ALL THE INFO ON EPISODE 1 GEAR UPGRADES

CG Britt  

DEFENDERS,

On the May 14th stream we continued our string of reveals. Previously we’ve shown off the new Maps (The MillThe OutpostThe Keep, and Foundries and Forges), the new heroes (The Warden and The Rogue), some new weapons (The Woodland Set), and even the new enemy (The Lycan). Those are just some of the things being added to the game, but now it’s time to get into some of the new features coming to Dungeon Defenders: Awakened. Let’s start with a big one — GEAR!

GEAR UPGRADE

Gear is getting a major face lift in Episode 1, and for a lot of reasons. We’ve been taking a heavy look at what players are doing with gear, how well they understand it, and what that means for metas. Currently, the meta is boost-only to succeed. Boost builds are fun, but they shouldn’t be the only way to experience the game. We’re going to keep boosting viable, but we’re also going to add options to help give our ever-expanding roster of heroes and content more ways to be enjoyed and conquered (respectively).

Stat Changes

There’s a lot to unpack here, so first let’s get into the changes that are coming. We’ll focus first on what’s being removed, what’s being added, and last the additional systems that are added that are built off this new foundation.

Stat Removal

On our May 7th stream we talked about removing Ammo and Reload from the game as a concept so that heroes using Crossbow weapons weren’t hindered when choosing to play with a crossbow wielder. Here’s a total list of what we’re removing from items, and what’s going to happen with them:

Ammo and Reload Speed
As previously mentioned, they just weren’t fun mechanics. They punished early players and scaled so high they didn’t matter to late game players.

  • New: The Huntress gains the ability to shoot an arcing explosive that deals damage to enemies hit. If the Huntress is in the explosion radius, she gets launched based on her orientation to the explosion. Rocket jump!

Agility
This stat capped out at 100, meaning that a lot of players with 1000’s of agility because of gear rolling all the stats were getting punished for every decent agility roll on gear.

  • New: Agility cannot be upgraded, but instead scales from levels 1 – 50, with 50 giving the player the equivalent movement speed increase of 100 agility from before Episode 1.

Block
Not all heroes who use swords block.

  • New: Block is an ability that statically scales based on the source of the attack, with smaller enemies taking less block resource and stronger enemies taking more.

Casting
Another stat that caps out pretty quickly and ultimately takes power away from gear.

  • New: Casting now scales based on your hero level up to a cap. The higher your level, the faster you build, repair, and upgrade defenses.

Charge Rate
Another stat that was a little too complicated to understand.

  • New: Now is baked into abilities that charge (i.e. Apprentice Secondary Attack)

Knockback
More stats that people weren’t upgrading or cared to receive.

  • New: Now scales off specific weapons innately.

Melee Attack, Ranged Attack, and Elemental Attack
The difference between these has always been confusing as to which ones to upgrade for players. Veterans might understand what to do here, but it’s not really clear. As a result:

  • New “Damage”: We’ve decided to just merge these into one type “Damage”. That means if an elemental weapon drops, there’s one source to upgrade that guarantees you’ll be doing more damage. This new approach will keep damage scaling the same as before.

Projectile Count (Polearms)
We removed this stat as it pretty much locked polearms to only the Monk, unless any hero we made in the future used ranged fire as their secondary stat.

  • New: Projectile Count for the Monk now scales with their level. Early in the game you have a single projectile, and then after a continued progression it’s permanently set to 7 projectiles.

Projectile Speed
Upgrading this actually made some weapons unusable because their projectiles moved so quickly that they would not hit enemies.

  • New: Now this stat is set on a per weapon basis, meaning some weapons shoot faster or slower than other types.

Skill and Boost
These two have been pretty hard to describe what they do for a lot of players, and they also lock us into this idea of new heroes always having both, or having to disjointedly say “ability two is for boost” or “Carnage on the Rogue scales from boost”. There’s a lot more we could get into here, but the TL;DR is that they weren’t intuitive.

  • New “Ability” stat: Ability is just Skill and Boost combined and are incorporated into the scaling of any ability a hero uses. Previously playing a boost Apprentice? Well now you can go drop mana bombs that pack a punch while keeping your boost build going.

That’s a lot of changes that were made as the result of us heavily investigating gear, looking at player profiles, watching streams, watching video guides, and surveying players. We really dug into what players want and the best way to provide that. We’re not stopping there. We’re going further. Let’s talk about some new stats that are coming.

