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Skyrim's armor system is broken


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#1
Immortalsinner

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While planning a mod to increase the differences between the different armor tiers, I discovered that Skyrim's armor system is completely screwy.

For every 100 armor, you gain 12.5% damage resistance. You get a free 100 hidden armor rating just for wearing a full set of armor. A warrior wearing a full set of mediocre armor has 100 worn armor rating, and 100 hidden armor, for a damage resistance of 25%. If it takes an enemy 10 hits to kill a completely unarmored mage, it will take 13.3 hits to kill the warrior in full armor.

That 200 points of armor hardly makes much of a difference. The fully armored character only has effective health 33% higher than the unarmored character.

However, compare somebody with the maximum damage reduction of 80% to somebody with 200 points less armor, or 55%. It will take 22.22 hits to kill the character with 55% damage resistance. It takes 50 hits to kill the character with 80% damage resistance, meaning that he now has 500% more effective hp than an unarmored character, and more than 200% more than a character with 200 points less armor. Keep in mind that the increase in effective health from 0 to 200 armor was only 33%.

Every marginal point of armor becomes increasingly valuable, until you hit the damage cap of 80% (567 armor). Then, each marginal point of armor becomes worthless. This is broken, and there's no excuse for this when Bethesda had a far better system in Morrowind.

In Morrowind, armor increased your effective HP linearly. The equation was (Damage * Damage) / (Damage + Opponent Armor Rating). This would increase your effective health gain linearly, and we wouldn't have the huge bulge in the effectiveness of armor at high levels that we do now.

Assume again a character with 0 AR who takes 10 hits to be killed. Morrowind's system is a little more involved so we'll also say that this character has 100 hp and is being attacked by an enemy doing 10 damage. If we put this character in a suit of iron armor for an AR of 10, they now take 20 hits to kill for an effective HP of 200. In a suit of Dwarven armor with an AR of 20, they take 30 hits to kill.

This changes depending on the damage of the weapon being used. While all weapons with equal dps will do the same damage against unarmored opponents, high burst damage weapons are most effective against opponents in heavy armor. Imagine a slow, powerful attack with a hammer against a suit of armor versus wildly swiping at it with daggers. This will give more of an incentive to use sneak attacks and power attacks against heavily armored opponents.


tldr Skyrim's armor system is messed up so that effective HP barely increases so little from 0 to 300 worn AR that even mediocre +health enchantments are more effective, skyrockets between 301 and 567 worn AR, and then falls off completely. It should be fixed so that every point of armor increases effective HP linearly like in Morrowind.

Will it be possible to fix this with the creation kit? Oblivion used a similar formula. Was it ever fixed?

#2
bassist02324

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Will this be fixable with the CK? Yes.

#3
mrboneguy

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Sounds like something that could use a sweet graph visual.

Also sounds terribly broken. Looking forward to a fix. But also good to know if I plan to play a non armor wearing character - just pump HP.

#4
Levgre

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% damage reduction is not broken. It is just a different system from flat damage reduction. It is also easier to balance, having armor scale linearly can quickly get insane.

I don't think 33% extra health is a small difference. Being able to take 3 extra hits, heck, even 1 extra bit hit, can be the difference between life and death.

I like that there is an armor cap, it would be stupid if someone simply became invincible to physical damage. I think this is a good feature.

An easy way to balance a % based armor system would be to simply condense the range of armor values. Instead of having armor ratings go from about 40 to 567, you could half the armor cap to make it go from 40 to 280. Keep lower level armors at about the same values, but reduce greatly the numbers for high level armors (the 280 cap would still prevent 80%). Hence you could pretty early get an armor rating of 150, with 40% damage reduction, and near double effective health. you would gradually get up to the cap of 80%, but at a slower rate. Even out the damage.


If anything the health system makes armor too strong, whether you have flat armor reduction or % armor reduction. The health pool is so small and basically you have no choice but to soak damage in most fights, so you need strong focus on damage reduction (mages get by this by just having magic resist and staying at a distance from physical attacks). Anything that increases your effective health by 30-80% is super powerful.

I would balance this by making passive defenses weaker (magic/element resist, armor) and making active defenses stronger (warding, blocking, and create additional options like counter attacks, mage forcefields, etc.)

#5
galzohar

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Yes, Skyrim's armor system is a very flawed and outdated one.

This is something that have been fixed in many games, such as Warcraft 3, World of Warcraft and upcoming Diablo 3. Linear increases are the way to go for everything, really. Hopefully with the CK it would be easy to apply a similar solution to Skyrim. I sure will try to do something like that, along with various other RPG-ish fixes. Who knows, maybe I'll even succeed.

Edited by galzohar, 30 November 2011 - 11:26 PM.


#6
jimhsu

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Posted Image

I've done stats for various games (EVE and Sacred 2 come to mind), so I think I'll tackle trying to balance this.

Basically, I plotted the damage curves for skyrim (ignoring the 100 base armor bonus), morrowind, and applied normalization to the morrowind curve so that the damage at 700 armor (the point where skyrim's curve tapers horizontally) corresponds to a 80% damage reduction.

The formula that should be used:

Damage(adj) = Damage*Damage / (Damage+0.625*armor)

Excel sheet

#7
jimhsu

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Posted Image

Just another way to present the info.

#8
jimhsu

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The problem with the current armor system is that it creates a very difficult (relatively) early game, a fairly easy mid game, and a progressively more difficult late game (all other variables remaining the same). That sort of level scaling makes no sense at all.

Posted Image

This shows roughly survivability vs the expected armor rating one would have at any particular level. You could read the bottom axis as a rough proxy for player level. (units don't exactly make sense here, so not included).

Basically, morrowind has a survivability curve that is exponential - you survive better at higher levels, but the rate of improvement declines for each incremental gain in level. Skyrim's curve, in contrast, is completely screwed up, as seen in the picture.

Edited by jimhsu, 01 December 2011 - 12:02 AM.


#9
Levgre

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Honestly from what I've read people have little difficulty surviving at higher levels if they have reached the armor cap. However other things should be taken into account, like even if a character caps their physical defense, they will get further defensive/combat tools. Staffs, healing spells, scrolls, potions, etc. If there was not a drop off in defenses why would anyone need to utilize their accumulated wealth/skills/treasure?

#10
jimhsu

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Honestly from what I've read people have little difficulty surviving at higher levels if they have reached the armor cap. However other things should be taken into account, like even if a character caps their physical defense, they will get further defensive/combat tools. Staffs, healing spells, scrolls, potions, etc. If there was not a drop off in defenses why would anyone need to utilize their accumulated wealth/skills/treasure?


That's why I said (all other variables remaining the same). However, the early game still has to be addressed, esp. the transition period b/t early and mid, when those defensive tools are rare or nonexistent.. I don't care much for late game balance because this is a single-player RPG, not a MMORPG (where you risk creating an "elite group" of players that alienates new entrants). Morokei in the Winterhold quest for instance - running around for 20 min avoiding getting one-shotted by the boss was entertaining the first dozen times, but not after that.

Edited by jimhsu, 01 December 2011 - 12:15 AM.





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