Since we launched For Honor back in February, players have become more and more efficient at defending and counter attacking to a point where offense feels weak compared to defense. Players have referred to this as the Turtle / Defensive Meta. Over the past months, we’ve tested a lot of changes in order to achieve a better balance between offense and defense. We’ve been testing these changes internally and with players from the community during our workshops. These changes impact the core of our combat system, so a Public Test is a great opportunity for us to start testing them online at a larger scale in order to gather feedback and data to establish if these changes have a positive impact.
The scope of the changes deployed in this Public Test environment represents a first set of revisions that we’ve been working on. We’ve tested many more over the past few months, but as we move towards improving the balance between offense and defense we also want to make sure we don’t break the game entirely or fix it only for one portion of the community, which is why we want to deploy changes progressively and measure each iteration’s impact before moving on to the next. In short, please consider this as a proposed first step towards addressing the Turtle / Defensive Meta, not a definitive fix.
Our changes focus on 5 elements: Parry, Guard Break, Stamina, Chip Damage and Revenge. Alongside these we’re also testing changes to resolve Flicker and discourage escape cheesing in Duel.
Parry is one of the best defensive options in the game with the guaranteed Guard Break which itself can guarantee heavy damage for a lot of characters, or even a kill if a hazard is nearby. Because Parry reward is so high, Players are encouraged to bait attacks and punish instead of choosing to initiate with an attack of their own. With that in mind, we’re changing the frame advantage of Parry.
- Light Parry frame advantage is reduced to be consistent with Heavy Parry
- Guard Break is no longer guaranteed
- Parrying too early consistently opens up your defense
We’re making the reward for Parrying Lights or Heavies consistent because at high level, Light attacks are easily punished by Parry. And since Light attacks cannot be feinted, we wanted to make them safer.
Guard Break can still connect based on range but can be countered. We still want to provide reward to Parrying but we don’t want it be so good that attacking feels too risky.
Finally, we’re fixing some safe Parry options out of Hit or Block reactions. In some match-ups, it is possible to just spam Heavy after a Hit or Block reaction and Parry the next attack safely because the reaction you’re in doesn’t allow you to attack until the next Hit strikes you. Therefore, you can Parry without risking to trigger an attack if you press too early. In the Technical Test version, Parrying too early will always open you up to be punished.
Guard Break is dominant in the game right now and one of the main sources of damage for any character when it is set up during a recovery. At high level it’s countered very often. At low level, it’s not the case. We’ve tried to play with how difficult it is to counter, but the problem is that it only makes it more difficult for the majority of players, while making little difference at high level play.
Furthermore, Guard Break can beat a large amount of slower attacks. This causes situations in group fight where external attackers will spam Guard Break until they interrupt the attacker’s startup. Attack startups have variable Guard Break vulnerability windows based on their duration, the longer the more vulnerable:
- Startup 0-700ms – 0-100ms Guard Break vulnerability
- Startup 800-1000ms – 0-400ms Guard Break vulnerability
- Startup 1100-1300ms – 0-600ms Guard Break vulnerability
- Startup 1400-…ms – 0-800ms Guard Break vulnerability
- All attack startups – 0-100ms Guard Break vulnerability
This change makes attacks 800ms or longer safer, since they won’t lose to a Guard Break on read or reaction anymore. This also means, the Feint > Guard Break sequence will not work against a baited Parry attempt.
Stamina is currently a resource generally spent by the attacker, while the opponent who only defends ends up ahead in the stamina race while Blocking and Dodging. Also, when your opponent is Out Of Stamina, it can be very hard to punish them. We want it to be more dangerous to be in Out Of Stamina State.
