This is a secondary thread to the "Outriders Worldslayer Launch Information" thread. Please check that thread to find out everything you need to know for Worldslayer's official Early Access, Launch and much more.
Tl;dr: When Worldslayer launches everyone will be affected by this balancing pass, whether you own Worldslayer or you do not. Combat should feel more engaging, controlled, fun and fair.
- Worldslayer Balancing Introduction
- General state of combat and difficulty
- Builds, Sets & Mods - Over & underperformers
- Weapons’ balance
- Amplifier Builds – Long live the King
Worldslayer Balancing Introduction:
Worldslayer will be introducing a host of new features and systems, while also changing and expanding upon some of the things you will already be familiar with. These are changes that have been in the works since the New Horizon update last November, with hundreds of entities within the game being affected in some way. Bearing that in mind, listing out minute changes line by line would be both overwhelming AND it would still leave you without the context of Worldslayer balancing that can only be understood by playing Worldslayer. However, as we are always keen to share with you what we’ve been up to, we will use this post to share the overall directions and balancing philosophies that have underpinned the upcoming changes. Understanding these should give you an early insight into the changes you can expect when launching Worldslayer next week. Most of these changes were tested during the Worldslayer Beta’s earlier this year (Thank you again to all Beta testers!) and they seemed to land well with players, so we’re excited to roll them out to everyone else next week.
What follows will hopefully give you a bit of insight into what is coming and will also point out how much we have tried to focus on improving the player experience and buffing aspects of underperforming content. This should give you the trust that should we ever need to address something, we will do our best to do so in a positive way and that a nerf would only be implemented if we are unable to resolve the associated problems in any other way in a reasonable timeframe.
General state of combat and difficulty
To kick things off, let’s take a quick look on how the original game’s combat shaped out to be in the endgame. At launch, Outriders’ combat was extremely volatile, pun not intended. Some of you will likely remember some of the spikes in difficulty when trying to progress through expeditions. For some players, these spikes were like hitting a brick wall – something they felt they simply could not overcome. Our pre-launch vision for Outriders was that progress through Challenge Tiers would take time and that it would take a great deal of experience, knowledge, and build-optimization to push through those spikes. While some players appreciated the challenge, we do understand that many others were frustrated, thus spawning the “Carry-Culture” where some players wanted to be carried especially through Challenge Tiers 9 and 10.
With Worldslayer, it is our aim to bring a more streamlined and stable environment for all players. With the introduction of Apocalypse Tiers (which replace Challenge Tiers, even in the base game) we were able to look into the enemy damage curves and make them less steep. Additionally, we further reduced the spike threshold and adjusted the amount of damage events occurring within a second. You may remember the spike threshold/damage events within one second discussion from when especially glass cannon players suffered from what was thought to be one-shot deaths. The changes introduced in Worldslayer will decompress the difficulty curve across Tiers. In essence, playing through the Worldslayer campaign on low and mid Tiers should provide a much more pleasant experience as opposed to climbing Challenge Tiers. The difficulty will then ramp up on higher Tiers, compounding into an endgame challenge, which those players aiming for the most difficult of challenges will still appreciate.
Note that we are keeping a close eye on difficulty and progression in Worldslayer, specifically the speed at which players progress through Apocalypse Tiers and when or if they get stuck somewhere. We may adjust this progression in future, depending on player feedback and our data. We'll keep an eye on whether players are progressing into Tiers faster than their gear can keep up (which can lead to difficulty spikes) and whether progression into higher Tiers remains fun.
Builds, Sets & Mods - Over & underperformers
Over the past year, despite our best efforts, there was a visible gap between certain sets or builds. Reasons for this may vary between either set bonuses or keystone mods, but the net result was that there was a pool of builds that were simply not competitive enough to sit comfortably along (or even around) the “meta” builds. Examples of those meta builds include the Borealis Technomancer, Acari Pyromancer, Seismic Commander Devastator and (post New Horizon) Trespasser Trickster.
