The Journey Begins on September 27th! The only thing bigger than the changes coming next Tuesday is how excited we are to see your reactions (seriously, Benny is so excited we’re scared he’s going to pull a Jesse Spano). On top of the Mystic, you’ll play the game-changing Campaign Revamp, the expanded story and the wealth of early game changes we’ve been brewing for the last month.
Want to see this update in action? Check out our Devstream tomorrow at 3PM EDT (our new time!) to check it out.
This update is the first step on a journey to finish the game. Our next step: Improving the endgame! We’re excited to share more details on what that means over the next few weeks.
But this week, Elliot gives you a few more details about our Campaign Revamp, Dan shows off a new Training Dummy and Dani only has eyes for you:
Elliot Cannon, Creative Director (Myscha_Sleddog)
The existing campaign and new user quest chain was excruciatingly long, and quite simply, it wasn’t fun. Its initial creation came about during the game’s early development period when things transitioned from level 25 to 50 sometime last summer with the idea that the game should direct the player’s every move. The campaign itself only took players to maybe level 20-25 or so, it concealed a lot of game features behind level walls, and it was in essence a connect-the-dots linear sequence that sent you back and forth from game maps to the NPCs in the tavern and so on. In addition to this, it created an odd parallel set of difficulty scales that attempted to bridge the gap between completing the campaign and working towards Nightmare difficulties. This in essence controlled what you could do in the game for days on end as opposed to getting you into the game maps and letting you start obliterating enemies that challenge you and your tower defense strategies.
Today, everyone has access to each of their Hero’s abilities and towers from level one. The game is no longer single-hero focused thanks to the Hero Deck changes where you can play, gear, and level four heroes at once with hotswapping. You also have an expanding library of heroes with unique themes, cool abilities, and zany defenses to choose from. When the first campaign and new user experience went in, there were only four heroes and no intention of making new ones.
Let’s look back to our original goal this year of “Finish the Game” and get out of this Early Access Alpha stage. This means things such as this odd campaign flow needed reimagining properly with players in mind. Once that’s done, we can jump back on making loot better and more meaningful, and expanding the game’s difficulty curve much further so those hero choices make a huge difference. That in turn means tinkering with builds, gear, enchants, and deck comps to beat harder challenges. Once all that is in place, then we can expand the enemy library, and get back the list of cool things you really want to see happen next. (We have a massive list with everything you’ve told us we keep alive.)
Enough history. Let’s break down the cool stuff of the Campaign Revamp in more detail than the video.
Story and Presentation
The Campaign is 18 maps long, kicking things off with the intro video and culminating with the climax against the Harbinger. We’ve tied the maps together under one unified storyline sub divided into Acts.
We tell the story through the intro video, in game videos at key moments, and new loading screens with cool art! You can check the loading screens out as long as you want and control when to continue when you’re ready to play.
Early Game Progression, Loot and Reward Changes
The pacing is frenetic and rapid. It makes such a difference. It’s fun. Even if you beat the campaign ages ago, go give it a try with a deck of level 1 heroes. You may find yourself having a lot of fun! I dare say it should have always been this way.
The Campaign now takes all the heroes in your hero deck from level 1 to 50.
With how quickly you level up, we’ve changed the SAS points to award and popup every 5 levels so you’re not constantly dogged by the popup.
We reworked all iPWR drops for the campaign so progression is fast. Once you beat the campaign, you’re geared for the bottom end of Nightmare I. The campaign remains unlocked forever, so you can go back and play any map in any order once you’ve beaten that first quest chain.
Once in the campaign, quests automatically update and complete based on a map victory. Once you get in the flow of playing, you never need to leave the maps for any reason. Once you win a map, you can select the next map, replay, or head to town. This is great because you can just keep playing as long as you want. Once you start winning some of the harder maps, it’s hard to stop as it’s super fast paced.
We’ve added specific loot into chests throughout the game to ensure you have important pieces to be successful as things heat up.
You may find yourself gaining 2-3 levels in one map! Be wary though, because the enemies get harder too.
Each win rewards Gold, Exp, and Dm, especially for that first play through when you’re knocking out the campaign quest for the first time.
The game modes are Campaign, Defense, Incursions, and Onslaught. Difficulty for campaign is Normal and Hard. None of this Freeplay/End Game/Insane monkey business.
You can obviously play the campaign in multiplayer. Your quest completion status is your own though. You won’t be able to skip anything, but it’s a ton of fun burning through it with friends.
If you were part the way through the campaign and never finished it, we set you up right where you need to be so you don’t have to start over, but are ready to go forward.
Early Game Enemy and Difficulty Changes
We completely redid all enemy introductions. What is a tough enemy early becomes the norm later.
