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Great post from Reddit regarding the balance issues in GW2

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#1 Ritter


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Posted 06 July 2013 - 03:35 AM

Credited to wayoverpaid:

Right now, if you looked at CoF1, you would conclude that GW2 was horribly imbalanced. Warriors everywhere, Rangers don't get invited to dungeons, and no one runs a healer build. And you'd be right, to an extent. GW2 PvE is imbalanced because of the kinds of monsters we fight.
I mostly play sPvP now, with some WvW on the side, and in sPvP, pretty much every class is viable. Some are a little more "required" than others, but you would never send 5 of one class in and expect to dominate. This is because the trinity in sPvP is extremely well implemented.
GW2 has a Trinity, just like they said. Except instead of DPS, it's Damage (with a subset of DPS, Burst, Condi, and AoE), Control (With a subset of CC and debuffs), and Support (with subsets of healing, damage boosting, condition removal.)
These sets are finely balanced against one another. Guardians, to use one example, form a triangle of burst, bunker, and pressure/DPS in a kind of rock/paper/scissors about who will beat whom. There's no one true build, as it should be!
I run a low DPS guardian, and I can still contribute massively to fights because my CC knocks people off the all-important control points. CC matters. Knockback matters. Lockdown matters. No one on my team wants me to switch to DPS because CC is great.
The kinds of things we face in PvE though completely change the way we play. Human players, at least the good ones, are canny and adaptable, they run away at low health if they can. They swarm with greater numbers. Sometimes they have to hold a chokepoint to let allies capture a point.
Monsters... aren't.
Let's look how the trinity fares when applied to the kinds of things you face in a typical dungeon run. The dungeons I am MOST familiar with is CoF P1 and all the paths of CM. Most of those are dominated by either big brutish bosses, or "silvers". Also, I'll talk a bit about world bosses.
Now let's talk damage. DPS matters, obviously. Let's set that as a baseline. AoE sometimes matters, but not against big bosses. Ok, that's reasonable. Burst damage ends up being completely useless against monsters where the HP pool is large. Burst damage is amazing against monsters who can heal. Take the Blue/Red Lord in the Foefire sPvP map. He has a self-heal that, if you hit with enough burst damage, he cannot use. But silvers and higher have so much HP that burst damage is pointless -- might as well have brought DPS.
As far as condition damage goes, that's kinda useful in a dungeon. On a world boss, you can forget it.
So we've already got two or three playstyles severely limited. On big bosses, AoE is useless without adds. Burst damage, the cause of so much kittening in WvW, does nothing in a dungeon. Condi damage is questionable at best.
DPS rules the day.
But there are still two other lets of the trinity. What about support?
Support (at least offensive support) isn't totally unused. Those zerker warriors aren't just hitting, they're also buffing one another for fury. This is not bad. Defensive support, like a water staff elementalist, doesn't see much use though. Why? Probably because in an attempt to ensure you never need a healer, the game more or less ensures you never need defensive support.
Almost all attacks can be dodged. Healing? Well it's useful, but everyone brings enough self-healing that a water-staff ele (my one true love) might as well not even show up. Condition removal? Bosses don't apply enough conditions to matter. Better to bring more damage, probably DPS.
And then we get to control. The way defiant works sucks. I understand why 80% of CC is intended to not land: because one boss versus five players means CC is five times as effective as a fair 5v5. However what really happens is that players don't even bother. Most big bosses can't be knocked back. Most small monsters aren't worth CCing because there's nothing to CC them into. CC tends to be a delaying tactic, which is fundamentally less effective than smacking a monster until he's dead.
Better to bring more damage, probably DPS. See the pattern here?
Thing is, I'm fairly sure all of this could be fixed. It would be fixed by making bosses bring a lot more bullshit, and I suspect it might make players unhappy, but here's the thought.
First of all, bosses need adds. Adds make burst damage more useful. Adds make AoE way more useful. And second, give monsters a self-heal that actives (once) at the last sliver of health. That would mean access to burst damage to prevent the self-heal ends the fight a little faster, with players hanging onto their best attacks until the very last moment. Suddenly the thief tactic of HEARTSEEKER, HEARTSEEKER, HEARTSEEKER has some use inside the dungeon too. Not for the whole fight, just when you see the self-heal about to proc.
This is stuff that will make the zerker warrios go "that's bullshit!" but I'm ok with that.
Bosses need to apply the occasional bits of damage or conditions which can't be stopped in a narrow radius around them. Nothing which causes automatic death, mind you, just enough that your melee DPS needs to decide between standing next to the boss and taking the pain, OR withdrawing for a few seconds. In this way, a healer increases effective DPS, but isn't strictly necessary. Do you want 3 warriors wailing on the boss 70% of the time, or 2 warriors wailing on him 100% of the time?
Even better, applications of weakness in an unblockable field would make a condition removal class supremely useful. Weakness reduces DPS but it doesn't kill. Now a water ele can make his zerker warrior buddy more effective by canceling extra weakness pulses.
Then we get to CC.
As much as players hate the "guard this NPC while he tries to do something" missions, at least they make CC builds worth something from the knockback. What would be even more fun would be "own this circle" type of jobs. The kind of thing where killing the monsters is ONE way to do it, but pushing them out via CC is faster. Now you have a tradeoff. Do you want the CC build for that part? Is it worth the DPS loss for later?
Finally, defiant needs an overhaul. It should not require players to communicate via mic to plan 1-2-3-4 weak attacks, and now here's the one which matters. Imagine if CC was turned into its own highly effective mini game. For example, bosses might have stability most of the time, but every now and then they fire off a highly powerful, difficult to dodge attack on the whole party. A second before they do it, they're in a "windup" phase where CC -- blindness, knockback, etc, totally wiffs the attack. Now you have a hammer guardian sitting there on his 4 skill just waiting for that move to show up, so he can save the party instead of making them all withdrawn.
What if bosses dodged every now and then, instead of having a giant HP pool. Suddenly immobilize becomes super useful. Most importantly, you don't need multiple CC people to do this, just the one. CC doesn't stack in effectiveness.
I'm not saying we need and end to all DPS, but it would be nice if the party had a reason to bring burst damage, a reason to bring AoE, a reason to bring CC and support healing. Ideally, five zerkers should be able to finish the dungeon. Support should not be mandatory. CC should not be mandatory. But a good control build should make DPS players go "oh sweet, you can hit him before he does his telegraphed dodge, that means more damage for us!"
Again, notice that all of these changes I'm proposing are changes on the boss end of things. None of it involves changing the way players work, because the way players work is great in sPvP.
TL;DR we have an abundance of one kind of enemy: a big dumb non-dodging non-healing single-target bag of hitpoints that ignores most CC and doesn't reliably apply conditions that players can't dodge. If ANet would change the kinds of monsters that we face, and the kinds of player builds required will change with it.
Edit: Everyone telling me that AR is an example of a dungeon which gets this more correct than before. I'll give it a try with my sPvP team and see how that works out. Thanks for the heads up!

