As the dust from the balance mega patch has finally somewhat settled, things are overall...well, fine. A lot of the easy oneshots have been toned down and overall the game seems to be in a better state. And yet, the nerf threads keep coming. Nerf FB monkeyspam! Nerf Auramancer auras! Nerf Rev teleports! Nerf Thief everything! Nerf Ranger damage!
But if you take a broader look at the meta, most remaining issues have a root cause that lies in broken mechanics rather than broken skills, and that's what this thread is about. This is more or less a series of suggestions on how to make things better, and if you pay close attention you will notice that every single suggestion I am about to make touches on every build in the meta in some way.
This thread is thus a sort of psuedo-succesor to my old cheese thread ( https://en-forum.guildwars2.com/discussion/86519/the-elephant-in-the-balance-room-how-cheese-has-evolved-to-hurt-gw2-pvp-more-than-balance/p1) with the goal of going over some core rules of the game and how they can be tweaked to make the game feel a lot better. All without completely gutting whatever spec is on top of Metabattle every month with the recent "Increase a cooldown here, reduce sustain by 2% there, reduce a number by 10 over yonder" style of balance passes we have been getting recently that have been somewhat 'swings and a miss'.
Mechanic change #1 - Improve the quality of animations, strongly consider adding a UI option that lets you see the cast bar of nearby enemies.
I'll start this thread out with the most obvious one. GW2 unlike GW1 doesn't have cast bars. If it did, I imagine it might look like this:
Poor animation quality continues to be possibly the most serious issue in all competitive modes. There are tons of very strong abilities in the game that are a lot stronger thant they deserve to be in PvP because they look barely any different than an auto attack and thus get lost in the visual clutter of more vibrant abilities. Necro fears, many weapon skills, tons of utilities all continue to have weak or no animation or cast time to them at all. Powerful boons like stability still have no visual effect. On the flip side, you also get skills with gigantic animations like Ghastly breach which can potentially just make visual clutter. Cast bars are one way to add a simple but discerning animation to most skills without making those animations take up an entire screen.
The design of GW2 was to not have cast bars because animations would be good enough. But are they really? There continues to be a ton of skills and effects in GW2 that have little to no tell, and fixing this would go a long way towards better PvP.
Mechanic change #2 - Change Quickness to stack intensity, up to 5 times. Each stack would grant "increases attack and action speeds by 10%"
Quickness is very busted. +50% attack/animation/cast speed is an absolutely insane buff in any PvP setting. Quickness in its current form allows builds that exploit it to flat out ignore the balance between "Animation time / effect" turning skills that would normally have perfectly fair casting time into feeling instant-cast. Because quickness alone allows people to do immense amounts of near unavoidable damage, it also allows for people to play very passively and defensive while their quickness-engine recharges. Not exactly interactive gameplay.
The first thing making quickness stack intensity does is give the balance team some breathing room when trying to split PvE/PvP skills. In PvE, quickness is mandatory for Raids. In PvP, it's busted. This has resulted in a lot of skill splits where quickness duration on many PvP skills has been nerfed down to only a few seconds. Problem is, what makes quickness so strong is its burst capacity, so even a few seconds of quickness is plenty enough to press 2345 and blow someone up. This change allows quickness to be balanced for PvP without changing how it functions in PvE.
Having quickness stack intensity means a lot of quicknesss granting skills like elixir U and Phase traversal can now be properly balanced by making them grant only 2 stacks in PvP for +20% speed. Still useful, but a lot less oppressive for damage spikes and a lot less enabling of the "save everything for quickness lol" playstyle.
Mechanic change #3 - Change condition removal to prioritize higher stacks first, instead of by order of application
The current system of condi removal "first in last out" is effectively inherited from GW1, which had several distinct differences from GW2. Back in the GW1 days, having condition removal based on order of application made perfect sense. This is because GW1 did not have tons of passives that apply free condis, did not have stacks, did not have anywhere near the amount of condition application methods, and most importantly of all did not have condition damage as a stat ( all conditions did a base-value effect ). In GW1, putting cover conditions was a neat way to protect more powerful conditions from removal.
However, this system is terrible for GW2 for several reasons. The existence of stacks makes it so a condi may or may not be powerful and the order of application may or may not have anything to do with skillful play. Applying cover conditions in this games is also hilariously easy compared to GW1, to the point that most condi builds have multiple traits that automatically add 1-3 cover conditions for you. In GW1, hitting a target with 6+ conditions in PvP required careful team coordination. In GW2, hitting a target with 6+ conditions requires zero team effort and in many cases can be done with one or two instant cast abilities. GW2 is a completely different game. This means that skills that remove 1-2 conditions that were effective counterplay in GW1, aren't really an effective counter in GW2. Before you even get into the problem of "which skills and traits are making this build OP" the issue standing in front of it is that condi builds are boosted by flat out having superior stats as there is very little reason for them not to monkey-up with rabid/sage/etc.
