Currently in spvp "all modes" I see 3x main problems concerning the intra-class balance & dynamic that are seriously dragging down the fun factor of the game. The first problem is concerning how conditions are currently working in a condi heavy meta. The second is how too much passive CC is making the game feel like being stuck in a traffic jam. The third is that support classes have seriously been buffed way too much.
- Condition play is too strong and too bursty right now. Since year 1 we've all seen how condition dominant metas always bring in the laziest, spammiest, sloppiest, and most RNG type of play, which players generally have less fun with for several reasons. Most of the condi based attacks in the game are AoE in nature or activated through traits & utilities that create these primer abilities that cause condi damage to happen through any attack the user wants, including auto 1 spam. The real problem here is that the telegraphs for these AoE abilities and primed traits & utilities, have little to no telegraphs at all.
- All of the attack animations in the game are tied to power side damage. With power side damage, there is always a clear wind up animation and strike animation, regardless of the speed of the attack. However with condi based attacks or condi effects tied onto power based weapon attacks, they have slight tiny animations that don't even occur until after the skill is used or in some cases no animation at all. Without going into too much detail, I'll give a simple example to think about: Situation (A) - You enter a 3v3 at mid against a Holo, a Spellbreaker, and a Reaper. In this situation it is possible to counter play the telegraphs well enough that you can avoid most of the damage or maybe all of it. But in Situation (B) - You enter a 3v3 at mid against a Core Burn Guard, a Scourge, and an Ele. In this situation there is so much no animation no warning pulsing condi AoE, that you will get hit and you will take a lot of damage. I'm not saying that anything is OP or UP here. I am saying that this is the difference between when the game's dynamic feels good, and when it feels bad.
- With power dominant metas, we've seen over the years that this is when the difference in player skill levels really shines. Good players can see telegraphs and outplay a class/build that normally should be beating it. But in condi dominant metas, the gap in player effectiveness between a strong player and a weak player begins to shorten. This is because condi dominant metas force a type of playstyle that is less about watching telegraphs & outplaying, and more about just running whatever statistically has the strongest attributes in the current given patching, because no one can really avoid damage. Sure, being experienced does matter, but it matters a lot less in condi dominant metas.
- Condition builds also get out of control more easily than power builds in terms of being OP. This is mainly because of the way condi clear & stun breaks & other effects were implemented into the game. Most stun breaks and condi clears are utility skills and are often the same skill. We are talking skills such as "Shake it off" "Contemplation of purity" "Ranger utilities in conjunction with Wilderness Lore" "Plague Sig/Spectral Walk" "ect ect". So what happens is that while vs. power damage, a player only worries about using these skills for stun breaks. But while vs. condi damage, a player has to use these skills for clears and stun breaks. Condi builds, especially ones that can burst, often make a player have to cycle through their utilities & other abilities twice as quickly as normal. When condi builds are left too strong, they become dominant to the point that there is little to no practical counter play at all for this reason for forcing cool downs out of players too quickly with unavoidable nearly no telegraph AoE damage.
- My Suggestion - Due to how conditions were implemented into Guild Wars 2 in conjunction with how clears & stun breaks & other effects were implemented, conditions should only ever be attrition. Under no circumstances should any class/build ever be able to burst with conditions in the same way that a power build can burst. Condition based attacks have a negligent amount of telegraphs and too much AoE spam which makes the game dynamic feel sloppy, less skill based, and in general less fun to play.
- Before all the passive CC was added, you could be in a 1v1 or team fight and be counter playing all the opponent's active CCs. You had a distinct good satisfying feeling of fluid play dynamic & being free of the hassle of mechanics that stop up and put delay on everything that everyone is doing. After all the passive CC was added, team fights and even 1v1s often feel like being stuck in a traffic jam. Now we have situations where you should be able to deal damage or stomp or revive or just do something, but you can't. Now we have combats that should be ending in 30s to 60s but instead they go on for ridiculously elongated amounts of time in a way that just feels bad man. This is too close of a feel to the old bunker metas, and in my opinion it actually feels worse than the old bunker metas because you're glued to the floor like 50% of the time you're engaged in a combat when too much passive CC is floating about.
