Add shields to all escort/defence targets, and more Wolf-style upgrades

A few simple changes I think would drastically improve the issues people have on Escort/Defence missions in large teams or solo.

  1. Add shields to all defence and escort targets. Just standard shields that recharge normally. Base the values on the health of the defence/escort target itself so that the shield always remains relevant.
  2. Add more ‘upgrade’ options like the Wolf Sentry from Void’s Edge (Mission #2). These don’t need to be the same, or need to have the same activation as the Wolf Sentry, but it would allow players a bit more tactical advantage.

Why?

Shields add the capability to absorb a few stray shots without affecting your progress. Nobody can reliably stop every single bullet from hitting the sentry or defence core, so a shield serves as a buffer from those few stray attacks. Any sustained damage will still annihilate your target, so it wouldn’t make it too tanky.

As to having more upgrade options, they give players a tactical option when turrets aren’t available, as well as a bit of forgiveness room for slip ups. I’d recommend making each type of target slightly different in terms of how they are activated or how they function. For example:

Defence cores (Renegade, Saboteur etc) could have three shard-cost upgrades.

  1. Heals the core as well as nearby players (like the Wolf Sentry’s heal)
  2. Releases pulses every 2 seconds that push enemies back and stun them
  3. Rotating shield barrier that can be destroyed (Like ISIC’s Rotating Wards)

The Chronicle Sentry (Archive) could have three cooldown-based upgrades

  1. Fires focused laser beams that have a lifesteal value on the damage dealt, allowing him to heal
  2. Slows movement, but activates personal shield to make him invulnerable (same style as Geoff’s shield)
  3. Increases movement of Chronicle and all nearby players for a number of pulses

Abilities like these (these are just examples) would let players recover from mistakes and utilise more tactics to keep their targets alive. Overall, this would reduce the frustration a lot of players have when playing public matches with full groups, since it’s difficult to protect the targets if your other team members aren’t working together very well.

If you have any better ideas for abilities for escort/defence targets, or any comments on how to balance their shields, let me know with a comment below =)

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I think if they were to decrease the amount of health the sentry has by something like 2-3x the shield health added, it would work very well.

The sentry would go down a bit faster if you let it get focused by the minions but those who keep the minions off of it no longer have to worry about it being taken down just before the final boss by that single stray skulk the team missed.

I was actually a little confused the second time I had an escort mission, I kept shoving my head up the bots ass trying to figure out where the sweet spot for upgrades was hidden lol. Took me a full 5-10 minutes to figure out it was a one time deal, would love to see this on other missions!

That’d be good, so say the Sentry has 10k health, if we give it 1000 shields he’d have 7-8k health instead?

I definitely want the targets to die if you let them get attacked en masse, but just the ability to guard against a few stragglers is crucial. Sadly, I’ve lost a match on a team of 5 because of one last stray shot before the final scene.

Also, I don’t know how everyone else feels about it, but I think that Sentry’s should only be attackable in the leg, and enemies shouldn’t be able to get underneath them. Half of the issue is Scavens and Primals getting caught underneath and doing damage where you don’t have line of sight.

Exactly.

Regarding the legs I sort of agree. I think the enemy’s should be able to get underneath as a punishment for us allowing them to get that close, but most of the time my issue comes from the enemies slightly clipping into the target. That isn’t an issue for some characters with AOE like Thorn, but is a huge issue for characters like Rath and Deande who then have to clip into it as well in order to attack, and wind up swinging around blindly as a result hoping they are hitting their target.

While I disagree with adding any sort of additional defensive options like this, you DO have some great ideas for those options were they to be added.

I really enjoy the difficulty, the potential of mission failure, and the lack of an “oh, push this button for easy mode.” I’d actually like to see the defensive options REMOVED from the Wolf Sentry. It makes the fight at the gate before final boss CRAAAAZY intense, and that’s what I really love.

Still, you folks make some good points. Perhaps balance it with a very high shard cost, so you’d likely only be able to use a few benefits.

To offer assistance in a more interesting way (opinion!), I’d rather see a few characters that could buff or cast certain abilities on NPC characters. A tank/support that could take a certain % of damage for the target, or a helix for Reyna that put her Failsafe Overshield on the nearest defensive targets instead of herself.

I definitely don’t want it to make it too easy, but currently it’s a bit insane with either very small or very large groups because we have no way of actually making the enemies focus us. Too many times enemies have run right past our elite group of five, or have launched huge barrages of shots from a long range, and there’s nothing we can do but stand there and wait for the mission fail screen to fade away.

I actually anticipate an increase to overall difficulty to accompany these suggestions, so that you are pressured to use them tactically or you lose out immensely.

