GW2 June 13 Ready Up Developer Livestream notes. The focus of this livestream is on the philosophy of class balance in GW2.
- Josh Davis – Host
- Jonathan Sharp – Game Design Lead
- Karl McLain – Game Designer
How is balance is approached?
It is more complicated than just how much healing and how much damage. It is hard to balance PvE with WvW and with sPvP. There are other factors such as health, mobility, damage etc.
Are balance changes proactive or reactive?
Going towards a goal or in response to the meta?
- It is both. We have certain ways we like to push certain professions proactively.
- There are some reactive balance changes we do based on how things develop (i.e. certain meta types).
- Sarcraft in the early days – Terran wasn’t as good but once community learned how to play Terrans (i.e. the Koreans) they were really powerful. Elementalist is the same. At first people didn’t know how to play the class but once they know how to elementalist started to dominate and we had to tone it down.
Purity of purpose/Holes and Roles/Opportunity Cost
- Purity of purpose: You don’t want something that does too many things at once. If everything does everything to equal levels, you don’t have this purity of purpose. You want things streamlined so players know how to use it and not too many tools within one toolbox.
- Holes and Roles: You don’t want a single class to do things better than everybody else or else they end up as Apex predators. You want to put holes in the roles so they don’t do everything good at once.
- Opportunity cost: If an utility skill have too much utility, it overshadow other utility skills and no one would use the other utility skills. There need to be an opportunity cost for using for skill over the other.
- Berserker stance (reduce duration of conditions) etc, deliberately put there to put moments of reaction for other players. Your playstyle will need to change for a period of time when this hard counter goes up. If you have a skill that stop all projectiles you don’t want to last too long.
- Soft counters – you still take damage from certain things but the damage are less.
- Hard counters is not something we are aiming for, but soft counters are.
Relation between a profession’s base health/armor weight and their DPS potential?
- Thief have a large utility set and extreme mobility. Hit and run is more of their playstyle. That is one of the reasons why their health pool reflects that.
- Thief is good at jumping in quickly, unload a lot of damage and then back out. They have low health and only wears medium armor.
- Necros have more HP but they don’t have a lot of spike potential and reflects more of a sustained potential.Guardians are the same, low HP but a lot of sustain potential.
- Same with warriors – sustained potential until they can hit you with a burst.
Changes with various game modes
- Existing skill change – look at the various game modes and which works for what (i..e pve, wvw, spvp). Does the change work for all 3 game modes? Will players in all 3 game modes will like it?
- If there is a change that is needed specifically for one game mode, we can change the skill just for one game mode (i..e Pistol Whip nerf).
- If we do a split of a skill between the various game modes, we don’t want to change things so drastically that you don’t recognize your class between the various game modes.
Where should each profession be? (based on player feedback)
- Elementalist: Flexibility, jack of all trades, large skillsets. High AoE potential. High skill floor – hard for new players to jump in and high skill ceiling.
- Weakness: Recovering from burst damage, but water attunement can help sustain the damage. Versatility is strength but also weakness – higher cooldowns on weapon skills. Inability to deal with booned enemies.
- Official design: Versatility through weapon skills – we want to maintain that. Defense against sustained DPS is good and they are very supportive in most roles they assume. Low base HP is an intentional design so we can give them more support. Poor defense against spike damage is also intended so they have to wary about spike damage. Escapeability: too much in the past and helped them against spike damage. Inability against booned enemies is a specific hole in the role since they can AoE from ranged.
- Engineer: Flexibility, jack of all trades. Lots of kits, turrets and skills. High skill floor. Good crowd control.
- Weakness: Flexibility – not strong at anything. Some skills are very strong so you are pigeoned into specific builds. Not a lot of conditional removal.
