DC Universe Online's Stats Revamp Is Almost Ready
I’ve played DC Universe Online since the day it launched. Or, maybe I should say on the day it launched, and for a month or two afterward. I stopped for a long time and then came back when they introduced the then newest power: Quantum. That was when I really started getting into the game. It was my first substantive MMO and for the most part, it didn’t disappoint. Of course that should be taken with a grain of salt since I didn’t have anything I played to compare it to. Fast forward a few years and a whole host of changes and the game is wildly different. A lot of the changes made were, arguably, disapproved of by the hard-core DCUO community.
DC Universe Online, now owned by Daybreak Games, is ready for its latest round of changes, aimed at revitalizing their base and bringing some semblance of balance not only between powers but between the various types of gamers that play the game. From the “filthy casuals” to the “no-lifers”. On Friday, DCUO announced that the impending “Stats Revamp” has reached its penultimate iteration on the test server. That means that any changes to be made from here on will basically be cleanup. They’ll be dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s over the next few builds to hit the test server and that means the full-on launch is closer than ever. So what is the Stats Revamp and how will it affect your gameplay?
Well the Stats Revamp, affectionately dubbed Stats Matter by people who obviously have no idea they’re infantilizing serious social issues, is an effort to make the Skill Points you earn actually mean something. There are well over 300 skill points available to each player, with more available every time new content is released. However, as it stands on “Live”, your gear and combat rating are the only things that truly separate you. There’s no real point in having more than 200 skill points so the development team is doing something about that.
After several builds, surveys and community testing they’ve reached a milestone as far as progress. From the update notes:
Stats Revamp Cheat Sheet
- Remove Combat Rating Differential
- Adjust where player stats come from and smooth progression
- Adjust NPC stats
- Revamp skill tress/skill points
- Remove Advanced Mechanics and Weapon Mastery bonus damage
- Remove Power Points
- Update all power sets
- Enhance supercharges and supercharge builders
Ongoing and Under Review:
- Balance powersets post-AM/WM
- Balance and adjust roles to account for new stat numbers
- Balance playstyles (PftT, Hybrid, Weapon)
- Adjust ability cooldowns (for balance and combat pace)
- Adjust ability power costs (for balance and combat pace)
- Address content bugs and adjust specific content as needed for difficulty
- Address powerset-specific bugs
When we originally entered into the Stats Revamp we came in with the goal that we wanted to make Power, the stat, mean something and we wanted players to invest in it. Over the course of testing it has become apparent that players do not want to invest in Power. This feedback brought us back to the drawing board a little and now we have shifted our focus away from players investing in power, but instead making sure they pay attention to the power mechanic. There will be more information on this in the general balance portion of this post.
Crowd Control Matters
This is a thing we discussed before and we are not pursuing it to any great extent. What we have done so far is remove some amount of crowd control from abilities across power sets. You may have noticed that power sets updated later in the process actually had more crowd control left in. We went back and gave power sets updated first some of their crowd controls back. We will continue to monitor this, but do not plan further changes.
General Balance Pass
Now that we have all power sets updated we moved on to our general balance pass. This is the time period where we can make big changes to everything now that all the pieces are on the board. These changes include things like updating power costs over all, adding new mechanics, and adjusting UI. Here is an explanation of many of the changes we made during this general balance pass.
- Ability Output Update
- Role Updates
Masteries (final name TBD) are new skill point boxes on the stats tree page that can be gotten in order to support a specific play style. Masteries are exclusive to each other and are awaiting new icons. These are our solution to supporting the associated playstyles. Previously there were issues with increasing the effectiveness of one playstyle without increasing another. Now we have an area where we can tweak each playstyle individually, exclusive from the others.
The current masteries are:
- Hybrid Mastery – This mastery allows the player to gain power from attacking with their weapon, utilizing both weapons and abilities. This is how the game was originally designed and is considered the classic playstyle.
- Weapon Mastery – This mastery increases weapon damage and allows power regeneration from weapon attacks, but decreases passive power regeneration. Players will primarily utilize weapons, with some weapon-enhancing abilities.
- Power Mastery – This mastery significantly increases passive power regeneration. Players will not gain power from weapon attacks. This is for players who wish to play from the tray.
Masteries should make play style choices easier to understand, balanced, and more impactful.
We found that most players do not want to put points or invest in power. In order to adjust for this and help out might users, we have removed the power skill point option and combined it with Might. This means when you buy might, you will automagically gain power at a similar rate to what you used to. Its basically free power! This should help play from the tray users by allowing them to invest points in what they really want, might!
We also removed defense as an option for spending skill points in. We found that tanks had too many options for spending skill points. This should not really change how defensive you are because we accounted for it in other areas.
Ability Output Update
We have heard your feedback on relative balance issues and have taken action! Some of the numerous pieces of feedback across the powersets were that abilities with large cast time and channel time were not attractive enough to be useful options. As we tackled that, we also took a deep look at the way we give an ability more throughput (bonuses) or less throughput based on the characteristics of the ability. For example, to calculate the damage of an ability, we would give a bonus throughput in exchange for increased cooldown on an ability. The longer the cooldown, the bigger the bonus.
These ratios are where balance happens. These ratios are also where a large portion of the feedback tweaking happened.
There are far too many things to explain in depth here, so I will list them in broad categories below. Essentially the goal of this portion of the update is to make each ability category a useful option for a play style or player.
Bigger Bonus for Being/Having More Of:
- HoT Duration
- Healing Field Duration
- Cast Time
- Channel Time
- Combo Time Length Bonus
- Stationary Cast
- Single Target Bonus
- Melee Bonus
Smaller Bonus For Being/Having More Of:
- Power Cost
- DoT Duration
- Damage field duration
We also increased the width of skinny cones. High five!
We got a lot of feedback about how supercharges felt and the majority of the feedback was that they were not impressive and felt too frequent. We agreed and slowed down the supercharge generation, increased the max supercharge resource, and made most supercharges more powerful. Now when you use a supercharge it should be impactful and feel good.
We made a couple of significant updates to role specific functionality based on feedback from the survey and other areas.
We got a significant amount of feedback that healers were too spammy. Heals were not big enough, and needed to be used too often for too little effect. To this end, we increased the power cost and throughput for basic heals. This is on top of the general ability updates, and together help the healer become more burst oriented and less small heal spam oriented overall.
We spent a bit of time thinking about the tank playstyles of turtle tanking and active tanking (called by some, battle tanking). We want to support both of these options to an extent and feel that the best way to play the game is by applying the right option in the right circumstance. Most content will not require you to swap between these options, but some hardcore content might.
To this end, we have shifted some numbers around and made some adjustments so that players can tank by turtling or by being more active, so that it is up to you. The following was done to support this:
- Rebalanced the tank passives to account for moving defense from skill points to other places
- Created Fortified Assault tactical mod for increased defense while active, to differentiate playstyle between those who use Fortified Block tactical mod for increase defense while blocking
- We also plan on increasing the duration of shields to 12 seconds
Beyond the updates that the controller power sets got, we updated the controller group weapon buff to be more powerful, and expect controller play to be impacted by the power (the stat) changes. Most of these updates happened in the power sets themselves or in general balancing.
It remains to be seen whether this move will not only revitalize current players but bring in new subscriptions. My biggest issue with this game has always been the storytelling. Too late to change all of that now, but one can always hope.