With so many posts about balance already here, why I’m posting about Warlock? It’s not completely overpowered nor totally useless. Though rarer than Sorcerers, Warlocks can achieve lvl. 49 more easily than Clerics. Why, then, are they deserving of attention? Rather than lacking damage, they are missing flair. Of their 4 skills, only 1-2 are regularly used by players, who instead rely on starter Mage skills. The underlying idea of the dark magic caster, interesting as it may be, is underutilized. Playing as a Warlock it’s boring, and for such an awesome sounding subclass that’s a damn shame.
The fundamental idea behind Warlock is risk-and-reward. You risk your Health for Mana, and then use that Mana to cast powerful spells to destroy your enemies. It’s an engaging idea, and balancing your health and mana would be a fun way to play Vesteria. Dark Ritual and Pillage Vitality work together to ensure that you always follow this synergy…except they don’t. Dark Ritual is never used, ignored in favor of Mana potions. When you can gain 300 Mana in a few seconds, why would sacrifice 100 Health for 50 Mana? This in turn hurts Pillage Vitality. It deals decent damage, but it has to balance that DPS with lifesteal, health that the Warlock never utilizes to gain Mana. Potions completely outclass Dark Ritual, and short of making DR completely overpowered it will never be able to compete with potions.
So, the first to address is this failed synergy between Dark Ritual and Pillage Vitality. Make the player focus on balancing risk-and-reward, punish them for failing, and reward them for succeeding. This would be fun for the player and make Warlock a truly unique class rather.
But how can this be achieved? Some have suggested that Warlock spells should cost health rather than Mana, motivating players to use Pillage Vitality. It’s an interesting idea, but it suffers from the same issue as Dark Ritual: potions. When a sandwich can heal a player for 1,000 health, why would anyone use Pillage Vitality to regain health? Even at lvl. 10 with Simulacrum active, 1 cast of PV would restore 600 health, making potions a more efficient option. We need a system that incorporates risk-and-reward but without potions interference.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
My idea is to remove Dark Ritual, and to transform Warlock’s Mana bar into a “Blood”/“Life Essence”/”whatever name you like” bar. This bar holds X amount of “Blood” and by default sits at 50% of its maximum. The size of your Blood bar scales with VIT, just as Mana scales with INT. Casting a Warlock or Mage ability now costs Blood from this bar, not Mana (Mage abilities would cost less Blood than Warlock abilities as they’re not Dark/Blood magic). Pillage Vitality now gives Blood for this bar rather than Health for the player. PV would cost Blood to cast, but much less than the Blood received from a successful hit even at lvl. 1. A lvl. 10 PV would give more Blood than a lvl. 1, just as the lifesteal goes from 50 HP at lvl. 1 to 100 HP at lvl. 10 currently. This would encourage players to invest in Pillage Vitality for gaining high amounts of Blood, and stat into VIT for a large Blood pool capable of storing those gains.
If Blood drops below 25% of its max, the player will begin the take damage. If Blood rises above 75%, the player’s spells will turn red and deal increased damage, a sort of “blood rage”. The damage taken and damage buff are flat numbers. Being at 0% Blood does not penalize you more than being at 24% blood, just as 100% Blood gives the same buff as 76% Blood. After Y amount of time has passed without the player casting spells, Blood amounts will move towards a specific percentage. If under 25%, Blood will move towards and stabilize at 25%. If above 75%, Blood will shift towards 75%. If between 25% and 75% (inclusive), Blood levels will not shift at all.
The idea behind this Blood bar is to reward active, engaged gameplay while only penalizing lazy play, not casual. You have significant leeway before entering the damage zone, and if you somehow end up below 25% and have no mobs nearby to cast PV at, waiting a few seconds without casting will allow your levels to increase to 25% and stop the damage.
The damage buff is meant to help in during prolonged fights, drawing on the single-target focus of the current Warlock. If you’re constantly casting abilities at tough enemies, it won’t naturally decay to 75%, and will instead only decrease from the Blood cost of casting those spells. But, if you can kill everything with ease, then you won’t be able to maintain it—and frankly, in that scenario you hardly need it.