New “Crit” and “Crit Scaling” Stats – Melee Only
This stat is not a new concept to players, but the way it’s implemented might be. We wanted to give melee heroes a chance to compete with ranged heroes. Ranged heroes have projectile count that deals multiplicative damage that’s not split amongst projectiles, and get to send a barrage of attacks to enemies while not having to worry too much about taking an axe to the face. Melee heroes however have to focus on avoiding too much damage, getting in and out, and not having as high uptime on dealing damage.

Critical strikes help bring balance to this difference. Melee heroes do have the advantages of cleaving, but in the late game projectile counts more than make up for that bonus. Critical strikes are a chance for us to make playing a melee hero a lot more fun. Critical strikes only apply to primary attacks and not abilities. As this is a new stat coming in with a lot of changes, we want to make sure it’s powerful enough to balance the scales. Wow, okay, that was a lot to write about stats, but these are huge changes coming to items that we really need to explain as a foundation. But wait, there’s even more — let’s get into some item changes!

Item Changes

Now that we have stats laid out, the presentation of these stats is going to change. As previously mentioned, a lot of players felt forced to only play with their defenses. We think that’s a great way to take on challenges in DDA, but it shouldn’t be the only way to play. Instead of forcing players to choose between a defense-focused hero only and a damage-focused hero only, we’re going to let you do both.

Stat Locations

Where stats show up changes within this update and we wanted to provide a breakdown of their new homes:

Hero Stats 

  • Damage: Weapons, Pets
  • Attack: Weapons, Pets, and Offhands
  • Ability: Weapons, Pets, and Offhands
  • Vitality: Weapons, Pets, and Offhands
  • Armor: Helmets, Gloves, Chest, and Boots
  • Firing Solution: Crossbows, Staves, and Pets
  • Projectile Count: Crossbows and Staves
  • Critical Chance: Polearms and Swords
  • Critical Severity: Polearms and Swords

Tower Stats 

  • Fortitude: Helmet, Gloves, Chest, Boots, Masks, Bracers, and Brooches
  • Power: Helmet, Gloves, Chest, Boots, Masks, Bracers, and Brooches
  • Def. Rate: Helmet, Gloves, Chest, Boots, Masks, Bracers, and Brooches
  • Range: Helmet, Gloves, Chest, Boots, Masks, Bracers, and Brooches

One thing we noticed was people were managing a lot of heroes to do multiple things, sometimes the same hero to build and another version of that hero to damage. There was so much that required you to have to set up and maintain, keeping you from taking down enemies for that sweet, sweet loot. This now gives you two options to play with at the same time instead of one. The note we made earlier with Ability letting you drop a Mana Bomb while also tower boosting? This lets that happen more.

The end goal of all of this results in us balancing these items so you have the same tower or hero strength that you had before Episode 1, but now having the both. Your individual character’s strength doubles as a result of this, which is why you may have noticed “offhands” as a term describing where certain stats would appear.

Offhands 
This is a new item slot type that’s also kind of… not new. In order to really pack a lot of power into heroes and not bloat the strength of weapons, we decided to use a slot we have and make it more impactful. The Squire has a unique slot that has made it a little harder to balance him, and so looking at him we decided to unify this slot across all heroes. Now all heroes that do not dual wield weapons (Series EV-A and The Rogue) have an Offhand slot. These are as follows:

  • Ammo Pouch: Crossbow heroes
  • Shield: Sword heroes
  • Tome: Staff heroes
  • Whetstone: Polearm heroes

This is a lot of changes and balancing to improve player experiences and to open things up a bit when it comes to playing your hero in multiple ways. A lot of this is built upon a goal of ours: make gear more interesting. You may be wondering how removing stats, combining stats, and making stats native to heroes makes them more interesting. That part makes it simpler to understand what gear does and more ways to play for sure, but doesn’t really mean things are interesting. That’s where Item Effects come into play.

Item Effects

This is a new system that is coming to all gear in DDA. Item effects are unupgradable additional stats and effects that are applied on all your gear. For Episode 1, our goal is to lay it out as a foundational system that we are going to continue to build upon. The first iteration will be a bit simpler, with more complexity coming in future episodes.

What are Item Effects? 
They’re additional effects that roll on your gear. There are a ton of these (with more added each episode) that should help boost your strength. Some only roll on specific item types, but this is something that’s easier to explain with examples than get into the weeds of it, so let’s look at a few types:

  • Stat types: These roll additional stats on pieces of gear that those stats could appear on.
    • Example 1 – “Increases your Power by X” rolls on armor and accessories.
    • Example 2 – “Increases your Attack by X” rolls on weapons and offhands.
  • Elemental Increases: These roll additional elemental damage increases.
    • Example 1 – “Increases your hero’s Fire damage by X%” rolls on weapons and offhands.
    • Example 2 – “Increases your defenses’ Fire damage by X%” rolls on armor and accessories.
  • On Attack: When using your Primary Attacks, these have a chance to activate.
    • Example 1 – “Your Primary Attacks have X% chance to Enrage enemies for Y seconds”.
    • Example 2 – “Your Primary Attacks have X% chance to explode, damaging all enemies in range. Y seconds cooldown”.

