Melee in PvE: Why Do the Devs Hate Us?

I’ve played a lot of PvE across a number of different characters. I’ve mastered ranged characters (Alani, Mellka, Miko, Thorn, Caldarius) and melee characters (Galilea, Boldur, Kelvin, Ambra, Attikus, Deande) and, in mastering all of those characters, I have come to one startling conclusion.

Either by accident or intent, the PvE designers do not want people playing melee characters.

Almost everything in PvE seems to be focused on making life harder for melee characters. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fight that’s harder for a ranged character than it is for a melee.

Enemies that fly will often bounce out of range the second you close so that you’ll get, at most, 1-2 attacks in before they back away while you stare at the sky, shooting you all the while. Melee enemies hit way harder and you’re forced to get near them, not to mention that ranged enemies get more accurate the closer you are to them so you’re taking more damage as well. The shields that Brutes and Beastmasters have also cover pretty much everything that you can attack while in melee with them and soak up an unbelievable amount of damage before breaking, and they also use that thing to shield bash you, as a knockback that does a pretty impressive amount of damage.

And then we get to the bosses.

Everyone knows about ISIC, which is a fight that’s pretty much designed to be a giant middle finger to anyone playing melee: you have to be right under the stompy foot to attack the batteries, which are high so you have to get really close and then look up to even get them, his ground wave (which can be dodged) prevents you from doing anything for about 5+ seconds while you flail around in mid-air, and it’s basically impossible to contribute anything without a ranged attack on the final part because ISIC flies around way up high, using ranged attacks, and using a vertical pushback on whoever he might be staring at. You’ll be lucky to get a handful of hits against ISIC’s head while ranged characters are able to attack with impunity.

Then there’s the Conservators, both of which are so tall that it’s literally impossible for melee characters to score crit shots on them (Musklati at least bends down for 5 second intervals a couple times to let you punch his face… if you’re near him when he bends down). They’re also floating but have large enough collision detection that you’re liable to miss attacks against them even though you’re right up against them because the part of them that can actually be attacked is outside of melee range. The same can happen with the golem bosses: the one area on them that you can actually damage is higher than melee range.

And then we get to the almost omnipresent knockback and pushback. Ranged characters honestly couldn’t care less, even if the knockbacks and pushbacks could actually reach them (which they tend not to do since those effects are almost always PbAoEs); melee characters end up not being able to do thing for the entire time. Rendain is probably the worst intended perpetrator of this because of his damned swirly blades of juggling (that I’ve seen juggle a character for 15 seconds straight) and how he always drops them at his feet; to make matters worse, they’re basically permanent (he just throws out new ones when the old ones expire) and he spends pretty much the entire fight inside of them. It’s almost as bad as fighting ISIC.

And that’s just the actual intended knockback and pushback. Large models like Enforcers, Bonecrushers, Warlord Nix, Foreman Grall, and Jailer Hylis will pretty much constantly push away anyone who happens to be near them thanks to collision detection (Hylis and Enforcers are the worst of these because their gun does the pushback so, if they’re facing you as melee, you’ll get pushed back pretty much as soon as they turn to face you, which they will when you’re in melee with them). A bunch of other enemies do similar things (like Geoff and Antem slinking back to do their charge attacks and, somehow, being present enough to keep you from advancing while far enough back to prevent you from hitting them).

It’s incredibly aggravating and it’s even like melee characters are given any real advantages to compensate. Melee characters don’t hit appreciably harder, even though it’s harder to hit and they can’t crit nearly as often (or even able to crit in certain conditions), and, while they’re marginally more durable, that gets more than overcome by the fact that melee characters can’t dodge anything.

It would be nice if something was done or at least the devs admitted that they’re aware that there are a load of mechanics and design choices that make melee characters significantly less fun than they have any reason to be in PvE. Having enemies be out of range or constantly pushing you out of range even though you are, quite literally, incapable of getting any closer is absurd. The sheer amount of crowd control that affects melee while having an absolutely minuscule effect upon ranged characters.

It’s incredibly frustrating, especially when you consider how well balanced melee and ranged are in most other circumstances.

7 Likes

I find that it depends on the mission. The Experiment, Archive, Saboteur, Voids edge, and Renegade are decently fair with melees. The sentinel, heliophage, and algorithim need to be readjusted though.

