Let's Talk About Loot - A Longwinded Rant That Likely Will Achieve Nothing

Ok. So I’m bored at work tonight, and for the first time in a long time I feel like typing up a manifesto. HUZZAH.

So like most of you, I like battleborn. Maybe too much, as my steam history for the last few weeks will show, but yeah. I like it. However, like many of you, I feel like it has flaws, and many of you have made posts regarding those flaws like matchmaking, microstransactions, character balance, on and on and on. However, I’ve seen few posts about what I consider to be the games biggest flaw - it’s loot system.

I’ll be sprinkling these in throughout, but just to put this post in a nutshell- TLDR; The Item System is Really Bad and needs some thorough, ground up rework.

Let’s start with something that I have seen a few bitch posts about, Legendary items. For those of you who don’t understand the gripes about legendary items being underpowered or useless, I’ll explain in a few words. Every other item class from common to epic, has a price scale that goes down with the quality of the item. For instance, a green power glove that has +7% attack damage will cost less to equip than a green power glove that has +7.3%. Legendaries do not, they are capped at an 1800 activation fee, despite not all of them having the same stats.

Now that seems like a pretty fair trade off considering that they will have two stat upgrades and one “unique” upgrade that changes how you play, or at least functions as a different stat upgrade.

The real problem of cost comes when you factor those stats against epic items, who typically fall in the 850-1050 activation cost.

You see, those epics can have two primary stat boosts as well - they won’t have the tertiary, but it’s perfectly normal to see them walking around with two very useful stats at their much cheaper price range. In addition, they can be very cheaper to equip if they have a negligible drawback (- helaing power, + recoil come readily to mind) into the 700 range, which brings us to the crux of why some legendaries are great and some are goddamn near unequippable.

In order for a legendary to be on cost with even epics, it needs to be able to provide two substantial buffs and a tertiary effect that is at least as good as another buff.

Otherwise, it’s pointless, because if you’re wasting one of the effects or if it isn’t good (or really, great) for your spec, then you’re paying 1800 for the novelty of having a legendary on your loadout, rather than an actual increase.

This is a problem because many legendaries have buffs that are hard to quantify or rate (-cc duration, +middling health regen, +healing recieved) vs buffs that are very obviously good to have (attack speed, attack damage, etc), which is why items like Vow of Vengeance are so prized - they have three very real effects that stack very nicely.

This isn’t even taking into account items that have effects that don’t appear to affect the crowd that they are intended for - see the recent bitches about the change on Vyn’s quiver from a slow to health regen, or the heal locket that lowers all cooldowns… every time you deal 2000 damage.

Which brings me to the next problem within the system, that being that the secondary effects on many green and blue items are… well. Too weird. Everyone knows that “5% attack speed after you hit with a melee attack” is probably a good thing. But things like “+reload speed after you reload”, “+shield regen after you create a buildable” or “-buildable cost while your shield is depleted” are… weird? To say the least. Yet these increase the equip cost of these items greatly.

Another problem we see here are with buffs that seem good, but likely don’t add a lot with the items given. For instance, cooldown reduction has been hotly debated as great or useless, because the game only doles it out in 7% increments which don’t quite seem to make that big of a deal, nevermind the 3-5% that can see on non primary stats.

This also leads to a problem that GBX has been trying to resolve for awhile now (mostly because I think it was a stupid fucking idea in the first place) - 0 cost white items. If you don’t know already, many items spawn with a defect which will lower the activation cost, but do something bad to you. This can also occur on white (common) items, to bring the activation cost down to zero. If you can find an attack speed item for instance that adds to heal power and your character is not a healer… well then you basically just gave them 7% attack speed for no cost save an item slot. If you see someone packing a white, it is either a new player with no other options orrrrr someone abusing this minmax to get a freebie item.

I get that this activity was (probably) intended, but it leads to issues because of the sheer amount of buff types in the game and the difficulty of players of varying skill levels to determine how important the stat is. In short-

“Minor” buffs and debuffs on items vary too widely between “god mode” and “useless” and add too much to the weight of the items cost.

This leads to a lot of what we saw in the last patch, which is that this forces devs to nerf/buff items to try to show off these lesser abilities without dealing with the underlying problems.

The reason for this being, with the small loud out size in battleborn, dev’s obviously have to try to make some way for lesser stats to seem as good as others. Take gloves and swords for instance - both have a very simple task, upping attack speed and damage respectively. Helmets and Wrenches however, have the exceptionally ■■■■■■ job of lowering cc costs and lowering buildable costs. Useful? Maybe? It’s hard to judge because no ones every going to put the ■■■■■■■ things on when they could be buffing their damage output or defensive capabilites.

