Yesterday afternoon, we met with our Class Reps to discuss the changes currently on the PTS. But first, before we get to the meeting notes - we know everyone feels strongly about the changes made to Annulment and Conjured Ward in last week’s PTS patch, and we’ve been reading everyone’s feedback both in-game and across various forums and chats. As we mentioned during our meeting with the Class Reps yesterday, we are open to making adjustments as long as we are still meeting our original goals.
We’ve had a lot of discussions over the past week, and after digesting everything we’ve seen and read, in addition to talking with the Class Reps, we’re making the decision to revert the cast time for both of these shield abilities. In one of the upcoming PTS patches, Annulment and Conjured Ward will now be instant-cast abilities that scale off your maximum Magicka (as they do on live currently), but cap the total shield amount to 40% of your character’s maximum health. Our goal with the damage shield changes has been to address the fact that you can create builds that maximize damage while ignoring defense. We think it’s great some players want to play like a glass cannon, but those builds should have tradeoffs in reduced survivability. By limiting damage shield strength on max health, it makes the health stat much more attractive than it was previously for damage shield users.
So with that, below are the meeting notes compiled by the Reps themselves (mainly @JoyDivsion
- thank you!).
---Class Rep Meeting with ZOS for Update 20
We approached this meeting differently. Previously we went for more of a “here’s a list of all the pain points” approach, which meant that while the Devs heard a lot of concerns, there was too little time for interaction as to why those were concerns. This meeting we wanted to actually discuss and communicate with the Devs why they made certain controversial changes. This meant we got a lot more insight into their thinking and, importantly, they got more on why we (and thus the community) felt some changes would not improve the game. We felt the drawback to this approach could be minimized by emailing ZOS the list of class/role specific issue we had. Basically, this means there is stuff we emailed and otherwise communicated to ZOS that isn’t in this document.Sorcerer Shields:
We spent at least 30 minutes discussing shields. The gist of ZOS’s explanation to us what that they wanted to even the survivability between Stamina and Magicka (the specific example that a Magicka build could spam shields without paying attention to a Boss was used), ZOS wanted sorcerers to make more difficult decision regarding their class defense rather than just stack Magicka and have large shields, and ZOS feels that shields are quite a potent defense mechanic in that they are both excellent reactive and can be used proactively (something Breath of Life cannot do).
Every rep that spoke remarked that sorcerers already have to make difficult decisions with builds because sustain is an issue and lack of bar space, which means they already have trouble securing legit kills in PvP (i.e. not kill stealing by spamming mage’s wrath). We also noted that making shields so they can be critically hit was already a significant nerf that deserved testing on its own, and that the one-second cast-time will get sorcerers killed in a competitive PvP environment. We also said that ZOS has hit sorcerer offensive capability pretty hard the past year, which makes the sort of build diversity they want harder. They acknowledged this and did more than insinuate that sorcerer offense is going to be reformed in the future (at one point, a dev asked out loud if they could be specific. They could not). We told them without these offensive changes it was asking too much to hit the sorcerers with a nerf to their defense first and make them wait for this vague promise in the future. We also mentioned, numerous times, that the mechanic of cast-times is something that is disliked by many people because it breaks the flow of the fluid and ast paced combat that defines ESO. We also went through a bunch of other various reasons that folks on the forums and discords brought up. In short, we pressed and that’s why it lasted over 30 minutes.
With the changes to resistances, having instant cast damage shields is even going to make them even stronger in PvE. We acknowledged this as a potential issue and agreed some adjustment was going to be needed. ZOS seems to be open to refinements and reforms that match their desired goals. The Devs have indicated they are well aware of the feedback, they saw the memes, they know this is a huge change. Some ideas were bounced around. Someone (I forget who) brought up the possibility of lowering the shields to a desired size for PVE and adjusting Battlespirit so they aren’t useless in PvP. My impression is that ZOS is agreeable to making a different sort of adjustment, but they still want to keep their goals of Stamina Vs. Magicka survivability, want some sort of diversity into how sorcerers defend themselves, they don’t want a Magicka build spamming shields while ignoring PvE mechanics. The Devs ended our conversation with the thought whether or not a morph choice would be well received, that is if one morph had a one-second cast time and you got a large shield and another morph which removed the cast-time, but you’d get a smaller shield (the strengths were not mentioned specifically).
There’s only so much I can type and not every detail from our conversation is printed above. I came way from this conversation with the impression that the Devs are open. They know it’s a big change, they know there are potentially better ways to achieve their goals.Champion Points
While not a update 20 specific concern, we spent a fair amount of time discussing the Champion Point system because it is our belief that the power creep in this system is responsible for many of the issues ZOS is trying to address in the first place (such as players being able to avoid mechanics, not have to make difficult build choices, and the feeling that healers are not needed). The Devs indicated that the CP system is intended to counter-balance itself, that is, I can get X% buff, but that is negated by your -X% buff. The Devs indicated the way multipliers and other mechanics currently work means that counter-balance is not quite right. The class reps agreed and added the problem goes deeper; since Bosses don’t have CP, they aren’t getting the -X% modifiers. The end result is that players quickly out-scale and become too strong for any PvE content that gets released.
