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State of Balance: Season 5 Recap

06/05/2018 09:43 AM

Hello warriors! As we stated at the beginning of Season 5 in our previous State of Balance post, we are here to analyze S5’s Hero balance and the future of For Honor balancing. I encourage you to read the first blog post if you missed it.

The goal of this post is to give a reflection on our past choices and their impact and some insight on the future.

Check out the State of balancing at the end of Season 4: HERE

(If you need a refresher on the sources we use in our balancing process, see the addendum at the end of the article*)

Major Changes: Season 5

The Age of Wolves came with major balance changes. These changes brought a positive effect to the meta-game as you’ll see in the data reports

  • Improvement of multiple Heroes : Kensei, Berserker, Conqueror, and Highlander. These Heroes are now more fun to play with and against. They also have better performance across the board.
  • Change to the Parry mechanic: Now that Parry cannot confirm a Guard Break anymore, we think the game has increased in variety and players can attack near a ledge with less fear of being thrown. But one of the side effects was a decrease to the performance of Heroes that were already lacking offensive tools, like Orochi or Valkyrie.
  • Back Dodge Nerf: The Back Dodge nerf came in recently in Patch 1.22. We wanted to normalize distance and recovery for every Hero with this patch, improving Back Dodge for some Heroes and decreasing the efficiency of most of the Assassins’ Back Dodges. The change only arrived late in Season 5, but the indicators we are getting currently tends toward it being a healthy adjustment.

We will return to these changes while talking about the data. You will see they had a big impact on the current state of balance.

1V1 DATA

We are going to share some data about 1v1 and 4v4. We currently look at these 2 environments to make decisions on balancing. We also analyse community feedback and ask the opinion on our most skilled and dedicated players.

1v1 data helps us to evaluate if one character is particularly overpowered or underpowered in terms of a pure fight situation.

4v4 data is more about your performance in a team with your Feats and what you bring to the table.

Below is a Matrix of all the 1v1 matches made by the top 2.5% of For Honor players on PC and Console combined, according to our skill rating.

In terms of data it’s the closet thing we have to inform us about the competitive level of For Honor in 1v1.

Season 5 - Duel - Top 2.5% of Players

1v1Matrix

We're also including the pick rate for the same criteria, for further transparency.

Season 5 - Duel Pick Rate - Top 2.5% of Players

1v1PickRate

1v1 Analysis

That’s the performance of all Heroes during Season 5 from February 15 to May 15!

First you can see Kensei, Berserker, Highlander and Conqueror went up as we expected. Kensei and Highlander were really at the bottom of the list with respectively 45% and 39% win rate in season 4 and they are now competitive.

If you look at the bottom 2, Orochi and Valkyrie, these are 2 Heroes that lack some offensive tools. They were also hurt by:

  • Not being buffed while many other Heroes were.
  • The Parry changes without receiving anything to compensate

Orochi has just gotten a Rework with the launch of Season 6 and we believe it’s going to make the character much more competitive than he was in Season 5. Check the Post about him if you want the full details!

We are currently looking at Valkyrie and we have started to improve her, but we have no release date estimate to share yet.

You can notice that like at the end of Season 4 there are some Heroes around 40% Win Rate and some around 60%. While we would love 1v1 to be perfectly balanced at 50% for all, the 4v4 meta-game health and balance is also important and critical to us. We want every Hero to be enjoyable in Duel, but if making that happen breaks 4v4 balance, we will probably opt not do make such a change.

Here are some deeper details about some specific Heroes:

Conqueror

Conqueror is currently a bit too strong in 1v1 but doesn’t shine that much in 4v4 as you will see later. We are considering some small nerfs in the future like the damage nerf we did on his light attack during patch 1.22.

Peacekeeper

We said we were looking at Peacekeeper last time, and we decided to give her an adjustment this season. The high level changes we are doing are a nerf to her overall damage and an improvement to her Dagger Cancel to be more threatening. She was both excelling in 1v1 and 4v4 and nearly became a mandatory pick in a lot of competition. Check the blog post for more details on her changes

Kensei

What a comeback! Kensei is currently very strong in the live environment. While being strong we don’t think the character is broken. We do see that Kensei's Dodge Attacks are very strong. We're currently looking at standardizing Side Dodge recovery for all Heroes in the future, which may have a small effect on Kensei.

