I've suggested this time and again; to help deal with the Rare problem is to release equipment with weaker specials than those rares as permanent content, just make them a bit pricier than normal (along with certain other limitations) and unlocked after completing optional but literally Hard quests (Quests with the only Difficulty at Hard, for both NSC and SC players).
For the upcoming example, I will use a weaker variation of the venerable New Years Goggles/Head/Warhead series. Still pretty powerful, despite their age. The Non-Rare versions only boost +15 (NSC), +20 (SC), and +30 (NG), and are of a GEARS theme. For the sake of this example, I'm calling the heads the "General Equipment Augmented Reaction Head" or "G.E.A.R. Head" for short.
An optional quest with the default difficulty set to "Hard" (and can't be changed) is given by a House Leader or a GEARS Teacher that requires the player to go out and assist one of their distant GEARS Research Outposts in fighting off the ShS wanting to take technology for themselves.
After what will be described appropriately as a tough run (several ShS enemies plus 2 bosses; all on Hard mode with limited partial repairing between them (and only one full heal before each boss battle)), the player will unlock the G.E.A.R. Head equipment. While the specials are weaker than the original New Year Heads, they have limited scaling, and still are pretty powerful in a balanced way (Since the Buff cap is +60, +15 is already 1/4 of that, +20 is 1/3, and +30 is 1/2, and when combined with the fact that the double specials are still on the weapon, such as the Buff Player Attack and Nerf Enemy Attack, is still a big deal).
Sequel missions will unlock equipment that are also based on powerful Rares.
The 2nd mission could unlock BA-Only IDoT weaponry, though they will have a duration limit of 8 (how long the IDoT stays on the target) and a higher EP Cost. Using the weapon again while the IDoT is active simply ignores adding more turns to the IDoT, but also doesn't reset the IDoT, so as to make it fair enough to fully reach the large damage by turn 8 (if any battle gets there besides using an ARH mech).
The 3rd could unlock FA-Only -25/-35/-45 to Enemy Boost plus a standard 1x EP DoT (A weaker variation of the Freeze Ray if you will, for NSCs and SCs (and NG Users)).
The 4th could unlock a Heal-Only BS (deals zero damage but does add a weak +20/+25/+30 to Defense and a weak heal, weaker than Zorbo's or the Chibi Dragon's Healing, for 3 turns).
The 5th could unlock an FS-Only Pure Damage weapon (a stronger version of the 1-time use Rocket-Propelled Chainsaws but a weaker version of the Mohawk's FS or the Warbear's FS, CD is set at 5 or 6 to balance it somewhat). The NSC Version just has a chance to deal All Double Damage while the SC version has a chance to deal All Critical Damage, and the NG version has a chance to deal Double Critical Damage.
The 6th could unlock a Mech chassis (in the same vein as the Gark/Lagos BAM) that has a Body weapon capable of Reflecting the Enemy's Damage by -30/-40/-50 for 4 (or 5) turns, but has a CD of 8 (or 10) and a high EP cost. It's balanced not only by the high EP use and CD, but also by the fact that due to it being a BAM w/o other defaults, all weaponry can be shot off by any mech with Part Destruction capabilities instead of Disabled.
The 7th could unlock a weaker BS-Only version of the Solar Panel, adding an extra 5/10/15 to EP Regen and with a 3-turn 1.5x EP DoT instead of an EN Regen Freeze.
And so forth.
< Message edited by EinhanderX01 -- 10/22/2010 10:21:21 >