I have tried as much as possible to incorporate the devs’ ideas into this proposal. Berezza has explicitly stated his opposition to copying Cleric’s Holy Magic, and instead mentioned the possibility of Warlock’s receiving Red Magic at 120+ VIT. The ideas behind this seem to be (a) the importance of VIT for Warlocks, and (b) Red Magic not being a guaranteed perk for Warlocks. These ideas are both present: VIT increases the Blood maximum, allowing more spells to be cast without taking damage, and 75%+ for the buffed, Red spells is not attainable at all times. VIT would be crucial for getting the most out of your abilities. Ideally, a 0 VIT Warlock would not be able to effectively store the Blood gained from multiple casts of a lvl. 10 Pillage Vitality, encouraging them to balance their improvement of PV with increasing their Blood max.
Let’s assume that, some way or another, we remedy the broken synergy of Dark Ritual and Pillage Vitality. We now have a good flow that comes with a building tension. We’re risking health for spells, with the added help of PV for health rejen. What is our reward? It can’t be casting Mage spells like Magic Bomb more easily. We could cast those without risk from lvls. 10-30. No, the reward has to be the other two mage abilities: Simulacrum and Dark Pulse.
Simulacrum is not really a reward for risk because it merely empowers other abilities. Our reward for sacrificing health should not be using Simulacrum with PV to gain more health back—that continues the cycle rather than completing it, gaining more health to sacrifice but to no end besides getting yet more health. Simulacrum’s explosion is so minor and little used that it, too, is not a reward. All the pressure for a reward, a big, flashy ability falls on Dark Pulse. This is it, the ability that through giving your health and summoning your Simulacrum you can perform. And it is completely underwhelming.
Dark Pulse has some situational use, especially in the Sewers, but beyond that it sees little to no use. Tension builds to no end. There is no flashy conclusion. It’s flat out boring to use PV as a replacement Magic Missile, and then to summon your Simulacrum to gain yet more PV bolts, and yet that’s all you can do because Dark Pulse is so ineffective. Dark Pulse should be an ability that you want to use and will balance your Blood meter and usage of PV to get to.
The first problem with Dark Pulse is its range. Its damage is mediocre, but even that is overshadowed by how hard it is to actually hit enemies with the ability. You practically have to stand in their face and get clobbered to finally press your button of choice and watch the disappointing damage numbers pop up. Its appearance is equal underwhelming. This is supposed to be your big, amazing ability that will make you feel like a badass. In reality, it’s a small, black circle.
My proposed solution would shift Dark Pulse away from a bad AoE attack to a great focused close range attack. Warlocks shouldn’t have great AoE. That’s tonally more appropriate for the Sorcerer. So, instead of a circle, make the area of attack more like a cone. When you first cast Dark Pulse, a triangular outline pops up in front of you, sweeping the area in front of you. The point of the cone would be directly at the player and would widen as it got further away. This would encourage engaged, direct play. The shape of the cone necessitates smart management of distance. Too close, and the mobs you are targeting could be on the smaller portion of the spell layout, decreasing the amount hit. Too far, and the ability can’t reach. Just right, and you have an amazing Warlock ability.
This updated Dark Pulse would deal increased damage than the current one. After all, this is the big, flashy ability. It should both look and feel amazing to use it. I do not know how technically feasible different effects are currently. Slowing enemies isn’t amazing, but better than nothing. Dark Fire, Chaos Energy, or other more Warlock sounding debuffs could be interesting options. The visuals should be upgraded as well, presenting a dark blast of energy in front of the player as great looking as Sorcerer’s Meteorstrike.
I have only one suggestion for Simulacrum. Berezza has said that he is still considering allow your clone to also cast Mage abilities. I’m unsure how balanced this would be, and in its current state the ability would synergize well with the Blood bar, costing Blood to cast but allowing players to cast spells without having to spend additional Blood. I would change the explosion effect to give the player additional Blood, at least double the amount needed to summon. The player can then choose between (a) summoning the Simulacrum and exploding immediately for a short term gain in Blood, or (b) a longer-term investment in second, free spell casts.
These are just my ideas. I’m not a dev, and those who actually are have done excellent work on this game that I quite enjoy playing. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to provide my experience so that hopefully a subclass I enjoy can be brought up to the standard of top-tier Vesteria subclasses. Thanks for reading.