Class Balance Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Class Balance RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network New Update for Star Fox Guard Released Sun, 29 May 2016 06:41:02 -0400 Jacob San Antonio

Nintendo released a patch for its Star Fox-themed tower defense game, Star Fox Guard. The patch does not affect the main and extra missions, but focuses on balancing player-created robot squads. Also included in the update are extensions to the time player-created robot squads and replay data are kept on Nintendo servers before facing deletion. 

Overall, certain robots will be seeing a boost to their performance. Snailblazers received an increase in strength, while the Drill Ho-Ho and K.O.F. Unit both received a boost in their speed. The B.O.O. Unit's cost in chaos points has been decreased as well to make it just a little cheaper.

Of course, it's not all buffs and boosts in Star Fox Guard's latest update. The Jumprella's combat point cost increased, and the P.O.P. Unit's yellow and red forms both received a reduction in speed.

In good news outside of gameplay, Nintendo is adjusting the time that player-created robot squads and replay data remain on servers. For both squads and replay data, their availability on Nintendo servers has nearly doubled.  

The adjustments should improve the overall experience for those trying to put together the perfect squad to spoil someone's defenses. Add to that the server-side adjustments to squad/replay data retention, and fans of Star Fox Guard can expect much more to play with online. Full details of the patch can be seen here.

How World of Warcraft: Legion is going to unbalance the game, and why that's a good thing Sat, 12 Dec 2015 10:50:26 -0500 John Adamczyk

Damage per second, class rotations, and best in slot gear: World of Warcraft has become a game of optimization and number crunching. As the years have passed, people have figured out the math behind the world's most popular MMO, and the game has become all the poorer for it.

World of Warcraft has been solved, and with the science behind it being so publicly available, players expect everyone else to keep up, establishing an elitism that has harmed the game.

But that's all about to change.

World of Warcraft: Legion is doing everything in its power to make the game impossible to balance, and that's great news.

Some might be horrified by the idea. Those who cling to the competitive mentality of wanting to outdamage every party member and accrue every objectively best-in-slot item before the next patch's release will be very unhappy. 

But for players who want their characters to feel like individuals who are steadily gaining power throughout the expansion, and don't want to have to obey a class guide to do "acceptable" damage, Legion is shaping up to be Warcraft's savior.

Enter "legendary" drops

Pictured above are some of the many legendary items that will be accessible to players in the Legion expansion. You can see a list of other legendary items here, though there are clearly going to be more as the alpha progresses.

These rare world drop items have been given an unprecedented amount of power. It isn't the rarity that matters here, though, it's the fact that each legendary item has a unique ability.

Some legendary items will modify class spells while others will provide damaging auras or give passive boosts that can change up the way you approach combat.

But what's most interesting about legendary drops is the fact that you could, in theory, accumulate an entire armory of legendary gear. Now your items won't just give you stats, rather, each piece of gear will fundamentally change your character in some way.

But what does this mean?

There are more things for Blizzard to balance.

Too many, in fact. 

Blizzard has struggled to stay afloat in the class balance department. No matter what they do, players remain unhappy. Cries of this class and that spell being overpowered emerge on the official forums daily. The system doesn't work, because Blizzard's numbers are too tight. 

Legendary items will destroy the idea of DPS ranking. With the addition of items like these, characters are going to be all over the place in terms of damage and healing. The numbers will be so loose, objective number crunching will become impossible.

This is especially true when we consider one of the main pulls of the expansion:

Artifact progression

If the sheer mechanical overload that legendary equipment will bring isn't enough, artifacts and their progression trees will do the rest. 

While players will inevitably fill out these weapons, the sheer amount of modifiers each of the classes and specializations will gain would make this a developer's nightmare to balance. Check out the datamined calculator and you'll see all of the bonuses, major and minor, that await each class.

Items aren't the only thing getting overhauled, however. Legion is intent on shaking everything up, including character classes.

Class revamps

Blizzard seems to have reneged on one of their more frustrating policies in World of Warcraft, which was: bring the player, not the class. This philosophy was an active attempt by Blizzard to homogenize character classes.

Luckily, one of the most important aspects of Legion for Blizzard is not just getting classes right, but individualizing them. Blizzard's "guiding purpose is to strengthen the identity of our 12 classes and their specializations."