Unfortunately, balancing patches can only go so far, and we weren’t able to fully bridge the canyon caused by the differences in output between these builds and others. Despite our intentions to end the “time-trial” meta by removing timers from expeditions and thus allowing players to take as long as they wanted with the content, we still observed that many players continued to gravitate towards the meta builds mentioned above. While it was absolutely possible to complete CT15 Expeditions with other builds or sets, the natural inclination to pick these meta-defining builds over others remained. This was quite sobering to observe, as it took away from the core Outriders drive – to have fun wreaking havoc with whatever build one’s mind could come up with. And while we acknowledge that the “burden of optimal play” is more often than not the deciding factor in choosing what to play, we stand by the philosophy that players should be able to forge fun in their own way, instead of being railroaded away from specific builds just because they deal less damage. A preferred playstyle should not be sacrificed for the sake of performance. Likewise, killing enemies fast should not be the only determining factor whether a build in Outriders is viable or not across the entire spectrum of skill.
Furthermore, we found that a majority of players were using a certain mods or builds in unexpected ways, perhaps because these elements did not fit the community vision of the respective build. Rather than attempt to force through their original design, we have tried to bend those things in a way so as to better fit what the community was trying to do with them.
We also know that some base game sets and mods did not offer any real, effective combat value (or had fundamental hindrances) and were subsequently perceived as lackluster. We gave them an extreme makeover and we implemented balancing changes so that such sets and builds could offer unique playstyles, instead of just copying what the top-tier meta ones did.
What Worldslayer also allowed us to do was make complex changes beyond simple numerical tweaks. With all this in mind, we rebalanced the top performers to bring them in line with other build options while at the same time buffing the underdogs to level the playing field. Examples:
- The Torturer set has become a dedicated hypercleave set, sharing a portion of the main target’s damage with all enemies affected by its aura.
- The Plague Sower will now not just provide a defensive benefit but will also add offensive boosts against enemies suffering from Toxic.
Earlier on we mentioned fundamental hindrances: We had a look into why certain sets were able to perform to some degree but were ultimately never really able to spread their wings. The Marshal’s set is such an example:
- For the Marshal’s set we removed the target limitation, which will allow players to more readily capitalize on grouping multiple enemies with Endless Mass.
Then, there are Mods...
We had an extensive look at which mods are “must haves”, which were consistently underperforming and which simply did not support their own dedicated playstyle. We reworked those too – quick example:
- The “Asunder” mod for Earthquake now reduces Resistance instead of Armor, which means that it will directly increase the damage of Anomaly Power Devastators who would be relying on the skill.
There are of course many more such tweaks, many of which are aimed at providing improved cohesion and synergies with their associated builds.
The state of the weapons meta was another big topic of discussion, both within the community and internally. We saw the over-reliance on Tactical variant Assault rifles which proved to be very powerful all-rounders. Instead of simply nerfing the Tactical variant, we took a broader look at all weapon variants to see how we could increase the fun and viability of other weapons and variants. While nerfing Tac AR would likely have been the easier and faster solution, it would probably not have solved the underlying problem that the underplayed types had in the first place.
To use a metaphor of a 200m sprint: It would be like untying the laces of one contestant while the others still are still running barefooted. Sticking with the metaphor for a moment, we chose to provide footwear for everyone else.
We looked at which weapon types struggled in what way, and we aimed to provide precision buffs in places where we had the capacity to do so. Most commonly you will see tweaks to Damage and Range for many variants, as well as changes to Accuracy, Stability, RPM or Critical Multipliers in others.
These changes were tested during the most recent Worldslayer Beta and seemed to have a big positive impact on how players felt about weapons balance overall.
It is our hope that Worldslayer brings a breath of fresh air to the weapons pool and that players will finally be able to run with the gun and variant they prefer instead of the one they feel…shoehorned into.
