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Build diversity: Simple solutions for Grineer EHP, Slash dominance, and useless damage types.


Phaegis
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Bold fonts for TLDR

 

The problem

As the enemy level increases, Slash (with Viral) becomes more useful while other status become relatively useless which narrows build-diversity as the enemy level increases. The problem is not that there is a meta, but that there are too few. 

To be more specific, we know through our experience that Grineer is tougher compared to other factions, and this gap amplifies (insanely) as the level increases to the extent that Viral+Heat+Slash becomes the best if not the build. 

You start to wonder if the existence of certain damage types like Impact and Puncture or Blast and Cold is ever necessary in the first place.

You may love Hammers or Fist weapons like Sancti Magistar or Furax Wraith but you figure out they primarily proc Impact, which makes you dream if they instead had Slash or if Impact wasn’t so useless. 

Maybe you wanted to invest your Forma into Telos Boltace or the Secura Cestra only to realize Puncture is useless, and the only saving grace for these weapons is to turn them in to a crit weapon or hire their status as Condition Overload/Galvanized Shot primers. 

You mod Corrosive on your Soma Prime since you read that Corrosive deals 75% more damage to Ferrite armor, but you learn that you’d would rather put Viral on since the Slash procs ignore armor entirely. 

Or you thought bringing Gammacor for its Magnetic procs against Corpus was a smart idea, which it is, but you realize Toxin entirely ignores shields, defeating the purpose of Magnetic entirely. 

Mods like Hunter Munitions, Internal Bleeding, and Hemorrhage are another  obvious evidence of how Slash is so much more valuable and - on the flip side of the coin - how other status are pushed aside by it. These mods are - what many says - band-aid solution for the unfortunate weapons that didn’t have the “right” status. Doesn’t that sound strange? 

We have different factions with different resistances, which means DE wants build-diversity. But what’s the point of resistances if we have damage types that ignore them entirely? 
 

The causes of this problem

1) ludicrous EHP gap between Grineer and other factions due to how armor interacts with health. We have different factions with different resistances, which is awesome as it demands different weapons with different builds, but what’s the point of these factions when essentially only one of them matters? 

2) Certain damage types (Slash and Toxin) ignore certain resistances entirely (armor and shields), which - with the ludicrous EHP scaling of Grineers - trivializes other damage types.

3) Certain status procs are inherently useless or meaningless in a game that encourages killing hoards of enemies as fast as possible. Most of these are defensive, debuff status. That is, Impact, Puncture, Cold (useful in disruption), Blast and to a lesser extent Radiation (reliable CC). 

Gas is currently useless, not because of its mechanics, but because of how its numbers work. 

 

Solutions

Now someone in the past has dedicated a whole essay on this, and I will repost a compressed version of their solution.

1) Separate Health and Armor as independent health bars, like Shield is separate from Health. This way, the problem of Grineer’s insane EHP gap with other factions is solved. 

For example, a hypothetical Grineer unit with 20,000 total health (10,000 clone flesh + 10,000 armor bar) has the same total health as a Corpus unit with 20,000 total health (10,000 flesh + 10,000 shield). The only difference is their resistances against different damage types.

2) Slash and Toxin no longer ignore armor and shields respectively. Combine this with solution 1, Slash and Toxin will no longer trivialize other status. Corrosive/Heat and Magnetic will be more meaningful to use against armored and shielded enemies respectively. 

However, even with these two solutions others like Impact, Puncture and Blast will still be useless or underpowered. Therefore:

3) Buff/tweak/rework Impact, Puncture, Blast, and Gas at least to make them meaningful in a game of fast-pace hoard killing. I will not go into detail of how, for the sake of making this post streamlined and as many others have already proposed genius ideas. You may already have one. 

 

Replying to what you may be thinking

Corrosive build is still strong and viable in many levels.

This is true. I can’t present the exact math but Kengineer made a YT video about this. Corrosive is still equally strong  to Viral+Slash builds up to a certain level in Steel Path. However, from a certain point Slash becomes the best against everything except for Sentients and Eidolons. It’s the everything part that is the problem. 
 

You’re just building wrong. Many non-meta builds are viable.

This is true. Most of non-Steel Path content can be completed without relying on Slash or Toxin. Even full crit builds that does not rely on status procs works well. The problem I am referring to magnifies as the level increases and becomes clearly visible at some point. This matters to those who enjoy playing beyond T3 Sorties or those who cares about min-maxing their favorite weapons. Also, this does not change the fact that many weapons will be inferior to others simply for not having certain damage types. I’m not expecting all weapons to be equally strong in the same way, but instead equally strong but in different situations. Each weapon should be viable but for different enemies, making us choose different builds and weapons depending on the situation. 


