The Anti-Fun Annointed Militant Goof

Reposting from reddit because I just realized the official forums actually exist lol

So I’ve seen tons of Annointed Militant complaints which are for the most part justified, but I haven’t seen anyone bring up the Annointed Alpha from Hamerlock’s sidequest, “Malevolent Practice”. The Alpha was a reskinned Militant with roughly the same mechanics, but one major difference. It’s invincibility phase actually has counterplay! It goes invincible, spawns clones, and stays that way until you kill the clones. Simple, but effective, and gives the player something to do besides WAIT, which is a completely anti-fun tactic. Gearbox took out fall-damage for BL2 because it was anti-fun so I’m not sure how Annointed Militants got through initial testing, but here’s hoping they reconsider the design in favor of Alpha.

What other changes do you think Gearbox could make to Annointed Enemies that would feel like meaningful tactics?

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I think having annointed weapons/mods that actually make an impact would be a start. Even the best gear does hardly anything for many builds… build diversify… ha. Read the torrent of user reports on this subject…

Maybe positive modifiers for annointed in the MM3 card would help.

Next issue is the constant respawning of other enemies, quite often other annointed, whilst your try to get enough cover to waste sometimes 500+ bullets on 1 annointed - even with resupply skills. Let alone 3 or more annointed. You then you move or try to restock, and the respawning just hampers it. Die. Die. Die…Run. jump. Hide. Run jump. Hide. Die. Die Die… Run…Until after about 1hr you have cleared one wave, and your bored of the zombie like foot soldiers- as you know you probably have another +5 cycles just to get to a boss ! If you can get the annointed by a vending machine you can ruin them with grenades much easier - so the added vending machines promised will help…

I’m not sure of gearbox’s reasoning here? Theres so many anti-fun elements for most builds that it’s almost sinister. I mean are they just building these game modes to counter elite hacking or savvy glitch seekers, rather than keeping their core fans engaged? I mean seriously the hackers are going to hack regardless. And then there’s the people who just try and screw a game up by saying that the game is not hard enough just for LOL’s, or because they have found one playstyle that isn’t balanced - if you have played some varieties of MM3 on many characters this is a ridiculous idea. Or maybe even other corporate interests are trying to sink a release to get new consumers on their platform- I have definitely seen a few of these posts.

Arrrrrgh it’s a total mess. TBF they said it, ‘Mayhem.’

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Anointed Alpha has way cooler mechanics than Militants.

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Yeah I actually think the weapon annointment effects are too thin in variety. We have “after action skill ends” which is very strong on instant casts via Amara phasecast and fl4k rakk attack (and to a lesser degree iron bear and Zane’s clone bomb) but we don’t have anything buffing your character while the action skill is active. Which would help at least a few of the problems that the weaker builds have.

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With them fixing the cryo damage immunity, my primary issue now is two fold:

  1. Anointed don’t telegraph their movements, so countering them is reactive. This is bad design in terms of player loops since you’re forced to wait instead of be proactive like a badass would be. E.g the anointed tinks will randomly spawn out of existence and appear 10 feet away shooting the sh!t out of you. You can counter it after they start, but they’re guaranteeing damage on you for at least some time period before you can respond, which discourages a predictive and smart playstyle.

  2. Some of the anointed mechanics are nearly 100% non-counterable, e.g the energy ball that follows you around and the militant of fire worship time.

Both of these issues discourage player ingenuity as they simply force players to move around boringly or force the player to simply wait around when they could be proactive instead. They also act momentum anchors, holding an otherwise smooth cycle back.

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Definitely! The annointed should have counterplay built in. I’ve seen some people mention allowing melee to interrupt the militants invincibility, but the tracking orb should absolutely be destroyable. The Annointed Tink shrinking and growing is only problem in the extremes. The teleporting isn’t fun unless it’s trackable (like the fireball guy from the same sidequest) and the damage should be ramping instead of full auto. Crits will interrupt the annointed tink for the most part I agree with you 100% a lot of the annointed mechanics are counterintuitive.

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In classic games that are considered fair but difficulty like Dark Souls and, not kidding, the original Punch Out, and in games that that emulate them, like God of War 4, the enemies always communicate with you before they do something. It’s a dance, or maybe a conversation. The enemy says “I’m going to do a thing, which will punish you” which forces you to communicate back. The telegraph is extremely important.

The best example of good telegraphing in BL3 are the maliwan jet pack snipers. They aim at you for about 3-5 seconds before dealing massive punishment for being ignored. Not only do they act as a loop-disruption, adding variability to gameplay, but they force the player to speak another language in order to continue communicating with the game.

Anointed are effectively speaking gibberish to the player most of the time. They don’t teach you a new language, or give you a new way to dance, hence why they feel unfair and uninteresting. Instead of being an exciting change to gameplay, they end up more of a burden.