We also said it was unfortunate that much of our class identity has been taken away because the Champion System (and gear) has so much power.Dragonknights
Stamina DKs still want some form of identity. Poison changes only affected their cheap skills. We made it crystal clear that players don’t like Noxious Breath and wouldn’t like it even if it miraculously always hit. We got the impression the Devs are aware stam DKs want some sort of damage skill and could be nudged further in that direction if it was something more than asking for a generic “stamwhip!”
Magicka DKs. ZOS told us according to the target dummy parse, the sustain loss from Flame Lash is made up for the higher damage from Eruption and heavy attacking. We acknowledged that may be correct, however PVP gameplay is a dynamic beast, where Eruption is not easily used for an offensive DK and heavy staff attacks are easily dodge or blocked. The reps were clear in communicating that the changes have made PvP sustain a pain point. The Devs accepted this logic.
Reps also talked about how the core issues revolving MagDK is the way they currently fit in the meta. They don't have the control to keep up with opponents, as we're in a meta that revolves around forward momentum, immov pots and very fast targets. And that MagDKs can't easily deal with bleeds and defiles in most builds - thus putting DK in a sort of limbo when it comes to open world PvP.Player Speed
ZOS told us they are aware players are moving too fast and are too difficult to target with melee and short ranged abilities. They want to slow us down. Swift Jewelry was something that was specifically mentioned. The Major Expedition buff being too strong was hinted at. The reps agreed that players are too fast and that Swift Jewelry is a primary offender, especially when it was additive to other speed boosts and Forward Momentum. The reps did not agree that the Major Expedition was too strong. It was mentioned that diminishing returns may be a better way to address the issue than flat out nerfs as it is the stacking of speed that is the primary issue.Sorcerers
Much of their feedback was included in the discussion with shields. Sustain isn’t good, mobility took a hit, offense was nerfed, etc.
The week 2 changes to Dark Deal were needed and the skill is something that sorcerers can work with now.
We talked about sorcerer ultimates. The loss of a third bar from Overload has crowded sorcerers’ bars and ZOS is asking players to completely change how the class is played. ZOS indicated that they were thinking of changing one of the Ultimates into a Stamina morph since they were the only class that didn’t have one and the reps simultaneously said “Air Atronach”.
Overall we felt that from a Stamina sorcerer perspective, update 20 was more about what was being taken away, rather than was being added to make the class more interesting to play. The same, of course, is true from a Magicka perspective.Wardens
We raised concerns that even if a Warden’s DPS parse was now within acceptable standards (we feel this is debatable as some testing indicate a DPS loss), how this came about could have been done differently. The Netch and Shalk changes were welcome for sustain, but it was puzzling why Swarm, a skill many Wardens think is dull and dislike the cast twice and get higher damage mechanic, got such a high cost increase. ZOS stated magicka Warden sustain was better than Stamina after all of the buffs (Betty Netch restore, Shalk cost reduction) which is why they focused on the Swarm ability, which was extremely cheap and not used by stam Warden.
The Bird of Prey change was nice in that a player could gain the benefit with less buff spamming, but the option to actually cast the skill to also buff damage on the other bar is an unfortunate loss.
The return of a stun was welcome, though the Artic Blast change was the one instance where there was disagreement between the reps. One of the reps strongly felt that the stun should have been put on the other morph as the damage on Artic Blast was an ability that enabled the very sort of build diversity ZOS seeks. This was answered that difficult choices had to be made and that it was not possible to please everyone. The Rep still felt if people had to be displeased, it should have been the other morph.Nightblades
There was a feeling the patch was more about what was being taken away rather than what was gained. Nightblades DPS is still good, but tank and healing NBs were particularly affected by the changes. More of this will be put into the respective sections
It was also mentioned that the cumulative changes to Nightblades, in particular the loss of healing, has turned the class into more of a “brawler” that relies on non-Nightblade stuff like gear that defines their builds.
We were running low on time, so specific Nightblade feedback will be sent to the Developer team.Pets
No critical resistance and the shield change mechanic means they are squishier. ZOS indicated to us they are willing to look at specific problematic PvE fights in which pets do more harm than good via triggering boss mechanics, dying, etc. The reps already have a thorough list and will send it to the Devs.Soldier of Anguish set
We voiced our displeasure over the abusive potential of this set. The debuff cannot stack, but it can be refreshed, which the reps said was still problematic. The reps also indicated that this set should not be compared to a damage oriented proc set such as Viper since damage is affected by battle-spirit and other resistances whereas this set is not. ZOS indicated they are willing to adjust the parameters of the set, specifically whether the cooldown should be lengthened and the value of how much debuffed healing. The reps indicated that perhaps it was better to redesign the set, in light that similar one-target proc sets (such as Sloads) have often caused problems and had to be eventually be nerfed. The idea that it would debuff a group of players (obviously for a lower amounts) was one suggestion.Tanks
DKs are still the top, the shield change made them even more desirable.
