General feedback on gameplay against other humans.
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I thoroughly enjoyed the first PvP test, but there were some frustrating moments I thought I would mention:
In one of my games I decided to try out Abominable Sludge and he generally feels really useless and frustrating unless your doing a titan push. Specifically around 17 mins in G5ef33fed252f4138b6af53ccfe711f8d you can see what I mean. The slime is just kited until it dies with no chance to do anything. Also those zephyrs were really annoying and they basically meant my melee units could never get in range. I really have no idea how to counter them as green.
Also please make it so you have to see a neutral camp die for it to disappear on the minimap. There were several games where I would take a camp only to have the drops destroyed a few moments later since the enemy knows exactly where to look. I really don't want to have to babysit my collectors every time I do a camp. Also it tells them where you are on the map, while less important still impactful.
Edit: I think I should also say that after playing PvP I reallllyyy like collisions the way they are. When you are playing Grath, surrounding the enemy with your Terrapin Troopers is his bread and butter.
Events: I have had several games that largely seemed to be determined in a single battle, usually mid game or at the end. The former were cases where one good fight on one side lead to the, eventually, losing team never being able to catch back up. The later were cases where the game was even and hard to call, then was often decided by whose Juggernaut survived after their army died...
Feels: For a new player, this feels less fun that the last Test Weekend. However, I think the pieces and map in particular are starting to feel cohesive in a way that makes it difficult to point at something and say that "that thing" is a problem.
Once a team has the army lead, it's fairly rare for them to lose it. With all the different upgrades and resources to try to balance your attention between, it's hard to gain any efficiency that will make up the difference. While some abilities are devastating, those ones are too unreliable and the rare case where you get a good hit, that's often what swings the game to an almost certain win.
On the other end, where a game actually does prove a nice even game, the end result often felt a bit unsatisfying. (These games also often had a touch of lag near the end, but that's a technical detail considering the growth of army sizes.) It often came down to a slug thingy (that big blob) or a Juggernaut that outlasted the defeat of the army escorting it. Those late game wins all seemed too much of a chance win rather than a skillful play.
On the new map, vision wards and scout unit felt great, even if most players seem to under utilize them. However, it often didn't feel like that made as much as difference as simply being the team that made the big play that swung the game (trapping on an enemy from both sides or actually landing a celesta ult). Unit collision felt better this weekend. I think the new map helps prevent some of the frustrating ally induced deaths except in large 3v3 battles, since tight areas are only small sections and most regions of the map have several broad exits.
I think Juggernauts are killing buildings too quickly. An unsupported Juggernaut should take enough time that a team focusing it would stop it in time to save the building. The inner buildings should have some manner of higher resistance to the damage it deals (health, damage reduction, etc.). The plays where we had to push twice to finish something off felt far more rewarding than sneaking in a single Juggernaut.
I think a few ultimates (aoe damage sorts) are doing too much damage while being too hard to land. Adjusting these so they are a setup for the rest of your units, instead of an instant swing, would make the game feel more like player skill was impacting the game rather than a single click with luck or a poor enemy response being the deciding factor.
I appreciated the ability to more directly impact which resource I felt most in need of. This alone probably made the biggest difference for the game feeling fun despite some frustrating elements.
The two sets of upgrades (upgrades and items) felt like they were needlessly separated. I would have preferred having them both purchasable from the same building.
I did struggle to understand how resources were or were not shared with allies after killing a neutral camp. I don't tend to care in AI games, but it creates a sense of team tension in pvp games. UI wise it looked like they were shared (blue vs green cubes), but there wasn't any text to make that clear even in the atlaspedia.
Overall the game is looking excellent. The individual pieces (aside from hero ultimates) all feel fairly well functioning with interesting interactions that overall don't feel like one or another piece is too important to force you to use it (although some units aren't useful enough to use often). It is certainly my favorite unit selection design so far with more of a four "teams" each with two sub variations. This weekend felt less rewarding for my skill level, with games swinging strongly off of a single battle or lasting a long time only to be determined by a single push of a Juggernaut being a juggernaut.
I played 13 games this time around, 12 as Eris. So take anything I say with an Eris-bias.
I loved PvP this time around, possibly because I found a hero that suited me well. I felt like people took the game in a lot of directions already (Protoss style deathballs, slow sieges, hit-and-run). which was cool. Pretty much every game, I played a hyper-mobile, mass Sandstinger/Devilkin with their upgrades and some Healers, and had a blast counterattacking, eating up reinforcements, killing mined gems, rushing to empty center areas to spawn Titans, etc.
