AvCom Revamp: NPC Archetypes
The avatar combat revision gave ConCo a really good opportunity to give a bit of a makeover to what NPCs could do. In the previous version of avatar combat, much of the strategy came from reducing your enemies’ balance to the point where you could damage their health. With that aspect gone, we wanted to figure out a way to keep avatar combat tactically interesting to players. What we ended up doing was grouping NPCs into different “archetypes”, each with their own unique moveset.
In the previous avatar combat system, most NPCs didn’t really do anything interesting. They just attacked you with a basic strike skill over and over. That was something we really wanted to change with the new system; now, NPCs will debuff you, combo you, set up big finishers, support their allies, and do a lot of other cool stuff as well. However, we also didn’t want to go overboard and make each NPC in the game have his own unique set of moves. Not only would that be an insane amount of work for us, but it would be confusing to players as well because you’d never have any clue what an NPC might throw at you. And most likely, by the time you did the NPC would be dead anyway.
So, all NPCs in the game (except for a few very special ones) belong to a specific “archetype” group. Two NPCs who are two different archetypes have different stats, different abilities, and different weapons; they fight completely differently from one another. To add further depth, within each archetype group there are several sub-archetypes. Different sub-archetypes within the same archetype have very similar or identical stats, but their signature ability might be different. They both fulfill the general role that their archetype is designed to fill, but they do it in different ways.
There are six archetypes:Defenders focus heavily on the parry stat. Their parry is much higher than other archetypes, but their dodge is lower. This means that they are more difficult to hit with normal attacks, but weak against special moves that can only be dodged. Defenders also concentrate more on supporting their allies or harrying the player with debuff-type abilities rather than dealing a lot of damage. Defenders have three sub-archetypes:
- Formation Defenders raise their allies’ parry stat.
- Distracting Defenders reduce the player’s guard regeneration rate.
- Interrupting Defenders have attacks that reduce the player’s initiative.
Damagers focus on dealing as much damage as possible. They have high offensive stats, but lower defensive stats. They can dish out the hurt, but they also are defeated more easily than other archetypes. Damagers have three sub-archetypes:
- Flurry Damagers have even higher offense stats, but otherwise don’t do anything special.
- Opportunistic Damagers are able to use high-damage “finishing moves” every so often.
- Tactical Damagers debuff the player and then use those debuffs to perform more powerful moves.
Duelists focus both on offense and defense. They have high parry and increased offense, but not as much as Defenders or Damagers. Duelists deal a generous amount of damage, but they also have special abilities that make them more dangerous if ignored. However, attacking a Duelist has its own dangers: whenever a Duelist parries an attack, they get to use a powerful riposte attack. Duelists have three sub-archeypes:
- Enraging Duelists’ offense rises and continues to rise if they are not attacked.
- Challenging Duelists will “challenge” the player if not attacked, reducing the player’s offensive stats.
- Pressing Duelists can use their riposte attack when the player dodges any NPC’s attack.
Supporters focus on using abilities that make their allies stronger or the player weaker rather than dealing direct damage. They are similar to Defenders in that aspect, but they go even further down that road with more and more powerful types of those attacks. However, Supporters do not have the Defender’s defensive capabilities. Supporters have two sub-archetypes:
- Commanding Supporters focus on abilities that strengthen their allies.
- Harrying Supporters focus on abilities that weaken the player.
Brutes focus on being passively tough; they have greatly increased health compared to other archetypes, and they usually have passive abilities that reduce the damage that they take as well. However, they are easier to hit than other archetypes because they have reduced parry. Brutes don’t do as much damage as Damager archetypes, but they can hit hard in certain situations. Brutes have three sub-archetypes:
- Heavy-Hitting Brutes use finishing moves like Opportunistic Damagers, but their finishers have a long animation time and can be interrupted if they are hit.
- Tough ‘n’ Nasty Brutes have innate damage reduction. When they reach low health they enrage, losing that damage reduction but gaining a large bonus to damage dealt.
- Leatherskin Brutes have very high innate damage reduction and have powerful special moves that they can only use if afflicted by a specific debuff.
Gunners specialize in attacking from range. They have low defenses once engaged in melee, but can put a large hurt on players who let them shoot for too long. Gunners have two sub-archetypes:
- Pistoliers deal less damage but afflict the player with various weakening effects.
- Musketeers have attacks that deal lots of damage.
Something that we wanted to do when designing these was not only to make each archetype and sub-archetype interesting by itself, but also make it so that there is a certain amount of synergy between archetypes. So, even if two fights each contain, say, a Damager, the other archetypes that surround that Damager NPC would make the two fights feel different. The player might have to use different tactics based on what archetypes are present in a given fight.
And of course, that was our ultimate goal with the archetype system: to make fights more tactically interesting.