Edited by Ritter, 06 July 2013 - 03:37 AM.

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#2 The Shadow

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 04:32 AM

This wasn't posted in the PvE section, so I hope you don't mind if I ramble a bit about balance in TPvP. While I agree entirely with his post on the PvE side I don't really agree with his comments on PvP, while there is a semblance of balance i.e. Every class can be useful in some way, I'd argue that some classes aren't really worth taking over the others. Most notably the Warrior, Ranger and Thief. Yes some teams use them to great effect but you'll also notice that most teams have been dropping those classes in favor of the current flavor of the month; Necro, which right now can only be killed (1v1 - which sometimes matters) reliably by very good Warriors and very bad condi-phantasm Mesmers (which isn't viable in tournaments).

In my premade I was asked to swap from Thief to Engie while our Engie swapped to Necro. This change makes sense as the Necro completely dominates an HGH Engie in terms of condi DPS on mid point. DPS Ele is really powerful right now and has far more mobility/ support/ utility than a Thief and Warrior in team fights especially since Necro can apply the weakness that the Thief used to apply. Ele becomes the most attractive, self-sustainable, DPS roamer class. So taking on the old role of far-point-contestion bunker-ele you take a bomb/ flamethrower Engie who can neutralize a point against any class and win most 1v1s and sometimes be able to escape from 2v1s. Yesterday I was fighting a BM Ranger for 5 minutes, epicly amazing battle.

