This a repost of post #222 of the official discussion thread
I want to start off by saying that I am in complete 100% agreement with the "mission statement" of these PTS changes. Specifically, the following paragraph:
There are, however, several drawbacks to this model as well. First, it tends to reward players for pushing buttons as quickly and efficiently as possible. Players with high Actions Per Minute (APM) significantly outperform those with low APM, as they have better up-time of abilities, higher mitigation, much higher DPS, and can simply move around the battlefield better in both PVE and PVP. While we believe it’s good to have a skill gap that promotes mastery, we also believe the gap as it currently exists is too wide, and that many players aren’t finding satisfaction in the climb. Additionally, we believe the over-reliance on a specific mechanic (light attack weaving) leaves less room for playstyle diversity, including lower-APM options. This is particularly evident in veteran content and PvP. Finally, the concept of using light attacks for damage and heavy attacks for restore is, quite simply, unintuitive – especially for less experienced players.
I agree with all of this, and I agree that something
needs to be done, and I applaud ZOS for taking action. But I strongly dislike the solution that is being tried out here.
I consider that the two overall goals here are:
PART 1: ADDRESSING THE POWER GAP
- Reducing the effect of the skill gap. To be clear, it is good to have a skill gap. The amount by which that skill gap translates into power is the thing that needs some adjustment.
- Making light and heavy attacks more intuitive.
First, as a broad generalization, I like to think about players being put into three categories.
- Players who mostly use their basic weapon attacks. The so-called "light-attack spammers" or "heavy-attack spammers".
- Keep in mind that in most games, your basic weapon attacks--e.g., pointing and shooting your gun--is the primary way you do damage and that abilities are things that you cast every now and then to augment that damage or for utility. In ESO, abilities make up most of your damage and basic weapon attacks augment that damage, which can be counter-intuitive for someone who's used to, say, shooters, but is new to ESO, so it's perfectly understandable to see a new player just doing "light-attack spam" because that's kinda natural, if you think about it.
- Players who use abilities and try to weave them, but aren't very good at it. This might be due to a lack of practice. Or, in many cases, people simply aren't able to; e.g., for older players, it can even be a little physically painful. When we look at people's DPS parses, the first thing we look at is their LA/s rate. And if it's something like 0.5, we'd say, "You need to light-attack more"; i.e., get better at weaving. I myself am only around 0.7 LA/s. I can't hit the 0.8 or 0.9+ LA/s that elite players can get, and I probably will never get there; I have my limits.
- Elite players who have very high APM, whose rotations are fast and fluid and who don't miss their LA-weaves.
So how do the proposed changes affect each of these skill tiers?
Based on my testing on the PTS, someone who just spams heavy attacks will get a modest boost to their damage. Heavy attack damage has been increased by a modest amount, and the cast times have been reduced a little. The end result, based on some quick casual testing on the PTS is a small increase in the ballpark of around 10-20%. For someone spamming light attacks, well, it's not pretty. The fight duration tripled, so the DPS was cut by around 2/3 (less than the 78% nominal nerf because of damage from things like weapon enchantments).
I don't think that these changes help the proverbial "floor". On Live, both heavy-attack spam and light-attack spam does similar amounts of overall DPS. On the PTS, heavy-attack spam was mildly buffed, while light-attack spam was thrown into the gutter. I don't see how this helps the "floor". At all. If anything, I would argue that these changes hurt them more than it helps them, as it strips away combat options and forces these kinds of players into using only heavy attacks.
But what about the "middle class"? What about the people who try to weave abilities, but aren't able to do so that well? The amount of resource return from light attacks is immense. Without the CP buff, it's equivalent to about 400 regen for someone who weaves perfectly. Obviously, it's more once you figure in Tenacity. So while missing light attacks won't result in as much of a direct loss of damage, it still represents a significant indirect loss of damage because that sustain can be translated into damage. Choosing bi-stat food over regen food. Picking a "damage" race like Orc instead of a "sustain" race like Redguard. Using a "damage" set like New Moon Acolyte instead of a "sustain" set like Vicious Ophidian. But these kinds of shifts away from other sources of sustain will be available only to people who can weave well.
For the "upper class", yes, it's an outright nerf to power. That can be somewhat compensated for by shifting their builds further away from sustain.
But what does this do for the power gap between the "middle class" and the "upper class". Both groups will be hit hard by this, and it's not clear that they will be affected in a way that reduces the relative power gap
And so I would like to take a moment now to talk about the Morrowind combat changes. Back when those changes were made, @ZOS_RichLambert
said on ESO Live that they had two goals with the Morrowind combat changes. First, they wanted people to think about sustain again. And second, they wanted to reduce the power gap. Well, these changes seem to fly in the face of the notion that sustain should be relevant. But more importantly, the Morrowind combat changes increased the power gap between players
. Yes, the sustain nerfs hit the power of the "upper class" hard. But it also hit the "middle class" even more. If you think about it, when resources are tight, then players who are more efficient
at resource usage will have an advantage. Instead of using a dynamic rotation, are you using an easy static rotation that results in a couple of DoTs being recast a little early? That's wasted resources. Did you accidentally step into red and thus need to cast a self-heal to compensate for your mistake? That's wasted resources. Did you miss a light attack and thus miss out on its resource-free damage? That's less damage per resource spent.
Can you say, without any doubt, that these light/heavy attack changes will hurt the "upper class" more
than it hurts the "middle class"? If not, then you're not actually closing the power gap, and this will be a repeat of the Morrowind fiasco.