It’s not so much the missions as a whole. It’s more certain elements of the missions make melee significantly worse than ranged without melee getting any advantages to make up for it (or having there be occasions where ranged gets screwed instead of melee).

In Experiment, Antem is way worse to melee than he is to ranged (and is one of the perpetrators of the “lean back and prevent melee from attacking me even though they’re as close as possible” tactic), as are most of the bots (striker bots and deadeyes, which you would assume should be “weak” to melee because they’re ranged specialists, can just constantly spam their kick to keep you away; mx-elite bots will instantly kill you if they use their grenades while in melee because all of them will hit you; rocketeer bots, drones, and the like are way worse on melee than ranged because they jump back as you approach while also being in mid-air, which forces you to be right next to them to even reach them).

In Archive, Bulwark uses his knockback regularly, punting melee high and away on a regular basis (his swat also does knockback) and has a very wide stance with the only really substantial part of his model being the upper section, which means that you can sometimes miss him even though you’re fight next to him because he’s slightly contorted and doing something akin to the “invuln-slouch”.

Saboteur, the Maligner will do his knockback in melee and push characters off of the lanes, into the goop, forcing them to run back up and around, which is way more likely to happen and way more punitive to melee characters than ranged ones. Foreman Grall also has his whole “when my shield breaks, I explode without telegraphing and deal a metric shitton of damage to anyone even remotely near me whenever enough of the adds I spawn right next to me die, even though you can’t really know with a great degree of accuracy how many you have to kill or how long it will be before I explode”.

Void’s Edge, Conservator and Warlord Nix do the same exact stuff to melees that I described: you can’t crit Conservator as melee (unless he’s bending down for a few seconds a couple of times each fight) and, if he floats up high, he can be out of range for some of you attacks even though you’re right on him; Warlord Nix has the big gun that does pushback to anyone near it and has his gun slam that does straight up knockback.

Renegade just has Jailer Hylis doing the collision pushback (which is, by far, the most annoying thing) and gun slam. Just by turning to face you, he can push you out of range to hit him thanks to the collision detection of his gun.

Every mission has some element that screws over melee more than ranged, and I can’t really think of any situation that penalizes ranged more than melee.

3 Likes

If they made melee characters stronger then it would break pvp. Solution: remove pvp. Simple.

2 Likes

Lol, not sure that’s viable.

My issue isn’t that melee characters should be stronger. My issue is that the fights and mechanics shouldn’t be designed to screw over melee characters as much as they do. Give a boss a turret on its head like the Incursion sentries that targets characters that are far away instead of close. Make it so that the adds spawn near ranged characters instead of the boss so that the ranged characters have to deal with adds more often.

Most importantly, get rid of or do something about the stupid collision detection that prevents melee characters from hitting a melee target that it is as close as possible to just because it decided to float up a bit or slouch down.

It’s not that melee and ranged characters are imbalanced; far from it, in fact. It’s that the game penalizes melee characters simply for being melee while doing nothing similar to ranged characters.

4 Likes

Something that may even the playing field in PvE is making enemies more likely to attack ranged characters. Melee will be hampered by knock back but won’t be focused on as much, and ranged characters will be able to crit enemies but will be focused on more.

@Kitru
I was joking about making them stronger, but in all seriousness I do agree with you 100%. Not sure how they missed this. Pve really needs some major improvements, first and foremost making melee and more viable option on advanced. There’s much less of a difference between melee and ranged on normal but definitely a significant difference on advanced.

Realistically I’m sure they’ve got a huge list of things of things they want to fix in the future. I’m sure this is something they already have their sights on too. The question is where this falls on the priority list and how long it will take to get everything they want sorted out. I don’t doubt that they are working as hard as they can. I empathize with them, but time is money and if they have a long term plan for this game, they best get crackin’.

I’m leveling Atticus right now, enjoying it for the most part but this is a problem with him.
Advanced PvE, oh man I could list the imbalances I’ve been seeing.

On The Archive there are very tricky Verelsi of every flavor who back away while damaging you.
You can’t catch them, Atti has a great lunge skill but you might not make the next cooldown.

The solution? Shane! Deande! Both of them have very good ranged abilities.
Those boomerangs are very good on Sabo and on The Renegade those Fans of war, oh man.

