Balance Thoughts: The Issues With Hunter Part Three: Fixing Hunter

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This is the final part of this series of articles. This last one will be having a quick look at Hunter gear mechanics but the majority will be sharing my own ideas of what may help fix Hunter and maybe improve the game in general.

Weapon Gears

Hunter’s weapon gears are a mixture of “nice to have” to “absolutely essential for the weapon to even function”. From dealing a bit of extra damage to entirely changing the mechanics of a weapon’s attacks.

Hunter has a new skill coming its way in the form of Fury Gear Up. For 5 skill points, you can increase the speed at which weapon gear is acquired (Hunter main only). This is at the rate of a 20% additional boost as far as I am aware. Is that significant? My gut says no, but I’ll withhold opinion on that until it’s finally out. It does directly address one of Hunter’s issues, but it also perpetuates the issue of Fury Stance taking up too many skill-points.

But yeah, from a practical standpoint Hunter could definitely use help with the way its weapon gears work, particularly for Partisan and Sword.

Wired Lance I really don’t have any personal issues with in its current state, acquisition is fast and can be chosen to be spent on grappling moves. Some Wired Lance Photon Arts will benefit from having gear charges, as it will boost their power by 20%.

ungeared_partisan

Un-geared Slide End

geared_partisan

Geared Slide End

Partisan’s acquisition rate is fast but awkward, requiring the player to remain in place while the animation finishes or until it’s been charged through standing there twirling the weapon (doing it this way freezes PP regeneration however). Once filled, it does increase the area of effect of most attacks by a considerable margin, which is OK but in the current environment I feel they could go further with it. They could either increase the damage geared Partisan does or increase the area of effect further still.

sword_gear

Sword has the most issues. It takes too long to charge it (unless you are soloing) and then, for practical purposes, it depletes too quickly. Attacking a high level Kartagot as a test, I found that it took 12 hits with a sword to charge the gear fully, or 9 hits to get it to level 3. Sword is not a weapon that swings particularly fast, so building it with normal attacks on a single target is sluggish. I measured the time it takes for a fully charged gear gauge to deplete to 0 at around 30 seconds. That seems like a very long time, but remember that between spawns this can easily be hit. Not only that, but you will be downgraded to 2nd gear during that, which will impair your ability enough but not nearly as badly as no gear. Remember that you also have to keep hitting things in order to keep your gauge filled, which when enemies are either being mown down by Katana area of effect, ranged attacks, or they’re being blown around by various control effects is a very difficult task indeed. Sword is a weapon that’s dependent on building enough gear to stay on top of things and now it simply can’t do it. I think the real painful thing about it right now is that even after warming the weapon up it’s still inferior to other options right now…

Sword and Partisan also recover PP too slowly per attack. This is to offset their ability to hit plenty of targets at once, presumably, but having enemies bunched up to hit when other attacks can just fill the area with damage seems somewhat pointless. Sword’s normal attacks do at least hit plenty hard, unlike Partisan.

I propose then, that Swords and Partisans gain gear more quickly. That Sword’s gear depletes much more slowly. That Partisans in particular gain more PP per attack. That Sword’s charged attacks don’t take a whopping 5 seconds to charge up without gear (seriously who thought that was a good idea?).

Improving The Class

The rest of this post is just going to be my ideas on how to improve the class and maybe help the general game out by proxy. This is just my opinions, there’ doubtlessly things i haven’t considered and I am no master of game balance so I can’t with confidence say that if my ideas were implemented they wouldn’t go on to cause their own issues.

Actual things on the horizon

Hunter so far only has two fixes incoming for it. Level 16 Over End and Slide End are getting buffed. That’s it.

How much of an impact this will have depends entirely on the nature of the buffs themselves, but I don’t expect the overall standing of Hunter to change at all, because this doesn’t help fix their biggest issues. Nor does it do anything about the toxic Fury Stance.

Skill Tree

As I’ve said previously, Hunter’s skill tree really makes the class its own worst enemy. Requiring too many points in order to fill out Fury Stance and providing too much of a bonus to other classes that Hunter can’t enjoy as much as a main class.

As such, I propose that Fury Stance be nerfed. Now you may be thinking I’m crazy at this point, because Hunter is already out-performed as it is but hear me out. Firstly, make it cost only a total of 30 skill points to max it out. Secondly, reduce the damage bonus it grants, Now, naturally, Hunter’s damage would take a huge hit from this too. As such, all of Hunter’s attacks would need to be buffed. Fighter’s attacks would also need to be buffed, as it’s currently balanced around it. Yes, this would also mean some Katana Photon Arts would need help. Let’s not forget that before Shunka Shunran and Hatou Rindou that Katanas were a complete joke (aside the impressive coverage of Kanran Kikyou and decent focused damage of Sakura Endo). Let’s also not forget that our melee classes are having to compete with the ranged classes. The actual amounts, I’m not confident enough with my number crunching to say.

The game as a whole would potentially benefit hugely if Fury Stance were brought down. Imagine a PSO2 in which Braver/Fighter was a viable option? Or even Fighter/Braver. Perhaps even Gunner/Fighter, or Gunner/Braver? Ranger/Fighter or Ranger/Braver? Instead of locked to Fighter/Hunter, Gunner/Hunter and Braver/Hunter (which would still be viable options, just not the only ones). I’m not naive of course, I’m well aware that if one combination did say 5% more damage overall than another the player-base would flock to it as the new flavor of the month. Doubtless it’d be a delicate re-balancing act on Sega’s part but one that needs to happen.

I’ll take this opportunity to wish for Techer to become a viable sub at that, because it is absurdly fun for some reason.

