The following presentation summarizes our efforts of the last couple of months in regards to combat-gameplay balance between the roles. Information in this presentation is credited to our QA and Design teams.
The following changes come as a response to combat gameplay issues that have accumulated in Darkfall Unholy Wars. We are grateful for all your feedback in regards to these. On our end, you should know, that we are always experimenting with changes to various combat mechanics, trying to achieve a better balance and to gain a better understanding of the dynamic between the roles.
We recognize that sustainability needed to be improved, and that we also needed to address limited survivability for some roles, as well as the extreme flexibility of others. It’s a clear indication that something’s off when there is a strong player preference to the Warrior role, or when we experience the very short duration of Skirmisher and Elementalist battles, or when the overall impression is that combat is too unforgiving.
Making changes to the system was definitely not simple. Everything needs to be implemented and tested at the same time if we want to maintain relative balance between the roles. As a result, we have a major balancing patch coming up which should address most of the issues as we see them and I wanted to post this detailed update today to give you some insight as well as to solicit your opinion on what we’re suggesting here. ETA for the patch is next week.
Balancing at high skill-tier while addressing Time-To-Kill (TTK)
This was quite tricky to address because we have the Warrior role whose nature is partially that of an “easy” entry-level role, that provides new and averagely skilled players a decent vehicle to viability. A consequence of this also made Warrior the dominant role at high skill-tiers, in most situations.
At the same time, Skirmishers and Elementalists were receiving too much damage from ranged attacks as a percentage of their health pool, which resulted in much shorter TTK compared to warriors.
To address both of these issues, we begin by:
- Tweaking piercing protections for all armors. Because of this, in our internal tests, Warriors received slightly more damage from piercing attacks, while Skirmishers, Elementalists and Primalists received slightly less. At high player and character skill levels, where fights usually last longer, the difference in piercing protections accumulated, favoring the better player.
Example at rank 70 armor:
(Warrior) Dread plate: reduced piercing protection by 13.5%
(Skirmisher) Intricate leather: increased piercing protection by 19%
(Elementalist) Extravagant Robes: increased piercing protection by 36.6%
(Primalist) Imperious Robes (edited, mistakenly said "extravagant"): increased piercing protection by 15.5%
- Secondly, the penalty in stat pools was reduced. As a result, stats become more normalized regardless of role. Effectively this gives more health and stamina to Elementalists and Skirmishers, more stamina and mana to Warriors and an overall increase on all pools for Primalists. The time required to kill another player (TTK) also becomes more uniform across all roles. In detail:
- Base health increased by 14%
- Base stamina increased by 7%
- Base health increased by 7%
- Base mana increased by 14%
- Base stamina increased by 7%
- Base Mana increased by 14%
- Base Health, Stamina and Mana increased by 7%
- Magic protections on Skirmisher, Elementalist and Primalist armors are also increased. This in conjunction with the above changes help these two roles in larger fights, where it's generally easier for them to get nuked.
Example at rank 70 armor:Additionally, In order to encourage other roles to counter attack or engage warriors in melee combat, the relevant protections in warrior armors were slightly reduced.
(Skirmisher) Intricate leather: increased magic protection by ~20.2 %
(Elementalist) Extravagant Robes: increased magic protection by ~ 15.7%
(Primalist) Imperious Robes: increased magic protection by ~ 4%
For example, rank 70 warrior armor (Dread plate) had its Slashing and Bludgeoning protections reduced by approximately 15%
Sustainability and Transfers
In order to help with sustainability, transfer spells are moderately increased in magnitude, while their cooldown is slightly reduced.
- Magnitude for all transfers has been increased by 18%. This effectively increases net gains by 2.5x .
- Cooldown for all transfers has been reduced by 14%
This obviously affects roles differently, and we felt we needed to implement this change now, together with all the combat gameplay changes.
This change also helped towards a better TTK for the ranged DPS roles, as a slightly stronger "stamina-to-health" transfer was often the difference between life and death while getting nuked.
The bottom line of this change is that it will add extra depth to the game at no cost to complexity. We do believe that player skill, before numbers, should be the primary factor in a fight. This change will help when fighting outnumbered, or recovering from a bad spot after an ambush.
We also addressed the wobble mechanic, as we felt it wasn't serving its intended purpose. To that extent, the “shrinking” time for all roles has been greatly reduced, with the skirmisher’s being even faster as they heavily rely on perfect aiming. Additionally, the reticle shrinking was tweaked in order to have it start as soon as the projectile is ready to be released. The delay until the shrinking began, we feel is a big reason why players did not withhold their arrows until their reticle became more accurate, thus rendering the mechanic irrelevant.
