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LudicSavant
2nd Dec 2014, 23:33
Hey, I'm LudicSavant from team PSY. It's early yet; the metagame is continuously evolving and each tournament so far has seen new tactics introduced, and I believe that the potential of some strategies is still yet to be tapped. Nonetheless, I thought it might be helpful to post my current impressions on balance here.

Side balance:
Humans are, straight up, the superior side. In any game where you're dealing with two skilled teams, humans have the advantage.

Some have observed that this doesn't seem to be reflected in many pubs. The reason this often isn't reflected in pubs is because many players seem to have some very bad assumptions about how humans are supposed to be played and have poor habits which make it difficult to win against halfway competent vampire players (running away, rolling around pointlessly when hit, the toxic idea that you're supposed to "stay close together" instead of covering firing lanes or pushing, camping in really terrible positions, focusing only on the guy hitting you, etc). By contrast, beginner assumptions about vampires tend to be less off the mark (go in together, focus down a guy out of position, evade if focused, etc).

Regardless, this probably isn't a particularly bad balance issue either way: Vampires aren't as disadvantaged against humans as some sides are in many other asymmetric shooters (like Left 4 Dead 2), and both teams get to play as both sides, making it ultimately a fair fight.

Inter-Class Balance:
Reavers are the strongest vampires, but all of the other classes have niche value. Hunters are the strongest humans, but all of the other classes have niche value. Competitive teams are usually at least half Reavers / Hunters, and 4 Reavers or 4 Hunters are competitively viable teams in the highest level matches. I've yet to see a competitive team composition which did not include at least two Reavers and at least one Hunter. Some classes are better than others against certain team compositions, but there really aren't any hard counters except for Alchemist vs Sentinels.

The Reaver is indispensable to the vampire side for several reasons. The biggest reason is smoke. Blocking line of sight is absolutely crucial to high level play. Every competitive team currently relies on smoke screens to have a chance to do their jobs. In addition to having what is possibly the most crucial ability for high level teamplay in the game, Reavers have a deadly combination of high burst damage (via their roundhouse kick) and being hard to pin down and finish off (via Shadow Step). Their Shadow Step is notable for being one of the few effective responses to being hit with a Poison Bola or Blinding Shot, abilities which are ubiquitous throughout high level matches.

The Hunter is simply is stacked with powerful tools.
- Their crossbows are highly and consistently accurate for anyone who uses them like a semiautomatic rather than holding the button down, and do high damage. They lose little for an individual miss and can easily spray through smoke or at invisible deceivers to try to "tag" enemies, seeing a number pop up and being able to accurately target their prey from then on.
- Pretty much all of the Hunter secondary abilities are very good. Blinding Shot is accurate, covers a good area, shoots around cover, and effectively disorients vampires. Unlike the Alchemist's blind, it even does some decent damage. Explosive Shot doesn't do much less damage than a Light Bomb and it comes out faster, has a straighter trajectory, and can be sprayed. Grenades can be accurately placed and do massive AoE damage.
- Poison Bola is pretty much hands down the strongest option for the Hunter's Primary Ability. It has a large hitbox and is one of the most effective crowd control abilities in the entire game in addition to dealing significant damage. One of the reasons Reaver's Shadow Step is so good is because it is probably the best ability for dealing with getting hit by a Poison Bola.

Intra-Class Balance
Alchemist
Handcannon, Fullbore Cannon, and Multicannon all have pros and cons compared to each other, with no really clear best option. I've yet to see Viscous Cannon be put to good use. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these weapons is somewhat undermined by a common bug (it seems to happen just about every match) which causes some of your grenades to be duds. There is little more frustrating than getting a direct hit with a high damage grenade and watching it explode on an enemy's face... only for it to do zero damage and for them to escape a lethal hit (or sometimes even a multi-kill hit). This apparently happens for some other classes and abilities too, but it's most important and noticeable for the alchemist.