This is just a brief look into what item effects are, but this doesn’t even come close to encompassing all of them. Item Effects allow us to now drop gear that lets players continue to progress playing through with less random base stats, but then have the ability to fully customize heroes by hunting down the right effects that bring a lot more unique power.

How does this affect my current character? 
Going into Episode 1, we will be updating everyone’s gear to fit within this new system. Your current hero strength and setup should be maintained very similarly to how you currently perform, with the added bonus of your damage heroes being able to build and your builder heroes able to deal damage. We’re also working on having some specific item effects be included on this new gear as well, setting you up for a ton of success when Episode 1 launches.

To make sure everything scales correctly, upgrades are going to be changing since stats are being altered. As a result we’re going to be refunding you a plethora of gold based on your upgraded gear and removing the upgrades from this gear. This will let you then choose where to spend your upgrades within this new system. While it might take some time, we’re doing what we can to make sure it’s as easy and doesn’t make you feel that your previous decisions lock you out from taking part in all these changes.

Oh, you think this post is long? That’s too bad, because there’s even MORE. Let’s talk Set Bonuses. We’ve got them, you want them.

Set Bonuses

This shouldn’t come as a surprise entirely, as we’ve talked about adding more set bonuses in the future, and that’s what we’re doing here. Set Bonuses are additional stats and functionality that you get out of wearing pieces of a specific set at the same time. Previously in DDA, the only set bonuses gave item stat increases or turned specific defenses into Fusion towers. They still do, but now there’s more!

New Set Bonuses
The ones you’ve collected so far are still included, but we wanted to add some additional opportunities for you to build sets and customize your characters. We’ve got these broken into two different types that either increase your hero power or your tower power. Here’s two examples:

  • Erupting Defense: Increase your defenses’ Fire damage by X%.
    • Armor Set, 4 Pieces
    • Like Fusion gear, your item stats are still increased, but by a lesser percentage.
    • This increase will make your Fire defenses your strongest defenses for this hero.
  • Thundering Assault: Increases your hero’s Lightning Damage by X%.
    • Weapons, 2 Pieces (Weapon and Offhand)
    • New to weapons, but plays off elemental weapons you acquire.

There are more set bonuses that are thematic to what we’ve laid out here, and even a few that aren’t. However, since set bonuses have been focused on towers primarily for a while, we’ve decided to add a bit more fun and flair with Hero Weapon Sets.

Hero Weapon Sets 
We wanted to offer new sets that allowed players to take advantage of how active they can be if they choose to. These new weapon sets only work on a specific hero, and aren’t specifically aimed at changing their gameplay, but instead provide some more utility to their abilities. For now, we’ll give you a taste of one:

  • Protean Cannon MK II: Protean Surge deals X% increased damage and ensnares enemies by Y% for Z seconds.
    • Weapon Set, 2 Pieces (Crossbows and/or Staves)

This is something experimental that we wanted to put out there. They’re a ton of fun to use and let players come up with even more unique builds and choices on how they play DDA. We’ll be looking to expand this system as we release additional episodes.

How you see and interact with all of these new additions is incredibly important. So without further ado, let’s start talking Inventory improvements.

Inventory Update

DDA has a lot of stats and things going on when it comes to items, stats, set bonuses, characters, etc. It’s a lot to take in and isn’t currently explained in the best way. That’s where Episode 1 comes in.

New Layout 
We’ve optimized our layout so that everything is together, making it easier to understand what you’re doing within your inventory.

Just from this image alone there’s a lot to see. One of the first things we’ll note is that items and equipped gear are now next to one another making it easier to equip pieces both with mouse and keyboard, as well as gamepad.

Next you’ll notice at the top there are a plethora of bags. We’re adding additional iconography that allows you to change the visuals for your bags, making it easier to know what each contains based on your personal preferences. That means that you need to have specific filters for specific bags. We’ve got you covered:

Now it’s easy to customize your bag, setting the name of the bag, the image, the quality of gear, elements tied to gear, weapons, armor, accessories, and more!

