Anthem Master(needs)Work

I had a weekend to enjoy the end game of Anthem and while I am keen on the game (clearly), I have continued to admit much work needs to be done. The good still very much outweighs the bad in pretty much every way on your journey to level 30.

Now at level 30 and running “elder game” activities at Grandmaster 1 (of 3) I am understanding a bit more the frustration with the end game loot. The system is pretty simple – there are repeatable Strongholds (Dungeons, basically) and Contracts which are 3-4 random encounters done for various factions in Bastion. While the Strongholds are straight up repeated content the contracts have a lot of variance and feel fresh enough each time I play one. You get Epic gear to do GM1, and then Masterwork gear to do Grand Master 2, and then Legendary gear (and buttloads of skill?) to do Grand Master 3. (Did I just say buttloads?)

Running a GM1 Stronghold gives you a guaranteed Masterwork Ability, and if you are lucky you will get one other Masterwork item. Along with all of the legendary and below items – all of which you have already outgrown. You really only need Masterwork and Legendary items – although some Epic ones can still get good rolls and replace what you are using.

Running a GM1 Contract grants you a guaranteed Masterwork component, of which, each Javelin uses 6. This is good in the way that it lets you target what you want, but bad in the sheer lack of volume of drops. With inscriptions being improved (But still random) getting a Masterwork just isn’t good enough to move you to the next level of the game. You have to get one with good rolls.

Here are the ones I got this weekend from playing, to show the variance. Some are good for my playstyle, some are just good overall, and others are a bit of a letdown. When you get an orange drop you want it to mean something!

I did gallery format for easier viewing, and for some reason are missing two pictures of weapons – both the best two of the bunch. I have a Heavy Pistol that does 200% damage while hovering, and was lucky enough to get some legendary components that give me +50% thruster life – meaning I can hover that much longer. That is my favorite Ranger weapon (but my Colossus can’t use it). I also have a Shotgun – Papa Pump, with decent stats.

Siege Breaker, the Sniper rifle has a bad damage roll bonus +5%. That could be as high as +300% depending on your luck. The Aim speed and recoil bonuses are fine, and bullets ARE physical damage so the +15% P damage is also good. The Hit Streak (3) shots freezing the target is a nice primer, as long as you have a good long range detonator. As long as you are in a group that has good detonator potential this is OK as a perk. Overall this is a bad roll group on this so was disappointing.

Vanguard’s Badge is a component that really wants the Ranger up in and close – which isn’t bad because a Ranger Melee is an electrical attack that primes enemies. With those low damage mods it’s hard to come by a kill with it. What is GREAT about this one though, is the 25% increase in Ultimate refresh. I currently go Shotgun / Pistol with my Ranger so am often in meelee range so this works. (For the Ultimate refresh alone, if nothing else.)

Airborne Advantage is about as disappointing as it comes, unless you have a pure harvest build. It gives a decent bonus to impact damage but that comes with a negative modifier. I’d be fine with that if it was a really nice improvement (+100% or more) but giving up 20% of damage in one area to get 50% in another isn’t that exciting. (MWs shouldn’t have any negative attributes). Hovering increasing resistances by 10% is pretty much junk too. +10% LMG ammo is useless to me (I don’t use LMGs) and the harvest bonus is only good if you are high end crafting and do a build specific to harvesting for freeplay.

Argo’s Mace(1 of 2) is another ‘meh’ masterwork. it refreshes 5% faster (not noticeable), gives +19% to A-Rifle ammo (I don’t use), Gives a +15% drop rate to Repair (health) from enemies (meh) but does help speed up my grenade slot by 25% – which is OK if I have a Masterwork grenade or something great there (I don’t). The electric explosion perk isn’t triggered often as it doesn’t do enough damage to defeat enemies at GM levels. You have to time it really well when enemies are down to a sliver.

Argo’s Mace (2 of 2) yes, I got a second one – in the same run, even if it was a bit better. Minorly so. +15% speed is OK on the item – I get to use it a bit more often. The +18% Pistol ammo suits my ranger since I use a pistol, the +17% LMG ammo is not. The +50% damage is not terrible as well, and the perk suffers from the issues. of the two this one is a bit more useful UNLESS I have a great grenade option (I don’t).

Tip of the Spear the first one that got me a bit excited – the rolls aren’t fantastic but 50% combo damage increase (in a game that combos are frequent) feels good. The restoring of 40% armor is also nice. This item becomes an AMAZING item if the % rolls are better, but due to the number and frequency of Combos this felt good to get.

Grand Entrance my first Colossus MW was a happy one for me. One of the joys of the Thiccboi playstyle is flying towards a group of enemies with the shield up, and hitting the melee key which has you crash down and do an AOE fist slam. It’s glorious. This component creates an explosion at that point of impact. Fun all around. The support ability benefit is nice (I run shields – +25% strength, so having that longer is great with the playstyle and the +20% pickup radius is nice for when you are in the thick of things and I do use a MW grenade launcher (By default, but still use it) so the +19% ammo is also OK.

Insult And Injury is a MW grenade launcher. I don’t love Grenade launchers you have to arc the projectiles and they can skip and miss targets. This one will bounce before impact exploding which helps with some misses, and the Bulwark effect is OK (But something you don’t really notice when it happens. +9% Max armor is always welcome on a Colossus, and the increase in mag size and damage for the item itself is OK. +15% Ammo pickup isn’t that big of a deal since I am always in the frontlines I never, ever run out of ammo.