So, give each melee character rocks they can throw at enemies who back-peddle. :dancer:

1 Like

@Kitru, well said. Melee heroes also can’t see sh!t in a heat of a battle.

But I disagree with what you suggest on the topic, that’ll just make ranged heroes life harder and more annoying. Melee players will then think “I’m not the only one who suffers” - is it good? I’m sure it’s not. Better make everyone’s life to be equally comfortable and pleasant rather than equally annoying.

…Yeah the title shouldn’t be hate.
Heat of the battle with Atticus is my least fav melee character, he can’t see the sneaky Scaven unless watching the mini map.

Atticus vs ISIC on The Algorithm just now.

No lives lost until this happened, no way to do damage to ISIC while floating around:

Then soon as I respawned another tragic life lost to ISIC as he knocked me outside the map instantly:

It is definitely much rougher. The two melee characters I’ve found to have no PVE difficulties are Shayne and Aurox (who tend to be underutilized in PVE, but are actually extremely well suited to it) and Galilea (especially with healer support - Gali solo still has ISIC issues.)

Other melee can absolutely melt waves (Phoebe) or sustain themselves well (Rath). Most have some ranged capacity (Deande, Boldur), and of course Pendles is a special case. Shayne’s kit covers it all: she’s self sufficient (huge shield/health pool, endless overshields and shield recharge initiations), is capable of decent AE (piercing Fetch mutation, ult, Stealth Strike, and regular melee), has a simple and effective escape, is brutally damaging on single targets, and is very effective at range (Boomerangs are actually really, really good.)

That said, in most maps outside Algorithm and parts of the Sentinel, melee is extremely fun. I’d much rather play Phoebe PVE than Mellka, for example, and I consider Mellka my best character.

Special mention to Ambra for being melee-range until L7, yet also being absolutely incapable of dying. It’s like she was designed to make hardcore advanced PVE simple!

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I know you mentioned the bomb drop from the MX Elite bots, but when they drop down in that defensive stance, attacking them as a melee character always runs the risk of getting hit with a ridiculously long stun, which they usually follow ip with the insta-gank bombs.

Well it DOES warn you if your picking a character NOT suited for the mission. Play in a team or on a different level and just pick someone else…

Except that every mission has some segment that makes the life of a melee more annoying than it has to be. And there shouldn’t be any missions where every melee character is “not suited”. Melee characters make up 11 of the 25, 4 of which have no ranged capability at all and the remainder of which have either helix specific, skill dependent, or conditional ranged capabilities.

“Just don’t play the character” shouldn’t be a legitimate argument. “Have your team carry you” shouldn’t be a legitimate argument either. Not being able to contribute because you’re playing a melee character is bad design.

7 Likes

…Agree

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Something that hasn’t really been mentioned is that playing on a team isn’t really a solution, in fact in many missions a melee can cause problems for the team as a whole, especially with the larger melee such as Attikus, El Dragon, S&A they can be standing in front of a crit spot trying to damage an enemy and will block anyone else’s attacks from hitting it, this is especially noticeable against the sentries. Not only that but multiple people playing melee can very easily cause crowding around a enemy making it frustrating to hit them, even with the smaller one’s such as Rath and Phoebe, in fact trying to do a mission as S&A when someone else picked Attikus caused me to start focusing my S&A build around the boomerang.

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…Truth! Not to pick on the Dragon players but on Sabo they get them team in trouble a lot. :smile:

These heroes are marked as hard to beat the Algorithm: Attikus, Ghalt, Deande, Kelvin, Kleese, Miko, Reyna, all others aren’t. And this is a full list of those who are presumably hard at Void’s Edge: Attikus, Kelvin, Kleese, Miko, Rath, Reyna, Toby.

Does it make sense to you? To me - not much.

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I think a simple solution would be to add diminishing effects to the knockback of PvE enemies. Some kind of invisible buff that is applied once every time the character is knocked back. Each application stacks with the previous and makes each subsequent attack knock the player away less and less until it’s completely nulified.
That way, knockback spam won’t be a problem anymore except for the first parts of the fight. Though you could argue that, during boss fights, melees would eventually stop caring about knockback completely. That can be fixed by making SOME of their knockbacks ignore the invisible buff. Or make it so the invisible buff expires on its own after it reaches the max stack number.

1 Like