Now this all makes sense, but the problem is inherent in the fact that because an Ele does what a Thief/ War can do but better and an Engie can do what an Ele used to do but better (in some ways) and a Mesmer has always done better what a Ranger can do (keeping an eye on close-point and supporting mid with portal/ illusion of life versus spirit rez) there is never really any reason to bring those classes.

You could argue that Zerker War is a hard-counter to Necro. But Necro's DPS is wasted if he's not in mid-fight. A Warrior really struggles to stay alive in a mid-fight so bringing him along doesn't make sense. A BM Ranger is probably the best 1v1 class in the game but if you have someone sitting on close point the entire battle you're gimping your team into a 5v4 (this is why TP switched Ranger to Necro). The problem with Thief is inherent in the fact like the Warrior, they have very little presence on a point or in a team-fight, they don't have the best mobility and they certainly don't have the best DPS, they can however shut-down (providing not seen) most caster/ medium classes but are then put on a 45 second cool-down where they are forced into Shortbow and not of much use. Shadow Refuge is an un-reliable team/ self-rez and with all the Engie's and stability user's going round, is simply not very useful.

IDK what the fix to these issues are. I think the 3 classes can fit a certain niche but would argue that it's rarely ever worth it. I think Rangers need to be brought into the mix not as a 1v1 class but in a support/ team fight role, potentially with traps. I think Warrior needs to be able to survive better on a point (they always get focused down first and terribly quickly) and as for Thief I'm not sure what the solution is, there's a very fine line between OP and UP. Pre-patch S/D was OP. Right now however, I feel as though they are severely UP despite the very interesting 30 trick D/P build.

Just my thoughts. I think the other classes are all fairly balanced, with the exception of Engineer not having a single viable stun-breaker which just isn't fair.
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#3 Conkers


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Posted 06 July 2013 - 02:32 PM

This wasn't posted in the PvE section...

...snipped to avoid megaquote

I don't think any class is in the position that warriors have been in tPvP, i.e - minimal viability for most of the games life. The nearest class is necro, in that it needs a babysitter, even now all they've down is overbuff the necros damage which has created other problems, but when they reduce that damage next patch (i am assuming they will) necros will still have the same issues - can be tossed around like a rag dog with CC, no invurnability, no blocks & no mobility, and they will need babysitting.

As for comparing theives to warriors, please, thief has been a fixture on many, many teams since release, only Guardian & Mesmer have been more permanant choices on teams. You may be being asked to play engie, but there are still plenty of thieves on teams (the necro FOTM is effecting many classes), and ironically enough Koroshi was talking on his stream the other day about how his team want him to play thief instead of engie.

But I do agree thieves are difficult to balance, but then that should not be a surprise, every MMO (with the exception of EVE) that I've ever played has trouble balancing classes based on stealth + big burst, it is simply a cheap mechanic that puts the skill emphaiss on the other player and with that mechanic the damage will always be too great or too small, that they've added very good mobility to that and the most ridiculous stealth system in MMO history just further adds that it will never be balanced.

As for being "niche" most classes are "niche" with the exception of Elementalist and maybe engie, pretty much every other class is stuck in one or at best one and a half roles.

Unfortunately this game (tPvP) is simply never going to be balanced without fundamental changes to some classes and combat mechanics, they also need to look at things like the amount of clutter on screen (illusions, pets, minions, spirits, the damn effects that often make it impossible to see what is going on, etc).

Edited by Conkers, 06 July 2013 - 02:32 PM.

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#4 The Shadow

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 04:32 PM


Most top tier teams have changed their composition however. TCG/ TP for example (both with no Thieves). There are teams that haven't i.e. MiM (though Helseth criticized them for not adapting to the meta) that are obviously still successful. But when you get to that level of play (as a team) you could argue that class composition doesn't actually matter that much. Essentially it comes down to how well you play as a team so long as you play to your strengths and not your weaknesses. TP ran a Ranger on close despite it not being the best option for a hell of a long time, all while being, arguably, the best team EU. The reason for that is purely because they are a good team regardless of what classes they play and perhaps more importantly, have been playing competitively as a team since closed beta and even won the beta tournament.

