Welcome to the first of our monthly dev blogs discussing ongoing development work for The Shattered Isles. Today’s blog is all about weapons, and the system change that will allow you to equip more than one weapon and swap between weapons during combat. Let’s dive right in!
Weapons, Weapons, Weapons
Weapons are an integral part of gameplay in Dauntless. Currently, most weapons of the same type tend to provide a very similar gameplay experience. Some unique effects make certain weapons more powerful than others, but many of these effects can be quite similar. With the use of cells, omnicells, and specials, you could essentially turn most weapons of the same type into another of the same. This leads to a low amount of true options since a ‘best way’ to play emerges, with less fun and discoverability as you play through the game. We see some Slayers in our communities asking, “Should I craft or use weapon X?” because the main differentiator is often net damage output. In such cases, Slayers often don’t factor in how enjoyable it is to slay with that weapon, since the experience generally feels the same as all the other weapons of the same type.
As such, we decided to revisit the way we think about weapons in Dauntless. We want each weapon to be unique and individual, with specific abilities. Think of the distinct and unique abilities each exotic weapon brings to the table — each one has a set of abilities that give it a truly outstanding playstyle. We want to bring this level of unique functionality and personality to every weapon you equip, and make choosing your weapons truly matter in different circumstances.
In our upcoming The Shattered Isles update, you will be able to progress each weapon through more than 20 levels. Crafting each weapon will require parts from a number of related Behemoths, not just a single one. (Weapon crafting and upgrading will be discussed in more detail in a later blog.) When faced with different challenges, your choice of weapons will lead you to more specific, tailored solutions. Our goal is for you to create a truly unique playstyle of your own!
With the shift in our approach towards weapons, it makes sense to introduce a new and exciting feature – weapon swapping!
Weapon swapping will allow you to get creative and further optimize your builds for all of the unique situations you may face in The Shattered Isles.
As we developed Dauntless over the years, we realized that we were making weapons of any type perform essentially all of the things a weapon needed to do. We did not want you to not get parts you needed simply because of your weapon choice. However, this resulted in weapons becoming more and more homogeneous. We ended up having some strange situations, like allowing non-bladed weapons to cut off tails or letting non-blunt weapons stagger Behemoths.
As we move toward individual unique weapons, equipping two weapons and having the ability to swap between them will allow you to create an endless variety of inspired builds. You will be able to put more thought into the preparation and overall balance of your build. This also allows us to present you with more weapon-specific challenges in Behemoth encounters and other hunts. Your weapon choices become significant because each weapon is a unique kit of abilities. For example, two different swords can offer you a very different gameplay experience, so you have good reasons to equip both.
In our early internal playtests, we have already seen some team members using the Captain’s Grip Collectible speed buff to give themselves super fast sword attacks, and capitalize on the relentless pressure of the chain blades and hammer’s aggressive cross combos to stay on top of mobile Behemoths. We are looking forward to seeing all the kinds of new archetypes and playstyles that will emerge from the ability to weapon swap!
We wanted to get back into some of Dauntless’ roots – where we reward fighting game-style combos that take critical planning and skill to perform.
We also wanted to expand build options in ways that allow us to design weapons with specific roles and create Behemoths that present you with unique challenges.
Another point we wanted to lean into was increased Slayer customization. You can be an Axe main, but now you can explore an additional vector of personalization by adding another weapon. What changes will you see in your playstyle when you select Axe/Sword versus Axe/Hammer, for example? These different weapon-based identities can be fun and exciting for you to explore!
Community feedback also let us know that you wanted more weapon variety, along with more build options. Once we started considering the idea of equipping more than one weapon and swapping between them, our animators and designers began cooking up a myriad of fun ideas for attacks that could trigger a weapon swap. Attaching weapon swaps to combos and making them powerful moves requiring skill came about organically, and that is how Cross Combos were born. You can read more about Cross Combos in the section below!
One of the challenges we ran into was designing weapon swap combos involving repeaters. Since repeaters do not have combos like the other weapons, we took inspiration from the Twin Suns, allowing repeaters to cross combo with a spinning hail of bullets and fleet-footed dashes that let you pass safely through Behemoth attacks or reposition for a new angle during the fight.
You will be able to equip up to two weapons in your loadout, both of which will have their full functionality. You can select weapons of different types, or even two of the same type of weapon. Some passive weapon effects may be shared between both, while other active weapon effects such as Charrogg’s Cone of Fire will only work for the weapon that is currently in hand. Weapons will gain their meters or charges independently, and preserve those charges while a weapon is not in hand.
There are three ways in which you can swap weapons during combat:
- While a weapon is sheathed, press the Weapon Swap button to switch between your two weapons instantly. This is the simplest, cost-free way to perform a weapon swap.
- While a weapon is unsheathed, press the Weapon Swap button to switch between your two weapons. This automatically performs the light attack of your other weapon as you switch into it. There is a small stamina cost for this, but it can lead into weapon combos (that normally start with a light attack) for the swapped weapon.
- While a weapon is unsheathed, perform a combo that can lead into a weapon swap, known as a Cross Combo. New combo routes have been added to weapons that can lead to a Cross Combo. Cross Combos inflict significant damage and provide a large burst of specialized damage for the weapon you swap into. For instance, a Cross Combo from a sword to a hammer will deal significant core and stun damage. A Cross Combo from chain blades to a pike will deal massive damage and a large amount of wound damage.
Sample Cross Combos:
(Note: Some of the above weapon names are not final and subject to change before launch.)
We will share more details about weapons and weapon swapping as we progress. Keep an eye out for more news between now and the big launch next summer!
Stay up-to-date on all our developmental news, in-game and community activities, and more – at our brand-new Dauntless Community Hub! In September, we are bringing back both The Silver Sword and The Golden Claws weapon events, plus a selection of weekend bonus events. We are also preparing a special, all-new cosmetic gift pack for each and every one of you – more details to come soon!
Clear skies, Slayers!