I currently feel that Light Bomb is better than Sunlight Vial. Sunlight Vial doesn't really seem to match up to how good Blinding Shot is, and the Alchemist isn't really good at following up on vampires scattering off in random directions since she needs to lead enemy movement to hit with her slow-moving projectiles (by contrast, the Hunter is fantastic at this, blinding shot combos well into his other abilities).

Immolation deserves special attention here: Immolation is just bad. It's not just bad because it's weak, it's bad because it's an ability where the player using the ability has next to no control over its results. The delay is so long, the telegraph so obvious, and the counterplay so simple that the only way you can really hit competent players with it is if they allow you to do so, and even in those cases the damage simply isn't much better than a Light Bomb. You can't even use it as a "get off me" button, because an organized team of Reavers is going to easily kill you before those 4 seconds are up (and your other abilities are better at getting people off you anyways). In a higher level match, it is little more than a way to deal damage to yourself. The absolute best thing it can be expected to do is make vampires roll away from a particular location right before the explosion, at the cost of essentially hitting yourself with a melee attack *and* being vulnerable to a charged counter. It simply is not competitive with other Alchemist abilities, let alone with a Hunter outfitted with Siege Bow, Blinding Shot, and Poison Bola. Or simply with a grenade.

Flame Wall and Healing Mist are the strongest secondary abilities. Poison Fog is underwhelming, overshadowed by the likes of explosives or Volley (not having that vertical coverage and radius matters!).

Flamethrower, like Immolation, is not worth considering. Its range is too short and its damage is too low for the vulnerabilities it brings with it. The inability to use your handcannon while firing it means that it's little more than a situational alternative to reloading which might be a tad better than pressing the melee button, and that's about it.

Hunter
I've seen different high level players make use of pretty much every crossbow, though the default Repeater seems to be the most popular. Getting in the habit of firing them with individual clicks and paying attention to the reticule size allows you to be very accurate with them.

Poison Bola has a surprisingly huge hitbox (to the point that it can sometimes hit people around walls), strong damage, and one of the best CCs in the game.

Bola is like Poison Bola, except without the 240 damage hit. In practice it CCs less effectively AND does less damage. "But Ludic," you ask, "how can Bola's CC actually be worse than Poison Bola's? Doesn't it last .5 seconds longer?" Here's the thing: A bola either lasts until it hits a damage threshold or the enemy uses an ability which can break a Bola (like Takeoff). If the enemy is using an ability to break the bola, well, that .5 extra seconds isn't happening, but the damage over time still is. If the enemy is not using an ability to break the bola, you either are going to break the bola with gunfire or leave the enemy to stew while you deal with his teammates. In the latter case, the Poison Bola will, over time, rack up nearly the damage threshold in damage, meaning that you lose very little for choosing to let them wait out the full duration without firing on them. With a normal bola, there's more of a tradeoff for choosing to use the full CC duration.

On the other hand, the regular Bola has a shorter cooldown, making it more forgiving to whiff or allowing it to be used more confidently to pressure enemies. (I overlooked this in my original analysis. Thanks Razaiim!)

All of the Secondary abilities have their uses. Grenade, Blinding Shot, and Explosive Shot are especially powerful. Blinding Shot is probably the most powerful of all of these, dealing up to 195 damage and blinding vampires... essentially giving the Hunter not one but two highly effective damaging disables.

Scout
All of the bows have their uses, though I've seen Swiftbow and Compound Bow the most in competitive play so far. I guess Warbow might show up more if Sentinels were more common, but they're not. Stormbow seems like it has value in mitigating the impact of range on damage, in addition to its small AoE.

Knives are the best Primary Ability. Quick ranged stuns are just as good as they've always been. Knock vampires off walls, interrupt a charged shot or kick, whatever. Camouflage and Mark Target just aren't worth giving up knives for.

Volley is one of the best area denial abilities in the game, easily overshadowing Turret. Grappling Hook can be viable on some maps, but useless on others. Trap has obvious utility. The only really useless choice here is Turret, all three of the other abilities show up in tournaments. Grapple could stand to be useful on more maps, though.

