[Still a bit of a work in progress, but I should finish this week, I hope, but I will maintain the thread and update over time trying to incorporate peoples' ideas]
Also, balancing seems to be taking resources away from new systems such as spellcrafting and is likely an unwinnable battle, unless classes are homogenized, as long as classes are restricted to 1 per character; an easy solution to ensure long-term balance and give players more options for build diversity would be to have players be able to unlock a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th class at 20/40/60 champion points. Otherwise, additional balance changes, such as those listed here, are probably still needed (and I only suggest buffs, not nerfs and use the approach that a build using non-class abilities should be as good as any class-based build). Devs may want to implement several of these ideas either way, just because they solve problems and in many cases would make the game more fun.
P.S. holy Solar Flare & Radiant Destruction Batman, Templars are getting some love this patch.
Restarting thread here as the class comparison thread is too long and I needed more initial posts to get it all in, will hopefully finish adding thoughts tomorrow.
Firstly, thank you to the devs for all the hard work and effort that is going into patch 1.6. In many ways it is an improvement over what we had before, in some ways less so. This post is made to give people comprehensive information on the current state of class balance in 1.6.2, and a forum to discuss balance and what we'd like to see in the game going forward. The post is organized as follows:
- A full list (screenshots) of all class abilities & morphs in 1.6.4
- A comparison, point by point, of all classes
- A discussion of how balance is achieved in other games (including other Elder Scrolls Games) so people can be informed of the options and some of their ramifications
I put this thread together initially as a consolidated source with base #s on all abilities so people not on PTS can see what is coming down the pipeline. However, in doing so, it seems like it is a good platform for starting a civil discussion around class balance.
As such, the purpose of this thread is to not only document, but also discuss balance in general, offer a simpler way to reach the same goal, and also discuss class-specific abilities present on PTS for build 1.6 with the intent of seeing that classes are balanced in line with the following guiding principles:
in order to have a hopefully civil and fruitful discussion of where people would like to see the game go.
After giving this (obviously) lots of thought, I am of the opinion that devs should consider taking the following steps from here:
List of Suggested Changes
- Ensure players earn equivalent XP toward champion points per hour invested while "playing how they want," whether it be questing, PvP, raiding, dungeon delving, exploring, crafting, grinding, etc. with no one type of play giving an advantage over the others.
- Further allow players to effectively "build their own classes" through the Champion system such that players can unlock each of the other classes, and use them on a single character (including alts) one class every 20 champion points (which roughly corresponds to the exp gained by doing Cadwell's Silver & Gold); game is balanced because any character can eventually access any ability
- ^may require that there be a Cyrodiil for new players with no champion points
- Refocus the dev resources currently spent on balance instead on bringing in new skills and abilities through new guild lines, spell-crafting, etc.
- AND/OR Implement the following list of changes:
[Still Analyzing / Updating]Affecting All:
-Ensure experience points gained per amount of time invested is approximately equivalent regardless of play style (ex. Crafting, PvP, Dungeons, Questing, Exploring, Raiding, Grinding)
Rationale: 1) Players like different styles of play and shouldn't be penalized for doing so (i.e. "play as you want") 2) if one mode of play generates clearly superior experience gains, everyone will engage in that game play once the Champion system goes live.
-Give everyone the ability to map a key such that when held down, causes Ground Targeted AOE abilities to instantly fire at the location of the target, or if no target is present, instantly fire at the feet of the caster
Rationale: Makes ground targeted AOE abilities (such as Sorc lightning splash) function similarly to point blank aoes 2) sometimes the game bugs out and it's hard to drop the ground targeted AOEs
-For abilities such as Shield Charge, Ambush, Critical Charge, etc. that cause players to charge a target, 1) increase range to 22 meters across the board (also increase Bolt Escape & morphs to 22m) 2) remove the minimum range, and 3) cause them to fire and carry the player to maximum range in cases where a) they have no target selected (allowing them to be used for escape purposes) or b) where the target is out of range (allowing them to be used for chase purposes)
Rationale: 1) Gives all classes an equivalent / counter to Bolt Escape (which can be reverted to its original, pre-nerf cost) 2) gives additional functionality to these abilities, making them more useful and fun 3) gives everyone a bit more mobility 4) If I can lunge 22 yards AT someone who might stab me with a sword, why can't I lunge 22 yards into an open field of daisies?
