We're 35 days out from game launch, so Welcome to the State of the Game After Action Report for April 17, 2019.
But first, don't forget that the servers will shut down for a scheduled maintenance Thursday, April 18th at 09:30 AM CEST / 03:30 AM EDT / 12:30 AM PDT. Estimated downtime is approximately 3 hours. Here's the patch notes from the maintenance (via the Ubisoft forums):
· Fixed an issue where players were able to receive unlimited Snitch heroic bounties.
· Fixed another issue where players were stuck after being revived while having a DoT state active.
· Fixed other issues relating to players being stuck after revival.
· Lowered NPC damage and health above normal difficulty.
· Increased variety of NPCs spawned at higher difficulty levels.
· Difficulty has been significantly decreased in Hard, moderately reduced in Challenge, and barely reduced in Heroic.
· Fixed an issue related to Elite NPC aggressiveness in Heroic / Alert Level 4.
· Reduced the damage output of Named bosses.
This week's State of the Game had a ton of information, with a focus on PVP, featuring Terry Spier and Ryan Liebscher from Red Storm and hosted by Hamish.
Title Update 3, which included the Operation Dark Hours Raid, has been pushed to next month in order to allow focus on fixing existing issues / balancing etc. While there's some obvious disappointment to be felt with this delay, it makes complete sense and shows a clear dedication from the team in terms of taking both backend metrics and community sentiment seriously. It's the ideal time, with the PTS now live, to avoid rushing deadlines; particularly when many of the fixes that need to be implemented need to be done before they risk impacting the raid experience.
So what's worse, having to wait a couple extra weeks for a raid experience that works? Or a broken one coming next week? It's a rhetorical question obviously -- and the result of a dev team fulfilling community requests that they continue to be responsive, and responsible, to the issues currently in the game.
PTS is live now on PC
It's the perfect opportunity to make a concrete impact on the health of the game by participating in the Public Test Server. The first phase of PTS will focus on documenting and collecting info on existing or new bugs. The second phase will focus on balancing in both PVP and PVE. For console players, you're encouraged to watch PTS streams as a way to engage.
What does it mean when we say we are looking at the player experience? At the end of the day the game is for millions of players, and it’s essential to get as much feedback as possible. Proud to have a PTS up and running 35 days from game launch.
- Give clear and concise feedback
- Vital for future health of the game
- Can’t guarantee all feedback will have a final impact on game play
- Just because it wasn’t implemented doesn’t mean it was a bad idea.
- Every comment is read.
PVP UPDATES: Balancing
There are a lot of balancing changes happening - a bunch that will be arriving with TU-3, as well as additional planned updates.
Normalization will now be to max world tier gear score (500) instead of how it was previously working (states would be normalized to a middle range). Additionally, high values attached to gear will not be impacted by the normalization. For example, if you have an item with high crit chance that crit chance will remain high even after normalization
And what is probably my favorite change: There will be non-normalized skill power to unlock skill mods in normalized play areas. So that everything remains active. If you've ever tried to run a skill-heavy build in PVP, you'll be familiar with the pain of having your build crippled because your skill power was normalized to below the requirement needed to unlock the talent attributes. This was particularly horrendous with Division 1 in Last Stand where I frequently found my carefully crafted medic build turned into an ineffectual mess.
PVP Damage Modifiers
- Global PVP damage modifier changed from 70% down to 40% which will bring TTK closer to what is experienced in PVE. - - Skill damage modifier will be increased from 20% to 25% to increase usability. This will all show up in the UI.
- Specfiic weapon archtypes pvp modifiers are changing (example: buffing AR damage by x%).
- PVP is being tuned separately from PVE.
- Crit is being removed from hip fire in PVP only. Hip fire should be utilized as a last resort strategy not as the primary.
Bottom line? Fights will last longer, skills will be more effective (while staying away from creating skills that can one-shot). There will be more time to employ strategic game play as well as to utilize a variety of builds.
“The magic of the dark zone is the people” – Terry Spier. Red Storm spoke about the importance of making sure they leverage that, and the interactions that allow for such a rich experience in that game mode. The changes outlined below are intended to help reach that goal of improving and increasing player engagement. He hinted at there being more planned related to leveraging the player experiences, but wouldn't go into more detail.