If I’m supposed to be a badass the way I feel when I absolutely destroy a boss in dark souls, I need to be able to speak the enemy’s language before they even start talking. In this way, it’s still a challenge, but it’s a fun, interesting one.

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Very well said. Way to many non-telegraphed, auto-aimed, unavoidable attacks/one-shots in this game.

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Thinking about this all day whilst playing MM3, I like the logic of MM3 random modifiers which can be reset, if needed - quite often not, to reach the maximum amount of player styles. It truly is quite genius.

I mean someone might like being stuck between two rooms with three anointed in one (with some lesser enemies with a array of arsenal) and on the other side two Tank Tinks, and their horde of lesser enemies. Yep after wading through with a lot of re-spawns, I did clear a path, but the tactics were very limited. Someone might not.

Another person might want substantial weight in some choice guardian stats. Others might hold back. Obviously, many want them to be infinite - with obvious exponential decay. I sure do. Then one day, when the same or similar modifiers hit, and you smash it… Clearly a pleasure, earned and strategized. But that’s how I play.

Without the randomness, I don’t think the game would reach so many play-style potentials. What seems to be holding this idea back is people, and some game mechanics…because reasons.

Randomness will sometimes create situations where people can achieve some very interesting results, i.e. youtube. Other times it might be poor design allowing a performance glitch. Or whatever, what does it really matter how another person plays?

That’s also part of the whole mayhem.

If developers are forced to overly cut the top, it can ruin the whole scope of just how spectacularly random it could be. And then options decrease, and those people who invest the most time are maybe penalized the most, at the farthest reaches of the game.

Where modifiers lead to total lock-down or spawn fallout, or uninteresting enemies, these can be gently tweaked by good two way conversation with the playing community. That’s what I really want. Gentle tweaking and then review…

The idea that any game with such randomness can be right for everyone at launch might be a red herring not worth trying to sell to consumers. And perhaps the marketing departments, across the industry, might get some positive traction if they were more proactive in this, rather than spin. But it only works if people can accept the chaos, but some won’t…

I guess what I am saying is that the last thing I want is the option for this game to be stupidly easy or hard to disappear from this game. As that would screw with the randomness. And I think that would be worse. Obviously, some variations might need no limits on certain bonus stats, or even certain perks or artifacts. And if someone wants to grind for that long to be able achieve God mode on a particular roll. Good on them. And if they roll a mayhem that is just too easy for their build, they could just try a different one, or not.

@davidmorganbray

I liked your first post in this topic, but this one, not so much. Mayhem modes and their modifiers have really nothing to do with Anointed mobs being badly designed, over-tuned, and poorly scaled. I also vehemently disagree that Mayhem has anything to do with making the game more difficult or interesting. However, as this is off-topic (not specifically about Anointed mobs), I’ll simply link to my rebuttal rather than repost it here in its entirety.

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I think we would probably agree that a few elements of anointed characters definitely could be improved.

As I said in the previous post:

“Where modifiers lead to total lock-down or spawn fallout, or uninteresting enemies, these can be gently tweaked by good two way conversation with the playing community. That’s what I really want. Gentle tweaking and then review…”

But Mayhem modifiers do significantly change how these scale, and some people might even like the level of difficulty, and thus is not completely off topic.

In some Mayhem modes the anointed are somewhat easier to take down. In one MM3 I had to take down a Raging Big Daddy Anointed (Billy). I did it and quite enjoyed the challenge.

Like I said in my previous post,

“I guess what I am saying is that the last thing I want is the option for this game to be stupidly easy or hard to disappear from this game. As that would screw with the randomness. And I think that would be worse. Obviously, some variations might need no limits on certain bonus stats, or even certain perks or artifacts.”

What I should also have said in that sentence was I would also appreciate better buffs to farm for anointed, more interesting character behaviour across the whole game, and much more bank space, respec options, options to increase/decrease Mayhem difficulty without having to exit a map, etc…

I think, perhaps because of my poor communication, you may have mistaken my post for saying something else.

Mayhem Mode certainly has it’s own unique problems, but I do think that both of them fall back on the same core issue; Taking away player engagement through padded numbers instead of interesting gameplay. The cryo update helped build variety against Annointed Enemies so that’s step in the right direction, even if Militant’s are still a hassle. But mayhem modifiers aren’t an engaging design. Targeted player nerfs and overall enemy buffs aren’t “Mayhem”, in the sense of random fun variations that makes the base gameplay more interesting. They’re just difficulty padding.

Felixthecoach mentioned combat being a “conversation” and I think that’s a great stepping point. Annointed enemies (and even mayhem modifiers) should feel like a conversation with words you don’t quite understand but CAN learn. Good challenges should always have obstacles with context, and RNG nerfs/buffs (especially if they sometimes stack effects) work directly against that.

It’s not as big of a problem as annointed militants but I think the rocket badass zealots with shield, armor, and health are anti-fun as well because they aren’t a “fun” challenge. They’re just hard to kill and do a lot of damage. They might as well be a training dummy that costs a lot of respawn $$$.

