A while back, maybe 2-3 weeks after I started playing I wrote a long rambling piece on how I liked DDO better for its hybrid type combat system, compared to first person shooters ‘realism’ and incremental systems like Diablo. A short recap – ‘realistic’ systems is about relative accuracy of weapon modeling with ‘1 hit kill’ type deals, incremental is about finding a weapon that do more damage followed by a armor with more defense.
Incremental is all about replacing old stuff with new better and usually leads to that you don’t feel attached to your gear since each new level or area require an ever incremental weaponry to stay ahead of the curb.
I still like playing both; Diablo II remains one of the forbearers of RPG lite games that took the turn based stat heavy system into something like 4 stats, real time and loot heavy.
And I don’t mind first person shooters, but the twitch and spawn kind of deals grows old on me, where there’s no real use of tactics.
To me DDO is a hybrid of these two system – it’s real time of sort and it’s stat heavy enough to be a true RPG. It straddles the middle ground between the realistic assessment of weapon and the every incremental nature of bigger and better weapons. A long sword only does so much damage, but with higher levels comes special effects and elemental damage effects. There’s a point where you can’t really go any higher but then the level cap is 20 so between skills, enhancements, feats and items, there’s just so much damage you can and need to do.
That makes you at least attached to your gear; it’s not of the throw away nature.
But enough re-hashing the point I made then (that I like this system better) and instead go to the point I want to make now.
Using specialized weapons are fairly useless. There’s this point around Giant Hold when they’re useful. It’s some kind of thin borderland of about 2-3 levels where there’s yet not that much super damaging weapons out there and paralyzing weapons are useful. After that – about the time you hit the vale – the time is passed and the only thing from that point and onward is DPS.
Same applies to running GH on a higher level character; it’s very unlikely that a high level toon will go back to using paralyzing weapons if they have green steel. After all; would you trade 2-3 hit kills on a well armed and equipped character and use paralyzing weapons instead?
The point is simple; where a incremental system always gives you better armor to balance out the ever increasing damage of weapons, DDO does not.
Most well balanced toons cap out on their AC around 40ish something. There’s virtually no better armor than +5 (unless you count Epic) and with the BAB inflation of critters, you’re almost guaranteed to get hit unless you have 50-60 AC. And in order to hit that you need a lot of stacking items that you won’t find that many of. The trade of is picking AC providing rings and bracers or adding stuff that increase damage (such as strength items or even guard effects). And since hitting 50 gets very difficult unless you’re specialized in being armored (like adding a good shield) you’re trading the ability to deal damage against maybe avoiding taking any.
But in DDO the likelihood of winning a good scrap using better armor is one of time. Time to win and time to survive; it becomes a matter of painfully slogging yourself through 45+ minutes of hordes or less than 30 minutes with high DPS weapons. And even with a good AC you’re still getting hit – so slow and painful.
That’s why specialized weapons are generally useless; sure there are some effects that can be good – like destruction that lowers enemy AC on successful damaging hit or stunning if you have the skill and enhancement, but the trade off is that you’re removing the off hands ability to do additional damage in order to get a marginally useful item. This is more evident if you’re not skilled at two weapon fighting; you’re essentially wasting possible damage in off hand for a low proc chance of maybe having the effect take place.
The sad thing is that most weapons that you pull have several of those special effects. One that might be useful is seeker as it applies to both weapons but most other effects are a waste of potential damage and have little if no tactical value soloing.
So why is DPS so important? With AC having little value in the upper half of your quests DPS is not just how quickly you can kill something – it’s also how low of a chance (timewise) a critter can hurt you. Quicker kills, less damage.
My only hope is that if they would ever create EPIC shroud they would also create a fourth tier with specialized effects. I know the idea is that people probably want MORE DPS but I’d like to see specialized effects that add a tactical dimension to a weapon rather than Holy Nuke or something. Or even the possibility to add a DR effect so that the weapon is more effective – I’d love my GS rapiers to have DR/Piercing as an effect.