- We're talking about: "Flashbang" "Shocking Aura Share" and also soft CC skills that passively proc of traits or pulse off pits, spamming soft CCs way too frequently and for way to elongated of amounts of time. When all of these effects start stacking on top of each other, it just turns into a mess of play dynamic that doesn't feel fun. Again, I'm not saying anything is OP or UP. I am saying that it makes the game feel bad to play. Another example to think about: Situation (A) a Spellbreaker and an S/D Thief vs. Power Soulbeast and Power Herald. In situation (A) every single skill used matters, every single CC is active, landing or missing an important CD creates detrimental momentum shifts, everything is high risk high reward, and as such the difference between good players and bad players in the match up is enormous. But most importantly, every single attack used has an actual telegraph that can be seen. There are no random pulsing nearly invisible effects happening at all. But in Situation (B) Tempest & Scourge vs. Tempest & FB, we have a mess on our hands. Players on these classes are rewarded for spamming skills off of CD, they actually don't need to pay that much attention at all to what's happening. There is way too much passive CC going on to where the traffic jam effect is happening. Landing or missing an important CD isn't really very detrimental at all and in fact, there is so much AoE going on here that it's actually hard to miss with a skill. Even if attacks are missed, chances are that the two duos in conjunction with their passive hard & soft CCs, could also support themselves so strongly to such a degree, that neither side would be able to kill the other. There is absolutely nothing risky here for how high the reward is, and every single thing that is happening in this 2v2 is a nearly impossible to see telegraph pulsing pit or aura like effect with little to no animation at all. This kind of dynamic is lame and boring because although the difference between P2 vs. G2 will be very obvious in Spellbreaker & Thief vs. Soulbeast & Herald, the difference between P2 vs. G2 in Tempest & Scourge vs. Tempest & FB will be barely visible at all due to the traffic jam effect.
- My Suggestion - Get rid of passive CC completely, at least the hard CCs. This trend needs to stop. Compensate the classes that lose the passive CCs in other ways.
- Simply put, things that traditionally played the Support role are too strong right now. In years past it used to work like this: (Team Fighter) Has lots of AoE damage & active CC. Not so strong in 1v1s. Not as mobile as some other builds. Designed in a way that it benefits greatly when being paired with other Team Fighters and especially Supports. (Team Supports) Has lower supportive damage & CC to assist Team Fighters. It's prone to focus if it is alone but is very difficult to kill when being covered by its Team Fight. It greatly benefits Team Fighters who stay around it with frequent heals, buffs, and even debuffs vs. the opponents. Usually amongst the slowest classes/builds. (DPS + Roamer) Sometimes good in some 1v1s but bad in others. Of the highest mobility. Mainly single target strike damage but the damage is very high vs. that single target. Good at escaping, not so good when caught or focused. (Side Node Duelist or Bunker) Excellent in 1v1. Designed to hold a node, sometimes even in 1v2s. Designed to frequently CC opponents off the node. Designed to beat opponents with attrition if they waste enough time in the 1v1 against it. Not nearly as effective in team fights as Team Fighters, Team Supports, or even DPS + Roamers. <- All of this made sense and felt good. Very distinct roles that gave the game a special flavor & feeling with how it was balanced. But somewhere along the lines, anything that was a Support role just started getting buffed to where they were allowed to have the Team Fight damage & CC of Team Fighters, and the self sustain of Side Node Duelists & Bunkers, and even comparable mobility to some DPS + Roamers, all the while maintaining their full original Support capabilities. Now we have Supports that are capable of stacking on top of each other to also be full fledged Team Fighters, who can also wander off alone and be dominant in 1v1s, who are also amongst the most stable Side Noders. Supports are running spvp right now with alpha status.
- Yet another example of what I mean: Situation (A) A Tempest & FB vs. Tempest & Scourge are fighting in 2v2 arena. In this situation one team could be P2 and the other G3 and you'll barely be able to see the difference in the outcome of the match of how the skill difference mattered. Situation (B) A D/P Thief and Chrono vs. Tempest & Scourge. In this situation, the D/P Thief and the Chrono will need to be P2 to even be able to realistically threaten the G3 Tempest & Scourge in a 2v2 arena. The level of sustain alone on the G3 Tempest & Scourge duo is enough to deny the P2 Thief & Chrono of any opportunity they have to ever get a downstate, and even if they get a downstate, both supports have instant revive skills. The Thief & Chrono will have a difficult time dealing damage not only due to the large sustain on their opponents, but also because their opponents have a lot more damage output and CC than they should have for being full supports. The G3 Tempest & Scourge can play sloppily, missing most bursts, taking a lot of flat footed damage they don't need to be taking, and heal through all of it. But the Thief & Chrono could greatly mechanically outplay them, flawlessly & perfectly for over two minutes or more, and if either of them messes up just once, they can get caught and put into downstate instantly, with their partner having no way to realistically revive them. Supports are so strong right now, that on a daily basis I am seeing normally G3 players on Supports, bullying their way through and winning against normally P2 players who are on things like Thieves and Warriors and Mesmers. Supports are currently way way too strong.
- My Suggestion - The traditional strong Support classes/builds need to lose a sizeable amount of the offensive pressure they have. And instant revive skills all need to be on longer cast times so that there is a more realistic time frame to interrupt those skills.
There are lots of other things I'd like to go into detail on, like how hack programs & match manipulation needs to be punished. Or how I feel that Ranked mode should be deleted, Ranked rewards shuffled into Unranked, and rating/badge/title rewards shuffled into AT seasons which reset after each MAT. But for now I'll leave this thread as is in hopes that it is heard by someone, anyone, in the Arenanet office.
~ Some of us still love this game and we want it to feel good again.