From Hunter’s point of view, having Fury only cost 30 points has the benefit of allowing it to spend 40 (45 after the next patch) points in any other skills it desires. There are certain issues with the way the tree is laid out (the defense side of the tree does also need an absurd number of points for certain skills) but it’d least allow Hunters to actually have the opportunity to choose from some of its more interesting skills. Not only that, but freeing up those points would allow Hunter as a sub-class to also present more interesting options to its main class, in the form of powerful survival skills. Imagine a PSO2 where the choice between say Ranger/Hunter and Ranger/Fighter is “I may do slightly more damage as one, but I am more guaranteed to survive if I go with the other”. Naturally, in that situation for competitive time-attack everyone would just switch to Fighter sub…

Seriously. Nerf Fury Stance.

It can’t be said enough. Nerf Fury Stance!

Re-Establish the role.

If Sega wants Hunter to be the area-of-effect melee specialist there is nothing inherently wrong with that. It’s just to achieve this end, you actually have to give the class the tools to fulfill that role, because right now it just doesn’t seem to have them. If this means significantly altering how Hunter weapon Photon Arts work then so be it. Do it. Because right now the difference in coverage between Hunter weapons and a Katana is just absurd.

Just Guard

Just Guard + Just Counter should be inherent to Hunter weapons. Sega made equivalents inherent to other weapons, so why not? Why is Hunter the only class that has to pay for it?

Gotta Go Fast(er)

Hunters were designed in an era where monsters and bosses were much slower. There are situations now where Hunters may find it tricky to get any attacks in without having to mitigate damage somehow. This will only get worse if enemies get faster in newer difficulties to come. It can lead to situations where the choices are Just-Guarding, Step-cancelling your slow attacks or dying. Nothing wrong with that on its own as long as attacking becomes an option often enough to take bosses down in a reasonable time-span (skill permitting). As the slowest of the three melee-types right now, Hunter may need some adjustments to help it cope with faster and faster enemies going forward.

What about Guard Stance?

I gotta throw my hands up here. I have no idea how Guard Stance could be fixed with the game the way it is now. It needs it, because right now it’s kind of completely useless, but the exact how I’m not sure of. At the very least I think fusing both Flash Guards and Tech Guard into Guard Stance would be a good start. For me, that would seem like a reasonable thing to gain in exchange for giving up almost all of your damage, related to which I think it’d be good to remove the outgoing damage penalty as it’s redundant. By switching from Fury Stance you’re already giving up damage.

Closing Thoughts

And that’s all my thoughts on the problems that Hunter faces in the current game. As always, these are just thoughts and there may be numerous issues I’m not considering or things I did consider that aren’t really problems at all. This is of course also not to say that Hunter is the only class with problems or the class with the most problems. Balance in this game is more than just a mess, it’s an embarrassment that Sega let it get out of control as they did (and non-communication between departments really is no excuse).

Sega has said that they will be putting work in addressing balance issues and that it will take time to do it right. It certainly is something worthy of careful thought, but right now PSO2′s classes aren’t just imbalanced, they show no plausible sign of ever becoming reasonably so. So far, I also worry that they may not ever fix some of the more glaring issues with the classes. Will we see drastic changes to Hunter’s tree? To Ranger’s godawful tree? What about Techer? Fighter’s is also kind of a mess too. For Hunter, will we finally be able to perform the role of area-of-effect melee or will we always be shit Bravers?

I guess in the coming months we’ll see.

Balance Thoughts: The Issues With Hunter Part 2: Fury Stance

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The second part of this series of articles sharing my thoughts on the problems that Hunter currently faces, in light of upcoming balance changes. This part will be focusing on Fury Stance.

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Do the fist pump!

Fury stance is a curse to the game in general, but I argue no class feels it more than Hunter. It’s the main reason for almost anyone to have Hunter as a subclass. Fury Stance is a tremendous damage buff to both melee and ranged classes (it offers no benefit to Teching classes at all). The actual damage bonus is multiplicative, which means that all of the bonuses are multiplied together to derive the actual percentage that’s applied to your damage. If you’re unaware of the numbers involved, here they are:

  • Fury Stance: 125%/110% (striking/ranged)
  • Just Attack Bonus 1: 110%
  • Just Attack Bonus 2: 110%
  • Just Attack Combo: 120%
  • Fury Stance Up 1: 110%
  • Fury Stance Up 2: 110%

Multiply them together!
Melee bonus: 1.25 * 1.1 * 1.1 * 1.2 * 1.1 * 1.1 = 219.6%
Ranged bonus: 1.1 * 1.1 * 1.1 * 1.2 * 1.1 * 1.1 = 193.2%

As a subclass, Hunter nearly doubles ranged damage output and more than doubles melee damage output. What’s more is this comes with almost no penalty whatsoever. Compare to Fighter Stances which offer bonuses to damage with positional restrictions, but don’t offer nearly as much damage as this.

But surely Hunter has access to this as well, so what’s the problem?

Actually, it doesn’t. See, as a subclass, you can afford to throw every single skillpoint into Fury Stance and its related skills with no problem. As I explained in the last post, Hunter has a number of skills that greatly enhance its overall survivability. All of these skills however will have a hugely negative impact on your outgoing damage, which is a significant problem not only from a competitive point of view but it also effectively reduces your survivability. A dead enemy is less of a threat than a live enemy. It is much easier to survive a boss when it dies in 1 minute as opposed to 10.

The reason this occurs is because of the amount of skill points the Fury tree eats up. To max it, you will need to spend 70 skill points total. Right now, at cap players have 75 points available to them. That only leaves 5 points for Hunter to invest in skills that aren’t “do more damage”. FIVE. Let’s ignore all of the cool survival skills and consider just the more vital portions of the class, such as Just-Guard. Step-Attack is a more essential skill for combat, but that can be covered by a subclass.

just_guarding

Just-Guard modifies the guard effect of all Hunter’s weapons, changing it to consume no PP and nullify all damage. A very powerful survival skill for instances where stepping to avoid damage may be dangerous or impractical. It costs 4 skill points to obtain it. If you take this, there will only be 1 skill point to spend elsewhere. What makes matters worse is that 3 non-Hunter melee weapons effectively get this skill for free. Fighter’s Knuckles and Daggers both have something that works like Just-Guard without requiring any skill points, with one dodging and another parrying all incoming attacks (if the time between them is short enough). Note that neither of these effective variants of Just-Guard are direction dependent as they will nullify damage from all directions, not just the front. However, the catch is that the timing on them is much more precise. Katana of course gets Just-Guard and even Just-Counter for free.

all_the_gears

Speaking of which, remember those gear skills I mentioned earlier which boost the effectiveness of Hunter’s weapons? What if you wanted all gears, as you use all the weapons where they perform the best. Well Partisan and Wired Lance are both on the Fury side of the tree anyway, so those are just 1 point each. Sword however is buried under two skills, requiring all 5 of your spare skill points to take. In other words, if you want all weapon gears you’re going to have to give up some damage.

