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My Suggestions for the Hero Deck and Rift Mode

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I posted this idea on the steam forums, but it seems like that place is a bit of a ghost town, and then I remembered that this forum existed.  So I thought I'd try my luck and post it here.  It bottles down to, I think DDA could really use some freshness to it that really sets itself apart from the other games, and also make it more fun for future additional content.  So without further ado, the copy-paste:

My biggest two gripes with the game come from the Hero Deck and Rift mode. For the Hero Deck, it feels like it's just kind of tacked onto DD1 without really any consideration for how it changes the feel of the game. At its worst times, it's frustrating because of how many heroes are needed to complete a build, which are more than four. In addition, whenever the developers add in more characters to the game, this is just going to compound the issue.

What you would probably be surprised to hear, however, is my solution isn't to scrap the hero deck. Quite the opposite in fact. I think the Hero Deck needs to be unique and flavorful, and really justify its existence. So with that in mind, I think the Hero Deck could be treated as a sort of "customizeable" paragon leveling. The way I envisioned it would look like this: the Hero Deck has its own levels that you gain as you play the game. Regardless of the characters you put into it, your Hero Deck gains exp and has a level. In addition, the Hero Deck is locked at the start of a match (before the build phase.) I know this is going to be upsetting to a lot of people, because of the aforementioned need for more heroes. I did, however, have a solution that I think not only justifies the existence of the Hero Deck, but alleviates that frustration of the limits. As I mentioned before, the Deck has its own levels. Now, what if the "Points" that you get to spend in your hero deck are based on what characters you have in your deck. Each character would have a sort of "talent row" unique to that class, which applies benefits and bonuses to all characters in your deck. This could range from all sorts of things. So for example, if you had a Squire in the deck, then you could put points that increased the tower health of all towers built by everyone in your deck, or put points into a "thorns" ability that reflects damage back on enemies when attacked. The apprentice could have an "overburst" talent where dealing damage to a mob that exceeds its remaining health causes an aoe around that mob as a % of the overflowed damage.

Mind, this is just an example of how you could put in cool, unique things to customize our deck with based on the heroes in it. The idea is that it's another level of customization that would give flavor to the Hero Deck to work WITH us rather than against us. What would really make the deck shine is the addition of new characters. Because not only are they adding new towers, but new synergies with hero deck talents. So even if you had a character who wasn't putting points into tower stats, they would still be contributing to the Hero Deck for your overall build. This takes off some of the burden of a 4 character limitation on our Decks, because rather than feeling frustrated at having to constantly swap out people in the deck to start the build every round, you're now playing with the limitation, accepting pros and cons for each character. I feel like this will greatly expand the amount of builds we're able to bring into the game.

The second gripe I had revolved around Rift mode. In theory, Rift mode is a great idea. Mobs do new mechanics, great. But the Rifted gear is really where it feels like a dud to me. I don't think the rifted gear is very interesting. It's just "Does more damage/is more effective against rifted enemies."

That doesn't feel exciting to get. In addition, because of the nature of the rifted mode, if you don't start playing rifted mode from the start, you get this frustration of having to downgrade your gear with worse stats just to get a rifted set. With the idea I have in mind, this could help make rifted gear more interesting, and also avoid that feeling of putting on worse gear to get a better outcome.

The idea is simple: rather than having a rifted type of gear, keep gear as it was previously. However, in rifted mode games, a new type of gear can drop: gems. Gems, depending on what color they are, can be "socketed" into your equipment, granting that equipment the rifted affix, with its numerical strength being a stat that's rolled with the gem (so that harder difficulty gems are more valuable.) This will resolve the issue of having to downgrade gear, and also open up more possibilities for the next idea:

Rather than just making towers more effective against rifted enemies, why not make them similar to the special affixes that DD2 had? Lets have them CHANGE the mechanics of towers, for a numerical boost. Why do I say this? Because right now towers are just carbon copies of DD1. And there are a lot of towers that need some love. What this mechanic offers is a chance for continual development and addition of towers, and giving us a way to truly feel unique in our loadouts to everyone else.

