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Taurusm's Retention Problems with Langrisser Mobile, Part One[edit | edit source]
Notice: This post was originally meant for Reddit formatting. It may not have transitioned cleanly to the Wiki.
To preface, I’ve been playing since launch (missed the free Dieharte by a day). I’m now at max level (60) and am currently working towards getting my first 6-star characters (Lana and Cherie will become 6-stars in about 20 days) and trying to get a full leveled set of SSR equipment. I am a PvE player with no interest in PvP. The only PvP I do is autoing normal Arena, I skip World Arena and will probably skip Apex Arena whenever that comes around. Also, I was working on this all night. I started around 7:30 PM US Central, and it's now 6:00 AM US Central. Apologies if anything sounds weird or unclear. I'm gonna hit the sack after posting this...
This will be split into two separate posts. The first will attempt to point out the issues of Langrisser Mobile (which is this post) while the second will attempt to "provide solutions" that tries to fix these issues. Part II will be posted at a later date. While I honestly believe nothing will be done to address this, I'll stick to waving around my lost cause banner. Anyways, moving on...
I enjoy the core gameplay of Langrisser Mobile. This is coming from a guy who never played the original Langrisser titles. However, at end-game, I am seeing my fellow guild members and other players quitting Langrisser Mobile. Even I sometimes want to walk away from playing, but I still enjoy the game enough to keep myself in. It "helps" that I'm supposed to be the Wiki Guy, so as long as I'm in that position, I'm more likely to stick around. (I do worry about the long-term longevity of Langrisser Mobile, and dev-to-player communication is still poor. My perception of what the "higher ups see" is that Langrisser Mobile is just a "cash cow." Instead of focusing on making an excellent game, it will just have minimal support and will be milked of all its worth before finding something else to make money off of. A pessimistic viewpoint, but I digress. Back to the matter at hand...)
The two main problems I am seeing at end-game are the Time Consumption of Langrisser Mobile and the Repetitive Nature of Langrisser Mobile. Keep in mind Langriser Mobile is, for all intents and purposes, a mobile game. Mobile games are generally meant to be played in short bursts, such as during work breaks, when one is doing bathroom business, or lying about bored in bed. As such, many mobile games tend to have "quick rounds" where one plays a short match that typically lasts less than 5 minutes. Langrisser Mobile's battles tend to last a little longer than that, probably being around 7-10 minutes a battle.
Now, there is talk of simply "sweeping" the Secret Realm quests in CN (https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/WGGZYFjUC3EQaAyqhHmkgg). Games are supposed to be about enjoyment and having fun; not about doing chores or boring grinding. While I will likely support this sweep feature, Sweeping things really only sweeps the issue under the rug. It doesn't really resolve the problem, in my opinion.
With that, lets head into the "Core Gameplay Loop of Langrisser Mobile." This will primarily be dailies. Let us begin.
Langrisser Mobile has a large list of Daily Quests at end-game. We are expected to work out in the Aniki Gyms, attend Angelica's School of Robotics, Slay Dragons, Hunt Treasure Goblins, do some Battlefield Bonding, Repent in the Eternal Temple, Explore for Random Quests, Delve into the Time Rift, and provide Arena Entertainment. That's 9 different items that "have to be done" daily, and some of these are run multiple times. This doesn't even count the "Bonus Keys" which requires even more grinding if the player wants those. While I consider the keys optional since the Crystals are the main target, some players may feel compelled to get the Keys, which may lead to easier burnout. Doing Dailies alone can take 1-2 hours. This should already be a red flag as Mobile Dailies should (in my opinion) take less than an hour to complete them all. We spend more time grinding content that provides no real challenge and only pads out the game instead of playing fulfilling experiences, such as progressing in the story or tackling the Timeless Trials. While the Goddess Blessing does help with the tedium and we could Auto Battle, the AI isn't the smartest thing in the world. Since LM matches can take some time, a failed run is more costly than in other games. Oh, and there's more! We got Gates of Fate (that can be swept), Joint Battles, and Guild Wars to account for. There's also the Event Dailies if an Event is in progress. Have fun!