Prophet
Heavy Pistols seem like the go-to choice for most players due to the need for precision. Having the extra time to aim and a consistently tiny reticule without sacrificing much DPS is important.

Life Leech's handy combination of offense and defense is probably better than Eldritch Guard, simply because Eldritch Guard has occasionally unreliable targeting and a slow startup that could have been used to kill the vampire assailing your teammate. And of course, it can't defend yourself, which means that a Prophet using it loses some of their great pushing power.

Draining Curse is useful for area damage and health regeneration. Unlike most AoEs, it doesn't really telegraph and shows up instantly at its destination, which is handy. Also unlike most AoEs, you can't lob it over stuff, which matters in some situations.

Hex Shot is like Poison Bola-lite: It won't knock Sents out of the air or pluck vampires off of walls or hit people around walls with a massive hitbox, and it doesn't do nearly-full-threshold damage without player attention like Poison Bola, but it can't be broken by abilities and combos well with the Heavy Pistols.

Disabling Curse is meh, but it reveals Deceivers. Sacrifice stops you from shooting. Anyways, this means that most of the Prophets I encounter are using Draining Curse or Hex Shot.

To be fair, however, I haven't really experimented with Sacrifice or Eldritch Guard much, and I've rarely seen them used.

Reaver
Sweeping Kick, Shadow Bomb, and Shadow Step is generally the best loadout. Sweeping Kick, Choking Haze, and Shadow Step show up sometimes, but only if there are already reavers with Shadow Bomb on the team. Sometimes a variety of pounce shows up to disable a specific person, but it's pretty rare.

Sweeping Kick is king of its slot. The fact that it can be cancelled means that it can be used for high mobility and bluffing, as well as not really being able to whiff as much as it otherwise would be. A charged melee into a sweeping kick means that a human has little chance to respond.

Shadow Bomb is essential to disrupt high level human teamwork. Choking Haze is a viable niche alternative if you already have 2 or 3 smokes.

Shadow Step, like Sweeping Kick, is king of its slot. It's a get-out-of-jail-cheap card for common death sentences like Poison Bola, as well as a fantastic mobility tool for getting back into a fight after a death, sneaking into positions without being chipped by humans, setting up ambushes, or initiating. Its short cooldown means you can often use it multiple times during an encounter. Evasion simply does not offer the defensive and offensive utility of this highly versatile ability.

Sentinel
I rarely see these in competitive play, except to counter Alchemists. Can be shut down pretty hard by a Warbow or Bolas (though Takeoff can break out, it'll leave you vulnerable in the sky). Still, nothing really stands out as overly weak in their kit to me. I don't feel like its potential has been fully tapped yet. The Sentinel has all kinds of advanced tricks which I expect will take time for the meta to fully realize the potential of.

Deceiver
Disguise allows unorthodox approaches, but Hunters who hear or see a footstep can lock on to you with sprays and a Bolas is usually a death sentence. Being unable to sprint or roll in disguise mode makes it highly situational to use for anything other than the initial invisibility (I can understand why no sprint, but why no roll?). Dominate Mind may have some use against overextended pushes, but it is generally very vulnerable to an aware team. Generally you'll be using Disguise.

Infect is generally better than Backstab, despite the fact that good players will rarely infect each other and the fact that it has an annoying tendency to occasionally slide right off of a directly-hit victim. Quite simply, it's more reliable; Backstab is both more situational and has a very finicky hitbox for registering an actual backstab.

Shroud and Clones both have their uses, though Clones could stand to be more predictable / controllable on the user's end.

Tyrant
Charge is generally better than Jump, though Jump can be devastating if it catches people by surprise. Marathon has a niche in expanding the places you can approach a good team from.

Shockwave is generally the best primary ability (due to its range, damage, knockdown, AoE, and the fact that you can start the animation in midair), followed by Ground Slam. Throw leaves you too open to enemy fire, but in pubs it's useful for shutting down that one good player (or that one guy who's always out of position) on the enemy team.

