Saturday, July 25, 2015

Improving Witcher 3 would be Witchcraft (2): Alchemy Skill Tree

Note: The following suggestions mainly adress the complaints about the alchemy skill tree being unattractive and full of boring passive stat increases.

The alchemy makes a really weak first impression for a player that eagerly awaits to spend his first skill point. While the first tier in the other two skill trees is fairly straightforward (improve your favorite attack or spell), the alchemy skill tree starts out with talents that are confusing at best and useless at worst.

3. The Alchemy Skill Tree

Heightened Tolerance (increases overdose threshold): A very confusing talent for a new player. Overdose threshold is hardly explained in the game and it is not the same thing as the toxicity level. I needed some time to figure out that it happens after excessive potion usage but while you are still within your toxicity limit and that it slowly drains your health. But the negative effects are so hard to figure out because the detailed player stats in the menu screen give no feedback about it. I am playing the PS4 version and I found that the menu always displayed a toxicity level of 0 and my health regeneration listed in the menu also never changed.

Toxicity and potion overdose in the Witcher 3 menu screen.
The menu gives absolutely no feedback on toxicity and overdose.
So this talent was super confusing but also downright useless because at a character level 2 you will hardly have enough potions to run into overdose issues. Thus, making many players skip the alchemy tree and go for the more obvious and attractive skill trees. My suggestion here is pretty simple: switch the talent with "Refreshment" (gives you health back when you drink a potion). This is way more self-explanatory and also attractive because of the lack of healing options in early levels. It also gives the player an opportunity for self-education because if he abuses the healing effect he will run into overdose problems and suddenly he will realize the worth of an increased overdose threshold all on his own.

Geralt from Witcher 3 suffering from potion threshold overdose.
Overdose changes the color of your health bar and slowly drains health. Don´t mind the sick look of Geralt, this is a side effect of mutagen concoctions.

Poisoned Blades (small chance of poisoning when using weapon oils): The placement as well as the effect of the talent are not ideal. Weapon oils start with a very low amount of charges and Geralt himself does not start with a wide variety of weapon oils. Consequently, there will be many fights when you don´t have the correct weapon oil against the enemy type and even when you have, it is well possible that the poisoning does not work due to the slim chance.

Weapon oil from Witcher 3.
Weapon oils add a damage increase against a certain type of enemy for a limited number of charges.

Compare it to tier 1 talents in the other skill trees like increased damage on light attacks (always active, always useful) and you realize how disappointing this talent turns out. I suggest that this talent switches places with "Fixative" (increases charges of each weapon oil). Standard oils start with 20 charges which are consumed at a surprising pace and Fixative will help with that, it is also less conditionally than Poisoned Blades. Another suggestion would be an entirely new talent in its place, a talent that makes oils work on any type of enemy but consume more charges than on the correct enemy type.
The next problem with Poisoned Blades is the effect of the skill. A tiny chance to inflict the least useful of all status ailments is pretty depressing, especially with such powerful debuffs as burning out there. Plus, combat in Witcher 3 is usually about high bursts of damage and a slow ticking, hard to notice poison debuff is hardly of any use. It is also part of the issue that the alchemy skill tree is boring and less flashy than the other skill trees. A few possible solutions to this problem:
  • let the skill inflict a random status problem instead (more variety, more fun)
  • let the skill cause an explosion similar to breaking an improved Quen shield (definitely more flashy and impactful, skill would need a new name though)
  • entirely new skill: increases the effect of each rune socketed into the sword as long as the weapon oil is active

Adaptation (increases duration of mutagen decoctions): This is a very disappointing talent in the last tier of the alchemy skill tree. Mutagen decoctions already have a decent duration and every skill in the alchemy tree has a built-in duration increase for all your potions and decoctions, making this talent seem rather obsolete and misplaced. I would vote for a complete redesign of this talent, I suggest to add a defensive option like "while under the effect of any mutagen decoction, every time you receive a direct hit, your stamina bar is instantly filled".

The adaptation skill from Witcher 3.
Adaptation is one of the last talents in the tree, but hardly worth the skill points.

 So much for the three worst talents in the Alchemy skill tree. But there is more to come about balance and ease of use of alchemy in the next part of the feedback list...

Do you want more screenshots? Subscribe to the blog and get access to the exclusive archives with unused content, PDF articles and more.

<< Go back to the previous part of the list
>> Continue to the next part 

Interesting links: 

Official website of Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Game review on YouTube by AngryJoe

No comments:

Post a Comment