Basically, and I’m going to bold all this, because it’s the crux of everything here - Typically, the goal of a loot system is to provide an outlet for player customization and provide long term goals for a player to strive to (like farming a legendary). It should be diverse enough that a player can experiment as they wish, yet restrictive enough to keep gameplay in both PvE and PvP from feeling one sided. As such, I believe that the current system doesn’t quite do a good enough job of that.

So. Wat do.

One route to go is the way that GBX already is - changing items based on the meta to either upgrade or downgrade their value. It’s a way to go, for sure, and is necessary in part in any real meta to keep some items from going apeshit. That being said, considering how much diversity is already becoming a problem (given the recent nerfs to attack speed and attack damage), I don’t think it’s the right answer for battleborn just yet. What is that solution?

I dunno.

Well, I have an idea. But it’s crazy, and involves a lot of evisceration to the games current loadout and loot systems. If you like it, say so. If you don’t, or you have an alternative plan, fire that away too. That’s why we’re talking about loot.

My proposal would be as below.

Step 1. Lower activation costs for all items by roughly 25%.

This seems drastic, I know. And more in line to just reward players. However it goes a long way to making a lot of legendaries more playable, and more importantly, it allows you to do the next crazy thing…

Step 2. Add a fourth loadout slot.

See, I said it was crazy. But it’s not all madness! I promise.

Step 3. Create three item subsections.

Basically, this step involves taking the existing item pool and dividing them into three groups - Primary, Seconday, and Utility.

Basically, instead of the current loadout system, you would have an additional slot, but would be restricted in how you could equip items to those slots. Think “guns, armor, relics” from borderlands.

Slot 1 would be Primary Items, items that are character defining. Attack Damage, Skill Damage, Attack Speed, Heal power, Damage reduction. These would be the primary things that all classes rely on or choose to rely on.

Slot 2 would be Secondary, or things that are important, but not quite as astonishing as your primary stats. Shield Pen, +Shield Capacity/Recharge Delay, Reload Speed, Movement Speed, etc.

Slots 3 and 4 would be utility items, which would include some of the more unique things like recoil reduction, speed recharge rate, -cc duration, -buildable cost, etc.

This step actually does a lot for the game. It first of all puts a cap on offensive and defensive gains while pushing some of the game’s lesser used items to the forefront. Now that being said, I can already hear some players griping about “giving the illusion of choice, but really taking it away” which is why this next thing is a must-

Step 4. Revamp all utility items to have a reduced power primary or secondary stat

Bamf. Take that one in the mouf, item diversification.

You’d think the next step is profit, but we’re not done quite yet.

Step 5. Analyze and buff or replace underperforming stats

Probably would take a few weeks of metadata to bring this online, but this system would probably give a better idea of whats doing well and whats not at the moment. Also would pit certain abilities against each other to get a baseline of what a stat should be at to be considered worthwhile.

If you buff it a lot and no one still likes it, it’s probably a sign it should die.

Then again, while we’re at it.

Step 6. Use metadata to hotfix the activation prices of legendaries week by week.

:smiley: This last step does a few things. It firstly encourages players to branch out of “cookie cutter” builds and into weirder, lesser used items. You like VoV at 1350 to activate? Great. This weird +heal recieved legendary isn’t doing so good, so this week its like, I dunno. 700 to activate.

Honestly, you could go a long way by just using metadata to determine scores in and of themselves, and give the items proper activation weight to even things out.

Step 7. Profit

I think this system would greatly increase interest in lesser liked items and boost overall interest in legendaries, making them easier for players to work into their inventory rather than deal with the steep costs associated now.

Anyway, that’s my batshit crazy plan.

Curious if anyone has anything different.


Gotta love the “oh I’m at work and been thinking about BB,” isn’t that awesome? To me that’s a sign of a great game. :smiley:

Biggest takeaway from the wall of text above, “MAKE LEGENDARY ACTIVATION FEES HAVE RANGES BASED ON STATS LIKE ALL OTHER GEAR”; there’s probably a thread or three around about that, right … right?

Anyway, lot of great ideas; also a LOT of development time, money and resources to accomplish. Probably something GBX has in mind, but AFTER the other flaws that everyone else has mentioned first, as those seem to have more impact on new players, which is really what will keep BB going. The new players probably don’t even have time to worry about loot if they’re getting constantly pubstomped in PvP due to poor MM.

Would be nice to see GBX communicate what they think the main issues that need to be addressed are, and what priority order they have to address them. Probably has happened somewhere, but like you, I’m at work and probably shouldn’t be looking. Cheers!!