But hey there's more to this game than just DPS! What about something like PvE tanking? A lot of tanking is about resource management. Wouldn't it be great if, as a tank, you could get stamina as you light-weave everything? It would trivialize resource management! Hooray! But oh wait, that means you have to drop block to weave every ability instead of block-casting, and if you're a new tank or even an experienced tank who's tanking new unfamiliar content, that's pretty darn risky. So what this means is that experienced tanks can get easy resource management, but beginner tanks who are told, "when in doubt, hold block" can't reap the benefits of this. And of course, if a tank needs an emergency injection of stamina, the old option of getting a burst of about 2.8K stamina from a single 0.8s heavy attack channel is gone. All of this simply punishes less experienced players and dramatically increase
the effects of the skill gap.PART 2: LIGHT/HEAVY ATTACKS SHOULD BE INTUITIVE
You're right: Heavy attacks restoring resources, while light attacks do not, is not intuitive. But... How on earth is the opposite intuitive?!
A new player is going to be just as confused about light-attacks restoring resources as they are with the current arrangement on Live.
So what would be intuitive?
Simple: Stop treating light and heavy attacks differently!Both light and heavy attacks should restore resources.
A light attack should restore a very small, token amount (50?). And heavy attacks should restore the same amount as they do now. And medium attacks should restore somewhere between the two, scaled with the duration of the channel.
That's how you make intuitive mechanics. A heavy attack should just be a heavier, stronger light attack. Period. Don't have some silly nonsense where a light attack restores resources, but if a players holds onto the button for just a fraction of a second too long and it turns into a medium attack, then they get nothing. Don't have some silly nonsense where if someone is charging a heavy attack because they are out of resources, but if they let go of that attack just a fraction of a second too soon and it turns into a medium attack, then they get nothing.
Light attacks should do a modest amount of damage and return a small amount of resources. And heavy attacks should do the same, except more: more damage, more resource return. And medium attacks should scale between the two and do a medium amount of damage and return a medium amount of resources. This is the logical, straightfoward thing to do
, and it bewilders me that it doesn't work like this.
A heavy attack is slow and requires a channel, so it should be more rewarding in all aspects. How does "hey, you do more damage as a tradeoff for this annoying channel, but oh no, you don't get any resources back" make any sense?PART 3: WHAT I WOULD DO IF I WAS A COMBAT DESIGNER
- Reduce light attack damage. Not by 78%. But by something more modest. 30%?
- Increase the damage on consecutive (non-weaved) light/medium/heavy attacks.
- All light attacks restore resources. Something small like 50. (So for someone weaving perfectly, this would be a modest 100 regen.)
- Keep the current Live levels of heavy attack resource return.
- Medium attack damage and resource return will be somewhere between that of a light attack and heavy attack, scaling with the duration of the channel.
- Make Empower affect all basic weapon attacks: light/medium/heavy.
- Edited to add: Increase the damage of spammable abilities by an amount comparable to the reduction to light attack damage. This would maintain the current power level for people who weave successfully (thus effectively shifting damage from the basic attack to the ability), while increasing the power level for those who miss weaves (they would still do less damage, but the gap would be smaller).
If you look at the current lower-APM options--what people hawk as "easy" builds--they're often light-attack-spam (werewolf) or heavy-attack-spam builds. Let's reinforce
these options and make them more effective. That's why I propose increasing the damage from consecutive, non-weaved attacks. Of course, these things should not be too effective that they outclass "high-APM" options (we still want a skill gap!), but they should be more effective than they are now (thus lowering the effect of the skill gap). The increase for non-weaved attacks should more than compensate for the 30% nerf to light attack damage that I am proposing.
As for the "middle class" vs. "upper class", an outright nerf to light attack damage (without adding some secondary effect like a ridiculous 400 regen to perfect weavers) will slightly narrow the gap between the two because it will affect those with higher LA/s more than those with lower LA/s.
And finally, on the consistency/intuitiveness front, it makes no sense to apply a resource return to light attacks but not heavy attacks, just as it makes no sense to do the opposite. What makes sense, though, is for a heavy attack to just be a stronger light attack in every way--in both damage and resource return--as compensation for it being a slow channel.
Ultimately, the end result should be...
Addendum: A number of people have pointed out that having any basic attack return resources is unintuitive in and of itself. And while I'm inclined to agree, I also feel that there needs to be a way for players to actively restore resources if needed, and resource return from basic attacks fit that bill quite well. I elaborate on this in post #89.
- A raising of the bottom floor, in which people who just spam basic attacks are better off than they are on Live. A buff to consecutive, non-weaved damage will help with this (and should more than compensate for the LA damage nerf) and reinforce the current popular low-APM options. ZOS's proposal doesn't help the floor at all, since a severe nerf to LA damage with no compensation simply serves to deprive the "lower class" of combat options and forces them into only using heavy attacks.
- A narrowing of the gap between the "middle" and "upper" classes. Reducing the damage of weaved light attacks is the key here. In contrast, ZOS's proposal just replaces the lost direct damage with indirect damage in the form of massive sustain.
- A system where heavy attacks are more desirable, but not so desirable that people who prefer high APM feel compelled into sluggish heavy-attack rotations. While ZOS's current proposal doesn't quite push people into a HA-meta, it does come dangerously close with that insane 78% damage nerf to LAs.
- Heavy and medium attacks should be rewarded for their cast times, which not only means more damage, but also more resource return. Be consistent.