Developer Diary: War-Steeds
Riders of Rohan Developer Diary: War-Steeds
By: Anthony “Doc” DiMento
When Riders of Rohan goes live this fall, we’ll all have a choice of which war-steed is best fitted to carry us into combat. To start, there are some key differences between the three mounts:
Light War-Steed (Courser): Build for speed and maneuverability, the Light War-Steed will have a higher max speed, acceleration, agility, and tighter turn radius than the other two steeds. Increased maneuverability comes at the expense of defence, as the Courser has the lowest armour and endurance (the war-steed equivalent of morale). We envision the Light War-Steed as a great fit for ranged and tactical classes with its ability to keep enemies at a distance and its increased power regen.
Medium War-Steed (Rouncey): Free players will have access to the Medium War-Steed from the get go. The Rouncey is middle of the pack in terms of maneuverability, endurance, and defense, but has the ability to deal more physical damage than its Light and Heavy counterparts. The Medium War-Steed is a great choice for riders who are looking for a balanced mount that can do a little bit of everything while potentially maximizing their DPS.
Heavy War-Steed (Destrier): Having the highest endurance, strength and armour, the Destrier is easily the most durable of the three war-steeds, although increased defence comes at the expense of maneuverability and agility. We envision the Destrier as being a great fit for classes focused on tanking and survivability, but the Heavy War-Steed’s damage dealing capabilities should not be underestimated.
Each war-steed has a unique trait tree that will allow you to customize your mount to fit your specific needs. Each time your war-steed levels up, you’ll receive a trait point that you can spend to improve your mount’s various stats. The trees are broken up into three branches, focusing on combat, defence, and movement. Each trait can have multiple ranks that may gate your progression down a certain path at times. Other traits grant skills which will have a varying degree of usefulness depending on your play style. Skills typically cost more than one trait point and are built as branches of the tree rather than being part of the critical path.
Despite our vision of how each war-steed might be used, proper allocation of trait points can make each mount a great fit for any class. Each of the three war-steeds has its own merits, and different builds can have drastically different results. For this reason, we allow you to save multiple Trait Specs so, for example, you could save a Light War-Steed Trait Spec focused on defence and a Heavy War-Steed Trait Spec focused on maneuverability and switching on the fly. No decision is set in stone and you can refund your trait points at anytime. That’s right, you can start from scratch by spending a couple of coins! We encourage you to experiment with different builds to find out what works best for you in specific situations.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the trait trees and highlight some of the dev team’s favorite traits and skills:
- Combat Branch: Feign Injury – There may come a time when you find yourself overwhelmed by an opponent. The Feign Injury trait grants a skill that will dump all threat and cause your enemy to stop paying attention to you for a short time. This skill could buy you the time you need to regenerate your endurance and power, escape, or formulate a new plan of attack.
- Defence Branch: Bolstering Cry – When your war-steed runs out of endurance, you will be dismounted. With its lower endurance, the Light War-Steed rider may find it wise to invest in traits in the defence branch. In addition to traits that increase incoming/outgoing healing, you may spend points to unlock Bolstering Cry. This skill will instantly regenerate a very large portion of your war-steed endurance instantly.
- Movement Branch: Caution – With increased maneuverability, the Light War-Steed can be deadly when attacking from a distance. The Caution trait unlocks a skill that will force enemy movement for a short time. While the effect is active, enemies will ride alongside you, keeping their distance, allowing you to pepper them with ranged attacks.
- Movement Branch: Disengaging Strikes – Dismounting an enemy can be a huge advantage in mounted combat. Classes feature several skills that apply a chance to dismount your target instantly, but I’ll argue that none are more powerful than Disengaging Strikes. Once you unlock this capstone skill of the movement branch, all of your class skills will have a 25% chance to instantly dismount enemies when you’re utilizing the Riddermark Discipline. All skills do an additional 25% damage to un-mounted enemies, who are also slowed after being dismounted.
- Combat Branch: Deadly Pursuit – Positioning can be a very important tool in mounted combat. Attacking enemies from behind will deal additional damage. When you have unlocked Deadly Pursuit, attacks from behind will apply a moderate bleed to your target as well. We have found this particularly useful while in a fellowship, when one of your allies draws the attention of an enemy, allowing you to pursue and deal massive amounts of damage. Solo players can combine this with the Intimidate skill mentioned below to catch their targets in an unfortunate predicament.
- Combat Branch: Arise – Building Fury is essential to dealing the maximum amount of damage in mounted combat. Skills that utilize Fury bonuses will cash out once used, forcing you to keep moving at top speed to build your meter back up. The more Fury, the more damage, which is why I believe Arise is one of the most useful traits in mounted combat. When used, Arise will instantly restore 10% of your war-steed’s power and, more importantly, instantly recharge your Fury (provided you aren’t moving too slowly). Additional traits can reduce the cooldown for Arise and with proper use, you may find that you are able to utilize the skill quite often and defeat enemies much quicker.
- Defence Branch: Sacrifice – As I mentioned above, if your steed runs out of endurance, you will be dismounted. Taking on a mounted foe on foot can be a big disadvantage! When you take damage in mounted combat, a portion of that damage is transferred to your war-steed. The Sacrifice trait unlocks a skill that while active, ensures that no damage is passed to your steed, allowing you to regenerate endurance at the cost of rider power.
- Movement Branch: Intimidate – The Intimidate trait grants a skill which causes mounted enemies to flee for a short time. This gives you the opportunity to deal large amounts of damage and coupled with the Deadly Pursuit trait, this trait can become rather... well, deadly. It can also be useful in a pinch. If you feel overmatched by an enemy, use the Intimidate skill as an opportunity to put some distance between you and your target.
- Combat Branch: Ride for Ruin – While its focus may be defence, the Heavy War-Steed can deal some serious damage. The trait Ride for Ruin grants a toggle skill that, while active, increases your chance to land a critical hit by 25%.
- Combat Branch: Opportunist – The Medium War-Steed already demonstrated the deadly effect of attacking from behind, but the Heavy War-Steed takes it a step further with the Opportunist trait. This trait grants a passive bonus that increases the damage done when attacking from behind by an additional 50% over three ranks.
- Defence Branch: Steel Skin – The Heavy War-Steed already boasts the highest Armour rating and can take it even further with the Steel Skin trait. While active, Steel Skin will increase your war-steed’s armour even more, making you harder to take down. I like to utilize this skill along with the skill Instigate which generates threat over time. When riding with a fellowship, it’s great to have an ally on a Heavy War-Steed that can draw an enemies’ attention and handle the incoming damage. This creates an opportunity for the rest of the party to focus on bringing them down without worrying too much about their own health.
- Movement Branch: Trample – The Trample trait very much defines the Heavy Steed for me. This is a powerful war-steed, capable of overpowering opponents. When this skill is active and you are moving at top speed, that’s exactly what you will do. The Trample skill will cause significant damage when you collide into un-mounted enemies and knock them back. Not only is this skill powerful and useful, it’s just plain fun.
There are a lot more traits to unlock (each war-steed has 32) and builds to experiment with. In our time with mounted combat, we’ve found that all three war-steeds bring something unique and valuable to the table. I look forward to hearing which are your favorites and seeing you all out there this Fall.