#4 would really make buildable cost and CC gear more sought after.

It’s not like there isn’t a trade off, you’re sacrificing a secondary stat buff to run a cheap item. Some negative stats only impact certain characters, while some detriment all characters. It’s not about a lack of experience or an abuse, it’s a tactical decision which provides an early advantage but a late disadvantage.

As for wrenches, buildables provide a big advantage in lane, as well as a lot of XP. Having at least one player using a low cost wrench on a team is a very good strategy as one player can continually build turrets to own a lane and level up quickly, I’ve seen this simple tactic implemented by a lot of good premades and particularly (in my experience) Japanese teams.

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I like a lot of the updated changes that were made for the legendaries… There are many types of builds one can create with the gear GBX placed. You don’t have to go for the att speed, att damage combo 100% of the time. I also believe many legendaries work with certain characters better than others as well. Would be great if the activation cost was lowered if you didn’t have a max roll legendary but the buffs are still pretty good so I don’t mind.

…I’ll make this short, the Loot/Mods in this game are trash compared to each of the previous Gbox titles.

But this game is nothing like any previous GBX title. The loot in this game is designed to provide minor buffs, not radical changes to the base mechanics of the characters using them.

Sounds awesome. I’d dig those changes.

This sounds cool. But would crit count as primary?

Sadly a lot of legendary effects does make pretty radical changes.
Take boots of brutes for e.g. it gives any melee character slow on melee. Yes it’s been nerfed but the idea that one phoebe can get a melee slow but another can’t really throws balance out of the window.

You can argue cost of legendary vs none but the guy with the boots will eventually still buy it just with shards in base and then start the killing spree and deny the rest of the enemy team shards from then on (talking about overgrowth)

But Phoebe has a 6 second super slow :wink:

Nah but seriously, the boots are a joke. Okay, you got me there, I try to pretend they don’t exist because they’re just ludicrous.
Most others though I think are well balanced, some legendary tertiary effects are pretty special but aren’t they supposed to be? In general legendary items don’t drastically influence the outcome of matches, with a select few absurd exceptions like the boots. And that’s the way it should be, it’s not a shoot-and-loot game like Borderlands where characters can be built around gear, rather the other way around where you find gear to suit your character and the character is what defines the game, not the gear.

The “slow” the boots provide is nothing compared to the slow from buildables and abilities. It’s a low grade slow… It helps out, don’t get me wrong… But I won’t say it will give someone the unfair advantage because in reality, the movement was slowed but not the attack speed so the person can still fight back.

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That is true, the nerf helped a lot, but even still a guaranteed CC on any character’s basic attacks at the cost of shards seems a bit much. It’s not to the point where it disgusts me anymore, but I still don’t like using it personally.

But hey, if it’s causing an imbalance at least we can all use it to level the playing field lol, 10-man boots match now that would be… Interesting? Lol.

Sadly yes. But the problem is the slow is the one that pretty much disallows escape.

It’s like from possible to not possible and all thanks to one item that cannot be blocked or reduced.

Sadly there are many legendary that sounds nice to use but are always over shadowed by such better gears.

I mean would you limit yourself from using vow of vengeance (the gloves that add atk speed and atk damage on hit) and instead use another glove with a slightly useless 3rd effect on a melee character? Highly doubt so. It forces everyone to not think about various other legendary and just focus on these specific few.

Like how I just mentioned boots and 2 other guys note that it is indeed good at what it does. So what happened to the other legendary boots?

Not forgetting the fact that most loot are random. I honestly didn’t get good loots during the lootpocalypse. Only certain few that seems useful but I rather use a blue that has similar effects (apart from 3red effect) and cost way cheaper.

Depending on your movement speed and of course… If your teammates are paying attention… You can indeed still escape. If you are a Deande with boots and you go up against a Phoebe, el dragon, Montana, Miko, ect have skills they can just slap you with or out right damage you due to their attack speed will laugh at the face of the boots. Some characters aka Phoebe with boots, which to me makes no sense because she already has a slow won’t make much of an impact at all because you can’t stack slow on slow.

Vow of vengeance is a great legendary BUT there are fist gear (blue and purple) that give the same damage and attack speed… Or same damage on top of more damage to almost match the special effect. The extra small percentage you will be missing out from won’t make much difference IMO. I use Phoebe amongst other characters and still Play extremely well without boots or vow. There are many other gear that does the job without the simple mind set of att damage and att speed is the best. So if you like to equip many legendaries that’s fine. That’s the beauty of the game because it may take you sometime to collect shards for it but that’s the down fall. Still doesn’t make someone have an unfair advantage… Unless you are facing a new person with no gear

Whew. Lot of good replies, I’ll try to hit what I can here.

