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Neverwinter

Class Balance: Guardian Fighter

Von Andy (StrumSlinger)
Mi 20 Jul 2016 10:30:00 PDT

Update 7/21: 

I have about... two dozen things I'm looking into based on the feedback from this thread, so thank you guys very much for what you've provided so far. I'm glad that, for the most part, the feedback has been constructive, and I hope it continues to be so.

The next build that will hit preview has already been pulled, and won't have any additional GF changes in it. The next next preview build should, and I'll let you know what they'll be when they're ready.

 

Original Post:

For Guardian Fighters, we knew we wanted to look at two things: their damage, and their group utility. For their damage, we were concerned that they were too low on the sustained side of things and too high on the burst side. As for their group utility, they were very desired by high-end groups, but primarily because of one overpowered buff – Into the Fray.

Into the Fray was a problem for a few reasons. Providing a buff that could be kept up virtually indefinitely that could grant your entire party well over a 100% increase in damage is a concern all on its own. That buff being provided by statting defensively, allowing you to still have incredible survivability, while turning those stats into a massive damage boost, was also not great. There’s really no great way to say it – this power needed a nerf.

  • Into the Fray: No longer increases damage by a percentage of your damage resistance. Now grants a flat +15% damage bonus, + 5% more per rank.
  • Into the Fray: Now also increases the amount of Temp HP conversion with each rank up.

 

This is still very powerful – 30% more damage for your entire party (at max rank) is a great ability. However, it won’t completely trivialize most of the end-game. This change also removes the need to focus entirely on Damage Resistance, allowing you to branch out a bit more and spread your stats around a bit more.

To a lesser extent, we found that Tide of Iron was in a similar place – the debuff it provided was so powerful for your entire party, that Guardian Fighters HAD to pick it as one of their At-Wills, and it’s never fun to be forced to pick something. As such, we changed the debuff to only affect the casters damage, instead of the whole party. This means it’s still a very useful power for increasing your damage (and threat), but it isn’t a required debuff to make your whole party more effective. It also got a sizeable damage increase, again aiming to make this power fun for the caster to use, instead of required for its easy-to-maintain debuff.

For their damage, we wanted to remove some of their burst capability while increasing their long-term DPS. This meant lowering the damage of some of their heavy hitting Encounter powers, while increasing the DPS of some lesser used Encounters, as well as their At-Wills.

  • Anvil of Doom: No longer deals double damage to targets below 40% health. Instead, deals full damage again over 5 seconds to targets below 50% health.
  • Anvil of Doom: Recharge time reduced to 15s, down from 16s.

 

This took Anvil of Doom from easily dealing massive amounts of damage instantaneously, into it being a better long term damage ability, with both a greater window to get the bonus damage, and a slightly lower recharge time so you can use it more often. However, the bonus damage coming as a DoT gives targets a chance to react, instead of just crumpling.

  • Combat Superiority: No longer grants 10% bonus damage to the target. Instead, now grants 5% bonus damage to the target and the target will deal 5% less damage to you. Ranking up this power will now increase both of these effects by 1% for every rank.
  • Combat Superiority: No longer lasts 5s for each Rank of the power. Instead, lasts 8s at all ranks. Additionally, Rank 5 of the Conqueror Feat Tactical Superiority will no longer cause this effect to be "always on."

 

Combat Superiority was another cause of their big burst – coupled with the Tactical Superiority Feat, you would deal 15% more damage, all the time. Tactical Superiority removing the need for you to get hit first meant it was further contributing to the unexpected burst damage potential of the Guardian Fighter. With the new design, the damage increase has been reduced, but it also lowers their damage dealt to you by the same amount. The bigger change, however, is that it will always require the target to hit you first before it turns on. Because of these changes, Tactical Superiority got a redesign, and now you don’t have to use Combat Superiority with it if you don’t want to:

  • Feat: Tactical Superiority: No longer causes Combat Superiority to be "always on" at Rank 5 of this Feat. Instead, now grants a 1% damage bonus per rank at all times, in addition to increasing the damage bonus Combat Superiority provides.

 

Bull Charge was also a little high on the Burst damage spectrum, but it turned out to be primarily because of a bug:

  • Bull Charge: This power was unintentionally receiving 20% more damage per rank up, instead of the stated 10% per rank up. This has been corrected; however, the base damage of the power has also been increased ~10%. Net change at Rank 4 is a damage reduction of ~10%.

 

We also wanted to take a quality-of-life pass for Guardian Fighters, as they had some inconsistencies with their powers that could lead to frustration. One of the big things we did is a large standardization pass for the range of most of their powers – they had some melee powers with an 11’ range, some with 12’, and a few with 13’. We moved all of these powers to 12’. There are still a few outliers at 15’ or above, but they are exceptions, and part of those powers design – instead of just having many of your core powers work at slightly different ranges.

