Loot Problems

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anthem-screenshot-2019-03-10-16-54-07-92

Shocking to no one I spent the majority of my weekend playing Anthem again.  It was a bizarre weekend for those of us who spent both Friday night and Saturday playing because some things happened.  Firstly the the 1.0.3 patch that we were expecting to land on the 12th launched a bit early on the 9th around 7 am, meaning when I woke up for the day I had a significant patch to download.  However Friday night…  they did the thing where they accidentally set the loot drops too high and we were getting Masterworks left and right.  Once again the community thought this was intentional…  because ultimately it is what we have been clamoring for all this time.  However with the launch of the patch it was rolled back…  and it has been a bit hard to separate the good of the patch with the bad of having loot nerfed again.

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Anthem has a loot problem, namely that it is way too stingy with Masterworks but more importantly too stingy with Legendaries.  All told I have gotten 4 Legendary drops in what is now 164 hours worth of play time.  Dividing that out it is me seeing a Legendary drop every 41 hours of play time.  There are folks out there who have racked up similar hours and have yet to see a single one.  It was the futile hope of the player base that when we removed Whites and Greens from dropping in post 30 content… that it would have a positive effect of skewing the number of Masterworks and Legendaries we would get.  However as some testing has shown…  essentially every green and white drop was replaced by a purple…  which is awesome if you are just getting started but more disenchant fodder once you enter the hunt for Orange and Lime (that’s what I am deciding to call legendary green).  There is an interesting post that was up on the reddit over the weekend…  where a player farmed 200 drops with +95 luck before and after the patch, linking to the original thread but going to post the data here for reference.

Pre-Patch Numbers

  • Common: 17 items at 8.5%
  • Uncommon: 24 items at 12%
  • Rare: 34 items at 17%
  • Epic: 102 items at 51%
  • Masterwork: 21 items at 10.5%
  • Legendary: 2 items at 1%

Post-Patch Numbers

  • Rare: 28 items at 14%
  • Epic: 163 items at 81.5%
  • Masterwork: 7 items at 3.5%
  • Legendary: 2 items at 1%

The original poster went to the trouble of documenting all of their loot with screenshots, but accounting for randomness it does appear that the Common and Uncommon slots are now just Epic items, which again is great for people getting a start in the game but bad for anyone who has collected a set of epic gear which now happens frighteningly fast under the current loot environment.

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All of that said… I am still enjoying myself and have managed to cobble together gear for three different javelins at this point.  I will probably be starting on the Storm at some point soon once I have spent a bit more time fine tuning the Interceptor.  Right now I have something that I would call a proper build on both the Ranger and the Colossus, and I will be farming content until I reach that point on the Interceptor as well.  How I am getting there…  is because I am exploiting the fact that Strongholds drop a guaranteed ability and Legendary contracts drop a guaranteed component.  While I only have three legendary contracts available to me each day, it seems that Quickplay on Grandmaster 1 difficulty tends to place you into a Legendary Contract more often than not…  and doing this nets you a guaranteed component as well.  Stronghold Quickplay similarly nets you a guaranteed ability drop…  however in my experience this is bugged out the vast majority of the time and not really worth your effort.

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Now I realize there are a lot of players out there that have been having issues with the game nonstop since release.  However for the most part I had not…  until this weekend when I started heavily relying on Quickplay.  That functionality seems to be far more buggy than the rest of the game, and I am wondering if the majority of the issues that players have been encountering have revolved around trying to do this abbreviated path to loot.  Normal Quickplay seemed to stick me in far fewer bugged out instances than it did before the patch, however when something went wrong… it went REALLY wrong often times causing me to have to either go through a loop of being bounced back to the loading screen like the above screenshot… or having to hard kill the client.  Starting Missions, Contracts, Strongholds and Freeplay myself all resulted in predictably smooth gameplay…   however any time I dared to mess with Quickplay I was effectively playing with fire.