Ignore Pain and Enrage offer interestingly different playstyles which are both strong, though Enrage is probably stronger in organized play since encounters are resolved more quickly and escape is more difficult. The buff to Ignore Pain is very noticeable and makes a significant difference.

Perks Balance:

- Bloodlust and Frenzy seem to be the go-to choices for vampires. I've heard of some good players using Berserker occasionally, too. In the end, you just want to get out that extra burst damage before the humans shut you down.

- On Humans Deadeye, Tinkerer, Fleet Footed, and Quick Hands are decent. Quick Hands seems to be the preferred perk for Alchemists, Deadeye for Prophet and Hunter, Deadeye or Tinkerer for Scout.

I never see perks like Steadiness, Scavenger, Feast, and Catlike Reflexes.

Dropped Items Balance
Items with special abilities which are far too rare for any two players to have similar loadout options undermines a sense of competitive fairness, especially since some of the random drop qualities are far superior to others. Currently these "grind to win" items are allowed in tournaments simply because disallowing them would be too inconvenient to enforce. As a result, I suggest that there be an option to ban non-vanilla items from private matches.

___

Short version:
Standout balance issues for me: Poison Bolas and Throwing Knives are very strong, and tend to outshine their direct competitors. Sunlight Vial is outshined by Light Bomb and Blinding Shot. Flamewall and Healing Mist outshine their competitors, but mostly because they aren't competing with much. Turret and Poison Fog are outshined by Volley. Backstab is outshined by Infect due to its unreliable hitbox. Flamethrower and Immolation are insultingly weak. Kick / Shadow Bomb / Shadow Step is the best all-around Reaver loadout and shows up constantly; Evasion, Haste, and Pounce simply don't measure up. Alchemists against Sentinels is the most unbalanced matchup in the game. Reavers and Hunters are the strongest classes. Humans are the strongest side.

Thoughts?

HappinessIsAWarmGun
2nd Dec 2014, 23:55
There are many great points here, would love to see sentinel be more viable in competitive.

Psyonix_Corey
3rd Dec 2014, 03:17
Good stuff, thanks for the comprehensive feedback.

I don't have time tonight to reply in detail, but I agree with a lot of your points and would like to do an overall pass on subpar abilities (Sunlight Vial, Flamethrower, Takeoff, Dominate Mind, etc.) soon.

One note I will make is that I don't personally think every ability needs to be tournament competitive. I agree Immolation is in a weird place - we went too conservative with it on release out of concern that it would lead to stacking in pubs that would be frustrating to play against, but it's not terribly useful as-is. But I'm OK with an ability or two per class that functions more as a fun / pub gimmick build than a top tier competitive option.

CdXXtheFeared
3rd Dec 2014, 09:07
Reavers are strong with sweeping kick/smoke/step but at the same time they are the "most viable" in competitive play but Humans teams in most cases can overcome the Reaver spam because Hunter spam is even stronger, Hunter's have highest single target dps excluding scout powershot arguably the best cc. A counter to any vamp can be found in the hunter kit. I am not sure if Hunter vs Reaver with an odd class mixed in is necessarily a bad meta I dont mind it do you guys ?

lBiteyl
3rd Dec 2014, 09:28
My first official POST seems like a good place to put my own opinions of where benefits could be made. Following up on Ludic should be easy enough and he points out a few things that I tend to agree with when it comes to balancing out gameplay. In my view the vampire side needs more interesting mechanics to make all abilities viable like you're striving for @Corey.

Reaver

As Ludic said the optimal setup for yielding the best results in competitive play relies on Kick, Shadow Bomb, and Shadow Step. After the balance patch from some time ago now, much of the feasibility of other configurations as killed off by the former balance attempts. I believe that the three leaping attacks pounce, savage pounce, and leap attack need to be dramatically different from each other in their on field usage. Ontop of that I believe a general nerf to kick should be applied. Here are some ideas I've had a few times about the leaping abilities:

Pounce- This ability should focus primary on the rip and tear stage of pouncing rather then just being an inferior savage pounce. Leaving the aim-assist in tact, the ability will now focus on connecting onto a hunter and dealing massive DoT while being on an enemy. It will be useful for punishing solo humans who don't mind their LOS by keeping them pinned and under damage. The connecting damage can be should be nerfed to compensate for a dramatic buff in DoT and duration of the ability once landing a pounce. I believe the duration for the rip/tear stage should be at least 4-6 seconds and force teammates to respond. Perhaps even increasing the damage that a pounce reaver can take before he's forced off an enemy.

