Build 327 Balance Patch Notes

Posted by amanda 6 months ago

In 327 we’re introducing some big changes to Gorge Tunnels, Alien PvE, Marine weapons and more. Below you will find extensive explanations and reasoning behind these changes- One common theme we want to emphasize however is that the goal of these changes is not to achieve a 50/50 balance for the game, but to balance for fun. By making changes to alien early game strategy and the intense reliance on PvE, we hope to lay the foundations for an overall healthier, more fun game for both teams. A secondary effect of this (but not the point) is simply shaking up the gameplay to keep the meta evolving. Additionally worth noting, as of this patch, official Ranked Server Status is changing to a maximum of 10v10 (down from 12v12).

Thank you to the many community contributors and members that have helped us to craft and test this patch!

Tunnels

    ● Moved Gorge tunnels to Commander.
    ● Tunnel health remains at 1000/100 freshly dropped, 1250/200 mature. Upgrading an entrance to an Infested Tunnel increases it’s health to 1400/250.
    ● 1 set of tunnels per hive.
    ● Tunnels require infestation to be dropped (but do not take damage off-infestation)
    ● Tunnels are purchased for 6 t-res per entrance
    ● Tunnel entrances cannot be echoed by a shift, but can be relocated for 6 t-res
    ● Tunnel entrances no longer spread infestation by default but can be upgraded to Infested Tunnel to produce infestation around them for 6 t-res

Since their introduction, gorge tunnels have been a much-beloved part of the gorge arsenal and a deadly tool for the alien team. They have gone through many, many tweaks and iterations over the years, yet they are still not without their issues. While the removal of tunnels from the gorge players is a drastic change, we believe this will improve the overall health of the game in the long run.

The nature of the dual res system and the introduction of the Alien Commander in NS2 has had profound implications on the alien economy and game flow from the outset. By giving the potential for a ‘personal phasegate’ to every field player on the alien team, available for p-res, this has put several limitations on game design and has had serious impacts on gameplay for many years. As Gorge tunnels have been tweaked and balanced throughout their lifetime, the balance between fun and unfun has always been a delicate one with them.

By moving tunnels to the Commander, it becomes a much simpler prospect to give them the proper timings, risk, reward, and cost throughout the span of a game. The intention of this change is in no way to remove fun from gorge players, but to change the trend of Aliens having to rely heavily on fortified PvE strongholds in combination with many tunnels throughout the course of a game in order to hold territory. This is not to say that we do not want aliens to be able to do this, but that we want PvE (and subsequently tunnels) to be supplemental to the alien strategy and map control instead of the primary focus that they are now. The hope of these changes is to refocus the emphasis of the gameplay away from tug-of-war style static PvE strongholds and cemented battle lines, and move toward what NS has always been about: Player VS Player first and foremost, with RTS mechanics playing a supporting influence in the flow of a game.

Alien Expansion:

    Cysts:

    ● Disconnected cysts slowly die.
    ● Cyst chains auto-grow 50% faster.
    ● Infestation now only spreads sequentially. Previously it spread for any fully built cyst even if the parent cyst didn’t have any infestation yet.
    ● Infestation spreads twice as fast
    ● Increased placement range by 33%
    ● Decreased base hp of cysts to 50 and the mature maximum to 200. Cysts close to a hive have a maximum of 350hp.
    ● Decreased maturity time to 20 seconds (from 45)
    ● Increased armor to 1 (from 0). So that nerve gas grenades uncloak cloaked cysts.
    ● Added passive upgrades for each hive type:
    —-○ Carapace (Crag Hive): Adds 25 armor
    —-○ Cloaking (Shade Hive): Turns invisible unless damaged, disconnected or touched
    —-○ Celerity (Shift Hive): Increases growth speed by 25%

    Nutrient Mist:

    ● No longer usable off-infestation
    ● No longer stops alien structure from taking damage off-infestation
    ● No longer heals hurt cysts

