ADP: Coming in hot

ADP_ATP_cycleAnd I don’t mean adenosine triphosphate!  The more I play Dark Souls II the less I understand From Software’s reasoning behind creating a new ADP stat.  They clearly looked at Dark Souls endurance stat and thought “hey, that seems pretty powerful, maybe we should tone it down a bit”.  And so they did.  Now we have vitality and vigor (neither of which I can remember without looking them up) and ADP.  Vitality gives health, vigor increases equipment load, endurance increases your stamina, and ADP lets you drink faster and gives extra invincibility frames during rolling without changing the animation.    What this means is that players are taught early on that rolling through attacks is roughly equivalent to catching a flying mace with your teeth.  By the time you rack up enough ADP to consistently roll through attacks, you’re learned that a shield is the best way to go.  Makes a lot of sense.  Really.

One of the best ways to see just how many players are relying on shields versus dual-wielding or two-handing is to PvP or get some Coop going.  In your first playthrough virtually every person you come across will be toting some version of a shield around, usually the drangelic shield.  At this point in the game it’s very easy to exploit shield breaks because most players have been taught that it’s either shield or die.  This is one of the reasons smelter demon is such a difficult boss for most people because his attacks break your shield which up until that point FS has forced you to rely on.

Additionally, even if you are able to roll through attacks, many enemies have wide and nearly 360 degree sweeping attacks.  In Dark Souls it was a valid and generally accepted strategy to roll into the arm that was doing the swinging; that is, if the enemy is swinging from right to left, you want to roll to his right.  This eliminated the chance of you getting hit as the attack was ending.  In Dark Souls II, because there are so many enemies that have circular attacks, you’re better off just blocking.

As far as stamina consumption goes, the drangelic shield feels very similar to the silver knight shield from Dark Souls.  There are only a small handful of enemies/bosses in game who will outright guard break you as a result of how much stamina they take away.  A shield that you find in the first ~30m of the game will take you through your entire first playthrough.  Once you do finally obtain an end-game shield, the increased stability is noticeable, but the same bosses who crushed your stamina with the drangelic shield still crush your stamina with the defender shield.  I guess it’s there if you really want to feel powerful by sitting in a corner while a handful of mobs pound on you?  With 25 endurance and +5 defender shield, vendrick will still destroy your stamina bar with 1 swing in NG+.  The exception of course are a few of the greatshields (namely Havel’s), but that is neither here nor there at the moment.

By the time you’re working on NG+ and or a new character, you’ve probably started rolling around a little bit and getting used to the fact that either your ADP or your Attunement is high enough to let you roll through most attacks.  Now that you’re on your way to mastering rolling, you have to figure out how to aim your attacks.  Most weapons have unique thrust attacks that come off a roll.  The otherwise god-like Santier Spear has a slow moving whale of swing off your roll.  In addition to mastering these new attacks, you also have to realize that even if you’re locked on and aiming towards your enemy, if you are rolling away from them you will still swing in the direction of your roll regardless of which direction you’re actually aiming or locked on to.  What this means is that if you want to land an attack on your opponent you have to wait a moment before your character swings in the direction you’re aiming.  This isn’t a big deal for PvE as most mobs seem to have exaggerated swinging motions, but in PvP it seems to encourage rolling as a means of dodging attacking is something that’s best done from a walk or a run.

I think most people would agree that Endurance felt very powerful in Dark Souls, but the game still felt very deep thanks to poise, gear, and ability choice.  Regardless of how you perceived any particular stat in DS, I’ve never thought it was a good idea to include stats that are so powerful that they feel mandatory.  That is, everyone will be hitting similar breakpoints in AGL thanks to either Attunement or ADP.  As if that weren’t enoguh, ranged characters seem to get the best of both worlds as their Attunement increases not only their agility, but cast speed AND spell slots as well.

In conclusion, mandatory stats have no place in any game if they’re mandatory.  The only way to make a mandatory stat worse is if it were to alter someones fundamental playing style as it does in Dark Souls II.  The factors I’ve described above create a scenario where the vast majority of players are all more or less carbon copies of one another because they’re pigeon holed into doing so.  It trains them to play a certain way and erodes the potential for unique characters.  Fun is what video games are all about and it simply isn’t fun to bump into your doppleganger every time you invite someone to your world, intentionally or otherwise.

12 comments

  1. Already got the vigor and vitality mixed up Wally lol!

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  2. MasteroftheThrone

    Unfortunately my post was deleted when I tried to post. Not really looking to type it out again.

