Friday, February 13, 2009

CoH: The Blapper Archtype

The Premise: Blappers don't exist... yet

Those who have read even a few of my writings on CoH know that I detest the blapper play style. To me players who play blasters as melee simply don't understand the point of blasters, nor do they understand how to properly utilize their blaster powers. However, in the current incarnation of City of Heroes, there really is no punishment for dying. Debt can be erased, or prevented, simply by logging out a character out for patrol exp. Dying inside of a mission offers only half debt, and players who pick up the cyborg pack have an option for a debtless self sacrifice.

Lack of Debt: Encouragement for bad play styles?

For many blaster players, this means there is no real punishment for playing in the blapper style. There is no genuine setback for mis-playing an archetype. I'm not really sure where I stand on this effect though. I appreciate that CoH does not punish players by making them lose exp and levels for dying, and I appreciate that CoH does not punish players by making it possible for them to lose enhancements, salvage, or recipies by dying. I'm not sure though that I like having no real penalty for messing up. Part of me wishes the devs would role debt back to full strength, and separate patrol exp from debt.

The Solution: Create a Blapper Archtype

The current handling of defeat though has encouraged many blasters to attempt blapper builds. So, I have a proposal. Why not actually create a blapper specific arctype. Then, why not create a blapper archtype that could exist in BOTH CoH and CoV?

What I have in mind is an avatar that is a cross between a scrapper and a blaster, but not as powerful as either in ranged or melee combat, but makes up for the lack of raw power by being more flexible and having slightly higher defensives at a lower health rating.

The conceptual idea is that a Blapper can handle more damage upfront than a scrapper, since their melee damage output will be lower than a scrappers. So, lets give them defensive ratings that sit between a scrapper and a tank. That's about a 15% boost over the same defensive set on a scrapper.

At the same time though, we don't want the Blapper archtype to be dependent on melee attacks alone. We want them to have some ranged attacks as well. So we'll give them a lower base hp. For comparision a level 50 archery / fire blaster has a base HP of around 1200 points. A level 50 regen scrapper has a base HP around 1330 points. A Level 50 fire tank has a base HP around 1875 points. Yes, this is another example where the low, medium, and high designations don't exactly add up, but we'll go with the blaster hit points.

Okay, so we have the basis for what our Blapper can do. They have a lower hp, but higher defenses, so lets think about exactly what is going to make them blappers by powers.

The initial power conception takes root in the Villain Epic Archtypes. The villain epic archtype Arachnos Soldier gets 6 different power sets, which consist of Arachnos Soldier, Training and Gadgets, Crab-Spider, Crab-Spider Training, Bane-Spider, and Bane-Spider training. Of course, the player does not get to pick from all of these pools at once. They must make a choice on what pools they can pull from in their career path.

On the heroside, the none epic archtypes have 18 primary and secondary powers, with 9 powers to each set. Since we want our Blappers to have equel weight to melee, ranged, and defensive powers, we'll give them six slots for each set. At first glance, most ranged attacks have an aim power, so the short-ranged set will have an aim function. Most melee powers have a build up function, so each melee set will have a build. Most Defensive sets have a status effect resist, so we'll give each defensive set an anti-mez. On top of that, we'll make the Anti-Mez powers one of the must-take powers at level 1. This borrows from the Blaster concept of their first two primary powers, and first secondary power being immune to stat effects.

So, we have 3 power sets which are comprised of Short Ranged Attacks with Aim, Melee Attacks with build-up, and Defensive sets with anti-mez.

Short Ranged attacks are taken largely from the nerfs on Peacebringers from issues past, nerfs that were reversed in Issue 13. Peacebringers used to have an average range of 60feet compared to the Blaster's 80foot average range. In I13 PB's ranged attacks were boosted to the Blaster Average. For our Blapper, well, we are going to shorten the range up. They'll only get half the range for the same attack.

Now we just need some weapons that are effective at short range. So, dual pistols and shotguns.

The concept behind the Dual Pistols is that they are quick, but have lower outright damage. Since Thug Mastermind's already have dual pistols the animations are already in the game for 3 of the short-ranged attacks. Those 3 attacks are Pistol Single Shot, Dual Wield, and Empty Clips. To compliment these powers we'll add the power of Head Shot, a high accuracy / high damage interuptable shot, intended to be like a Blaster's sniper shot, but with 50% of a normal snipes base interupt. Because we want the blapper archtype to be unique... we'll actually make the last pistol shot dependent on the chosen melee attack. We'll get to that in a minute.

Shotguns are taken from a foriegn CoH add which pits a Devil May Cry like avatar slashing and blasting away CoH ghosts. The shotgun trades off the quickness of dual pistol for a heftier damage up front and some debuff capability. The first power is a standard shotgun buckshot cone blast. The second power is slug blast, single target, but heavy damage. The third power is double buckshot. The fourth power is Salt Blast, my personal favorite. It does little damage, but enemies are blinded and their defenses are drastically reduced. As with the pistols, the 5 power depends on the melee.

Okay, now onto our melee types. Most Epic Archtypes are limited to a single origin type. Arachnos and Peacebringers are always Natural Origin, and WarShades are always Science based. So, keep to that trend for bonus archtypes, our Blapper is going to be limited to Technology and Natural origins. This opens up the possibility for the melee sets of
Broad Sword, Energy Melee, Katana, Martial Arts, and Electric Melee.

The melee sets are largely cut down to the Tier 1, 3, 7, 8, and 9 powers. This gives the blapper lots of heavy hitting attacks possibily earlier than than their scrapper / brute cousins, but at the cost of having a well rounded attack pattern. In some cases, like Electric Melee which has a damage-less Tier 8 power, replace it with the Tier 5 damage.

Now, here's where the choice of the melee weapon will affect the power of the short ranged weapon.

Take Broadsword and for example. If you have the broadsword with pistols, the final pistol attack will be a stab and shoot. You jab the broadsword into the enemy with one hand, and then fire the pistol 3 or 4 times with the other hand. If you have broadsword and shotgun, you jab the broadsword into the enemy, then use the shotgun to blow the enemy away with a high magnitude knockback.

If you take Energy Melee with pistols, the final pistol attack is energized pistols. You use the technology that grants you the ability to manipulate energy to pack your bullets with a disorienting blast. If you take Energy Melee with shotgun, you get ground force. You charge your shotgun, then fire into the ground creating a knockback wave.

If you take Katana, the final attack mimics Soaring Dragon and you spin around sword in one hand, driving into the enemy and lifting them off the ground, and then following up with the other hand to them in the air: applies to both pistols and shotgun.

If you take Martial Arts, the final pistol attack creates an aoe blast combining Dragon's tail with an AOE blast. Think Breakdancing with bullets. The final shotgun attack is similar to Katana, kick the enemy up then hit them with a shotgun blast.

If you take Electric Melee and Pistols, you can give your bullets an extra nasty jolt by charging them up, stunning and draining a single target. If you take Electric Melee and Shotgun, you get wide range AOE blast that combines the salt blast with an electic pulse. High Endurance drain (on par with short circuit), high defense drop, blinded, and disorient. The ultimate in debuffs, just not much damage to go with it.

While I highly suspect that the developers won't consider this additional Cross City archtype, I think it would be a good tribute to the Devil May Cry genre, and would give those trying to play dominators and blasters as melee's something that's really designed to handle the melee fight.
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