Regarding your dislike of Wolf’s upgrades, I know how you feel. I love those crazy intense fights, but how about a compromise? Instead of removing his abilities, you could limit them so only one could be active at any given time, which would also apply to my suggested options for defence points and Chronicle.

If you can only pick one, it still lets things be crazy. In regards to Wolf, you can shield him from ranged attacks but melee enemies can still run inside and attack, or you can activate his turret so he can fend off close-range enemies, but allow him to be shot from a range. As soon as you limit the abilities to one-at-a-time, they suddenly become more tactical.

The biggest downside of that all, of course, is noobery. Players activating the worst thing at the wrong time, could easily troll a mission in this sort of situation.

On the topic of letting players use abilities on defence targets etc, I’ve always liked the idea but there’s no way it could be a helix option. Helix options need to be as diversely useful as possible, otherwise it’s a waste of a choice, and they can’t fit very many choices in. I’d prefer if certain abilities could be used on defence points and escort targets regardless, but to limited effect. Maybe Reyna can always just throw an overshield on an escort, maybe Kleese could recharge the shields on a defence point. Alani could throw on some burst heals etc. I don’t think healing would be particularly overpowered, since nothing heals as a percentage, so it would all count very slowly towards the high health pool of escort targets or defence points. If it does end up being overpowered, just limit the amount of effect that the target actually receives.

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I’d be ok with most of these suggestions or things as they are.

My only concern out of the gate is as you say, newbie picking wrong buff at wrong time and effectively killing your chance to use it. I could also see buffs being less powerful, but having no/low cost, with only one activated at a time, then a cooldown which the sentry could announce. “HEY GUYS, I GOT MORE STUFF TO USE!” and such.

I do still like the idea of some helix’s offering bonuses to friendly NPC targets. Don’t think I’d go for heals actually healing sentries/defense points, but offering a unique defensive target effect. For example: A heal might, instead of burst healing like on a normal character, promote a small amount of non stackable HP regen over time. That would encourage some upkeep/maintenance play, which I also really like when supporting.

Yeah, the biggest focus becomes balancing the benefit of the power-ups with the cost/cooldown and the possible enhanced difficulty.

One way to work around the whole “the noob ruined it” scenario could be to put circumstances/triggers on the abilities. For instance, you could activate Chronicle’s shield, but it would only activate when his normal shield drops (assuming he ends up getting a normal shield), or maybe after he takes X amount of total damage. You could purchase the defence core repelling blast, but it might only activate when there are X number of enemies in close range at the same time. You could do the same for Wolf, and allow players to purchase his turret upgrade, but have it only activate once there are enough enemies nearby to make it worth while.

I suppose as an additional layer to prevent noobery, you could allow all of the abilities to be activated at once, but it could reduce the effect, increase the cost/cooldown or reduce the duration.

Increasing the cost makes sense, so you activate one ability for 800 shards, and activating a second ability at the same time now costs 1200 shards (50% increase), and activating the third ability at the same time would cost 1600 shards (3600 shards total to activate all 3).

I feel that if we do get ability choices to help us interact with NPC targets better, those effects should be added to existing augments and mutations instead of being added separately. There needs to be some effect that can always apply for you, no matter what match you’re playing. Blinding and Silencing augments are clearly designed for PvP, but they both still work for PvE, so any augment that allows you to heal/buff/support a Sentry or defence point needs to also have some form of function in other situations.

I think it would be easier to just let certain abilities and helix augments affect sentries and defence points. The issue with making abilities trigger separate effects on the NPC targets is that none of those effects are the same. If the NPC targets have a pre-set effect (your idea of non-stackable health regen) then what would be the limiting factor on how it’s triggered? Kleese can get a strong constant healing aura, does that mean just standing near the Sentry would keep the effect going?

I’m definitely down for any necessary balancing on how the effects might apply (maybe they take increased/reduced healing, depending on how high their health actually is compared to ours), but since everyone’s support power is different (Miko is sustain, Alani is burst etc), having a set effect might end up being too easy to trigger or too difficult to trigger.

I’m not saying it’s a bad idea, I’m just trying to see where the issues lie so we can figure out an idea around them and keep the progress flowing =)

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I think several of these options could work.
I wonder if lore considerations are why we don’t have weapon options on Chronicle, as he’s kind of a librarian / tour guide vs Wolf being modified by Kleese specifically for an offensive maneuver.

Myself, I don’t mind the noob-trap so much, as it means I gotta step my game up when the critical point happens (more difficult = more fun for me). I do see it as a point of frustration for others which is why I mention it.

When I suggest Helix options, I DO mean it as you said that it becomes an additional benefit to a helix that already offers something. No helix should be completely unusable and I think blind augments are great even in PvE, though I’d argue that Galilea’s healing prevention helix options don’t do diddily squat in PvE.