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  3. I agree with your sentiment on shields. Watching someone fight lost sinner / ruin sentinels and just blocking is really lame. I disagree on your point about dark souls 1 feeling deep due to poise/gear choice. Dark souls 1 pve was use havels ring and wear the heaviest shit with the most amor/poise available. And in pvp there were pretty much mandatory poise breakpoints you needed to be somewhat competitive (53 and 56 were the most common breakpoints to hit).

    Another point, I feel that I overestimated how crucial agility would be for all things dark souls 2. In my first playthrough I pumped adp up to like 20+ and had 30+ attunement, but on the pc version my toon only has 20 attunement and no extra points in adp and I don’t really feel like I’m gimped comparatively. Maybe it’s different in pvp since the extra i-frames can help account for things like lag and bad connections, but at least in pve I don’t feel like its necessary to pump up your adp.

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  4. MrCounterparts

    I personally don’t find ADP mandatory, my strength, sorcerer and strength/faith build all have lower than 10 ADP and 89-95 agility. I believe people strive for 100 agility for invincibility frames (though it goes over 100, so does that give you even more?) but even with my agility level lower than 100, I don’t find myself getting hit when dodging. Is ADP rubbish? Yes. Should it be in the game? No. The fact that they try and make you pump levels into ADP in a STRENGTH/FAITH character, when you should be putting levels into, oh I don’t know, maybe strength and faith, is asinine. At least they lowered the overall souls you need to pump into your character to level up, level 150 in DS1 was 151k souls per level, in DSII at 150 it’s a mere 29k. I should say that I’m commenting for PvE as I find PvP to be a giant, laggy, frustrating piece of garbage and don’t bother with it.

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  5. MrCounterparts:
    I personally don’t find ADP mandatory, my strength, sorcerer and strength/faith build all have lower than 10 ADP and 89-95 agility. I believe people strive for 100 agility for invincibility frames (though it goes over 100, so does that give you even more?) but even with my agility level lower than 100, I don’t find myself getting hit when dodging. Is ADP rubbish? Yes. Should it be in the game? No. The fact that they try and make you pump levels into ADP in a STRENGTH/FAITH character, when you should be putting levels into, oh I don’t know, maybe strength and faith, is asinine. At least they lowered the overall souls you need to pump into your character to level up, level 150 in DS1 was 151k souls per level, in DSII at 150 it’s a mere 29k. I should say that I’m commenting for PvE as I find PvP to be a giant, laggy, frustrating piece of garbage and don’t bother with it.

    PvP in DSII isn’t much different than a lot of the goofy F2P FPS games out on Steam right now. Without a doubt there are several strong builds but it’s so damned laggy as you pointed out that it’s quite difficult to ascertain how good someone is.

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  6. While ADP is a weird design choice by From, I find the connection problems bring out a far greater problem in PvP, phantom range. It creates situations where I hit someone with my claymore at its maximum range and find myself getting hit by their weapon which is meant to have a smaller range, a popular example early game is the fire longsword. This creates situations where I am always rolling away from my opponent’s attacks even if it doesn’t look like the attack with reach me on my screen, because on their screen the attack probably will hit me and result in the game registering the hit.

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  7. Not to be a contrarian Waldo, but I have to disagree on your point about shields. I guess I should at least preface my argument with the fact that I don’t disagree with you entirely when it comes to ADP, simply that I think you’re a bit off the mark. I’m coming from a big-time Dark Souls pvp background,so I’m not going to talk out of my ass.

    Rolling, at least for me, was my first choice when playing through the game. While there was that old learned paradigm of ‘roll to the right’ from DkS pve, I feel as though that isn’t necessarily a good thing. The rolling functions similar in this game, and the fact that many of the enemies have 360 degree attacks ranges simply means you have to be more precise with your rolls. With ~40 ADP, you only gain about 5 I-frames. That’s a large stat investment to gain any notable advantage. I won’t take into account the fact that you also gain AGL from ATT, as that wasn’t your point of discussion. In regards to rolling, I find that simply rolling into the attack, i.e they attack from left to right, you roll from right to left, is the easiest and most reliable way to dodge.

    This is coming from a character with near base ADP, so I’m not just saying you need a point here or there. As far as DkS PVP, the game had a required stat in high-level pvp, and it was not endurance. Vitality gouging was an incredibly rampant problem, where people would dump stats into vitality to 40, 50, or even higher levels so that it would offer them max survivability. Endurance, too, also promoted mix-maxing since poise breakpoints were well established, you would put 30, 35, 40,45 points depending on the exact gear and ring combination you chose to use. This turned it very much into a numbers game, especially with ‘quality’ builds.