They also had a fair amount of powers that you could easily “miss” with – being able to activate the power without a target in range, and then hit nothing, even though it looked like a target might be close enough. We changed these powers to require a target, so you won’t end up hitting nothing and having your power go on cooldown nearly as often – as long as the target doesn’t dodge out of the way.

There was one other QOL change we made. Cleave has long been underrepresented as an At-Will power, and we felt that was because it competed with Weapon Master’s Strike – where it lost both in damage and ease of use – and it competed with Tide of Iron, because each hit recovers some of your Stamina. As such, we made the following changes:

  • Cleave: Cone radius increased to 200°, up from 180°.
  • Cleave: Now generates 5% of your Stamina per swing, as long as you are hitting at least 1 target.

 

Cleave generates less Stamina per hit than Tide of Iron, but swings faster, so there is still a trade-off. However, this should provide some more reason to think about which At-Wills are right for you, and for a given fight.

One other area has been somewhat problematic. The Guardian Fighter and the Great Weapon Fighter share Paragon Paths, and as such, share powers. While these powers play different animations, behind the scenes, they have typically been implemented as the exact same power. This meant one version might be good for Guardian Fighter, while being terrible for the Great Weapon Fighter, or vice versa. We broke all of these links, and have started balancing these powers separately for each class. Many changes were made for both classes this time around, but you’ll likely start seeing these powers growing further apart as time goes on. This also means there are also some Great Weapon Fighter changes alongside these changes for the Guardian Fighter.

  • Guardian Fighter: Steel Grace: Power has been reworked, and is no longer shared with the Great Weapon Fighter. Now increases your Run Speed, Deflection Chance, and Crit Chance.
  • Great Weapon Fighter: Steel Grace: No longer shared with the Guardian Fighter. Renamed to Steel Resolve. Several bugs with this power have been fixed, which should make it work much more reliably.
  • Guardian Fighter: Feat: Improved Reaction: No longer shared with the Great Weapon Fighter. Replaced with a new Feat, Iron Focus. Has the same effect on Ferocious Reaction as Improved Reaction did, but also grants Frontline Surge a chance (100% at max rank) to Taunt and Mark affected targets. The Great Weapon Fighter Feat Improved Reaction is unchanged.
  • Guardian Fighter & Great Weapon Fighter: Feat: Staying Power: This debuff should now last the same length as the base debuff provided by Weapon Master's Strike.
  • Guardian Fighter & Great Weapon Fighter: Ferocious Reaction: Base cooldown reduced to 3 minutes, and rank ups now only reduce the cooldown by 30s. This means the cooldown at rank 4 has been decreased to 90s, down from 120s.
  • Guardian Fighter & Great Weapon Fighter: Steel Defense: Reduced immunity duration to 2s +0.5s per rank up (3.5s max), down from 3s +1s per rank up (6s max).
  • Guardian Fighter & Great Weapon Fighter: Frontline Surge: Recharge time reduced to 14s, down from 19s.
  • Guardian Fighter & Great Weapon Fighter: Indomitable Strength: Increased the damage debuff to 20%, up from 10%.

 

Lastly, there were several powers that felt like they were lacking something, and it showed in the data, with many of the powers going completely unused by end-game players. So, we made some changes to these powers. Here are some quick summaries of those changes:

  • We reworked the buff that Commander’s Strike provides. It now only affects Encounter powers, and it now triggers when hitting any Marked target, instead of needing to specify yet another target with the power. This should make it easier for your teammates to see who to hit to get the benefit. The power also had several bugs that we fixed – it will generate AP now, it will have an activation time, and it will be affected by damage buff, debuffs, and resistance.
  • Griffon’s Wrath now starts with 3 charges at Rank 1, instead of earning them as you rank up. It gains bonus damage on rank up now, instead. It also refills a charge every 12s, instead of 15s. This was one of the powers affected by the change to require a target, so you should miss far less often with this power now, as well.
  • Line Breaker Assault got an overhaul in functionality. Instead of dealing damage in an area around the end of your movement, you now deal damage to the targets you move through. The damage is no longer affected by the number of targets, but was increased substantially. It always generates the same amount of Damage Resistance, instead of changing based on the number of targets, and it now Dazes targets as well. The Feat Powerful Strike now also causes Line Breaker Assault to lower its recharge time for every target hit.

 

The End Has No End

So, that wraps up a very long discussion of what we’re doing with these 3 classes, but what’s next? Well, we’ve already started work on more class reviews, but you probably won’t see another big batch in the following expansion. We want to be able to see how these changes are met, and make sure we have enough time to focus on responding to any issues that arise because of them, so we’ll slow down actual changes for the time being, and likely only have 1 class review in the following expansion.

What’s that?

Which one?

I’m sorry *kchkkk* … breaking up… *kchhhhh* … can’t hear… *chkhsssssss*

   -Chris “Amenar” Matz

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