Starting today, March 31st, the Testing Grounds’ door are open to all players to test changes to Shaolin and a 2nd iteration of Conqueror. Let’s look at what you can expect starting with Conqueror.
Conqueror’s 2nd Interation
Let’s first look at Conqueror in more detail. First, a quick recap of the last Testing Groun ds for Conqueror. We gathered a lot of feedback from you, our players. Several changes were very appreciated, such as the ability to feint Heavy attacks, as well as the new recovery cancels into Full Block Stance, the new followups when blocking with Full Block Stance as well as after a Shield Bash, but the consensus was that the hero wasn’t quite ready for release; there were issues with flickering with Charged Heavy attacks, the pressure from undodgeable Chained Heavy attacks was overwhelming, ganking potential that we did not intend as well as several other issues. This iteration Conqueror in the Testing Grounds aims to correct the direction we took towards making the hero stronger than on Live and less frustrating to play as and against while strengthening their identity as a shield-bearing hero and using it to further their offense.
As this is the 2nd iteration of Conqueror, we’ll be skipping over the changes made in the first Testing Grounds; this will only cover what changed from the last Testing Grounds as well as new changes.
The Conqueror revamp focuses on a few aspects:
- Viability in 1v1 situations and the focus on the Shield as an offensive tool
- Viability in outnumbered situations and the focus on the Shield as a defensive tool
- Transition the hero’s offense towards a more proactive than reactive
Charged Heavy Attacks
- Removed the ability to charge Heavy Attacks in chains
- Charged Heavy attacks now deal 28 damage, down from 32
- Charged Heavy attacks now have less forward movement
We’ve adjusted Conqueror’s charged heavy attacks. While the ability to charge Heavy Attacks in chains was interesting, the end result is that it didn’t live up to our expectations; they were too difficult to use and did not end up giving Conqueror enough pressure in chains, so we’ve removed the move entirely from chains. We’ve also adjusted the damage and the range of the attack; 32 damage was quite high, and the lower forward movement means that Conqueror can no longer fully charge heavy attacks and land them from off-screen, creating frustrating moments for players.
- Removed Infinite Light attacks; Light Attacks in chains now become Light Finishers
- Chained Infinite Heavy attacks are no longer undodgeable
We’ve also adjusted Conqueror’s infinite chain. Infinite Light attacks sound interesting and strong on paper, but in reality they are problematic; at lower levels, they overwhelm opponents and lead to overuse of Light attacks, while at high level they are reactable and too weak. Removing the option lets us address the situation – Conqueror now should use Heavy attacks in chains to pressure opponents.
We also received many complaints about the Undodgeable property on chained Heavy attacks; players felt trapped and infinite Undodgeable attacks quickly become overwhelming. After further internal playtests, we found that Conqueror performs quit well without the property; since Heavy Attacks can now be feinted, Conqueror has access to the standard toolkit every hero has and can deal with opponents trying to dodge their attacks.
Full Block Stance
- Full Block Stance can no longer be cancelled by a Dodge
- Full Block Stance’s recovery is now 100ms longer
The recovery cancel part of Full Block Stance remains, as it is an interesting defensive tool, but we toned down the capabilities of the move; cancelling it by a Dodge was too strong as it let Conqueror avoid mixups and made his offense too safe, and the recovery has been increased by a small amount to ensure that Conqueror isn’t safe from dodge guardbreaks as well as shortening their attack recoveries by using Full Block Stance cancels.
Shield Bash and Flail Uppercut
- Shield Bash is back to being performed at 100ms into Front Dodge (down from 300ms)
- Shield Bash is now usable after any Opener or Chained Light or Heavy attack
- Flail Uppercut is no longer Unblockable
- Flail Uppercut no longer has Uninterruptible Stance
- Flail Uppercut now has a stance (Right) and can be parried until specific circumstances
With these changes, we’re addressing a few parts of feedback we received. Conqueror’s neutral game was too weak with Shield Bash at 300ms; there are no parts of the hero’s kit that can mix up effectively at that timing, and players were able to easily bypass Conqueror’s most potent opener. It is now the same timing as on Live; we know this works and is strong, so we’re reverting the change. It is also usable after any Opener or Chained attack; this is important as Light Finishers do indeed chain to Shield Bash, giving Conqueror a way of pushing forward with offense after Light Finishers.
Flail Uppercut gave players some trouble; as a dedicated punish after Shield Bash that did not have a stance, and thus was impossible to parry, it created situations where multiple Conquerors had infinite combos together and could easily defeat players, trapping them in situations there they couldn’t defend themselves. With Flail Uppercut no longer being Unblockable and having a Stance, it can now be blocked or parried under specific circumstances – the attack is still guaranteed after a Shield Bash, but only if your opponent did not receive a hit between your Shield Bash and Flail Uppercut.
