I really like Imperius and his playstyle. However, I feel like a few parts of his design don't quite click. Primarily, many of the qualities he needs in order to perform in his role are locked behind must-pick talents, as you can see from his talent pickrates and win rates.*
I have some thoughts on ways this could be improved, and wanted to see what people think.
Imperius's kit is really cool. However, at baseline, he feels like he lacks the tools he needs to perform. You can see this in the data for the two talents that give him these tools: > at 1 and > at 4. They have a 73% and 83% pickrate respectively, and each is the top-winrate talent on its tier by 2.5% to 5% (although neither quite hits 50%). Generally, when one talent dominates the pickrate and has a sizeable winrate advantage, something is wrong. You could try to balance this out by buffing their competition, but I don't know if that's the best option. IMO, the true problem is that those talents are critical to Imperius's kit in ways that other talents will struggle to replicate.*
, Blizzard says that he "excels at single-target damage," has "great sustain and dueling capabilities," "…excels as a solo laner," and "…makes use of his abilities to bully enemy heroes." But without those talents, Imperius lacks in those areas. IMO, and apparently according to his hero spotlight, these attributes are core to Imperius's design and identity. And while the necessary talents come online early enough that he can get himself into the game before too long, gating these functions behind talents stifles his build variety and conflicts with his design and playstyle intentions.
Of course, just making those talents baseline would make Imperius OP. So that would need to be accompanied by other adjustments.
(Other talent tiers also have some issues, especially > at 7. Having so much of his PvE damage gated behind it, and it also having a slightly higher winrate than its competition while also being 2.5x as popular, isn't great. I'll set those aside for now though as none of the other tiers are as bad as 1 and 4 IMO. His heroic balance also seems a bit off, but any small tuning needed there is more in the minutia than I want to get.)
When I first saw Imperius's brand interface, I was really excited. Since they'd just come out with Orphea, who fills her gauge by landing abilities and then gets extra damage/healing from auto-attacks, my first thought was that they'd go a different direction with Imperius. And while his is different in that brands are applied to his targets and must be applied by different abilities, it's overall a very similar mechanism of "hit ability = X extra damage on next auto attack" (and healing after 4).
What I first thought they would do was a little different, and personally I like it more. Here's what I'd envisioned, and what I think could be a cool way of retooling him:
- Brands are applied and consumed as currently.
- Consuming brands still deals a lump of damage.
- Each brand has its own icon and its own effect when consumed.
- Sample abilities:
- Q: Imperius gains 20% attack speed for 2 seconds.
- W: Imperius gains 15 armor for 2 seconds.
- E: Drains Y health from target.
(The above are all just top-of-the-head examples. I don't really care about the specifics here.)
This is a good place to put those elements that Blizzard wants to be part of Imperius's identity but are currently heavily talent-gated. Again, obviously you can't have baseline Imperius doing as much as currently-talented Imperius, so the baseline numbers would need to be below what he does while fully talented now and brought up by talents.
Imperius has really cool design. However, his current implementation conflicts with his stated design intention and identity because his base kit lacks many of the qualities that Blizzard wants him to have—and that he needs to perform. (This is backed up by pickrate and winrate data being out of whack.) While he can gain those attributes, they are gated behind must-pick talents.* By porting some of those talents to his base kit, he can gain talent diversity, feel better to play, and perform his roles more consistently. If done with properly rebalancing, he can do it without becoming oppressive.
While I'm not wedded to it, I think this could be achieved while also further differentiating his brand system from Orphea's trait. This could make his play feel more unique and dynamic, and would open itself up to some fun talent upgrade possibilities.
Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think!
Note: I have no issue with heroes who gain new capacities through talents. The issue I see here is that Imperius just doesn't do enough without a few select talents (born out by winrate and pickrate data), which is bad from a design, play, and talent diversity perspective.*
For example: Muradin being able to talent into DPS talents and Haymaker to get picks is great. If Muradin had to take specific talents in order to fill his role—and those talents also had 5 to 10% high win rates and 8 to 10 times the pickrate of the competing talents—that would be less good.
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