Templar tanking is much improved, although they are still lacking in the control department.
Nightblade tanking was centered on Tavas and that is going away. In general, it’s probably a good thing not to have classes depend on a single set of gear, but update 20 is not offering an attractive alternative for nightblades. ZOS indicated they are aware NB tanking sustain is dependent on light attacking (not easy) and avoiding certain hits (now not possible). There was some back and forth as to exactly what sort of fights and scenario NBs fall short on, however we were running out of time. We will follow up with an email to get everyone on the same page.
More tanking feedback was sent to ZOS in lieu of time constraintsHealers
Healers did not believe that shield changes would make them more desirable. What healers want most of all is too have impactful skills that make a tangible difference to other players such that groups would genuinely feel they were better off to have the healer than another DPS. This led into another discussion about how we think the CP system and power creep has made it easier for groups to avoid mechanics and just DPS burn stuff without the need for healers.
Nightblade and sorcerer healers have concerns with Update 20. Twilight Matriarch will have less shielding and loss of Overload bar and additional skills means sorcerers have to make adjustments and do so without getting any buffs to compensate. Nightblade healers won’t be able to be as offensive or aggressive in their healing, which again compels change via nerfs rather than buffs.
We also mentioned that it would be a good idea if healers had access to impactful skills that could not be replicated via gear or overlapping buffs from DPS. The Siphon Spirit skill, to take one example, is terrible (cast time, has a cooldown, and offers redundant buffs more efficiently acquired elsewhere). This used to be an interesting and dynamic skill that was a stable of healers back in the day.
Tasear has an extensive list of more specific feedback that was passed to ZOS.Templars
Considering time constraints, it was agreed that it would be better if Joy Division provided the critical feedback in a comprehensive written email rather than rush through stuff. Note from Joy: “Jabs damage, evasion mitigating templar spammable, minor vitality loss, minor protection uptime, Crescent Sweep mechanics are the main points. Other minor ones will be included as well.”Other Mechanics
Duel Wield Enchantments are much more powerful than other weapons as both are full strength (so is infused) and will have more uptime. ZOS indicated they are aware of this.
ZOS asked us about our feelings about heavy attacks, whether or not we felt they were worthwhile. We indicated the Stamina model was smoother mostly because they were faster, easier to connect in PVP (or would be if players weren’t zooming around) for the sustain, and fit the pace of the game better. In contrast, Ice and Inferno attacks feel slow, not very impactful, and were too easy to deny resources in PvP via dodge or tapping block. Lightning staff as a channel felt ok because the user was always doing something (although single target damage is not great).
The class reps indicated that speeding heavy attacks them up would be desirable, but players are mostly looking for impact and to feel like they accomplished something worthwhile by taking the time to do a heavy attack rather than using a skill. Resources are ok, but it feels more of a chore and something that had to be done just to resume a DPS rotation rather than the heavy attack itself being impactful.
Forward Momentum, Shuffle, and Evasion. We were under a time crunch and did not discuss these related mechanics nearly enough. Forward Momentum enabling heavy armor builds to be more maneuverable than medium armor was identified, and ZOS indicated this was undesirable. Forward Momentum was also identified as one of the mechanics that enabled players to be too fast. It would not surprise me if this skill was adjusted. Evasion is a topic that deserved more discussion. We indicated it was difficult to judge the impact it would have in PvP and PvE setting as only so much can be done on the PTS. We did express our concerns that heavy armor, mostly in conjunction with non-heavy armor things (specific sets like Fury, Evasion, Forward Momentum, mostly Stamina stuff), will still make for stronger PvP builds than medium.Healing Ward
The reps believed that the initial small heal played a critical role in PVP (e.g. getting out of execute range) and would upset the already precarious power balance between Magicka Vs. Stamina in PVP. Magicka is already going to get hit with whatever change comes about with Hardened Ward and Harness Magicka, and this is going to exacerbate matters such that people may just roll a heavy armor Stamina warden.
Blackrose Weapons and other arena weapons: Did not have time to discuss. We will email our feedback about them as well as the proposal that all the arena weapon should receive a 1-piece bonus.Wrapping Up
We ended on DPS parses and we wish we had more than 3 minutes to continue this conversation as it finally got to the heart of many “pain points” the community has. In terms of damage output, at least when it comes to a target dummy parse, we did acknowledge the classes are relatively close to each other (especially Stamina). So from the perspective of a class not being allowed to a trial raid, that is the fault of an uniformed raid lead, rather than the damage capability of a class.
However, we felt how players were getting that DPS and how these goals were achieved could be done better. Specifically, we felt there’s a lot of heavy attacking, certain classes have to spell symmetry while other can infinitely sustain a light-attack rotation, certain skills got nerfed (e.g. DK Flame Lash), and other things that are either not fun or have negative effects in other aspects of the game.
In short, it is fair to say DPS parses are better and more in-line, but the gameplay to get the DPS is not as enjoyable
. This statement made an impression on the Devs (one made a point to repeat it).