HERE YOU GO TACTICALRPGFAN!
To my understanding, Advanced Classes have been ruled out for the game (correct me if I’m wrong)… so for the meantime, I will avoid suggesting “class evolutions”.
I've been thinking a lot about how I would elevate class-skill customization in a JRPG (partly because I'm a developer)... and I thought of something like this for Project Phoenix:
Let’s assume a level cap of 60 just for the sake of illustration; we’ll use a Barbarian Class as the example.
Resource: Fury (0-100) – damage dealt increases by 1.0% & damage taken increases by 0.5% for every point of Fury. Fury is passively generated upon dealing or receiving damage.
Skills are set in stone; players have no choice of what base-skills are learned. Why? Skills are the basis of a “core design”, having a foundation is important in creating the essence of a particular Archetype. For instance, a tank that specializes in additional utility over raw defense is still a tank at its core (and that’s important). Having a blueprint of this kind is useful for balance & immersion.
New Skills Unlocked at levels: 1/10/20/30/40/50/60.
- Level 1: Wild Strike – deals X physical damage to target & generates 10 Fury; 3 second cooldown.
- Level 10: Whirlwind – deals X physical damage per second to all nearby targets for Y seconds & generates 1 Fury per target struck, per second; 12 second cooldown.
- Level 20: Enrage – spend all Fury to recover X hp per point of Fury spent; 20 second cooldown.
- Level 30: Inspire (leader*) – increases party’s damage dealt by 15% & movement speed by 30% for X seconds; 90 second cooldown.
- Level 40: Charge – rush to target within X yards, stunning for 1 second & generating 20 Fury; 18 second cooldown.
- Level 50: Warcry – causes all nearby targets to flee in terror for X seconds; 15 second cooldown.
- Level 60: Avatar (ultimate) – damage dealt increases by 50% & damage taken decreases by 50% for X seconds; 180 second cooldown.
*Leader abilities are ones I envision that’re usable at any moment during combat (on the fly, perhaps a button & hotkey next to the Leader Portrait of each Squad). Let’s say I’ve taken manual control of Squadron A but I see Squadron B is in trouble. I can quickly react by activating Squadron B’s Leader ability, issuing a move-command to Squadron A, and then switching to control of Squadron B if I choose. The “captain” chosen for each Squadron determines that group’s Leader ability, each class has their own kind. Perhaps certain Main Story characters could have unique Leader abilities even for their class-type (assuming we might be able to recruit non-story NPC’s to fill Squadrons). Use of a Leader ability should either apply an internal cooldown of perhaps 30 seconds or put every other Leader ability on cooldown as well. Such a restriction would promote rich tactical gameplay & prevent using them all at once as an "I Win" button.
One thing to note is that it may seem like unlocking a new ability every ten levels is a slow pace… but consider you’re controlling multiple units with varying abilities as well as the following customization options which open up intermittently between skill-acquisition.
Traits allow a player to alter ability properties/statistics; players may only adjust their Traits in Sanctuaries for a fee.
All 5 basic abilities (excludes leader & ultimate) have 3 potential traits however only a maximum of 12 traits may be allocated by the level-cap.
Traits are like those “filler talents” that you take to get to the “meaty talents”, using WoW as an example. What’s beneficial about separating the two is it reduces the sheer number of “cookie cutter” builds & creates a legitimately better, healthier “free-form” environment for customization. There’s much more interplay & many more legitimate ‘build-options’ under this format as opposed to a traditional ‘min-max’ talent system. You have to consider also that you’re controlling a team of Classes in this game as opposed to one Class like in an MMO setting. Controlling a team opens up many more viable customization paths as there’s far less apparent “winning combinations”. The interplay between party members & squadron’s means there are far more tactical routes to be taken & methods of play.
New Traits Unlocked at levels: 3/7/13/17/23/27/33/37/43/47/53/57:
- Wild Strike – (1) increases damage; (2) increases Fury generation; (3) decreases cooldown.
- Whirlwind – (1) increases damage; (2) increases duration; (3) increases radius.
- Enrage – (1) increases healing; (2) decreases Fury cost; (3) decreases cooldown.
- Charge – (1) increases range; (2) increases stun duration; (3) decreases cooldown.
- Warcry – (1) increases duration; (2) increases range; (3) decreases cooldown.
Runes allow a player to alter ability effects/mechanics; players may only adjust their Runes when out of combat.
All 5 basic abilities & leader (excludes ultimate) have 3 Rune options however only 1 may be active at a time per ability.
Rune options represent 3 distinct styles of play: Aggression (offense/defense), Mobility (speed-up/slow-down), & Control (crowd-control/immunity).
