The October Update is finally here and it included the 2nd “Role Warfare” Update. With patch notes that go on for pages, I figured a review would be helpful in understand exactly what’s changed for PVP.
A handful of heroes got “special” attention this update: Gammond, Sapphyr, Clyde, and Galante.
Gammond arguably had the worst Gold and Plat in the game so he got some needed love there.
Unfortunately his Bronze took a nerf, not only from the slightly longer cooldown, but the bonus HP added with the “taunt” effect was absolutely gutted. High-End Gammonds were providing 200k+ bonus HP with the taunt effect, now we’re seeing <40k bonus HP with an extra heal that provides <5k HP/second for 15 seconds, stacking for every fallen ally. This nerf makes the bronze taunt more dubious, if my Heimlock falls under 50% hp while the bronze is active, it could really backfire if my Nightingale is given a taunt but only 40k extra HP to survive with. Having the taunt-heal stack for dead allies isn’t going to make much of a difference since it would take multiple dead just to reach the strength of the previous bonus HP. Gammond was a great hero because his bronze was good at preventing allies from dying, having it get stronger with dead allies kinda defeats the point.
His gold is the most interesting buff. Gammond’s biggest problem was that in the Panzer/Dogface meta he was a huge dude on the Frontline that had nowhere to hide from a massive burst of mech damage. The gold bonus makes it MUCH riskier to target him first, not only because he won’t go down immediately (and he does significantly more damage), but if the other team manages a kill, you’ve probably just lost the game. Unfortunately with the bronze nerf I don’t think this will make Gammond a mainstay either, if you’re running a standard Panzer+4healer setup, you can still just blow up Gammond ASAP and its not hard to keep everyone alive for the next 12 seconds… or just ignore him since he doesn’t give focused healing, focus fire their main healer or DPS, stabilize, then worry about Gammond later.
His plat is still mediocre, 3% base crit means he will rarely benefit. On a team with bonus crit it will help a little, but 15% on a skill that’s already up every 12 seconds is not enough of an added benefit to justify the plat.
Clyde’s biggest problem was his low HP. He could sustain the same DPS as Panzer but his burst was less reliable and he was far squishier. Now this update boosts his damage even further.
His bronze is now a guaranteed hit on stunned targets. His bronze (when it lands) is one of the best DPS abilities in the game, instantly dropping a ton of damage, allowing the hero to quickly get back to shooting his weapon for even more damage. Unfortunately it’s still quite unreliable to depend on bots to stun your desired target. You can bring all the stunners you want but its still far more likely your bot will stun someone you DONT want to Quickdraw (Cast/Heimlock/Mandrake/etc.) compared to the 1-2 targets you would prefer. Clyde does get his own stun but unlock the bronze it’s not great and doesn’t syngergize with the rest of his kit. His silver takes an eternity, making it incredibly easy to interrupt and it takes away from his core strength, doing high consistent DPS with his weapon.
His plat now stacks up to 12, and he will now gain crit chance on each stack but the notes do not say how much. It’s also unclear if the bonus crit chance stacks with the base 50% crit of his gold. This has some interesting potential for reasons I’ll mention later under CRIT CHANGES but suffice it to say that it makes Piloted-Clyde a possible contender with Dogface or Panzer. Unfortunately even if that does happen it will just continue to feed the current meta of 1 Mech DPS + 4 support, and it’s even easier to counter with the equally tired defense of “roll spam with whoever the enemy is trying to kill” since even 1 missed shot will cancel the plat - Clyde will remain difficult to justify to in higher level PVP where opponents will roll-spam to mitigate damage.
Galante got more survivablity buffs and becomes a stronger disruptor with these changes. Unfortunately there’s no chance it can rise above being a B-tier hero with the niche he’s been placed in. Galante’s greatest strength is now being a Cast-esque frontline disruptor but instead of the Stun and Silence-Dmg Debuff that Cast throws out, Gallante does damage and staggers while being hard to kill. Unfortunately the weirdness of his missiles (frequently missing, no focused target) means he will struggle to do enough damage either. Like Cast, Galante doesn’t interact with the rest of his team so like Cast he can’t really justify his spot on a top-tier team because he doesn’t actually “support” your proper DPS.
Still, you won’t feel like an absolute joke putting him on a team now.
When HHG realized what a joke high ROF heroes were, it seems the only one they actually felt seriously addressing was Sapphyr. Her buff means more damage, more consistent healblock, and more Rift Blades. Unfortunately these buffs are still marginal and in an era of big mech DPS, a squishy energy midliner is just begging to die first. She’s all about single-target DPS with healblock to help the damage stick, but her DPS is still well below what Panzer can put out and if you don’t pilot her she will spend most of the match just shooting cover and targeting non-desirable targets. If you do pilot her she won’t be such a joke now but are you really going to feel comfortable against a Plat Panzer? Do you really think your Pistol is going to drop the enemy Nightingale before the Panzer shotgun turns you into swiss cheese? No.
HHG has finally acknowledged in a patch that high ROF heroes needed help. Unfortunately they also did a classic HHG move and made the tiniest possible improvement, hoping that would be enough. The “buff” to high ROF was exceedingly marginal. Only the highest ROF heroes (Baron, Matador) would see a significant buff to their Bronze charge, enough to offset the base cooldown increase, but for these heroes the issue was never “Gee if only Matador did more 10k Bull Rush or Baron did more Covering Fire, then I could use them!” it was the fact that high ROF = massively gimped damage = almost impossible to justify using them.
Trying to make High ROF = More Bronze Skills was never a viable approach to balance when so few heroes even have a bronze skill that even comes close to the utility of actually doing good damage with your weapon. Furthermore while this patch COULD have shifted the meta if the cooldown changes were more significant, HHG simply did what they always do and make the changes very marginal in a metagame where balance between heroes is anything but marginal. Take a look at Nightingale’s changes. She got her base cooldown reduces from 10 from 15 but got her cooldown per shot also reduced from 5.7 to 2.1 per shot. The reality of this change is that Nightingale STILL has a heal ready for every 2 shots, but now she is even LESS punished than before for rolling around in the backline because she is less dependent on shooting than ever to actually charge her heal.
Of course, if making tiny buffs to dramatically underpowered heroes is the first staple of an HHG balance update… major undocumented changes are the second staple, and the October update did not disappoint.
Up until August, critical bonus damage was a flat bonus on the stat sheet for every hero. Almost every Hero would get a sad 2-6k bonus damage for their crits, even if their regular hits were 15k+. In August they changed the stat sheet to show a bonus % instead, and almost every hero was now set at 150% bonus damage. However, damage still used the old system, and heroes would never see 50% more damage unless they had a massive crit bonus (i.e. Dogface gold). My Panzer would hit an energy hero for 17k and only crit them for 20k. This made all the critical-based skills and bonuses incredibly underwhelming.
However as of the October update, heroes seem to actually be doing 150%+ damage on crits. In many cases the damage appears to actually go into the 160%-200% range. This bodes incredibly well for heroes with bonus crit chance. Unfortunately it also cements Dogface’s status as god-tier DPS with his gold skill, allowing him to frequently deal 2x damage with crits. It also means that Caine and Nightingale, two top-tier supports, will only be that much stronger due to their boosts to crit chance.
TL;DR A lot changed this patch, but very little mattered.