Thoughts on the Winter Update from a returning Player

First up, Gearbox, thank you for all your hard work. This game is substantially better than it was a couple months ago. The effort is noticeable and appreciated.

I spent hundreds of hours in the game, and ultimately walked away for several months. I wanted to give feedback on those areas upon return. The hope being to start a discussion and provide some insight from one of the players that Gearbox is targeting (new and returning players respectively)

Character Balance- This was one of the major reasons why I quit the game for a prolonged period of time. I continue to believe that Gearbox struggles with this aspect of the game. Jythri and the others may talk about how balance is never finished and it’s ongoing, but the players have to live in that world, and when a character is so strong or so weak that they impact the game it means that balance isn’t achieved and it means balance isn’t close. It pulls people out of the game and makes it difficult.

Balance has gotten better. There are still a handful of characters that are too strong, or too weak, but the addition of draft mode really helps this as with a group you’re able to put a little balance in play for your teams. Thank you for draft mode.

Recommendation: Please make it a permanent fixture outside of private if possible.

Matchmaking- This could be because of the influx of new players because of the patch, but matchmaking has been better. I still see the same players, play them repeatedly, which is good and bad. The games have been better, but still far from perfect. We’re still not at critical mass of players to get quick fast games.

Mode STILL is a problem. There are other topics on this, but players unable to play the modes they like (oh how I wish I could play capture), or being unable to play them in the new draft mode, hurts. A lot. On Ps4 all three queues have incursion. That is brutal. This may change in the next week or so with the mix of queue changing, but please with whatever form you implement in the future keep in mind that there are players that ONLY want to play this game if it is NOT incursion-born.

Recommendation- Keep Draft mode around as long as the player base can sustain it. Find a way to protect and keep the non incursion modes around in their own separate queues.

OPS Missions and Training Dojo These are wonderful. As others have discussed the variety within the OPS missions and the replayability and speed of the OPS missions has bred new life into the game. These are fun to play and absolutely what I’m looking for.

Recommendation- Keep up the good work!

Transparency- This goes hand and hand with the balance paragraph above. It may very well be in your best interest Gearbox to be more transparent about character changes, data, and your visions for each of the characters. You’ve started down that route with the latest balance notes, detailing what you think the characters role is. That’s a good start, but it’s honestly not enough. You’ve spoken about the massive data sets, and individuals testing changes over months, which are exposed in a handful of hours once they go live. May I suggest that if you published some or all of that data you would have an additional set of eyes on it? Have you thought about additionally building some form of a PTR server so the PC players could ‘test’ the changes before they go live? I’m sure many of them would jump at the chance.

Disclaimers should be used, and most of your community is rational. They would understand that this is a test, but not finalized. I believe most would be happy to know the changes before they happen.

Recommendation- Think about publishing data and vision for the game. This would enhance community involvement and would potentially help with balance.

Leavers/AFKers- Still a massive problem in the game. Yes it’s possible to win a 4 on 5. But it is difficult, and honestly tends to ruin the enjoyment of the other 9 players in the game. It also screws with the new tiebreaker. The report system FEELS like a placebo and does little to mitigate the frustration of having to try to carry the 4 man team, or to ease up knowing that you’re not facing a team at full strength.

You have systems in place to hurt leavers, AFKers. This is nice. I know your system does not likely have something in place yet, but you could massively help the game and add some balance and fun back by replacing the leaver with a computer character. The CPU would start at the level of the leaver and would not give up experience (as to not be a feeder). If that player returns, great they return at their old level. The game doesn’t need to change a ton and you can keep going. CPU support isn’t great, but not giving up experience and just ‘being there’ would be helpful.

Recommendation- Think of ways to enhance the experience for the players that stay when others leave, such as adding a CPU that doesn’t give up experience as a balance to the teams.