Oh did you want better sort options that are easier to navigate? YOU GOT’EM

New item sorting menu with list of categories

The fun doesn’t stop there. We’ve just begun to pull back the curtains that are the wonders of the new Inventory. Want the ability to select multiple items and choose to lock, unlock, or sell them? BEHOLD, MULTI-SELECT:

Want better ways to inspect pieces of gear? LOOK A FEW PIXELS DOWN:
Developer Note: Crit and Crit Bonus are only applicable on Swords and Polearms. Grenade Launcher listed here is incorrect and will not be able to roll those stats. 

Side-by-side gear inspection menus

“Irradiate and Detonate? That’s not straight forward, what the heck do those even do?” PAGE OVER TO ACQUIRE THE KNOWLEDGE YOU SEEK!

Inventory menu with new text box for expanded hero stat explanations

“All these new items are great, but I wish I knew what I was upgrading and what it did.” WISH NO LONGER, FOR IT IS A REALITY WITH THE INSPECT BUTTON:

Item upgrade menu with new text box for description of Power stat
Weapon upgrade menu with new text box for description of Lightning damage

Wow that’s so much for the Inventory! But wait, maybe you’re asking “Weren’t there other tabs?” and you’d be right. The way character stats are displayed and upgraded are all in one convenient location on the Stats Tab:

Inventory menu with expanded list of stat names and stat points

And last, but certainly not least, is the Abilities tab. This explains what your abilities and towers do for your selected hero. We’ll continue to expand on this feature in the future, but for now it should be made more clear what your heroes can do:

Inventory menu with expanded Flameburst Tower description.
Inventory menu with expanded Overcharge Ability description

Alright we’re exhausted, there’s no way there’s more. Oh wait. There’s so much to take in here, a lot of things changing, and a lot of things being added. Previously we were asked about having limited choices in the Hero Deck that make all the new things we’ve shown before this post somewhat harder to desire. Then the next topic shall be HERO DECK CHANGES!

Hero Deck Changes

We anticipate the need for the amount of heroes needed to go down compared to what players use now (with a lot of these item changes), but we also want to make things a bit more open and diverse. As we talked about it, and with the plan to add more heroes, we knew we needed to make some changes. First, let’s talk size.

Hero Deck Size 
Now four heroes is great and all, but based on survey results, 95% of our players use 6 heroes at most. As we said, we expect the amount of heroes to go down (by at least 1), so when choosing a max, we wanted to accommodate adding new heroes alongside what players use. This made the decision pretty easy for us. So, in Episode 1, the new Hero Deck size is going to be SIX HEROES!

Hero Deck Incentives 
Currently there are three hero deck incentives that affect players:

  • XP Shared across all heroes in the Hero Deck (this is on the UI)
  • Active Hero towers’ gain 33% increased damage (mentioned in the tutorial)
  • Fusion Set bonuses activate (not mentioned in game).

We surveyed players asking if they’d like to have more incentives to use the Hero Deck, and so here’s what is changing in Episode 1:

Experience points being shared among all heroes in the Hero Deck is nothing new, except you have 50% more heroes now that will benefit from it.

Active Set Bonuses and Item Effects accomplish two things. The first is that we wanted to provide a space for players to make unique builds with specific customization. We’re adding a lot and by having this in place we make sure players don’t feel pressured to have every hero with every combination incorporated into a single build. The second is that we are going to be working on additional systems that take the item effects system and turn it from 10 to 11. If we did not place this restriction, we would be locked in with only the item effects in this first iteration.

Lastly, for Episode 1, we’re removing the restriction of “Active Hero” gaining increased Tower Damage. This means that all of your Hero Deck towers will be gaining a boost to damage. We’re currently working through the balance of what that percentage is, but the goal is to give you more power, try more diverse builds, and give you more ways to win.

Summary

There was a lot covered here and a lot of this stuff is subject to change until we have it out the door. We’re excited to get all of this tested and out to you, OUR GLORIOUS DEFENDERS. This is the standard of what you can expect with Dungeon Defenders: Awakened development and our episodic releases. A lot of this work is going to be expanded upon with future Episodes that we’re excited to work on and share with you!

What’s Next?

Believe it or not, this isn’t everything. Next week we’ll have even more reveals for the stuff coming into Dungeon Defenders: Awakened Episode 1. There’s even a new update for Dungeon Defenders II being worked on. We’ve got so much going on at Chromatic Games and we are making sure this stuff is ready to go before we ship it out, but we promise it’s on its way!

Console Update

We want to reassure you all that DDA ports for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 AND PlayStation 5 are still very much under way. We’re still working hard on getting Nintendo Switch through the Lot Check process, fixing bugs, and prepping it to be live for you all while also knocking out Episode 1. The Switch version will be completed and released before PlayStation, but we are aiming to have DDA on all consoles by the end of the year.

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For Etheria!
Chromatic Games


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