Patch 19.5 comes out next week on PC & PS4! This patch contains changes to Shard drops, balance, UI and more. If you missed the Devstream, you can watch the Twitch archived video. (The YouTube version is available now.)
Over the past month, we’ve been working on improvements to the Trials update based on your feedback. We sent out a survey last week about Shards and the Trials playlist, and beginning with Patch 19.5 we’d like to start introducing most of those ideas into the game. The full Patch 19.5 Notes will be available when the patch comes out, but below is an overview of the changes coming:
Shard Drop Changes
From the survey results, we learned that most players were satisfied with the concept of Shards but not with their current implementation. In fact, Shard drops were the biggest point of dissatisfaction in the entire update. The main areas of concern were the time it takes to get the Shard you’re looking for and frustration over the confusing setup of Shard Packs (which is what we call the containers you get from Victory Chests).
These are the areas we’ve focused on in Patch 19.5:
Improving Shard Target Farming
Right now, Shard Packs do not drop unique Shards per pack. There’s a lot of overlap between different Shard Packs, which means players can get a Standard Shard from a Chaos III Shard Pack, and players don’t understand where they need to farm in order to get the Shard they’re looking for (say, the coveted Defense Range Shard, which can actually drop from multiple Chaos Shard Packs).
In Patch 19.5, each Shard Pack will have unique Shards. For example, Shards A, B and C can only be found in Chaos I Shard Packs, while Shards D, E and F can only be found in Chaos III Shard Packs. This also means that Standard Shards will no longer drop from Chaos Shard Packs! Along with this, each victory in Trials will guarantee at least 1 Chaos Shard Pack from that given difficulty. For example, when you beat Chaos II Trials, you will be guaranteed a Chaos II Shard Pack.
With these changes, you’ll be able to specifically target the Shards you want. Once this update goes live, we’ll share the complete Shard drop locations on our Wiki and to those players who are making amazing webtools (like Czokalapik’s DD2Tools).
Improving Shard Farming Time
Right now, Shard Packs have a chance to give you 1 Shard from a pool of up to 120(!) different Shards. In the patch, we’re reducing the Shard pool per pack from ~120 to somewhere between 25-35 Shards depending on the pack, which will increase the chances of getting the Shard you want when you open a pack.
We’re also changing the drop rates and drop setup on Shard Packs in Victory Chests. Instead of having a chance to drop between 1-3 Shard Packs, Victory Chests will now drop 2 Shard Packs guaranteed every time. When you win, you’ll receive one Shard Pack from that difficulty and one Shard Pack from any previous difficulty (for example, if you beat Chaos III Trials, you’ll receive 1 Chaos III Shard Pack and 1 Chaos II, Chaos I or Standard Shard Pack).
We’re trying to get the first pass on the Trials consecutive win bonus into this patch, which gives bonus rewards for winning consecutive random maps in Trials. This first pass would add a Shard bonus. Once you win 3 times in a row, you’ll earn an extra Shard Pack on every victory after that for as long as the streak continues. This extra Shard Pack would be a guaranteed Shard Pack from that difficulty. That means once you activate the win bonus, you’ll get 3 Shards guaranteed (2 Shard Packs of that difficulty, 1 Shard Pack from previous difficulties) until the streak is broken. If the Trials win streak doesn’t go into Patch 19.5, it will be available in a patch soon thereafter.
By making Shard Packs drop unique Shards, increasing drop chances within a pack, guaranteeing Shard Packs per difficulty, giving you at least 2 Shard Packs guaranteed on every victory and adding a Shard bonus for consecutive wins, it’ll be much faster to get the Shards you want.
Sort Shards By Name
Another pain point brought up in the survey was the frustration of trying to find the Shard you want within your Inventory. A popular suggestion (both in the survey and in the community) was a Shard filter that sorts Shards alphabetically by name, and we were able to get it in for this patch! You can find the “Name” filter in the All Bags -> Shards section. We’re investigating more Shard filtering options and possible Shard icon improvements for future updates.
Hero Management UI Changes
These were discussed in a previous blog, and they’re coming in Patch 19.5! Something we’ve heard from players with a high number of heroes is that it’s difficult to navigate to certain heroes in the new Hero Management UI. We’re adding a Quick Select option that allows you to see a large number of heroes at one time and then go to that hero in the UI. We're also allowing you to select the other cards in the Rolodex view without having to click the darn arrows. This isn’t the end of our Hero Management UI improvements. More changes coming in future patches.
Bag Quick Scrolling
On the PC version, we’ve added hotkeys that will cycle left and right through your bags! This should make moving items from one bag to another much faster, especially for those of you who don’t have a Middle Mouse Wheel.