- Stamina Regen on Block and on Dodge is now paused:
- Dodge left, right, and Dash forward: no stamina regen on the first 400ms
- Dodge Back: no stamina regen on the first 600ms
- Interrupt Block*: no stamina regen on the first 300ms
- Regular Block**: no stamina regen on the first 500ms
Out of Stamina state makes players more vulnerable:
- Blocking Light Attacks will not result in Interrupt but Regular Blocks, allowing your enemy to keep chaining lights
- Impossible to Parry
- Dodge and Dash are 200ms longer to make you more vulnerable to Guard Break
- Dodge and Dash no longer have any special defensive properties such as Deflect or Superior Block
- Getting hit by Melee attacks when Out of Stamina doesn’t drain stamina, it only pauses the regen
We want offense to take a more critical advantage against a target Out of Stamina. By making Out of Stamina weaker, we want players to fear it more as we put more pressure on Stamina management. Pausing the Stamina regen instead of draining it is a necessary change to make Out of Stamina escapable.
*Interrupt Block bounces the attacker off. It happens when Light attacks get blocked.
**Regular Block doesn’t break the flow of attack allowing you to keep chaining.
Chip Damage is the portion of an attack’s damage that goes through even if you block it. In For Honor, you get Chip Damage when you Regular Block only. With values varying from 2, 5, 10% based on attack damage, Chip Damage is so low that you never fear to Block everything.
- Chip Damage increased to 18% for any attack
This will make blocking less effective as a stalling tool as now there will be a more noticeable health penalty to pay. Chip Damage will however not be lethal.
Revenge State is also getting updated. With the recent changes to Revenge earn rates, we also wanted to rework how powerful Revenge State should be.
An important aspect of the rebalancing of Revenge State is the role of Melee. Melee is currently very strong in Revenge State, but also very strong against it. It could be very difficult to deal with getting unbalanced over and over by a Warlord/Valkyrie/Conqueror who is in Revenge – and being in Revenge also seemed very weak when surrounded by Centurions who Kicked. It also created a split between characters with and without Melee attacks.
- Revenge activation can’t be interrupted by Melee attacks
- Incoming Melee attacks don’t interrupt attack startups
- Outgoing Melee attacks don’t Unbalance enemy
- Shield is increased to 70% of your HP (from 50%)
- Outgoing attacks cannot be parried
While in Revenge, we want you to have more opportunity to attack, and while attacking to be less vulnerable to Melee attacks. We expect to see group fights be less reliant on having someone to spam Headbutt/Shield Bash/Kick.
The last big change to Revenge State is that we’re making all your attacks impossible to Parry. The overarching idea is to make Out of Stamina and Revenge State consistent: if you’re in Revenge State, it’s pretty much as if your opponents are Out of Stamina with the no Interrupt Block on Light, no Parry…
Flicker has been identified as a problem for a while now. It’s the ability to press light > heavy or heavy > light in a quick succession to “feint” your enemy using the attack stance UI. It’s a problem that has a very simple and generic reason at its core: input comfort. Pressing two buttons at the exact same time is not always easy especially with controllers. To make it easy for everybody, we introduced a buffer so that even if your bumper and trigger aren’t pressed at the exact same time, we register the Zone Attack. We’ve looked at many ways to prevent flicker without sacrificing comfort but they all presented design or technical challenges.
- Removed Zone Attack input buffer
For this Public Test, we’re taking the approach of making Zone Attack input timing stricter to get rid of flicker. We think the positive impact of getting rid of flicker will outweigh the negative impact of the Zone Attack higher execution requirement. We’ll use data and feedback to evaluate if that’s the case.
High mobility in Duel can enable some characters to easily stall by running away until the clock runs out. This is frustrating for the opponent and not fun to watch.
- Added an “Anti Run Away” system in Duel
- Time out victory is awarded to the Player with the highest percentage of HP remaining
The “Anti Run Away” system works by tracking characters’ navigation to identify who is running away and who is in pursuit. If the system confirms that an entity has been running away for too long, it applies different boosts / penalties to both players.
- Navigation Speed reduced by 20 %
- Automatic Stamina drain over time
- Navigation Speed increased by 30 %
The Speed bonus / penalty allows the pursuers to catch up. The Stamina drain acts as a last warning to the runners who will end up Out of Stamina if they don’t resume combat.
In addition to this change, which should limit the running away tactic, we’re updating the win condition on time out in order to reward the player with the highest percentage of HP remaining. This rule makes more sense and has been a standard in 1v1 games. It was just impossible for us to implement without a counter to the running away tactic.