-Only allow one damage shield to be active at a time, new damage shields cast will only apply if they will provide more mitigation than the mitigation remaining from the existing shield
Rationale: 1) Damage shield stacking shouldn't be possible 2) Will promote teamwork as people will be more likely to communication around available damage shields and who should be casting them, freeing up ability slots for other players 3) with changes suggested, it's possible that there will be a lot more damage shields flying around, so chances are people will prefer higher mitigation over increased duration
-Make crafting writs reward points toward alliance ranks; also incorporate Undaunted-focused crafting writs that give Undaunted skill
Rationale: 1) Players contributing to writs are, according to the lore, contributing to the war effort (or the undaunted guild) 2) Gives those players who spend time crafting a way to keep up with PvP / undaunted progression and earn the achievements / skills to some extent, even if it's slower 3) some of the balance suggestions I give below make use of the Alliance and Undaunted skill lines
-For any class passive that reduces costs of ALL abilities either 1) give to everyone 2) restrict to class-specific abilities and balance those appropriately or 3) remove from the game
Rationale: 1) Passives that are restricted to a given class, but affect non-class ability costs, create inherent dis balance among classes unless they are shared equally.
-Align ultimate costs & effectiveness such that all classes have a 225, 125, 50 cost ability with similar effectiveness
-Remove all class passives that affect ultimate costs or increase ultimate generation
-Make triggering ALL abilities generate 2 ultimate every time you trigger the ability (as long as you're in combat)
Rationale: 1) levelizes ultimate generation and costs across classes 2) speeds up generation somewhat from where we are now 3) frees up passive slots for more interesting class-specific passives
New Undaunted Ultimate: Face Your Fear:
-Change Trapping webs & morphs: align cost and damage of the base ability with Searing Strikes (412 damage + 1320 over 10.5 seconds) , have it spawn spiders on cast (rather than be a synergy) but make the 795 damage be damage over time as indicated; if recast, does the direct damage component (412 damage) and refreshes duration of dot and spiders without interrupting ticks or attacks (and resummons a spider if it's not there); one morph adds a poison dot from spiders (magicka), the other can cause Fear and is stamina-based.
Rationale: 1) gives a spammable, non-class or weapon-locked, non-execute, single-target DPS ability (Sorcerer's rejoice!) for both Magicka and Stamina builds 2) gives a Stamina-based way for people to generate Fear 3) Gives everyone access to "pets" 4) summoning spiders is cool. 5) Sorceres can still have their pets on top of this (and still use Crystal Shards), other classes have other abilities that can be spammed alongside this to up DPS.
-Guard and its morphs ----> change to "Raze the Keep" (): AOE reduce armor and spell resistance
Rationale: 1) Guard seems lackluster for an end-tree ability, I can only really see using it on my DK after I pop Magma Armor. 2) Gives all classes access to 3) Will further incentivize people to not clump up in PvP 3) helps all classes solo places like Craglorn a bit easier
New Soul Magic Ability: Soul Rend (execute style)
New Soul Magic Ability: Soul Mend (heal)
Entropy change: Give Major Sorcery & 100% chance to heal
-Reduced ultimate cost
-Generate ultimate when using abilities
-Reduced ability costs
-Shifting Standard tooltip states that it reduces Ultimate Cost when it no longer does, please fix
Shift Dragon Leap (and rebalance) to an ability (see Movement below for more reasons for this), and replace with a 50 ultimate cost single target damage ultimate.
-Dark cloak & morphs to absorb 4 projectiles for 4s or give damage shield
-Critical Surge Morph: change to restore Magicka & Stamina on Critical hits
-Streak morph to absorb 4 projectiles 4s
The alternative is to continue to spend resources on balancing, which seems to have taken resources away from new systems (spell-crafting
), skills, and abilities. I'd rather have perfect balance (everyone has access to the same abilities, and can create their own builds), and a growing list of abilities to choose from, than inherent dis-balances and dev resources being eaten up chasing complaints.