Seriously, there is a lot of stuff to do in Langrisser Mobile, and the "daily bonuses" and "daily quests" push players to try and do it all instead of tackling things at their own pace. So, we got the "listed quests" done, but there's still more to do! Back to the grind, I suppose...
Joint Battles do offer excellent rewards for their cost, but JB are only available during certain times of the day. Some players may not be able to participate at all because they are busy or otherwise occupied during the timeslots. But, if you want to do Joint Battles and two daily matches, each day, I estimate adding 20-30 minutes (10-15 minutes a battle) to your daily routine.
Guild Wars, oh man, Guild Wars... While it is limited in the amount of attempts due to the player's roster, each individual battle lasts forever. We got 5 waves of enemies spread out across 11 turns. Now, the cherry on top? Expect to run Guild Wars multiple times a day, with each battle lasting 10-20 minutes. Trying to be on top of Dailies is one thing (especially if trying to get all the Keys), but also being on top of Guild Wars? Langrisser Mobile starts to become a part-time job at this point. You want to contribute to the guild and be an active player, but there's so much other stuff that also needs to be done, and Guild Wars takes up so much time... In the end, GW is skipped over and if you're lucky, a group of Diehartes hardcore players carry and finish GW while you claim the domination rewards by participating in one battle. I got a write-up on how I would try and reduce the tedium of Guild Wars, but that's in Part II.
So, how long are Langrisser Dailies, really? I got some numbers. Let's do this.
I use x2 Speed with Animations Off to obtain these values. Playing with Animations On and at normal speed will add more time.
5 Minutes - Misc Quests (EXP Potions, Enchant Scrolls, Bond Sweeps, Time Rift Sweeps, Friendship Summon)
17 Minutes - Arena Runs (Auto, 5 Easy Battles // Timer started from first battle, wait times included.)
14 Minutes - Aniki Gyms (x2, 60 Rocky, Co-Op // Timer is for battles only. Wait Times are omitted.)
8 Minutes - Training School (x2, 60 Lancer, Co-Op // Timer is for battles only. Wait Times are omitted.)
8 Minutes - Goddess Trial (x1, 65 Ice Dragon, Co-Op // Timer is for battles only.)
5 Minutes - Goblin Treasures (x1, 60, Solo // Timer is for battle only.)
7 Minutes - Bonding Realm (x1, 60 Kalxath's Shadow, Solo // Timer is for battle only.)
6 Minutes - Eternal Temple (x1, 55 Leviar, Solo // Timer is for battle only.)
1 Minute - Map Event (x1, 52 Gold, Solo // Teleport Strat Used.)
Total: 71 Minutes
Whew, I'm feeling the burn all right. So, if you want to do the Daily Grind of Langrisser, it may be around 71 Minutes. If you want to go further for the Bond Keys, incorporate Joint Battles, and factor in Guild Wars, the amount of time playing Langrisser Mobile each day can get pretty high for a mobile game. This is just getting the daily stuff done, this isn't actual farming that is done "willingly" after the daily quests are dealt with.
Now, these are just one collection of timed runs, meant to give a general idea of how long Dailies in Langrisser Mobile can take. Lobby Wait Times are not included, and runs may be longer or shorter depending on team composition (and if someone has slow animations on in Multiplayer).
Now, lets take a massive step back and look at the big picture.
Real Talk. The best we can do is try to lower the number of daily battles and try to make existing battles shorter. Why? The core gameplay of Langrisser Mobile naturally promotes large-scale battles, which takes more time to resolve. Otherwise, there's no real way of getting around LM's time investment. We can try to streamline dailies and perhaps even combine some game modes (more on that in Part II), but the core gameplay of Langrisser Mobile is closer to a classic SRPG than a "watered down mobile SRPG."
