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PvE balance patches constantly ignoring underused skills is disappointing


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There's a concerning trend with pretty much every balance patch that has come out in the last few years, or longer. And it is that changes tend to only be made to abilities that see high usage. Anything else that isn't already in the PvE meta, especially core profession skills, are completely ignored. So over the course of this game's life, the number of skills people actively use has shrunk, because anything that isn't used will never be reintroduced or reworked.

 

Other games thrive on previously-ignored skills suddenly being made viable. It gets people theorycrafting. Other games like Path of Exile, ESO and FFXIV get loads of mileage out of balance patches. GW2 gets virtually none, because balance patches never actually change how anyone plays the game. They just wind up playing the same meta build with slightly different effectiveness because everything else has fallen off the radar and continues to stay off the radar.

 

The upcoming balance patch notes said they took a look at the state of play across the entire game, yet this pattern continues. We still see:

- Core spec elite skills being almost completely ignored.

- Necromancer minions being ignored (obviously a huge part of the class's identity, yet not used often in PvE and so never reworked).

- Engineer turrets being ignored (same deal as above, despite renegade skills working exactly the same way and being given balance attention).

- Elementalist cantrips being ignored.

- Countless other examples of skills that have received no PvE balance update in 2+ years (scrape the wiki, they're everywhere).

- Entire core spec traitlines are ignored. This is especially true for healing and boon support trait lines. As an example, thief and engineer have two core support specializations each, yet are not viable supports in PvE. Warrior has two core support specializations, but their support role is basically just banner bonuses. Something is off here. These professions should all be able to provide competitive boon support, but they're still balanced under GW2 launch standards where dedicated support roles didn't exist.

 

What's the deal here? Are there plans to look at unused skills in PvE and reintroduce them? Or are we only going to see balance patches for elite specs? Core skills and traits make up a huge portion of gameplay, and it's disappointing to constantly see them ignored. The build crafting in this game could be so much more interesting, but the vast majority of class abilities are given no attention.

 

Awhile back, the team stated that they wanted core builds to be competitive choices next to elite specs, and that was the best news in years. And now that idea has been canned. That's sad.

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Good post.  ANET should make an effort to buff the underused skills, and also make sure Core skills / traits are competitive with elite specs.  I don't think there is a single meta build for any class that uses core only skills/traits.

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Engineer turrets... I'm really not a turret guy but it pains me that they've been below my consideration for builds since 2013. And no, whatever happened with Experimental Turrets afterwards in sPvP doesn't count.

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I'm radical enough to want any combination of three trait lines to be viable - it would just depend on what you want to do with the character.

 

Again, we have an MMO that is: look at these multiple traits you can have. But you can't viably have all possible combinations. For example, if there are 5 traitlines then there are 10 possible combinations. With 6 traitlines (not sure if any profession has this number, but I'm sure it will increase to at least that in the expansion) the number of unique combinations increases to 20.

 

And that is assuming that you would take the same major in each trait line for each build.

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52 minutes ago, MrForz.1953 said:

Engineer turrets... I'm really not a turret guy but it pains me that they've been below my consideration for builds since 2013. And no, whatever happened with Experimental Turrets afterwards in sPvP doesn't count.

If anet makes turrets better, prepare to see more places filled with engineer bots/AFKers. Would be easy to avoid that by removing the bots/AFKers, but it is what it is.

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Not even skills or specific traits but a lot of trait lines are really messed up or have no direction. I've already said my piece about Mesmers in the class forums but definitely a lot of lines need tuning to actually do what they were meant to do, specialize.

 

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6 minutes ago, Yggranya.5201 said:

If anet makes turrets better, prepare to see more places filled with engineer bots/AFKers. Would be easy to avoid that by removing the bots/AFKers, but it is what it is.

Our turrets self-destruct after 5 minutes. Opposite to pets and minions. 

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Well, necromancer minions are used very much. By bots/afk-farmers.

Jokes aside, there really seem to be quite a lot of skills that have very niche usage at best and seem to be entirely neglected to the point where they don't even properly interact with their associated trait (Bow of Truth + Eternal Armory).