The problem inherent with having classes is that, unless they're all accessible on a single character, you give yourself an equation that is nearly impossible to balance without homogenizing classes. In which case, why have classes at all? You also force players to create alts if they want access to X ability. I know there are a lot of players that like making alts, I personally like focusing on one character. It should be possible to accomplish the same things regardless of this preference. Allowing access to all abilities on a single character doesn't prevent alts, but restricting access forces players to create alts to access certain abilities.
As such, and as mentioned above (and below), I think it is in the best interest of the game and players going forward for the Devs to simply allow players to open up each of the other classes on their characters after reaching a certain level of achievement. The trick is ensuring that players can do so while engaging in the gameplay they want, whether it be questing, PvP, raiding, dungeon delving, exploring, crafting, grinding, etc. with no one type of play giving an advantage over the others. The Champion system (assuming XP gain rates per hour invested in each style of play are tweaked to be equivalent) offers a perfect platform for this. You can have a new class unlock at 20/40/60 Champion Points, then your alts can do the same.
My initial thought was that you could unlock a class upon reaching 50, then 1 class each for completing Cadwell's Silver, and Cadwell's Gold. That corresponds nicely with the idea that you're sort of reliving each of the other Alliance's from the start. Unfortunately, such an approach would force players into doing ALL the content on ALL alts, over and over, if they want to have a level playing field. Many people will not want to repeat the content, or even do it the first time. The Champion System is great in that it provides a mechanism for people to accomplish the class unlocking once, and have it be available on all alts.
People who like alts or just want to play a single class, should note, just because you have access to the class, doesn't mean you need to spend points in it. You can play only one class per toon if you like. I'd like to play differently.
I hope Devs ultimately choose to open up classes as I propose, if not, then there is still balance work to be done.
In designing any system or project it is first important to define what success looks like, and the criteria that the project should be measured against. Otherwise, you may end up with a system or project that sounds good on paper, but is fragmented in reality and doesn't ultimately work well in practice. So, under the assumption that these are the guiding principles for ZOS, I'll try to help.
The devs have indicated their goals for balance are along the lines of the following, and ultimately I'll suggest some changes that would be in line with these principles:
- "Play how you want"
- Maximize potential build diversity
- Ensuring all player characters have a level playing field as a baseline so that skill and theorycrafting matter more to success than class choice
- Buff, not nerf, in order to achieve these principles
- Ensuring all player characters can, one way or another, accomplish the same things, regardless of class choice
- Making things "fun" for those of us who wish to see the game balanced in-line with these principles
- Striving to ensure groups will be indifferent to the class of the player when forming groups and willing to take on anyone who can perform the needed role (dps, heals, cc, hybrid, or tank)
- Preserving a unique class identity while not giving any class a significant advantage over any other class
Much of the balance discussion here is based on the assumption that ZOS (and most players) would like the game designed around the principles indicated above. In fact, there are some games (ex. TSW, where there are no classes and any single character can learn all active and passive abilities, but can only use a few at a time, and you see a huge variety in builds, including situational builds, and great character diversity, and some pretty amazing teamworking and little whining or class bashing as a result) that go even further in implementing these principles, and the balance is well-done. Hopefully this thread will introduce information people may not be aware of, and ultimately lead to an even more enjoyable game than we have now.
Thus, apart from some discussion on how balance is approached in other games, the discussion is mostly focused on class balance. It will not address balances between weapons. There will be some discussion of Stamina & Magicka in the context of the abilities, but the overall balance of Stamina vs Magicka vs hybrid largely goes beyond this thread.
If you wish to comment on this thread, I humbly request that your comments be in the spirit of helping ZOS make ESO as enjoyable as possible for everyone, not to give unfair advantage to any one class.
Lastly, before I get into the long post, I'd like to thank @SpAEkus
for all the help, and for identifying a useful Add-on for purposes of compiling data for the thread.