Amplifier Builds – Long live the King
Have you done your math homework? We have, for Worldslayer.
During the course of the base game’s lifecycle we observed the unchallenged dominance of percentage (%) damage multipliers as primary build components, which enabled hyperscaling of the highest order.
The best performing builds were mainly comprised of passive % amplifiers gated behind simple conditions, leaving very little room for personal preference or unique gameplay ideas. The notorious pre-New Horizon Fortress is a good such example, as it provided a flat but huge % increase to damage with no skill or gameplay required.
A more current example would be a common weapon-based Borealis Monarch Technomancer build. This build stacks Freezing Boost, Shatter, Radical Therapy, Euthaniser, Dark Sacrifice, Purge nodes, Long Range Damage and a few other such amplifiers. This relentless stacking of high value amplifiers led players multiplying their damage nearly 5 times over, all for the single unique cost of… being able to calculate it all. Which could be easily done even outside the game itself.
In Worldslayer we have carefully considered our stance on such builds and we feel that if build pieces that require very little “active gameplay effort” remain as potent as they are, other builds or ideas will never get close enough in output to match them. Again, the Fortress rework we implemented last year is a good preview of that philosophy, as we as much as possible tried to maintain its overall strength but added gameplay requirements to triggering it (e.g. landing and stacking successful shots).
One of the biggest balancing changes in Worldslayer that you will observe will be the reduction of % damage multipliers across the board. Our intent is to move those pieces of build progression from the “absolutely essential” category and make them fit in as more supplementary to builds.
With new content being released, rather than continuing to uphold gameplay elements that are in effect nothing more than higher numbers being displayed on screen with very little thought or concentration required, we wanted to actively engage players to be able to use and rely on their own player-skill.
However, this does not mean that amplifier builds will no longer be viable. There is still a place for them in the grand scheme of things, but they should ideally no longer hold the dominant and unchallenged top spot. This is one of the many steps we took in creating a more equal environment for different builds and playstyles.
As part of our work to improve the overall balance in Worldslayer, we took an intensive look at the many triggers on both weapon and armor mods.
As always, we closely watched how different triggers behave in solo versus co-op environments and how reliable they tended to be. The biggest problem here were “On Kill” triggers, as there was an extreme swing in their reliability when comparing Single to Multiplayer play-sessions, especially when the peer-to-peer connection relied on a less than ideal host. Connectivity aside, in both solo and multiplayer, “On Kill” effect were also found to be unreliable as they would not trigger if an enemy was killed by damage over time (DOT) status effects or other factors.
There were also cases of very hard to fulfil triggers, such as the “Aura of Force” mod’s “Critical On-Kill” trigger providing Anomaly Power. In a realistic scenario, this trigger would be highly unlikely to occur for dedicated builds that were tuned to AP damage instead of FP output.
We approached these issues in two ways: We streamlined the hard-to-fulfill or unreliable triggers in order to make those mods more effective in the long haul. We also transitioned many of the “On-Kill” or “Critical Kill” triggers to “Successful Shot” or “Critical Shot”.
Additionally, by reworking triggers on weapon mods especially, we guaranteed that many defensive and utilitarian mods will now occur when their value is the highest in combat. A good example here would be “Dome of Protection” occurring on “Successful Shots”, which will allow the player to spawn it right at combat start when enemy pressure is the highest. Previously, this mod required players to kill a target with a bullet and that would often only occur when Dome of Protection’s effect was less required than at the start of combat.
Finally, we unified hereditary mods into the same triggers so there would be no dissonance when switching or upgrading from one to other, such as from Bone Shrapnel to Ultimate Bone Shrapnel. Previously, Bone Shrapnel had a “On-Kill” trigger, where as Ultimate Bone Shrapnel had a “Critical Shot” trigger.
That's it for news regarding balancing! For more news regarding Outriders Worldslayer, please visit the main thread.External link →