Many maps have less waves, but less means harder.
Enemy spawns are punchier. You should see more enemies out at once.
We rebalanced Defense Mana and Defense Unit budgets in the campaign revamp. Your defense placement choices and strategies are more meaningful and tougher.
Early Game Quality of Life and General Changes
We’ve redesigned the main menu screen. It’s cleaner, concise, and beautiful. It uses real time flythroughs that really highlight the levels, which are the coolest levels in the game industry! If you’re playing the campaign, you can continue from this screen as opposed to having to remember where you were. All social media icons are there and we’ve made sure our information pane is much snappier.
When you enter a map, we reworked how the ready up timer works. Now you can run around and do whatever you want for as long as you want. Forgot to check for loot upgrades a hero? Need to compare those three relics? Go for it. Hit “G” to end warmup and kick off the first build phase. (This also means you no longer have to wait for the warmup timer to end before the first build phase!)
Everything in town is unlocked from day one. None of this unlocking enchanting at level 34 business. We want you to have access to everything from day one so you can decide what you want to do and when. It’s your game; play it how you want.
We redesigned the Game Browser map list to scroll vertically. It reads much nicer in the new sequence. The map order of campaign becomes the map order across the game.
The Create Hero screen has voice over now and better hero descriptions!
You can access the game’s tutorial from the options menu.
The Hub has a new tune. I tried my best to get Tony Iommi and Glenn Hughes back together from the 2005 Fused album, but they were booked. Heh heh.
Once you win a map, we give you as much time as you want to sort through loot, as you will get tons of upgrades in a single map. (Pay close attention to those core stats each hero’s abilities and towers anchor around. For example, I’m a Gun Witch nut, Sweeper Cannon blasting Double Tap III spastic who double jumps and mows down lanes. Hero Power is king for me followed by Hero Crit Chance + Crit Damage. With the Locked and Loaded Skill Sphere gives me more of my favorite rotation: Broom Nado + Book Drop to hold heavy groups in place, followed by a point blank Blunder Broom Buster + Scatter Sweep combo. That means I want that cooldown on Broom Nado back up as soon as possible. Each hero has subtle little tricks like this, so make sure your gear is getting you the most bang for your buck!)
And all of this is in addition to the Mystic, who is also coming out in this update. Here's her hero trailer if you missed it:
Nightmare I-IV are untouched for now. We have big plans on reworking Nightmare with dynamic scaling and harder skill levels, leaderboards, smart loot and such, but that’s a little ways away until we finish that. More details soon.
The feedback on the Campaign and early game changes has been superb. I am super proud of the team’s dedication and work to find the real fun buried in the sand here. I want to give a big shoutout to Steve Collins, Brett Norton, and Josh Javaheri for pushing the boat out and helping drive the gameplay and the player’s experience. Dani Moore and Josh Isom for working with me on the story along with our former intern from SMU Guildhall, Lauryn Ash. Jason Yu for helping keeping it all glued together while we continued to do everything else in other branches, and of course, the entire team, who jammed away on the Mystic and the future releases as we cranked on this much needed cohesive reimagining of the game’s heart and soul.
Daniel Haddad, Design Director (Blacksmith)
So in this week’s Dev Log I’m going to talk about something a little different. I want to talk about Dummies.
Dummies have been in Dungeon Defenders since its inception; unfortunately, our current dummies are a little out of date for anyone seriously trying to figure out their DPS and plan accordingly. I thought it would be a fun project to add a better dummy to DD2. Check this sucker out!
This new and improved dummy starts calculating your DPS the minute you start attacking it. It stops calculating a few seconds after the last attack (it removes the dead time from the calculations in the end). I also thought it would be neat if the Dummy had a random name based on the development team, so expect to see a lot of our names appear over the new Dummies as you proceed to beat the ever loving @*%# out of them!!!
This thing is not yet ready for launch. I’m going back and forth on whether it should be instanced (you only see the damage you deal to it) or if it should be shared damage… Eventually I hope to release a handful of new and improved Dummies in a future update. What do you all think of that?
Dani Moore, Remote QA Lead (Dani)
Just concluded two solid testing periods with RQA and RPG putting both the Mystic and the new campaign stuff under the testing, balance and bug finding microscope.
Wanted to share one of the most interesting visual bugs we’ve ever come across.
Jesus Diaz, World Builder (N3oDoc)
This week we are doing a deco pass to the Heroes Marketplace level, which includes also some cool changes in the background!
Daniel Diaz, World Builder
We're working on a new seasonal pass for the Heroes Marketplace! Expect some terrifying changes in the level. It will scare more than one defender!