When we started designing the gameplay experience for Lost Eidolons: Veil of the Witch, one of the very first things we knew we wanted was a faster pace to combat. If you play Lost Eidolons on harder difficulties or with permadeath on , some battles can take almost an hour. To create a turn-based SRPG with a lot of replayability, while providing a new experience each time, I felt shorter battles must be treated as a core pillar.
Today we’ll be taking a look at several new ways we’re speeding things up in Veil of the Witch, including:
1. Reducing the party size.
2. Shortening the prep time between battles.
3. Shortening combat animations.
4. Scaling down the size of combat maps.
Reducing the Party Size
Lost Eidolons has a massive cast of party members to choose from: you can recruit 25+ characters, and deploy up to 10 of them at a time (or 20, if you include those you set as Aides). That offers its own sort of fun, but comes at a cost: it tends to make battles quite time-consuming.
So for Veil of the Witch, we wanted to try something different. Initially, we set out with the idea of a party size ranging between 3 and 6 characters. Eventually, we settled on 5.
<Current party setup screen where you choose your 5>
To put it another way: 5 was the minimum amount we felt we could get away with, without reducing what makes an SRPG fun.
The biggest challenge with reducing the party-size was how hard it became to utilize the monster weak point system, a battle mechanic in Lost Eidolons that I love. It’s a system that I think encourages the player to fully engage with all of the game’s mechanics, using smart positioning and a variety of weapons and abilities to maximize synergy as efficiently as possible. I felt that if the party size was too small, monster battles would lose that spark (and also just become too hard).
We tried out various options, and eventually found a party size of 5 to be the sweet spot.
<Party of 5 fighting against Hellhoundes>
Reducing the Time Spent Between Battles
Lost Eidolons has a fairly long preparation phase between battles. You have to manage equipment, classes, skills, and various other little details for at least 10 characters, and sometimes more. For Veil of the Witch, I wanted to cut that down dramatically, so players spend less time staring at menus and more time playing the game.
To reduce the time spent managing characters, we decided each character should have a fixed class, and advance within their own predefined perk tree. We also decided that each class should have a specific set of fixed equipment, to let us design their kit with a more cohesive, intentional feel.
Our goal is to give the player a balanced party of characters with distinct roles that feel unique (rather than basically interchangeable, as they were in Lost Eidolons), while still allowing for some variance in builds and abilities. We then layer additional depth on top of this, with the addition of the new roguelite elements, like unlocking new skills and upgrade cards right there in a middle of a battle.
It’s a direction I’m quite pleased with, as it results in a lot of exciting moments and really interesting synergies between characters. I look forward to sharing more about each individual character and class in future updates.
<Ashe’s skills codex shown as vagabond class>
In addition to reducing the time between battles, we also did our best to reduce unnecessary downtime during battles.
Lost Eidolons featured frequent cinematic finisher animations, where the camera zooms in as a character delivers a particular spell or attack. While fun, these also slow down the pace of the game, and no matter how cool they are, they inevitably lose some charm after the 300th time you see them.
While the first game already provides options for 2x animation speed and skipping enemy turns (both of which will still be available in VotW), those are optional settings, not core changes. We wanted to take things further this time around, and design animations to play out quickly and snappily on the grid map itself.
We still use cinematic shots and effects for specific high-level skills. We’re just doing so more sparingly now – both to speed up the game, and so that when they do show up, they feel all the more exciting.
<A peek of the latest mythic skill’s camera work>
Scaling Down the Maps
Finally, a major departure from the first game is that the maps in this one are generally a lot smaller.
In Lost Eidolons, the sprawling battlefields were a necessity, because there were so many units running around on both sides, so we needed the ability to space out squads and skirmishes. With this game’s smaller party size, it’s just natural to shrink the levels, so players spend less time on those tedious in-between turns, where all you’re doing is trying to move a parade of party members across a huge empty section of the map.
We’re also reducing enemy numbers and density within each map — opting for shorter, more frequent battles, rather than long multistage ones with a huge number of enemy squads.
<Lost Eidolons map is zoomed out and still takes a bit more to take it in>
I hope fans will approach these new changes with an open mind. Rest assured, we’re not just removing features or reducing complexity for the sake of it. Our goal is to build on what worked in the first game, while streamlining parts where we think we can do better, to create a battle system that feels faster, more dynamic, strategically deeper, and just overall way more fun.
I look forward to sharing more in future updates!
Jin Sang Kim, Creative Director