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My experiences and thoughts on Willow after 70 days


Q42
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Last Saturday I started a world as Willow, a couple days after the beta initially released. I planned on surviving a year with the goal of experiencing as much content as possible. I'll start by outlining my playthrough and specific times where Willow's abilities came in handy, then I'll go over my specific critiques.

The very early game wasn't drastically different, but it was fun to light enemies on fire and kill them as they panic. It's always nice to be able to easily kill a bishop without getting hit. Eye of Terror went down quicker with Burning Frenzy. Although besides combat, the gameplay felt pretty similar to Wilson. (More on that later.) I got a base set up and prepared to fight Dragonfly, who can't be light on fire, so nothing to note on there.

The ruins are where I got the most out of Willow's skill tree. I used Blueberry Blast to wipe out the monkeys, then led Bernie through the ruins to fight off nightmares. He died a few times, but I brought a sewing kit. He probably would've lasted longer if the Patch Up skill was working properly. There were a couple statues to mine/clockwork piles to hammer that I wouldn't usually since there's bishops guarding them, so I got some extra materials. I found the labyrinth and started fighting Ancient Guardian, who I lit on fire the whole fight and reapplied Burning Frenzy every 30 seconds. Him being on fire let me see throughout the whole fight. Also, I could hide behind a pillar and use Blueberry Blast as he rammed into it and got stunned. I liked that. (I usually light him on fire anyway, but I appreciate the extra bonuses Willow got from that.) On the way out, Bernie was tripping on spider webbing and I had to backtrack to keep him from dying to Dangling Depth Dwellers.

On the way out, I fought Nightmare Werepig. He is immune to being set on fire despite being covered in fur, so it was a standard fight.

I got on the surface in time to make a thermal for Winter, then found Klaus. Bernie managed to stay alive the entire fight, dealing extra damage. Making sure Klaus was on fire and my Burning Frenzy was active was very fun, and I eventually won. Then Deerclops arrived, but I just led him through trees and a treeguard finished him off.

The Twins were also a hectic fight, requiring more brainpower than I'm used to. Swapping between a cane, weapon, magiluminescence, rain coat, and lighter kept me engaged the entire time. It took 3 days in total.

I used a standard strategy for Beequeen. Combustion was still crashing my game, and after testing it takes way too many embers to spam Blueberry Blast on her. I got away with using less resources since I was doing 90 damage per hit via a Morning Star while Beequeen was on fire. I'm excited to try the fight now that Combustion is fixed, definitely doing that my next playthrough.

I hunted some Moose/Goose, got Pearl's Pearl, made a Mooncaller, then Summer hit. I killed Antlion and finally fought the shadow pieces because I forgot to do that earlier. I used Bernie throughout the fight so I didn't have to worry about raising my sanity. Bernie died at the Nightmare Rook stage, but if I was more careful he would have survived.

I was lucky enough for the Atrium so spawn very close to the ruins, so after finishing clearing ruins (just as fun as the last time) and crafting some gear, I lit a grass on fire and telepoofed to the Atrium.

I was lucky enough to fight the Fuelweaver before they added a cooldown to Blueberry Blast. I stayed insane the entire time and used Bernie throughout the fight. He also distracted Fuelweaver so he wouldn't focus on healing so often. This was a really smooth fight and took less resources than I'm used to, just 4 crowns, 7 flower salads, a lazy explorer, 2 thulecite clubs, a magiluminescence, and ~30 embers. I used Blueberry Blast to handle any Woven Shadows I couldn't kill by myself, and not needing to swap to the Nightmare Amulet to kill the Unseen Hands saved some keystrokes. On day 71, Fuelweaver fell to the ground and I donned my Bone Helmet.

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Willow has a lot of tools to deal with crowds and bosses, but nearly no utility. This makes her feel similar to play to other characters pretty much any time you're not fighting bosses or hordes of enemies. I'm going to make the obvious Maxwell comparison here; Maxwell excels at resource collecting and fighting bosses, but he has some other really nice perks like his Shadow Tophat and Shadow Sneak that make day-to-day gameplay feel more interesting.

My main issue with how this applies to Willow is that she is forced to hold on to embers forever. You're probably always going to have 1-2 slots for Embers, but in normal gameplay you have no real reason to want to be holding Embers. Forgive me, but now I'm going to make the even more obvious Wortox comparison. He's always got a slot for souls, but he's always spending souls. Whenever I approach 18-19 Souls as Wortox I either eat them for hunger, drop them for health, or teleport to wherever I'm trying to go. When I reach 40 Embers with Willow, I actively don't collect any more until I need to either deal with multiple enemies or fight a boss, which can be days in normal gameplay. 

I saw an idea that Burning Frenzy should automatically reapply, and I think that's a really clever idea. It could be a toggle skill that drains 1 ember every 15 seconds. It would take away a bit from having to multi-task during boss fights, but you already have to ensure the enemy is on fire, and it would make Burning Frenzy applicable against normal enemies without me feeling like I'm wasting Embers to kill something in 10 seconds. Also, in the time it takes you to use burning Frenzy you're missing out on DPS, making it less than a 1.25x damage bonus.

On to her Bernie skills, I think Bernie is powerful but his perks aren't interesting and should be replaced with Quality of Life. It's all stat adjustments or something useless like Hot Headed. Burning Bernie is not worth picking 8 of these bland perks especially when you lose out on lighter affinity. Being able to "recall" Bernie to his small form would be a great step, several times he died because I had to lead him through an enemy-dense area when I didn't want him to fight anything. Also, he gets left behind a lot because he's focused on fighting 1 spider and I don't notice until I'm a couple screens away. Something to force Bernie to stop fighting and follow me would be appreciated. I don't think Bernie is too strong with Planar Enemy Defense, it puts him in a good spot where he's strong against bosses, but not so strong that he destroys all normal enemies. 

Before I wrap up, I'm going to complain about the cooldown on Shadow Fire and Lunar Flames. Lunar Flames are already not for  spamming, and having to wait an entire 14 seconds after finishing the cast just makes you feel bad when you dare to use it twice to kill some enemies. It's not fun to wait for 14 seconds just to use my embers I collected to cast a spell. It also creates even more disparity between Shadow Fire and Lunar Flames, Shadow Fire was only good if you wanted to dish out a lot of damage at once. Depending on what you were doing, you could make a case for picking it over Lunar Flames. Now, it's absolutely not worth 5 embers to deal 200-500 damage every 14 seconds. Please remove the cooldowns and make Shadow Fire more accurate so it's more worth using outside of spamming. Add a cap to Embers if you want, if you're that concerned that people will spend 5 days grinding 200 embers to tank Dragonfly.

That was my experience with Willow. I think she's almost in a good spot, but if she releases in her current state I won't be playing Willow too often. The cooldown make her much less fun, and her lack of utility keeps the gameplay rather samey. Here's the changes I would make to Willow:

  • Immune to Overheating - This will make Willow feel different to play, no longer making trips to the icebox during summer and not being forced to live in the caves. Also this just makes sense, why is she immune to fire but not heat? This could be a part of the skilltree, but I'm fine with this just being it's own thing
  • Bernie Quality of Life (as detailed earlier)
  • Burning Frenzy Changes (as detailed earlier)
  • Remove the Cooldown
  • Make Shadow Fire more accurate (all 5 flames should consistently hit something)
  • Give Embers a use in day-to-day gameplay/utility
  • Allow more bosses to be lit on fire and further increase the lighter's absorbing range

So there's my thoughts on Willow. Enjoy the beta everyone, and have a good day/night.

Edited by Q42
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