It doesn’t feel like it has been two weeks, but it obviously has been as another patch cycle is upon us. The first patch into the Summer Split brings us…changes inspired by the professional players and their complaints at the Spring Masters. That’s not entirely fair. It also brings us changes inspired by players who parrot what the professionals say. Again, that’s not entirely true. This is just a patch focused on dealing with specific frustrations and assertions that have enveloped the community – for better and for worse. Mostly, it just makes the game different. Players will need to relearn some old behaviors, and forget some new behaviors. They are trying some interesting things as a stop-gap measure for full map redesign and meta overhaul. I’m still not entirely convinced everything is as doom and gloom as people make it out to be, but I’m in the minority. Regardless, it’s time for some happy trees.
In an interesting move, the theme of this patch is based solely on a skin bundle being released. What’s really cool is the theme was made jointly with the help of Twitch and the Bob Ross Estate. This is an officially licensed skin. How cool is that? Very cool, if you ask me. It sets a precedent that might be followed in the future, and it shows a stronger willingness to support the community than ever before.
- Bob Ross Sylvanus: The skin the patch is named after represents a leap forward for Hi-Rez’s tech. If you have ever played Guild Wars 2, you will represent some of what is going on here. When you auto attack or use your ultimate, it reveals a painted picture of Bob Ross’s face. This is because there is a painting beneath the world referenced when you perform these activities. This is the same thing done with Sunrise/Twilight/Eternity in GW2. It’s awesome. Anyway, this skin is entire frickin’ amazing – new voice pack, new look for everything, official collab. It’s incredible. This might be my favorite thing they have ever done for skins, thus far. This skin will cost 700 gems, and include a loading frame, loading background, jump stamp of Bob Ross’s face, and the skin.
- Queensguard Erlang Shen: He’s a beefeater with a corgi. He has an English accent and his skill have English-themed graphics. You should know whether or not this is your deal from this description alone. The animations all look stellar, either way. This skin is in a six skin chest.
- Cosmic Sol: Another cosmos-themed skin to go along with Gemini Agni and Infinity Wave He bo. Like those skins, this looks fantastic and has incredible effects. The voice is a little too reverb-y, but otherwise great. This is the level 20 Season Ticket reward.
- Vizier Thoth: It’s a Dark Crystal skin. All hail the Skeksis. It’s that’s your jam, it’s your jam. I like the look a lot, and would totally build an evil bird team. It’s good. It’s direct purchase. It’s 400 gems. Bird is the word.
- Honorbound Kuzenbo: Kuzenbo’s tier 2 skin is a samurai-themed skin. It’s nice looking for a tier 2, but not as nice as the last tier 2, Serpent-Slayer Susano. Still, it’s pretty nice. It’s direct purchase at 250 gems.
- Obey Thanatos: An esports skin that is a reskin of Final Boss Thanatos. Once again, if this is your thing, you already know it. It’s in a 400 gem esports bundle.
There is a new Cutesy Scylla avatar, which looks a little weird to me. Maybe it’s the eyes? There is also a new Kuzenbo dance. Rejoice. Kuzenbo gets some silly easy achievements…much like the other achievements.
In a move I really like, Hi-Rez is putting changes on the PTR that will dramatically alter play. In this case, they are playing with Level 1-4 experience distribution and the difficulty of early Gold Furies. I really love this style of change implementation, though I worry there are some issues with the first part of this equation.
- Level 1 to 2: Amount required reduced from 308 to 225
- Level 2 to 3: Amount required increased from 363 to 430
- Level 3 to 4: Amount required increased from 418 to 434
- Gold Fury
- Base Health increased from 2250 to 2550
- Decreased bonus health per minute from 280 to 270
- Decreased base gold worth from 190 to 180
- Increase base gold worth per minute from 8 to 10
These are some minor, but massive changes. The biggest thing is when two people split the first wave in the long lane, both will hit level 2. This should, in theory, even out the necessity of early pressure to clear, get the lead, and then early push the Gold Fury. However, gods that get big early have a chance to push if they clear faster, getting even further ahead with a few buff rotations. I am not saying this is a certainty, but it gives me pause this might exacerbate the problem. Still, this is just from trend analysis and guessing. Hi-Rez will have better understanding with their analytics, I am sure.
The Gold Fury changes are just for the good. You will still see early Gold Furies, but it will be a little less impactful. Gold Furies two and three will be the ones that matter the most…probably.
A handful of bug fixes, which I am always excited about. Say what you will, but these are as, if not more, important than balance changes. People have to be able to trust in what they are told in order to them have an understanding what is good and bad.
- Phantom Veil: Isis’s wings no longer disappear when this is used. Well, not really a big deal, but nice. I guess.
