Hello, not a regular poster over here in the forums, but I figured I’d give it a go. Regarding the balance patch, I figured I could put my thoughts here and get some extra opinions on the state of the game. This is from the perspective of a player who primarily runs Legend.
As it appears, one of Fatshark’s primary concerns appears to be addressing the dominance of Slayer, Bounty Hunter, Sienna (especially Pyromancer), and overall ranged gameplay. In addition to this, they are changing how we generate temporary health.
As far as temp health generation options go, they can be broken down to three main categories. Kill temp, cleave temp, stagger temp, and headshot/crit temp.
The breakdown is as follows:
-Mercenary (cleave, kill)
-Huntsman (stagger, kill)
-Foot Knight (stagger, cleave)
-Ranger Veteran (stagger, cleave)
-Ironbreaker (stagger, kill)
-Slayer (cleave, kill)
-Waystalker (hs/crit, kill)
-Handmaiden (cleave, kill)
-Shade (kill, hs/crit)
-Witch Hunter Captain (hs/crit, cleave)
-Bounty Hunter (hs/crit, kill)
-Zealot (cleave, kill)
-Battle Wizard (stagger, kill)
-Pyromancer (cleave, kill)
-Unchained (stagger, cleave)
Conceptually, I love the idea of implementing new methods of generation temp-health, therefore incentivizing players to play a certain way. However, there are several problems that hinder this in practice. In comparison to +2 temp health on kill on the non-beta version, all of these provide more or less inconsistent results. They also drive competition between players to strive for choices in positioning or target selection that can lead to unhealthy gameplay habits. Considering the inconsistency and low recovery of the non-stagger options, it is unclear to me whether Fatshark wants to reduce our overall levels of temp health generation, or is aiming to give us more options outside of killing.
Effectively, these new methods of generation temp health encourage specific weapons to be paired with certain classes. Stagger with shields and crowd control weapons, kill with anti-armor and single target weapons, crit/headshot with high attack speed weapons that have good swing arcs towards heads, and cleave with high cleave value weapons.
Kill temp provides very low amounts of health. There has been previous posts that slave rats only provide 0.25, as they grant somewhere between 0-1 temp health per kill. Large Chaos trash provides 3, and the small ones appear to provide 1. Stormvermin and Maulers are better, providing about 5-8. Chaos Warriors provide approximately 20, and bosses appear to fully fill the health bar. Overall, this is incredibly weak, and is also the closest approximation to the previous 2 temp hp per kill. This also encourages players to overextend or attempt to land killing blows on high health targets over their teammates. My recommendation would be to increase this to a flat value across all targets, especially trash mobs. Skaven slave hordes can be more threatening than Chaos trash hordes because of their negligible temp health generation.
Stagger temp feels to be in a good place now post-nerf, and occupies a very useful slot in synergizing with crowd control weapons. It provides approximately 1 temp hp per enemy staggered. This encourages more use of shields, 2h hammers, warpicks, and other crowd control tools as it removes your setup from the competition of having to kill alongside other players in order to recover the same amount of temp hp. More loadout variety is always welcome. Note that this talent is no use against enemies that are climbing or dropping off a ledge, which can encourage players to let enemies finish their animation through the chokepoint before moving to stagger them instead of holding the choke for as long as possible to maximize damage.
Headshot and crit temp is incredibly situational and only usable on specific weapons. These are the rapier, spear, 1h swords, and falchion. Dual swords fits this category on grounds of having guaranteed crits, and is capable of producing more crits than normal attacks. This synergizes best with WHC due to his ult. However, this is one of the more unreliable talents, as crits themselves are inherently based on RNG (5% base + potential 5% passive + 5% charm + 5% weapon = 15-20%, not very high) and headshots can be difficult to execute reliably to generate health on par with the old kill temp talent. Overall, this still beats the new kill temp on grounds of that talent generating anywhere from 20-30 health to negligible and none.
Cleave temp grants 1/2/3/5 temp health for 2/3/4/5+ targets. This is produces more consistent results than both kill and hs/crit temp, but is still vastly inferior to old kill temp and is less trustworthy than stagger temp. There are several problems with this, conceptually. You must be using a high-cleave weapon. You must also not kill your target on cleave, or you get nothing. You cannot be fighting armor or maulers unless you’re using a weapon that cleaves through them like human 2h sword charge attacks or 2h hammer charge attacks, in which case it is still heavily reduced. You must consistently engage high density and it encourages overexposure against too many trash mobs at the same time, risking more hits as a result. This also means you cannot play conservatively, as wall scooting (hugging walls) and kiting hordes in order to minimize horde exposure in order to minimize risk means you will generate little to no temp health. Effectively, this penalizes good, safe play. The only situation I have found where this can beat stagger temp is a high cleave weapon on a drop or climb, where you can engage high density at little danger if you and your team can provide enough DPS to hold it. Mercenary can make the most use of this talent due to his increased passive cleave.
Natural Bond (+1 hp/5s) has taken Boon of Shallya’s (+30% health gain, temp health included) place as the go-to necklace trait. This patch has swapped one nigh-mandatory pick for another, especially as it no longer prohibits self-healing. There are no real meaningful choices to be made here, in the same vein that BoS was outside of the beta. This problem is further exacerbated by the unreliability of these new methods of temp health generation.