These changes are designed to refocus emphasis on the infestation mechanics of the alien team. With the power creep of tunnels in the past, and the diminished consequences of a broken chain via nutrient mist, the interactions between the alien team and their incentives to protect the chain have been largely diminished over time. Secondly, one of the most important upkeep-style resource sinks for the alien Kham has also been diminished. The chain should now feel more dynamic, with impactful consequences for failing to protect it – however once defended, repairing and re-establishing a chain should be much faster than before. The overall goal of these changes is to make the infestation chain once again an important piece of alien expansion for both field players and the Kham – worth protecting, and providing a more consistent res sink for the Kham while not feeling overly restrictive with the previously slow expansion rates.

    Support Structures:

    ● Crag:
    —-○ Reduced base heal amount by 33%
    —-○ Removed the heal target limit (was 3)
    ● Reduced Shade, Shift, Crag eHP by 20%
    ● Increased alien structure move speed to 2.5 (was 1.5)

Minor reductions in the power of the static defense structures are again in line with our goals this patch of re-shifting the gameplay focus away from powerful, static strongholds. In return we’ve sped up the rate at which you can re-position these structures to grant alien Khammanders with more dynamic options to either retreat or aggressively support with these structures.

    Harvester:

    ● Increased the time it takes for a Harvester to die off Infestation to 90 seconds (from 60)

In light of the more impactful cyst chain mechanics. Increasing the time it takes for a harverster to die off-infestation by 50% gives aliens a little more time to respond, and likewise, makes simply popping a cyst and relying solely on the lack of infestation to take down a harvester as a marine a less reliable strategy.

    Drifter:

    ● Increased drifter structure growth rate by 25%
    ● Added passive abilities for each hive type:
    —-○ Camouflage (Shade Hive): Drifters gain Camouflage when they are idle
    —-○ Regeneration (Crag Hive): Drifters regenerate 3% max hp/sec
    —-○ Celerity (Shift Hive): Drifters move 18% faster

Like the cyst bonuses, Drifters now also gain passives from hivetypes. In addition to a small bump in building speed, Drifters should now provide Commanders with additional utility and usability.

Lifeforms:

Skulk

    ● Floor jumps grant a slight speed boost similar to wall jumps. However wall jumping is still more efficient and faster.

By removing the wall requirement for the speedboost, this greatly helps rookies to learn the basic mechanics of the skulk, but in turn will also be a boon to experienced players alike by making the skulk slightly less terrain dependant to retain speed.

Gorge

    ● Gorge tunnel slot removed
    ● Now has more control over their movement when belly sliding.
    ● Increased belly slide’s base speed to 9.6 m/s (from 8.9)
    ● Can now use abilities while belly sliding (except for dropping gorge structures)
    ● Increased cost to 10p-res
    ● Gorge structures cost no p-res anymore.
    ● Lowered base air friction to 0.18 (was 0.2). However you will gain more air friction the faster you move (e.g 0.28 at 12 m/s without celerity)

    Hydra:
    ● Now fires consistently every 0.8 seconds (previously fired randomly between 0.5 – 1.5)
    ● Hydras are now more accurate at close distance
    ● Hydras now auto-build regardless of being on infestation or not
    ● Decreased build time to 8 seconds (from 13)
    ● Decreased hp by 50%
    ● Increased energy costs to drop a hydra to 40
    ● Turned Hydra into soft targets so gorges can’t hide behind them.
    ● Now gains 8 health per biomass level

    Web
    ● Reduced hp to 25 (from 80)

