Warning: This thread became slightly TL;DR. So for people who just want to skim read without going into the evidence or details I have broken it into three parts with a Tl;DR section in bold.
Before I even get into this thread I should add a disclaimer: Most of the patch is actually fine. Anet actually has taken a pretty big step in toning down some of the toxic gameplay that currently exists in the game. Reducing abilities that let you attack+defend at the same time. Reduction of stability spam. Reduction of burst damage. Toning down a lot of the silly condi passives. Overall this isn't bad. This thread is meant entirely for constructive criticism for a patch that for the most part seems to be a geniune attempt to make the game better.
There is one flaw. A very big one, that could seriously harm this games direction due to the fact that it is based on a claim that is demonstrably false.
@Cal Cohen.2358 said:
Cooldowns and Durations
We want cooldowns to be felt. Longer cooldowns promote more calculated usage of skills; if skills are used poorly it should create an opportunity for the enemy to push their advantage. Shorter durations of high impact buffs have a similar effect. Skillful timing is going to be rewarded, and poor usage is going to be exploitable by enemies. In some cases, it’s still going to make sense to have a longer duration attached to a longer cooldown, but most of the time we’re looking at shorter durations for things like stability, protection, quickness, high might stacks, among others.
The part in bold for that quote is incorrect, and dangerously so. The rest of it is actually true, just not the part about cooldowns. Increasing cooldowns does very little to reduce "spammy" gameplay. Nor does it promote more calculated skill usage in any meaningful way. This is not just my own opinion, but a truth that has been proven in the history of PvP gaming. In fact under some circumstances, increases to cooldowns can even increase spam and reduce the skill of the game. To understand why, well...get ready for a long one.
PART I: Street Fighter II, and why button mashing in well designed competitive games doesn't work.
One of the most competitive and highly skilled PvP games in existence, Street Fighter 2, has no cooldowns. So why does buttonmashing in this game not work? How can "calculated skill usage" exist in a game with no CDs at all?
The simplified explanation of that video, is that button mashing doesn't work in well made fighting games because they are balanced around attacks having different recovery time, speed, and power levels. If you randomly mash some special move against a decent player, you will likely miss and "whiff" giving that player a chance to punish the button mashing with a faster attack such as a jab in order to counterattack with their own combo. This way the game can have no cooldowns, but still be highly skill based.
Now for some hypothetical reasoning, lets mix things up in Street Fighter. Lets add a new character, called "Monkey man"
Monkey man has a normal set of punches, jabs, kicks, but only has one special move: "Super Monkey Blast"
Super Monkey Blast has the following characteristics:
0. Monkey Man screams "OOoOk oOOOk Ahh EEEEee! EEEE! EEEEE!" while using
1. Has zero windup time
2. Moves Monkey Man from one end of the screen to the other ( similar to Bisons P.Crusher )
3. Is lighting fast ( less than 100ms for the whole move )
4. Hits both high and low
5. Has infinite super frames ( cannot be interrupted )
6. Immune to damage while using
7. Deals moderate damage
8. Deals 50% block damage
9. Has instant recovery time
10. Is the highest priority move in the game
Think about those aspects of the Super Monkey Blast along with how fighting games are played, and you will start to notice the problem: Super Monkey Blast has no real counter, and is a defensive+offensive move at the same time that also gets you out of being corner locked. Your opponent still takes some damage if they block it, can't jump over it, can't punish it with a jab to interrupt it, and basically can't do jack to stop you. It is a jab, it is a powerful move, it has no recovery time and thus can't be punished if it whiffs. You can't counter it. You can't block it. You can't stop it from being immediately being used again. It effectively breaks the game. What all this means is that the best strategy to use when playing Monkey Man is to just spam Super Monkey Blast over and over and over.
Now lets "nerf" Monkey Man to have a cooldown on a generic special move... a 10 second cooldown. The resulting new Monkey Man playstyle is changed from using Super Monkey Blast at all times, to playing defensively for 10 seconds and then use Super Monkey Blast. Notice the problem here? Putting a Cooldown on Super Monkey Blast doesn't actually change the fact that the most efficient tactic available when playing Monkey Man is to use Super Monkey Blast. It doesn't fix the problem that the move is ridiculously overloaded. The cooldown does put Monkey Man slightly lower on the tier list, but it's more of a band-aid fix. SFII didn't even need cooldowns until we added Monkey Man to the roster. The game was perfectly fine because the abilities are all designed to have counterplay. It only needed a "cooldown increase" when an ability was added to the game that has absolutely no viable counter strategy whatsoever. If you tried to spam a move using any regular character against a skilled player, you will lose because they will just use jabs to interrupt you. Super Monkey Blast is exempt from this, and that's the real problem. The only thing increasing the cooldown for Super Monkey Blast REALLY does is eventually make Monkey Man unplayable. A better fix would be to remove the abilities defensive properties - No more damage immunity, add a recovery time, no more super frames, increase windup - so that it can actually be interrupted.