Artifacts and legendary items will dilute numbers and chip away at the rigid balance that has plagued the game for so long. Class diversity, on the other hand, is going to make it so damage and healing meter performances aren't the only factors that make a class matter.

Class diversity means added utility, and the definitive value of a class might be in its provision of a debuff, a buff, damage and healing simultaneously, or any number of mechanics that other classes just can't bring to the table. 

By having classes contribute to the party in different ways, a new form of balance comes into play, one that makes each class worthwhile, rather than making the numbers attached to a particular character the only attractive thing.

Blizzard is adding in so many factors that the idea of balance in the game will be re-conceptualized.

The more mechanics and piddly bonuses you give to characters, the more the sum of those parts is likely to be different from another character. Something as simple as a world drop, which now comes in legendary form, can now provide players with significant bonuses compared to their peers. While some might consider this unfair, I think it's necessary.

World of Warcraft wasn't made into a great game through number crunching and character optimization. It was made great by having it feel like an adventure where your character would grow in strength. Blizzard isn't going to just give you the capacity to optimize and pull the perfect numbers simply because you can cast your spells in the right order. 

In a world where games grow increasingly streamlined in response to player concern, World of Warcraft: Legion is shaping up to be a rebellious change of pace.


Guild Wars 2 PAX Invitational Grand Final Tournament Sun, 08 Sep 2013 19:40:56 -0400 EmilyOrange

ArenaNet endorsed Guild Wars 2 as an eSport by sponsoring an invitational tournament with teams of five players from around the world.

During the Guild Wars 2 Anniversary Bash Livestream, the finals were played live for thousands of viewers to watch. GW2 is new as an eSport, but with players, the Mist League, ArenaNet, and MMORPG working together, there was some really exciting play in Seattle. Teams played a best of five on different maps. You can read all about the matches on Mist League's site or watch the game on Twitch, but if you are willing to read some spoilers I'll give you the skinny here.

Team Car Crash is above -- Super, Posi, Lady Nag Nag, Lord Nag Nag Nag, Mogwow

Journey to the Finals

The prelims before the two representatives of their continents met were intense. Epic battles like Absolute Legends winning 3-2 after being down by two games set a high standard of play. The two finalists were eventually chosen to be Europe's team Car Crash which was led by Super and North America's team Sync which was led by Caed.

In the prelims Car Crash had been using a strategy of having an engineer and elementalist, but once they saw that Sync was using two spirit rangers they decided to counter by adding a warrior. That strategy influenced the winner. 

Team Sync is above -- Caed, Zombify, Davinci, Twerp, Vyndetta

The Winner

Car Crash ended up winning 3-0 because Sync was focused too much on side nodes. Their team kept getting split up and they would get picked off one by one. This sound like it would make for dull gameplay, but Sync was winning all the team fights. It was close the whole time and the last game was 500-449 in favor of Car Crash. This tournament will hopefully excite people about GW2 as an eSport, and show that games can be exciting.

Guild Wars 2 State of the Game March (Part 4) Thu, 21 Mar 2013 21:58:30 -0400 Wokendreamer

This is part four of the March State of the Game for Guild Wars 2.


Warriors are going to get improvements for their banners.  Being movable buffs, they need to be powerful enough to be worth using while also being long-lasting enough to be worth carrying someplace, which is a tricky point of balance.  Most banner ability score increases are going to be approximately doubled, with the exception being the condition damage banner, which already has high numbers.

Grouch points out that warriors tend to be very restricted on the options they can take viably in terms of utility skills based upon their build, which Karl confirms is one of the balance issues that Arenanet is looking at in its mission to better balance the utility skills across all the classes.

The devs also note that warrior is a tricky class to balance because most of the viable builds for PvP are vulnerable to conditions while at the same time preventing him from being literally unstoppable. Warriors are also one of the main candidates for receiving boon-punishing traits.

What's coming?

PvP leaderboards are coming, and will be sortable based on NA or EU, friends, server, and will show ranking within each individual category.  Win/loss record is planned on being displayed, but not the specific rating of individual players.

Jon mentions that many of the upcoming improvements to PvP are not going to be patch-specific, but will be released as soon as they are ready.

Spectator mode was an example of something that may be added without waiting for a patch. Tyler explains that the mode will differ from the viewing mode of the first Guild Wars in that it will focus on one of several camera modes or, optionally, on specific characters, allowing the spectator to view the game entirely from their own perspective. This will allow watchers to see their abilities and cooldowns, including their hotbar, as well as their specific spec to give viewers a chance to see exactly what the professional players are bringing to their game.

