Greetings, Heroes of Neverwinter!
The impact of companion DPS on balance has been a topic of interest for some time so I wanted to let you know about some upcoming balance changes to combat companions. We’ve made efforts to address underperforming and overperforming companions in the past, however we’ve only recently been able to take a more comprehensive approach. The overall goal is to bring the top tier performers more in line with one another and increase the effectiveness of underperformers and niche role companions. By standardizing the combat formulas used, we can ensure future companions and current companions both remain desirable and effective.
This change means that some top tier companions will experience a reduction in base damage. More specifically, several companions with AoE powers were using single target damage formulas, and a handful of single target companions were using formulas that did not scale well with player stats (Paranoid Delusion being the prime example). Our adjustments are intended to keep everything at the same relative desirability: if a companion was top tier DPS before, it will still be at the top - just not so far ahead of the pack as to invalidate the use of others.
To further clarify, we are not simply lowering damage across the board. Since much of the high-end content has already been balanced around the current companions, and the overall goal was to achieve a more balanced experience, we will also be boosting all companion damage by roughly 20%. This increase will be applied to everything using the new damage formulas, including those whose damage was initially reduced.
I understand that changes to established content can feel frustrating, but I want to re-emphasize that our intent is not to rearrange companions’ current desirability, but to prevent the outliers from disrupting the overall balance of the game. Once you’ve had a chance to test the changes, we would greatly appreciate any feedback you might have on the updated experience. While we do not plan on reverting any companions back to their previous states, we will be paying close attention to feedback on their performance, which may prompt adjustments. We are particularly interested in how the pets compare relative to each other, so feedback such as, “My X used to deal 30% more damage than my Y, but now deals 5% less.” is especially useful to us.
For a broader overview of how we approach game balance, please check out the excellent Balance Changes: General Direction post.
For the official feedback thread on this topic, please visit the forums.
Howdy all, Brett Norton, the executive producer on Neverwinter, here to provide some more insight on the upcoming companion changes, with a focus on a few specific companions and some more general notes.
More Updates to Preview
We have another set of internal changes, with a lot of Companion tweaks, we hope to get to Preview at some point this week.
To give some context on these changes, there are roughly 3 archetypes of companions we're balancing towards for M25:
Single Target - Companions with abilities that deal high damage to one target. These often have a strong 'boss killing' focus. We recognize this is what end-game players often focus upon, and we hope to have a viable pool of companions that perform well here. BUT, not every companion is being adjusted to be a purely single-target DPS companion; many fall into the other two categories based on how many targets their abilities can hit. This is akin to our class abilities, which have different magnitudes based on expected # of targets hit.
Multi Target - Companions that focus on area-of-effect (AoE) or other abilities that can hit 3+ targets. These companions are often very valuable for questing and other solo content. We generally balance these such that you need to be hitting 2-3 targets to 'break even' on their DPS vs single target companions. They will perform poorly in tests against a single target (relative to other archetypes), but will average substantially higher DPS when 4+ targets are present.
Hybrid - Companions that have a mix of single target, multi target, or support abilities. Many of our companions fall into this category, including ones that have been popular at times like Xuna, Regis, and the Succubus/Incubus. These companions are versatile and, while lacking the focus of the above archetypes, have fewer drawbacks and perform the most consistently in mixed combat situations.
Impacted Companions of Note
Our changes will impact several old companions in notable ways, namely a few that were substantially overperforming. Regis, Succubus/Incubus, and several versions of the Paranoid Delusion were specifically targeted in this update.
To be open about our mistakes, Regis and Succubus were never expected to deal as much multi-target damage as they did. Each of them was released with an ability that was incorrectly balanced, dealing single target levels of damage to multiple targets. That will finally be changed in M25. Their original ability layout was for them to be Hybrid companions, and post M25, they will function as Hybrids. We've tried to give these two some additional love, as we know players have invested a lot in them since their release, but there was no way to 'improve' balance with Multi Target and Hybrid companions without making a big correction to these outliers.
The Paranoid Delusion was specifically targeted for M25. It was, being a bit blunt, overperforming significantly for some classes, while underperforming notably for others. We have redone the balance of every class's Paranoid Delusion, reigning in some significant overperformers, but bringing up a few noted underperformers. However, the Paranoid Delusions are unique per class and each fits a different archetype. Some are single target, some are multi target, and some are hybrids. We did not change the per-class archetype, and have rebalanced them a bit as to their intended archetype. We know that some classes will wish their Paranoid Delusions was X archetype instead of Y archetype, but we have not refactored the design of the delusions for M25, we've just adjusted the balance.
Changes to the Honey Badger will also happen before M25 goes live. We want it to be a solid single-target companion, but, its ability that increases its damage at high-health has already been internally revised, and, we've cleaned up some bugs and rebalanced it accordingly.
Xuna, who's seen a lot of changes over the years, has had her abilities fixed (one was very buggy and had led to prior problems) and balanced as a Hybrid companion. We hope she represents a solid, versatile companion, but she will likely not top the single target damage charts.