My thoughts on DD2 from the perspective of a DD1 veteran. Will mostly be focus on things that have changed or are completely new, and what I feel are good changes/additions and what seems like it's taking a step in the wrong direction. I won't be covering things that I know to be known bugs, only things that seem to be intentional design decisions or unintentional consequences of decisions. For reference, I initially played DD2 on the public release, but all I remember about it was being unimpressed. I started playing again just before the Trials update landed; I only completed about 2 maps on NM1 before NM was replaced by Chaos. *Hm. The post editor ate all my formatting when I copied this in. Annoying. Also this ended up a lot more wall-o-text than it looked in Notepad++. Sorry about that. UI Basic gameplay UI is... ok. Nothing really truly amazing about it, but it's functional and no part of it seems to get in the way. A few minor gripes, though: - The experience gauge continues to be present, even though it is not used after Lv50. Why not repurpose this for Ascension levels? - Why does the pet ability on the hotbar not have a keybind indicator? Or a unique icon for each pet? - This might just be me being weird about UI layout, but why are the wave/enemy count/minimap/DU/Daily Quests! elements all shoved over to the right side of the screen when there's still two perfectly good bottom corners not being used at all? Suggestion: move minimap to bottom-right corner, and combine the wave/enemy count and DU elements - quick and dirty cut&paste visual: - Why is Daily Quests! the only UI element that there is no config option to disable? - The boss HP bar at the top of the screen worked great during the Campaign when introducing each of the special enemy types and Betsy/Harbinger. But it falls a bit short in Chaos when there are multiple 'boss' enemies up at the same time. Information Availability: - Buffs are listed under the HP bar, but unless I've missed something, there is no way to learn what they actually do. Mystic is the character generally most effected by this, but really, what do ANY of these mean? - The lack of the old ability wheel from DD1 really hurts. Specifically, the ability to quickly check the description of an ability/defense. Currently the only way to get this information is to go all the way to the Hero Creation screen. (Speaking of which, having the narrator start blabbing useless fluff about characters every time I go to that screen to check something is REALLY ANNOYING.) - While having the persistent minimap as a standard UI element is useful, I personally feel there was more value in DD1's large toggleable overlay that had enough space to show the extra information of individual icons for each tower and enemy. - Love the defense range overlays. Except... - Trap ranges are really unclear. Is the circle around trap-type defenses the trigger range, or the effect range? And why can we only see one of the two? - Love the enemy path indicators. I have noticed a problem possibly connected to them, though. (Covered in the Enemies section.) Menus are more or less fine. I have a couple issues with them, but it looks like they're mostly getting fixed in the upcoming patch. Basic Mechanics - So... what exactly is the point of the Warm Up phase? - Multiple chests? It sort of made sense in DD1, where higher difficulties had timed build phases so chest routing was a thing. But what purpose do they serve when each player can only open one chest per round, and they're even instanced so multiple people can open the same chest? Would it not be easier to just have a single central chest, next to the Forge/crystal? - Traps/intractables around maps are an interesting idea, but the cooldowns on them tend to be so long that most of them just don't feel worth remembering to use. The only ones that seem worth it are the water blasts/fans that knock enemies off the map as insta-kills. Anything else... eh, I might put a Flamethrower or something next to it, and if the tower triggers the trap from time to time I won't complain, but not counting on it. - Survival/Pure Stratagy modes are missed. - Adding a despawn timer to enemies in DD1 to prevent stuck enemies staying in spawn eternally was a good idea, and keeping it in DD2 was as well. Removing that despawn timer from minibosses wasn't. DU - Tying mana costs to DU costs makes it much easier to remember at a glance the cost of a given defense. - I want to complain about artificially boosting DU values by adding 0s to the end, but I imagine the reason for that is connected to the above. - DU caps for maps feel really low across the board. To compare it to DD1, on most maps any given choke point would generally have the wall itself, a stack of 3 auras, a stack of 2-4 traps, 1-2 ballistae, maybe a Deadly Striker, maybe a Lightning Tower, and a Tower Buff Beam on everything. Whether or not it started feeling a bit cookie-cutter (personally I don't feel that it did), it at least felt dynamic with the variations at each individual choke. DD2 on the other hand, we have enough DU space for the wall, plus ~3-4 various defenses, depending on the map and how many lanes you're able to merge into a single choke point. It just makes the builds feel really ridged, because there just isn't enough room to experiment with combinations of defenses. Characters - Apprentice -- Might want to look at rewording the description of the Arcane Barrier. As it's written now, it makes it sound like it effectively only has 25% of it's stated HP, after which it self-destructs. -- Was the function of the Earthshaker Tower changed at some point and the description never updated? It definitely does not seem to be homing. Or at the least, if it is, there's such a large delay between it reaching it's target and actually detonating that it's not terribly uncommon for it to completely miss. -- All of his skill reference "marked enemies", but nowhere is it actually explained how one marks enemies. The mark itself on enemies could easily be mistaken for a "confused" or "stunned" status symbol if one doesn't know how these skills work. - Squire -- I have not played Squire much. I was turned off by the