Grouch asks what Arenanet will be doing to bring back the players who have ceased their activity on Guild Wars 2 while waiting for certain features (such as spectator mode) to be implemented. The devs are also pushing back their plans for possible e-sports until they are confident Guild Wars 2 is at a point where it is truly ready for such.


Asked directly what the PvP community can look forward to in the coming patch, Jon responds that the leaderboards will be switched on as soon as they are ready, regardless of the next patch.

The question of incentive to actually play PvP is brought up again, which Tyler answers ambiguously with the idea of adding more ranks and possibly increasing the speed at which they are gained, but admitting that other than rank itself there is little incentive to progress without giving any sort of proposed solution to the problem. This hints that it is an issue Arenanet is aware of, but that they have not decided on possible solutions to.

Nero points out that the skill tree is not optimized for min-maxing, which the devs agree is the case deliberately to grant more options as opposed to set builds.

Nero then specifically asks why the game meta allows for dedicated tanks and dedicated DPS but does not make dedicated healers possible. Jon points out that any time a dedicated healer becomes powerful enough of an option that it becomes necessary, creating a role-based meta that Arenanet does not want for Guild Wars 2.

The question is also asked about possible other game modes for players burned out on the conquest game type and Tyler confirms that with Guild Wars 2 now having a multitude of maps for its basic game mode Arenanet would be more willing to consider alternate game types. They will also be expanding on the data provided by the PvP scoreboard to give better feedback to the players.

Jon also explains how they intend to begin limiting or penalizing players for changing their class or build after entering a PvP map to prevent people from trying to counter each others builds. He also mentions that the Arenanet team is still looking at AoE damage and rez abilities very closely, aware it needs to be fixed but also aware that any change they make will drastically affect the entire game, PvP, PvE and elsewise.

And that's the current State of the Game.  Tune in next month for another update, and watch for the actual patches and hotfixes as they happen.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Guild Wars 2 State of the Game March (Part 3) Thu, 21 Mar 2013 21:53:28 -0400 Wokendreamer

Welcome to part 3 of the March State of the Game for Guild Wars 2!


Guardian is "boon-centric".  They are intended to be intentionally slow, with one or two abilities that bring them into the battle, but nothing to escape it.  There aren't any immediate changes for them planned in the future, Arenanet feels the class is in a decent place with a variety of builds ranging from a group-boon bunkering build to a shadow-stepping aggressive damage dealing build.  None of the players had any real issues with the class either.


Arenanet is currently testing certain abilities being able to hit targets along the way to their intended target.  This will instantly give certain skills some new applications and efficiencies by allowing them to multiply their effects in team battles.  These beams will pierce targets, making it implausible to try and block them with a tankier teammate or with summoned minions.

Xeph asks if that doesn't seem too strong, but the devs all assure him that they are going to be testing the numbers extensively to find a good medium where the beams gain new play options without becoming too powerful to counter.  One way they mentioned being able to help balance it is to give this beam ability to other classes as well, such as the elementalist air affinity scepter and the Guardian's downed-state ability 'Wrath'.

Nero asks if more thought is being given to the possibility of players wanting to use mantras.    Karl likes the abilities, but finds them too weak and too often relegated to being readied and then never used for the passive benefits of the traits associated with them.

Grouch mentions that the Mesmer utility skills are very limited in what is viable, naming Illusion of Life, Portal, and Clones/Blink.  The devs agree that they dislike how dominant the effects of those specific utilities are over the other possibilities while also mentioning that Mesmer is not the only class that is limited in that fashion and that they hope to correct the issue in more classes.

Xeph expresses fears that the combination of beam AoE with the raw power and utility of shatter skills will grant Mesmers too much long-range effect, both in terms of damage and in terms of boon removal and condition application.  Jon acknowledged that as they implement the beam effects to Mesmer that they may need to lower the shatter damage.


Grouch starts by noting the class still has a lot of bugs, but Karl counters that Arenanet has fixed a great many of them while opening up many new builds to viability.  He acknowledges that the profession is slow, but that once they arrive at their preferred range they can dominate many builds by stripping or converting the boons many classes rely on.