The point I’m illustrating here is that Hunter has to give up 10% of its damage, or that last 1.1, reducing its outgoing damage to 199.6%. This would free up an additional 15 skill points (an absurd amount for that remaining 10% I’d say), allowing Hunter to grab all its gears, Just Guard and even Step Attack if it wanted. Let’s not forget that 30 s-atk for one point skill, otherwise known as Rare Mastery. It could take all that and still have a couple of points left over!

Regardless of how much you may personally value some of the skills I’ve mentioned, the fact Fury Stance eats up 70/75 skill points is the absurd part from Hunter main’s point of view and it effectively makes Hunter its own worst enemy. The reason Braver and Gunner are so strong is mostly thanks to Fury Stance. None of their native skills come even close to the strength that Fury Stance imbues onto them, perhaps not even the mighty Shunka Shunran. I am not saying that Shunka Shunran or S-Roll JA Bonus aren’t in need of re-thinking, because they are, but I argue those skills are much less impactful than this one.

In the third and final part, I will be looking at ways I feel the class could be improved, as well as the issues with gear gauges.

Balance Thoughts: The Issues With Hunter Part 1: Hunter’s Role.

I_bring_you_lo-ARGGH

With Sega recently announcing that they’re going to re-consider class balance over the next 6 months (you can read about their announcement at Bumped), while also deciding that maybe they need a team in charge of balance 2 years after the game was released (oh you guys). The first classes to be hit by this change will be Ranger mostly, with Techer, Hunter and Fighter getting more minor adjustments (at the bottom of the post under “Other Adjustments”). All classes in definite need of help, while at some point Braver will be having its primary photon art reigned in and Gunner will be having its “double all my damage if I flip” skill nerfed. Shunka Shunran and S-Roll JA Bonus. Shunka Shunran needed to be nerfed a long time ago, but Gunner’s skills aren’t necessarily why the class is so strong. More on that, later.

So as the title suggests, this post will be looking at Hunters in particular, with the focus on them as a main class as opposed to a sub. I enjoy the Hunter class more than any in the game, however I have played Fighter, Braver and Gunner pretty extensively too. As much as I love the class, I have no illusions about where it stands in the current game. That said, this post is still how I feel, as such your opinions may differ or I could plain be completely wrong about something.

This is also going to be a considerably long post probably, so I will split it up into multiple parts.

Hunter’s Role.

The first thing to consider is, what is a Hunter? Hunter is a slow, heavy class. It’s backed up by a high S-atk pool and has high hit-points and defense to help it survive, given that the class can’t dodge damage as easily as others can. Its weapons are all focused on dealing damage to a large number of enemies at once, as opposed to hitting single enemies. In the days of old, the single-target melee damage was Fighter’s domain. They’re still pretty good at it, actually.

Hunter has many survival skills at its disposal, with the near game-changing Automate Halfline, the impressive Iron Will, the functional and weirdly named Massive Hunter and Absorption which restores HP when enemies die nearby (only with Guard Stance on). It even has Pretty Good, another weirdly named skill, that reduces status-effect duration on the player by 70%. It also has general damage-reduction skills. Combine the above with skills such as War Cry and you have yourself quite a tank. Not that this game needs a tank…

What Went Wrong

I feel a number of things have contributed to Hunter’s current position. This is not to say that Hunter can’t be played well or that it can’t do well in the current end-game, because it certainly can. The key here is that it absolutely not competitive right now, in any area of the game.

Diminished Attack Role.

As I said before, Hunter’s role was that of the area-of-effect melee attacker. Its individual hits may not have been high, but it could hit a lot of things at once. Certainly on the game’s release and on the arrival of the new classes this role was well maintained. To an extent, the class still does alright today. It is however completely outclassed in this regard by the likes of Braver’s Kanran.

Compare Nova Strike to Kanran Kikyou.

Nova Strike

Nova Strike

Kanran Kikyou

Kanran Kikyou

Yeah, OK, Hunter does have better area skills than this, what with various Wired Lance photon arts and Slide End, but I feel this just illustrates a funny approach to their weapons design. Here we have a great-sword being completely and utterly out-classed in area of effect functionality by a flimsy little one-handed sword.

This trend of course seems set to continue with the imminent introduction of Kazan Nadeshiko. A reminder:

over-ended

Remember that Kazan Nadeshiko has both longer reach and is faster than Over End. How the two will compare after the upcoming patch however (Over End is getting buffed) we shall see.

So we have a weapon which, for the most part, completely out-classes all of Hunter’s abilities as a area-of-effect melee attacker. It’s just that it happens that Katana also has massively superior single-target damage to Hunter as well. There’s no sugarcoating, Braver as it is right now makes Hunter completely obsolete.

B-but, Hunter weapon gears make their weapons good!

Katana can do all the things Hunter weapons can, but better, without having to warm-up through charging weapon gear. Yes, the area of effect of geared Partisan attacks is enormous, but Kanran Kikyou’s is the same or larger. Swords are nippy and have great coverage when geared up, but Katanas are nippier all the time. Wired lance… just hits a bit harder but its still good! Katana hits harder and does more DPS than all Wired Lance Photon Arts, with the possible exception of Holding Current.

