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A goal of Ashes of Creation is to emphasise micro metas that work for specific encounters, and de-emphasize macro metas that work for everything.[1]

What we're doing with this approach is we're de-emphasizing a macro meta and instead emphasizing a micro meta. And the difference between the macro/micro is that on the micro level you have metas that might form based on each individual type of encounter or experience. And in those senses, yes, there's going to be a most optimal: There's going to be a best in slot. There's going to be whatever that pertains to that particular challenge rating. But there won't we there will not be an overarching meta that says from a macro level, hey, if you got this shit, you're good to go for everything. That's boring, that's unfulfilling, that is not interesting; and it is just something that that dumbifies the experience.[1]Steven Sharif
  • Increasing difficulty ratings inspire more of a traditional vertical power progression that is common in other MMOs.[3][2]
Oftentimes you just have a very vertical power scale and that determines chase, but when you have a variety of relevance across certain types of adversaries and that variety changes over time because of player activity- and then that affects the economy and the crafter system and who was producing what for what demand- and everything gets shaken up. That's a very fun environment to exist in. It presents a more dynamic situation rather than a quote-unquote cookie-cutter type selection.[2]Steven Sharif
  • The intricacies of how nodes interact with predicates in the world means that it may be possible but difficult to achieve meta server builds.[4]
Q: Do you have any concerns on players eventually discovering a meta server build with nodes due to players heading to specific nodes and regions because they find that content more enjoyable; and if so how would you go about getting players to shift around the world to break up the meta?
A: I think it's interesting if players have a concerted effort across a server to interact with one another, learn from their actions, mistakes, successes, and effectuate that on the server. That's interesting, but I don't believe we'll see a meta form. I think that the intricacies are too great when it comes to how predicates are formed in order to elicit world state changes.[4]Steven Sharif

PvE difficulty

Tumok the Wretched Alpha-2 world boss.[5]

Raid bosses are aware of the number of combatants within an area in proximity to them and that awareness is part of an indicator to which behaviors they're going to utilize as part of their behavior tree. So as it's assessing the types of combatants that are facing it, the number of those combatants, the position of those combatants, the abilities and totals of those combatants, it weighs certain actions in its behavior tree and then it acts on those actions; and in the scenario where you're bringing overwhelming odds to a particular fight, that might weigh heavier the AoE options that the boss has access to, where they're utilizing a lot more AoE abilities during an engagement due to that overage of of players. So in that sense it's a bit adaptive. It's a bit dynamic based on the encounter scenario.[6]Steven Sharif

The difficulty of PvE content, such as raids and dungeons will adapt based on the performance of the raid or group against previous bosses in that encounter.[7]

  • Higher performance in earlier phases will increase the difficulty of subsequent phases of the encounter.[7]
  • There will be mobs who's level is above the player level cap.[10]
Both in Alpha-2 and when the game launches, there will be monsters whose technical level is above that of the cap; and the intent there is obviously again to provide some level of challenge that exceeds a comparable level challenge rating.{livestream|2023-11-30|1h53m50|V9F_AJl9ozY}}Steven Sharif
Q: How challenging will raid boss mechanics be given the given that players may need to simultaneously fight other players while also fighting the boss?
A: It depends. The great thing about our encounter system is that it has a wide scalability from encounters that some might consider easy given their composition to encounters that some might consider impossible until they get their gear level to a certain stage. The level of interaction with other players is really predicated on the encounter itself. We may have some encounters that are in instances although the predominant portion of those will be in the open world, in which case they do have the potential being contested; and these encounters, especially the big ones that might land in contention, are giving some of the best-in-slot gear you can get in the game. So it's important that they are contested because it is a significant victory point; and one of our core pillars is risk versus reward: and the higher that risk the higher that reward should be. So those two things seem fitting and then in addition we do have the concept of winners and losers. Not everybody in Ashes of Creation is going to be a winner; and that sucks if you're not I guess, but there is opportunity for you to continue to excel and become one. But it gives much more meaning to an achievement when not everybody gets the achievement. That's our philosophy.[11]Steven Sharif
Q: So it's the sort of thing where it might be, we're going do a dungeon that's oops, all fire golems, so if everybody straps up with plate armor and fire resistance, you don't have to worry about the magic fire: you've got the fire resistance for. And when you start getting punched around, that's why everyone's come in with plate?
A: The encounters design team presents a particular type of challenge rating- for those you're familiar with playing DnD or whatever, challenge rating gets informed by a few different vertical power levels, but then there's also the horizontal perspective: That is, what tools does your party have to address the challenge rating of the situation and some of the horizontal progression exists within how you kit your equipment slots. Some of those can be enhancements or stones, as you're discussing with fire resistance. Some of those are base stats that exist on a particular item, such as physical damage mitigation versus magical damage mitigation and what subtype of damage is incoming based on that. These are the ways that we emphasize that more rock-paper-scissors type of interaction with balance to where it's okay to have asymmetric imbalance if there are horizontal methods by which you achieve the challenge rating.[3]Steven Sharif