I think enemy AI in BL3 should have had specific enemies that change tactics based on available health. If Zealots have 3 bars of effective health, then they should have 3 phases:

*Full Shield: Standing completely still with rocket launcher harrassment. So as long as the player keeps the shield stripped, the zealot can’t be a spammy murdermachine.
*Armor, No Shield: Slow moving with grenade usage, but back to rockets if the shield recharges.
*No Armor, No Shield: Regular enemy tactics like hiding behind cover and taking potshots, but back to rockets if the shield recharges.

Not every enemy should be as cut and dry, but having a zealot spawn in a fight would mean knowing you HAVE to keep harassing them if you want to stay alive.

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Can we not have both options? Mayhem and more interesting game-play dynamics…

My only caveat would be that loot at TVHM/UVHM should be scaled equal to MM2/MM3, for those wishing not to step on the Mayhem carousel…

@davidmorganbray

I understand your desire to want Anointed mobs to be a balanced and satisfying challenge. But again, that is a completely separate issue from Mayhem modes and their modifiers.

It’s akin to fishing. You don’t want the fish to be too small, quick and easy to catch, because then there won’t be any sense of achievement in catching them. You also don’t want them to be freakishly huge and too difficult to catch, where they snap your line or eat your boat (with you in it), because then it would be too frustrating and pointless, not to mention dangerous. You want the fish to be of sufficient size and challenge to make the endeavor both fun and satisfying.

Mayhem modifiers in this analogy affect the fish and everything around it. They randomly dictate the weather, the state of the water, the type of fishing pole you use, the test of the line, the lure, the size of the fish, and so on. In each random variable, you can simply work around it. If the weather is cold, you either dress more warmly or you utilize a shack (ice fishing). If the water is too murky, you use sonar to make it easier to find the fish. If the fishing pole is too short or too thin, you use a longer, thicker one, or vice versa. If the test of the line is too low, you use a higher test, or vice versa. If the lure isn’t working, you use live bait. If the fish are too big, you can use a bow or a spear (bow/spear fishing is actually pretty easy once you understand refraction). These varying conditions don’t make catching the fish more difficult, they are merely different conditions that you must work around to achieve the same result - catching fish. And if you don’t like those conditions, you simply come back a different day when those conditions are more favorable, not unlike resetting the map to get different Mayhem modifiers.

Mayhem modifiers only randomize the conditions under which we play. They require no skill to navigate or negotiate, and therefore add no actual difficulty to the game. In our analogy, if we wanted to make the fish more difficult to catch, they would be smarter, faster, stronger. The increased difficulty wouldn’t be something you can avoid or ignore. Or like they do in some fishing contests, you have to catch as many as you can within a time limit. There is no working around that - you still have to perform the process of catching them, but more quickly and efficiently.

The point is, they are two separate and distinct problems in this game. The issues with Anointed mobs are completely separate from the issues with Mayhem modes. And while I agree with your premise that the game becomes boring if it’s too easy, Mayhem modes don’t actually contribute anything to that - it is a pointless, frustrating, RNG mechanic attempting to disguise itself as a difficulty slider - yet easily avoided, mitigated, or ignored. True difficulty would be something that is consistent, reliable, and unavoidable.

For instance, adding armor to shielded mobs that don’t normally have it in TVHM, or adding a second health bar to mobs that are already armored in TVHM, or spawning more Badass mobs in place of regular mobs in TVHM. In UVHM, these values would commensurately scale, and only Badasses (and Anointed) would spawn. These are just some examples that other players have suggested elsewhere on these forums, but the common denominator among all of them is that it is consistent, reliable, and it isn’t something you can avoid, or mitigate, or ignore. It adds difficulty because they are tougher and therefore take longer to kill, which when combined with mob density, can be fatal if you’re not playing smarter and/or optimizing your build and gear. Linear progression, which is what we have in this game, should be accompanied by linear difficulty scaling. That’s a far more effectual mechanic (and why it’s used across nearly every game out there that incorporates linear progression) than the RNG variables of Mayhem modes.

Anyway, as I said before, this whole tangent is off topic, and I don’t think it’s fair to continue it here. If you’d like to respond further, I recommend continuing the discussion in the topic that is dedicated to Mayhem modes here. As for me, there’s not much else I can contribute here, so I will refrain from further comment.

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I respect your point of view, and agree wholeheartedly with views on game scaling. I agree that I strayed quite far from the original topic - despite a somewhat weak link between anointed difficulty and modifiers, and further discussion is best continued on the thread you linked. I don’t think I disagree with your perspective enough to warrant a full counter… I just say that fishing in the rain, for some, is an experience which may or may not be enjoyed as much as other conditions. And for some they might label this as difficult…

Overall though, I agree 100% with your views on anointed mobs.

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