A secondary change is that perhaps the standard pounce, the reaver can only be removed if killed, stunned, or melee'd off. This makes a dramatic difference in terms of how the ability could be utilized.

Savage Pounce- This ability should focus on hail mary high flying pounce damage. The low-end damage needs to be increased to pre-nerf stats or higher. The high end damage should remain where it's at, and the rip/tear phase damage should utilize the current Pounce numbers. There should be focus on making bombastic landings for high-risk/high-reward setups. You could increase the traveling speed and gravity of this pounce to make it fixate on landing the big hits. The rip/tear phase on this setup should be nerfred to compensate for the new upfront damage buff and keep the current 2 second of tearing. Unlike revised pounce, this can be interrupted as it normally is in the current build

Leap Attack: This attack should allow for more parkour energy filled gameplay. I think that this ability could grant one wall leap attack. Example is that reaver jumps from floor onto wall, then is granted a secondary jump off of that surface 1 time. Similar to how the hunter performs in the L4D games, but only being allowed one additional leap. This makes for a very energy filled movement style letting players create interesting attack paths which don't yet exist.


Kick Nerf- I suggest increasing the cooldown to 10 seconds and/or removing the ability to cancel the kick animation. Currently you're able to kick-roll as a melee-roll movement alternative. Ontop of being able to cancel a failed kick and recast you can bluff a human by cancelling to force a dodge roll.


Those four changes would dramatically increase diversity for Reaver players. I'd love some feedback on those particular settings, hopefully I'll have time tomorrow to make additional posts on this subject covering tyrant, deciever, and eventually talking some human ideas.

Khalith
3rd Dec 2014, 09:43
Stuff

Spot on post Ludic, your thoughts mirror my own. I'll admit I don't play competitively, but as someone that's been playing the game for a long time, I've come to recognize what you've said as true. It's good hearing someone that's played competitively recognizes these things, especially when I read threads from people claiming Reaver is the weakest vampire (the mind boggles). What are your thoughts on Prophet? You didn't mention them in your post, in my opinion, Prophet is the second strongest human, nearly as strong as Hunter.

13oundary
3rd Dec 2014, 10:24
Some amazing insights here for relatively new players like myself. I have to agree with Khalith on the strengths of the prophet, that hex shot coupled with massive semi-auto click style damage and a minor nuke that is fairly ballanced with the minor heal (making it an all around decent change in relative hp in one on one battles)... but perhaps it is just my own success with them that colours my opinion here.

I know this may be obvious but I wanted to ask peoples thoughts on perks ballance... if certain builds like sweep/smoke/step are fairly ubiquitous... is there that one perk that really makes the build shine... or is there one really good perk per side that I'm missing regardless of class/side?.. I pretty much look at reduced cooldowns and think... hell yeah!

PencileyePirate
3rd Dec 2014, 11:00
All good points. One thing to reflect on ... alchemist poison became noticeably less useful when the duration was reduced (so I don't think it's purely a matter of vertical coverage and radius.) It was obvious, as fire became much more popular. In most scenarios I would rather see buffs to weak abilities rather than nerfs to strong ones, except in the case of kick which definitely needs a shorter cancellation window and possibly +1-2sec on CD.


I know this may be obvious but I wanted to ask peoples thoughts on perks ballance... if certain builds like sweep/smoke/step are fairly ubiquitous... is there that one perk that really makes the build shine... or is there one really good perk per side that I'm missing regardless of class/side?.. I pretty much look at reduced cooldowns and think... hell yeah!