Gear progression

In-game achievable sword and polearm 3D renders.[12]

Power creep is a balance issue... When it comes to gear progression specifically, the idea is to create an open market that is not heavily dependent on soulbound items; and having many item sinks and gold sinks within that economy that allows for the potential degradation and loss of assets within that closed economy; and not introduce items from the market that companies put in from a pay-to-win perspective or from a pay-to-convenience perspective that undermines the economy that players have built. That is a huge mistake that companies have made in the past and that lends to the imbalancing of what designers maybe have actually balanced well.[13]Steven Sharif

Weapons have their own progression paths.[14][15]

Q: Are weapons balanced towards a proficiency system (i.e. the longer I use a sword, the better my damage will be), or will it be a normal RPG stat system with no long-term scaling?
A: We will not be using a proficiency system as described, but players will have passives available in their skill tree that will increase effectiveness of certain weapons. Becoming a master of swords will be something that is possible, just not in that particular manner.[24]Sarah Flanagan

Ashes of Creation is all about providing many progression paths... The reason why we don't like the term endgame is because with the amount of progression that's available with the amount of diversity and player agency that impacts the world... We want the weapon system [to] add an element of that as well... You can determine special effects that proc from currently the combo system; you can determine ancillary effects that proc based on enchantment types; you can power stone weapons to add different either elemental types of damage and/or energy that play rock-paper-scissor with player defenses ... and then you can skill tree out how those effects that are granted ... you can make them better you can branch them off into a different direction.[25]Steven Sharif

Best-in-slot items

What is considered best-in-slot is based on a character's role and the type of encounter they are facing.[1][27]

  • The goal is to not have overarching best-in-slot items that are meta for all situations.[1]

Gear enhancement

Gear enhancements are possible both during and after an item is crafted.[31][32]

There is a combination of systems that take an item to its max potential. Players will need to contribute in a certain number of these systems to reach max. Some of the systems are an either/or situation.[31]Kory Rice
The contribution of materials to crafting an item results in advancing the rarity of that item. Now, that doesn't exclude players who don't have the legendary or the higher quality contributed resources from progressing their common item up the rarity tree through enchantments such as scroll enchanting or through tempering the gear. Both of those can affect the quality and the rarity of the gear that you produce, but by contributing the resources during the crafting process you are getting a head start with the higher quality item and now are less dependent on those other avenues to achieve that, which might be again a different vertical space of progression that you don't have as good of access to.[32]Steven Sharif
info-orange.pngSome of the following information has not been recently confirmed by the developers and may not be on the current development roadmap.


Enchanting is not an artisan profession in its own right. Scribes create scrolls that can be utilized by different professions to create enchantments relating to that profession.[41][42]

You don't really push a particular item's level requirement or the identity of that item. You can enhance it, you can add enchantments to it, but it's still the item it is.[44]Steven Sharif

Game balance

The way that the systems are being designed from a balancing standpoint we're taking into account how we would like the nodes to change per-se how often and we've designed attrition systems for certain cultures that may have more dominance over others. These are things that in Alpha and Beta we will be testing and watching and making sure that our objective is achieved from a gameplay standpoint and if it's not we'll come back and recalculate.[45]Steven Sharif

Class balance

Balancing in Ashes of Creation is group focused not based on 1v1 combat.[46][47]

There will be match ups in 1v1s where one class will be superior to another; and that application should be a rock-paper-scissors dynamic. We want there to be counter-play between the different classes... Instead it's going to be a group focused balance, where as long as you have the diversity of classes present, that's going to be an equal level playing field. It's going to be very dependent on skill and strategy.[47]Steven Sharif
From an engagement or encounter perspective, obviously we do a finger-in-the wind balance pass, but a lot of that stuff from our encounters team doesn't get done until populations are in place and those encounter designs get a little bit more time to bake.[49]Steven Sharif

The sixty four (64) classes are partitioned into eight primary archetypes. Balancing of active skills only relates to these eight primary archetypes.[46][50]

  • There are four primary groups of augments assigned to each base archetype. Balancing of augments relates to the four augment groups for each of the eight archetypes.[51][52][53][50][54]
Even though augments do radically change the way your active skills provide you abilities, there's still a primary focus on the base archetype itself and not the 64 whole classes.[46]Steven Sharif
We're not really talking about 64 true classes, we're talking about eight classes with 64 variants... There isn't as much variance between the 64 classes as you might expect. It's not like there are 64 different versions of... radically different classes.[46]Jeffrey Bard
Certain archetypes are capable of moving the gap between their counterpart per-se. If I am a Tank archetype and a Mage is my counter, I can take a Mage secondary and bridge the divide slightly; and then move my identity that direction ever so slightly.[55]Steven Sharif