- Zone Attack now costs 20 stamina, down from 40
- Zone Attack’s recovery is now 100ms shorter
Zone Attack felt lackluster in the previous Testing Grounds; while the loss of the Superior Block property as well as the loss of being able to be held to infinitely swing were needed, the move needed a bit more love. By reducing its stamina cost and making its recovery slightly shorter, we hope that the move is more appealing.
Conqueror’s game plan changes a bit with these changes; players have to be more proactive and make good reads to apply pressure on their opponents. Conqueror’s offense now forces opponents to parry their chained attacks, otherwise they will be subject to even more mixups with Shield Bash, and all of Conqueror’s offense leads back to more Shield Bashes. While their defense might not be as strong as it was, their offensive capabilities are greater than on Live, and they can apply pressure and force reactions out of opponents while in their chains.
The next hero we’re looking at in this Testing Grounds is Shaolin.
Shaolin, despite being one of the more complex heroes, doesn’t quite work as intended; the kit feels limited in what it can do, and while there are a lot of available options they do not pan out as expected due to multiple issues. We’re looking to improve those issues and give Shaolin more flexibility and better flow to access these options in better, more effective ways.
The hero revamp focuses on these aspects:
- Lack of viable openers
- Predictable and limited flow
- Mix ups inefficiency
Qi Stance Access
Shaolin typically has difficulty opening opponents and going into Qi Stance, which is the base of the hero’s mixup and offensive capabilities. We’re aiming to make this better for Shaolin so that the hero can enter Qi Stance more reliably.
- Top Light Opener is now Enhanced
- Side Shadowstep (Side Dodge Heavy Attack) can now Chain and flow to Qi Stance
With these changes, we’re hoping that Shaolin has a much easier time getting into Qi Stance; Top Light Opener being Enhanced ensures that even externally players have to commit slightly less to enter Qi Stance and makes it easier to initiate offense in 1v1 situations, while the Side Shadowstep changes ensure that Shaolin has a way to punish attacks while still applying pressure.
Qi Stance Changes
- Can now dodge out of Qi Stance
With this change, combined with Side Shadowstep now being able to enter Qi Stance, should make Qi Stance itself less vulnerable to attacks of all kinds.
Qi Stance Attacks
- Qi Stance Light Attacks are now Enhanced
- Qi Stance Side Light Attacks are now 500ms, down from 700ms
- Qi Stance Top Light Attack no longer stuns
- Qi Stance Heavy Attacks are now all 800ms, up from 600ms on sides and down from 1000ms from top
- Qi Stance Top Heavy Attack is now Undodgeable but no longer Unblockable
- Sun Kick no longer chains to Sun Kick Smash (Heavy input)
These changes are aimed at making Qi Stance attacks more consistent; with the changes coming to Sun Sweep, they should also help Shaolin perform better when entering Qi Stance.
Qi Stance Sweep
- Sweep is no longer available after Sun Kick
- Sweep no longer unbalances allies and multiple opponents but still unbalances its target
- Sweep can now be performed after Qi Stance Light Attacks, Qi Stance Heavy Attacks and after Sun Kick Strike (Light Follow Up after hitting a Sun Kick)
- Sweep is now 800ms, up from was 700ms
- Sweep can now be Feinted
- Sweep recovery is now 800ms, down from 1400ms
- Sweep now has a new dedicated Heavy Follow-up (on Hit only)
- Sweep Heavy Follow-up can Chain or and flow to Qi Stance
We’re making big changes to Qi Stance Sweep. By moving it from a followup from Sun Kick to a followup to every Qi Stance attack and making it Feintable, we’re giving Shaolin more flow opportunities in multiple situations; the flow from Qi Stance no longer needs to end after any Qi Stance attack, flows back into itself with a different kind of mix up, allows for easier ganking opportunities and lets Shaolin be dangerous when attacking externally.
Zone Attack changes
- Zone Attack hits are now 500ms for the first hit, 800ms for the second hit and 900ms for the third hit (was 600ms, 500ms and 400ms)
- Trajectory has been improved on each hit
- Stamina Cost is now split between the first and second hit instead of being paid upfront
- Damage is now 12 for the first hit, 15 for the second and 18 for the third hit (was 12-12-12)
Zone Attack was in a unique situation where if the 2nd hit landed, the 3rd hit was guaranteed (same for block). This created a situation where the move felt lackluster; that 2nd hit was very difficult to actually land since all 3 hits come from the same side.
With these changes, Zone Attack now becomes slightly better with a faster initial strike, but the 2nd and 3rd strikes can now be target swapped, making the move better in the minion lane as well as when outnumbered. It also now has larger trajectories, making the move land more on external opponents.
Quality of Life Improvements
- Improved input comfort for chaining attacks after a Sprint Attack
- Death Point Strikes no longer need strict timing to combo
With these changes we’re hoping to make Shaolin more accessible and easier to play by making some of the more difficult inputs more lenient.
We look forward to your feedback, as usual, through multiple channels; we’ll monitor social media and will send a survey to formally gather your feedback. Be sure to leave feedback if you want to be heard.
Until next time heroes!