Return to Tavern No Longer Forces Everyone Back to Tavern
If one person selects Return to Tavern, that person will leave. Not you. You will Continue, baby. And you’ll keep Continuing as long as you want to Continue.
Defense Balance Changes
With this patch, we’ve taken a serious look at the viability of all defenses as well as how several of our specific defense stats scale, and we made some fundamental changes as a result.
Below is a deep-dive into how we approached balance for this patch and how we hope these changes will make many defenses, at least when it comes to raw DPS and utility, viable in later Chaos difficulties.
Defense Speed and Defense Power
One of the biggest changes has been a complete overhaul of the Defense Speed formula. Previously, some defenses would benefit very heavily from Defense Speed, while others would hardly benefit at all. Some defenses had very restrictive rate caps, while others had very flexible rate caps, and that made it difficult to balance these defenses as item stats progress into Chaos 5 (and soon, Chaos 6 and beyond…).
So, we took a step back and rebalanced all Defense Speed scalars and rate caps across all defenses. Defenses scale consistently with Defense Speed now, such that +100 Defense Speed gives the same % DPS benefit to each tower. We also fixed a number of defenses that had hidden cooldowns that prevented their Defense Speed from correctly affecting their Attack Rate. There are still a few exceptions (Slime Pit still needs more work before it benefits from Defense Speed), but nearly every defense now benefits from it in an obvious way.
As to Attack Rate caps, we adjusted those to more consistent levels. Most raw ‘damage’ defenses (like the Flamethrower) can go up to 400% faster than their starting attack rate, while more ‘utility’ defenses (like the Geyser Trap) can go up to 200% faster.
We also looked at various utility effects, especially stuns and other forms of hard crowd-control. Those effects become more potent as the attack rate gets faster, so we made adjustments to the duration of many of these effects. We have a rough target ‘uptime’ that we try to maintain, and as such, most of these utility defenses saw balance updates to prevent them from reaching ‘infinite stunlock’ situations at higher firing rates. In addition, we also updated many of the Shards that add utility effects (especially stun procs) to ensure those also don’t develop into ‘infinite stunlock’ situations as Defense Speed increases.
Is this a buff or a nerf? It varies. Some defenses, like the Earthshatter Tower, were receiving very little benefit from Defense Speed, and this change results in substantial improvements. Others, like the Flamethrower Tower, were benefitting heavily from Defense Speed and will see no benefit.
But fear not! Across-the-board, we made increases to the Defense Power ratios of nearly every defense! Every non-blockade is now much deadlier to the foes of Etheria, especially in earlier difficulties, thanks to the increase in raw damage numbers. This increase is intended to help offset the loss of Attack Rate on some defenses, but you will definitely see some defenses (like the Cannonball Tower) once again strike fear into the hearts of Etheria’s enemies.
Also, we modified the base attack rate of some defenses (Lightning Strikes Aura, we’re looking at you) to try and reduce the amount of ‘overkill’ damage these defenses were inflicting on weaker enemies. Many single-target towers are much stronger in this update, and we hope you’ll try them out again! (To note: We’ve discussed other changes to single-target towers to make them more appealing, and we’ll continue to keep an eye on the community’s tower usage data and feedback for more improvements.)
Defense Crit Chance and Crit Damage
Defense Crit Chance and Damage had similar scaling issues to Defense Speed. Both stats were very underutilized in earlier difficulties, making it hard for new players to appreciate the stat. Making things worse, we discovered several bugs with Defense Crit Chance where specific Shards and Ascension Powers allowed you to exceed the Crit Chance maximum, creating random inconsistencies where some heroes could have higher Crit Chances than others.
We’ve fixed all those bugs (we hope!) and also set new baselines. All defenses now have an innate Crit Chance of 10%, up from the old 3%, to make the Crit Damage stat more valuable early in the game. In addition, we increased the Crit Chance max to 33% on all defenses and fixed the bugs that were allowing various defenses to bypass the maximum.
Defense Crit Damage was re-standardized across all defenses to make it a much more valuable stat, rivaling that of Defense Power once your Crit Chance gets close to the max. In general, you should see much more value in the Crit Chance and Crit Damage stat on Defenses, as pretty much every defense receives much better benefits from the stat.
Defense Tier Upgrades
Yet one more major defense change is the complete rebalance of how defenses progress as they receive tier upgrades in-game.
Some defenses scaled very poorly at later tiers, namely low-cost defenses like the Explosive Trap. Others gained massive benefits from each upgrade like the Earthshatter Tower.