    Babbler
    ● Increased base hp to 12 (from 10)
    ● Babblers now spawn automatically every 2.5 seconds on the back of the gorge while out of combat and has less than 6.
    ● Attaching babblers to an ally now transfers ownership to them
    ● Removed the Babbler lifetime limit (was 5 min)
    ● Babblers now die together with their owner (attached unit or mother gorge)
    ● Idle Babblers will return to the mother gorge and attach to it if possible
    ● Nearby unattached babblers attack any target hit by the mother gorge’s spit
    ● Removed damage taken limit. Babblers now take full damage
    ● Now gains 2 health per biomass level
    ● Attached Babblers now act as full body shield. So no matter if a babbler gets hit or not they will protect you. The Babbler shield has the following values for each life form:
    —-○ Skulk: 21 (3.5 hp per Babbler)
    —-○ Gorge: 21 (3.5 hp per Babbler)
    —-○ Lerk: 21 (3.5 hp per Babbler)
    —-○ Fade: 40 (6.6 hp per Babbler)
    —-○ Onos: 85 (14.1 hp per Babbler)

    Babbler Egg
    ● No longer spawns Babblers
    ● Renamed to Bile Mine
    ● Detonates when Marines get close or it’s hit by Spit and deals corrosive (armor only) damage (15 dmg/sec) over 3 secs

    Clog
    ● Now gains 4 health per biomass level

    Spit
    ● Fixed that Focus didn’t increase Spit’s damage
    ● Increased Spit’s projectile velocity (travel speed) by 25%

    Healspray
    ● Healspray now always extinguishes fires (up from 50% chance)


With the removal of the much beloved Gorge Tunnel from their arsenal (and we do acknowledge this is no small change for gorge players!) we want to compensate gorges and encourage them to be more active on the field as opposed to the PvE map-control juggernauts they were able to be previously. With their full arsenal no longer costing any p-res to deploy, gorges now have the ability to move their battle lines more dynamically to stay closer to their alien comrades and provide more proactive field healing, babblers and all the support goodies they have without consequence of p-res costs. Gorges will still be invaluable to securing key locations in tandem with the alien Kham but should have additional tricks up their sleeve now when it comes to actively supporting.

With mobility improvements and allowing them to use abilities while belly sliding, they should be better equipped to keep up with their more speedy teammates while attacking or retreating. Additionally, Babblers should be much more user friendly now that they no longer require a lengthy hatching step, nor is the gorge limited in how many allies that can be shielded with them at a time. Be sure to hand out babbler shields along with healspray when your allies come to you for aid!

Lerk

    Carapace upgrade:
    ● Increased the armor gained by 15

    Movement:
    ● Fixed flying animation (by dragon)
    ● Improved taking off and landing mechanism (by Steelcap)

    Spikes:
    ● Reduced spread to 3.1 degree (from 4)
    ● Lowered damage to 5 (from 7)
    ● Doubled the projectile’s size

    Umbra
    ● Increased the time umbra sticks to aliens after they moved outside the umbra cloud to 2.5 seconds (from 0.25)
    ● Now also lowers damage from grenades (excluding nerve gas grenades)

Utilizing “Lerk Pancaking” will be slightly less effective with the improvements to the way the model animates- this will not in any way change how lerk players move themselves. But be forewarned Lerks, you may be easier to target now that the model doesn’t jerk around so unnaturally in the air! Lerks can now glide instantly from the walk position. Previously, Lerks may accidentally touch the ground during combat and get stuck there momentarily. This change helps the Lerk feel more responsive and also allows more freedom of movement near the ground.

The changes to Spikes should make them feel much more reliable at range. Additionally, improvements to Umbra should vastly increase its utility as it now “sticks” to allies as they move out of the cloud in the chaos of combat. These two changes together allow the lerk to be a much more impactful support unit in the mid and late game.

