Force Imbalance

Back in March I wrote a post on here in which I basically gave Bioware a thumbs-up for the way they handled operations in Legacy of the Sith, mainly for the fact that they actually took the time to properly scale them up to the new level cap this time - unlike in Onslaught. I also noted that the content felt incredibly tough at first, but that it seemed obvious that the plan for the long haul was for things to get easier as we geared up, and I was fine with that.

One and a half months later, I feel like I have to qualify that statement a bit. I was fine with the "plan" as it was originally advertised to us, which included the new operation coming out a month or two after Legacy of the Sith's launch and providing us both with new bosses to learn and access to gear upgrades that would allow us to take our power level in the legacy operations up a notch.

Unfortunately, the reality is that LotS has now been out for almost three months and we haven't had any word about as much as a potential release date for 7.1. Raiders have had plenty of time to gear up to the current item level cap of 330, which has certainly helped with making content a bit easier, but truth be told, a lot of operations are still incredibly hard.

Last week my regular team decided to venture into Gods from the Machine on veteran mode, a difficulty setting that we'd cleared with relative ease during the 6.x patch cycle. This time around, we spent hours wiping on just the first boss. When we eventually got him down, one of our tanks commented that the fight had felt a bit like the way it was when it was first released, back when Bioware wasn't planning to ever add a master mode for Gods and intentionally made it quite a bit harder than other veteran modes.

I checked the public logs on Parsely after that and was shocked to find that not a single log for Izax (the last boss of the op) on veteran mode had been uploaded since 7.0. For Scyva, the boss just before him, there was exactly one recorded kill. Now, this doesn't mean that nobody has cleared Gods from the Machine on veteran mode since Legacy of the Sith came out - they might have done it and not uploaded a log after all - but it does point towards the number of raiders capable of doing this content being vanishingly small. And this is the "medium" difficulty for this operation we're talking about!

Now, you could argue that Gods is perhaps a cherry-picked example, as other operations are not as bad on veteran mode and instead have people running into a difficulty wall a couple of bosses into master mode. But regardless of where exactly it happens, it can still be kind of demotivating to come up against these massive number checks that make some of these fights harder than they've been in years. Again, I was totally fine with this being a temporary state of affairs, but the longer we have to wait for Bioware to release the new operation and its new gear tier, the more we run the risk of some people just throwing in the towel out of frustration. Because it's one thing to re-progress old content at the launch of a new expansion, and another to have that same old content actually get considerably harder.

All of this isn't helped by issues of class balance. It's a topic I actually really dislike because I find number crunching quite boring, and I usually don't play at the sort of level where small imbalances make that much of a difference. The problem is that Bioware made major changes to all the classes with LotS, which was pretty much always going to result in worse balance at launch than we've had in a long time - and when you combine this with the highly unforgiving content tuning, more players than ever are going to find themselves in a situation where their preferred class might not be able to do the harder content at all.

Good luck doing some fights without a Scoundrel/Operative healer for example, who can put out nearly twice the AoE healing of a Commando or Sage due to a new, extremely overpowered utility they've been given. The situation is similar for damage dealers - again, Parsely provides some interesting stats here if you look at their numbers for Nefra NiM for example, who functions almost like a target dummy and shows dps Vanguards/Powertechs being able to do nearly twice the damage of Gunnery Commandos. It doesn't really matter on Nefra, but it's not hard to see how on fights with tighter dps checks (of which there are plenty now), you'll have issues if you have people who play classes that do significantly less damage than others.

I know that this isn't really a pressing matter in the sense that it only affects a very small portion of the player base - after all, only a certain percentage of subscribers do operations at all, and an even smaller slice of that group does the harder content. However, Bioware has already decided to commit some resources to ops players this expansion by taking the time to re-tune the legacy operations and giving us a completely new raid (eventually...) - I just don't want them to stumble so close to the finish line by frustrating and losing their audience.

(And on a completely selfish note, as an officer in a long-running guild, I want my loyal ops teams to thrive and have fun, and we're definitely at risk of having certain people run out of patience.)


  1. If I were a raider in gunnery or sharpshooter, I would really be annoyed by the current state of affairs. Giving one of those specs a slot on a team that will hit a hard DPS check will seemingly be a noticeable hinderance.

    It seems like BW has just about the resources they need to put out content or do massive balance changes, not really both.

  2. as an officer in a long-running guild

    To me, you'll ALWAYS be The Empress. And Pet Tank had better remember that. ;-)


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