Being someone who loves philosophy, I like to get to the fundamental level, the core, the very essence of problems and questions. That being said, the controversy which sparked as a result of Mellka’s poison nerf doesn’t seem to stem from the nerf itself though it was the triggering event. While I could be wrong of course, it mainly seems to me at least to be a split between three main groups within the community (oversimplified) with regards to balance changes; casuals, veterans and developers.
Developers, I take it, have their own vision of how they want characters to be played and will thus balance accordingly.
- Mellka reached too far - increased the spread on her gun.
- Caldarius’ melee is under-utilised - gave him a wound on it.
Because of this, balance changes will be made which may make no sense to casuals nor veterans from a utility point of view. But it may make perfect sense from a conceptual point of view.
Veterans tend to dedicate a lot of their time to the game overall and delve in and do DPS and varying stat tests. In the same sense, they may dedicate themselves to a character or a select few characters which they know inside out. Strengths and weaknesses alike. At some point, they might know what that individual character might need to make the character more balanced and may know more about it than the developers themselves. And not too seldom veterans comment on what needs/should be addressed.
Casuals are simply those who pick up and play Battleborn, be that regularly or every once in a while. Doesn’t really dedicate too much time nor effort thinking about balance changes and just plays the game. No more, no less.
What not too seldom seems to be the issue when balance changes are released is when there’s a clash of interest between the Developers and the Veterans. Developers want, to my understanding, most characters with supports being exceptions, to be around a 1.0 K/D. They collect the data from the game and see that a character is performing above/below the desired, approximate level and gives buffs/nerfs accordingly. Because of the data they pull, the data arguably contains large deviations since it’s data which has been pulled from veterans and casuals alike. Veterans can play the character(s) he/she prefers exceptionally well, whereas casuals tend to do worse. Especially when they’re often facing veterans which will drop the positive stats for a character, pushing him/her into a buff.
I take it that this is what happened to Benedict. I used to use him a lot and got really surprised when they decided to buff his health by 15% respectively. I never thought he needed it, but assumed that a lot of people had been doing bad with him which resulted in his data being bad.
And now the nerf happened to Mellka. And I will say, she must be one of the hardest nuts to crack in some sense. She may actually be one of the weakest characters in the game in some sense (pre-poison nerf), but purely based on personal experience I’d say that Mellka was close to always doing very well, if not being the best. If I would’ve made a decision to buff/nerf her purely based upon personal experience of her stats in games (kills and deaths for instance, not damage values), I’d nerf her. But purely looking at her kit, damage output etcetera I’d say she needed a buff. And while it may not may perfect sense to us who can’t see the data, it may make perfect sense to the developers who can see them.
Another change a lot of veterans have seemed to be surprised about is that Orendi’s “Let’s Bounce” is being removed because it was chosen too few times in proportion to its competing helixes. Here, once again, there seems to be a division between the veterans and the casuals. Instant shield recharge might seem like the superior option to casuals to a higher degree, but veterans tend to see the viability of “Let’s Bounce” and its applicability.
A character I think might see a few unconventional changes is ISIC. Not because he’s overpowered. Not because he’s underwhelming. But because he’s way off conceptually at the moment. He’s classified as a tank, yet he’s best played behind the team for sustained damage. His health primarily makes up for his big size if anything else. So while he may be balanced, he may still receive changes simply because of how he is being played.
So how does one solve this? I don’t know. A few suggestions could be
- Developers could continue a more open dialog with veterans. Just even a nudge when they use information/tips/guides provided by veterans to let them know that their work is being built upon.
- Developers could possibly release mundane stats such as numbers of how often helix choices are chosen proportionally speaking for various characters, giving veterans a more insightful and educated analysis which will benefit the first suggestion as they can make better recommendations as to what is needed for the specific characters.
- Veterans could try to recognise more balance changes as “conceptual changes”, i.e changes that are made to alter the character’s playstyle rather than outright buffing/nerfing the character.
But at the end of the day. I simply don’t know.
Thank you for reading this far. I apologise if it became too long, oversimplified (which I’m aware I did at least at certain points) or just plainly wrong or otherwise. I just wanted to take a step back, look at the situation and try to bring attention to what, at least to me seems to be the root of the problem. Another part of me probably also wanted to escape the negativity. Anyway, I’m happily waiting for feedback. Both with regards to whether I pinpointed the problem or whether I was completely off as well as my analysis of the character balancing.