- Bastet, Kuzenbo, Nu Wa: Tool tip now shows the minion scaling correct. This is actually a huge deal. Clarity is key.
- Ganesha: Dharmic Pillars now has the right hit box. It was inconsistent and ignored the Z-axis, previously.
- Hades: Blight now has a duration on the debuff icon. Again, great.
- Khepri: A radius update on Fortitude. Necessary stuff.
- Rama: Astral Barrage radius update. Yes.
- Ravana: Mystic Rush has been updated to correctly show a 5s duration across all ranks.
Two aura item changes, and a big one for a prime-time item.
- Emperor’s Armor: This is a fairly cheap item that had an interesting effect, but not a lot of stats. The physical protection component is increasing from 30 to 40, and the offensive impact of the effect is being increased from granting 30% attack speed to friendly towers to 40% attack speed. The cost is remaining the same, meaning this will probably become an obnoxious item early – in some cases.
- Hastened Fatalis: Oh boy, a Hastened Fatalis nerf! The gold cost is changing from 2300 to 2600. This doesn’t seem like a big deal at first, but it’s huge. The tier 2 power spike you get from building into this item is horrible, meaning you need to delay the curve until you can build the full item. This results in a bad curve, making the item have a much higher opportunity cost. Unfortunately, this also impacts the melee characters who need this item to function as they should. Honestly, the correct call might be to restrict the item to melee and reduce the cost, or remove it entirely and re-balance the gods who rely on it. I am not sure I see either happening any time soon, but here we are. It should be built less in the future now, achieving the stated goal.
- Shogun’s Kusari: This is always an item I consider building into late with the right comp, and it’s getting a buff. The cost is being lowered to 2200 from 2400, magical protections are slightly decreasing from 60 to 50, and the attack speed aura is increasing from 15% to 25%. This should make the item a pick up more frequently. This might end up frustrating as lifesteal/attack speed builds come back into favor, but we will see.
A smattering of buffs for gods that Hi-Rez wants to be more consistently viable. These are more focused on the casual players, with a few noted exceptions.
- Ares: Increased his base physical protections from 17 to 20. This should make him less of a trap to less skilled players who pick him up. It might make him a tad too strong in a professional sense, but it’s probably ok.
- Chronos: Stop Time gains a flat 10 damage at all ranks, and the cooldown on Reverse Time starts at 100s instead of 120s, but still scales down to 80. This should help him be a lot more aggressive and a bit safer. It might be just a tad much, but, like Ares, it’s probably ok.
- Izanami: After a strong early season performance and subsequent nerfs, this change is meant to make Izanami a bit safer, as her aggression has been lowered. The mana cost of Fade Away is 70 at all ranks now, instead of 90.
- Jing Wei: Jing Wei is getting a new version of her steroid. Agility will start at 18s cooldown and scale down to 16s, down from 20s to 16s. Additionally it grants 10/15/20/25/30 power and 20% movement speed, increased by 10 power across all ranks and 10% movement speed when this is used in the air. Yeah, this is a big buff, and you should start seeing Jing Wei a lot more. This sort of steroid is a game-changer.
- Kukulkan: Whirlwind now increases by 5 per rank, capping at 90, vs. increased by 10 per rank, capping at 110. This should allow the ability to be used more frequently, and earlier. This will likely make him more aggressive, which isn’t bad.
- Ravana: Yeah, this is a pro-play change. 10-Hand Shadow Fist is having it’s early damage normalized down from 120 to 100, and scales at 40 per rank, instead of 35 per rank. This is a slight decrease on everything except the top end. Likewise, Mystic Rush is having it’s damage reduction cut from 50% to 40%. Ravana was having a huge impact on games at a high level, making him an absolute monster. This was an expected change.
- Serqet: Like Ravana, this is a pro-play change. Her 2 poison damage from Catalyst is changing from 15% to 10% of the target’s max health. Last Breath is seeing a similar change to 10-Hand Shadow Fist, where the higher ranks are untouched, but the lower ranks are moved down and normalized. She’s losing early pressure, in a common trend across the season.
- Sun Wu Kong: SWK just didn’t scale well into the late game, and everyone knows it. These two changes address his power-scaling, allowing him to be a strong force late into the game. Magic Cudgel increases its scaling from 50% to 60%, and Master’s Will increases from 50% to 65%.
- Terra: People told me that Terra was a healer, and that’s why she was picked. I strongly disagreed with them, and this change illustrates my argument entirely. Her damage was increased to compensate for her healing nerfs, making her a strong solo pick and guardian pick. The added 30% movement speed from the ultimate was simply too strong of an engage/disengage mechanic, and that sort of mobility was crucial to the objective-heavy emphasis on the previous split. This is being changed to 20%. It’s still very strong, so we should keep an eye on Terra.