The DZ is not as scary as it used to be – lots of steps taken to make it more friendly, but it’s still the DZ and we understand a lot of players don’t want to go in there. But we’re essentially making it more useful for higher gear score, but not necessarily the only way to gain power creep. Need to keep that creep controlled so DZ is the first way. Should a new WT be created, need to be aware of how power creep can impact that.
Guaranteeing DZ player presence: Red Storm would like to confirm for the community that yes, they do play the live game and experience everything that the players do. As such, they're aware of the lack of players currently encountered in the DZ and are working on a fix: Increasing player presence to ensure 12 players in a session by reduction in brackets to two (1-30) and then players in World Tiers. This isn't coming with TU-3, but in the future. Play testing continues internally.
Player count increase above 12 is not planned. Request has been heard, but internal play testing has shown that more than 12 players sounds cool on paper but isn't fun in reality.
Loot ratios are being re-tuned. Less non-contaminated drops will be available and more contaminated drops. The goal is to have players engage in extraction loops more frequently. Named bosses will always guarantee contaminated drop and higher level challenge landmark bosses can drop multiple items.
Rogue cool-down being removed. (No more time-out before going rogue again) but toggle cool down active. Contam bag size default increased to 6, Tier 1 perk increases to 8, Tier 10 perk that used to increase contam drop rates now increases size to 10. Tier 4 perk prev reduce rogue cool down now decreases amount of xp lost.
ODZ modifiers can be changed independently from the rest of PVP. Currently the ODZ specific modifier is tuned to exact same value as global pvp, but they can tune it specifically to the ODZ experience and TTK will also be increased and can be tweaked without impacting the rest of the player experiences.
XP loss in ODZ has been decreased.
Man hunt and rogue coming back to ODZ. Read community loud and clear and agree with the sentiment. Most of ODZ will remain the same but rogue and manhunt returning. No grey rogue. More of the original DZ vanilla feel.
AI patrols will be decreased – unspecified amount. Make sure PVE encounters remain localized to the land marks as much as possible. Will be coming in a future update.
Cool down added to landmarks reset in order to keep players from repeatedly clearing the same location over and over again and to encourage travel.
Tuning AI damage and armor for endgame ODZs….less lethal AI, but slightly more survivability.
Thieve’s Den – allowing weapon swapping now. A lot more on the way. “Veritable honey pot of wonderfulness”.
Items in DZ will be dropping up to 515 max gear score. Items will still normalize to 500 “for now”.
“There will be future activities to come which are un-normalized”.
Armor bars displayed in UI are now accurate. Enemy armor bars previously capped at 10 pips. Now, player and enemy bars will properly reflect the amount of armor being worn.
Boosts Nerfed – power being decreased by 50% across the board.
Improvements have been made to team sync at spawn.
Conflict NPC more visible
Skill cool downs fixed - Skill cooldowns weren’t carrying over on death so too many skill proxies. Now, skill cool down will be recognized. There is a bug on the PTS where cool down is not resetting on match start. This has been fixed.
They’re special and they should feel special. It’s not about doing more damage faster / harder – not the overall intent for every exotic. When designing them it’s about promoting a different style of game play or fun loop that may not necessarily be the fastest and most efficient way to kill but makes it interesting. With that in mind....
Exotic weapons getting a damage buff across the board : as an example, Pestilence is getting a global buff with an additional buff in pvp. Plans are also being discussed for how to make exotics more viable without just relying on buffing.
Terry and Ryan spent some time talking about the philosophy behind implementing balance changes. It's important to know that process is about alignment. With this complicated a game with so many elements in it, things can get out of alignment, which can result in insanely over-powered or useless builds. Regardless of if that disalignment is super fun, it needs to be reigned in. The answer is not just “buff everything” otherwise things become flat because there is a ceiling as to how powerful everything can get. The philosophy of balancing is about alignment that creates a consistent fun experience throughout the game.
Talent changes aren’t just about “nerfing because it’s too good”. At the same time that talents are being changed, so are health stats for NPCs and multiple other values which all work in synergy to open up more variety of play.
