Actually, I didn't intend to write about the beta just yet, as I'm still dive through all the existing exploits and balance issues I found. But I feel it is urgent to talk about the current initiative system, because as it stands it is flawed. Very much so.
Before I go Elemental specific let me draw a analogy with another game, as I believe that designers can learn a lot from other game designs.
As Nival was contracted to work on Heroes of Might and Magic 5 they decided to leave the old initiative system (closed turns, initiative decides move order within the turn) for a new one: an open turn initiative system, the same Elemental:FE currently uses.
By the start of developing HOMM6 the initiative system was one of the most complained about and Nival ditched it in favor for the old initiatice system.
So why is a open initiative system not a good idea? Because it tends to be an extreme system, meaning even a small difference in initiative leads to huge differences in amount of turns taken.
Missing out on turns relative to enemy is a big deal. It automatically forces an initiative arms race because otherwise you face the same fate as my AI opponents: they get swept away by my little group without any hope of serious retaliation, as I abuse the current system to the max.
It would be so much better if we change the system to closed turns and initiative just determines the move order. So it is guaranteed that each unit as the same amount of attacks.
Initiative would be still worthwhile as having the first strike is a clear advantage. If Derek things high initiative should be more rewarded than he should add traits in a similar fashion like Brute for Strength or something along the lines.
Speaking of tactical combat I have some other complaints and requestrs apart from the initiative system. I might write a more verbose post about them later on so I keep it brief:
- add way more range weapons (like crossbows, Arbalests, repeating crossbows, javelins, throwing axes, real military used throwing knives, slings, ballistas, hence I wouldn't mind some early gunpowder weapon like a Handcannon or ceramic-granades and let them scale with dexterity
- think of more debuffs coming from weapons (for example giving bows the volley ability which lowers the attack and move)
- use less percentage based modifiers as they tend to snowball
- widen the minimum gap by A LOT between the two armies at the begin of battle, as right now it is way too easy to traverse the full distance AND also running behind all defenders straight to the archers. This makes archers almost pointless right now. Even for very fast Units it should take at least 2 Turns to reach the enemy
- Separate campaign move speed and combat move speed in regards of some spells and items like: Compass and Tireless March. They should only add movement on the campaign map and have no effect on the tactical map. On top of it they shouldn't stack. (Super easy to create an army with move of 10+ about midgame)
- Leave that strange blunt/cutting/pierce damage system behing and think more along the lines of counters and unit types. Like Cavalery having First Strike but Spears negate that and having First Strike them self. Axes have boni against shields. Ravenhammers provide bonus against armor. Some weapons should give several attacks in a row (like maul, but without accuracy malus and also with a determined amount of attacks) in exchange for damge. Therefor we would have weapons being good for low armor opponents and weapons for high amour opponents.
- add traits or equipment that raise the number of soldiers in a given unit beyond that
- make certain traits and equipment to each other exclusive. To forbid certain combinations.
- limit the choice of Accessories. I opt for one for troops and three for heroes. With that in line you can make accessories more potent
- add at least another strategic resource like metal to the game. For example "Expertise" - a resource generated by military structures, which is spend on using traits for units.
- make traits more meaningful and more in line of giving units a purpose in battle.
- let trait slots be unlocked by appropriate techs
- the recruit able monsters have as of current no scaling with the technology. making them practically outdated as soon as you are able to recruit them. IMO they should also be able to receive additional traits via the army designer to differentiate them out.
- Give units a max experience level. For normal units something of like level 5. For "single soldier" units like recruitable monsters something like level 10, maybe and Heroes the max level 15.
- Rebalance the hero traits and throw the garbage out. Think more along the lines of hero classes. Don't add so many +# to Strength/Dex/Int or whatever, think more of abilities, debuffs on hit, resistancies and immunities.
- Give Heroes bit more uniqueness. Something like an exclusive trait. Pls!
- Think about giving each unit equipped with a melee weapon one counter attack, add a trait that gives a unit unlimited retaliation.
- Rebalance Dexterity as a whole. Is the weakest stat right now. Maybe it should provide a init bonus on the first turn (but only on a closed initiative system) or Accuracy bonus.
- Remove the Experience Bonus from Intelligence pls
In order to entangle the current defence system and make each stat more worthwhile on its own.
- Make basic attacks with the primary weapon unaffected by Accuracy or enemies Dodge (so they hit always), defence applies as normal
- All physical active abilities scale or test with accuracy against enemies dodge if they hit or are resisted (... and add a lot of new abilites) [like magic spells works with Spell masteries and Spell Resistance), if they fail the check they still might hit for a lesser effect, defence MAY apply as normal
- physical active abilities can have a skill wide cooldown. For example make crushing blow a cooldown of 2 turns. Preventing the user of crushing blow to use another physical active ability like double strike for the next 2 turns. Exceptions might exist of course.
- All magic abilites scale or test with Spell Mastery against Spell Resistance as it is now
Uuuuuh this post is getting longer and longer, might as well add some further requests about the interface and graphics
About the interface:
- Don't hide buttons on the main interface on the campaign map if the resolution allows it to present them.
- The Unit Detail Screen lacks arrows to cycle between units of an army. (Something similiar like those arrow buttons on the shopping screen or the trade screen)
- Upgrading units with better equipment is very much a pain in the ass right now. Please provide a proper upgrade screen that offers not only the change of equipment but also of the unit size and traits. The owner hast to pay for any addtional resource costs in metal, horses, wars and so on in relation to the units initial costs plus the upgrade costs. (but pls lessen the gold cost a bit, too hefty right now)
- The City Upgrade Screen lacks a detail button. I would love to check out the city before I have to choose the special building.
About the graphics:
- Pls Stardock, If you have the free recourses, then add additional art for each standard weapon (like Clubs, Warhammer, Dagger) and standard defense item (like Leather Cuirass, Wood Shield...) as most soldiers look like clone warriors as they all look a like. There is seriously lack of flavor
And last but not least:
Bring back the major events like they have been in galactic civilizations 2 (but not the flawed good/evil system ). but make them toggable on the game setup screen, in case some people dislike them.
Oh, and before I forget it:
No neutral creature is allowed to attack the last city of a player under any circumstance. IMO a very important rule.
And increase mana income - way too low right now.
... the post got longer than I intended