pitiful ranges on the Ballista and Cannonball Tower even pre-Trials. -- Unsure why he has both the Spike Blockade and Training Dummy. They both aggro the same, they cost the same, they seem to have similar HP modifiers, and the Training Dummy does more consistent damage. It just seems... better. - Huntress -- As in DD1, huntress is primarily about the traps. Unfortunately, several design decisions seem to have nearly completely pushed traps out of use. Issues with enemies in Chaos will be covered below, but the primary issue is range. - Monk -- Thematically the Monk's defenses seem a bit all over the place, but mechanically they're pretty solid overall; or at least they will be once the Siege Roller change goes through to actually allow their use. - Abyss Lord -- Ah, the good ol' Summoner. The change from psudo-RTS hero to standard is slightly disappointing, but understandable. That didn't really work out anyway. -- Why can't my eldritch abomination hover anymore? T_T -- Having the single-use/movable defense be a blockade feels counter intuitive. -- Nowhere does it say anything about his primary attack recovering ability mana. This makes him the only character who uses the original "ability mana" resource who does not regenerate it passively. Perhaps change to something like "souls" or "essence" to indicate that there is a mechanical difference? -- Not sure if it's something specific to the Abyss Lord or something inherent to the interface, but Abyss Stone feels like it doesn't actually go off half the time, even when given a valid target location. - Series EV2 -- Visual 'fuzz' indicator when Proton Beams are tripped is a nice addition. -- EV2 lacks range indicators on her defenses. Explosion radius on Reflect Beam nodes, effect radius of Weapon Manufacturer nodes, etc. -- The ability to 'undo' nodes when placing chains without having to completely start over would be massively helpful for situations where you realize too late that you got an angle wrong or you went over the DU limit. -- Why does it let us place ghost nodes that would put us over the DU limit then stop us from confirming the chain, instead of just stopping us from placing that node in the first place? -- When reaching the end of the available DU or mana, the defenses will still show that they can be built, even if there is only enough DU/mana available for a single node, which obviously can't actually be built. -- No indication whatsoever how EV2's ability resource works. Presumably people are meant to figure it out on their own by testing the buttons even though they show a cost in a resource that you have 0 of at all times? There is nothing to tell a new player that her resource works backwards. -Gunwitch -- Meh. Not a fan of the Gunwitch for the same reason I wasn't a fan of the Berserker in DD1. I'm here to play a tower defense game. If I wanted to be primarily shooting/smashing things, I'd go play Borderlands or something. -- Her mobility is VERY nice. -- The unique "thing" about her Broom Power resource used to be that it regens passively. Trials update has changed the resource of the original 4 heros to do that same, which feels kinda bad for Gunwitch. - Lavamancer -- Fissure of Embermont should not cost DU. Fissure is completely required for the Lavamancer to function, and with them now costing DU it completely screws over anyone wanting to join a public game that might be already built and play Lavamancer. -- Doesn't have very much consistent damage from defenses. -- Abilities seem to be based largely around mobility, boosting what damage the defenses do do, and significant AoE damage. Which I suppose balances out the above point. I assume the intended playstyle is to rapidly switch between lanes, buffing defenses with Eruption and leaving Molten Cores everywhere? - Mystic -- Very successful CC-focused hero. I had a lot of fun playing through the campaign almost solely with the Mystic. -- Seriously though, what the hell do her omnipresent buffs actually do? -- Little to no explanation of how Appeasement actually works. Specifically, that you take damage if you hit 0 and how you have unlimited resource during the 100% snake buff. -- Ascension points into higher max Appeasement actually make the Mystic slightly weaker, as it means you need more to get your 100% buff started and need to work harder to maintain it. -- No indication that the Obelisk's secondary effects are global range. -- Similar to Fissure of Embermont, Serpents Coil should not cost DU. It's currently making her the only hero who has to spend DU on their HP regen mechanic (Dryad doesn't quite count, as you HAVE to build the trees if you're going to do anything with her). - Dryad -- Corruption is not explained at all. It's not just that how to use corruption is completely unmentioned, but her towers themselves are unclear. Do all towers corrupt in sync with the Dryad? There's no visual indication. Are they supposed to be individually corrupted by some method? There doesn't seem to be an obvious method. Are they supposed to be built while corrupted? That's not much time. Hero Deck - While I miss the free choice of DD1, I do appreciate the concept of the Hero Deck and having to think about which heros you want to bring to a map. The equal leveling is a nice addition as well. Unfortunately as it is now it feels like the Hero Deck is almost considered a mistake? On the surface it looks like it's supposed to be a build-limiting mechanic, but then we can swap heros in and out of the deck at will during the Build Phase with no penalty? This isn't actually limiting anything other than which heros can be hot-swapped for DPS purposes in Combat Phase, which... honestly if that's it's purpose, why 4 slots? The most anyone should ever need is 2; one for AoE trash clearing, and one for single target boss melting. In my opinion, either fully implement the limitations that the Hero Deck seems to have been intended to enforce, or take it out entirely. As it is now it just seems like a trap for new players, artificially limiting what they can do until they realize that this mechanic doesn't actually do what it seems intended to do. - TLDR: Either scrap the Hero Deck, stop allowing Hero