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Balance Issues that Upset Games in Season 9

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It will be until season 10 where we get our new batch of balance changes. As for now, I would like to highlight and explain several factors and errors that make certain things either very broken or painful to play with or against. Some of these have remained for seasons counting.


1) Barriers having issues with intangibility (not airborne or invincibility!) phases (respawn and windrider special). Having played many games against Rampage and Icebringer, I can confirm that, for whatever reason, their collision hitboxes for the barriers will affect your machine, even when your machine or that Rampage/Icebringer should not  be affected by anything. When you use a Windrider special, Rampage can use his speed boost to push you away in that phase. It won't deal damage, but it will still move you around as usual, which is enough to pivot team stances entirely (bomb possesion switches to enemy). Icebringer is not as bad, where the intangibility phase does properly work, but you will find that you can collide onto him when he comes out of rebuild. On top of that, with all the barrier related bugs... there's something about the barriers that really makes the game confused.

Speaking of intangibility phases, some other machines have some weird loopholes around the weapon lock. Peacemaker can use his cannon in this phase, though I've never done it myself. I've seen players do it a bunch of times, though I rarely come across Windrider and Peacemaker together (or just seeing Peacemaker at all, since this intangibility phase also includes post-rebuild). Peacemaker can definitely exploit this.


2) Artificer. I get what they tried to do by weakening Artificer and slowing down her special buildup, but it won't stop people from using her as a transporter as always. Since she is small, has gradual self repair which cancels out attrition strategies against her almost entirely, has incredibly good reversal which makes her better at dodging than black lotus, has a weapon that can finish off enemies easily due to attack range and velocity, and a special that guarantees invincibility unless if your enemy has legendary marksmanship (a 1 out of a couple hundred players chance of encountering), nothing actually changed since season 5 or 6. If you won't take damage in the first place, then it really doesn't matter what you do to the health without breaking it even further. In a team game this is worsened even further, as teams can now shove three interceptors with Artificer and call it a day. If they do two supports, there is little ability to deal with the interceptors, as they are flooded with healing and the healers themselves saturating each other with heals, making it really hard to defeat either one of them (Artificer does have a high healing output, which does not require time, as it is burst heals that she does). In casual games, people who see bots more often than not will just play her until they're bored out of their ass for the game being too easy, therefore leaving the game for its "simplicity". Even new players can use Artificer with a lower chance to fail than Black Lotus or Rampage. Since death is still the best CC, despite all the things you can do to force drops and split teams, having nigh indestructible machines is a win condition on all fronts. Let's not mention the special being used as a goal forcer, and the counters to it are rather weak at best. It makes a situation where the game sits at the very end until Artificer gets her special, which becomes the most boring and uninteresting way to win. Want to do that three times?

It makes sense that they would want to make Artificer a machine that can do all the things other supports do to some extent, but it would be more tasteful to make Artificer be just Artificer, rather than a mix of them all. One thing that is made distinct throughout all of her changes: her survival and her allies' status is almost completely seperate. This is great for a new player, as they get the most deliberate form of managing their survival and protecting her allies. A first and foremost change would be to reset her driving attributes to make her worse at reversing and enlarging her to a size where it's at least not reasonable to use her as a transporter. The really high quality rotation is passable, as Artificer is a drone; it would make sense that she has perfected the stability of the hoverbike over two hundred years. Therefore, the size needs to change; with the way she is now, she doesn't even need to reverse to evade almost everything. You can increase her health a bit if you do this. One thing about Artificer is her ability to chase; due to her first weapon, she doesn't need to try getting multi hits out of it, since it's good enough to chase; it's too weak for Black Lotus to use karma on, but they can't use their karma for just 75 damage. I would propose the idea of making it do 25 more heal and damage than its current state (or increase the special weapon charge by a small amount instead) at the price of a decreased initial velocity. This way, it makes more sense to use the weapon on more machines at a time and less on a single unit, though its ability to hit multiple enemies with its long lifetime makes it viable enough to finish off enemies somewhat. The health benefit for healing others with the first weapon makes it worthwhile to risk herself to heal others in places that could be lethal for her. Aside from that, the other weapons are rather reasonable; it is more on the machine itself that is the problem. I would probably improve the second weapon, since you ultimately get caught in the crossfire for trying to make use of it, but I think the output might pay for it. Until season 10 (unless if this goes on for even longer), she'll be much better than what Black Lotus will ever be.


3) Clunker. I won't say much about him, but I do think that he's been increasingly overbearing over the times. It does make sense that they would make the dash have some impact to give him more power, and decreasing the cooldown of the hook to make it a lot less of a coinflip on whether that one shot saves the game or leads to defeat. However, I feel that he deals far too much damage for the amount of cc he can do; given that it takes a whopping 17-20 seconds to come back to the field after death, being able to make the kill as well as holding off the enemy is just too much; you're adding even more time for Clunker to remove a player from the game, since he deals enough damage to kill in a combo. It was evident enough that Clunker would be added to team games, even without any of the aforementioned changes, due to being able to guarantee goals with the special (and also causes the game to stall at the very end just to wait it out, like Artificer). Like Dirt Devil's hook, I think that the hook should deal less damage than 200. I'd say 140 is a good number. While the dash from clunker is what deals the most damage to ensure that Clunker can kill enemies, it would make Clunker incredibly painful to use all around to have to resort to weapon 1 to deal chip damage; the timing and macro is a tall order, no matter how competitively viable Clunker is. I would suggest cutting down the damage from the dash by a small amount; I believe that Clunker should barely be able to deal 500 damage in a full combo. So Clunker would deal 140 damage initially, which pulls the enemy close enough to deal 100 damage from the circle shock. Then Clunker would dash into his victim, dealing more damage and hooking the player for even longer, and then deal 100 more damage with another use of the first weapon. You can use that as reference. While one would point out the ultimate adding more damage to that, you also have to consider that he's not going to get his ultimate all the time, and Rampage and Killer J also could deal even more damage than they already do with it.