Siege balance

There are points of balance that we want to incorporate, such as the defense mechanisms that the defenders have, the types of buffs that are acquired through completing killing the bosses, or capturing control points, the stages before a siege when it comes to those node progressions in the preceding weeks: Those are all going to be balanced considering all things being equal between the two sides. But obviously we're not going to control the state of gear acquisition that one side might have as an advantage over the other. There might be a much better geared team over there. There might be a much better coordinated team. There might be a higher number of individuals who are part of the attacking or the defense. Those are components that we aren't necessarily going to put on railroads so-to-speak. But the aspects of design that we can talk about like the hit point health of a particular wall or door, or mercenaries that can be hired; what's their cost, what's their damage output: Those are things yes we're going to balance. But obviously anything that's player dependent or that has player interaction and activity and determination you can't always balance; and you don't want to balance. Those aspects you leave those to the players.[56]Steven Sharif

Power creep

The developers intend to limit power creep via item sinks, the lack of gear binding, and the absence of pay-to-win or pay-to-convenience in Ashes of Creation.[13]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Interview, July 9, 2023 (1:43:38).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Podcast, April 11, 2021 (54:35).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Interview, July 9, 2023 (1:40:41).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Livestream, April 7, 2023 (1:15:02).
  5. Newsletter - June 2023.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Livestream, January 27, 2023 (1:34:06).
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Interview, July 19, 2020 (14:51).
  8. Interview, June 13, 2021 (22:20).
  9. Interview, July 19, 2020 (17:12).
  10. Livestream, November 30, 2023 (1:53:50).
  11. Livestream, May 27, 2022 (1:20:35).
  12. Livestream, April 30, 2021 (53:08).
  13. 13.0 13.1 Interview, October 20, 2018 (2:53:52).
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Livestream, January 30, 2020 (1:28:40).
  15. Livestream, May 4, 2018 (45:37).
  16. Livestream, June 30, 2022 (1:12:38).
  17. Livestream, September 30, 2022 (53:15).
  18. Livestream, September 30, 2022 (43:45).
  19. Video, September 30, 2022 (24:49).
  20. Podcast, September 29, 2021 (47:57).
  21. Interview, February 7, 2021 (49:18).
  22. Interview, July 19, 2020 (53:59).
  23. Interview, July 18, 2020 (1:07:51).
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 February 8, 2019 - Questions and Answers.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 25.5 Livestream, June 4, 2018 (1:11:19).
  26. Livestream, June 25, 2021 (1:29:39).
  27. Livestream, May 29, 2020 (1:33:11).
  28. Livestream, June 30, 2022 (1:18:55).
  29. Livestream, May 10, 2017 (14:45).
  30. Livestream, March 31, 2022 (1:19:41).
  31. 31.0 31.1 Podcast, December 3, 2023 (17:10).
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 32.4 Livestream, November 30, 2023 (1:38:47).
  33. Video, November 30, 2023 (1:01:04).
  34. Video, November 30, 2023 (59:21).
  35. Livestream, May 26, 2017 (5:25).
  36. enchanting.png
  37. Livestream, November 30, 2023 (1:54:37).
  38. Livestream, June 4, 2018 (21:37).
  39. Interview, July 18, 2020 (16:34).
  40. Interview, July 18, 2020 (14:22).
  41. 41.0 41.1 Livestream, May 27, 2022 (1:20:00).
  42. Livestream, May 26, 2017 (51:37).
  43. Livestream, May 17, 2017 (58:55).
  44. 44.0 44.1 Livestream, March 26, 2021 (1:15:57).
  45. Video, April 5, 2018 (49:36).
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 46.3 Livestream, October 30, 2020 (33:26).
  47. 47.0 47.1 47.2 Podcast, April 23, 2018 (59:28).
  48. Livestream, May 28, 2021 (1:13:05).
  49. 49.0 49.1 Livestream, December 2, 2022 (1:05:51).
  50. 50.0 50.1 Interview, October 20, 2018 (2:40:17).
  51. Podcast, September 29, 2021 (30:04).
  52. Livestream, June 25, 2021 (1:05:01).
  53. Interview, July 18, 2020 (1:05:04).
  54. Livestream, February 9, 2018 (41:56).
  55. 55.0 55.1 Podcast, April 23, 2018 (1:01:01).
  56. Livestream, June 25, 2021 (1:10:52).