    Now, on the topic on DkS II pvp, I have mixed feelings about how it has been implemented. I’m somewhat at odds with the role (or lack thereof) of poise. As far as rolling, I don’t notice much difference from DkS, besides the fact that there are now a variety of roll types. It can be frustrating to roll-attack and have the character swing the opposite direction, however I don’t think that it makes a terribly big difference, especially considering the existence of things like backstep-parrying and the large number i-frames that backstepping has in this game.

    My last point is my own least favorite, but I think it is worthy of mention. The game is extremely young, you came into DkS (to my knowledge) after the game had multiple years’ time for the metagame to evolve. In the early days, everyone did exactly as they do in DkS II, they used the wood grain ring to flip around in havels armor while swinging the weapon with the highest base damage they could wield at less than 50% equip load. I recommend watching strong pvpers like Yami Tamashi, or Yukas (not a huge fan, but still), and you’ll see that there still is plenty of room for flexibility. I myself have seen great success with dual whips, daggers, you name it.

    Can’t say I’m happy with the mundane nerf though. If you haven’t you should use the Santier’s Spear’s secret moveset, which is unlocked after breaking the weapon. I’m assuming you were doing that though.

    I hope I didn’t leave anything out. Keep on making content Waldo.

    Edit: I nearly forgot, I’m not going to address networking issues, because I feel like those aren’t necessarily a core part of the gameplay mechanics, they are more to do with the engine itself, and so don’t really have too great a bearing on the argument at hand.

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  8. I may have to record some footage showcasing myself attempting to roll into the same attack at the same time but with different ADP. My base character starting off with low AGL has a horrid time rolling through anything consistently. I don’t notice it however until I go back and start another playthrough. Unfortunately the very nature of changing a fundamental mechanic like this will lead to the exact arguments we’re now having. Some will feel it more, others less. In my own stream tonight I attempted a build where I had zero ADP or Attunement and I had a difficult time both rolling through and moving out of stunlocks. Bumping up to 38 ADP and 110 AGL versus 80 seemed to make a large difference.

    I came into the DkSouls game extremely late and didn’t come anywhere close to touching on what long-time console players experienced. I had virtually no PvP experience and completed the game only twice with different builds. I did manage to solo everything but my DkS experience pales in comparison to my DkS2 experience. I’m sitting around ~300+ hours on DSII with console/PC combined. I’ve completed the game 7 or 8 times on a variety of difficulty levels with virtually every possible base build. Right now I’m actually going through and cataloging all the different PvP builds and I’ll do an overall assessment once I’m done at the end.

    Overall I feel as though ADP was a shit idea. Regardless of how much you feel it affects you individually, I don’t like the idea of core mechanics being altered whatsoever. I love different stat and gear breakpoints which force people to make different sacrifices but ADP is something I could do without.

    PS: At the moment I’m not a big fan of Santier’s spear. In short, it’s moveset is predictable, short range, weak off the roll, and leaves the user wide open to parry’s and backstabs. It works, but IMO Str/Fth and Hex/Dex are far, far superior.

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  9. I suppose it’s entirely up to opinion. I like the fact you have to actually sacrifice stats to be able to have more effective rolls, because it at least slightly reduces the number of jack-of-all-trades quality builds that were rampant in DkS.

    Though seriously, how can you not like the santier’s spear? Its moveset is amazing, you have to break the weapon (seriously) to be able to use the moveset everyone is referring to. It’s one of my favorite pvp weapon’s, though I also really enjoy the mirrah greatsword.

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  10. That person who invaded you in DS1

    Isn’t ADP Adenosine Di-phosphate? Endurance in dark souls 1 you had to think about how much you were willing to put in to it for various factors (stamina, weight). In Dark souls 1 you might have enough END to fast roll with your build but you had to make a choice of getting those extra END points up to 40 for maximum Stamina. You had to make a choice for your build. Which to me is the most important thing CHOICE. In Dark souls 2, with ADP you have to make a choice on how many points your willing to spend on ADP for your various AGL break points to get the most I-frames. You have to make a decision at 20 ADP at 2 ATT if you were willing to spend 6 more points to put in to ADP to get 2 extra I-frames. Then you had to make a desision at 26 if you were willing to spend 6 more ADP (i think its 6) to get AGL to 105 for an extra 1 I-frame. I think the fact that you have to make a choice validate’s ADP’s existance.

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