With the absolutely massive amount of nerfs mages have received over the past couple months, I feel like it’s time to give them some love again. Overall there are several areas that I’d like to see improved:
(Note: I’m not saying Mages are underperforming massively in the current metagame and I even think certain aspects like Flamethrower are not well designed and should probably be looked at. All I’m advocating for is to make Mages more interesting to play & introduce more build diversity while increasing the skill cap considering all the recent nerfs Mages had to face.)
300 Intelligence Attribute Milestone
It would be awesome if we could give the Bonus for hitting 300 Intelligence another look. Compared to the 300 Strength Bonus, which completely alters the way you can approach fights, and the 300 Dexterity Bonus, which creates a lot of calculated burst, the 300 Intelligence Bonus provides around 200-300 extra damage ONCE in an entire fight, and that only if the target happens to be at max HP in the first place.
It’s extremely obvious how outdated and underwhelming this bonus is, please change it into something more useful.
Lack of Conditional Crits (aka. Backstabs & Headshots)
Compared to Melee Weapons, which have access to guaranteed critical hits through Backstabs, and physical Ranged Weapons, which have access to guaranteed critical hits through Headshots, Magical Weapons have no guaranteed way to score critical hits at all. This also hurts their PvE performance massively by not having a comparable perk to something like Rogue, which pretty much boosts your entire damage by 20%.
This would not be a problem in the first place if there would be some kind of natural compensation by giving Magical Weapons a much higher base crit chance or another bonus, but this is just not the case. Overall I’d like to see some kind of mechanic introduced that adds some depth to approaching fights and getting rewarded for it if utilized well.
Make Resource Management Rewarding
To add to the previous point, Mages also have to deal with Mana while physical damage dealers (both Ranged & Melee) have no additional resource that they need to manage.
Now I know that most Mage Builds do not struggle as much with Mana management for the most part, but I still think there should be some kind of upside to compensate for the fact that Mana is a thing. It currently feels like they introduced Mana to play into the class fantasy of Mages, but forgot to add any interesting gameplay related mechanics to it to make it an engaging system. And no, chugging a Mana Potion every 10 seconds is not engaging whatsoever.
Also thinking about Dexterity Users getting a big reduction in Stamina Cost for Dodges in the Attribute Milestones, while Mages get 10 Mana after a dodge in comparison kinda sucks, basically providing a solution to a problem they created. Please add some more interesting elements to mana that reward you when you’re great at managing that resource (or remove it entirely and provide some actually useful passives instead of the Mana related ones).
Rework Unused Abilities & Enable More Build Diversity
Abilities like Wind Chill, Meteor Shower, Incinerate or Baleful Tether need some actual changes. Simply boosting their damage or adding grit just does not cut it anymore. Give those abilities the same treatment that you gave to Splinter Shot on the Bow and completely change them into actually competetive abilities that could finally enable some build diversity.
Mages are using the same 2 or 3 cookiecutter buillds across the board and there are pretty much no interesting decisions that players have to make when designing their mastery trees. This is also the case because a lot of the passives on especially the Firestaff & Ice Gauntlet Mastery Trees are extremely flat and outdated if you compare them to some of the more interesting passives that the newer weapons (Blunderbuss & Greatsword) have on their trees.
Please do not forget to update the older weapons to the standard that you’re setting when introducing new weapons.
Revisit the Forced Walking Animation when Using Basic Attacks
One of the main reasons why Mages feel so clunky is the forced walking animation that you’re put in after using a light or heavy attack. Considering that you’re already forced into a walking animation when the attack is channeling, you roughly walk for a total of 1,5 - 2s.
This mechanic was originally introduced to restrict the kiting potential of ranged weapons. But with the hefty amount of buffs melee have gotten over time, it’s extremely punishing now to use any basic attacks if you’re not ready to spend 50 or 40 stamina to cancel the walking animation for every attack.
In my opinion the game should encourage offensive behavior and we’re at a point where too many mechanics were layered on top of each other to help melee players. They reduce your dodge distance when they connect, force you into yet another walking animation and Mages barely have any tools to disengage to begin with. This often results in situations where Mages, that have to play at really close ranges due to ability design run out of options extremely quickly.
I really hope we can revisit all the forced walking animations as they add a lot of clunk to the general gameplay. I also hope that in the future AGS is focussing more on tweaking numbers than making abilities and playstyles more clunky with recovery frames and walking animations in order to achieve balance. The number one priority should always be to keep the gameplay as smooth and fast-paced as possible.