I really like the changes in the map from last weekend to this weekend. I felt totally comfortable switching from side to side on the map as enemies and allies re-positioned and as I saw openings, as opposed to last time when people felt relegated to top or bot. I really liked the ratio of choke points and open spaces; as a fast but weak army, I had enough space to move, but not so much that opponents were unable to lock me down if they had good vision control. Camp locations felt well placed, and there were a good number of them. I was rewarded for destroying turrets by gaining additional camps to harass/steal/deny, which felt great.
I will echo sentiments of comebacks being a bit difficult. Specifically as Eris, if I lost units early, I felt like it was so hard to ever get upgrades and tech going. I was spending all of my resources just trying to rebuild my army. There were opportunities to get marginal edges back, but it was hard to overcome the Titan/tech/vision advantage when behind. Games were fast enough that it didn't feel that bad though, and I think at least some of the bad feeling is my own fault. If you lose a fight at a titan spawn, you can always give up the area and try to help secure a titan in a 2v1 elsewhere. At least for me, I'd want more games before I complain about this. Gotta try more things.
I was expecting to dislike the change from expansions to jungle camps when playing again humans, as there'd be less harassing to do, but buildings are weak enough that a mobile army can snipe something and leave, and the slow mining pile leaves me something to deny after they secure a camp. Camps also gave me more decisions in mid/late game; do I run back to my own base to do a camp, or do I think I can get more by denying opponents' resources.
Early game fights felt quite snowbally; losing one or two units made me feel unable to challenge for a titan until I could reproduce units, but again, switching regions may remedy this.
Mid game felt great. Armies were a good size for team fights; there were enough units that positioning was super important, but not so much that the screen was full of these difficult to maneuver blobs.
I didn't love late game fights as much. In slow, stalled out games, army sizes grew very large, and fights felt like a bit of a mess. It was hard to move around your allies and do cool things. Sooo I just counterattacked all the time.
Banked stock feels like a big culprit here, along with lack of incremental objectives on the map. You're already losing a ton of scrap when your army dies: the fact that you often have to stop upgrading Supply Cap or Scrap in-base to get your stock back means you fall behind on multiple axes. It strange because you often can rebuild a whole new army over time, which can make you think you have a chance to come back, but after a while you realize that not only is your second army weaker than the first, but all your subsequent armies will probably be weaker as a result of having to spend time building you stock back up instead of getting stronger.
This makes a loss feel somewhat frustrating and confusing, but still inevitable. Unlike some people I did experience comeback games, but they were usually from the opponent making a big mistake or my team outplaying them for a long stretch after we had made a big mistake in the first place.
I feel like there need to be more objectives and more opportunities to build incremental advantages other than just Titan/Camp/Scrap race, because these current objectives are all tied together and once you fall behind in one you're behind in all the rest.
It is hard in the game right now to do more than your opponent - it's usually pretty clear when creep camps can be taken and it feels too easy to spot armies in your territory, meaning aggressive jungling or risky objective-taking don't seem to be feasable if your army isn't ready for a straight fight.
For the most part, both teams get the same amount of "stuff", but the losing team gets less resources from the middle, maybe 1 or 2 less creep camps, AND has to spend in-base resource gains on Stock and Scrap instead of Supply Cap. This contributes to make snowballing feel very inevitable and there were several games where, after the first 7 minutes, my team all said to each other, "I have no idea how we're supposed to come back from this" -0 not because we couldn't imagine ourselves outplaying the opponents, but because we literally couldn't figure out how to approach the objectives in a way that would ever let us make back the resources we'd lost.
In a standard MOBA, we'd have options like split pushing, avoiding fights, jungling more aggressively, or resorting to roving ganks to try to pull ourselves out of an XP/gold hole: here, the answer seems to be "Win a Big Fight" which is the one thing we've been punished too hard to do in many cases.
When my team did successfully mount a comeback, it was because we managed to contest two of the three titans while the opponent deathballed and took a 3rd, allowing us to make up ground without a fight. But that only worked because our opponent was uncoordinated and didn't seem clear on how to close out a game - I imagine that would never have worked against a team that was clear on how to maintain a lead. It didn't feel like it was because of anything we did, but rather what our opponents failed to do, and while it felt good to win, it didn't feel like we'd necessarily earned it.