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FOREST RANGER

The Forest Ranger is PROJECT F4E's take on the Healer class, combined with the "AD carry" or "Marksman" role from contemporary titles. Aesthetically she's a mix of archer and druid,  this dichotomy defines much of the character.

This was the first player character I got to design from the ground up, and I'm very happy with the result. My experience reworking older characters let me avoid pitfalls  especially in terms of the scalability and ensuring the systems had sufficient long-term design space.  I had also learned how to make the base kit felt great to play and give it a strong identity and fantasy, while still being flexible enough to allow a multitude of playstyles and builds.

The forest ranger is currently the most popular character in the game.

BASE KIT

01. Intro

In F4E players chose between 100+ interchangeable active and passive powers, each powers is part of a larger group of powers, or "branch" that each has its own gameplay system.

These powers then slot into a character chassis, or "base kit" that serves as the foundation for each character.

02. Starting Active

The starting active is the 1 power players have every time, making it the biggest influence we have on the character. It necessarily informs much of the characters play-pattern and team-play identity.

 

Thematically, I don't think this ability could be anything but a bow shot without very good justification. I used what I'd learned from the Barbarian Rework and split the ability into dual casting modes, Hold and Tap.

Verdant Shot: Tap

Medium range, narrow projectile that deals moderate damage to the first enemy hit, low cooldown.

Simple but satisfying ability that can easily be woven into any combat-pattern. Meaning that this ability fits into any build the player drafts, without disrupting how they want to play.

Verdant Shot: Hold

Piercing arrow that damages enemies and heals allies. Increases width and range with charge duration.

The healing area is wider than damage, keeping the sharpshooter feel and skill expression of the ability, while allowing for smoother co-op and strong feedback in the swelling of the indicator.

Separating the two effects like this also further reinforces the ranger/druid dichotomy visually.

03. Starting Passive

Dreamleaf Fletching

Every third normal attack deals significantly increased damage.

Simple ability that reinforces the ADC/Marksman identity by making players more cognizant of their normal attacks, ensuring that it's a core part of the combat pattern.

SYSTEMS

01. Intro

Systems are reoccurring mechanics that the draftable abilities use and can be upgraded and modified  forming something similar to RPG skill-trees or deck-building cardgames where further investment into a certain branch/mechanic exponentially increased power, and defines gameplay.

02. Bloom

Healing over time buff applicable to yourself and allies.  Spreading the heal over time weakens it's impact, but allows me to use the buffed ally as a catalyst for other spells, something especially relevant here since it's the healer/support path.

03. Mark

Mark is a stackable debuff that increases damage the marked enemy takes from all players. Can only be applied to elite and boss enemies, F4E's analogue for human opponents.

Path for the ranger/marksman side of the character identity. It stacking and only being applicable to elites reinforces the hunter fantasy, focusing and tracking one key enemy.

04. Flower

3 different, randomly selected types of flower can spawn near the player, each triggering a unique area effect when a player gets near, after a short delay.

The soothe flower heals players, the burst flower damages enemies, and the exceptionally rare gilded flower makes players invincible and doubles their damage for a duration.
 

The delay and generous area of effect helps remove co-op friction, and gives VFX artists room to enhance the feedback. The flowers have a short windup before they can be triggered as well, so they don't accidentally trigger, and players get room to coordinate.

The flowers randomness emphasize the advantages of a being a PvE MOBA. I get to increase the variance and create the possibility big memorable co-op experiences, without the frustration that would arise in a competitive environment, both for the player and would-be human opponents.