If we were to go back to the all-time favorite comparison, Fire Emblem Heroes, it was heavily watered down from the start to be adapted for "mobile gaming." As such, it will naturally have shorter gameplay sessions and the game has been built around this.
In contrast, Langrisser Mobile, while it does simplify the original mechanics and changes some things (coming from an outsider looking in), it still leans more towards the classic SRPG aspects instead of "mobile gaming." However, instead of playing at our own pace and unlocking characters naturally, we have Gacha mechanics and daily quests due to the mobile side of the spectrum.
So, how can we possibly fix the issue of time investment??
Besides trying to reduce the number of battles and making each match shorter in length, Langrisser Mobile needs to have the time invested be worthwhile. As stated before, each battle in LM will naturally be longer (especially compared to FEH) because of the core gameplay. We have large parties on large, scrolling battlefields. In FEH everything is on a single screen and there are a limited number of units.
Sure, FEH has more game modes, but it doesn't force them all down the player's throat unlike LM. In fact, a fair amount of FEH's modes are "one and done" challenge maps, so once they are completed, there's no real reason to go back and do them. Meanwhile, LM's various game modes are typically done on the daily, with only the Timeless Trails really existing "outside the daily spectrum." This quickly adds to the grind, the repetitive gameplay, and player burnout.
When I mean by "time invested be worthwhile," I don't necessarily mean increasing the drop rates and giving players free stuff. What I mean is making fun and engaging content that players actually want to play while cutting out the "fluff" that is unfulfilling and only pads out gameplay time. Yes, this is harder and requires more effort to accomplish, but the payoff should be worth it.
To illustrate this point, I wish to bring out a contender in the form of Dragalia Lost. Like LM, there are plenty of daily quests and daily bonuses that focus on certain game modes. There's also plenty of various items to farm, like in LM.
However, DL has been designed for mobile in mind, even having battle timers. These timers are no longer than 4 minutes (Online Raids are even shorter, at 3 Minutes!) So, let's delve in Dragalia's Lost dailies, shall we?
2 EXP Runs (8 Minutes) 2 Gold Runs (8 Minutes) 2 Elemental Runs (8 Minutes)
3 Imperial Onslaught Runs (12 Minutes) 3 Dragon Runs (12 Minutes)
So, if the player completely sucks and wins right before the timer expires, dailies in Dragalia Lost last no more than 48 minutes. Realistically, players and the Autobattle AI clear content faster, so the actual time doing Dailies is probably around 30-40 minutes.
But wait, there's more. This is a theoretical scenario where the player sucks and is playing on normal speed. Dragalia can increase the speed of the gameplay, by 1.2, 1.5, and 2.0. So, if you are doing Dailies at x2 speed, we can theoretically cut the number by half and dailies are done in mere 15-20 minutes, in real time!
Holy Cow! All the dailies done in a mere 20 minutes! Compared to LM's 70, we have 50 minutes to spare for whatever. We can farm active events, we can farm materials, we can progress in the story, perhaps do some raids in Void Battles or High Dragons, or maybe even just play something else! (or you know, get back to work...) Granted, Dragalia doesn't have PvP, so it doesn't have to worry about offering incentives for any PvP mode, which cuts down on daily time. Mileage will vary on this, but being a guy who doesn't care much for PvP, it's a bonus in my book.
Pretty great, huh? This respects the player's time, progress is made, and the Dailies in DL can be easily auto'd if the team composition is right. (It helps the Auto AI in Dragalia is actually pretty good!)
But it doesn't stop there. DL also has its own "sweep" system, but its sweep system is more universal and is in the form of Skip Tickets. DL players can spend Skip Tickets to "skip" battles and immediately claim the rewards (some battles cannot be skipped, and the battle needs to be fully cleared in order to spend a Skip Ticket). These Tickets can be used almost anywhere, but Tickets are limited in number. In LM, we can happily skip along cleared Time Rift stages up to their limit using stamina. However, LM's "sweeps" are restricted to the Time Rift, meaning we have to do everything else manually. (Remember, I mentioned there being talk of being able to sweep the Secret Realm, but no real details are out yet.)