Deadeye is great on Hunters and Scouts, Fast Hands works wonders on alchemist, and I think Bloodlust is pretty useful for any vampires who tend to play aggressively (e.g. routinely trying to double up kills, rather than hit & run.)

But definitely reduced CDs on Deceiver.

LudicSavant
3rd Dec 2014, 16:31
Answering some questions posed above:

Perks:

- I use Frenzy most of the time for vampires. Bloodlust is also very good. I've heard of some good players using Berserker. In the end, you just want to get out that extra burst damage before the humans shut you down.

- On Humans Deadeye, Tinkerer, Fleet Footed, and Quick Hands are decent. Quick Hands seems to be the preferred perk for Alchemists, Deadeye for most everyone else.

I never see perks like Steadiness, Scavenger, Feast, and Catlike Reflexes.

Prophet:

The Prophet is strong in the hands of players with very consistent aim like Bitey. It just isn't the master-of-all-trades that the Hunter is.

Heavy Pistols seem like the go-to choice for most players due to the need for precision.

Life Leech's handy combination of offense and defense is probably better than Eldritch Guard, simply because Eldritch Guard has occasionally unreliable targeting and a slow startup that could have been used to kill the vampire.

Draining Curse is useful for area damage, and Hex Shot is like Bolas-lite. Disabling Curse is meh, but it reveals Deceivers. Sacrifice stops you from shooting.

To be fair, I haven't experimented with Guard or Sacrifice much, and I've never really seen them used.

___

Bola is like Poison Bola, except without the 240 damage hit. In practice it CCs less effectively AND does less damage. "But Ludic," you ask, "how can Bola's CC actually be worse than Poison Bola's? Doesn't it last .5 seconds longer?" Here's the thing: A bola either lasts until it hits a damage threshold or the enemy uses an ability which can break a Bola (like Takeoff). If the enemy is using an ability to break the bola, well, that .5 extra seconds isn't happening, but the damage over time still is. If the enemy is not using an ability to break the bola, you either are going to break the bola with gunfire or leave the enemy to stew while you deal with his teammates. In the latter case, the Poison Bola will, over time, rack up nearly the damage threshold in damage, meaning that you lose very little for choosing to let them wait out the full duration without firing on them. With a normal bola, there's more of a tradeoff for choosing to use the full CC duration.

In short, Poison Bola is way better than normal Bola. Always. No contest.


All good points. One thing to reflect on ... alchemist poison became noticeably less useful when the duration was reduced (so I don't think it's purely a matter of vertical coverage and radius.) It was obvious, as fire became much more popular.

Yeah. That nerf seemed like an odd choice to me, since I was using Flame Wall over Poison Fog before the nerf, too. Currently, the nerf just means that everyone uses Healing Mist and Flame Wall.



Kick Nerf- I suggest increasing the cooldown to 10 seconds and/or removing the ability to cancel the kick animation. Currently you're able to kick-roll as a melee-roll movement alternative. Ontop of being able to cancel a failed kick and recast you can bluff a human by cancelling to force a dodge roll.

Getting rid of the kick-cancel would definitely make it require some more risk for its reward.

Malkev
3rd Dec 2014, 19:34
A secondary change is that perhaps the standard pounce, the reaver can only be removed if killed, stunned, or melee'd off. This makes a dramatic difference in terms of how the ability could be utilized.

4 reavers with pounce hit the 4 humans = Free points.

LudicSavant
3rd Dec 2014, 19:53
4 reavers with pounce hit the 4 humans = Free points.

I'd be sad if Alchemists had no good way to deal with pouncing Reavers. They already have a hard enough time with Sentinels... and that'll only get worse if Sentinels are buffed to show up more in competitive play. The only real reason Alchemists are relevant now is because they're good against current Reavers. If a reaver could only be removed by being killed, stunned, or melee attacked, Alchemists would go from being quite good at removing pounce reavers (one grenade does it) to being the only class unable to do it at a distance short of a kill (since they have no ranged stuns).

I do, however, like the idea of Pounce being an ability that forces teammates to respond at the cost of connecting damage. Pulling off simultaneous pounces should be very rewarding.