Hunter weapon gears do close the gap a fair way, but right now it just takes far too long for Swords to gain gear, with the other two weapons still having to take at least a few seconds to warm up. The fact that the weapons are, overall, still inferior to Katana even after warming up is just salt in the wound.

I realise I only focused on Hunter vs Braver here. It’s because it’s fairer to compare melee area-of-effect attackers against each other as opposed to comparing it with the ranged classes. Fighter was, until recently, solely a single-target damager. It has recently gained some area-of-effect capability that puts it on par with many of Hunter’s attacks, but are a shadow of what Braver can do. As for single-target damage, I actually argue that Fighter isn’t that far behind Braver, if not better in some situations. I diverge, though, this post is about Hunter’s problems, not Fighter’s.

In Part 2 I will be talking about Fury Stance and the various issues that has.

26th March Update’s New Photon Arts

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The 26th March update saw the addition of a few new photon arts. This post will share what information I’ve learned about them myself as well as gathered information from elsewhere.

Sacrificial Bite

Roots the user in place while it’s grappling an enemy. It can absorb up to three stages from an enemy, if it can be grappled. If it can’t be grappled, you will only ever get one stage of power from it (this means you’re only ever getting one stage of absorption from bosses).

The boost to power gained lasts 20 seconds at stage 1, 30 seconds at stage 2 and 40 seconds at stage 3. The effect is 20% additional damage to all sword attacks and photon arts, regardless of the current level of photon art or stage of absorption.

Switching weapons will cancel the effect.

It can be guard-cancelled at any time, in which case your absorption stage will be whatever it was when you guarded.

The absorption effect does not care if an enemy is dead, it will continue for as long as the grapple lasts.

Current gear level will reduce absorption time significantly.

sacrificialbite

It’s a nifty enough boost but ultimately it does little to bring swords in line with the current best weapons. The use time is too long and the buff duration too short and not powerful enough to match the competition it has from Twin Machineguns and Katanas for mob clearance.

Chaos Riser

chaosriser

Sucks a few enemies in and damages them a little. It’s kind of rubbish. The range of the suction is dependent on the current gear level. This is an extremely risky photon art to use, I’ve found, for the same reasons that Zondeeling enemies on top of yourself is risky.

 

Satellite Cannon

Mechanically speaking this is pretty much identical to Ilfoie.It has a long charge time, has a target indicator and roots the user while it’s charging. It can be fired uncharged for much less damage. Unlike Ilfoie, Satellite Cannon has 2 stages of charged.

sattelite

 

The issue I take with it is in terms of damage it is significantly more powerful than Ilfoie for much less pp, which does make me wonder what exactly the point of Ilfoie is now. Here’s a video of the photon art in action.

 

Ilbarta

The first chain-tech, Ilbarta’s damage builds off itself by effectively applying a stacking debuff to the enemy. It will stack up to 7 times, the 7th causing the debuff to disappear. Each step in the chain has its own damage value, which work as follows:

Charged: 100%, 100%, 100%, 200%, 200%, 200%, 800%

Uncharged: 50%, 50%, 50%, 100%, 100%, 100%, 200%

ilbarta

An aura appears on enemies that have been hit with the tech. This indicates a chain has started and it seems to change appearance the further along it is

Elysion users will want to charge the 7th attack for the most damage. Note that in order to pull off a full chain you will need 150pp at the moment (unless you have a weapon that reduces pp consumption). Here is a link to a video of Ilbarta versus Bal Rodos: http://polsy.org.uk/play/nico/?vidid=&vurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nicovideo.jp%2Fwatch%2Fsm23186496

If nothing else, it’s nice that Ice finally got a decent tech!

 

Ilgrants

IT’S PRETTY.

ilgrants

The tech fires 10 homing stars of light at an enemy at a very rapid rate. In terms of damage I’m not massively impressed with it and the homing capability of it seems wonky, there may be a knack to it I just haven’t managed to find.  The uncharged version is completely worthless.

In terms of function, it really is a reliable source of the Panic status effect, probably easier to understand as “Confusion”. Dark Vibrace is vulnerable to confusion, so it may he quite useful there…

 

Towards The Future

There are more photon arts to come, with the next lot announced to arrive on the 9th of April. You can see the previews of those on Bumped here.

Of course, there are a few unannounced ones to go, including Ilzan, Kanran Nadeshiko (the unannounced Katana Photon Art), a Partizan photon art and a Bullet Bow photon art.

Something to consider is that all the new Photon Arts have been released in Super Hard Advance quests so far. It seems certain that the remaining Technic and Photon Arts will be released when Coast, Quarry and Seabed finally get Advance Quests.

If there’s anything critical I’ve not mentioned about any of the Photon Arts please let me know.

Ilfoie is Fun!

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Ilfoie was added as a new Tech during the March 5th content update. This tech has proven to be fun for a number of unexpected reasons.

Mechanics

This section will explain the mechanics of the tech for those who haven’t tried it as of yet. It roots the caster in place, highlighting an area as the target of the attack. After a certain amount of time has passed, the target ring will change shape, indicating that it’s fully charged. Release the button and a few moments later a great big flaming meteor will come crashing down. It’s dramatic and really quite cool looking!

ilfoie

In terms of practicality, you may want to invest fully into Flame Tech S Charge to bring the charge time down to a reasonable amount. Without this, your character may be stuck standing still for an uncomfortably long time, which isn’t really preferable for something squishy like a Force. The tech is entirely worthless against any enemy that isn’t immobilized, sluggish, or otherwise not going anywhere fast. Else it’s very easy to end up whiffing the tech simply because the enemy decided to move 2 feet.

While the damage is impressive, the fact you’re rooted and it takes so long to charge combined with its tendency to miss anything that moves really makes the damage feel somewhat inadequate, at least for me. Kind of a pity for a tech as cool looking as Ilfoie is.

