Guild Wars 2 deep-dives the what and why of next week’s balance patch

    
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Earlier this week, Justin and I were noting that the problem with Guild Wars 2 balance patches is that the patch notes are often presented without comment or context, so the players are left in the dark about ArenaNet’s big picture and all the changes look scattershot. I doubt ArenaNet was listening, but I’m nevertheless happy to say that the company dropped a big forum post yesterday that basically filled in many of the gaps in knowledge regarding the next week’s update.

“In this update, we’re preparing for Cantha by cleaning up longstanding frustrations with boons and conditions, as well as by positioning existing builds as new potential sources of alacrity and quickness in group play,” an unnamed staffer explains.

“Among these changes are new duration caps for each boon and condition, a rework of the retaliation and resistance boons, and a reversal to the bonus-damage state of the torment condition. Torment will now deal bonus damage to targets that are standing still instead of to moving targets. This change will enhance torment’s performance in most boss encounters and create better opportunities for synergy and counterplay in PvP.

“The retaliation boon has long been a pain point, both in PvE and PvP. It’s not particularly impactful to use, and it’s never fun to play against. We have replaced it with a new boon, resolution, which complements the existing protection boon by reducing incoming damage from conditions (bleeding, poisoned, burning, torment, and confusion) by 33%. Many current traits and skills use retaliation in some way, or to added effect; those traits aren’t going away! Generally, they’ve been updated to use the new resolution boon. As always, the detailed patch notes below will tell you exactly what’s happening for each profession.

“Similarly, we’re not quite happy with how resistance is a hard shutdown on all conditions, which creates overlapping gameplay with skills that cleanse conditions. We’re updating resistance to only affect nondamaging conditions. In other words, resolution helps reduce damage from bleeding, poisoned, burning, torment, and confusion, while resistance lets you temporarily ignore blinded, chilled, crippled, fear, immobilized, slow, taunt, vulnerability, and weakness. Since we’re reducing the overall effect of resistance, we’re also reevaluating and increasing durations in some skills where it is applied.”

The post then goes through every single class and details what’s being changed and why. For example, the studio says Mesmer mantras are flawed and needed a big user experience overhaul, that endgame Elementalists needed some love, that nobody plays Scrappers, and so forth. You may not like the changes, but you can’t say they’re not being explained fully anymore. Cheers, ArenaNet.

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SmiteDoctor

So how did Reapers and Scrapper turn out for the PVE Meta?

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Dean Greenhoe

Shakes head. Balance… an unachievable goal.

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Bhagpuss Bhagpuss

I’m confused. I thought this was going to be something new but those are the same notes (from the same forum post) that came when the update was announced.

As for the material facts, any amount of explanation won’t ever change the plain fact that all balance patches ever do is saw a little bit of the table leg to try and make it stand straight. And we all know how that works…

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Moc Ora

I sense we’re headed into the DoT cycle again..

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Bruno Brito

FB changes are passable, Warrior and Thief changes are completely misguided. They wanted to improve Thief build diversity and as a result…they killed a Thief build. They want to make Warrior have more trait choices and as a result…they force banner Warriors completely into Discipline.

Do these people actually play their own game to a decent enough level to understand how said game works?

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Atryue

I have vague recollections (from past quotes) that the GW2 balance team doesn’t necessarily play the classes they change.

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Bruno Brito

I mean, i remember one of the devs playing bearbow.

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Arktouros

Do these people actually play their own game to a decent enough level to understand how said game works?

Their design/balance philosophy is 100% based on metrics and usage. Too many people use something, then everything else around it needs to be nerfed. Then after nerfing everything else if that still doesn’t get people to use it they will finally buff it while never admitting the other nerfs were unnecessary and leaving them in place.

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Bruno Brito

I feel weird about how they do these things tho. If a elite spec is overperforming, they nerf the core spec parts that worked well with the elite, while not touching the elite. It’s so goddamn weird.

I recall some changes like core ranger getting it’s more core traits ( nature magic ) shafted because Soulbeast was overperforming, even tho core ranger is pretty mid-of-the-road. I think there were some Necro changes with it’s speed traits like Speed of Shadows, that were basically because Reaper, and well, Core Necro is all about Shroud usage, so it felt extremely awkward to be pummeled and lose life force while trying to flay around until Shroud was ready again.

Like, the only class i can’t complain about core changes is Guardian because Guard has a thousand relevant builds.

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Arktouros

Again it’s about usage. Those core spec’s would see massive usage regardless of what spec people were using. So if you’re a “core” ranger or a “soulbeast” ranger you’d use those lines and so then they look at the numbers and see 90% of the rangers are using those lines they must be overpowered. Cue nerfs.

This creates the issue where you wonder if they even play the game because it seems nonsensical. Like there was a Necro change ways back from Reaping where they were like “99% of necromancers choose this Shroud trait” and it’s because the other two choices were Spectral skills and Fear both of which are super niche. Of course people are going to pick the Shroud ability, like obviously. Such oversights are the flaw of balancing by metrics.

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Bruno Brito

I’m aware it’s based on usage. That’s why i don’t like balancing around metrics, if the devs understood the classes and how they function, they wouldn’t balance them on a vaccuum, and crap all over a core spec or on the other elite spec just because one of the e-specs is overperforming.

Now, Condiguardian was overperforming independently from E-spec, so the nerf to Sword of Justice was called for. But any nerf to core ranger that tries to target soulbeast will just make core ranger weaker, and rangers are already relegated to either Longbow or Greatsword as damage sets, because their condition damage application is dog. So, since what overperforms in SB is basically power damage too, core ranger gets shafted.

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Holden Nagata

as a guardian main who got tired of feeling so squishy as a plate class, I’m so glad retaliation is changing to reduce condi damage. hoping to see both of these new boons more after Anet adds a couple seconds to existing skills

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Greaterdivinity

I’m not sure how the condi damage reduction is gonna play out, at least for me, but I’m not sad to see retaliation go. It always felt kinda…not great. Aren’t we supposed to NOT be getting hit? : P

I still don’t get the hate over the FB changes but I’m a filthy casual. I’m just glad that the mantras got improved, even if I will say that I’ll miss the casting animations/voice lines. I do like those, even if I hate having to remember to recast them every time I change zones.

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Dankey Kang

Retaliation was always a garbage boon. It returned naff all damage in PvE since mobs tend to attack slowly and hit hard. In PvP it did too much damage to classes with fast attacks. Additionally it had bad scaling for the longest time.

Anything which makes the guardian more tanky is more than welcome in my eyes.