As we approach Geo Beta and the launch of our Secret Service program for Catalyst Black, we wanted to offer up a deeper look at the game’s progression and even an early look at some of our monetization plans.
When considering the idea of progression in our game, it’s been with the intent to provide players an opportunity to nerd out on loadouts and builds. There will be some obvious anti-synergy in the available choices, but there will also be hidden power in the combinations that players are sure discover. These combinations may even hold the potential to force our hand on game balance as developers, and we welcome this push and pull! Elements of this may feel complex at first glance, but we’ve wanted to build a system worthy of your best thoughts; let us know if we’ve managed to be successful!
We’re gonna show you a lot of stuff today; please know most of it is a work in progress. You can expect a good deal of this to evolve and change over time. Consider the mock-ups below as “mood pieces” rather than hardened truth. We hope you enjoy the read and will appreciate your feedback! As always, you can find us over at the official Discord (discord.gg/catalystblack) or any of our social channels.
Let’s jump in!
Your loadout in Catalyst Black consists of gear that supports both your primal and human form, and it can be swapped out at any time between play sessions. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Your Ability assigns the active skill available when in human form. These can be anything from simple healing, to special AOE slow zones, to short range teleports.
Your Trinket assigns the passive ability & perks available when not transformed. With a variety of passives to choose from, a Trinket can simply augment your playstyle or completely define it.
Your Primary Weapon is quick to reload and diverse in forms, these weapons are a Chosen’s main damage dealing workhorse.
The Heavy is a Chosen’s weapon of choice when looking to take down large threats. These weapons typically start a play session with no ammo and must be charged before use (either from the environment or other bonuses). Heavy weapons will wreak havoc on opponents when used properly; some are optimized for instantly killing other Chosen, while others are DPS machines designed to take down tough bosses and even primal forms.
Your Mask assigns the primal for your transformation. Each Mask has a defining attack ability that does not change with the mask’s chosen loadout. Masks do not have levels or mods.
Your equipped Power assigns the second active ability for your transformation. Your Power is a special ability that is either significantly stronger than your primal’s basic attack, or provides tactical impact (like some form of crowd control).
Your equipped Relic assigns the passive ability and perks for your primal transformation.
COLLECT THEM ALL
The foundation of progression in Catalyst Black is built upon the idea of collection. Each weapon and piece of gear will present unique opportunities to refine a variety of playstyles and, in some cases, your aesthetic look. Guns of a particular archetype will exhibit commonalities, but there will be plenty of reasons why you’ll want to collect your tenth shotgun. Play games, take out players, capture objectives and pick up gear as a chance reward for your accomplishments.
Acquired gear will begin at a base level of power, but can also be leveled up (capped at 20 levels). Each additional level will bring added power to your gear (~2% bonus per level). Experience (XP) needed to level your gear can be acquired in one of two ways:
- Any gear you use will gain XP as you play
- Killing enemy players, defeating bosses, and completing objectives all reward experience
- Finishing a match will reward a multiplier to your accrued experience, while winning a match will contribute even more
- There is no cap to the experience you can gain this way
Or, spend Dust
- Dust can be earned as an end-of-match reward (if boosted), a quest objective, or via the shop (more on these below)
- Unlike raw experience, which is bound to a certain piece of gear, Dust can be spent freely to level up any item you’d prefer to focus on. Think of Dust as 1:1 equivalent to XP in value, with the ability to choose where it goes. You can even level up gear that you’re not even actively using
As a way of tracking your overall progress collecting and leveling gear, we will (soon!) showcase your Collection Level as a part of your player profile. We still need a bit of time to get this feature in, but it is on the way. Your Collection Level will represent the cumulative number of levels accrued across all of your gear. Over the life of the game, we will be offering rewards for Collection Level tiers that will include curated and exclusive gear rewards, mods, and currency. More on these individual elements below.
As you acquire new gear, you will find that each piece of human gear (Abilities, Trinkets, Primary, and Heavy Weapons) is assigned a specific Banner. Banners operate a lot like set bonuses from other games, and offer another level of impact to your playstyle via your loadout. This likely deserves an entire blog all of it’s own to get into all the details, but—-in short—- having multiple pieces of gear under the same banner will grant increasing bonuses. Choosing to split your human loadout across two Banners (two pieces per banner) will be the most statistically efficient, but nothing is stopping you from going all-in on a single approach, or diversifying even more, if that’s your interest.
There’s a lot more to share here and we are excited to see how the community will begin to create their own builds that not only make the most of the Banner system, but how it synergizes with an even deeper level of customization in Mods and Traits.
CATALYTE MODS AND TRAITS
Ok…here’s where things start heating up.