- Official design: Condition overload – it is by design they don’t have a lot of condition removals but we don’t want conditions to be a hard counter for engineers. You can counter the conditions with your hard and soft CCs (i.e. stuns, cripples). The issue is when you fighting multiple opponents that you can’t really counter all the conditions. Limited spike potential – we want to make sure engineers don’t do too much spike damage as there was a time in the past where this was an issue. Versatility through utility skills. Difficulty from disengage from a fight – harder than thief/mesmer.
- Guardian: Very good at providing boons and sustained – general group support and very tanky even with a low health pool. Generally act as a frontline support – first in and last out. Different from warriors who have a more of a selfish sustain.
- Weakness: Reliance on boons for damage reduction and survability make them vulnerable to boon striping classes. A lot of the damage reduction is cooldown based so the longer the fight goes on the more they are vulnerable. Low mobility – you can close in on a fight quickly but you can’t get out quickly. Low ranged damage – much less utility at ranged but lots of AoEs. Elementalist can do support at ranged while guardians are more support at the frontlines.
- Official design: Pretty close to the player feedbacks.
- Mesmer: Misdirection, crowd control, utility. Brought in for utility all the way from GW1.
- Weakness: Conditions are hard to deal with. Lack of AoE – good single target damage but weak at AoE situation. (A bit weaker than where we want to be. We don’t want to make it too strong as we want you to bring Eles for ranged AoE damage). Mobility – not a ton of mobility due to lack of swiftness but they do have a lot of teleports such as portals. Mesmer can get there and back with portals but can’t go too far forward due to lack of swiftness. Low defense against high burst damage – maybe some small tweaks.
- Official design: Access to key utility skills. Gain defense through stealth, evasion, misdirection. Strong 1v1 ranged damage dealer but weaker in sustained AoE damage. Weakness – conditional removal, sustainability if illusions are countered, AoE damage make it hard to sustain illusions.
- Necromancer: Kings of sustained fights. High attrition damage – stronger as the fight goes on.
- Weakness – mobility since it is hard to get out of fights, low damage mitigation once you get past the Death Shroud. Low dodge potential. Not a lot of access to swiftness and boons. You are trading it for ability to sap strength and boons from your enemies to make them to want to escape the fight.
- Official design: Strength – sustainability, DPS in physical and conditions (maybe add a bit more in physical). Opponent control through conditions and fear. Weakness – mobility, lack of vigor for dodge, hard to disengage from fights. Lack of sustained AoE damage.
- Ranger: High single target DPS. Long range single target damage – should be the best (mesmer comes second). Sustainability through melee evasion and dodging. Sustained melee AoE.
- Weakeness: Dealing with boons on enemies – no boon rip. Lack in stun breakers with some builds but it is intentional since you can evade so much. Reliance on pet for maximum efficiency as pet is factored into your damage output. Your damage will be smaller than other classes due to the pet. Pet have issues against high end PvE encounters since they are more of a hindrance than help. AoE at long ranged but it is a trade off with having highest single target DPS at long range. Mobility – can’t escape fights as good as some other classes.
- Official design: Pretty close to the player feedbacks.
- Thief: We don’t factor in stealth in the same way we factor in initiative. It is a very specific toolset. Active defense – use evasion, stealth to avoid damage. High burst potential and high mobility. Can into and out of a fight with ease. Able to steal boons.
- Weakness: Low passive defense (health and armor), limited condition removal, low prolonged sustainability in a fight due to their high burst potential. High skill ceiling – high damage but low survability (i.e. glass cannon). To get survability you need to trade off some damage – opportunity costs.
- Warrior: Sturdy body, able to apply physical and conditional damage. Sustained AoE damage from melee. Melee crowd control. Hardy personal sustain.
- Weakness: Low amount of evades – you are a warrior, you are there to block it. Low protection – you already have high sustained. Too much gap closers, need more options to escape combat. Not a lot of response to enemy boons. Reliance on adrenaline usage. Overrun by conditions if their defenses fall off.
Tournament of Legends
- Llama mini, account bound and not tradeable. You just have to win one round to get it. Signup opened to 128 teams.