Since the beginning I’ve been trying to add more options to what you can do during a battle. You got your abilities, blocking, dashing, moving forward, and recharging. Most recently, countering was introduced which helps make battles more dynamic by adding a comeback risk/reward system. In general I feel like there is now enough to do during a battle.
Where I found the game lacking was in the 4 ability slot limit. Using 4 abilities feels nice, but it became a problem with introducing new abilities to the game. As I added abilities, there would be some interesting ideas that would come up, but I couldn’t justify using one of your 4 ability slots on it because it was so niche or because it didn’t match the utility of some other abilities.
My first attempt was pretty extreme. I wanted to add more abilities without having people go through more number keys. I decided to try to work with submenus. So pressing 1 would open up your first submenu of abilities that would contain 3 abilities within it. Pressing 1 again would use the first ability of that submenu. There would be 3 submenus, for a total of 9 abilities.
I thought it was a good idea but it ended up working poorly. First of all, having submenus made it so you couldn’t at a glance see what abilities you had available. Instead when you pressed 1, the submenu would pop up which would guide your eyes to it and away from the fight. Instead of instantly giving a command with a single key press, you would need to press 2 keys. If you were stuck in a submenu and realized you would rather use an ability in a different submenu, then you had to exit the current one, enter the new one and select the ability. It just completely disrupted the flow of battle.
So then came my second attempt. Even though you have 4 abilities, you don’t realistically have 4 ability options available at all times. If your monster is past a certain distance from the enemy then most melee abilities aren’t really an option. When up close, most projectiles and boosts aren’t really an option. There are already abilities like Charge that you can’t even use when in close range.
So I decided that maybe having 4 abilities available at a time was fine, but that the 4 abilities available would change depending on your monster’s distance from the enemy monster. It didn’t work out well. The flow of battle was once again disrupted. Dashing away and from close range and queuing up a projectile to use mid-air was a common tactic that could no longer be used. Using melee abilities from out of range was actually pretty useful to get close up if your monster has some good speed, and this took that away as well.
It took a lot of time to try these ideas out, but I’m glad I explored them. In the end I decided that the way abilities work and feel is already in a good place and so I need to try to maintain that. So the simplest and most obvious approach that I was trying to avoid ended up being the right choice. In the next patch, your monster will simply have 5 abilities available rather than 4.
Because I wanted to avoid the use of another number key I made Q the key to use for the fifth ability which ended up feeling the most comfortable. While it might seem out of place not making it a number key, there were always plans to add in a special ability that would use all 3 bars of EX meter by pressing F. I will leave the 5 key as an option as well. The Xbox gamepad controls are also being changed a bit to allow for this expansion in ability options.
After a lot of testing, I think 5 abilities really adds enough variety in abilities to the game. You really feel the luxury of being able to take an extra tool into battle after already having most of what you feel you needed. This will add a lot more variety as players will find themselves with extra options and hopefully more strategies and interesting new abilities will emerge.
Also, new patch coming soon.