Nerfing Slash and Toxin will not make other status and other weapons more viable/enjoyable.

Yes, this is why I propose that status like Impact, Puncture and Blast be buffed/changed. Wouldn’t you be happy if that Impact on your favorite primary weapon had an appealing status effect that is also different from Slash? Wouldn’t you be happy if you are no longer incentivized to slap that Hunter Munitions on because you have more appealing options now? 
 

If armor acts like a separate health bar how would the Tenno armor be like?

Since the essence of this problem is build-diversity against enemies and not about survival for Warframes, we can leave the Tenno armor as it is. If Warframe survivability is your concern, that’s an entirely different topic deserving a separate post.

 

You can just use Condition Overload (and its gun variants) if you want to make different status like Blast useful.

Yes, this does help those status a way to shine but it does not change the fact that they are still inferior. In this regard, Condition Overload is a band-aid mod much like Internal Bleeding and Hemorrhage is. If you had three weapons each with only one of the IPS, you would obviously choose the one with Slash. You can use Condition Overload on any of those weapons, but Slash still is stronger. Or in a more realistic situation, you have two open mod space on your weapon for putting two 60/60 elemental mods, and you would obviously put Viral or Corrosive rather than Magnetic, Gas or Blast. 

 

Non-meta status still has its use

This is technically true but not in a meaningful/significant way that influence our build diversity. Cold has its niche use in slowing Disruption targets and Radiation has a niche synergy with Rakta Dark Dagger or in general CCing enemies. But these are too niche to render these elements as viable alternative meta. Also, can you find a situation where Blast and Gas or Impact and Puncture comes on top over other elements? In what situations are these superior alternatives? 

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9 hours ago, UncleHanayama said:

Corrosive is still equally strong  to Viral+Slash builds up to a certain level in Steel Path

On this note, there's a few other solutions to the armour problem that can either work with or instead of the proposed fixes here:

1. Capping armour's damage reduction to a sub-100% value. Armour bypass only reaches above-par past a certain DR level. Cap DR below that level and armour bypass never supercedes armour strip.

2. Making armour reduction methods work on armour's DR value instead of numeric value. That is, if Heat strips 50% armour, it cuts the damage reduction in half, instead of just lowering the armour amount and ending up with 80+% DR.

Those depending on the kind of relationship one wants between armour-handling elements and those that aren't intended for handling armour.

Another alternative is to allow headshots to be unaffected by armour's DR. One of the current issues armour has is that there are no mechanical ways to handle even part of it - compare to Corpus shield gates being bypassed with headshots. That may not make non-armour-dealing elements suddenly good against armour (and should they be?), but it would make using them less of a critical and permanent mistake. It also helps precision weapons some, though accompanied by a dissonance with the "mass killing everything" nature of the current game.

Mind, I do think the solutions proposed here work too. Even just being able to lower armour by beating on it, like shields, would be very useful. (Though, let's be real: pretty much any reasonable fix to armour would be better than what's current...)

One other small thing:

9 hours ago, UncleHanayama said:

DE wants build-diversity.

I think the kind of build diversity currently present is sub-par. "Build for Corrosive for armour" or "build for Magnetic for shields" is colour-matching. Sure, it's better than "slap heat and viral on everything", and in that sense it works. But consider an alternative where status procs have tangible, global effects, like Magnetic grouping enemies together like a miniature Magus Anomaly. Making the build dependent on what else you bring (because a miniature Magus Anomaly isn't super useful if you already have Larva, right?) rather than just what you're fighting.

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Easiest way to fix the disparity is for armor to not scale at all.

Every 300 armor adds +100% ehp.

A Grineer unit with 300 armor would have equivocal protection to a Corpus unit that maintains 1:1 ratio between health and shields as levels scale, with the caveat that health modifiers against flesh still apply because armor provides DR instead of covering health.

The next thing on the cutting block would be Viral though. Before Sortie levels, Viral is already on par with Corrosive. By the time armor scales high enough for Corrosive's armor strip to be better than Viral's damage multiplication, we pair Viral with Slash.

Though at the same time, if armor didn't scale, Slash would become the weakest dot of the bunch and arguably the worst IPS type.

Edited by DealerOfAbsolutes
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