TL;DR Conclusion: Spam and lack of calculated skill usage is not caused by low cooldowns, but by abilities that are difficult to punish. Increasing the cooldown on a badly designed ability that does too many things does not fix the problem that it does too many things and is badly designed. An ability that is broken to the point where it is always worth using every 10 seconds will still be always worth using every 20s, 30s, and so on. Well designed abilities that have counterplay in mind can have no cooldown whatsoever and not be spammable because using them poorly can result in those skills being punished. The problem isn't cooldowns, the problem is when a move does everything at once and thus ends up with no strategy or skill behind it.
Part II: Translating Fighting game logic to MMORPG PvP - Guest starring Tera Rising.
A big reason I am making this thread is because I have seen what happens when you put overblown skills on high cooldowns. A lot of people don't realize that another MMO out there - Tera - has a very similar combat system to GW2. The only difference is Tera perpetually locks players to an action camera, however the skill use and soft-body style of physics the game uses makes for a good comparison.
Tera used to be a good game. Tera is now a rubbish game that I do not reccomend anyone download or try, lest you wish to waste your time on a dead MMO that is a hollow shell of its former self. How did this happen? Simple, they added a ton of broken abilities to the game that have high cooldowns. They added things like the brawler, which has a move that attacks everyone within a range of about 900 while blocking at the same time that also staggers everyone and then finally CCs them into a knockup that then is followed up by an air combo chain for tons of damage. It's a block, it's an interrupt, it does high damage, it's a CC chain, etc. With these new classes and apex skills, a lot of high CD abilities were added to the game that would Block+Attack+Evade+CC+Close gaps+Stagger+Area of effect+Wipe your kitten for you+Unblockable... Gee, there is a pattern to this problem that is starting to sound familiar!
Yet, this is only half the story. Tera and GW2 are not fighting games, they are MMOs with action combat. The big key difference is you are in a 3D space with a team of players that are all helping each other. When these busted moves where added to Tera, it created an additional problem: Zerging became too easy and effective. ( wow, look at the spam-on-point. Looks familiar does it not? ) Since players were more dependent on strong long CD skills, the result is that as soon as another player came to help burst down a single target there was a much greater chance that target was out of CDs, allowing the +1 to happen much faster. The strategy of Tera thus became to stick together while brainlessly spamming area-of-effect abilities while zerging down single targets. This made the game boring, ridiculously lowered the skill cap, and ultimately killed the PvP of the game. Back when I played, you could Queue for PvP in Tera during off hours and it would pop in 10 minutes or so. Now, you can queue for a match during PRIME TIME hours and it could take HOURS.
This Zerg-meta can also happen with increasing CDs to defensive moves. In the above video we see a Berserker. Berserkers have a block that has no cooldown, but animation locks the player and only blocks what is in front. The match I posted is between Blacklist and Good-Fight, both teams know what they are doing. You will notice they change targets and swap strategies a lot, even if you have never played Tera.
Now lets say we slap a 10 second CD on the Berserkers block. What happens? Simple, without a way to punish people for focusing her by playing defensively, the best strategy becomes to just gang up and spam skills on the Berserker. Interrupts and jabs are not the only thing that punishes spammy gameplay, but defensive moves can also punish spam. ( PURELY defensive moves, not attack+defend+scream like a monkey+CC at same time nonsense ) Being able to play defensively for at least a little while is a good way to punish people for zerging and spamming. Take that away, and you have a "+1 meta", where it becomes way too easy to kill someone by simply overloading them with more than one player.
TL;DR Conclusion: having broken abilities on long cooldowns just leads to a "zerg meta", where it becomes insanely easy to kill someone by simply +1ing them since their best move is more likely to be on cooldown. In addition, slapping a long cooldown on abilities that are meant to punish the spam of other abilities will result in an adverse effect and increase the spam of the game.
Part III: Suggested changes to the patch
As I stated at the beginning of this thread, a lot of the patch is actually pretty decent. Removing damage from CCs, toning down invulnerability, lowering burst damage in general, reworking of some of the more overloaded skills, reducing the effectiveness of silly condi passives, reducing instant-cast skills, and then reducing sustain to ensure we don't get locked into a "bunker meta". All of those are good changes for the game that 100% should go through.