Jon expounds by pointing out that Necromancer has lots of build options, to the extent that they hope to see other classes get to the same number of options.


Rangers are the long-range masters and potent skirmishers.  The devs feel that Longbow needs work because it can be extremely damaging but has no ability to protect itself, which may also be a way in which the utility skills for the class need work.

The greatsword is also getting some love, in cooldowns and actual damage numbers both being tweaked.


Thief is intended to be super-mobile and elusive.  Grouch notes that much of that mobility is dependent upon the shortbow skills, but that some of the shadow-step skills also help double as mobility even if that mobility is limited.  One issue they are planning to implement is to help limit the class's ability to leave stealth and then immediately re-enter stealth before being a possible target.

More than anything they want to spread the class's mobility among more weapon skills than the shortbow alone to make other builds more viable without sacrificing that essential and characterful mobility.

Xeph points out that some of what the Thief does is so instantaneous as to become impossible for players to learn to counter it by encountering it.  Jon suggests that they might give the class more abilities to deal with boons to enable them to reduce the total damage.

Nero also brings up that the class is very limited on builds, which Arenanet confirms they are looking at trying to increase the viability of different builds.

Part 4 below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


Guild Wars 2 State of the Game March (Part 2) Thu, 21 Mar 2013 21:49:09 -0400 Wokendreamer

Welcome to part 2 of March's State of the Game for Guild Wars 2!

WvW and sPvP Interaction

Nero points out that the World vs World PvP and the structured PvP have a huge gap between them, with the gains from World vs World not carrying into the structured games.  Tyler explains that the huge gap between the two was originally a deliberate design decision but the data they've been watching and studying has shown how many sPvP players do play the PvE content as well, so it is something they are likely to begin easing up the separation on in the near future.

Xeph asks about the incentives to play sPvP, pointing out there is nothing specific or unique to the PvP maps to give PvP or PvE players a reason to play on them.  His suggestion was a set of armor unique to sPvP.  The point was recognized but also shot down, stating that a set of sPvP-exclusive armor is currently impossible. It is something being considered for possible implementation in the future.

As an additional note, Tyler notes that players who log out while in the Heart of the Mists will have their character displayed in character select in their PvP gear.


Next they begin discussing each class in the game, starting with Elementalist.  Karl immediately notes that the class has only one real build in high-level play.  It is a single build that can do quite literally anything it needs to, from bunkering a point to heavy DPS.  This was somewhat deliberate, as the class was intended to be a jack of all trades but master of none.  Naturally Arenanet wants to correct this by making other builds more viable.

The class is also known very much for its healing ability.  Karl confirmed that is a design decision, and that the goal is for Guardian to be more capable of healing in small doses over time, but for the Elementalist to retain its burst healing.

Xeph pointed out that the combination of self-protection and heavy burst healing makes the class almost unbeatable one on one in the hands of a skilled player.  Arenanet noted that they are considering increasing the cast time on the heal and also giving other classes benefits against target stacking boons like an elementalist can.


Karl notes that they are implementing improvements to the engineer turrets, buffs and tweaks, such as causing the thumper turret to cripple in addition to its damage while increasing the damage on the rifle turret.  They are also reworking the trait Kit Refinement so that it is less about damage output and more about overall utility.

The design intention for the class is to make it a mid-range area defense specialist to use zone control.  Xeph points out that the class is very pigeon-holed.  Either it does a lot of damage with no survivability or it survives everything without doing any damage whatsoever.    He also mentions that the turret skills are boring, lacking any interaction once being placed.  

Arenanet notes that some players actually prefer the playstyle that involves as few utility button-presses as possible (like a Signet Warrior) and enjoy the turret-style build.  In addition, the turrets are also meant to be used as defensive abilities, with the overcharge abilities intended to grant extra options simply by being near.

Grouch asks about the random number generator basis on many of the engineer skills and whether that is going to be changed or remain as-is.  Karl gave the nod, stating that while they are not looking to entirely remove the RNG from the engineer or the other classes who have effects that similarly are effected by it that they are looking to limit or otherwise control it so that a given class is not luck-based.

Jon further gives the example of the Mesmer, where originally it could apply any of seven random boons or conditions which early playtesting realized was simply too many.  RNG on that level could not be planned or played around, which made it unfun and removed much of the skill involved.

Continued with the Guardian in Part 3!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4