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Testing Grounds: Breach Mode Optimizations

01/16/2020 12:00 PM

BREACH UPDATE

Hey warriors!

When we shipped Breach a year ago, we had two clear objectives for this new game mode:

  • Deliver on the fantasy of attacking / defending a medieval fortress
  • Offer a rich team experience supporting different roles and playstyles for different types of players

While we’re pretty happy with the fantasy element, on the gameplay side, we rapidly started looking at ways to improve the experience.

Making Breach more fair

Breach asymmetrical design has always favored the Defenders side. On average, defenderS win about 58% of the time but it’s never seemed to be a big issue. We obviously want to make this number as close as possible to 50% but what we’ve identified as a more impacting issue is fairness. Attackers and Defenders have different fairness issues that we’ve identified:

Asymmetrical win conditions

At its core, Breach is about pushing or stopping the ram and then killing or protecting the King.

Pushing or holding the side lane is a secondary objective that makes the main objective easier to manage.

The respawn tickets bring in a very different set of dynamics that puts a lot more pressure on Attackers than on Defenders. Attackers need to be a lot more careful knowing their respawns are limited. Additionally, they need a lot more coordination in order to get Revives. For Defenders though, it feels a lot more organic as they can kill enemies as a mean to complete their objectives, the only punishment for death being the respawn delay.

Defenders feeling of progression

As an Attacker it is quite intuitive to understand if you’re doing well or not in a game. The Ram advancement, health, as well as the side lane advancement, and King health are intuitive indicators of your progress and performance.

For Defenders, it is a bit less intuitive and satisfying because, by definition, the status quo in terms of ram position, side lane or King health means they’re doing well. The only dynamic indicator is the Ram health that needs to go down to win in Phase 1 or 2.

As a result, it is very frustrating for Defenders to see their progress denied, sometimes completely, when the Attackers break through the Outer Gate and the Ram is repaired.

Additionally, at the Inner Gate it gets equally frustrating if the Defenders bring the Ram down to almost 0 and eventually the ram goes through with potentially a lot of tickets.

These are two situations that emphasize the fact we present Defenders with an unfair set of rules that makes their performance and progress feel meaningless. In an objective-based game mode such as Breach, it’s a problem.

Redefining the role of tickets

As stated before, Breach was designed as our most objective-oriented mode. A mode where Players could focus either on combat or run around the map to compete for objectives. Killing other players should only be a means to an end. With that in mind, we’ve decided to remove respawn tickets from Phase 1 and 2.

Tickets are still relevant in Phase 3 as they allow us to encourage Defenders to engage Attackers instead of stalling. And they’re much more manageable for Attackers in this phase where multitasking is less complex.

To make sure that the challenge of Phase 3 is aligned with the dynamics at play between Attackers vs Defenders, we give Attackers tickets based on how much health is left on the Ram when it breaches the Inner Gate. With this change, we reinforce the Ram as the main objective of Breach. The Ram health and progress becomes a more reliable indicator of how Attackers or Defenders have performed. So, the more health is left on the ram, the better Attackers have performed, and therefore the more tickets they get to kill the King.

Improving player impact on the game

Determining the amount of tickets for Attackers in Phase 3 based on the Ram health at the end of Phase 2 provides a better sense of continuity throughout the game, guaranteeing that Attackers and Defenders actions and performance have short-term and long-term impact.

Healing the Ram and / or giving additional tickets after each phase was unfair to Defenders whose sense of progress was denied after each phase. And therefore, beyond the removal of tickets, we’re also no longer healing the Ram after Phase 1. This is another important change that has some impact on other balancing elements that you’ll be able to read in the detailed patch note.

A more dynamic Breach

We’re also making important changes to how dynamic Breach plays. This will impact several core elements of the game: respawn delays, objective speed, Guardian.