Deck editing on maps, or desummon defenses built by heros that are swapped out. Enemies - This is just me guessing at a system based on observation. It seems like instead of being given proper pathfinding and being told "go kill that thing (the crystal)", enemies are instead spawned with a set path they will walk and set to kill anything in their way. Which means if if you lead enemies to places like the bridges on Citadel then manage to deaggro them, they aren't actually able to find their way back to the normal path. This would seem to be the reason for some enemies getting stuck on corners (...always seems to be Drakin and Witherbeasts for some reason?) or in spawn. Actually, it occurs to me while writing this that that exact instance with the bridges might be the land-based enemies trying to reorient into the flier path. - Like how new enemies were introduced during the campaign by tossing out a boss version of them. Did feel a couple of them (Javelin Thrower in particular) might have had their HP tuned a bit too high, though. - Kinda wish defenses focused Witherbeasts like they were made to do with Djinn in DD1. - Please rethink Siege Rollers. It's not even just the anti-trap nature of them; that's getting removed anyway. Their high health plus heavy resistance to tower damage and frontal damage just isn't fun to play against. Unless you overgear the difficulty you're playing on, a Siege Roller spawning doesn't mean there's a challenge incoming, it means there's 3+ minutes of standing in one place slowing eating away at it's massive HP pool while occasionally repairing whatever wall it's grinding against. This isn't fun, it's tedious, and actually makes waves that include them less enjoyable. If you do outgear the difficulty, then congratulations, you get to blow it up in 10 seconds and ignore the mechanic. Woo. Gear - Love the Hero-armor/Defense-relic split. Mostly. The relics only having 3 out of 4 stats on them does force picking only a few defense stats that you can have any meaningful value in, which doesn't feel great, and Hero gear only having 2 stats on it honestly feels kinda horrible. Chaos Rollout - Shards are cool, though they do feel weighted weirdly. The bugged damage down one, drenching, AoE damage on landing, and taunt seem to be extremely common, where the more useful ones like +DP/DH never seem to drop. - Cutting every defense's range and then requiring an extremely rare C1 shard drop just to get them back to "normal" was not cool, guys. - As far as the actual rollout of Trials/Chaos, I can't help drawing parallels to Nightmare's rollout in DD1, and I'd really hoped that Trendy would have learned from that experience. -- So for those who never played it or were late to the party, DD1's Nightmare difficulty was released in parts with each of the 4 Eternia Shard DLCs. The primary feature of Nightmare was the new enemies which on lower difficulties were confined to the map they were introduced with, but for Nightmare difficulty were universal. In order, these were Spiders (spawned from semi-random spots all over the map instead of the normal doorways, webbed heros and towers to massively decrease movement/attack speed), Djinn (flying, didn't attack defenses or crystals directly, but had channeled casts to buff enemies or straight up despawn towers), Sharken (charged through defenses, shoving them aside and opening the way for other enemies. would start the charge at approximately the same range Kobolds ignited and become immune to CC from that point), and Goblin Copters (flying, airlifted Ogres in from non-standard places. If they weren't dealt with fast enough, it was completely possible for an ogre to be dropped behind your defenses or even right next to your crystal). -- The problem with that rollout method, and where I'm seeing the parallel with Chaos, was that even though maps only had 1 new enemy (spiders) when the first Shard DLC was released, they seemed to have already allocated all the spaces to "Nightmare spawns" that the final version would have. So where the final version of a map once all 4 were released might have 100 of each enemy in a 1000-mob wave, for the first couple months all 400 of those slots were just spiders. Which aside from the obvious masses of spiders you would get webbing everything before you could react, also lead to some award situations where at the end of a wave you were stuck just sitting there waiting as the last ~50 spiders dropped in, because even as much as they were mobbing you, they actually still weren't spawning fast enough. That situation, with most of your towers rendered mostly useless by constant webs, feels a lot like what we have right now at the higher Chaos difficulties with most towers being hard countered. -- I can't actually remember if it was early in Nightmare or late in Insane, but there was a point where Trendy realized that gear was dropping with higher stats than was intended. Instead of adjusting the maps in question to acount for higher stats than they were originally designed around or retroactively nerfing those drops (which I do understand might have actually been impossible), they chose to go the path of nerfing all future drops from those maps down to the intended levels, which left the people who managed to get some of the bugged gear with a massive advantage over everyone else, for whom it was now actually impossible to get equal gear. We're looking at a similar situation now, with everyone who has things like the Ghostly Halberd from the old higher NM difficulties just having an inherent advantage because that is simply no longer obtainable. I do realize that most of these points are negative. Insert standard psychology bit about negatives standing out more than positives here. There are things I enjoy about the game (obviously, or I wouldn't have put in the time to write this up), but in my opinion at least, most of them are things that are carried over from DD1. *EDIT: Wow, I keep getting likes from people who's names I recognize from the days of DD1 or my (very) short time in the DD2 closed alpha/beta. Lots of warm fuzzies there. ...also confusion on why I even remember these names. It's been like... 4-5 years.