That would be a part of it, but also I think that there are other factors, like secondary stats and the power of the tertiary stat that needs to come into place when gauging what a legendary’s activation cost should be. Role strength and meta should play a role as well.

The biggest take away is that I for the life of me cannot figure out how in nine screaming hells that they went through years of development and this is the loot system they decided was the right fit. There’s so much wrong with it that I had to make the wall o text.

Finally, the changes I suggested are indeed “super duper fantasy” requests - I’m talking about major UI and gameplay changes that I think would ultimately make the game better, but definitely understand that it would probably cost too much. Hence the discussion on what would be the better way to fix it.

Yep. Giving two slots for those utility items really adds to build diversity and allows players to experiment with what actually works best in those situations.

The problem is that it gives a huge advantage to early game, oft times raising to the point of having an entire free helix for some characters. As anyone will tell you, a game is built in the early game, and having players put themselves up high enough can be nasty. Hell, one of my favorite gear pieces right now is a white 1.9/s shard producer with -heal power on it. That aint right.

True. Do you want to be the guy that gives up items useful in direct combat for that though? I understand you may take the role, if you are running in a premade or group of friends. But do you want to be that guy/gal?

Edit: As another aside, particularly regarding the H3NCH capacitor and other legendaries that reduce shard costs… well, simply put the 1800 activation cost really puts these at a strong disadvantage. I know this thread isn’t just about legendaries, but the fact that these are tiered just like attack and damage legendaries when the entire point of them is to save shards is kind of ridiculous.

While this is true, I find it hard to ignore the fact that those items, by far have the most visible impact on gameplay and character functionality. Normalizing lesser effects and reducing their impact can only have a good result on build/item diversity and can allow for more interesting item combos. I fully agree on the lesser activation costs for non perf legendaries. Or at least normalizing legendary items across the board (i mean really, its not like you’re going to keep two of the ■■■■■■■ anyway).

I think the system they chose to go with is flawed. I’ll go as far as to say some or most of the items they’ve made are fun to play with and tinkertoy with, but the system they are in limits the amount you can feasibly do that with the other, more powerful items available.

Which is a part of my aim. You don’t want gear to be the staple, for sure, but at the same time, I think you can get it in a much better state than its in already.

Thanks tho!

Thats a good debate, I think. There are plenty of stats in the game that I’ve been trying to debate about what category they fall under. For instance, I think -shield delay might be as strong or stronger than damage reduction for some characters, so it might even get the cut. A big part of that step is determining what is most important for certain class roles, whats the next important for others, and then finally what is just “omg fun utility time”. Some are obvious, others, like crit, not so much.

Edit: Had time to go out and smoke on break and thought about this question. The more I did, the more I personally think that crit damage and -shield delay would both still be secondary slot items. My reasoning is that only a few classes really rely on crit damage as a sustainable option, and it would give characters who want a more glass cannony type feel the option to spec into that to add more damage without going down a defense trait. For - shield delay, I still don’t think it should be quite as strong as flat out damage resistance, but it adds a good stacked level of defense for characters that want to go more tanky.

Great picture of an item that I think would remain at a fairly expensive activation cost as metadata was interpreted by experts. (thanks boyd crowder! Wait, that was one of his racist lines… nevermind.)

The last few posts deal with that and some more detailed discussion of pheobe, which I’ll leave to others.

And then I’ll just tag @TemetNosce cause I know this multi quote will give him a chub.


They made a lot of changes to it between the CTT and what we have now. I think it’s constantly been changing and evolving into what we have now. I was told that at some point the gear in the game wasn’t much different than the items in most MOBA games. They’ve changed a lot of things since the game’s early development to get it where it is now. That’s probably why a lot of the game feels not as polished as it could be because it’s taken them some time just to get the concept down.

That seems like the most accurate. With the flaws in BL2, I could usually reverse engineer the thought process behind them, because there was a logic to them. Stuff like the early bee + conference call stuff - it’s a hard thing to spot in a vacuum because legendaries were somewhat rare in BL2, and seeing that kind of synergy is rough if you don’t have both items in the loadout.

The loot system all together in BB feels very much like there were too many cooks in the kitchen. There’s a lot of conflicting opinion at play, and in the end the only thing that makes any sense to me is what you said - someone said something, then someone else changed it, then a third party changed that, then the first person said something to get it half changed back…

Crazy idea but Vyn’s Quiver giving an increased stat after reloading is a good idea but health regen isn’t it. Possibly attack damage for a short time after reloading.

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I added two quick edits to my multi quote above btw, in case someone has read them already and wants to view those responses.