TL;DR: Ever since Survival Mode launched and they tweaked numbers, PvP with my build felt very bad compared to the prior patch. Not a day goes by without me seeing lots of posts about the future of Survival or people complaining about how broken it feels. Now that we have damage numbers with the addition of NW, we tested the damage of multiple weapons.
. making a lot of weapons far inferior to others. Ultimately, a good automatic weapon can easily push 1000-2000 damage per second even on a non-optimized build (Beam Splitter Gatling and similar weapons, you don't even have to aim) while many fully optimized oneshot builds that 100% work in PvE, are stuck doing less than 200 damage per second. Rest of the post will be in sections, highlighted in bold letters.
The context of why I bring up this issue: Right, first thing first. I love this game, and more than anything in it, I love to PvP. Before Survival hit I ran a fully optimized glass cannon build and loved going toe to toe against full high level teams at workshops and wherever else PvP might occur. Survival was like a dream come true for me. I had been disappointed PvP was so restricted on launch, and over the moon that it finally made it into the game in a proper fashion!
Once Survival Mode actually hit, and we saw some tweaks to certain weapons to ensure it wouldn't just be a oneshot extravaganza every time you ran into another player, my fully optimized glass cannon build went from being a oneshot to a three (mostly) build, giving opponents plenty of time to heal in between the shots. Being Bloodied, I was still pretty much oneshotable by most players, but that didn't bother me much – what bothered me was that the investment and refinement in a very particular build all of a sudden simply broked and stopped being functional against other players as it had been in the past, while still working perfectly well in PvE (player versus environment).
As we all remember, despite this initiative to balance weapons and avoid oneshotting, it didn't cease. Honestly, I never saw people oneshot each other as much as when Survival hit, simply due to PvP not being restricted I suspect as well as dupers spreading oneshot weapons like the plague across the servers. I'm sure anyone who played in the first days of Survival also vividly remembers getting erased by explosive automatic weapons, shotguns, and Tesla Rifles often before you could even fire your own weapon. With a lot of (most?) people carrying these kinds of weapons in this sort of environment, it turned into the exact oneshot extravaganza they had tried to avoid, only now a lot of weapons were a lot less useful in a variety of common PvP situations.
Our damage testing: If you don't wanna watch the video or want the results in text form, here is what we tested and why we tested it. Now that Nuclear Winter brought damage numbers to the other modes, I wanted clarification that there was merit to my saltiness for my build suddenly being much less viable in PvP, so we wanted to test different weapons' performance against one another.
First, my Bloodied Lever-Action with 400+ damage per shot (3x 10% Rifle Damage/15% damage from Bloody Mess/36% armor penetration from Tank Killer) did 190 damage. Once sneaking it still did 190 damage and it appears sneak multipliers might be gone entirely from PvP(?) (not that that matters for the max cap).
I then tried my Instigating Fat Man doing 1824 damage as I was Bloodied up. It hit him for 190 damage. That's right, a nuke to the face is more or less equivalent to a slap.
When I pulled out my Explosive Assault Rifle (other perks have stuff like Mutant Slayer…) each shot did 97 Ballistic Damage + 17 Explosive Damage, for a total of 114 damage per shot. This will effectively 3-4 shot any non-Power Armor tank build without Sentinel/Assassin before they can heal, while likely needing 5-7 shots to take out a guy in the best PA.
My friend was not yet convinced and shot me with a sneak attack, with his Explosive Dragon, supposedly dealing 2350 per shot. It did 190 damage, surprise. I then got undressed (still a small amount of DR from perks) and who'd have guessed, it did 190 damage on the spot.
After I put my gear on, he pulled out his Bloodied/Explosive MG42 supposedly and two shotted me from full health, dealing 190 damage per shot + explosive damage, twice. Of course, weapons with this kind of fire rate typically does a bit of overkill because of their insane fire rate.
Results: I'm not a data miner and I will not go into crazy depth in looking at the exact split seconds between shots to determine the weapons' exact fire rates, but it's safe to say that my trusty Lever-Action has a fire rate of 1-1,5 seconds between the shots, often requiring you to land 2-3 shots in a row without enemies healing, to put them down (plenty of time to fire back and oneshot a Bloodied build, I'd dare say). The Fat Man takes about 5 seconds to reload for 190 damage per shot. The Dragon takes even longer. Then we have weapons with magazines of 20-500 bullets that, while not technically oneshotting, kills someone within a fraction of a second. A range of legendary effects only add to their efficiency, and any player under direct fire from these weapons, won't have any time to react whatsoever.
Why is the current way numbers are tweaked in PvP an issue?: The short and simple answer is, they limit gameplay and choice almost entirely. You use a god tier weapon, or at least something relatively close, or you're at a massive disadvantage. I'm sure many would argue you can still win with any weapon, and yes, this is situationally true. However, I'd dare say that a game that rewards clever play, maneuvering, positioning and the simple ability to actually aim at your target is a lot more fun to play. Just look at how well received Nuclear Winter was, where they actually tried to make for a balanced PvP experience. Compare this to Survival Mode where you constantly reposition and landing pot shots at a person using a super optimized build, without being able to land the killshot because your fire rate is low and your damage is capped, and he has Stimpaks, while he randomly fires all around you for a good 10 seconds before he lands the two hits needed to instantly kill you. Worse yet, running into a team that randomly sprays and "oneshots" anything grazed by their bullets, while you might have to take 2-5 seconds to kill one guy unless you too run these kinds of weapons.
