Game design thoughts on Arms Race (Spoilers obviously)

I just watched the hour long gameplay of Arm’s Race, and I have some thoughts. I think Arm’s race has a huge amount of potential, and I really hope it can be the best game mode it can be. However, there are a few problems that I would like to point out, and hopefully offer solutions to. My goal is not to complain, but to instead point out things that I perceive will be an issue post launch.

  1. Respawning
    Currently, when a player dies, any alive player may run to a respawn station and spend a few seconds activating it, which will revive all dead players. However, there are two flaws with this system.

Players who are alive are not given any indication as to where the respawn station is or how it works. Yes, once you do figure out how it works, it’s incredibly simple. However, I think that new players in a random lobby may not understand it, and thus need directions.

Solution: Simply give an indicator on the players HUD that points to the revive station. It should alleviate large amounts of frustration.

Players who are alive are not given any incentive to revive downed players besides having more teammates. In a team of 4 working together, this works fine. Players want to revive their friends. However, I’m worried that in random lobbies, players will not even bother to revive newbie players who aren’t “holding their weight”

There isn’t a simple fix for this, but the fix can be accomplished in two ways: a reward or a punishment. You can either reward players who revive teammates, say with loot, or you can punish players who don’t revive their teammates, say by them taking constant damage. However, the first solution may lead to a strategy in which players commit suicide for loot, and the second will lead to toxic players getting mad at players who die. I’m not sure how to solve this one, but I do think it’s worth solving.

Edit: Someone suggested adding a 1-2 minute automatic respawn time when a player dies. I was going to mention such a system, but I was worried that players will never bother using the revive machine and instead just wait it out. However, on second thought, I think this is the best solution proposed as of yet.

  1. Anointments/skill trees

Every gun you find in Arms Race is anointed. However, the anointments don’t matter at all. Why? Because 90% of anointments only trigger on action skill start, end, or active. Consec hits is basically the only usable one. Additionally, players can’t use their action skills.

Solution: This one likely isn’t going to happen, and I’m frustrated that I don’t know why. Players should be given their dlc 4 action skills, but heavily nerfed until they’re balanced, likely with long cooldowns. Players are mad that they can’t use their action skills, and I can’t blame them. Presumably, the reason action skills aren’t usable is a problem of balance. If one skill is the best, then everyone would only use that one. Any player who doesn’t is playing at a disadvantage. However, if players are just given action skills that are useful, yet weak, it will add a whole extra level of strategy. If your action skill has a 1-2 minute cooldown, do you want to use it now to grant your weapon anointments, or save it until you really need it? I think this is a balanced compromise.

  1. Legendaries

This was something I wasn’t expecting. Arm’s race exclusive legendaries cannot be equipped. The reason for this, presumably, is that they are far too strong for the environment of Arm’s Race. And I actually don’t mind this one! However, the annoying part is that whenever someone saw a legendary drop and got excited, they often sounded very disappointment when they realized they couldn’t use it. Not fun.

Solution: Just make the Arms Race exclusive gear a different colored rarity.

  1. Tediore

Ok, stick with me here. Tediore weapons are, by far, the strongest weapon in Arm’s Race. Why? Because players start with the 1000+ ammo of a max level character. This means that an smg with 30 ammo can be thrown over 50 times! And because the tediore doesn’t just make smg’s, the player can easily finish the race without ever running out of ammo in all of their tediore weapons. The 4 people playing the mode literally all used tediore weapons, and one player complained that the first time they played, they didn’t use tediore weapons, and the game was so much harder that they couldn’t even play.

Solution: Cut players ammo in half. Now, I know this sounds like I’m bitching because I want the game to be harder, but I don’t. With the above action skill change, the game should be in a pretty balanced state. If Gearbox doesn’t wish to add action skills, they can cut ammo and nerf enemy health values.