Some skills are niche by design, because they have a mechanic that simply doesn't do anything in a lot of encounters and/or are overshadowed by other skills (Wall of Reflection/Shield of the Avenger) and those should be looked at first IMO.

There's that thing game devs tend to do in these kinds of games where they deliberately make some skills/characters better than others, so they can change which skills are viable/meta with balance patches and create the illusion of new content (I know GGG, Riot and Blizzard are doing that).

I can't speak on the balance shifting in this game because I haven't played long enough, but I see there are skills that are left behind.

 

What I can and will say is that I hate the idea of deliberately changing the balance to create that illusion. If you play a game long enough, you see it for the lazy "keeping it fresh"-attempt that it is, so I don't want to see them taking this route. Proper balance across all skills and specs is what you should always go for IMO.

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For me personally, I would have less problems with the balance patches if we got them more often. It seems like we only get a few balance patches a year, with the occasional tweak or hotfix.

 

I know the game isn't focused around the end-game, but end-game and speedrunning guilds do the min-maxing to see how effective each build and class can be. Maybe they should recruit some of the Snowcrows or Discretize or [insert your favorite guild here] people to do beta testing with the developers to help tweak the classes. They could do similar type things with PVP and WVW. 

 

Maybe they do already, but them tweaking Soulbeast saying how powerful it is, then essentially buffing cFB, i personally don't think so. 

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On 5/2/2021 at 4:30 PM, Yggranya.5201 said:

If anet makes turrets better, prepare to see more places filled with engineer bots/AFKers. Would be easy to avoid that by removing the bots/AFKers, but it is what it is.

They should really make kill credit closer to what other MMORPGs do when it comes to pets and passive boon application. It's getting a little bit silly watching ArenaNet dance around the problem when there's 1/5th of the spells for two classes that are negatively impacted, while the issue is also preventing them from utilizing AI in future elite specializations. I'd rather get no kill contribution from AI companions than have them be too weak.

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, supa.8593 said:

For me personally, I would have less problems with the balance patches if we got them more often. It seems like we only get a few balance patches a year, with the occasional tweak or hotfix.

 

I know the game isn't focused around the end-game, but end-game and speedrunning guilds do the min-maxing to see how effective each build and class can be. Maybe they should recruit some of the Snowcrows or Discretize or [insert your favorite guild here] people to do beta testing with the developers to help tweak the classes. They could do similar type things with PVP and WVW. 

 

Maybe they do already, but them tweaking Soulbeast saying how powerful it is, then essentially buffing cFB, i personally don't think so. 

 

Nono definitely not a good idea.

 

people you want to design and “balance” games are people who understand the importance of variety and differentiation. One of the commenters here said something about combinations. This is exactly what the core diversity and balance issues are in this game. It’s the number of meaningful choices. Most choices are not meaningful and can be siphoned through with an optimality calculation that accelerates the speed of meta composition...that optimality calculation is not meant to happen fast at all.

Edited by JusticeRetroHunter.7684
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On 5/2/2021 at 4:30 PM, Yggranya.5201 said:

If anet makes turrets better, prepare to see more places filled with engineer bots/AFKers. Would be easy to avoid that by removing the bots/AFKers, but it is what it is.

I could get on board with that if for no other reason than to stop the bot complaint threads on the forum. 😆

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On 5/2/2021 at 9:22 PM, Tulki.1458 said:

 

Completely agree. There are Utilities, Traits, Weapon skills that I thought of severely underwhelming in the beta weekends for the base game 8+ years ago - and they still are, and always were. 

 

It's really hard for me to grasp how in all those years there was never a single person on any team with any ability, desire or inspiration to slowly creep up some of those or add interesting effects to them, to actually provide some choice. 

Or maybe worse, the niche but useful Traits that did get reworked - into utter uselessness instead. 

 

And yes, I don't want flavour of the month.. or year in GW2's cadence, either, where just a new skill is great and the old become trash, but having largely the same skills on the bar for almost a decade without any real alternatives is a bit silly too. 

Some equalization would be great there.

