Been having a surprising amount of fun with the beta, and noticing not very many people had unlocked Kelvin or at least had been bothering to use Kelvin, I gravitated towards him to try and see what he’s all about. Now there are several tank characters I haven’t unlocked or played much in comparison, but I figured I’d give some feedback on the character I’ve played the most in the beta!
Kelvin seems to suffer from some flaws in his basic design. As an Eldrid character, he has no natural shield and shields he gains from skills degenerate, but he has natural health regen that he can bolster with his helix upgrades, and a skill which can gain him permanent health. The latter is a fantastic gimmick and could have made him a terror to deal with during late game pushes (after getting a handle around how to spend the beginning of the game, I consistently end up with 4k HP if the match hits 30 minutes), except in actuality he is merely keeping pace with rising damage potential of the Attacker and Support characters, which leaves him consistently underperforming in his role as a wall and lane controller simply by virtue of not being able to survive. More than other Defenders, he has to be very aggressive simply to maintain his position because a lack of permanent shields makes staying at the front lines extremely difficult.
Permafrost is useful but pales in comparison to the shield generation abilities found in other characters. The shield degeneration simply happens far too quickly. Even with helix upgrades, Chomp for example leaves Kelvin unable to resume his primary attack before the shields granted by Permafrost disappear.
Chomp could use some sort of lunging movement added to it. This skill is crucial to Kelvin, it’s his opener for any 1v1 confrontation and it’s his finisher, but very often a foe can simply slip out of Chomp’s reach unless they are just as slow as Kelvin. Less of an issue once he has Ice Wall, but I think most people would agree any character who needs to rely on his Ultimate just to close a 1v1 has a problem.
Speaking of Ice Wall… it’s a bit underwhelming, especially for an Ultimate. I don’t want to disparage it too much because it is so great when you can catch an overeager opponent in a chokepoint and separate them from the rest of their team while yours is right on top of him, but it’s awfully small and it’d be nice if it had some DoT attached like every other area denial skill has.
Sublimate I actually have little to complain about, it sets him apart from many of the other Defenders by making him dangerously mobile while still controlling the enemy’s approach. Most of my complaints were more related to Permafrost and it’s relationship to Sublimate. But the hitbox on it does have some issues: it’s depressingly easy to get caught on a corner by some invisible bit of the hitbox (which in a fleeing for your life situation is the absolute worst), or to try and clear a raised area that he can’t actually jump over but by appearances should since the ice cloud is floating a good bit above where your perspective would have been in first person.
I still very much enjoy playing Kelvin, and smart Loadout planning can help Kelvin a good bit (I usually aim for health bonus and health regen so that I spend less time farming Minions with Chomp), but that is simply treating the symptoms - other characters who don’t have Kelvin’s problems have access to the exact same items, after all! It would be nice to see some of these issues addressed in the future.