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Balance Changes

June 20, 2017 - TF2 Team

In the past, we've made blog posts about changes we've already shipped or stuff we've tossed onto the smoldering scrap-heap of failed ideas; this time - based on your feedback - we're going talk about changes while we're still working on them.

Below is a sneak-peak at some of the changes coming in the next major update, along with some commentary. These changes are based on online community discussions, emails, playtime data, conversations with players of all skill ranges, and play testing.

Things to keep in mind:

  • This is not the complete list of changes. Some items (and classes) are still being worked on, and are not ready for review.
  • We're going a little deeper on some classes this time (e.g. Scout) and not as deep on others (e.g. Demoman)
  • This is a work-in-progress; items may change prior to release.

Please continue to send us your feedback through the Contact Form on the right taskbar (under "Contact Us"). Hearing from you helps us prioritize our work and influences the direction the game moves in.

  • Panic Attack
    • This is one of our least-used weapons. The main culprit seems to be the queued/delayed-fire aspect, which fights against the basic concept of the secondary slot on classes that can use this weapon (Soldier, Heavy, Engineer, Pyro); players generally expect a secondary that is immediately ready to fire - for the rare case where their main weapon isn't available (e.g. out of ammo), or isn't the optimal choice (e.g. airborne, too close, etc.). Removing the queued/delayed-fire concept basically invalidates the original design, so we've started over.
    • Goal: Make the weapon immediately usable, remove the large burst potential (generally hard to balance), and give the weapon a unique design space to occupy
    • New design:
      • 50% faster switch speed
      • 50% more pellets
      • 30% less damage
      • Fires a wide, fixed shot pattern (regardless of server settings)
      • Shot pattern grows with successive shots (e.g. while holding down the attack button), but resets after you stop firing or reload
  • Ambassador
    • Players that are head-shot from across the map are expecting to see a Sniper in their death-cam, but they sometimes see (more often that we'd like) a Spy with a revolver
    • Goal: Reduce the effective combat range to something more reasonable and expected with the Spy
    • Changes:
      • First-shots are no longer perfectly accurate. Bullet-spread is instead reduced by 50%. This makes head shots less reliable at long range, while still very viable at close and medium-range.
  • Dead Ringer
    • Feign death is an interesting effect, but a good Spy can use it extremely frequently making it frustrating to play against and reducing the risk of using it nearly constantly
    • Goal: Rather than make it less interesting, let's make it more predictable to fight against by removing methods by which Spies can reduce its cool-down. This should create more of a rhythm to fighting against a Spy using this and introduce a little more risk to player using it.
    • Changes:
      • Ammo kits and dispensers no longer refill the Spy's cloak meter
  • Your Eternal Reward
    • This is the least-used Spy knife (technically, the reskin is, but anyway...). While silent-kill and rapid-disguise-on-kill are good, the downside on this knife is extreme.
    • Changes:
      • Removed: "Cannot disguise" penalty
      • Added: Non-kill disguises require (and consume) a full cloak meter
        • Backstab-based disguises are still free
      • Increased cloak drain rate by 50%
  • Sandman
    • The feedback on this weapon has been fairly consistent for a while: Players really hate losing the ability to fight back. Compounding this, the ball has to travel really far in order to disarm players. Being hit by a long-range ball (more often than not) ends up feeling random, rather than skilled.
    • Changes:
      • Long-range ball impacts no longer remove the victim's ability to fire their weapon (but the victim is still slowed)
        • We've updated achievements that were looking for disarmed players
      • Max range balls now do 50% increased damage (from a base of 15)
      • The flight time required to trigger the "max" effect has been reduced by 20%
      • Ball regeneration time reduced to 10 seconds (from 15)
  • Bonk! Atomic Punch
    • This weapon was designed to allow Scouts to pierce hotly-contested areas. While it does this quite well, it doesn't require enough skill, or carry much of a down-side.
    • Changes:
      • Apply a slow effect to the player after phasing wears off, based on the amount of damage they absorbed
        • From -25% at low damage, to -65% at 200+ damage
        • Lasts 5 seconds
  • Pretty Boy's Pocket Pistol
    • This weapon is one of the lower owner-equipped items in the game. Looking at the current design, it seems that not taking falling damage ranks pretty low on the value scale for a Scout, and a flat +20% damage taken penalty is basically the kiss-of-death for a low-health class.
    • Goal: Make the weapon less of a liability and focus it as a "get health quick" tool with decent burst, at the expense of total damage
    • New design:
      • +15% firing speed
      • Up to +7 hp per hit (from +5)
      • -25% clip size (9 shots)
  • Crit-A-Cola
    • The last change to this item added Marked-For-Death when the effect ended. This was okay because it forced Scouts to get out after a little while, but it didn't add any risk in-the-moment.
    • Goal: Add more decision/thought on when/where to activate and how to manage the risk/reward of the effect
    • Changes:
      • Added: Each attack while active adds Marked-For-Death debuff for 5 seconds (does not stack)
      • Removed: Marked-For-Death when effect expires
      • Removed: +25% move speed bonus
      • Removed: +10% damage taken penalty
  • The Atomizer
    • Triple-jump as a passive effect is just too strong. It makes combat against the Scout unpredictable because opponents don't see the bat, and therefore have a hard time anticipating the Scout's capabilities until late in an encounter. It also makes the Scout very strong against explosive classes - due to a combination of extreme mobility and high close-range damage.
