Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dungeon Siege III: a look at the attributes

Yes I know another game thing, but Dungeon Siege 3 is really annoying at times. In content it's aimed at the RPG crowd, but one thing that unifies that group is their desire to understand how the game works. For example with the Attack Attribute if I have to choose between a +5 Attack and +8 Attack weapon what's the difference?

For anyone who laughed and said 3 congratulations you could work for Obsidian.
[Update - as this is showing up on my stats presumably by people trying to work out what the hell they mean I've added a summary list to the bottom of this post]

Now if they'd stuck to the purely 'bigger equals better' then sure still annoying, but at least it would be something to work with. However they don't. At its heart the system appears quite simple - the percentage change of an event occurring is fixed regardless of their statistics. So it doesn't matter if you're wielding a Rifle of Quickness or a Rifle of Bombastity the chances of hitting an enemy remain the same. What most of the numbers denote is how much damage is done if you hit an enemy or are hit by one.

So you'll deal more damage with an Attack score of 16 than you would with a score of 8. How much more? Who knows as the mechanism is hidden. But hey at least you know you're causing more damage with the bigger numbers, right?

Well maybe not. Here's the description for an attribute Chaos: Fire which when it has points means you may cause fire damage to enemies.

Chaos: Fire grants a moderate chance to set enemies on fire, dealing moderate damage over 6 seconds
Now for Chaos: Ice which has a similar effect.
Chaos: Ice grants your attacks a moderate chance to freeze your enemies, dealing low damage over 9 seconds
Note the difference in wording. Fire deals "moderate damage" while Ice deals "low damage". So given two otherwise identical weapons and one has a score of 7 in Fire and the other a 7 in Ice which causes more damage? We don't know. Because of this it's impossible to know if a 7 in Fire is equal to or worse than, say,  a 14 in Ice. How does it cause damage over time? Is the amount of damage in some way related to the amount of normal damage the weapon does? Again we don't know.

Dealing with abilities next and this seems to be tied to the attribute Will
Will represents your ability to draw on the magical, or supernatural. As you equip weapons and armor that grant you a higher Will value, your character's Ability DPS will go up. 
For those not into Game speak DPS means Damage per Second. That's great except there are two ways to increase DPS - increase the amount of damage I can do, or increase the number of times I can inflict damage in a second. One 5 damage attack in 1 second yields a 5DPS; two such attacks in 1 second yields a 10DPS, but so does one 10 damage attack in 1 second. So what does Will do - does it increase the amount of damage or increase the number of times I can use it? If you've been reading everything so far you should know the answer to this - we don't know.

Now amusingly the other set of statistics behave much more simply. Agility, for example, is the percentage chance of inflicting a critical hit on an enemy of equal level. Retribution, on the other hand, can cause damage equal to its amount to any enemy that hits you.

So those are easy to understand. If I have a Retribution score of 18 and the percentage chance kicks in when someone hits me they take 18 points of damage (modified by their armour). If I had an Agility score of 20 then I have a set percentage chance of performing a critical hit on enemies as tough as me; lower chance for those tougher than me and greater chance for those weaker than me.

So why the hell couldn't they do the same thing for all the other attributes? Why can't a 7 Ice inflict 7 points of damage per second for 9 seconds and a 23 Attack cause 23 points of damage?


Agility - Divide by 8 to get a rough percentage of critical chance.
Attack - Sets the damage done when using a weapon.
Will - Sets the damage/duration  healing of an ability.
Stamina - Stamina value multiplied by ten equals hit points/health.
Armour - Any damage taken has this value removed before it is applied to health.
Block - While blocking damage taken has this value removed before it is applied to focus. If damage is greater than current focus the remainder is removed from health.
Doom - This adds additional damage inflicted with a critical hit.
Momentum - This adds additional focus gained when attacking an enemy.
Retribution - Fixed percentage chance that this amount of damage is inflicted on any enemy hitting the player.
Stagger - Sets the percentage chance that any enemy hit by the player will be stunned.
Warding - Sets the percentage chance that any enemy hitting the player will be stunned.

Chaos attributes. The higher the number the more damage inflicted. However the percentage chances, damage, and duration of effect all differ meaning that each attribute is difficult to compare to another. The list below shows percentage chance, damage, duration in seconds, as well as any notes.

Bloodletting - high, moderate, 6.
Fire - moderate, moderate, 6. Enemy will appear on fire. Fire does not spread.
Ice - moderate, low, 9. Enemy will appear crystalline. Ice does not slow.
Lightning- small, moderate, 2.
Poison - moderate, heavy, 9.
Vampire - moderate, unknown, instant. Character gains health lost by enemy.
Weakening - moderate, low, 9. Enemies will inflict less damage.
Withering - moderate, low, 9. Enemies will take more damage.

When affected an enemy may appear to turn or flash a certain colour - I'm still trying to tie the two together. Simply looking at them Poison seems the strongest attribute followed by Bloodletting with Lightning seemingly the weakest followed by Ice.

I'll look at tactical consideration in another post.


Anonymous said...


Scott said...

I know this post is really old, but I just bought DS III for the XBox (got it for XMas) and I wanted to say a HUGE THANK YOU for posting all this!

Anonymous said...

if you played DS 2, you would have known that freezing is like stunning, but in a different graphical and story-technical form (being a block of ice instead of getting your head knocked and being dizzy for a moment)so thats stunning + low damage for ice, while fire has no stun or something alike, and moderate damage instead. That should balance it, not? in that way i even prefer the freezing.

FlipC said...

Given this is the first of the series to make it to the Playstation (AFAIK) if that were the case why not mention it the description?

Anonymous said...

Yeah I know I'm years late, but THANK YOU for posting this! DS III needs a good rant. There's nothing that will infuriate your consumer more than making them feel dumb and helpless in acting. Again, I appreciate your post; it just saved me about an hour fuming silently while I tried to figure out exactly everything I hated about the mystery attributes.