Jallford
4th Dec 2014, 14:30
Good analysis and helpful level of detail. I have no intention of playing competitively but might give Blinding Shot a go. I don't see it often in pub matches but when I do it usually routs a whole attack.

13oundary
4th Dec 2014, 16:59
Yeah, Blinding Shot has wrecked a few 'All In!' attempts that I've seen/tried.

DesolatedMaggot
4th Dec 2014, 17:02
Great post, I agree with most everything. Even as a non-competitive player. I rather like Bitey's Pounce suggestions too. Would love to give a try to the Leap Attack suggestion especially, that kind of mobility sounds like a lot of fun.

Saturnity
4th Dec 2014, 17:30
catlike reflexes might even see some pub use if it got weakened but removed most of the getup time.

LudicSavant
4th Dec 2014, 18:38
Good analysis and helpful level of detail. I have no intention of playing competitively but might give Blinding Shot a go. I don't see it often in pub matches but when I do it usually routs a whole attack.

Blinding Shot and Shadow Bomb are seen way less in pub matches than their strength warrants. Why are these support abilities underappreciated in pubs? Well, I'd wager a few of the factors include...

1) Social psychology. If it doesn't help your damage or KD ratio on the scoreboard, it's not a real contribution in the minds of some players... or perhaps the players simply fear that *other* players think like this, and won't recognize their contributions if they aren't going up on the scoreboard. Shadow Bomb is a massive aid to your team, but it doesn't have that direct and obvious correlation between its use and damage ticking up on the scoreboard like Choking Haze does. And of course, abilities that cause your allies to survive better or deal more damage raise *their* scores relative to yours! This is socially disadvantageous in the minds of many players, who would rather be the failed Carry of a losing team than be the under-appreciated Support of a winning team.

Basically, a not-insubstantial proportion of players either consciously or subconsciously fear this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGy5ZJ8cSUE (for those not familiar with League of Legends: Supports and AD carries are typically paired in bottom lane. AD carries can't do a whole lot without the Support doing work, but AD carries tend to get the credit when things go well and supports tend to get the blame when things go wrong, especially in lower-rank games).

2) Less obvious mechanics and general lack of cues that help players learn the abilities. For example, most players don't know which part of the smoke completely obscures you and which part only mostly obscures you. They also don't understand what circumstances would allow enemy players to "tag" them through smoke or not. With blinds, there is no really obvious debuff indicator like there is for Bola or Hex Shot, so beginners may be unsure of whether their ability hit at all, let alone the specifics of its duration. This also feeds into issue #1: Your allies can see that you landed a Bola or Hex Shot very clearly and will appreciate it. Your pub allies probably won't notice that you blinded the vampires. In fact, they might not even notice you were using Blinding Shot instead of Explosive Shot. If it was more visually (or otherwise) obvious that the vampires were blinded, the ability would probably be more appreciated.

3) Lack of role models. Cooperative play is relatively rare in Nosgoth's community right now. There isn't a warbands system, ESL replays still aren't being reliably uploaded for some reason, the community is small, and most people are just wandering around pubs with wildly unbalanced teams.

The role models people do imitate often aren't ideal. Sometimes these unbalanced teams will have clear "frontrunner" players on the scoreboards, massively outscoring other players, who will then try to imitate these people. These people probably aren't using much teamwork in these games, since they know they're technically superior and know they can't rely on their teammates to win. Using support abilities, no matter how useful to other high-skill players, is of questionable use when you're creating opportunities for teammates who don't know how to exploit them. When you're much better than your teammates, the strategy is generally to try to out-race their suicidal natures by tracking down enemies and dealing massive damage before your ally can kill themselves. You can't rely on them to, say, take advantage of a blind or heal to escape or defeat their foe on their own: You need to expect to bring all of the damage.

___

From a game design point of view, #1 can be addressed by a better matchmaking system and public MMR rankings. #2 can be addressed by having better cues that more effectively communicate relevant game information to players (such as how the Enrage / Ignore Pain visual effect changes made it much clearer which of those abilities were being used). #3 can be addressed by a larger community, a warbands / organized play lobby system, and/or spectator sports.