- Skirmisher: 0.8 seconds faster aiming with bow. (Requires 0.25 seconds to aim perfectly)
- Warrior: 0.5 seconds faster aiming with bow. (Requires 0.9 seconds to aim perfectly)
- Elementalist: 0.5 seconds faster aiming with staff. (Requires 0.5 seconds to aim perfectly)
- Primalist: 0.5 seconds faster aiming with staff. (Requires 0.5 seconds to aim perfectly)
Skill Changes: Warriors
- Stampede cooldown reduced by 30% and its duration reduced by 10%. Knockback effect reduced.
We tried to address the issue of the role relying too much on archery damage to compete. Because of this, as mentioned earlier, warrior archery damage was reduced by increasing the relevant armor protections. At the same time however, we decreased the cooldown of stampede and reduced its duration. This change turned the skill into more of a distance closer, intended to balance out the reduction in ranged damage. The magnitude of the knockback of the skill was also reduced but not removed, in order to preserve the baresark spirit of the school.
We also increased survivability of Battle Brand School:
- Bandage: casting time reduced by 14%
- Stoic Defense: cooldown reduced by 25%
In the Slayer School, the stamina drain for the Polearm Power attack was reduced by 36% , as it was deemed a bit excessive
Skill Changes: Skirmishers
Some of the skirmisher's skills were too costly, causing this role to run out of stats fast. Also some cooldowns were tweaked. The DPS for deadeye school were also slightly increased.
- Mana and stamina cost have been recuced by ~ 32%
- Magnitude has been increased by 2%
- Cooldown reduced by 11%
- Slow effect has been slightly reduced
- Explosive arrow:
- Stamina cost has been reduced by 27%
- Magnitude has been increased by 10%
- Mana cost reduced by 25%
- Stamina cost reduced by 20%
- Cooldown reduced by 12%
- Magnitude increased by 11%
- Exploit weakness
Skill Changes: Duelist
The Duelist school has been slightly rebalanced in many areas, to counter strong advantages the Duelists have vs. other roles.
- Uncanny Focus:
- Will now reduce cooldowns for secondary school by 80%, instead of resetting them. Cooldowns for primary school are still reset like before.
This, so that players have few more seconds of breathing room after managing to escape the duelist in melee range.
- Armor buff reduced by 20%
- Cooldown increased by 9%, and duration reduced by 15%.
These, so that players have a bigger window of opportunity against a duelist, especially when engaged in melee combat.
Duelist offensive abilities have also had their cooldowns slightly increased, so that duelist relies more on in-and-out burst damage, than the "sustained burst" he had before. This was hurting mostly the Primalists, yet we don't expect to see much difference in the outcome against other roles such as Warrior and Elementalist.
- Cooldown increased by 50%
- Damage reduced by approximately 10%
- Cooldown increased by 30%
- Keep in mind their cooldowns are still way below the 10second mark.
- Slow debuff duraction reduced by 50%
Skill Changes: Elementalists
Having addressed one of elementalists main concerns, survivability, means they will now have more time to use their high damage skills.
Some other tweaks include:
- Magma bomb
- Increased missile speed by 33%, to help Fire Elementalists with distant aiming and nuking.
- cooldown reduced by 50%
- duration reduced by 50%
- Changed targetting so it is a small cone, to make it easier to land
- Range increased by 25% , to prevent it from fizzling due to reaching max range.
- Cooldown increased by 4x, as it is very annoying to be on the receiving side of a 5 second stat drain nuke.
- Attunement to Air
- Cooldown increased by 30% and duration decreased by 20%. This is a really powerful spell and it greatly affected combat against Skirmishers and other Spellcasters because of the reflected damage. This will give other roles more of a window of opportunity against Elementalists, who will need to pay more attention to timing, rather than using it the moment it becomes available.
Skill Changes: Primalists
- Wall of Righteous Force was tweaked so that it can be used more often in group combat
- Cooldown reduced by 56%Casting time reduced by 20%
- Cast time reduced by 25%, so that a Primalist can prepare faster when getting jumped by other roles.
- Cooldown reduced by 20%, to further help with survivability.
- Healing Blast
- Casting time reduced by 27% to help get that clutch heal off a bit faster.
Last but not least:
Most of these changes wouldn’t be possible without your consistent feedback on issues that affect combat. In some cases the feedback has been so good that I wish we could give individual credit, and we will actually do something along these lines as well as provide the players who consistently offer constructive feedback with a better channel to communicate with the developers.
We believe that the changes, as we've presented them above, will make PvP more exciting and more fun. You should also know that we never stop working on ways to improve the combat experience so this is not the end of such efforts.
As always, your feedback is valuable to us. Feel free to discuss the changes over the weekend and we'll be following the discussion. As I mentioned above, the ETA for the patch is some time next week.
Thank you for reading