Yesterday, the new xp changes hit PTR and they have received generally negative reviews. For now, it seems as if the optimal way to play the game with the changes would be to just passively soak, avoid your enemy and don’t take structures because they make soaking even harder until you hit level 20. I am not going into detail here, because I think that there are already enough tweets, threads and comments about this topic.
This is going to be rather long, that’s why I out a TL;DR at the end.
Blizz’s goal with these changes was to prevent snowballing. A good idea, however, in that case the means do not justify the end. In my opinion, there are more problems that promote snowballing other than the laning system.
First of all, let us clarify that there are lots of things that can influence the outcome of a game, if it is even or a stomp. Players can be tired, ill or drunk, maybe someone plays a hero they have on lvl 5, maybe one time was just severely outdrafted, sometimes one team has really good synergy while the other is raging since draft, etc., etc.
Blizz can’t influence in what state someone plays the game but what they can do is educating the player base.
It is true that you can’t force someone to read guides or watch streams or whatever but you can give your players more educational content in game.
It already starts with tutorial, as the tutorial teaches you to roam between lanes and to kill your enemies in order to get xp instead of explaining what soaking truly is. A new player sees this and think “nice, by killing people I get my team an advantage” and they get into games with other new players who have “learned” the same thing for god knows how long. Once you “learn” something, it is really difficult to realize that this was actually wrong.
What has this to do with snowballing you may ask. Well, I can tell you from my experiences playing in Quickmatch or Unranked Draft against mostly lower league players. For instance, I play with my friends and whenever I play a solo laner, it is almost a guaranteed win.
The reason for that is that people don’t soak. They mid brawl while I get two waves for free and it doesn’t matter how many kills they get because I got more xp already. However, this is not the worst part, the real problem arises once an objective is won/lost. Let us say my team wins the Punisher top and I go to double soak mid and bot. The correct play for the enemy solo laner would be to do the same, however, they think the correct play is to defend as 5. And sooner than later my team has a 2-3 level lead just because of that. I am sure that there are tons of players right now who get flamed by their teammates for the correct play because they decided to soak instead of defending as 5.
Various other examples would be fighting without even talent tiers, fighting outnumbered, etc. It should be known to the whole player base, apart maybe from Bronze, that you shouldn’t do these things, however, it seems like by simply obeying these rules you are already a Platinum player.
If the players don’t know that they shouldn’t fight without level 10 and should be soaking until they get it before committing to a fight then of course they will get snowballed on.
However, it is not only soaking, it is drafting as well. A team that first picks for instance Butcher is very likely to get hard countered in draft and stomped, however, people come from Quickmatch where Butcher works just fine and think that they can pick him whenever.
Now comes what Blizz can do to change that: First change the tutorial to show how soaking really works (How this hasn’t been changed yet is beyond me). Although you can’t force everybody to use them, offer educational stuff in-game not only on your website. For many reading is boring but small interactive practices can do a lot. Maybe someone doesn’t want to look up things online but I am sure that there would be a lot of players who would click that “Training” or “Improve” button while they are in queue or whenever. You can also expand the messages in the loading screen with stuff like “Heroes like Butcher can be powerful but shouldn’t be picked early as they can be countered easily” or “If your team doesn’t have heroic talents it is mostly better to prepare for the defense instead of contesting an objective without it”.)
I am sure you can come up with more ideas than me but what I am trying to say is that knowledge can do a lot to prevent snowballing. As I said before, there are a lot of things that influence the outcome of a game but I think this would be an important step into the right direction without altering the game significantly.
You also have to keep in mind that snowballing can’t be prevented entirely as sometimes one team does everything well while the other team does everything wrong.
Well, this was rather long but I hope I could get across my message. If you think this is not enough to minimize snowballing then I recommend you to check Mopsio’s suggestions (I especially like the comeback xp for taking structures idea).
TL;DR: instead of the xp changes, Blizz should put educational stuff in-game so the players learn how to soak correctly and how to catch up if the enemy has an experience/talent tier lead.
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