So as an example, let's say Squire finds a "Red" Gem. That Gem can be socketed into a helm let's say, which will effect his harpoon turrets. Now, the red type gem can roll several different affixes for that slot. In this case, let's just say it rolled something like "Your harpoon turrets now fire 3 bolts in different directions, dealing X additional damage." The Squire says "Cool" and sockets it in. Now his harpoons are numerically better, but are behaving in a different way which could potentially change how this player does their build. Then, Squire keeps playing the game, and finds another Red gem. This time, however, it rolls with a different affix: "Your harpoons apply an oily slow on the target, reducing their movespeed by X" Now, the Squire has a choice of what he wants his harpoons to do. This allows for a greater amount of customization for the player, letting us work with an interplay of changing up our towers.

The benefit to this system, is that you can keep adding more affixes. You can make gems drop based on maps, which will in turn allow you to continue adding rift specific rewards to new maps as you create them. Mechanics like these offer the player real tangible choices between what they want their builds to look like, and I think it would make Rift mode far more engaging than it currently is.

And that was my thoughts on the matter.  Apologies for the rather lengthy essay, just felt the need to get it all out there.

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lots of good ideas here, but most of it would require drastic changes and i therefore doubt they will even consider it.  The real problem is that someone at CG absolutely loves the hero deck.  players have been saying remove the hero deck ever since dungeon defenders eternity and it falls on deaf ears.  it creates massive problems and eliminates build diversity even w/o considering rift mode.

the simplest solution? 

1)  xp toggles.  players can gain xp on X number of heros which can just be toggled on/off.  it's still limited but has nothing to do with a hero deck.  done.  simple

2)  completely remove the hero deck in its current form.  the "list" of heros we can choose from (our entire hero list) becomes the deck.  they will soon allow us to re-sort that list, perfect for this solution.  now in keybinds we can assign ANY keys we want for the hot swaps.  F1-F12 by default(still fully customizable) would make sense for the first 12 slots with any further slots being blank by default.  then we can assign literally anything we want to swap between any heros we want.  if i wanna swap to my 30th hero slot with the V on my keyboard?  sure done. 

The biggest problem with things as is, is that build diversity doesnt exist.  even w/o rift mode.  once you're end game you focus on speed builds.  so for example on glitterhelm that means we have 4 major points of defense.  if we want more than 4 heros used, we must run to a spot, build, swap the deck around for more diversity, finish building, then run to the next spot and reswap the deck all around again.  all that deck swapping adds a TON of build time.  the end result is no diversity at all.  players refuse to waste time swapping the deck around roughly 8 times during the build phase to get what they really want.  instead we limit ourselves to the 4 in the deck and only build what they offer.

the end result?  when i run glitterhelm i use 2 monks, 1 EV, and 1 apprentice.  i never swap them for any reason as that wastes too much time farting around with the hero deck.  so all those extra very specific characters ive made?  they're all wasted.  i think ive got around 30 heros at this point, all of which have very specific purposes.  unfortunately im pidgeon-holed into using none of them because of terrible game design.  ideally when running glitterhelm if i actually had my choices, my build would include 3 monks, 2 huntress, 1 ev, 1 squire, and 2 apprentice.  that's 9 heros i would use and im stuck with my crappy 4 heros option.  terrible terrible design.

but again, this has been beat to death by people dating back as far as dungeon defenders eternity.  someone at trendy/cg thinks the deck is great and we will never be rid of it.  it stamps out build diversity, makes gaining XP a nuisance, and encourages people to narrowly focus on 4 characters even if they have 30 like me.  it has absolutely no upside.  some of the ideas of the OP would give it upsides and are good ideas.  however i dont see them ever implementing such complicated systems as they would require a lot of work.

my solution is simple, would require very very little work, and fix all of the real problems with the deck. 

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