PvP Balance and Damage Scaling

Patch 1.3.0 puts player-versus-player combat in the spotlight. From a development perspective, that has meant a lot of time spent playing, watching, and messing with PvP and our PvP damage-scaling algorithm. We have this algorithm because many players deal magnitudes more damage than life pools can possibly reach. There are also damage disparities between builds. Without scaling, fights at high level would be over in a fraction of a second, and at very low levels would almost always end in a draw.

Prior to 1.3.0, all damage dealt between players was funnelled through a damage scaling algorithm. In general this reduced the damage of most attacks and spells. It did this regardless of the type of skill or damage.

The PvP scene, although small, is very developed. Pre 1.3.0, the best builds were well established, and outside of Freeze Pulse, elemental damage was barely seen in low-level fights and only splashed onto skills through supports in high-level fights in an effort to push a little damage through Immortal Calls. Bear Trap, Ethereal Knives, Whirling Blades, Puncture, and (later) Tornado Shot dominated the scene.

While there was still a lot of build diversity, the lack of elemental options in skilled low-level PvP was an issue.

While great for tuning damage broadly, the algorithm treated elemental and physical damage equally. And the damage-cutting of the algorithm was ultimately not harsh enough. Battles would be won and lost in a matter of seconds, which led to block and dodge -- forms of total mitigation -- becoming the sole meaningful way of surviving.

With 1.3.0, damage scaling has changed. It has been split into two algorithms -- one for physical damage and chaos damage, and one for elemental. In low-level play, damage is reduced by about 20% for physical skills, but is increased for elemental damage to compensate for assumed resistances. In high-level play, the damage reduction is much sharper.

In both tiers, the ability to one-shot your opponent is now very difficult. This, in combination with changes to the Acrobatics keystone and block values on items and the tree, means that total damage mitigation is a helpful, if unpredictable, bonus, rather than a game-winning factor. Game lengths have increased to be more satisfying and to give opportunities for moment-to-moment tactical decisions rather than crossing your fingers and hoping your opponent doesn't land a lucky crit.

The change has meant we've had to reassess most of our skills. Almost all of the skills that dominated in the old meta have had their damage reduced one way or another to bring them closer in power to the others. The result during alpha testing was a wide variety of builds -- crit dagger dual-strikers, fireball trappers, sword-and-shield heavy-strikers, spark casters, summoners, burning arrow rangers and others have all done very well in matchups.

The scaling algorithms as of our most recent 1.3.0 alpha build are:

for physical and chaos damage, and

for elemental damage.

“D” is the damage of an individual hit.

“T” is the attack or cast time of the skill it comes from, or the assumed attack or cast time we have determined for that skill (see below).

For skills that don’t fit this algorithm due to a lack of attack time or due to some other innate advantage they provide we use a series of time assumptions and/or manually reduce or increase the damage further.

The full list of skills that have some other form of scaling applied are:

Discharge: T overridden to 1.4 seconds.
Lightning Warp: T overridden to 1.0 seconds.
Firestorm: T overridden to 0.45 seconds.
Tempest Shield: T overridden to 0.7 seconds.
Molten Shell: T overridden to 1.2 seconds.
Bear Trap: T overridden to 0.75 seconds.
Explosive Arrow: T of the explosive arrow charge overridden to 0.4 seconds.
Double Strike: 2 hits per time, so T divided by 2.
Cyclone: 2 hits per time, so T divided by 2.
Lightning Tendrils: 4 hits per time, so T divided by 4.
Fireball: 5% more damage in PvP.
Tornado Shot: 20% less damage in PVP.
Freezing Pulse: 20% less damage in PvP.
Whirling Blades: 30% less damage in PvP.
Arc: 10% less damage in PvP.
Static Strike*: 25% less damage in PvP.
Glacial Hammer: 20% less damage in PvP.
Flickerstrike: 30% less damage in PvP.
Riposte*: 60% less damage in PvP, and 2 hits per time, so T divided by 2.
Reckoning*: 40% less damage in PvP.
Vengeance*: 40% less damage in PvP.
Ball Lightning: 15% more damage in PvP.
Flameblast: T is the total number of casts multiplied by the cast time.

*these skills are new in 1.3.0

Supports that override PVP scaling on hit damage:

Trap: T of supported skill overridden to 1.1 seconds, if skill does not already override it.
Remote Mine: T of supported skill overridden to 1.1 seconds, if skill and/or trap
support does not already override it.

Skills that override PVP scaling on damage over time:

Puncture: Does not apply PVP damage scaling to DoT, but in PvP, halves duration instead.
Righteous Fire: T overridden to 15.0 seconds.
Searing Bond: T overridden to 30.0 seconds.
Viper Strike: T overridden to 24.0 seconds, and debuff duration cut in half.

Ground Effect PVP scaling:

Ground Fire: Fire Damage Per Minute scaled with an assumed T of 24.0 seconds.
Desecrated Ground: Chaos Damage Per Minute scaled with an assumed T of 24.0 seconds.
Poison Cloud: Chaos Damage Per Minute scaled with an assumed T of 24.0 seconds.

We've also reduced the dominance of crowd control skills in PvP. Chill, freeze, shock and ignite all have their duration cut in half by default against players, and Temporal Chains -- the undisputed curse king in PvP -- has had a 40% reduction against players by default. 1.3.0 also introduces new ways to deal with these crowd control methods through itemization.

Feedback from the few dozen PvP testers we've had in Alpha has broadly been positive, but we know it's not perfect yet. We'll be carefully assessing tournaments of all types for balance tweaks that still need to be made, both to the algorithms and to particular skills that may be over or underperforming. I know I speak for everyone when I say we're excited to hear your feedback when PvP relaunches in just a few days. With your help, we hope to have an amazing competitive scene for years to come.
Last edited by NickK_GGG on Dec 17, 2014, 10:36:25 PM
Last bumped on Apr 7, 2016, 7:14:54 AM

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