March 2019 - last edited March 2019
Consider adding a small chance that a given weapon would drop an inscription when salvaged. Higher rolls should have a higher chance of getting recovered, but could also have a chance of degrading the roll in the process (i.e. you might recover a +7% inscription from a weapon that originally had a +10% or something).
You could then attempt to apply recovered inscriptions to other equipment. If a given item already has an inscription of the same type, it could get improved by the full or partial value of the added inscription, with a chance of being replaced by the new inscription (or losing the salvaged inscription altogether). Maybe the higher the rolls on both inscriptions, the less likely they would be to combine for full value (or at all). If the item does not have an inscription of that type, you would have a chance to randomly replace one of the existing ones.
Similarly, you could attempt to combine inscriptions by themselves, with various chances of success (just for the sake of inventory management) – though I guess there could also be an option to reprocess them for embers or something.
This would retain the overall RNG nature of obtaining inscriptions, and give a lot of coefficients to tweak the balance on the server side, but at the same time it would also give some semblance of control to the players, would turn salvaging into an actual minigame of sorts (instead of just mindless waste of time), and could actually result in people getting the builds they want before the heat death of the universe.
This is of course if you do intend to keep the current “power creep” style progression where people are expected to rely on “god rolls” with ridiculous damage bonuses. To me, +25% to a Masterwork weapon (or a 5% bonus to overall damage) seems like a ton already. “God rolls” might work when your whole build consists of a gun or two. When you have to balance for a team of four people each having 11 items in the loadout, I don’t see how you can possibly keep it balanced when you have bonuses measured in hundreds of percents.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the people coming from those types of games won’t keep expecting those sorts of bonuses, but them expecting it doesn’t mean it’s going to be a viable design. Ultimately, what really matters (in my opinion) is how GM tiers actually play and how the progression feels. If the bonuses seem “too low” for some people, they might complain, but right now those same people seem to be inclined to quit the game altogether because the current system isn’t viable, whether or not they realize it.