I've spoken to Koroshi about that actually; his team want him to play Thief but he believes (correctly) that Engineer simply brings more to the table.

Thief gameplay in TPvP is so hit-and-miss. Even if you look at Suldaris from MiM (one of the best Thieves EU) he dies a lot more in team-fights than anyone else and is subsequently putting very little into the composition. Thieves have moments of greatness but the rest of the game are useless, sorry, but it's true, I hate that, but it's true, why? Because they are so easy to counter when you're aware of their presence. And that's where team comp effects team play style and subsequently composition; whether or not you have a focus on team fights or a focus on splits. TP split for the longest time because they sucked at team-fights because they were constantly putting themselves into a 4v5. They have adapted now by swapping Ranger to Necro because, imo, that's what the meta has evolved into. Team-fights. That's where the focus needs to be because you can't play a game based on side-points, you gimp yourself into a position worse than you do in a 4v5.

I suppose what I'm saying is: communication > composition < play style. There are comps that are better than others but some teams can make sub-optimal comps work. Some teams prefer to adapt to how the meta changes in terms of comp as well as strategy.

All I know is; Ele/ Guard/ Mes/ Engie are in just about every single team. Haven't seen many teams that don't have that comp. I suppose the 5th slot is down to the meta more than anything else.
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#5 Coren


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Posted 07 July 2013 - 10:51 AM

There's plenty of topics like this one but doesn't address the key problem in my view: ANet has no idea what they want the classes to do. They have a rough idea but their implementation is limited by the mechanics they put in place. As the redditsays, mobs are stupid and the only effective setup is damage because the rest sucks.

I keep feeling like ANet is trying to fix a broken machine that has severe design issues. When my boss asks me to come up with a new concept for our machines, I don't make one draft then stick to it until it fits, I make multiple drafts until one holds water.

Bottom line, trying to empty water from a boat is pointless until you plug the leak.
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#6 Conkers


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Posted 01 August 2013 - 06:08 PM

Most top tier teams have changed their composition however. TCG/ TP for example (both with no Thieves)....

Most top teams play with a thief (usually an s/d thief), including TP.

I've spoken to Koroshi about that actually; his team want him to play Thief but he believes (correctly) that Engineer simply brings more to the table....

Last time Koroshi streamed some tPvP (and indeed when they lpayed in mistleague), he was indeed on his engy, however one of his other team mates had switched to thief.

I suppose what I'm saying is: communication > composition < play style. There are comps that are better than others but some teams can make sub-optimal comps work. Some teams prefer to adapt to how the meta changes in terms of comp as well as strategy.

Not really, the balance is so bad in this game, that you had two players switch from classes they had played from beta to classes they had barely played and were clearly not as competent with, yet they felt they had to because even playing classes they were not as good on produced better results (Xeph mes -> s.d thief, Phanta ele -> necro).

All I know is; Ele/ Guard/ Mes/ Engie are in just about every single team. Haven't seen many teams that don't have that comp. I suppose the 5th slot is down to the meta more than anything else.

The reality does not match that, the top teams (e.g such as those that played Pax qualifiers) seem to have largley dropped mesmer and most run with a thief (TP, Bloody, CC, Accidentally Famous, PISH, NN, etc).

Thief has been a staple in team comps since day 1, it has never been UP or seen as a poor choice in the way classes like warrior, necro, engy, etc have at various times, the only thing that has changed has been the build, so comparing it to the state warriors have been in most of the time is ridiculous. Really the only classes that have been consistantly more "in demand" over the last 11 months have been guardians & mesmers (and now mesmers are bottom of the pile).

Thief in GW2 is simply a terrible, unbalancable design, the latest example of which is the faceroll known as s/d, probably the second most complained about build in the game after terror necros. (see what Teldo, Helseth,etc say about s/d). Granted thief is not alone among bad design decisions, quite how they ever thought they would go e-sport with so much AI (spirits, pets, illusions, minions, spirit weapons, etc) and such a shitfest of particle effects that at times renders things unviewable is a mystery.

Edited by Conkers, 01 August 2013 - 08:48 PM.

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