Fade

    ● Swipe: Changed damage type to puncture (-50% damage against structures)
    ● Added slide movements when landing on the ground with a high momentum
    ● Added auto-crouch to blink (by Nin):
    —-○ Fades will automatically crouch after blinking until they touch the ground again without holding jump. If a fade player taps the crouch key auto-crouch will end until the fade blinks again
    ● Fixed that some entities (like Marines and Fades) clipped through ceilings while crouching (by nin)

Fade animation fixes will make it so that the fade model no longer excessively clips into ceiling props and vents when blinking into the roof. This will not change in any way how fade players move themselves, but be forewarned fade players, using this tactic to avoid being hit won’t work nearly as well anymore! Additionally, the Fade will now “auto-crouch” to aid in map navigation and sore fingers. A slight ice-skating effect or “slide” has been added to allow for a longer grace period while using jump+blink combos, so that grazing the floor or props (or slightly mistiming a jump) will be slightly less punishing. Lastly, changing Swipe’s damage type to Puncture makes it a bit simpler to understand and allows us to eliminate one of the more obscure damage types from the game. This also makes the fade’s structure damage consistent regardless of the HP of a structure.

Onos

    ● Boneshield (by Steelcap)
    —-○ Doesn’t consume energy anymore. Instead Boneshield is now bound by endurance
    —-○ At max endurance Boneshield will last for 8 seconds
    —-○ Recovering max endurance from none takes 16 seconds
    —-○ You need at least 15% endurance to activate Boneshield
    ● Charge: Lowered cooldown to 0.5 second (from 1)

A new Boneshield resource system allows the Onos more freedom in their choices of engagement and disengagement since they no longer have to rely on juggling their energy pool between Charge and the previously energy-hungry Boneshield. This will also limit the use of boneshield when gaining an excess amount of energy through Adrenaline or Shift effects.

Charge cooldown being lowered gives the onos a much faster response time and better handleability when navigating windy rooms or around props and should overall feel a bit less restrictive now.

Other Changes

Soft Heal Cap

    ● If an Alien structure or player is healed by more than 14%/sec any additional healing is reduced by 66%


This cap is intended to throttle large amounts of healing in rare situations where multiple healing effects are stacked with each other.

Upgrades:

    Adrenaline
    ● Now provides a flat increase energy regeneration that is tailored to each lifeform (no longer increases maximum energy pool). Current rates (at 3 spurs):
    —-○ Skulk 50%
    —-○ Gorge 30%
    —-○ Lerk 30%
    —-○ Fade 80%
    —-○ Onos 50%

    Vampirism
    ● Doesn’t restore armor as much as health anymore and uses eHP (2 eHP = 1 armor) values now:
    —-○ Skulk: 20%(6.67% of max eHP per Shell)
    —-○ Gorge: 8% (2.67% of max eHP per Shell)
    —-○ Lerk: 8% (2.67% of max eHP per Shell)
    —-○ Fade: 10% (3.33% of max eHP per Shell)
    —-○ Onos: 5.5% (1.83% of max eHP per Shell)


Adrenaline changes should now bring the upgrade up to a more competitive level with Celerity and support more energy hungry play styles.

Vampirism changes are intended to normalize the upgrade, as before its effectiveness varied wildly depending on whether or not it was healing armor or hp. It will now always heal the same amount on each hit. Most lifeforms retain similar numbers as previously, however Onos’ maximum effectiveness was reduced by roughly 25%.

Weapons

    ● Dropped weapons now refresh based on close proximity (no longer have to pick them up to refresh)

Welder

    ● Decreased cost to 2 (from 3)

Shotgun

    ● Lowered pellets fired per shot to 15 (from 17)
    ● Increased base damage of each pellet to 11.34 (from 10 – Total damage unchanged)
    ● The spread figure is now a truncated cone (instead of a cone) and slightly tighter. This should make hitting close targets easier.
    ● Added a damage falloff starting at a distance of 7 meters maxing out at 14 meters with a base damage reduction of 60% (4.5 damage per pellet)


A more tightly clustered spread allows for less pellets to be needed, netting slight performance gains. This also allows the shotgun to be more consistently deadly in its primary effective range, close combat. To compensate for cone adjustments, the cone is now wider at its origin so that it has less of a “pin point” hit-or-miss effect in melee/extremely close combat situations. Lastly, The shotgun now has damage falloff starting at 7 meters to prevent the ‘sniper shotgun’ effect, and to diminish its effectiveness against large targets at extreme distances (ex:onos, long range hive assaults). Shotguns are now more susceptible to long range harassment by lerks, so be careful!

