I've been aching to start a series of blog posts highlighting mechanical designs of specific games, assessing their problems at an in-depth level and giving critiques. It helps in my own pursuit of creating my own tabletop game (that will have balancing and the meta as a heavily emphasized component), and it's also informative to anyone actually playing the game itself. I will start with a game that's basically become my bread-and-butter: Paladins. I know it's a weird game to start with considering it doesn't have the popularity of games like Overwatch or League of Legends, but bear with me on this.
Paladins: Champions of the Realm is a Hero Shooter with MOBA elements designed and published by Hi-Rez Games (Now, specifically Evil Mojo Games). It features four classes that each specialize in specific roles, an intuitive items system, and the ability to customize the playstyle of that champion in specific. The game's main game mode focuses on capturing an objective, and then afterwards pushing a payload to gain points towards winning a match. Each grants 1 point (and so do successful defenses), and the first to 4 points wins. A comment I already have, and a flaw I've noticed. Okay, so the game has a system that works like earned currency that allows you to buy items. Well, that currency system is different for each role. The flaw in this is that it A. discourages flexibility, and B. gives specific advantages to specific classes, particularly the Damage class that quite literally gets more credits than the rest... by dealing damage. Make credits even across all roles. It may seem like it would be counter-intuitive from a design point of view because it makes characters less graspable for new players, but seriously I hardly knew this EXISTED back when I started out. Plus, you can tell by their kits, their health pools, and even to a degree their movement speed what roles said champions play.
Now let's get into the nitty-gritty issues.
- Anyone who has played this game for a decent amount of time knows that tanks, well, tanks are very powerful. The problem is that a lot of these frontline champions are good both offensively and defensively, regardless of their talent choice. That is a problem. I think the obvious solution would be to design kits where it's obvious that the tank is weaker defensively and is better at zoning instead of taking objectives, and make some that are incapable offensively. This can be done with decisively placed nerfs and buffs in some cases to solidify what kind of tank they are. Whether they're more of an anchor tank or a main tank. I know that there are obvious examples of such, but the issue is that even those tanks are offensively capable. Take Inara for example. She may seem like she isn't a problem offensively, but confusion in her kit lies with her ability to go straight into an enemy's face, CC them, and then even kill them. You see the problem? She shouldn't be able to do that if she's a main tank! I know that certain people will say "but this will make double tank worse, because these bruisers wouldn't be able to tank." And I say that's a load of BS. These bruisers would be plenty capable of it. They'd just have to be more assertive and less passive about it. Take Ruckus for example, a tank that's basically out of the meta because he has no sustain. I actually think his sustain should be BUFFED, but I think that it needs to make him more of an offensive bruiser that gets in your face like he should be designed to function. Right now, he's basically a damage champion that's been misclassified as a frontline. He needs more sustain, but sustain that allows him to be aggressive. Like for example, I think that his ultimate should have much greater fall-off but also a built-in overshield as well as CC immunity. This would allow him to get into the face of enemies and use Hexafire without worrying about getting easily instakilled by the enemy DPSes. That's what is necessary here. On the note of Inara, I agree she needs mobility, but I say make it mobility that's designed with DEFENSE in mind. Like get rid of her stupid Warder's Field and put in an ability that allows her to cast a jutting rock that slows enemies in front of her and launches her backward in the target direction. That may sound like a comical ability, but it would allow her to get away and heal up while the enemy is affected by the slow that would be incurred.
- Oh, the issue of Cauterize. This card gives up to 90% healing reduction on-hit for 1.5 seconds. This is INSANE, okay. It's affected the game in such a way where healers need TONS of consistently overpowered healing to keep up during the mid-later stages of a match when the enemy DPSes spec into it, which they will early because of how INSANE it is. This NEEDS to be reduced PRONTO. I don't care if it ushers in a high TTK double support meta temporarily, but please NERF it. I say a quick fix would be to nerf the ranks to 25/50/75. But a more INTUITIVE fix would be to nerf it to 15/30/45 and then nerf the necessary healing abilities to compensate. Nerf Seris' heals, Nerf 'Damba's heals, Nerf Jenos' heals, and DEFINITELY nerf Grover's. I would not touch the healing of Grohk or Pip though. It would help them out massively and Pip may become a top tier pick because of it. Then I say nerf his CC and health pool. He has a lot of CC, and he has the smallest hurtbox out of every champion in the game (aside for his big freaking head), so nerfing those would balance him out. As for Grohk, he'd be likely a little powerful, but considering all Lo-Rez has put him through, it's more than acceptable that he becomes a high tier healer.
- I think I should also make a list of the unnecessary items and the simple fixes to all of them. Deft Hands- just buff 'Damba's reload speed a little, and Buck's plenty and it should be little issue. As for Dredge, yeah him too. Replace it with a card that grants max-health based TRUE damage based on the damage you deal. This would aid in eliminating the double tank meta that's been predominant in the game for a while now. Illuminate- Just nerf stealth mechanics, to make them more of cloaking mechanics. Where you can see a rough outline of them, it rewards those who are aware and punishes those who don't pay attention to it. Replace that for in-combat damage reduction to compensate for the other new card. This helps the newly formed off-class of bruisers a lot in their pursuit of meta domination. (Muahaha! Terminus will KILL YOU ALL!).
- Buff most non-tank health pools so that way they also have a degree of sustain so that way tanks have yet another counter-measure and the TTK as a whole goes up to compensate for the healing and tank nerfs I would vouch for and help ESPECIALLY FLANKS. HOWEVER, nerf the F*** out of a few damage champion's bursts (Cassie, Lian, Drogoz, et cetera)… PLEASE?
- Please, for the love of this game, REWORK Torvald. Just, please. Decide whether he's supposed to be a support or a tank. If he should still be a tank, may I suggest making him tanky and defensive like he used to be until people stupidly complained about his lack of damage (which to be fair he DID have)?
With these changes, tanks would not be meta, supports wouldn't be left to sit on the objective unless you have a more offensive bruiser type tank like Terminus, Ruckus, or likely Ash, Damage dealers wouldn't be almost instakilled half of the time with little counter play by their own ranks, and supports would be just as good late as they were early. At least I think. Any recommendations to amend this list would be greatly appreciated. For now, goodbye and thanks for reading this first-of-it's-kind blog post. I hope to do another in the future soon on Team Fortress 2, so stay tuned for that.