Gear in Catalyst Black is a relatively stable and fixed commodity. Sure, items will increase in power and efficacy as you level them, but once you acquire a gun, relic, or trinket, you’ll likely have a good sense of where it could fit into your approach to play. That being said, all gear in Catalyst Black can be equipped with a Catalyte Mod. Catalyte Mods allow you to hone the impact of your items on your approach to play given a diverse set of options. Mods socketed into primal items will impact your primal form, while those in human items will impact your normal, run-and-gun approach. Only one mod can be assigned to each piece of gear at a given time, but you can swap them in and out between play sessions.
Most mods consist of three randomly selected traits (two major, and one minor) whose statistical values are assigned by rarity. Major traits will add a bit more complexity and tactical utility to their power, whereas minor traits will provide a simple stat boost. Each mod acquired is bound to a specific piece of gear and will fall into one of five rarity tiers (with unmodded weapons considered “Common”):
A mod’s tier is an overall indicator and assessment of the trait rarities included in the mod (and their subsequent power as a result). That being said, yellow tiered Legendary mods are a bit of an exception as they will consist of only one powerful major trait, and a single minor trait. Traits themselves will fall into the same rarity scheme based on their statistical value.
On occasion, we will offer what we’re calling Mythic Mods, either as a reward for collection level, in-game events, development initiatives, or various other achievements. These curated mods will consist of preordained traits consistent across the player base and not necessarily stronger than Legendary (or even some Epic mods). We anticipate that Epic, Legendary, and Mythic mods will all be relevant in Catalyst Black’s end game.
Mods can be earned as a gameplay reward at the end of a match or quest, or they can be bought from the Rotating Shop and the Traveler’s Chest (more on these below).
There are four currencies available in Catalyst Black:
Shards are a recycling currency acquired as an in-game reward, or from breaking down unwanted mods. They can also be used to purchase mods available in the rotating shop.
Dust is used to manually level gear. It can be acquired as an end of match reward (if boosted), a quest reward, or from Traveler’s Chests purchased in the shop.
Quint is used to purchase gear from the rotating shop. This currency is currently earnable in-game as a quest reward, or found in Traveler’s Chests purchased in the shop. In the future, other sources of Quint will likely be introduced (mainly as Collection Level rewards).
Marks are a currency acquired via in-game purchase. These can be used to acquire items from the in-game shop.
WHAT’S IN THE SHOP?
When designing the in-game shop, we looked at many models in the industry at large for inspiration at a balanced approach to free-to-play. We value each player’s individual motivations and have created multiple paths to acquiring in game items. This includes access to direct purchases (typically within timed windows), earning items via direct gameplay, and also providing an option for others that don’t mind a chance of getting something of high value at a lesser price.
Every item that has an impact on gameplay will be available to earn, for free, by playing the game. We are planning to build cosmetic-only options that will be available for purchase, but these will have no impact on gameplay. We are also considering cosmetic rewards for accomplishments that will only be available under certain circumstances of engagement. These event cosmetics will not be available for purchase and, vice-versa, any cosmetic available for “purchase only” will not become available as an achievement reward. As a studio, this position is of high importance to us and something we look forward to standing behind over the lifetime of development for Catalyst Black.
Catalyst Black will feature a rotating shop that will offer a limited assortment of gear from across the entire game; two slots will be priced for Quint, two will be priced for Marks, and the other will be a random mod purchasable for Shards. This shop will refresh every twenty-four hours, but can be manually refreshed for Marks.
We will also offer up Traveler’s Chests, purchasable for Marks, that will contain Dust, Quint, one mod, and a chance at getting an unowned piece of gear (including masks).
Thirty-day boosts will also be available for purchase with Marks and come in three different varieties:
- Bonus to Experience (+50%)
- Bonus to Quint rewards (+50%)
- Bonus to Mod rewards (+50%)
Lastly, we will periodically be selling Ancient Bundles for direct purchase that will include the following:
- A shiny new look on a primal form, with tweaked stats and play style differences (Note – these differences will not necessarily make the primal “better,” just statistically different)
- A new power and relic usable in both the Ancient and base primal forms
- Matching cosmetic variants of a primary and heavy weapon (also with tweaked stats)
- A window of boosted play across all three categories
- Bonus Marks equivalent to the price of the Ancient Bundle
Ancient primal items will be earnable in game after the window of direct sale and exclusivity for them closes.
So…that’s a lot to take in; let us know what you think! Are you down to find that perfect build that will hone your playstyle to a pristine point? Is the depth in customization exciting? Was there something you were hoping for that we missed entirely? We’d love to hear your feedback and would like for you to post any follow up questions in the official Discord (discord.gg/catalystblack). We’ll be looking to follow up on your questions and provide any helpful clarity on our intent.
Stay tuned for more info on our road to Geo Beta and if you’d like to join SEMC’s Secret Service for early access…don’t hesitate to look into it over at the Discord.
Never settle for the lesser evil.
cloaken | ⬆e