SilentVirtue
4th Dec 2014, 21:02
sentinel is fine, i won esl with the class... people just don't understand how the class is supposed to work, and waste their airstrike at the beginning of a fight, rather than using it at the end when the humans group up. i would like to see a buff to dive bomb, it needs to do more damage than airstrike or the CC needs to be longer. i can only ever manage a 200 dmg dive bomb from a building (good luck flying any higher in esl.

Razaiim
4th Dec 2014, 23:37
I'm going to agree with you for the most part Ludic, but there is some stuff that you are missing, that is worth mentioning:

Bola vs Poison Bola: You're missing the part the standard bola has only a 12 second cooldown compared to poison's 20, meaning it can be used significantly more often, and missing a bola at the start of the fight is not always the death sentence it is with poison, and is the main reason why I use standard.

Flamethrower + Poison: Flamethrower does significantly more damage on hit than Firewall, and does a slight bit more damage over 3 seconds instead of 2. The biggest reason Flamethrower is so weak is how easy it is to cancel, not so much the cooldown or range. Unlike firewall, the flame thrower can be canceled for reduced CD if you are not doing damage. Poison cloud does do hefty damage, and it can be valuable for flushing a vampire out of a hiding spot or indoors for your team to dance around.

Sacrifice: Sacrifice is a powerful heal, and much better than the Alchemist's own, but does require careful use, another healer, or good out of the way positioning to stay alive.

Warbow+StormBow+AutoTurret: I exclusively use either of these, as the stormbow is less mitigated by range, and can also be used to flush out a vampire, and Splash is handy. The Warbow I use when I see sentinels or tyrants, as in my personal experience I see more jump then charge. It leads to a nice combo of Warbow right over you, drop auto-turret, knife when they stand up, fire a couple shots. I'd go far enough to argue the Warbow is the strongest bow in terms of securing kills with a competent human team, and provides amazing defense potential.

Auto-Turret is best combined with CC, and is much stronger than volley in terms of damage and lasts longer. I use it when I'm up against anything except 2 sents or pounce reavers

Sentinel: Not totally wrecked by bola if the sentinel player knows how to play and bait. Experienced sents rarely get bola'd by flying in a non-linear way, and knowing how to dodge-boost. Sentinel has been my main since Alpha, and only a scout heavy team stops me from playing when I want to. The only thing that feels substantially weaker is echo-locate. Dive bomb is a close second as good use of it doesn't work well with the sentinel's primary.

LudicSavant
5th Dec 2014, 03:14
Bola vs Poison Bola: You're missing the part the standard bola has only a 12 second cooldown compared to poison's 20, meaning it can be used significantly more often, and missing a bola at the start of the fight is not always the death sentence it is with poison, and is the main reason why I use standard. Good point. I overlooked that. Will edit the first post with this and some of your other feedback in mind. Thanks a ton!


sentinel is fine, i won esl with the class... people just don't understand how the class is supposed to work, and waste their airstrike at the beginning of a fight, rather than using it at the end when the humans group up.

I generally agree. As I said in my original post, I don't see anything as being particularly weak in the Sentinel's kit and suspect that there's definitely potential to be tapped there. The Sentinel has a ton of advanced tricks to work with and I think it will take time for the meta to fully realize their potential. I simply haven't been seeing them often yet.

uNborn-
5th Dec 2014, 18:48
https://i.imgflip.com/eyj2s.jpg

Enlightened_Fool
8th Dec 2014, 14:58
The bolas always remind me that despite the animation, it acts and looks differently than one thinks it would.
I've nabbed people "around" corners by throwing it pretty much right next to the corner/edge, and while it looks like the bola would hit the edge of the corner and stop it, like it would irl. It acts more like a standard projectile like say a alchemist nade(well, less like a bolt) in terms of how it works, and part of the bola will go through the wall.
Otherwise good points, and I don't play competitive.