22/09/2015

Don't Tell Me About Class Changes

While I'm anxious to hear more about the mechanical changes that are coming with Knights of the Fallen Empire, there's one aspect of this I haven't got much interest in, and that's class changes. Of course that's the one thing Bioware has been talking about. /sigh

The reason I don't care much about class changes in patches or even expansions is that most of the time, they are way too abstract to make much sense to me. When you tell me that companion power will now simply scale with level instead of gear, I can immediately picture a lot of practical consequences this will have on my gameplay. When you tell me that ability X will be buffed by Y percent, that sounds nice, but it doesn't really tell me what that will mean in an everyday context.

Not even hearing about entirely new abilities tends to excite me much anymore, simply because they never seem to work out as I imagined either. Apparently Commandos will get a disengage ability / backwards jump in 4.0. My first thought was that this will probably cause me to jump myself off a cliff or into an extra trash pull in no time. But in reality, I just don't know. I remember when Electro Net was introduced in 2.0, I read the tooltip and thought that being able to prevent warriors and knights from leaping at me would be amazing. In practice I never seem to get much use out of that however - instead I mostly use it to help kill Sages and Sorcs by preventing them from bubbling at the crucial moment. However, I had to actually go through many PvP matches to see the ability in action to realise how things were working out. So I figure there isn't too much point in getting excited about any of this new stuff yet either way.

If anything, I'm a little worried about what seems to be an ongoing "mobility arms race". I saw this happen in World of Warcraft when I used to play that. At first, melee was limited in range but mobile, while casters had the advantage of range but had to stand still for the vast majority of attacks. I don't know what came first anymore, but melee said they needed more gap closers, and ranged said that they needed more mobility, and more and more of such abilities were patched in until ranged was running around spamming instants and melee was leaping or teleporting all over the place. It became increasingly silly and Blizzard has been struggling to dial it back ever since.

It's not just a PvP issue either, but also leads to PvE encounters that feature a ridiculous amount of running around and twitch because there is no other way of challenging those increasingly powerful characters anymore. I fear that I'm seeing a similar thing happening in SWTOR, with ever more leaps and even more escapes, with no end in sight. I don't think that this will lead to a better game in the long run.

I also don't really like class changes all that much anyway, even though I may be in the minority here. I'd like to think that I'd be happy to play an MMO for years with my class only receiving minimal updates, as long as they kept adding new features and content to play around with. Maybe I'm wrong and I would get bored eventually. I do know however that changes to my class almost always feel like they are coming too fast. I know that many will disagree with this - I've seen complaints that Bioware takes way too long to make class changes, what with the same classes remaining overpowered in PvP for months, and I can't exactly disagree with that, but I wish those kinds of changes were achieved with more subtle number tweaking instead of sweeping class overhauls.

The point is that I like knowing how my class works and being good at it. I was not happy when I realised during my first ops after Shadow of Revan's release that I was doing it all wrong, since the latest set of class changes had made it so that I needed to use certain abilities in the opposite order in which I had used them before. And that's just on my main! I have alts of all advanced classes, and there the changes tend to feel even worse. If I could barely remember how to play a character in the first place, the next patch turning everything on its head only makes it even harder and more frustrating.

I liked how Vayne Verso put it on Twitter:

5 comments :

  1. They realize a certain segment of the MMO genre is all about the class changes. After all, I'm pretty sure that Blizzard Watch would go *poof* if it weren't for the endless talk about tweaking and optimizing toons. And they're not even a hard core min/max site, either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know, I think you're being a bit harsh on Blizzard Watch there. :P

      But I agree that it's a popular subject in many circles, which is part of why I felt compelled to write this post to present a point of view that I don't see getting discussed nearly as often - though I'm sure most devs have metrics that show that people are at risk of quitting when they log on and can't figure out how to play their character anymore.

      Delete
  2. With you all the way on this one. If I want to learn how to play a new class (and it is something I enjoy doing) then I'll roll a new character and PLAY a new class. I don't need to have my existing characters re-designed out form under me. Unfortunately it happens all the time and has done just about as long as I've been playing.

    Also I agree on the mobility issue. Over the years and especially while playing GW2 I've come to terms with highly mobile combat but if I had the choice I'd still prefer to stand still a LOT more than I do these days. I find that a lot of moving around gets tedious a lot faster than a lot of standing still does but that seems to be counter to the popular feeling.

    The version I liked best of all was Vanguard's, where melee were mobile but didn't hop about like sand-fleas and casters could move while casting but only at walking pace. That seemed to get it just about perfectly for my tastes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, my first Bhagpuss comment! You were the one person I was thinking of that I remembered saying that less is more when it comes to character/class changes. Seemingly everyone else, at least in the corner of the blogosphere that I follow, appears to be of the opposite opinion.

      Delete
  3. These are interesting points brought up. I don't mind increased mobility on the War Zone fields. The long term problem will in my mind always be balancing a class that will fulfill both a PvP Role and a PvE Role. The other opint which I think was brought up is with Raid Bosses requiring constant movement mechanics it's almost required that mobility gains are set within a class. Just about every OP I go on these days is a mobility issue. It's why I gave up my Sniper for OPs and went to Power Tech. Now, if there were mechanics for static style classes (Commandos comes to mind) then mobility wouldn't be an issue. Perhaps additional stuns/Knock backs or heals etc. This way the class would be viable as a static class.

    Theoretically and in spirit I do agree with you. But in practical application the mobility is kinda needed to maintain with requirements both in PvE and PvP. At any rate, an excellent post and it gave me pause to think on the choices being implemented, especially since I am a mobility style player.

    ReplyDelete