Vassa’s Arc is a decent item that I am happy to use, even with the bad rolls on it. The lightning coil is a great item to jump into a group of enemies and release, and it pulse attacks. So basically with every pulse you are getting a large electrical explosion. It’s pure chaos. That part is fun. Being able to reuse it 15% faster is OK, the +3% Shotgun (which I do use) is such a poor bonus roll (again, could be as high as +300%…) I don’t use the +15% Autocannon Damage. +9% to all Javelin damage is ok because that affects every ability and weapon.

Coming from MMO land where every upgrade feels great because it is a clear path upward it was a disappointing weekend. The Pistol (sorry again for no picture) was the only one that felt AMAZING, with the +200% damage on hover plus other bonuses. I am definitely in the camp of two changes that need to happen:

  • Masterwork Items should have minimum bonus roll thresholds that are higher than epic. For example, Epic items may have a minimum bonus of +3%, but Masterwork should have a minimum bonus of +50%. Legendary should have a minimum bonus of +100%. This way some MW items can still get really lucky and outshine a legendary, but it’s disappointing to get loot with +3% damage, and an epic with +15% damage. Masterwork should normally always be better. To balance things, you could even put in a maximum – and have those numbers overlap a bit
  • More loot needs to drop. Significantly more. If the luck of the role is the differentiator, then you need lots of rolls to make it fun.

One thing I think we can all agree on – that no end game loot should feel “bad”. And of my 11 drops this weekend, 10 of them were underwhelming / disappointing. I don’t expect god rolls on everything, but getting goOd rolls here and there would make the time investment feel better.

8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I can honestly say I have yet to find a single MW that was an upgrade (inscription wise) over an epic piece of gear. This really feels like Diablo 3 from 2012, or Division pre-patch 1.4.

    When I hit 30, I blew all my crafting mats on epic gear crafting, and ended up with some good rolls. Not sure how the math works, but I focused on Q damage (which is the point of a Storm build) and it was somewhere near 500%.

    The MW gear I’ve slotted has overall worse inscriptions, but the actual perks are better. The 200% damage while hovering is there, and some others that boost damage under certain conditions (E on cooldown, enemy frozen, etc…).

    The interesting bit here is that you can craft MW items, but only if you actually have a version already, and either kill 10 legendaries with it (weapon) or equip it for 25 missions (the rest). Oh, and you need 15 legendaries broken down to craft 1. Depending on luck, that works out to 1 craft per 3 days of play.

    You could check out http://www.anthemarchive.com for a list of potential items.

    As you play more at level 30, the realization that BW doesn’t understand the fundamentals of “end game looter play” becomes more evident.

    1. I’m finding with the current drop rates I’m just not motivated to go out and try for better rolls on the gear either.

      I did get pretty lucky on some pieces though, so overall I’m happy enough with my loadout. I don’t feel that GM2 or 3 is worth going for in the current balancing/gear tiers available though as I don’t think that even should I manage to gear near on God-tier rolls in most slots that even GM2 would start to feel good to play.

      This doesn’t diminish though the fun I’ve had with the title til now. I’m sitting just shy of 90 hours played which for me, in a non-MMO is a *lot*. I have a bit under 150 hours in Division 1 *total* across DLCs, patches, the works. So I’m pretty content with moving on for the moment and revisiting after some more updates and content drops. Possibly as soon as the April one!

      1. Right, this is a core issue. GM2/3 are HP/DMG increases that are in the 1000%/3200% range. That scaling works under the concept of modular increases (e.g. smaller increments) for both offense and defense.

        Anthem does offer modular growth for offense, but in order to match the scale you need god rolls. Inscriptions needs to add up to at least 2500%, to offset the MW bonuses. The good news is that there are a dozen inscription options that can help here.That is a very long tail given the way RNG works today – and the lack of variety in activities is going to cause people to leave/come back.

        In terms of defense, that is a tougher issue. There are only 2 inscriptions that actually help. It’s like a 20:1 ratio of options.

        So while GM2/3 are problem areas, they are actually symptoms of a fundamental issue with RNG on loot. In the simplest of terms, it would appear that BW simply picked a number out of the air in terms of stat weights for GM2/3, and didn’t math out what it meant for players to actually reach those numbers. Again.. the same issue D3 and Division had at launch.

        1. The only worry I have right now is how quiet Ben Irvo and the team has been. They over-communicated for a lot of the first week, addressing issues, discussing on improvements etc.Now, dead silence.

          1. Agrees
            It’s nice to have a high level roadmap but the architecture and design questions need to have a serious review. Something basic like…this is the goal and these are the changes we need to make to get there. Simple acknowledgement would go a very long way

          2. Agree as well.

            The patch pacing has come down too, with the next one being tweeted out yesterday as being on the 14th Mar, and that is another fix patch rather than any content. (Well, I guess we don’t know that it won’t have some events turned on or something as well, but we know nothing big content wise is coming this month anyway.)

        2. I remember pushing through Diablo 3’s endgame — Inferno — at release. It was pretty intense. I think my core group made it up to Act 3 through sheer force of will more than anything else.

          Division 1 I feel like challenging difficulty was a bit more reasonably tuned. Don’t get me wrong, it was also tough as nails, but it had a higher skill-ceiling to offset that somewhat.

          Although perhaps skill-ceiling isn’t quite right there.. It was more optimal team skill-builds, e.g., flashbangs over taking another damage skill, that kind of thing.

          Either way, it felt more manageable within the context of the loot available at the time.

          We went from wiping on the first rooms of Challenging missions to blasting our way through them without very significant gear increases, but more sidegrades to better support the playstyle demanded at the time.

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