However, the problem comes with a long list of cooldown increases to most utility skills and weapon slot defenses. This change will, for reasons stated above, completely fail to achieve the stated goal of reducing spam and adding counterplay. Some of these changes actually risks causing the same braindead "Zerg meta" that killed Tera PvP. So I would actually revert most of them.
In addition to re-evaluation of the random cooldown increases, Some specific improvements as well as certain CDs come to mind:
-The CD increase on twist of fate especially is way overzealous. The problem with ToF is that it gained stability ( which is being removed ) and way too high sustain of Weaver in general ( which is also being toned down ). While some of the weapon slot evades could use a CD increase so weavers can't 90% evade uptime, hitting ToF this hard will just make it stupidly easy for a roamer to instantly +1 and down any Weaver build, thus making the spec unviable.
-Necromancers absolutely do not need a nerf to their movement abilities. Catching a Necro is already easy enough as it is.
-Mirage would be better off with a total rework than just slapping it with -50 endurance. This is very much tied to the problem I outlined above with slapping cooldowns on "Super Monkey Blast". Eventually, it just makes the class unplayable. I suspect that this final nerf will probably be the nail in the coffin, dooming Mirage to forever be remembered as a badly designed spec that got nerfed to oblivion. A rework of course takes more effort than removing a dodge, but could be better for the class as a whole. Something to consider for the future maybe.
-"Just increase the cost" is a very similar problem to "just increase the cooldown". It would be better to tone down some overperforming do-everything skills than to just add more initiative.
-For instance, Staff thief will still have the best strategy being "Use mostly Staff 5" because staff 5 is both a long evade and high burst damage. A better fix would be to more significantly reduce the base damage on staff 5, and then increase the base damage of other staff skills such as staff 2. This would make thieves have to choose more between attacking or evading. Same logic applies to S/P, S/D, and DD. Increasing init costs just slows the class down, and fixes little.
-Thieves will still be able to permastealth.
-You actually missed quite a few instant casts here. Things like Surprise shot or Incendiary Ammo can add a lot of difficult-to-avoid damage.
-Prime light beam is being overnerfed. In fact, all elite CCs sort of are. This is almost worth its own thread.
-Greatsword 4 is one of the defensive moves that actually should get a CD increase due to currently being hilariously lower than every other block in the game. But a better change may be to nerf the CD to 20, and just reduce the duration to 1.5s instead. It's a counter attack, does it really need to be 3s long?
Similar problem to thief "Just increase the cost" is not a good way to nerf skills, especially since Revenants energy system is already quite self-punishing to mistakes.
-Riposting shadows to 40 energy is a huge overnerf. 40 energy will leave you with 10 energy after a swap, which renders a stunbreak near pointless since the Rev still won't be able to do much. A better nerf would be to remove fury entirely ( This DEFENSIVE MOVE has no business granting an OFFENSIVE buff ) and remove the endurance gain entirely, replacing it with 6s of vigor. This would require the Rev to think more ahead of time for endurance regen/dodges by changing the endurance gain to a timegate from vigor instead of instant. 40 energy is just a bad idea.
-The windup on staff 5 makes it unviable as an interrupt which is bad for the class as a whole as it will make rev the only class in the game without a quick way to punish skill spam with disruption. It's also unnecessary since the damage is already being gutted with every other CC skill.
-Nerfs to sustain are needed to prevent the nerfs to damage resulting in Bunker-Meta, but Might Makes right is being overnerfed when you consider the fact that might generation is also heavily nerfed.
-Absolutely no to the endure pain nerf/buff. We don't need longer duration OP skills on longer CDs. This is exactly the nonsense that this thread is talking about.
-So one thing that is just as dangerous for spam as a skill that does too many things, is the ability to have a kitten ton of skills that do too many things that can be cast very quickly. This is the main issue with Symbolbrand. Increasing CDs to symbolbrand will not change the fact that the best strategy is to stand on point and buttonmash symbols/mantras/tomes all over the place.
-Similar to Necromancer, Guardian does not need nerfs to its movement skills it is already very easy to catch a Guardian.
TL;DR Conclusion: The patch is nice and all, but hopefully it will be getting another pass before being released. It needs a lot of work and randomly increasing cooldowns/energy costs of skills in its current iteration seriously risks causing an effect on the meta that is precisely the opposite of its intended effect. Rather than all-around nerfing CDs, it would be better to take another balance pass at skill that A] Do too many things, and B] are instant cast / low counterplay.
Renegade coffee thoughts: https://en-forum.guildwars2.com/discussion/34989/major-renegade-rework-suggestions-thread