Bounty Hunter has been hit with three nerfs at once. The crossbow’s cleave allows it to kill roughly 4 slave rats, 3 clan rats, 2 large Chaos trash, and 3 small Chaos trash. His former passives have been split to the same talent tree. You can reset Blessed Shots on kill, reduce its cooldown from 10s to 6s, or consume no ammunition when used. Scrounger has been nerfed from 2 ammunition per target hit on a crit to 1. While he can still produce a small trickle of ammunition by overpenetrating multiple targets, all of these downsides have meant he’s often ignored in favor of WHC or Zealot. From my experience, his popularity has been reduced to WHC’s on the non-beta server.
Crit longbow Kruber is far more ammo intensive than it used to be, between the Scrounger nerfs and reduced longbow cleave on 1st level charge shots. The +3 ammo on headshot build (+1 from passive, +1 Conservative Shooter, +1 Taal’s Blessing) is still very viable, and can be used to great effect. This rewards good aim and positioning.
Good game design is about providing multiple viable choices for players to pick from. This is going to be the overarching theme of my suggestions.
To recapture the consistency of temp health generation while providing new options, I would suggest replacing all level 20 talents across all classes with the following:
-Stagger temp grants +1 temp health per enemy shoved, staggered, etc.
-Kill temp grants +1.5 to 2 temp health per enemy killed.
This allows players to keep to the old standard of recovering temp health while giving those using crowd control and more defensive weapons a viable option to recover temp health. Heal share is a good pick for those who want to support their teammates. This also places minimal restrictions on what each class would be allowed to pick and still consistently produce temp health. The problem doesn’t seem to be that the temp hp on kill was a bad idea, rather the other options weren’t worth the slot.
If Fatshark is looking to reduce our temp health gain, they’ve reduced most methods to nearly nothing in practice. Either the numbers need to be increased or the old kill temp brought back. The doubled decay rate for those not in a wounded state also means what negligible amounts of temp health (typically 5-20 in my experience) decays immediately. Either keep our temp health generation at previous levels, or implement the decay. Not both together. Together, we may as well not have meaningful levels of temp health outside of any class with stagger temp.
Bounty Hunter was meant to be played as a hybrid melee-range class. To this end, give him incentives to be weaving shots in between (mostly unbuffed, as his only real melee buff is +5% AS as a talent) melee attacks. This could be, for example, talent or passive that grants a buff. This can be on a 5 second cooldown that grants a bonus to melee attack speed and ranged reload speed on weapon switch for a brief time. If the crossbow cleave is going to be nerfed, keep it. If Scrounger is also going to be nerfed, keep that too. However, splitting his core identity into many small pieces means he’s not worth taking anymore. Bring back his melee reset as a core passive, as this encouraged the melee-shoot chain that made BH as interesting a class as it has been. Taking that away means he becomes a meleer that occasionally shoots on a cooldown. At this point, he may as well be any other class. The opportunity cost of this class becomes far outweighed by the others. Is a trickle of a single potentially free crossbow bolt, volley crossbow volley, repeater pistol burst, or a single BoP shot worth +25 HP, +5% passive crit, and several other improvements from the WHC? That is also not regarding the competition of the sheer resilience and attack speed of a Zealot.
This is a general observation of the game itself. Compared to V1, Fatshark has designed themselves into a corner in terms of giving players choice in weapon setups. The reason why there is a metagame based around anti-armor melee weapons (glaive, halberd, dual daggers, flail, falchion to an extent, 2h axe, 1h axe, etc.) is because the frequency of armor spawns is much higher than in V1. Instead of half a dozen stormvermin per run, we now have 10+ in the same area, CWs, Chaos patrols, and mixed hordes that often push player teams back or result in failure states if there isn’t enough anti-armor available. This isn’t ideal, as it pushes away many weapon picks that have lower anti-armor damage. Judging by the nerfs to dual daggers, axes, and halberds to name a few, they want to reduce the prevalence of these picks. However, it doesn’t address the inherent problem in the game mechanics. Boosting the anti-armor damage of multiple weapons has helped address this issue, but I would like to suggest making use of the special action key that’s only utilized by the rapier and zoom settings on Waystalker and Huntsman (during ult). This can add an additional attack to a weapon’s repertoire. While this might make more weapons feel more generic as they might all be able to damage armor to greater or lesser extents, this would bring more picks into a status considered viable by the playerbase.
WHC’s new +5% crit bonus needs to be written down as a passive. It’s in the patch notes, but not in the game.
Game clarity is important. Implementing these hidden positive critical hit modifiers on specific weapon attacks might be clear to those that were reading patch notes at the time of the changes, but to those that don’t read the patch notes, are new to the game, or otherwise don’t read that exact change, they aren’t going to know. Add some form of tooltip or note that allows us to see these modifiers. Also, note somewhere that the base crit chance is 5%. This was only discovered through several players testing 100 times and counting crits towards an average.
For those of you who’ve read to the end of this post, thank you! I’d love to hear your feedback and discussion about this beta patch. I see some good ideas in this, and it’ll only get better with time and work.