Highlander

Highlander is now in a better place performance-wise but some issues still remain. We think his Defensive Stance is a bit underwhelming compared to his Offensive Stance and his Dodge while in Offensive Stance appears that it might be too strong. We’re still monitoring how things are evolving before deciding to make any change.

Nobushi

Nobushi went down in 1v1 this season with the Season 5 changes, but we think her place in 4v4 and group fight in general has improved.

Lawbringer

Lawbringer was perfoming very well during s4 with his 55% win rate in duel. We didn’t make any changes, and yet he went down to 49% in Season 5. While retaining a very good Parry punish, the change to the Parry mechanic still diminishes his very defensive playstyle. On top of that, matchups that were really in the favor of the Lawbringer (ex. matchups with Kensei) are now much more balanced. We still want to change Shove on Block but we would like to package it with more changes and they are not ready yet.

4v4 DATA

Here is the win rate in 4v4 Dominion for the top 4% players on PC and Console combined according to our skill rating system.

You’ll notice that the population % is not the same as for Duel. It’s because we want to get a population high enough in the ranking while being large enough to get relevant data.

Season 5 - Dominion - Top 4% of Players

4v4Winrate

4v4PickRate

One of the biggest difference from the beginning of Season 5 is the Nobushi’s importance in 4v4 has decreased and Kensei became a good pick. With Nobushi’s slight nerf in S5 and the Peacekeeper changes in S6,1 we think Shaman will be in a sweet spot in 4v4. We wanted to diminish the supremacy of what we call “The Bleed Team”: Peacekeeper / Shaman / Nobushi by nerfing some of the Heroes of the team but most importantly buffing other Heroes to make them a valid pick.

You can see that, as a result of the Season 5 updates we gave them, Berserker, Conqueror and Highlander are all more useful now than during the previous season.

Similarly, we expect Orochi’s S6 Rework will make him a better contender in 4v4 during Season 6.

Lawbringer

Despite his lower performance in 1v1. Lawbringer remains strong in 4v4. We are currently looking at his Feats, which are clearly one of his main strengths. We like the threat of having a lot of AOE damage Feats, but he’s currently too good at it and no other Hero can challenge him at this role.

Gladiator

Gladiator is performing quite poorly in 4v4, and he’s not shining in 1v1 compared to when he was released. People adapted to his playstyle, other Heroes where buffed, and while still being a good duelist he’s not as powerful as he was comparatively. We think his very short Guard duration might create too high of a skill cap to play him properly. We are also going to look at his Feats to increase his power in 4v4 in the future.

NEXT STEPS

Overall, we think Season 5 had a lot of positive effects on the Metagame and the general balance of For Honor. We will keep updating characters and change core mechanics when needed. In Season 6, we have updated Orochi and Peacekeeper to keep going in this same direction.

Expect other character updates next Season. Big changes often come at the beginning of a new Season, but other adjustment can be pushed in between like the recent Back Dodge changes or the Centurion buff. All these changes are here to make as many Heroes as possible very competitive in 4v4 and make them fill a team role.

Keep sending us feedback on any channels you want. Our Community Team sends us all of it!

 

Expect a follow up to this blog post at the beginning of next Season with our findings!

-The Fight Team

BALANCING PROCESS

Let’s explain a bit about the balancing process. We use multiple sources to draw conclusions and act accordingly. Those sources are: (Not in any particular order)

  • Community feedback collected across multiple channels
  • Top players feedback
  • Data
  • Our designers perception

After isolating an issue we work on it until we think we have a good solution, we test it internally and often externally with top players, and then patch it into the game. The length of the process can vary a lot depending on the issue and the solution involved. For example, some solutions can be addressed via data in a Live Update, which offers us good flexibility for release timing, where others require code changes in a full Title Update (Patch) which requires much more complex production timelines and submission processes.

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