So, back to Dragalia Lost. With the dailies out of the way, casual players may play something else or perhaps progress in other areas of DL, such as Void Battles, High Dragon Trials, or even the Story Mode. The rewards are lucrative, the time spent is minimal, and everyone's happy. (Okay, the grind to get a maxed out 5-Star Elemental Weapon sucks, but that aside DL is an excellent game!)
Remember Langrisser Mobile? Going off of my data above, we spent 71 Minutes just doing dailies. DAILIES. We aren't even playing the actual game yet, we are just getting our chores done first! Why are we here, if just to suffer?
All right, all right, there is one crucial element here for you apple and orange people. Dragalia Lost is an action game while Langrisser Mobile is a turn-based strategy game. Naturally, action games will be resolved faster than a thinking man's game. So, it is not entirely fair to compare LM to DL. But I'm doing so anyway to show a point. Langrisser Dailies take too long, and this is part of the reason why Langrisser Mobile has a high time investment.
Not only that, but the tasks are repetitive. There is no satisfaction beating on an Aniki for the thousandth time as it's simply another checkmark on the To-Do List. The fact it takes so much time and there is no reliable auto function also contributes to this. Heck, if we could program our characters to carry out specific actions each turn, these "specific command orders" can probably clear content reliably. This is how repetitive the Dailies in LM are.
To paint a picture of "repetitive gameplay," let's use Angelica's Cavalry Training School as an example. We got Templar Ledin with Phalanx soldiers and Jessica with Teleport. We have the Goddess Blessing. No one else is needed.
Turn 1 - Jessica moves next to Ledin. - Jessica Teleports Ledin in the middle of Cavalry mobs. - Ledin positions himself and casts Divine Guard. Turn 2+ - Jessica ends turn. - Ledin ends turn. - Repeat these commands until level is done.
The enemy cavalry will run themselves into Ledin and get slaughtered. This process is basically foolproof and can be done every single run, exact same motions with the exact same outcome. Critical Hits may shuffle some things around slightly, but is probably not significant enough to change the tide of battle.
Now, this can be applied to other LM Dailies. Aniki Gyms can be programmed. Bonding Realm will be a little more complex, but it can be programmed. Goddess Trial can be programmed, but can be susceptible to RNG depending on the Dragon fought. Then, if we improved our programming skills to include AoE effects (cast AoE where it affects the most foes), then we may be able to even program Treasure Goblins too. The Eternal Temple may be in a similar boat to Dragons due to the RNG, and while it probably could be programmed using advanced methods (if debuffed, end turn instead of taking action, etc.), for the sake of this example we'll say Eternal Temple has to be done manually.
So, out of all the PvE dailies, Eternal Temple is the one mode that actually requires some thought (with Dragons coming in second and Bond Realm third). Now, when tackling on the next tier without the Goddess Blessing, players can flex their tactical superiority as they attempt to conquer the challenge. Afterwards though, it becomes fodder for the grinder. The puzzle has already been solved, why solve it again?
To break up the monotony, we need to summon Chaos bring some dynamic gameplay in, or at the very least find a way to skip/sweep past the boring stuff so we can get back to the enjoyable parts of Langrisser Mobile. While order and predictability is nice and all, some randomness and chaos can go a long way to making things interesting. The difficult part is harnessing the chaotic energies in a way that feels balanced and enjoyable instead of "pulling off BS manuevers" (Ambush Spawns with no warning, I'm looking at you. I got a Clock and I'm not afraid to use it, damnit!)
Most of my ideas on how to break the monotony will be in Part Two. Part One is all about pointing at the problem and making fun of it acknowledging they exist, while Part Two tries to remedy these issues with various ideas.
So, this is the end of Part One. Apologies if I ended up going on rants and the like, I stayed up all night working on this thing for some reason. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed the read!