The biggest problem changing condi removal to prioritize stacks immediately fixes is it puts condi builds in a position where speccing into only condition damage runs the risk of having your damage negated by any build that runs several small condition removals. This means that in order to do optimal damage as condi, you could no longer get away with running nonsense such as "Rabid amulet + every defensive trait in the book" and would instead have to run Sinister/Destroyer just like how power builds are forced to run Berserker for optimal damage. This has been a serious balance problem in GW2 for a very long time. Power builds need all Power/Precision/Ferocity to work. Condi builds just need Condition damage, leading to the problem of "Condi + Vitality/Toughness/Healing amulut + defensive traits / weapons" being chosen. This is why "Condi bunker" builds in GW2 have always been very monkey / low skill low effort high reward and why every condi meta always ends up feeling extremely degenerate and spammy.
Mechanic change #4 - Make "reveal on cast" the default behavior for using damage abilities from stealth, as opposed to "reveal on hit". Make the stealth outline graphic that is normally only visible to allies also visible to enemies in PvP if they are within a radius of 300 unit range. Double the duration of most stealth skills.
The current mechanics of how stealth works in GW2 completely lack any meaningful interaction or counterplay. It can infinitely reset fights. It can be used to make any animation invisible and therefore carry with it the same design problems of instant cast skills. It can be used as a get out of jail free or an engage. And the biggest problem of all, it allows mistakes to go unpunished. Say you are stealthed playing a P/P thief and you shoot a guardian using Shield 5. Guess what? This doesn't reveal you since your attack didn't hit and was blocked by shield 5s projectile block effect. Just one of many of the silly mechanical issues that comes with reveal on hit instead of on attack. This is not good PvP game design. This makes stealth reliant builds neither fun to play as ( unless you don't feel insulted by the blatant hand-holding ) nor fun to play against.
Most other PvP games usually have built in restrictions to stealth that require the use to actually require some thought and have some sort of counter to them. Such as making stealth visible within a certain distance, putting hit confirm on stealthed players, or putting a delay between unstealthing when can you can attack. GW2 has none of these restrictions, leading to stealth being a mechanic that is almost impossible to balance right. This proposed change would make stealth last longer, but have restriction in place to prevent the abuse/mindless gameplay that the current system enables.
Mechanic change #5 - Add roughly 2 seconds of stability to most stunbreaks in the game, but only if the ability succesfully breaks a stun similar to how the Revenant trait "Glaring resolve" works.
Stability and CC are hard to balance. Too much stability-on-demand leads to the mindless gameplay style of "Pop stability and then spam attacks without fear of being interrupted", such as what pre-nerf Elixer U was for holosmiths where they would basically just "press elixir U press photon forge press 2354111" -not exactly skillful gameplay. On the flipside, too little counters to CC leads to the playstyle of "zerg down a single target while spamming CC" which is honestly where we are at now.
Making stubreaks give stability when a stun is actually broken as a default behavior for breaking stuns is a good way to address this issue. Because you wouldn't get the stability unless you are actually CC'd first, it doesn't carry the "pop stab spam abilities" problem that on demand stability gives. It's a simple way to tone down CC spam and thus requiring more skillful use of CC without permitting the problems that comes with too much CC immunity.
Mechanic change#6 - Drastically nerf downstate in competitive game modes. Make it no longer increase health pool, give it double bleedout speed, and reduce the healing by 60%
This is sort of a compromise between the "this is fine" camp and the "remove downstate from PvP" camp. Downstate is currently way too easy to res out of by any support spec, especially now after the damage-nerf megapatch a few months back. This leads to certain team comps being able to win fights they normally shouldn't win just because they can keep ressing over and over and over again to reset the fight. Rallying is also way too easy because of how long a target can stay downed
Nerfing downstate so that it's significantly shorter and easier to take out is one way to balance it without completely removing the mechanic from the game. It would give teams a small window to Res a play that downed, but not such a huge window that they can carry fights and exploit rallybots by doing so.
Mechanic change#7 - Give a balance pass toward reducing the radius on many AoE skills.
This one is a bit controversial because it could make PvE players sad, but the reality is GW2 has too many skills that hit the entire point, and too many balance changes that actively encourage this sort of playstyle.
An example of this would be Revs "Call to anguish" skill https://wiki.guildwars2.com/wiki/Call_to_Anguish This skill had its radius buffed to 360 and changed into an AoE CC. The meta eventually realized that this was broken, and thus the skill was heavily abused, then nerfed. But it wasn't fixed, oh no. It was simply given an energy cost nerf, completely ignoring the extremely high possibility that maybe just maybe the radius buff should just be reverted? Condi Rev is still meta btw. Any skill that can CC the entire point is just going to be automatically very strong in a game mode around holding points. Symbolbrand is another good example. What reason does "monkeybrand" have to not just randomly spam symbols and buffs all over the point when symbols can cover 85% of the point? Not much of a reason at all really.
Again, it's all about counterplay. Abilities that hit the entire part of the map that matters, especially those that have a continuous effect, are going to be very difficult to counter despite being extremely easy to abuse.
Renegade coffee thoughts: https://en-forum.guildwars2.com/discussion/34989/major-renegade-rework-suggestions-thread