Earlier today, in response to a tweet asking him why FL4K didn’t have more pet specific anointments, Grant Kao (one of the combat designers for BL3) posted this
I don’t have the words to describe how distraught I am that one of the lead designers of this game has such little understanding of how their own systems actually work. This may be going far, but I’m willing to push the envelope on this because the assumptions laid out in this post are indicative of a mindset that goes completely counter to the mechanics that exist in the game.
There are 3 points in this post that are completely incorrect.
- Buffing pets too much would incentivize AFK gameplay and take away from guns
- The Beastmaster concept is new in Borderlands
- The gun game is something that needs to be “preserved”, seemingly by not having pets that are too powerful.
Let me break down why each of these are incorrect, and @Noelle_Gbx I apologize if this is a dick move, but I would ask that this be directed to the dev team, and if possible Mr. Kao specifically, to try to engage in some conversation on this. As it stands, it’s like he’s talking about a different game.
1: Buffing pets too much would incentivize AFK gameplay and take away from guns
To address this point, I’ll link the damage formula that Gearbox created, and explain why this concern is completely counter to how they designed the pets to work.
FL4K can currently obtain about 300% pet damage through skills. Of that 300%, 65% is tied to Hunter Kill Skills (Interplanetary Stalker and Psycho Head on a stick) that require FL4K specifically to kill enemies, your pet cannot proc those skills. Another Hunter skill, Furious Attack, provides an additional 30% damage bonus for shooting enemies 10 times. Lastly, the Power Inside gives 50% bonus pet damage if you use an action skill at full health every 15 seconds.
That means that, out of 300% total pet damage FL4K can have, nearly 150% cannot be activated by the pet. Half of all of FL4K’s pet damage comes from skills that only FL4K can activate, and FL4K needs to shoot enemies to give the pets max damage. Therefore, the concern over AFK gameplay is ridiculous.
Unless Mr. Kao wasn’t on the dev team in November, the patch that added pet damage to most of FL4K’s Hunter skills came out with M4, along with the scaling change. It was the closest thing any character has gotten to a rework in this game, and it was to incentivize being active by providing more pet damage.
2: The Beastmaster is a new concept in Borderlands
Maybe this is semantics, but Borderlands has had several characters who called upon beasts or robots to assist them in combat. We’ve had Mordecai, Gaige, Wilhelm, and Timothy. Each of these characters had pets who could provide bonuses and damage in equal or greater amounts to FL4K’s pets. Just as an example:
- Wolf and Saint gave Willy an 88% multiplicative damage buff in UVHM, 20% damage through Fortify, 40% shield restore, and 2.5% health regen just for being out and 3% increased health regen through Energize.
- You could spec Wolf for 30% bonus move speed, 15% damage + 88% from Laser Guided + whatever you had from Rolling Thunder, 125% fire rate, 25% shield, and 40% health.
- Fl4k’s pets give them 65% damage reduction, 2% health regen, 40% damage, a taunt (noted above, Wolf was a flying taunt), revives, and whatever passives your pet provides.
- You can spec them for 310% damage + IPS and Big Game bonuses (not possible yet, but that is the max amount) on top of Sic Em’, Go for the Eyes, and Gamma Burst; give them all of your regen (WRW, SRS, Turn Tail, FA, spiderant, not sure which other things count) for 12% health regen; 10% move speed; and 15% max health.
Aside from reviving FL4K, the pets do nothing that Wolf and Saint didn’t do. And yet, Wolf and Saint could deal far more damage than FL4K’s pets. Zane’s digi-clone can taunt, heal shields, and damage share. It can do just about everything FL4K’s pet can do (not even counting that it can provide life steal for you along with numerous other utilities with Double Barrel), but has access to a capstone that gives it a copy of your gun. And this is on the class that has an additional summon that can provide debuffs and damage as well.
Pet classes are not a new concept in Borderlands, and having a pet out permanently shouldn’t have led to such a drastic reduction in performance compared to previous pets. We need Gamma Burst to get maximum pet damage anyway, so the argument that “those are action skills while FL4K’s pet isn’t” isn’t even correct. FL4K is undoubtedly, in terms of damage, AI, and mechanics, the worst pet class in the series, and I think you’ll find that opinion is rather wide-spread.
3. The gun game is something that needs to be “preserved”, seemingly by not having pets that are too powerful.
I don’t know what to make of this comment. It seems to me that you are saying you knew people enjoyed the archetype of the Beastmaster, and yet you purposefully wanted to keep it weak so players would engage with the gun system? That is an awfully convoluted thought process. Not only is it unfair to the players to dangle a play style you know we love in front of our faces and purposefully make it weak, but it completely ignores the greatest power you have to prevent that from happening in the first place: the anointment system. The very thing this twitter post asked you about. If you didn’t want pets to take away from the gameplay, why didn’t you just add anointments that incentivized using guns? We have several anointments that only activate on attack command, so it’s not as if you couldn’t do the same for guns if you wanted to.
What all if this tells me, as a player, is that you have a fundamental misunderstanding of how your own game works. Not only that, but that you are so out of touch with your player base that you would design a Beastmaster class yet fear giving its pets actual power even when the player base has been begging since the game released for more support for pet builds. I’ve posted at length about the frustration we feel trying to discern what this team’s intentions were for FL4K’s pet builds, and how it feels like they may not know how to make them work better. Then I saw the Borderlands show proceeding Mayhem 2.0 where a dev mentioned how useful the Friendbot class mod would be once pet damage scaled in Mayhem 2.0, seemingly unaware that the pet damage on that COM has been bugged since Day 1. We got the Trainer class mod, where the team doubled down on a universally reviled skill and gave it to our pets. And now we have this.
I’m going to ask straight up: what is the reasoning behind your opinions? Because the mechanics at play in the game you and your team designed say that this shouldn’t be a concern. There is no reason to fear AFK play or overshadowing the guns, because those elements were baked into FL4K’s skill tree. So why are you concerned about buffing pets? Please, help me understand.