Uncharged

Ilfoie does a fairly large portion of its damage when uncharged, as opposed to numerous techs which do typically less than 50% of their damage when charged (with the exceptions of Sazan, Sazonde and possibly others).

Of course the only weapon that can really take full advantage of uncharged Ilfoie is Elysion, whose latent ability doubles the power of uncharged Techs. While it is an impressive way to quickly deal a large amount of damage to a single target it will still cost a hefty 50 pp per cast, so you’ll drain your bar extremely quickly this way.

Magical Words!

Taking a look at the casting ring, some players noticed that there was writing on them.

ilfoie

Players with a lot more patience than myself managed to decipher enough of the text to work out that the source is the nonsense poem “Jabberwocky”, from Lewis Carrol’s novel “Through The Looking Glass”, written in PSO2′s font.

Digging into the game’s files reveals that indeed the entire poem is written out in the texture (yes it really is that low-res):

jabberwocky

Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves
Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:
All mimsy were ye borogoves;
And ye mome raths outgrabe.

Interestingly, along with that you may be able to see small pillars of text on its side in the above screenshot, emanating from the center of the ring heading straight up. It’s so low-res in game that I find it hard to confirm which texture it’s actually using, but there is another texture like the one above, this time Humpty Dumpty (referred to in the same book as Jabberwocky no less).

humptydumptyHumpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

An appropriate poem for a space rock crashing into the ground and exploding I suppose!

Ilfoie on Partner Characters

Ilfoie seems to behave entirely differently when in the hands of a Friend Partner, an AI representation of someone on your friend list. It seems that they can entirely ignore the charging time required for it, resulting in them near-instantly summoning a fully powered meteor. If you fill up your party with nothing but Friend Partners who only have Ilfoie equipped the result is, well, dramatic.

As you can see it actually does a fairly decent amount of damage as well, given it’s coming from AI characters who generally seem to have difficulty getting into the triple digits I’ve found.

I doubt this was an intentional effect, but so far it doesn’t seem to have been acknowledged as a problem so there seem to be no plans to fix it that I’m aware of. Enjoy the time of Friend Partners doing somewhat competent damage while it lasts, at least!

Affix Slot Expansion Rates

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Part of the March 5th update includes the relaxation of slot expansion penalties when performing item synthesis.

In case you don’t know, when you wish to turn say a 1-slot unit into a 2-slot unit you will need to expand it. This is done by selecting 2 abilities instead of 1, by putting one of the abilities in the “Extra Slot”. You can read about some of the intricacies of ability/affix transferring on the Bumped guide here. 

The Rates

So what are the new rates? Well it appears they’re relaxing the penalty by 10% of their original rates (so not a flat reduction of 10). This is derived from two screenshots at Shougai here. 

It displays two synthesis attempts, one before and one after the raised rates with the same affixes and both are expanding from 3 to 4 slots.

  • Body I 60% -> 66%
  • Stamina II 34% -> 38%
  • Power III 34% -> 38%
  • Freeze II 24% -> 26%

Not a massive difference, is it?

Under the old system, this incurs a penalty of 60% when two ingredient items are used. The base success rates for each affix here is as follows:

  • Body I 100%
  • Stamina II 60%
  • Power III 60%
  • Freeze II 40%

Doesn’t take much mathematical prowess to determine that 60% of 100 (100 * 0.6) = 60 and that the new penalty rate is therefore 66%. This would be 60 raised by 10%, or 60 * 1.1. You can test that against the other numbers:

  • 60 * 0.66 =  39.6 (rounded down to 39)
  • 40 * 0.66 = 26.4 (rounded down to 26)

No other examples are shown, but assuming its the same for all levels of expansion, then the new rates are as follows:

When using 1 ingredient item:

  • 0 – 1:  80% -> 88%
  • 1 – 2: 70% -> 77%
  • 2 – 3: 60% -> 66%
  • 3 – 4: 50% -> 55%
  • 4 -5: 45% -> 49%
  • 5 – 6: 40% -> 44%
  • 6 – 7: 35% -> 39%
  • 7 – 8: 30% -> 33%

When using 2 ingredient items:

  • 0 – 1:  80% -> 88%
  • 1 – 2: 75% -> 82%
  • 2 – 3: 70% -> 77%
  • 3 – 4: 60% -> 66%
  • 4 -5: 55% -> 59%
  • 5 – 6: 50% -> 55%
  • 6 – 7: 40% -> 44%
  • 7 – 8: 35% -> 39%
Real Odds of Success

Of course, when we’re affixing items we want all of the slots to succeed. Remember that in item synthesis, every single slot has its own individual dice roll. This means the probability of all slots succeeding and us not cursing Dudu’s name is all of the individual probabilities multiplied together. For example, if two slots are both 80% then the chance that both will succeed is 0.8 * 0.8, which equals 0.64. This is going to get painful…

When using 1 ingredient item:

  • 0 – 1:  80% -> 88%
  • 1 – 2: 49% -> 59%
  • 2 – 3: 21% -> 28%
  • 3 – 4: 6% -> 9%
  • 4 -5: 1.8% -> 2.8%
  • 5 – 6: 0.4% -> 0.7%
  • 6 – 7: 0.06% -> 0.13%
  • 7 – 8: 0.006% -> 0.01%

When using 2 ingredient items:

  • 0 – 1:  80% -> 88%
  • 1 – 2: 56% -> 67%
  • 2 – 3: 34% -> 45%
  • 3 – 4: 13% -> 19%
  • 4 -5: 5% -> 7%
  • 5 – 6: 1.5% -> 2.7%
  • 6 – 7: 0.1% -> 0.3%
  • 7 – 8: 0.02% -> 0.05%

All figures are rounded. These numbers also assume that all the affixes have a base rate of 100%. Nasty, isn’t it? The range that seems to really gain anything noteworthy is the 2-3 slot range. This just means the odds are a tad more in your favor when creating 3-slot junk. 4 slot and beyond is going to feel almost no different to how it was before.