To quote Joltzdude at the end of Arm’s Race:
“Just for a more excited boss fight I’ll put away the Tediore” - Joltzdude139

  1. Class mods

Seriously, just let players use class mods! They don’t even have to be able to use skills. Just the addition of class mods adds a whole new layer of depth and strategy. Get a class mod that boosts fire damage? Now you’ll be looking out for guns that use fire damage. Get a class mod that grants cooldown rate on headshot after you find the first class mod? Now you need to decide which class mod to keep and which one to toss. I understand that gearbox doesn’t want the game to be unbalanced, but I really think that granting players the ability to use a total 1, 2, or 3 skills would not damage the balance by a significant degree.

Despite all my complaining, I really love this game mode. All unfair strategies and cheese are dropped off the face of the earth, and players are left with purely their gun skill. However, the game has no strategy, and I believe that with strategy added, it will be significantly improved. Please tell me your thoughts, and I hope my thoughts are considered or even used!

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I like your post and I agree with most of it. The only thing got me frustrated, was the revive thing. You lose time by running to a revive station and by running back to the fight you actually left. I think the solution would be a timer for reviving. Let me say, a minute or two. Until that, the other players could continue the fight. Or get revived instantly to a random location. But this could cause some frustration too, because the map is huge. So I say, for me a timer would be more game friendly.

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I actually considered the same thing. The problem with that is that it might not be worth it to even look for a revive machine, given that players will come back automatically. But now that you mention it, I do think a 1-2 minute timer would be a decent solution. Thank you!

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I would like it if it had more choices to make. It’s styled after roguelikes and those are all about tradeoffs. You rarely get a bonus without having to give up another or take on a penalty, deal with increased risk/reward, or weight short term vs long term gains. Arms Race doesn’t nearly have enough of that.

I am Torgue stickie with you on Tediores. Tediores are busted, and so are probably Torgue Stickies.

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What if you earned “tokens” in arms race to self rez? Like it is an item you pick up and then if you press your action skill key (since those are not in use), you rez? (Or if it even just rezzes you after you die at one of those rez facilities).

That would give some parity between solo and multi players. It would also remove some of the pain of playing with “selfish” (whether reasonably or unreasonably so) players.

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Here’s another small thing: you can’t put markers on the map for others to see. I had to laugh when one of the streamers thought up where to go, but had to resort to pinging in the vague direction of his personal marker.

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the flaws are there
i havent rly watched it but what i read is kinda ,… well
why dont they limit the annoint pool for arms race? it could be a good source for specific annoints, and make it an excellent choice to farm for that annoint

I mean, do any of these things even matter with the fact that the multiplayer doesn’t work?

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The way you’ve described how respawning works, I can only agree that it should be close to their top priority to fix.

Better map indicators and putting players on a respawn timer seems the most straightforward way. While leaving the option for a Teammate to force a team respawn at the stations.

I probably wouldn’t go longer then 45-60 seconds on the respawn timer. Maybe if this were 2004 all over again…Back then we could wait 15 minutes for a Shuttle to Coronet. Or the next Griffon.

But anything longer then 60 seconds and today’s player just quits and finds a new lobby instantly…leaving his teammates in the lurch. It needs to be set up so that sticking with a match, once started, is preferable then starting from scratch. Maybe it’s already the case…

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I mean, it’s possible that there is a 120 second cooldown or something, but we’re not sure. It did seem to be at least a minute before one player revived everyone though.

I mean that’s kind of the norm for any online game, I only play bl2 online and I’ve still lost count of the amount of times I’ve had to kick people off game.

well you wouldn’t even have to be a “toxic” player to get mad at them for that, if someone dying meant everyone else would take constant damage until they revived the person, who could then continue to die repeatedly. Literally dragging the team down to their level.

honestly these aren’t really big issues imo, anything requiring team effort works better when people have a mic, if they have a mic they can tell them to head to respawn.

anything more than that just cuts far too deeply into player agency.

yeah I thought that was a feature we had back in BL2, until someone told me they couldn’t see my marker.