The Fight Team is here again with a reminder for the Y5S3 Testing Grounds which starts today and runs up until September 30th.
As mentioned at this season’s reveal, the subjects of these Testing Grounds are a Shinobi rework and the Dominion Game mode. In case you missed our previous blog post detailing the changes you can expect, we’ll go through the overview of these changes below. For the full list of changes, including more details, read our Patch Notes!
As usual, we’ll be monitoring the performance of the various changes and are keeping an eye on social media for additional feedback!
Year 5 Season 3 Testing Grounds
On the Hero side for this season’s Testing Grounds, we’re focusing on a second iteration of Shinobi. The response from the previous iteration was generally positive, but we felt from your feedback that we needed a second Testing Grounds for Shinobi, both to fix issues as well as improve on some aspects of the hero to make sure Shinobi is both competitive and less frustrating to fight against.
We’re focusing our efforts on the following aspects of Shinobi:
- Overall strength of the hero (including bug fixes)
- Lack of viable openers
- Input leniency issues
It is important to note that unless noted here, the changes from the last Testing Grounds still apply to Shinobi – if you wish to learn more about these changes, please visit our Year 5, Season 2 Testing Grounds blog post!
The following moves no longer apply bleed:
- Sickle Rain Stabs
- Shadow Strike
We’ve removed Bleed from Shinobi’s kit entirely. While Bleeding is an interesting mechanic, we feel it is best used sparingly for specific synergies, like the ones we see on Nobushi, Peacekeeper and Shaman. After careful consideration, we found that Shinobi did not need Bleed-specific synergies outside of fringe benefits of playing with the other Bleed heroes. Removing Bleed also lets us balance the moves more easily, and also removes the Revenge issue that was present on the hero.
Each of these attacks now deals direct damage –
- Each Sickle Rain Stab deals 3 damage
- Shadow Strike deals 18 damage
- Teleport deals 24 damage
These values should better reflect the damage Shinobi should deal in these situations.
Sickle Rain was too strong in the previous Testing Grounds – it dealt too much damage and fed too little Revenge, while also ignoring Pinning rules, draining Stamina and was accessible from Guard Break. We’ve made the following changes to Sickle Rain:
- No longer accessible directly after a Guard Break
- Now deals 20 damage, plus 3 per Stab (for a total of 29 damage)
- No longer ignores Pinning rules
- No longer drains Stamina
The move retains the properties from the previous Testing Grounds – the Top version is still Unblockable for pressure in various situations while the Side versions are still Undodgeable for use in various mixups. With these changes, we feel like Sickle Rain will be in a better situation – it should both be less frustrating to face as well as still being a strong ganking tool without being overly strong.
Ranged Heavy Attack
Shinobi’s Ranged Heavy Attack was changed to a guaranteed Kick followup and a group fight tool in the previous Testing Grounds; while it being a guaranteed Kick followup works and makes for a more interesting and diverse hero, the fact that it could wallsplat and was target-swappable made for some frustrating moments. The wallsplat created situations where Sickle Rain was guaranteed, and the target-swappable property made it frustrating to fight against since Shinobi could tag other heroes from off-screen with a ranged Bash attack that could come quite frequently.
We’ve made the following changes to Ranged Heavy Attack:
- No longer wallsplats
- No longer target-swappable
- No longer accessible after Back Flip
With these changes, Shinobi’s Ranged Heavy Attack becomes a strict dedicated followup to Kicks – it is still a strong followup that leads to deeper mixups, but it should now be less frustrating to face. We’ve also removed the link from Back Flip as the primary intended usage of it was to be target-swapped; since it no longer can, it made no sense to keep the attack there as it provides no pressure.
*Input Leniency *
We received feedback from many of you concerning Shinobi’s input leniency on some moves; namely that the followups to Front Roll as well as Shadow Strike were too difficult to perform and needed a large amount of buffering to properly execute. We hear you!
We’ve made the following changes:
- Front Roll followups, namely Sickle Rain and Flip Kick, now have a larger input window in which they can be performed, and they can be performed later after the Front Roll
- Shadow Strike can now be performed later after a Parry
These changes should help make these moves easier and more comfortable to perform. It is important to note, however, that delaying the Front Roll followups will make them easier to dodge early.
Front Roll and Back Flip
Front Roll and Back Flip were in an interesting position – while they are performed using the Dodge button, they did not behave like Dodges; they were Guard Break immune, but did not have iframes. As such, they were difficult to use in multiple situations, as players frequently got hit out of them.
