I spent my entire weekend testing The Shatters, specifically, how much time it would take.
Key modifiers being released before The Shatters rework was a stroke of genius because it allowed players to change the dungeon experience immediately. I used grade B keys with “Weak Minions 3” which reduced their health by 40%, it affected the health of Monuments in the village area, even with groups of 10 people, a knight with Oryx’s Escutcheon could clear one with a few blasts and run before the Stone Idol caught up.
It made clearing for the second boss take much less time, I never had my progress reset escorting a flame. Done perfectly alone with the best gear and 40% reduced minion HP, it takes 1 minute to escort the self-carrying flame and 3-4 minutes per flame for any others. The fastest group effort with the same modifier of 40% reduced minion HP where we split up took 4 minutes, in that scenario six people made it to the boss and two survived to kill the Archmage, in the end the boss fight alone took 7 minutes.
As for the “Shatter the tablets” gauntlet, the enemies are fair for the massive damage they inflict, even without 40% reduced minion HP they look as tanky as they are, this part of the dungeon takes a little over 3 minutes.
However, one time I got instantly killed by a bunch of green skulls exploding on top of me all at once, that’s not funny.
Here is what I learned about the boss mechanics:
The Bridge Sentinel queues up the phases he wants to do. When you wake him, he either starts his jump attack, or begins his classic phase. Whenever you take out 1/5th of his health, he becomes invulnerable, the pillars become vulnerable, and sets his health to the threshold amount. Every 1/5th you attack a pillar to continue assaulting the Sentinel, and they then summon blobombs every 30 seconds for the remainder of the fight. When you’ve reduced him to 2/5ths of his remaining HP, even if you haven’t broken the third pillar, the screen goes dark and he exclaims, “I WILL DEFEND THE REALM WITH MY LIFE!” however if he has queued up attacks, he will exhaust the queue before saying his line and beginning his assault, it’s possible to finish the fight before he does jump attacks with petrifying bullets, the best way to do that is just to DPS him down.
In my opinion, the Bridge Sentinel is perfectly balanced, quite a fair fight, a competent group with the best gear will bring him down between 3 and 5 minutes, speedruns will take him down in under 3 minutes.
It takes a lot of time to kill the Archmage, no matter how fast you are it will do three attack phases per third of its health. Every time you reduce its health by 1/10th of its maximum, the attack phase ends and it switches tactics, every 1/3rd it summons a phoenix until the last generator is sealed, at this point the boss is at 1/10th of its HP, you then fight the Inferno and Blizzard phoenix directly, once they fall the boss resets its health to 1/5th and it begins its most exciting phase. You don’t get to choose which dies first, but if Inferno dies second the mage does a fire attack and if Blizzard dies second the mage does an ice attack.
In my opinion, the fight itself is fun, Twilight Archmage takes far too long to do, escorting the flames is a massive pain and the DPS cutoffs artificially extend its lifetime for no other purpose than to run the clock. As a Knight I always preferred fire attacks over ice attacks since most of my damage was coming from Escutcheon and getting silenced from every bullet and bomb is annoying, however I don’t believe it should be changed. As for the Archmage’s last stand after finishing both birds off for good, most people agree that the inferno phase is easier because it can be learned whereas the blizzard phase is just random. Melees have a much harder time finishing the fight if it’s the blizzard phase than the inferno phase. Thematically, however, the blizzard phase is neat. Perhaps the blizzard phase needs a slight damage reduction. The average time to kill the Archmage with the best gear and the best pet is between 7-9 minutes.
The Forgotten King has a lot of health. I can’t figure out if he has any attack patterns before he reaches half health. For the first half of the fight, he has a large variety of attacks to throw at you, from what I’ve seen his movement varies between moving in a diamond shape, up-down, left-right, diagonally, and chasing. Most of the times I’ve been killed have been due to the phase where waves of white bullets erupt from the center of the battlefield then circle opposite each other, usually I am chased by the king and think that I can survive taking three of those tiny bullets, but they do 170 armor piercing damage each. Once the King is at half health, he summons many eyes and becomes a giant skull that chases you, at this point your objective is to kill off every eyeball to advance the fight, this phase tends to kill unexpectedly as you get cursed by the eyeballs and the bullets from the skull seem too small for the damage they inflict. After this phase, the king begins a variety of new attacks. Don’t stand in the center of the room- whenever he switches phases at this point he can appear unexpectedly and instantly kill you. Once he’s at 1/4th of his full HP, he initiates the survival phase, blue bullets do 50 piercing damage and red ones do 20 but inflict bleeding which is way way worse, the four shades he summons sometimes chase players. When he’s done laughing you should drink an HP pot, he continues attacking shortly and then the path to victory is straightforward.
In my opinion, the fight itself is grand, it’s damn near perfect, however the Forgotten King on top of the rest of the dungeon is yet more precious time, we could use a little shortening. Perhaps stagger mechanics like in Oryx’s Sanctuary boss fights, or just plainly less HP? As it stands the Shatters is about as difficult but more time consuming than fighting the Exalted Mad God. On testing barely anyone survives (including me) so the average time required to kill the King with the best gear and the best pet is between 7-10 minutes.
I have to ask, Deca, what do you want the experience to be like when you balance the Shatters? Do you want players to scoot back and forth shooting a single minion for a minute because his health is too damn high? Nobody wanted to do the version in prod and almost nobody wanted to do the version in testing. I felt that 40% reduced minion HP was ideal, after all the Knight I used had the best gear in the game, at normal health it just takes too long to kill them, visually those little punks don’t look like they can take that much of a beating. As for the bosses, just compare their health bars to all the other endgame dungeons, and then realize we have to do three in a row to achieve the end game goals set for us. In my mind the ideal time required to complete a Shatters with a competent group would be between 10 and 15 minutes total.
Next time I will be complaining about droprates,