 

Barely ever have I struggled with Trait or Skill selection for any build in this game, because it generally is just a case of pick the one that isn't utterly useless - which in turn doesn't help with the performance gap of players either for those who have no sense of build craft, picking these severely underperforming options out of ignorance.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/2/2021 at 8:22 PM, Tulki.1458 said:

There's a concerning trend with pretty much every balance patch that has come out in the last few years, or longer. And it is that changes tend to only be made to abilities that see high usage.

I find it strange that despite balance patch notes stating that some skills are being changed BECAUSE they don't get used, the changes are never significant enough to bring them into use. 

 

This practice seems;

1) Cautious -which is understandable, but underwhelming..

2) A waste of time and effort - why go to the trouble of identifying these issues if the changes are too cautious?

 

I'll give you an example, for YEARS and YEARS the cooldown on guardian's Sanctuary skill has been creeping lower and lower. It's still not low enough and with Torment being reversed so that you take damage whilst standing still, it'll never be low enough! But I guess these skills don't need fixing, they need replacing - 
The bottom line is that it could have NO cooldown and people still wouldn't use it. - I would prefer it if they were written off as a bad job - they aren't worth the effort and there are plenty of other skills to use. I think they should be abandoned instead of resources being wasted tweaking them

Edited by Svarty.8019
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55 minutes ago, Svarty.8019 said:

I find it strange that despite balance patch notes stating that some skills are being changed BECAUSE they don't get used, the changes are never significant enough to bring them into use. 

 

This practice seems;

1) Cautious -which is understandable, but underwhelming..

2) A waste of time and effort - why go to the trouble of identifying these issues if the changes are too cautious?

 

I'll give you an example, for YEARS and YEARS the cooldown on guardian's Sanctuary skill has been creeping lower and lower. It's still not low enough and with Torment being reversed so that you take damage whilst standing still, it'll never be low enough! But I guess these skills don't need fixing, they need replacing - 
The bottom line is that it could have NO cooldown and people still wouldn't use it. - I would prefer it if they were written off as a bad job - they aren't worth the effort and there are plenty of other skills to use. I think they should be abandoned instead of resources being wasted tweaking them

 

Aint sanctuary the skill cfb use to cc things in 100cm?

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12 minutes ago, Linken.6345 said:

 

So what  Svarty.8019 said make no sence about it then? 

I agree with their general sentiment that Anet's changes are either too cautious, or completely uninspired/misdirected, resulting in a waste of resources. Just Sanctuary in particular slowly inched to be in a decent spot now.

The problem is, that took 8 years.

 

8 years of balance patches to go from 120 sec CD (2012), to 90 sec (early 2016), to 75 seconds (late 2016, + size and healing buffs), to 60 seconds (2019) to now finally 50 seconds (2021).. is insane. 

 

If this process for skills would take a few months, I'm all for creeping changes until a skill becomes used. I actually think that's a great way of balancing to see when the sweetspot/tipping point is reached. 

 

But when it takes 8 years to slowly get the CD of a Utility skill right, or when they completely rework a niche Trait in the absolute wrong direction, dumbing it down, stripping an interesting mechanic from a profession - for something that will then never be used by anyone who even remotely understands the game, it's just a head scratcher.

 

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4 minutes ago, Asum.4960 said:

I agree with their general sentiment that Anet's changes are either too cautious, or completely uninspired/misdirected, resulting in a waste of resources. Just Sanctuary in particular slowly inched to be in a decent spot now.

The problem is, that took 8 years.

 

8 years of balance patches to go from 120 sec CD (2012), to 90 sec (early 2016), to 75 seconds (late 2016, + size and healing buffs), to 60 seconds (2019) to now finally 50 seconds (2021).. is insane. 

 

If this process for skills would take a few months, I'm all for creeping changes until a skill becomes used. I actually think that's a great way of balancing to see when the sweetspot/tipping point is reached. 

 

But when it takes 8 years to slowly get the CD of a Utility skill right, or when they completely rework a niche Trait in the absolute wrong direction, dumbing it down, stripping an interesting mechanic from a profession - for something that will then never be used by anyone who even remotely understands the game, it's just a head scratcher.

 

 

I agree with what your saying mate but saying it wont be used when it already clearly is.

I cant agree with that.

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