Grenade Launcher

    ● Decreased base damage to 90 (from 145)
    ● Increased damage multiplier against structures to 4 (from 2)
    ● Grenades now glow now (for both teams) and bounce less (by Nin)
    ● Grenades now always detonate on impact. (removed 0.15 second detonation delay).


These changes orient the GL farther into its niche of being a structure destroyer. By doing less damage to enemy players but a lot more to structures, the GL is now an extremely powerful handheld siege tool that, given the opportunity, will obliterate enemy fortifications. However, be careful and bring a friend! You’ll be much less capable against enemy lifeforms, should one happen upon you.

Hand Grenades

    ● Research time reduced to 25 seconds (down from 45)

    Pulse Grenade
    ● Increased the detonation radius to match the cluster grenades
    ● Doesn’t bounce anymore at low velocity

    Cluster Grenade
    ● Doesn’t bounce anymore at low velocity


A faster research time allows for a quicker reaction by the Commander to get hand grenades onto the field when the need arises. Minor usability improvements in the physics of the grenades.

Structures & Support

    Armory

    ● Reduced health to 1500 (from 1800) and armor to 200 (from 300) [-30% eHP)]
    ● Advanced armory values are still the same

    Robotics Factory

    ● Reduced health to 2500 (from 2800) and armor to 400 (from 600) [-20% eHP)]
    ● ARC factory values are still the same

    Phase Gates

    ● Added a 300 ms phase cool-down


Reducing the overall health of Armories and Robo factories will make them less effective as hallway-blockers and bring them more in line with their t-res value in this respect. The health of their advanced forms (Adv. Armory / Arc Robo) is unchanged. Additionally, Phase Gates will be ever so slightly more vulnerable with a small reduction in health, and a small delay in between marines phasing through (no more “popcorn marines” effect). Overall these changes together make the static battle lines of marine map control more fluid and structure blocking less cost-effective. Phase Gate triangles will be a little less forgiving.

    Added Advanced Support Research:

    ● Available at the Command Station
    ● Unlocks Nano Shield, Power Surge and Catalyst Packs
    ● Costs 20 team resources and takes 60 seconds to research (down from an aggregate of 45/ or 15 each previously)

      Nano Shield
      ● Decreased costs to 3 team resources (from 5)
      ● Reduce duration to 3 seconds (from 5)

      Catalyst Pack
      ● Decreased duration to 5 seconds (from 12)
      ● Decreased costs to 1 team resources (from 3)
      ● Decreased catalyst effects (additional move and reload speed) by 50%

      Power Surge
      ● Decreased cost to 3 team resources (from 5)
      ● Decreased duration and cool-down to 10 seconds (from 20)

By collapsing these 3 support abilities into one research, and reducing cost and effectiveness, the usability and frequency of seeing these previously rarely used utilities should be much more accessible to marine commanders. Additionally, they should be more viable to actively use in the mid-game and less of an end-game res dump.

Other

    ARCs

    ● Increased cost to 15 t-res (from 10)
    ● Changed health to 3000/200 (from 2000/500)
    ● Increased supply cost to 35 (from 15)
    ● Increased splash damage to 675 (from 450)
    ● Increased build time to 10 seconds (from 7)
    ● No longer slows when traveling on infestation


This effectively squishes ARCs into being worth 1.5x of their former selves. This, in combination with the removal of the infestation slowdown should make them less clunky to use and their positioning less cluttered on sieges, since there will be effectively the same amount of damage with less actual units fighting for the same space. Bilebomb is now slightly less effective against ARCs by proxy.

    Marine Movement

    ● Marine backpedal speed penalty reduced to 40% (from 60%)


A change that will punish a marine for backpedaling less harshly- This is primarily to help newer players out.