4) Wildfire and Stargazer's hitboxes for their weapons do not line up. For players with higher latency, this will really screw them over; they would have to rely on instinct instead of visual intuition to land hits. It is worse for Wildfire, as this also applies to the trail; players could take damage without any visual signs to show why. This shouldn't be that hard to fix, though I do notice that Wildfire has been the target machine for experimental tweaks to see what they can do to machines they may make in the future (referring to Wildfire being unable to use weapons when bomb gets scored like Peacemaker, Stargazer, and Vulture, while all other machines which came before can use weapons). Stargazer's is slightly better, maybe fixed, but I can still feel that near misses still happen frequently, especially for warping into ally machines. A good solution for Stargazer's entangle issue is to highlight the player that the player would entangle to from the cursor, so they can tell if their mouse is in the right location.


5) Vulture and Peacemaker are currently two of the most repulsive machines in the game; having new players gain access to them causes a lot of mishaps to their understanding of the game. For one, you would have to know a lot of things just to use peacemaker right AND have the skills to do a decent job. Considering the arcade feel of the game, Peacemaker has so much things that need to happen for a half decent player to come out where it will be unreasonable for a new player to ever get their hands on it. Due to the really bad mobility of peacemaker without any tricks, players will lose sight of the game itself to at least understand what the hell they're doing with the tank. If you've seen the lack of good macro from low elo players, having a machine that slow would make them even more useless than bots, and it is by starter's luck that they manage to do good things with Peacemaker. Vulture, being so evasive and damaging in the long run, is incredibly hard for a new player to fight against. Full Metal Judge is not nearly as bad, since he loses health and is not as nimble. If a new player encounters Vulture, the chance that they'll leave the game or have a really bad experience is higher than not; if they're too dead to do anything about vulture, then it's essentially the same as kicking players out of the game by some random sweeper. New players are very unlikely to eventually get to the thought train that they should beat the crap out of the player before they leave the game, as doing so could be recognized as bad sportsmanship. While Peacemaker can be solved by keeping him well out of the hands of the new demographic (though right now it's still pretty easy to get, due to the fame you get at the start of a season, and he's currently not so bad that he needs a balance change (debatable, as he currently could be too )), Vulture is certainly questionable for those youths. Right now he is ultimately Master Yi brought from LoL to HMM. I prefer that Vulture stays as is, but there's a sizeable chance of the need to reform(which I think causes more pain than gain. Despite how annoying he is to fight against, it wouldn't be good for him to change heavily; there are a good number of hardcore vulture players out there).


6) Lately, Photon has been exceptional. I probably shouldn't put this issue here now, since it's good for us, but she's been too easy to use. I would wager that you can definitely revert the range of Photon's Better back to what it used to be, since it's just that good (and it's very forgiving). It can't be helped, but she's arguably the easiest machine to use (most certainly the easiest supporter). One thing that I think could change, should she be found to be too good, is to lessen the maximum damage of Harder, since it's a 60-180 damage multi-hit, though the chances of her ever needing that much of a nerf is very low. However, due to the Photon + Metal Herald Combo, you may want to either decrease the firepower of Photon to make that combo less threatening when it comes to damage. or... maybe it heals for too much. After all, just one flick and your ally heals for 150+. It's strongly against the high risk high reward system that HMM runs today, so do take that into consideration.


7) The death consequence is massive. Right now, in every place, everyone strongly believes that death is the best cc, and that the ones with good ccs only really use it to do a combo kill, or ensure death. Those that can't are deemed as "unviable", and are hardly acknowledged in the competitive game. Given that there are a good number of one shots and that the power levels of machines makes the machines "volatile" in comparison to other mobas, it would be a good idea to reduce the death timer by a few seconds. This seems like a huge deal, but I think that you can cut it down with little consequence. Right now, dying in the halfway zone, just at the outskirts of damage hazards, means that the game transitions to goal defense if no one can slow them down. Sometimes you're not able to, due to the way the road is made to the goal. And I think we can all agree that being able to use other methods aside from death all roundedly makes a lot more interesting plays; icebringer is a proof of this. There's always some methods to make cc kill, should it be necessary, thanks to lava and acid. But I think that nerfing death penalties will make things a lot more fun. It also cuts down the issue where killing one by one is better than killing all in one go, as having a numerical advantage of machines throughout the entirety of the game is better than killing them all in one go. I'd like to dub this the kill cascade. Thanks to the kill cascade, aoe machines are worse than hunting machines, where they kill one by one. That's why I think that cutting a few seconds of timeout from death is a good thing.


I think I've gotten most of the balance problems I see this season.  Let me know what you think, and post here if you know of other pressing problems that you think seems unstable.

Edited by 22144418

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