows a variety of enemies to challenge the players without creating too much confusion when trying to learn new enemy types.
Do you have an idea for an enemy tier? Tell us in the comments below, and you could win a pre-alpha code for Dungeon Defenders II! You have a full week to leave a comment. We’ll pick TWO random posters and reveal the winners next Tuesday! Don’t have a forum account? It takes less than a minute to join the community! Also, there’s still time to enter The Concept Art Process blog giveaway, where we'll also select two random winners!
Instead of our usual two blogs per week, we're going to post one dev blog a week moving forward. Don't worry: We'll still giveaway four pre-alpha codes per week -- two on each blog and two on each Facebook post!