YES I LITERALLY SPENT THE DAY TRANSCRIBING ALL OF THESE:
Weapon Talent Balance Pass
Damage bonus reduced to 20% from 25%, handling bonus negatively reduced to 25% from 35%
Missing ammo requirement increased from 5% to 10%
(PVE) Reloading from empty grants 20% weapon damage instead of 35% and 15% rate of fire for 3 seconds instead of 35% for 7 seconds
(PVP) Reolading from empty grants 15% weapon damage instead of 25%, and 15% rate of fire for 3 seoncds instead of 25 for 7.
(PVE) Killing an enemy repairs 10% armor over 5 seconds instead of 5% over 3 seconds. Head shots improve repair by 20% instead of 10%
(PVP) killing enemy 5% armor repair over 3 seconds, headshots improve repair by 15% and requires 7 defense attributes
Headshot kills grant 35% skill damage for 20 seconds, instead of 25% for 10 seconds, requires 5 utility attributes instead of 3.
Headshot kills increase skill repair and healing by 50% over 20 seconds instead of 25% over 25 seconds and requires 9 utility attributes.
Gear Talent Balance pass
Reduced critical hit damage bonus from 8% to 5%
Reduced critical hit chance bonus from 8% to 5%
Reduced healing bonus from 75% to 50% reduced, duration from 7 to 5 seconds, set requirement changed from less than 5, to less than 4, defensive attributes.
Iincreased health gained per critical hit from 15% to 20% / reduced armor gained per critical hit from 2% to 1%
Increased weapon damage to pulsed enemies from 10% to 20%, requirement changed from 3 to 5 utility attributes.
Shooting an enemy in the legs had a 10 change to apply bleed, now 15.
Headshots from cover armor repair increased from 5 – 10
After being in cover for 5 seconds (used to be 3 seconds) armor repairs by 5% every 1 second instead of every 3 seconds, requirement increased from 5 to 9 defense attributes
(PVE) 70% of max armor is repaired when armor depleated, armor kits used within 7 seconds are not consumed, instead of 25% and 5 seconds.
(PVP) 25% of max armor repaired, armor kits used within 7 seconds are not consumed (instead of 15% and 5 seconds). 11 defense attribute requirement and no other talents affecting armor kits.
(PVE) Depleting an enemy’s armor adds a stack of 25% bonus armor for 10 seconds instead of 20 for 20. Max stack increased from 5 to 6.
(PVP) adds stack of 20% bonus armor for 5 seconds with max stack of 5. 11 defense attributes instead of 5 offense.
(PVE) 10 % weapon damage bonus for every 20% of max armor depleted instead of 10% max armor. Requires 11 offense attributes and AR, smg or LMG equipped.
(No changes to PVP)
(PVE) swapping weapons within 3 seconds of a kill grants 35% weapon damage for 5 seconds, instead of 25% for 10 seconds.
(PVP) swapping weapons within 3 seconds of a kill grants 20% weapon damage for 5 seconds. Now requires 9 defensive attributes
Killing an enemy with sidearm repairs 50% of armor (raised from 25%), once every 15 seconds, (increased from 10). Requires 11 defense attributes
- Text chat – will lose focus after sending a message (no manual required)
- Players can toggle displaying group and personal drops
- Group tab will have all raid members
The community has had generally positive feedback regarding these initial changes, and since most of them are playable in the PTS currently, there's no excuse for all players to get engaged in see how they play in real time. What I'm hoping for is that the dev team also takes into consideration the reality that while it's understandable to view the the entirety of the game experience from the higher level "everything is connected view", it's cold comfort for players who are looking to enjoy themselves in the next 12 hours, not over the next 2 years.
But this may also simply be the uncomfortable truth about fully embracing live games "as a service" which Ubisoft has done with Division 2. Players used to (and still do) expect games to be finished at launch. The new reality is that gaming is a collaborative effort, and I don't think it's realistic to assume that we aren't now in a sense co-developers of the gaming experience. The "it will come soon please be patient" perspective is one we'll have to embrace and learn to get excited about, because that's what games as a service brings with it. As long as the team can keep making the journey interactive and exciting, I think it'll survive.
All I'm really waiting for is Survival. :)