What Runes provide are ways of developing styles of play & the sheer diversity of them makes it so there is hardly ever being “one right way to play”. The options are just few enough that it’s easy & fast to “rebuild” your spec on the fly. Let’s say you see a horde of squishy Goblins in the distance led by a giant Ogre Warchief but you’re currently specced around a ‘hack n’ slash’ style of play. That won’t do you any good against the Ogre champion whom hits like a truck and can lock-down your assassins. Pause beforehand & enter the Rune interface, quickly alter your Berserker for more Control & defense. Now that Berserker can keep the Ogre taunted & self-sustain while your Aggression-based, heavy damage-dealers can wipe out the lowlife Goblins. This method of skill-customization is very akin to Diablo III’s if you’re familiar & it works very well. It allows for fluid, strategic play without disrupting the gameplay experience much at all (enhances it, in fact).
Let’s say you want your Tank to be able to come to the aid of his or her comrades more easily... you might spec 3 skills into Mobility & 3 into Control so you can more easily lock-down your opponents & stick to your allies when necessary. Or how about you want your Berserker to favor an “all-in” style of combat but also need the tools necessary to chase down his victims… perhaps a 3 Aggression, 2 Mobility, 1 Control build is for him.
The possibilities are great. Development of such a system is ‘easier’ as it requires less resources (you aren’t creating many skills overall, you’re merely changing particle effects or creating new buff/debuff icons instead, etc.). It’s also much simpler to balance from a design-standpoint & very streamlined. You don’t have to worry about the arrangement of talent trees & how many points is right for this item & should this talent lead into this one & so forth. You suffer much less of the optimal, stale “cookie-cutter” style of play. It’s refreshing; it’s not the ‘same old’ thing we’ve been seeing in LoL & WoW.
New Runes Unlocked at levels: 5/15/25/35/45/55:
- Level 5: Wild Strike – (A) now deals an additional 20% of its damage as a damage-over-time effect or (M) now grants a stacking buff that increases attack speed by 10% per stack up to a maximum of 30% or © now immobilizes target for 1 second.
- Level 15: Whirlwind – (A) now each hit may critically strike or (M) now slows targets or © now draws in targets.
- Level 25: Enrage – (A) now grants 20 Fury or (M) now increases movement speed by 0.5% per point of Fury spent or © now taunts all nearby targets for X seconds.
- Level 35: Inspire (leader) – (A) now increases party’s critical strike chance by 15% or (M) now increases party’s evasion by 30% or © now removes all slowing/stunning effects & grants temporary immunity to such effects for X seconds.
- Level 45: Charge – (A) now deals X physical damage to all targets along its path or (M) now immediately reusable if used again within X seconds or © now knocks back & stuns all targets along its path.
- Level 55: Warcry – (A) now decreases all nearby targets’ damage dealt by 20% for X seconds after fleeing or (M) now immobilizes for X seconds after fleeing or © now taunts for X seconds instead.
1) Every race should have its own unique ‘passive capability’. Passives should be very simple (so as not to be game-breaking) but add to the immersion, enhance the experience, & provide great flavor. “Elves are nimble, they have 10% bonus movement speed & ignore unit collision”, “Dwarves are sturdy, impairing effects are only 75% effective against them”, “Rabbits are hoppy, they leap short-distances when moving, allowing them to pass over certain objects/terrain/units”.
2) Every class should have access to two distinct “weapon classes”. This’ one of my favorite ideas & benefits any game immensely. Say your Berserker has the option of playing with two one-handed Axes or one giant two-handed Axe. Each weapon class has its own appeal/niche & one or the other may be more preferable to a certain style of play. For instance, a dual-wielding Berserker has much better innate Fury-generation but much less burst/overall damage by comparison, he would be far more suited to mowing larger creatures where he could maintain high Fury for great sustained-damage but less effective against hordes of mobs. A Berserker wielding a two-hander would generate Fury more slowly but its abilities would be far more effective, this would be less of an ‘auto-attacker’ type of build & more suited to decimating waves of creatures on average. A Ranger could use a Crossbow or a Longbow, Crossbows would have shorter range but deal greater damage while Longbows would do less damage in exchange for greater reach.
Skills could possibly be balanced by scaling off a percentage of weapon-damage (X physical damage is greater utilizing a more powerful weapon) so as to promote greater balance/fine-tuning between weapon-types. The downside comes when a Classes ultimate weapon is just one type or the ultimate weapons of each kind aren’t properly balanced. This’ something to keep in mind when developing weapon classes. Make sure to give us an ultimate version for each type but ensure the two options are evenly well-balanced between one another.
3) New Game+ could unlock twice as many Rune slots. You'd retain your original Rune slots from your first play-through yet still unlock new ones at the appropriate levels. This way you could have 2 Runes active for each & every ability, making for some fascinating, insanely deep combinations (e.g. “now my Charge ability can be instantly recast AND knocks back & stuns all targets along its path!”).