We’ve redone every tier upgrade to provide larger benefits for low-cost defenses and less benefits for higher-cost defenses. As a general rule, higher-cost defenses still perform more efficiently at Tier 5 than lower-cost defenses, but with this rebalance, the gap is much, much, much smaller.
Fans of Explosive Traps, Oil Geysers, and other low-cost defenses rejoice, as you can now upgrade these defenses without fear of them becoming grossly inefficient by Tier 3+!
Max Target Changes
Some defenses were limited in the number of targets they could affect, with the cap being 8 (some exceptions). Other defenses could affect an unlimited number of targets, and there was not a lot of rhyme or reason as to which defenses had caps and which did not.
As of this patch, all defenses have a max targets of 10. Defenses that used to have a max of 8 targets have been increased to 10, and defenses that had no cap are now capped at 10.
To note, these caps exist to try and make the balance between fixed-target defenses and many-target defenses somewhat plausible. We’ll keep an eye on it moving forward and make adjustments as the relative balance between these subtypes dictates.
Range Gambit Ascension Powers
Not to sound like a broken record, but Defense Range had scaling issues as well, most notably with the inconsistencies between how the Range Gambits would affect different defenses. The Skeletal Ramster notoriously had almost no benefit from this Power, while Explosive Trap could alter the face of Etheria at maximum values.
And once again, we went back and re-standardized how defenses are affected by Defense Range. We broke this down into roughly two categories:
Fixed-Target defenses, meaning those that generally hit a set, small number of targets, will get large benefits from Range Gambits. This includes the Cannonball Tower, Hornet’s Nest, and others. As the range benefit to these towers generally doesn’t really let them clear a wave that much faster, they receive more benefit from Range Gambits.
Many-Target defenses, meaning those that generally can hit 5+ targets, will get much smaller benefits from Range Gambits. This includes defenses like Flame Aura, Skeletal Ramster, and others. (That said, the Ramster will get more Defense Range from the Gambit in this patch than it currently does.) As each range increase on these towers makes it more likely they’ll hit additional targets, these defenses receive less benefit than Fixed-Target towers from Range Gambits.
This is something new that we’re testing out for the first time, and we’ll continue to adjust the Gambits as we go along. This change does NOT affect the Defense Range shard Deadly Strikes, as we’ve left that at a flat % increase for now.
Enemy Levels and Stats
With all these defense buffs, we had to make a few tweaks to the levels of enemies to ensure they didn’t get blown out of the water. The level of all enemies, in all difficulties, across both the Campaign and Chaos difficulties has increased. But fear not, as your mightier defenses will make quick work of these slightly-tougher enemies! The net effect is that balance has taken a slight shift towards defenses, away from heroes.
To note, we paid special attention to enemies that are generally immune / unaffected by defenses and have altered their stats accordingly. Pests like Witherbeasts, Dark Mages and Siege Rollers, which are very difficulty to kill with defenses, have had their stats re-weighted to ensure they can still be slain by hero focus-fire in a very timely fashion.
Chaos 1 Enemy Level Reduction
In combination with the above changes, we’ve reduced the Chaos 1 enemy level by 10%. The result of this along with our defense balance changes should result in smoother entry into Chaos 1. We’ll continue to monitor both player feedback and our internal data to see how players are progressing into Chaos 1.
Mana Regen Updates
We wanted the base 4 heroes to have a little more ability uptime to closer match some of the heroes like Gunwitch. As a result, we’ve increased the base mana regeneration of our core 4 heroes from 2 MP/s to 3 MP/s. This should have a big impact on Campaign (50% more mana!), and this should give roughly about 20% more mana alongside the Channel Shard.
But we must also mention we had to make substantial changes to the Power of Storms Shard. Sadly, the Shard was bugged -- it was giving some heroes nearly infinite ability mana, which was not the goal for the Shard! We’ve reworked this Shard, and it now provides a large burst of mana every 10-12 seconds, but it no longer feeds the hero a nearly bottomless stream of ability mana. The Shard’s description has been overhauled, so the actual impact/effect is clearly stated, and players can work out if they’ll benefit more from Channel or Power of Storms in their build.
Stuck Special Enemy Fixes
One of the biggest bugs we wanted to fix was the Stuck Special Enemy bug where Siege Rollers and other Special Enemies were getting stuck in their spawners. Our world builders have gone through the maps reported to us and changed geometry within the spawners that were causing trouble. So far things are looking good, but if you see a stuck Special Enemy after this patch, please report it to our bug site!
New Weekend Event Support
This patch includes the ability to do Weekend Gold and Weekend XP events! Perhaps you’ll see them soon...
And More Bug Fixes
Which includes Shard fixes (hello, Frosty Bind), defense bug fixes and more.
Full patch notes will be available when the patch comes out!