My second preview in anticipation of the Maze Engine features a closer look on the Mount system. I have already discussed the campaign and will be dealing with the new dungeons in a third post. Make sure you have read the dev blogs about the Mounts and the Stable, because this post won’t explain the basics that are mentioned in those.
First and foremost the change of making Mounts an unlock and not an actual item and separate the speed, combat and equip power as well as the skin is a great QoL improvement. Players have long said they feel forced to ride a specific Mount because of its power although they find other looks more enticing. Finally players will be able to choose their Mounts solely by the look or character theme. This also makes cosmetic rewards from events more viable to get and it will be interesting to see what the players’ favorites will become.
In terms of equip powers my advice is to go for utility bonuses (Tenser, Skeleton Steed, Griffon etc.). The reason is that stat bonuses can become obsolete. Think about the Companion system and how it wasn’t adjusted when the new stat curves were introduced in Elemental Evil, which made half of them completely useless. This theoretically could happen to Mounts as well. A Flail Snail though will still give you +% AP no matter what.
I’m not sure how many stats purple Insignias grant, but assuming 200 (green is 50, blue 100) this would add up to +3,000 for the primary and +1,500 for the secondary utility rating given a full stable. It’s a nice bonus and Insignias seem reasonable to get, at least the uncommon and rare ones. Probably there will be an early run to dungeon profession nodes similar to what happened in Module 2 when Marks got introduced, but that should settle really soon. A slight downer is the fact that Insignias are BoP. Dropping from profession nodes you can’t really make them BoE because of botting, but I don’t get why they couldn’t make them at least bind to account. The purple ones that drop from the new lockbox should be BoE though and hopefully the boxes will let you pick the Insignia you want. A list of the possible bonuses can be found here.
The Insignia set bonuses are hard to judge, partly because Insignias on preview are not as available, but seem to be strong to overpowered. Protector’s Camaraderie, Warlord’s Inspiration and Cavalry’s Warning combined with Bonding Runestones could lead to amazingly high Power levels in PVE. Add Magistrate’s Patience and you might have a new definition of DPS. On the other hand we can only hope that pretty much all of the healing powers have an ICD. I already don’t like that ‘challenge’ in this game is defined by bosses and mobs that deal damage way above the usual Hit Points, but if you give players the ability to heal any damage in seconds it’s the only way to actually kill someone. It just completely takes away any skill component. Add that healers already have been degraded to be buffers again and this doesn’t help.
It’s also an issue for PVP. Probably the best Insignia DPS bonuses are tied to Companions, which could lead to PVPers mostly picking healing, making some builds even more durable (and boring). I also dislike that with Cavalry’s Warning the best DPS increase for PVP is tied to legendary mounts. I get that making the Mount system active in PVP is mandatory because you already don’t make any ZEN off those players with Companions. But it adds to the conclusion that PVP can currently not be seen as a serious and competitive game mode. Insignia bonuses will probably extend the list of problematic mechanics that make PVP unplayable or at least not enjoyable.
I absolutely love the new flexibility of the Mount system, but the Insignias as designed are a classic pay-2-win feature. Mounts even more than Companions are exclusively obtainable through real money currency. You can participate in the Mount system by using the green event rewards, but purple and legendary quality is as much a paywall as Wards are for Enchantment and upgrades for Companions. It might also not have been the best timing to introduce the feature at a point where most content is already trivial and the Module doesn’t add an extra tier of difficulty on top of it. It’s an unnecessary power addition that doesn’t help PVE and PVP in their current state.
What’s you take on the Mount system? Share it in the comments below or visit the corresponding forum thread!