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Another byproduct of the patch is that overall Javelin power feels like it has increased, and a side effect of that is that none of the lower difficulty ranks seem to be anywhere near as populated as they were.  Thalen reported issues getting full groups on normal difficulty as he was playing through the story and leveling, and I personally experienced a challenge getting groups at hard difficulty when I was attempting to finish getting the epics on my Interceptor.  So one of two things has happened… either the average player has released that they can now crush Grandmaster 1 thanks to the power scaling, or more likely a lot of players have just stopped messing with the game out of frustration over various issues.  Neither case is great for the game as a whole because it makes it harder and harder to onboard a supply of new players.  Grace will be starting up this week and I will be curious to see how that experience is as a new player and whether or not the matchmaking is as quick as it was for the rest of us that started out.  Side note since I have done this pretty much every week, throwing out a screenshot of the Alliance contribution screen…  I have yet to hit the hard cap for the week.

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One final screenshot of note…  since I played a bit of Warframe this weekend…  I am pretty sure these two chests in the hanger area are a nod to that game.  Anyone has played much Warframe will notice that they have a lot of lockers scattered throughout the ships that look suspiciously similar to these.  Also oddly enough playing a lot of Anthem has somehow made Warframe feel more manageable?  I was not nearly as motion sick playing it yesterday as I have been in the past, and the way too zoomed in perspective did not feel anywhere near as bad as it had after playing the whirling ball of death that is the Interceptor.  I still greatly prefer Anthem, but I have a feeling I could probably start to finally delve into Warframe if I so choose.

So where we are left is that Anthem needs to make a lot of changes quickly.  Chad Robertson the Head of Live Services chimed in over on twitter with some comments to this whole situation.  It spans several tweets so quoting rather than just pasting the thread for ease of consumption.

We appreciate all the feedback from the community on the game. We love the passion and share it. We’re not yet fully happy with the game’s loot behavior either. One of the downsides of moving so fast to improve is that we’re making changes to complex loot systems in several areas and it’s then harder to know how it’s performing. In the next few months, we’re expecting to make significant changes, but we’re starting with some incremental ones so we can better navigate that evolution. Our goal is to ensure the best possible player experience.

So while I appreciate this comment, because they are actually saying words in reference to problems…  which is a step above a lot of studios out there.  The biggest problem that I have with this comment is the fact that he mentions the time frame of “the next few months”.  I am not entirely certain that they have months…  and more likely have weeks to sort this out before players simply give up and file this game in the bin of “check back for year two” like so many of us did with Destiny.  We already see the signs in matchmaking of players dropping out of the system, which is a bad sign.  Additionally the temperature of the Reddit has shifted drastically over the last few days, which was a different situation than the inflammatory YouTube community…  they were positive and hopeful and I think were pinning their hopes on the patch from March 12th fixing a lot of the major issues…  namely with loot drops.  That however has drastically shifted to a community demanding fixes now, because Patch 1.0.3 did not deliver the solace they were hoping for.  While I am still playing the hell out of this game… I cannot say they are necessarily wrong in their frustrations.

There have been two situations where supposedly accidental loot changes have “fixed” the game.  In both times the game felt so much better because it didn’t feel bad when you got another Masterwork with crappy rolls, because you knew another one was right around the corner.  The unbridled excitement of actually seeing a legendary drop, and knowing that this wasn’t a once in a career thing…  made you care less about also getting crappy rolls on it too.  Loot needs to flow like water Diablo 3 style so you can pick through the dross and cobble together something resembling a proper build.  Nothing is more frustrating than getting a bunch of abilities you don’t care about… when you have a specific style of play that you enjoy on your character…  but feel forced to use the Masterworks because the item level increase makes them just flat out superior to using a proper build.  All of this felt less of the case when the loot was accidentally generous…  and the players will not be satisfied until we get something resembling that state again.