So yeah, can’t say I’m massively impressed by the rate boost if this is what it turns out to be, but it does at least make forcing slots up to 3 a tad more feasible, which is about as much as a player will need for almost all the content in the game. The only time you would need more is for competitive Time-Attacks and if you don’t do those, I really wouldn’t bother.

If you come away from this article not knowing what the fuck then either I’ve made this too confusing, in which case sorry, or you just don’t get how ability transferring works. Don’t worry if it’s the latter, this system is needlessly confusing at times., particularly when aiming for certain results…

Super Hard Advance Quests

rappys_deadly_song

Grind the quest while you grind your character in a new tier of an already existing quest type, pitting players against monsters from lv66 to lv70.

The new tier of Advance Quest comes with a new tier of Capsules (d, e and f) and a new tier of Pyroxenes, Large Pyroxenes (yeah really). At least six more inventory slots gone! Ah well, kind of expected it. The future is no brighter either with each new one they release having its own new Large Pyroxene and with 6 more yet to be upgraded… AND there is also the prospect of Coast, Quarry and Seabed having both Super Hard and regular versions, bringing it up to a total potential of 18 additional slots eaten up.

So what new things can you obtain with these Large Pyroxenes anyway?

Um… yeah. Palette swapped versions of weapons we already have. This is unfortunate for two reasons, firstly it’s a pretty nasty indicator of laziness and second it means that Braver still may have no weapons it can obtain via Advance Quest exchanges.

This is because Forest, Caves and Desert are the only three that are being released initially and none of those currently offer Braver weapons. Yes we wouldn’t want too much content coming out at once, would we? Ok, sure, it’s hard to feel too sad for Braver given its current flavor-of-the-month status it enjoys, but it still seems strange to me that the class has been out for so long and yet still has no means to obtain weapons through Pyroxenes. Note that it is currently the only class that suffers for this right now (although Fighter still has no way to get a Double Saber without obtaining a 10* via luck or cash either…)

As Sega is going to be releasing these in threes YET AGAIN I can’t help but wonder how long it’s going to be before Braver finally gets any exchange weapons from it. As I assume we have to go through the rest of the Advance Quests first, it’s going to be at least 2 updates before we find out. And when they add Coast, Quarry and Seabed Super Hard Advance Quests I wonder if any of the Braver weapons will require 9* weapons? If not then it’s still nothing a player can work toward, which would kind of suck!

Oh, while on that point, the Super Hard Advance Quests may drop 11* weapons. That’s all fine, but it seems that the exchange items themselves are still 10*. Not a huge deal, but this game sure does have an awful lot of 10* weapons now…

So what about the old Advance Quests?

Well it seems they will be kept at least marginally relevant. The old tier of Pyroxenes can be exchanged for the new tier at a rate of 100:1 and the old Advanced Capsules can be exchanged for the new ones at a rate of 10:1 . Of course as you need 10 of the new capsules for one run of a Super Hard Advance Quest you will need a total of 100 of the old capsules per run,

You can also exchange the old Pyroxenes directly for EXcubes at a rate of 500:1. This seems absurdly high given you can exchange 90 of them and a 9* weapon for an equivalent trade. However, some Pyroxene types only have 10* items that can be exchanged with them, which really only leaves you with the option of either up-grading them to Large Pyroxenes or dumping them into EXcubes. However, are you really going to be running the old Advance Quests enough to make a reasonable supply like that? Have to wait and see for sure but I doubt it somehow.

Final Thoughts

Maybe I’m just plain masochistic, I don’t know, but I find I actually like running Advance Quests so to have them with Super Hard AI is at least tantalizing for me. The incentives for running them are difficult to gauge with the current lack of information on the new tier of Pyroxene 10*s and no knowledge of the 11* drop rates (which I expect to be close to near non-existent still, they are the next-to highest tier of weapons after all).

What I really don’t appreciate is the drip-feeding we have going on here. This is so barely new content that it almost defies belief. This makes the fact they’re drip-feeding it even more painful, but  it seems it’s a tactic they’re going to keep on using for at least the next few months. I anticipate a pretty lackluster Summer for PSO2 if this is an indicator of what’s to come.

New Extreme Quest 11*s

why-the-long-ohhhh

As was revealed during the live broadcast earlier this year, this March will see some additional floors being added for Extreme Training: Tundra & Machines (極限訓練:凍土と機甲). Specifically floors 51-60, which will pit players against lv70 monsters.

Along with this, some additional weapons will be available in the Refine Spell-stones shop, where currently you can buy a number of still near best-in-slot or currently best-in-slot weapons. In case you’re unaware, this will cost you 13,500 of the lowest tier stones you can get from the quest, however the title gives you the equivalent of 8100 kind of for free.

Anyway, thanks to Shougai for posting them up, re-posting them below. Romaji is raw, I make no attempt to localize the names (because I can’t!). Unfortunately, their stats are unknown for now.

  • バイオグリオン – Baiogurion

biosword

  • バイオゼクト – Baiozekuto

biodsaber

  • バイオトライナーBaiotoraina

biorifle

  • バイオベルド – Baioberudo

biobow

  • バイオリアス- Baioriasu

biorod

The common factor here is the first 3 Kana of each name, “ba-i-o”, which is used for “Bio”. (example).

You can see the weapons in motion here. Their animation gimmick seems to be that they’re hidden as something that resembles a card on your hip while they’re sheathed.

It’s plausible that these weapons will be stronger than the other 11* weapons currently in the exchange, which also means they could cost more Spell-stones too. Shougai seems to be guessing they’ll cost 6 each but I have a nasty feeling they may cost more than that.

And I’ve only just managed to save enough Spell-stones up to afford one of the current weapons too. Guess I’m waiting until March the 5th to check these out!