I want to stress that my issue with this, is not just with automatic weapons, explosive shotguns and all that jazz. The intentional choice to outright cap more powerful weapons, that typically when used comes at other costs such as carry weight, scarce ammunition, low fire rates, etc. while allowing these fully automatic weapons to do this max cap damage (plus additional each shot, if running explosive) just seems baffling.
How can we fix Adventure/Survival PvP?: Nuclear Winter is not perfectly balanced, but this is not at all related to this game mode. It is however interesting to draw comparisons as we see how much better it is balanced than the base game, while working almost exclusively with assets and features present in the other two game modes. I've seen people advocate for losing the perk system and replicate what we have in NW, which I believe is an easy way to fix many balance issues, but ultimately a terrible idea. The perks and stats you distribute help diversify builds really well compared to many other online games, without locking you into too many "cookie cutter" choices, still leaving you with plenty of room to design/redesign your character situationally as you progress. While this game would be much better balanced through such a simple meassure, I believe it would also alienate and outright turn off a lot of the people playing the game with the simplification, but how can they go about fixing PvP? I want your opinion(s) and suggestions on how specifically to better tune damage and maybe even PvP in general, in both Adventure/Survival mode. I will add suggestions and credit contributions. I'll start out with my own suggestions, hoping that one day some of these thoughts might actually reach one or more of the devs, as I really want Survival to do well. This can only happen if PvP is better balanced, while still allowing players to be rewarded for build diversity and not punished or outright handicapped by it, by throwing in set damage caps across the board.
Suggestion 1 – Remove (190) damage caps and lower all PvP damage by x%: This one is pretty simple. When an automatic explosive weapon does more damage than firing a Mini Nuke in someone's face, PvP is unfair. In terms of ammo availability, carry weight, fire rates… Anyone who hadn't witnessed it first hand would likely think it was a joke. Removing the cap of 190 damage however, would allow perk/mutation/gear investment for damage with specific weapons to actually matter, unlike now. Obviously, as a lot of weapons would then be powerful enough to once more oneshot, you could tune down all PvP damage by 20%, 50%, 80%, whatever you deem necessary. This would allow more weapons to be competitive in terms of their damage outputs in PvP, while also making it easy to adjust the percentage down the line, until it hits a point that feels fair across (most of) the board. A Bloodied build would still be running risks with their low health, while also being able to reap the reward, unlike now (aforementioned weapons being the exception of course), without outright oneshotting people. You might be able to actually utilize a melee build effectively, as you not only might do more damage than currently, but also not get erased instantaneously by an automatic weapon the second you leave cover to rush them.
My scepticism of this idea, is the fact that some oneshot builds at say, a 50% reduction, will still not be able to achieve oneshots, while a 50% reduction to a weapon erasing someone's existence in 0,2 seconds would be upped to 0,4 seconds, which is still not enough for anyone to even react to shots landing.
Suggestion 2 – Different damage caps, per weapon or weapon class: This I would say, is likely a better suggestion than the first one. This would not make people feel like their character is weaker than normally when fighting other players like my first suggestion, but ultimately make for a much easier to control PvP balance. If automatic weapons were capped at 40 damage per shot in PvP, that would mean that 10 shots vs a player would do 400 damage, plus potential explosive damage. Whereas an optimized weapon and/or build now with an automatic weapon, can hit for 1900 damage with 10 bullets, plus potential explosive damage. Melee could be increased to say, 250, making it deadly if a guy comes rushing at you, but not oneshot-deadly. Rifles at 220 or so would make them able to twoshot people if you can land the shots, without every oneshotting someone. Pistols at 90 would ensure that an optimized pistol build could kill someone with more shots than a rifle, but less than an automatic weapon.
These numbers are of course all random, but as I see it, not entirely unrealistic in terms of what seems fair, and ultimately balanced. Making a Fat Man hitting a player directly, able to oneshot them, honestly makes perfect sense to me. Killing someone with two bullets when you fire about twenty in a second, does not.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the current state of PvP in Survival/Adventure mode, how it compares to the balance of NW, and how the community propose it gets better balanced. I'd love to see a day where not only more people willingly step into Survival Mode, but also where we see diversity in the builds of the players we encounter in there, rather than the current overload of instant-kill weapons that are in so many players' hands at this point.
Disclaimers: This is in no way meant to bash on certain builds, nor the people playing them. It's simply to voice echo my own frustrations about how PvP currently works, as I hear many others feeling is the case as well. I don't want any weapons nor builds to be broken or useless, but I want PvP to feel more like it will or at least can reward smart play and better accuracy, over just spraying in random directions and "oneshotting" people instantaneously at random. Nuclear Winter has certainly proved that PvP can at least be a lot more balanced, than it currently is in the other game modes.
I also wanna apologize for how salty I sound in the video, but the verification of my suspicions and the frustrations I have with the PvP balance as it currently is, got the better of me. Hopefully it won't subtract from the relatively obvious arguments I'm making, however.
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