Santa RNG

The Sidewalks Roll Up

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This holiday is considerably different than most.  Always there is a natural flow to the events, but due to my Aunt needing dialysis it has completely changed the order of things.  Traditionally last night I would have been up with my family, as they have always celebrated on Christmas Eve.  Traditionally we would go to “midnight mass” that actually happened about 7 pm, and then retire to my grandmothers house afterwards for awkward conversation and eventually even more awkward gift exchange.  During this my uncles would get into the cherished conversation of “why this random thing I own, is better than this other random thing you own” or “who hates ethnic groups more” or even the more recent “random insane government conspiracy theory”.  One of my uncles spins these grand tales of conspiracy that are delivered in way that they almost sound cogent… until you realize that the keystone of his argument is completely batshit crazy.

Now however the game has changed, as we did not spend last night with them… but are instead supposed to go up today.  Which pushes aside my wife’s family gathering… but that is a tale for another day.  This left us at home, by ourselves for the first time in years on a Christmas Eve.  We did not exactly plan well for this occurrence and as about 7:30 rolled around we decided we were hungry, and that nothing at all in the house sounded good.   Which is slightly insane, since we keep silly amounts of food on hand that could be prepared with minimal effort.  I got bundled up and went out into the cold night in search of sustenance. 

We have a saying here that the “sidewalks roll up” as a way of saying that the town is completely quiet and no business is being transacted.  Last night it quite literally felt as though the sidewalks had rolled up.  The only businesses open were Walgreens and Taco Bueno… and the line there extended quite a long ways across the now empty Reasors grocery store parking lot.  Seems like there were other people trying to find food on Christmas Eve.  Slightly forlorn I returned home and cobbled together something to eat out of the banquet of things we have laying around the house.  This morning when I went out to forage I was feeling no more positive that it would not occur again, however I successfully scrounged two sausage rolls and a jump start of caffeine to get us both going.

Santa RNG

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I would have thought that maybe last night players would have felt a wee bit more charitable since it was in fact Christmas Eve.  However if anything it seemed to make the assholes more assholish, and the clueless even more lacking.  I got to listen to more than one variation of the “you all suck” speech, but I dealt with it, because like I have said before playing DPS lets me compartmentalize my world.  I only care about the objective and achieving that objective, and since I am not tanking or healing and by default only responsible for myself… I can just zone in on that job and perform it.  I have lamented over the last few weeks how I have been unable to get weapons for my Enhancement Shaman.  So yesterday I soldiered on in the effort of trying to fill those gaps.

It might have been in the spirit of the season,  or maybe I just finally hit a lucky spot in the random number generator… but for whatever reason Santa RNG paid out big-time.  First I managed to pull the extremely cool looking Softfoot’s Last Resort from the protectors event.  Not very long after that I managed to pull the Seismic Bore mace from the Iron Juggernaut encounter.  So in one night I managed to bump both of my weapons up to decent levels and can now actually chart on the damage meters.  Thing is… Santa RNG was not finished quite yet.  Over the course of the evening I managed to pick up two pieces of the Tier 16 Shaman set the Shoulders and then finally the Chestpiece.  I still have a few slots that have 496 gear in them, but at this point there are not that many.  I have reached the point where Throne of Thunder really has no benefit at all for me, so I can simply focus on doing Siege each week.  I might have to do one last run however to pick up my final sigil of power.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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So while I might sound sullen at the moment, I am sure as the day moves on I will enjoy myself.  Right now we are trying to get up and about and out the door so we can be long gone from my grandmothers house by the time my uncles show up.  As a result I need to finish this post up, get showered and ready and gather up the gifts.  I hope you all have a really awesome holiday, and that if you didn’t get what you wanted… you at least got what you needed.  I personally got exactly what I needed…  some time off work and the freedom to mill about the house peacefully.  Other than that anything else I gain from the holiday is gravy.  Hopefully you have a wonderful day surrounded by loved ones and blanketed in goodies.  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and if you don’t read my blog again before then…  have a very Happy New Year.