Hey guys, quick update. Here are some more changes you'll see hitting preview... soon. I don't have an exact date.
Again, these changes are not on preview yet but should hopefully be there with our next build pushed to preview.
As for some other topics:
Regarding Hindering Strikes and Thorned Roots – Thorned Roots is a separate power, that deals damage on its own. There is no melee version of Thorned Roots or ranged version of it, just 1 Thorned Roots that doesn’t care if it was applied via melee or ranged powers. It uses the Main Hand damage as the basis for its damage, because it is the higher of the 2. We could switch it to always use the melee version, and then change the coefficients, but the net damage would be the same. I’ve updated the tooltip for Thorned Roots to make it clear that it uses the Main Hand weapons damage.
Aspect of the Pack, Rank 4 – Looks like a patch note got missed, this was fixed. Updating the patch notes.
Nature’s Enhancement – What makes you think it isn’t working? When I have it and switch into melee stance, I see the buff Icon appear, my Deflect Severity increases in my character sheet, and our internal debugging shows that my deflect severity has increased. That isn’t to say this isn’t a weak Feat, but it does appear to be functioning.
Plant Growth/Blade Storm: Technically, Blade Storm procs when you deal melee damage, and Plant Growth is not considered melee damage. You don’t hit anything with your swords, you are casting a spell. However, this is a very unclear distinction, I’ll see what I can do.
Also, real quick on animation speeds. Unfortunately, this is a difficult issue. Our animations are hand timed, so reducing them requires rebuilding the animation. This takes a lot more time than just simply tweaking a number. We are discussing changes here, but they certainly won’t be in for this review.
Again, thanks for all the awesome feedback everyone. I really appreciate when we can keep it constructive.
As some of you may have noticed, our class balance isn’t exactly where we’d like it to be. Not too long ago, we touched on this while making some fairly large changes to a handful of powers that we felt were trivializing the game. This time, instead of targeting a small number of individual powers, we have decided to start tackling specific classes as a whole. We plan on continuing this process with the rest of the classes, but didn’t think it was feasible (or wise) to try to handle all of them in one expansion. As such, we had a fair amount of debate internally over which classes we should start with.
After analyzing lots of data about class popularity, class desirability, power imbalances, and class diversity (how much variety exists within a given class – for example, do they all use the exact same 3 Encounter powers and Feat build?), we decided to go with the Hunter Ranger, Scourge Warlock, and Guardian Fighter for our first round of class reviews. In this blog, we’ll go over the changes we made to the Hunter Ranger in the upcoming expansion.
It's a Trapper!
With the Hunter Ranger, it was apparent from combat log data that they lag behind the other DPS classes a fair amount in Dungeons and other end-game content. While a certain build (The Trapper Thorned Roots build) allows them to get close to competitive with other classes, any deviation from that very specific (and a wee bit broken) build would greatly reduce their effectiveness. This was problematic because, for a lot of players, the Trapper theme and playstyle is not what attracted them to a Hunter Ranger. They wanted to be an archer, or swing 2 swords, or possibly both while being a Drow for some reason. Unfortunately, the Archery and Combat builds were the decision traps for the player – come, shoot your bow, it’ll be fun they said! Then you see how far behind you are, and you either give up, or find the Thorned Roots build.
When we did analysis of player power choice, we got to see some very clear examples of this. While it was true all across the board, the issue was especially true for our top-geared Hunter Rangers:
This is a breakdown of power usage by high-end Hunter Rangers. One thing we noticed right away - the 4 most used powers are the powers used by the Thorned Roots build, and they’re used way more than any other powers. Second, there are multiple powers with 0% usage – and plenty others that are close enough. So what do you do?
In many cases, when you have 1 stand-out power that leads to only 1 build being viable, the answer is to nerf that power/build. However, that was not the case here. When we looked at the Thorned Roots build relative to other classes, it was still not quite good enough. This meant the other builds were in need of some serious help. We did a review of the entire suite of Hunter Ranger powers, and compared them with similar abilities from other classes, and found that most were lacking. Almost every single Hunter Ranger power is getting some changes in the upcoming expansion. One of the most common changes you’ll see – almost across the board, the “base damage” of all ranged powers was doing less than it should. “Base damage” in this case is the damage a power does without including your weapon damage. You’ll see a lot of patch notes like this:
Another issue that Hunter Rangers have is much longer base recharge times on their powers relative to other classes. This is due to them effectively having access to 6 Encounter powers, instead of 3. However, if you use an Archery build, the melee-side power of your Encounters is frequently far less useful than you will find both powers to be if you go the Trapper route, or even the Combat route. In addition, the Thorned Roots build gets around the long cooldown issue with Feats that let you reduce the cooldown of your powers by applying Roots and stance-dancing, but the other builds didn’t have great ways to deal with these long cooldowns. In addition to reducing the recharge time of several of the Hunter Rangers powers, we made the following changes to ease this concern for Archery players:
This means that Archery players will find that Aimed Shot will be their go-to At-Will power, instead of… a very frustrating At-Will power.
There are a ton of other changes – around 100 patch notes for the Hunter Ranger changes alone – but I can’t get to them all here. The end goal was to get to a place where all 3 Feat builds – as well as both Paragon Paths – felt useful. I’m not sure if we’re done yet, but our internal testing so far has been much, much better than where we were. I’ll rapid fire a handful of other powers changes here:
As mentioned, this is just a small chunk of the total changes, so be sure to check out the test servers for more info. Also, just to be clear – it’s not all rainbows and buffs. Some powers did get some adjustments down alongside other changes. For example, Maruader’s Rush had its range reduced by 20 feet, while its activation time and recharge time were reduced. Overall though, we expect Hunter Rangers are going to be very happy with these changes.
Stay tuned for blogs on how we approached class balance with the Scourge Warlock and Guardian Fighter.
-Chris “Amenar” Matz