Developer Insights: Patch Preview 5/5/2015

Game Designer Matthew Cooper discusses some hero changes in the latest patch to adjust the win-ratio of Diablo, Illidan, Murky, Sylvanas, Chen, Abathur, ETC, Anub’arak and the Lost Vikings.

With this episode of Developer Insights, game designer Matthew Cooper is here to chat about a few of the changes you’ll be seeing to balance and hero functionality in the near-future. Let’s dive right in and see what’s coming to the Nexus.

Hero and Talent Reworks

Healing Ward is one of the most commonly picked talents, and rightfully so. The Ward can provide a significant amount of healing to an entire team, and players can position themselves to prevent their enemies from destroying it in order to squeeze a little more time out of it. In this next patch, you can be on the lookout for a few alterations coming to the Ward:

  • It will no longer always take 2 auto-attacks to destroy the Healing Ward; instead it will have a scaling health value and can be damaged by area-of-effect abilities. This means placing a healing ward in the center of a massive team fight might not be the best decision, as it’s likely to be destroyed quickly.
  • Healing Ward will have a higher targeting priority, so players won’t be able to protect the ward by standing on top of it.

We will see how these changes pan out and continue to evaluate this talent.

We have a number of talent changes incoming for both ETC and Diablo, alongside some buffs and nerfs to help tune their status in the Warrior role. These talent changes were primarily designed to create more build diversity and also to sharpen their roles as unique Warriors in the Nexus. We provided a quick glance at two of the new Storm Powers coming into the game below, and the rest of the talents and changes will be available for viewing with the upcoming patch notes.

Diablo will have his Storm Shield replaced with a Storm Power called “Lord of Terror.” The ability will be an activated area-of-effect life steal that can hit multiple enemy heroes near Diablo. We want Diablo in the middle of team fights, and this new talent allows him to do so effectively.

ETC has a new Storm Power called Death Metal, in which, upon death, a ghost of ETC will unleash an uninterruptible Mosh Pit. Do note; this Storm Power can be selected with either of ETC’s Heroics.

Balance Changes

We’ve noticed increased use of a particular strategy that allows Abathur players to backdoor their opponents with the use of clever Bombard Locust placement. While we encourage Abathur players to be aggressive and attempt risky play for higher rewards, we do feel that this strategy does not offer enough counter-play for the opposing team. We’ll aim to tune the strategy into a more manageable state for the opposition, but keep Abathur standard play in a solid state with the following changes:

  • Locust range: Bombard Strain Locust will no longer outrange turrets.
  • Less overall health for the Bombard Locusts: We’ve repaired a bug, with the Bombard Locust, that gave the Locusts more health than originally intended.
  • Stronger Stab damage: We’re hoping to give Abathur a little more bite in damage, so we’ll be increasing Stab damage by a small margin.

Anub’arak’s win rate was discussed at PAX East and we’ve made some quality of life adjustments and other changes with community feedback and internal data in mind. Those changes include:

  • AI changes to how the Beetles prioritize their targets.
  • Reduce some pre-cast delays on a couple of Anub’arak’s abilities.

Chen buffs have been requested by the community since we mentioned his lower win rate at PAX East. Since then, we’ve seen Chen trend upwards, and he is no longer one of our lowest win rate characters—or even lowest warrior. As we look at higher MMR matches, we see Chen trend towards a solid win rate and we believe he’s in a good spot in competitive play.

As we factor in Chen’s win rate and the various builds we see players utilizing, we’re able to come to the conclusion that we don’t need any major changes to Chen in the next patch. In the future, however, as we continue to adjust characters each patch, we may make slight changes to Chen and his talents.

We’ve seen feedback calling out Illidan as an over-powered hero. When looking at internal data, we do see Illidan trending towards the top of the Assassin category in terms of win rate, but he is still well within our threshold. Statistically, Illidan is not an outlier. We’ll continue to keep an eye on the aggressive Assassin but, for now, we have no major changes in store for him.

With the last Patch Preview, we mentioned some quality of life changes for everyone’s favorite Murloc—Murky. We’re happy to report that the changes have made a much larger impact than we anticipated. The changes have increased his playability and win rate drastically. While monitoring Murky’s win rate increase, we have noticed the use of his Living the Dream talent has increased. We’ll continue to examine the strength of the talent and make changes if necessary. But, for now, we believe Murky to be in a pretty good spot.

The Vikings continue to trend towards the top of our win rates. We believe the high win rate can be attributed to the Vikings ability to soak a massive amount of experience and the strength of their Longboat Raid! Heroic ability. For our next patch, we’ll be altering both of the Vikings’ Heroics to include:

  • If the Lost Vikings’ Longboat is destroyed, all the Vikings will be stunned for 1.5 seconds. This should allow for coordinated teams to pick off the Vikings.
  • For Play Again, we’re adding a full heal to all live Vikings in addition to the current functionality.

We imagine we’ll see the Heroic pick rate and overall win rate shift slightly, which is our intended goal. We’re not looking to make any big sweeping changes with the Lost Vikings in this upcoming patch. As a side note, we’ll address the Vikings and their talent pick rates if we need to shift their win percentage closer to 50%.

 The Banshee Queen

Sylvanas is in a fantastic spot when it comes to her win rate. Currently, she sits close to a 50% win/loss ratio—the benchmark we aim for with our heroes. When looking at her talents, we’re happy to report that we’re seeing a number of diverse builds. However, we have noticed that Wailing Arrow is the clear winner when it comes to her Heroic abilities. We are looking at possible changes and community feedback to make Possession more viable. We’ll be leaving Sylvanas in her current state until we have a better answer.

And that about does it for this Patch Preview. Thanks to Matt Cooper and the design team for chatting with us about the content coming in the next update. Let us know what you’re most looking forward to in the comments below, and we’ll see you in the Nexus!

 

Tomas Hernandez is owner of Blizzplanet.com since 2003. I post news about World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard Careers, and the Warcraft film.

Blizzplanet is a leading fansite covering news about upcoming Blizzard Entertainment licensed products. I also post previews and reviews. I have interviewed book writers and Blizzard game developers.

I was previously an employee of the OGaming Network (2003), and IncGamers (2008-2010). I was a guest newsposter for GosuGamers (World of Warcraft) a few years ago and for Diablofans.com (formerly Diablo3.com)

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