Really I’ve explained my opinion on the acquisition rate of these weapons before, which is to say unless you’re in a position to pay for other players’ Extreme Passes it will take you a very, very long time to obtain even one of them. So long in fact that if you began collecting the Spell-stones back when they were released you may have only recently been able to get one of the current weapons and that was WITH the help of 3/5ths of the materials being given to you by the titles. Just in time for them to possibly be made entirely obsolete by a new tier of them that may require even more Spell-stones than the last ones. There will be no help from titles this time, either!

Yes, of course obtaining them too quickly would be a very bad thing. Having them take so long to obtain that they’re in theory obsolete before you even get one however might be a tad overkill…

MY INVENTORY

patty-watInventory management is something that seems to be part and parcel of the MMO genre. At some point, your inventory is going to fill up and you will need to decide what’s worth keeping, what’s worth selling and what can just be tossed. Failure to do so properly can slow your adventuring down considerably, as you will be unable to loot things.

It seems that, over time, PSO2 has managed to find more and more ways to pack your inventory full of things that you may be hesitant to get rid of. This blog entry will list all these items and run off reasons why you wouldn’t likely want to trash them.

Advance Quest Items

These include:

  • アドバンスカプセルa / Advanced Capsule a
  • アドバンスカプセルb / Advanced Capsule b
  • アドバンスカプセルc / Advanced Capsule c
  • 風輝石ヴァーユ / Vayu Wind Pyroxene
  • 炎輝石アグニ / Agni Fire Pyroxene
  • 地輝石プリティヴィー / Prithvi Earth Pyroxene
  • 雷輝石インドラ / Indra Thunder Pyroxene
  • 雪輝石ヒマーラヤ / Himalaya Snow Pyroxene
  • 天輝石ブラフマー / Brahma Sky Pyroxene
  • 元輝石イシャーナ / Ishana Source Pyroxene
  • 滅輝石ニルティリー / Nirrti Ruin Pyroxene
  • 霊輝石ヤーマ / Yama Soul Pyroxene

12 inventory slots gone! At least, for that matter, as while they can stack up to 999 it is quite easy to end up with multiple stacks of them. Not only that, but various 9*s can be exchanged with a number of these Pyroxene items for a 10* weapon. Even if you don’t need any of the weapons themselves, they can be exchanged for EXCubes or Photon Spheres. Both of these items are kind of useful, as they can exchanged for items that can be sold on the market and other functional things (EXP boosters, rare drop boosters, etc).

Extreme Quest Items

These include:

  • 紅桜の欠片 / Scarlet Fragment
  • 真紅の欠片 / Crimson Fragment
  • 蒼碧の欠片 / Cerulean Fragment
  • 紅桜の原石 / Scarlet Ore
  • 真紅の原石 / Crimson Ore
  • 蒼碧の原石 / Cerulean Ore
  • 魔石ハートキー / Heart Key Spellstone
  • 魔石ブラッディムーン / Bloody Moon Spellstone
  • 魔石ファントムナイト / Phantom Night Spellstone
  • ハートキー触媒 / Heart Key Catalyst
  • ブラッディムーン触媒 / Bloody Moon Catalyst
  • ファントムナイト触媒 / Phantom Night Catalyst

Another 12 slots gone! And again, much like Advanced Quests you can end up with multiple stacks, though only of the fragments. However, you can compress them into ores and since the recent update that allows you to carry up to 999 of them in your inventory it’s much less of a hassle to do so.

Related to extreme quests, there is also the chance to obtain 11* armors, which you’re not likely to trash.

Currency Items

The following items are all used as currency in various exchanges and shops.

  • 虹輝石イリティスタ / Iritista Rainbow Pyroxene (10* weapons)
  • エクスキューブ / Excube
  • フォトンドロップ / Photon Drop
  • フォトンクリスタル / Photon Crystal
  • フォトンスフィア / Photon Sphere
  • アークスバッヂ青 / Blue Arks Badge

That’s 6 slots gone! Iritista can be exchanged for some pretty terrible 10* weapons that can then be converted into Excubes or Photon Spheres. Photon Drops and Photon Crystals can be compressed into Photon Spheres as well.

Consumables

  • 獲得経験値+10% / Experience Gained +10%
  • 獲得経験値+25% / Experience Gained +25%
  • 獲得経験値+50% / Experience Gained +50%
  • 獲得経験値+75% / Experience Gained +75%
  • レアドロップ倍率+10% / Rare Drop Rate Boost +10%
  • レアドロップ倍率+50% / Rare Drop Rate Boost +50%
  • レアドロップ倍率+75% / Rare Drop Rate Boost +75%
  • レアドロップ倍率+250% / Rare Drop Rate Boost +250%
  • 獲得メセタ+10% / Meseta Gained +10%
  • 獲得メセタ+50% / Meseta Gained +50%
  • トライブースト+50% / Tri Boost +50%
  • トライブースト+100% / Tri Boost +100%
  • ショートケーキ / Shortcake
  • チーズケーキ / Cheesecake
  • フルーツタルト / Fruit Tart
  • パンプキンパイ / Pumpkin Pie
  • クリスマスケーキ / Christmas Cake
  • バレンタインチョコ / Valentines Cake
  • トロピカルフラッペ / Tropical Frappe
  • グラインダー / Grinder
  • 強化成功率+5% / Grind Success Rate +5%
  • 強化成功率+10% / Grind Success Rate +10%
  • 強化成功率+100% / Grind Success Rate +100%
  • 強化リスク軽減(+1) / Grind Risk Reduction (+1)
  • 強化リスク軽減(+2) / Grind Risk Reduction (+2)
  • 強化リスク軽減(完全) / Grind Risk Reduction (Full)
  • シンセサイザー / Synthesizer
  • 属性強化+5% / Attribute Enhance +5%
  • 能力追加成功率+5% / Ability Success Rate +5%
  • 能力追加成功率+10% / Ability Success Rate +10%
  • エクストリームパス / Extreme Pass

A considerable 32 slots gone here. Note that this would be more if you use AC scratch, as there are a number of unique consumables you can obtain from it. The worth of the 10% EXP and Meseta boosts is somewhat insignificant, but I imagine most players are going to consume them rather than throw them away.