For the Kleese example, I’d say sure, in that case. That his aura would refresh the regen effect’s duration (but not strength). So if the team lets the sentry take too much damage, Kleese can then choose to escort it by making the tradeoff of likely not being close enough to aura-heal teammates. And in that case you certainly wouldn’t want to be fighting mobs directly on top of the sentry to try and double dip heals. Might cause targeting issues with other healers? (ex. want to heal teammate, heal big-ass sentry instead and vice versa)

As an additional measure, and I know it would cause an issue in PvP, but all shields could be taller in effect. Example: I play Boldur, I want to be able to stand in front of a defensive target and tank/block all ranged damage where as now it still seems that large Thralls and Varelsi just shoot above my head. Similar adjustments/helix options for Galilea/Toby/Isic maybe? This is primarily a gripe due to playing Boldur - grain of salt and whatnot.

All that, balancing withstanding of course. And partner, I’ve got no problem with the feedback, even if you do think they’re bad ideas. S’all good discussion!

On the note of Chronicle, he already has guns. Now, when I mentioned lifestealing lasers, I’m honestly thinking of a perfect joke opportunity. I’m thinking of them like scanning beams, that happen to be on overdrive, and Chronicle could have some funny lines regarding that (Like how Wolf melted through the door by “hacking its mainframe”). Chronicle could say something like “Scanning target! Oops, you seem to be a pile of ash there buddy”. He regains health from scanning his enemies because knowledge makes him feel better XD

Agreed with Galilea, I forgot about her. Maybe her healing prevention should apply to shields as well? That way she could at least stop enemies from regenning shields, since I don’t think any enemies actually heal (short of a few bosses)

So, if we set the healing ability of the defence points/sentries to be a pre-set value (to avoid potential exploits, and ensure it’s always a reliable figure), I’d like to see the strength of the heal determine the duration of the effect. Low value, sustainable heals might only give the effect a few seconds of duration once the heal stops, but a big burst heal might give the effect a decent duration, so that all of the different healing abilities still feel relevant.

On your topic of making shields taller, it could work if the hitbox only increases while you’re near the target. If you’re escorting the sentry or protecting a defence point, you could stand within a fairly close range of it with your shield out and it might block 4-5X the normal hitbox both sideways and upwards. That way, it doesn’t need to affect PvP at all, since you could just make it only function on PvE sentries and defence points.

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edit - the more I think on it, the more it seems like a bit much, but info still here for context!

A thought I had the other day.
Imagine a special character-specific helix/mutation styled item, as in it augments your abilities/behavior, but utility-specific.

Let me explain further.
During character select, I pick a loadout, skin, taunt, and a bonus mutation/augment. These would be a separate pool of items managed through the character screen, that would allow you to grab unique and maybe scenario-specific abilities. Example: “Boldur’s shield coverage is amplified to 4x size when near defensive targets.” Perhaps this mutation/augment could be chosen at ANY helix level too, or maybe its just an ability augment that’s active from the start. So you could say “Ok, doing Archive on Super Advanced Hardcore, prolly gonna need that shield coverage augment!”

I know we already have gear and the helix tree in-match, but I really REALLY love additional options and systems like that if they’re implemented nice and seamlessly. And those augments could come from character specific challenges and/or loot packs, the more goodies you can get from those, the better. I’d probably even opt for a crafting system so you could hone in on specific augments if you wanted to (and not just pray to RNGesus). You could have some that were character specific, like the Boldur example (which might be a better fit as a helix option to expand shield coverage in general), to generic ones that maybe offer you unique buildable options. Example: You may now purchase a turret/thumper hybrid for 2x the price.

Don’t have any answers for Galilea though. Shield idea is nice, but might be over the top in PvP.
Good point on Chronicle guns, never really paid much attention to his actions.

As with all things, typical brainstorming disclaimer = balance does not yet apply to these ideas.

Yes, please. I’ve been saying this for weeks now (a month, actually). All I want is a heal bot for the defense points.

I like the notion of combining multiple turrets together, and that would make a badass legendary, but not sure if it would fit in well here. I’m trying to utilise existing elements in these ideas in the hope that if GBX see and consider them, they won’t seem like much of a task to implement at all

I’d say if you were going to increase the shield’s effective size, it’d just be a free effect for using Block while in range of the target. You could add in a special effect tether, or an indicator on screen to show when you are protecting the target, but otherwise would be fine.

You could even just skip the shield size thing, and make it a hard tether that you can activate through the context menu for the target (option 4?). You could make it so 100% of the damage dealt to the Sentry’s health (not shields) gets dealt to you instead, and each additional player who tethers on shares an equal amount of the damage. Players using shields would have the damage dealt to their shield before it breaks, then to their energy shield they have one, and then to their health.