Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem - Game Design Objectives Q&A

The developers behind Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem, a hack 'n' slash action-RPG currently going through Steam Early Access, have recently put together this announcement styled as a Q&A that shares their plans for the game's next update and beyond, with a focus on balance, difficulty modes, and new features. Here's an excerpt:

Hello everyone!

This week, we would like to share some information on the Game Design objectives and changes planned for the next Content Patch, as well as the global idea we have for the release. We feel it’s important to share these goals with you and how we feel about some of the features, so you can have a better understanding of our vision for the game.

So, we’ve gathered a few points in the form of questions that were addressed to the Design team based on your feedback, and here are their answers:

Is the Design team satisfied by the feedback and results from the last Content Patch in terms of encounters, balancing and build diversity?

We know that there is still work to do, but we’re currently satisfied with the base of what we have implemented so far and we’re now focused on improving the experience.

We’ve also worked on a lot of bugs preventing the balancing to work as intended. We have now fixed them, so things will absolutely run smoother with Wrath of Sarisel.

There are plans to improve the gearing system. With the next patch we’ll be adding local affixes, effects that apply to the item they’re currently on, for instance, a 5% Health bonus would be applied to the item Health bonus, not roughly on the player’s health. This will add more diversity to items in the long run and it was something that we planned to do for a long time.

We also have intentions to add implicit values to armors and weapons, and we hope to implement them for the next Content Patch as well, to give a bit more identity to the various gears available.

After Wrath of Sarisel, we're planning to work on more ways to override the skill limitation system, allowing new types of builds and gameplay. New affixes will appear, allowing you to use other spells while using melee weapons. Other affixes will bring more variety and a bit of “craziness” in itemization, we'll tell you more about this in a future announcement.

Finally, staves are being reworked too, to bring back some highly appreciated feeling from the Alpha.

What are the current guidelines regarding the balancing of Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem?

These are our current goals in terms of balancing:
  • Avoid sharp peaks of difficulty and make the progression more linear.
  • Make sure that the straight-forward archetypes are equally interesting.
  • Make sure that hybrid builds are viable. Although we know that we won’t be able to cover everything, we have to study all the possible builds and make them usable.
  • Create balancing that avoids off-the-charts numbers in terms of damage and health points.
Will there be changes regarding the scaling of attacks and spells?

We’re satisfied with the difference brought to attacks and spells on the scaling level. It allows to have different balancing levers, and scaling spells on weapons would make it more difficult to balance hybrid profiles. So, this system will most likely stay the way it is for the moment.

However, skills efficiency will be improved since we can now set values for each level of skill, which we hope to implement completely with the next content patch.

What are the changes brought to the ailment system with the next patch?

We’ll be implementing something that we planned and didn’t have the time to implement yet: reset the ailment timer when the ailment is reapplied. It will make attack speed much less mandatory when you play such a build, and it will make it easier for players to build up ailment stacks on creatures, which allows for more variety in character builds.

Where are we now on the difficulty modes?

We have planned at least 2 levels of difficulty for the release. One would be a “story mode” where you can make the story without too much challenging content, and one would be a normal mode based on our vision of what we want in terms of difficulty in Wolcen.

We’re considering a higher difficulty mode as well, but we don’t want it to be just based on more health points and more damage coming from monsters. We’re currently working on a system that allows variations on the intensity of the encounters for a customizable experience.

Hardcore mode is also planned but it will not be available until we’re satisfied with the balancing and the game fluidity of the base game.