    • Goal: Require the Scout to deploy the bat to take advantage of the extra jump - which is also is a signal to other players that they can perform an extra jump - and reduce the bat's negatives to compensate
    • Changes:
      • Triple-jump is now only possible while the bat is deployed
      • Removed: Self-inflicted damage when triple-jumping
      • Removed: Attack speed penalty
      • Added: Melee attacks done while airborne mini-crit
      • Added: 50% deploy time penalty (to prevent quick-switch by-pass)
      • Reduced damage penalty vs players to -15% (from -20%)
  • Flying Guillotine
    • This weapon is capable of high burst-damage under what sometimes seems like random conditions - such as mini-crits at long-range, and full-crits when the target is slowed or stunned by anything (e.g. Ghost "Boo!" effect, Natascha, etc.)
    • Goal: Remove the feeling of randomness, and reward accuracy
    • Changes:
      • Removed: Crit vs stunned players
      • Removed: Mini-crits at long range
      • Added: Long range hits reduce recharge (by 1.5 seconds)
        • Distance considered "long range" reduced by half of the previous value when determining mini-crits
  • B.A.S.E Jumper
    • Players often complain that the B.A.S.E. Jumper is frustrating to fight against because the target is simply too hard to hit. This is mostly due to the combination of being able to deploy/retract at will, and the amount of steering control they have - which makes them too unpredictable.
    • Changes:
      • Reduced amount of air control while deployed by 50%
      • Removed the ability to re-deploy the parachute once retracted (until the player lands on the ground again)
  • Mantreads
    • The second least-used item in the game. The aerial stomp mini-game is difficult, and The Gunboats are superior in most scenarios.
    • Changes:
      • +75% push-force reduction now includes airblast
      • Added: +200% air control when blast jumping
  • Darwin's Danger Shield
    • Snipers using this item had an advantage against Snipers who weren't. As a result, players felt like they were required to equip this item in order to be competitive.
    • Goal: Remove the increased survivability against enemy Snipers (which invalidates the existing design).
    • New design:
      • Counter ranged burn attacks (e.g. flares), and strengthen melee fights vs Pyros
        • Afterburn immunity
        • +50% fire resist
  • Razorback
    • Goal: Reduce the effectiveness of "pocket'd" Snipers in stalemates/standoffs (this primarily happens in organized/competitive play)
    • Changes:
      • Added: -100% overheal penalty
      • Added: Shield regenerates after 30 seconds
  • Vita-Saw
    • Ubercharge on death is too valuable of an effect to be passive
    • Goal: Change the weapon in a way that requires skill and risk in order to gain this effect
    • Changes:
      • Added "Organs" collecting concept (... you know, hit someone with a saw, and out pops a vital organ which you then take, and hold). Each hit with the Vita-Saw harvests the victim's organs (shown on the HUD).
      • Added: On-death, preserve 15% ubercharge per Organ harvested. This effect caps at 60%.
  • Crusader's Crossbow
    • Bolt healing is very high and significantly out-heals the Medigun when the target is in combat. This might be okay given the trade-offs (risk-vs-reward of ranged shots hitting and the opportunity cost, no overheal). However, it's also the fastest way to build Ubercharge - under the right conditions (e.g. corner damage farming with the Medic behind cover).
    • Changes:
      • Ubercharge gain rate reduced in the same way that the Medigun's healing (and therefore, Ubercharge build rate) is - based on the last time the target was in combat
        • Reduced by a third when 1 - 10 seconds outside of combat, and scales up to normal over 10 - 15 seconds
  • All Miniguns
    • Changes:
      • The 1-second damage and accuracy penalty now applies to the first second of spun-up time, whether or not the Heavy is firing. Previously, the 1-second damage penalty would only be removed after 1 second of firing.
      • Accuracy and damage penalties now reset when the Heavy spins down, rather than when the Heavy stops firing. This means if you stay spun-up beyond one second, and fire in bursts, damage and accuracy will remain at 100%.
  • Gloves of Running Urgently
    • Speed (lack-of) is used to balance the Heavy's high health, over-heal and damage output. While we still believe it's OK to have a class of items that increases Heavy's movement speed, players have been able to easily mitigate the existing negatives.
    • Changes:
      • Added: Max-health is drained while item is active (-10/sec), and regenerated while holstered
        • Health will regenerate only the amount drained while active - minus any damage taken during that time
        • Each time the gloves are deployed, the drain rate is accelerated for a brief period of time
      • Removed: Marked-For-Death effect while active
      • Removed: 25% damage penalty
  • Eviction Notice
    • Changes:
      • Added: Max-health is drained while item is active (-5/sec), and regenerated while holstered. Health will regenerate only the amount drained while active - minus any damage taken during that time.
      • Removed: 20% damage vulnerability
  • Fist of Steel
    • The downside of "increased melee damage" doesn't ever really come into play when it counts (e.g. holding a choke point or objective), and when a Medic is attached, the resulting pool of effective-health is unreasonably large
    • Changes:
      • Added: 40% overheal reduction while active
      • Added: 40% healing rate penalty while active
  • Rescue Ranger
    • The ability to repair buildings safely from range without using metal is powerful. Combine this with the ability to instantly teleport buildings from far away - which by itself is interesting and useful enough in many circumstances - and you end up with a package that is very strong.
    • Changes:
      • Ranged repairs now consume metal (at a 4-to-1 health-to-metal ratio, e.g. repairing 60 damage costs 15 metal)