Respawn delay

We’re cutting respawn delays quite drastically, so that players can spend more time engaging with objectives. The former renown-based system that increased respawn delay from 15 to 24 seconds, will be replaced by a straightforward fixed respawn delay of 20 seconds, regardless of your renown. Executions will add an extra 3 seconds.

Objective speed

We’re making the ram faster to move, faster to charge, as well as side lane capture points faster to capture in order to make the mode faster to play and more dynamic. If objectives move faster when attackers push, we hope that defenders will react faster, and make the whole mode more fast-paced.

Guardian

Finally, we’ve made some adjustments to the Guardian to make it a more important ingredient. Up until now, the perception has been that the Guardian is high risk / low reward. Therefore, the Guardian is not used as much, and therefore, it limits the mode’s tactical choices. So, we made some changes in order to improve the Guardian boost so it gives a bigger advantage, as well as made some adjustments to how difficult he is to defeat.

Here are the concrete changes:

Respawns

  • Attacking Team no longer has limited number of Respawns during phases 1 and 2
  • Ram Health will determine number of Tickets awarded to Attackers, during transition in to phase 3:
    • Full Health Ram = 22 Respawns
    • Half Health Ram = 15 Respawns
    • Critical Health Ram = 6 Respawns
  • Reduced respawn timings to 20s (+ 3s penalty for Executions)

Ram

  • Ram no longer heals after breaching through the Outer Gate
  • Slightly increased Ram movement speeds (default and boosted)
  • Reduced the docked Ram default charging speed to 40s (from 50s)
  • Reduced the docked Ram boosted charging speed to 12s (from 15s)
  • Reduced the Cauldron damage to the Ram to 750 health (from 900 health)
  • Reduced the War banner shields to the Ram to 750 health (from 1200 health)

Side Lane

  • Reduced the default capture time of an Archer Point to 30s (from 40s)
  • Reduced the boosted capture time of an Archer Point to 15s (from 20s)

Guardian

  • The Guardian will now spawn 2:30min after the fall of the Outer Gate
  • The Guardian will respawn 2:30min after being killed
  • Guardian Rewards
    • Upon death the Guardian will bestow the following rewards on the killer and allies in a 15m radius:
      • Instant full health
      • 100% shield
      • Instant Revenge Activation
      • Infinite Stamina (2 min duration)
      • +1000% damage increase against Pikemen (2 min duration)
      • -50% damage reduction from Pikemen (2 min duration)
      • We are using a Placeholder Red Eyes Visual Effect to indicate that the Guardian Reward is active on a player
      • All Guardian rewards are lost upon death

Testing ground

This Breach update will be playable on the Testing Ground on two maps: Walled City and Hallowed Bastion. We hope you enjoy these changes, and most importantly that you share any feedback you have with us. 

Based on the results of this Testing Ground we will communicate with you what are our next steps on the road to deploying this Breach update.

Single Pick

As stated at the beginning of this post, Breach has always been designed with the objective of fostering team strategies and tactics. The different objectives in the mode have been developed with the idea of suiting more to certain types of playstyles or characters. For instance, some characters like Aramusha are better at dealing with Pikemen, while Peacekeeper is better at navigating between objectives.

That’s why we want to use this Testing Grounds as an opportunity to test Breach in a Single Pick environment. Now that we have more than doubled the number of playable characters since launch, our data shows that outside of the release window of a new character, the chance of you being unable to pick the character you want is only about 1 match out of 10 in average. As we allow 1 of each hero to be played on each team, you will get your preferred character most of the time. While we acknowledge it can be frustrating when you cannot take the hero of your choice, we think Single Pick will make for a more balanced and healthier experience overall. Single Pick will allow us to remove certain scenarios, such as the situations where same-characters have fight scenarios that compound free damage (such as Hamarr Slam), and should foster improved team structure and synergies. We believe the benefits of Single Pick will outweigh the negatives, and would like to see how it performs in the Testing Grounds.

See you on the battlefield!

-FH Team

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