The following changes were applied to Front Roll and Back Flip
- Front Roll and Back Flip now have i-frames for 300ms
- Front Roll and Back Flip no longer have Guard Break invulnerability
- Back Flip can be accessed after most attacks on Hit/Block/Miss
- Front Roll now has extra forward movement
With these changes, these moves should behave more like actual Dodges, and more importantly like Dodge Cancels – players should be able to use them to avoid attacks from opponents and use them to escape tricky situations.
We’ve also re-enabled Shinobi’s option of performing a Back Flip after most attacks on Block and Miss; while in the previous Testing Grounds we restricted the functionality to being accessible after a Hit only, this felt overly restrictive and hindered Shinobi’s mobility in group fights.
We’ve also made some other changes to Shinobi’s options when Dodging; Shinobi lacked a good opener in the previous Testing Grounds due to lacking options when Dodging forward, and as such the Kick was too easy to dodge. We also received feedback that Shinobi was still too slippery when using Double Dodges, and that access to neutral attacks from Double Dodge was lacking as players needed the various options to keep themselves safe.
We’ve applied the following changes to Dodges:
- Double Dodge can no longer dodge Backwards
- Double Dodge can now access Shinobi’s Openers
- Double Dodge now costs 6 stamina
- Front Dodge Kick is now accessible at 200ms during the front dodge and can be delayed until 500ms (down from 300ms to 500ms)
These changes to Shinobi’s Dodges both should address the issues where Shinobi was too difficult to catch as well as give the hero a better opener from Front Dodge.
Last but not least, here is the lowdown on the Dominion Improvement entering the Testing Grounds this season, where we will finally start tackling the beast that is Dominion’s Scoring system.
We’re aiming to address some of the long-standing issues that have bogged down the game mode and take a long, hard look at where we want its future to go.
Internal Playsessions are great and all, but now we really need you, the players, to get in here and duke it out so we can find our bearings and see what needs to change!
Dominion Changes Renown:
All hero classes now gain the same amount of renown from all sources.
*Developer's Comment: While we do want Heroes to excel in some areas more than others, we do not want to force players into a playstyle depending on their chosen Hero. With this Testing Grounds, all Heroes gain the same Renown from all activities that give Renown. We're expecting this to be a major boon to the Assassin class whose Renown gains were either feast or famine, the TG should put them on the map when it comes to unlocking their 4th Feats more consistently.
*You’ll notice we’re putting a bigger emphasis on Contesting Zones and a lesser one on Boosting. We want to reward players who go out there and take risks rather than sit on their home Zone.
*Also, by removing the Zone Defense bonus, we're also aiming to make it more attractive to try and capture the enemy's Zone without feeling like defeat would grant the opposing team a large amount of renown.
Purging of Special Renown Sources
Developer's Comment: Renown gains have always been very confusing to understand, with semi-hidden bonuses given for actions that were often unknown to even the player that performed them. By removing a large amount of renown sources, we're aiming to keep the ones that feel most impactful and the ones that can help the losing team stage a comeback.
Furthermore, it was hard to balance Renown with so many ways the players could gain bonuses for various activities, by removing a lot of them and keeping the essence, we're hoping to have a tighter grasp on the balance of these rewards while also making Renown gains easier to comprehend.
Feat Unlock Thresholds:
Here are the thresholds at which you will now unlock your feats:
Developer's Comment: The gap between Feat 3 and Feat 4 was so small it could often be cleared in a single kill, which made the late game Feat progression oddly fast. By spreading out their unlocks in a more logical fashion and making them progressively harder to unlock, we want to make reaching Feat 4 feel like more of an achievement.
Static Zone Capture Speeds:
No matter how many players of the same team are capturing a Zone, the capture speed will always be 5.5 seconds.
Developer's Comment: With this, we aim to make capturing a Zone require more commitment and allow more counterplay by the opposing team. This should also make it less efficient for groups of 3-4 players to roam the map and capture Zones incredibly fast.
Points (a.k.a Hard Points):
*Developer's Comment: With the Minion Lane already being a substantial source of Renown, we wanted to bring down its position as the best source of Hard Points as well by lowering its value when captured. *
Widget showing Points gained from killing players and attaining kill streaks are now called "Points" to clearly separate them from Renown.
Scoreboard's "Score" column is now titled "Renown" in all Game Modes where this value is actually the player's Renown tally.
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!
See you on the battlefield!