Crafting

I’ve not really talked about this on the blog yet, so I’ll go ahead and take this opportunity to explain my opinion on it. Crafting is dumb. With that out of the way, back on the subject of inventory hogs because if you want to craft I sure hope you didn’t like having all those spare inventory slots!

  • アイロニア / Ironia
  • スティニア / Steenia
  • シルバニア / Silvania
  • アイロデスト / Irodest
  • スティデスト / Steedest
  • シルバデスト / Silvadest
  • アイログリモ / Irogrimo
  • スティグリモ / Steegrimo
  • シルバグリモ / Silvagrimo
  • アイロリアス / IroRears
  • スティリアス / SteeRears
  • シルバリアス / SilvaRears
  • アイロアムス / IroArms
  • スティアムス / SteeArms
  • シルバアムス / SilvaArms
  • アイロレグス / IroLegs
  • スティレグス / SteeLegs
  • シルバレグス / SilvaLegs
  • ルビアード / Rubiard
  • サファード / Saphard
  • ネオジット / Neojit
  • プロメチット / Promechit
  • PAフラグメント(打撃) / PA Fragment (Strike)
  • PAフラグメント(射撃) / PA Fragment (Ranged)
  • PAフラグメント(法撃) / PA Fragment (Tech)
  • リリパリウム(極小) / Liliparium (Min)

Not including the AC items again. That’s 26 slots gone for a complete set of crafting items. Anyone who has dismantled rare items will also know that you can very quickly accumulate the lowest tier of materials. So even though the likes of Ironia can stack up to 999, it doesn’t take long to end up with multiple stacks of them.

Conclusion

This is by no means an exhaustive list, yet I believe this post shows that around 87 inventory slots are eaten up by various things within the game. For a free-to-play player, that’s nearly half of their 200-slot item storage gone. This is before you consider the less predictable things, such as clothing items, armor sets and weapons that the player is either going to keep for use or for sale when they obtain access to their shop.

Let’s also not forget consumable tickets the player may not wish to use immediately, such as My Shop and My Room passes, or any compensation tickets such as Skill Tree Reset Passes and Premium Set (1 Day). Oh and I’ve not even mentioned Client Orders that require you to obtain items…

Towards The Future

defAs we learned recently from the 16th live broadcast the new tier of Advance Quests will be using new types of caps. Specifically Advanced Capsule d, e and f. So that’s 3 more slots gone before you then also consider the possibility of new types of Pyroxenes from the quest (another 3) and any new pre-requisite weapons.

Is Sega going to do anything to relieve the storage situation for freemium players? Not at all, but don’t worry they will be including 2 new rent-able storage sots in your warehouse soon!

The Hidden Messages of Lilipa

excuse-me-have-you-heard-of-the-word-of-our-lord-and-saviorAre you aware that Lilipa’s tunnels contain secret messages? Do you care? If you don’t, tough luck because I’m going to be talking about them anyway. partitio

There’s actually not a lot of text in the area. This is the most common example, seen on wall panels throughout the stage. There also used to be text on some large holographic screens but either they’ve removed them for whatever reason or I’ve just been exceedingly unlucky in finding them. The text in the above example reads “PARTITI”. Yes, its a chunk of a word, the full one being “partition”. How do we know this? Well let’s have a look at a certain texture from the game…

lilipan_letters

With the combined efforts of myself and Agrajag of Psumods we determined that this is in fact not a bunch of chicken scratchings. It is actually encoded letters from the roman alphabet. Now rather than expect you to just take our word for it, allow me to demonstrate how we came to this conclusion..

updown

Without these, decoding it might have been impossible. The initial idea was that the symbols here spell the words “UP” and “DOWN”. The actual in-game arrows you see are devoid of text however and as best I know these aren’t used anywhere in the game. So with six letters as a starting point, it’s simply time to go matching them to the words in the rest of the image. From there, you can guess words, check the newly added letters in the code against the rest of the image and make sure words built from that make sense. Finally, we ended up with the following result:

otheroneFrom that, we can build an actual alphabet:

lillipa_fontAs you can see, it’s not a complete alphabet, as we’ve not seen any instances of those letters.

the_removed_screen_panelThis is the actual texture for the holographic screens from the Tunnels which have sadly been removed at some point. I don’t seem to have any old screen-shots showing them either, which is annoying. In any case, the text here turned out to be Japanese written in Romaji.

saishu shita shigen ha
bosei ni tensou shimasu

kichou na monomo
ooitame
shinchou ni
sagyou surukoto

Thanks to EspioKaos, the text turned out to read:

Transport collected materials to mother (base). There are many precious items (here). Be careful while working.

The smaller blocks of text there are just copy+pasted segments of the above text strewn about. The text in the yellow banner spells out “INFORMATI”, don’t think it takes a terribly large amount of deductive skill to determine the full word is “information”.

See this work was done some time ago and we assumed we’d seen all the in-game examples. Well, turned out we’d missed one written above the exposed core on Big Varder.

vardarchest

Using our charts, we can ascertain the text reads “?O INDUSTRY”. Yup, we have never encountered that first symbol before, so we have no idea what it could be. There is in fact another unidentified symbol at the end of the holographic screen too, but trying any of the remaining letters in either case doesn’t really clear anything up. The remaining missing letters are J, Q, X and Z.

While kind of nifty, aside from the mention of “mother” there’s not a lot of information that’s actually hidden in this encoded text. Not that you couldn’t already tell just from looking at the area anyway, as in the tunnels area and Lilipa in general being an abandoned industrial facility. The text doesn’t clear up who it belonged to, either, unless of course the name of the company on Big Varder’s chest is actually mentioned elsewhere in the story that I’m not aware of.

If you know what the remaining unknown symbols may be, feel free to share!