Patch notes can be found here.
TL;DR — these changes are a step in the right direction, but nothing more. Further changes will be needed, and I hope Trion will be forthcoming in making them as promised.
- Season 6: Hot-Headed has begun! Season Levels from Season 5 will convert into reactor levels and season levels will reset.
- Season 5 has ended, players will receive Prestige Points and an emblem based on rank achieved. Players will also receive a bonus amount of ISO for participating in season 5.
- Remaining rewards will be awarded on 5/21 when Season 6 Ranked begins.
- Lex, the Scion of Fire, will be available to play on May 10th. Get fired up!
>> Very hot.
- The freelancer level 100 border swapped with the level 80 version.
>> Cool! Only ~33 more levels until this affects me. Good change though.
- The area revealed by the X-Ray power-up now matches the normal vision range.
- The X-ray power-up now spawns on turn 15 and no longer respawns.
- Healing power-ups on the Hexcellence map now initially spawn on turns 6 an 11 instead of 5 and 7.
>> X-ray fixes — excellent. Really like these changes. Looking forward to playing with them. (Hexcellence is its own separate issue…)
- Proximo Charge and Smoke Bombs damage increased from 25 to 26.
- On the Run damage increased from 20 to 26.
>> Not necessarily the changes she needed, but decent changes. I think balance is very delicate and it won’t take much to make a lancer with Celeste’s level of utility good again.
- Plasma Volley and Combat Reflexes damage reduced from 27 to 26.
- Brutal Precision and Leg Shot mods now work will all of Elle’s plasma gun attacks.
>> Decent changes. I don’t think this nerf will be enough to take her out of the meta, as her rise to power had to do with a lot more than the +2 buff. The changes to Brutal Precision and Leg Shot are probably good — even if she ends up overpowered, I think I’d rather have these changes and other nerfs elsewhere. Apparently her mod point costs also changed, but…she’s still going to be extremely strong, regardless.
- Health reduced from 150 to 144.
>> Health reduced by 6. I don’t know what this change is supposed to accomplish. Sure, it’s not nothing, but I don’t see it having a significant impact. Trion, please fix what’s actually broken about Tol-Ren. (Dashing through people, energy refund on ult being two that come to mind.)
- Health decreased from 195 to 190.
- Impale damage decreased from 30 to 29.
- Radamantium Reinforced mod damage bonus reduced from 3 to 2.
>> A good start, but I don’t think these changes will be enough. She’s still way stronger than she was pre-frontline-patch, and I don’t think she needed to be much stronger than she was then, if at all. Nevertheless, this is in keeping with Trion’s new approach of making smaller changes more frequently, so I’m reasonably happy to see how she performs and make further adjustments as needed.
- Doom Ray damage out of the ball increased from 23/30 to 25/31.
>> Ok sure.
- Juggernaut damage increased from 22 to 24.
- Lair damage increased from 30 to 32.
>> Interesting buffs. I think probably fine. Always good to be cautious with numbers on Phaedra, though, because her kit has a lot of inherent strengths. I’d rather see other frontliners nerfed than Phaedra buffed, though.
- Health decreased from 200 to 190
- Maul damage decreased from 25/30 to 25/29.
- Surge mod now also reduces damage by 3.
>> Disagree with the Surge mod change. That mod isn’t taken all that commonly in my experience; I think the issue with his dash is the base range, so I’d make the -3 change BASELINE if the range is kept the same. Although not exactly what I’d change in any event. I like the hp nerf and the damage nerf; let’s see how he does and reevaluate.
- Ion Cloud energy changed from 8 per enemy to 5 per enemy and 3 per ally hit.
>> Ion Cloud energy change is OK. Trying to decide if it’s a buff or nerf. I think it’s a slight buff. No problem either way.
- Disruption Matrix damage decreased from 25 to 23. Battleforged damage decreased from 26 to 24.
>> These nerfs are stupid. First of all, I don’t think Helio needed nerfs, at least not compared to any other supports / tanky firepowers. So this is a bit of a slap in the face. My understanding is that his winrate is high…? OK. We’ll see how he does. It’s not the craziest of nerfs. What’s silly to me is that his wall was completely fine and a skill-based ability; I have no idea why that was targeted for a nerf. In my opinion, these nerfs should be reverted and Helio’s energy gains should be reduced slightly. It’s too easy to get his ultimate — that’s my only complaint in facing enemy Helios.
- Warped Arrow damaged increased from 26 to 29. Rain of Arrows damage increased from 28 to 30.
>> Not the changes I would have made, but a welcome buff all in all. I actually think this buff is going to overtune her, believe it or not. But many have said they’re dying to see Khita more in the meta. Well, happy birthday. Hope you don’t get sick of her. Overall I think it’ll be good to see more of her, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they need to readjust numbers later on.
- Focused Flames mod damage bonus reduced from 5 to 3.
- Devour Energy mod energy gain reduced from 5 to 3.
- Fate Transfer damage to energy ratio reduced from 100% to 75%.
>> Do people even run Devour Energy, apart from Drevoed? Love the changes to Focused Flames and Fate Transfer, though. Excellent changes that should help nerf a slightly overpowered lancer.
- HP increase from 130 to 140.
- Positronic Surge shield increased from 10 to 15.
>> I cannot express how strongly I DISAGREE with these changes. We do not want a Quark meta. The playerbase has said this for a long time. Remove. Quark. From. The. Game. As a game designer myself, I understand the pain of scrapping a lancer who has models, voice lines, lore, etc. So — rework him then. But please do not buff Quark back into usefulness. And yes, that’s what’s going to happen. We are going to get the same Quark-with-second-support cancer meta we used to have.
- Fixed an issue where alt-targeting on Orion’s Empyreal Ruin could highlight squares that are not affected by the ability.
- Damage from Vonn’s Cryo Cores are no longer shown in the damage preview.
- Idd’s teeth no longer change color when using one any of the Slay Ride skins on Gremolitions Inc.
- Fixed an issue where players could end up off course when part of their dash path is occupied.
- Fixed an issue where Echo Boost would not extend the duration of some Unstoppable effects.
- Fixed an issue where the shield duration of Quark’s Positronic Surge would be extended by one turn when using the Positronic Overload mod.
>> Why is Vonn cryo core damage not supposed to be shown in the damage preview??
>> Thank god Idd’s teeth no longer change color. I know 110% of the playerbase was complaining about that one.
Notably absent from the patch notes: Asana, Juno, Kaigin.
Asana is very strong — probably should have been nerfed. She’s less oppressive than other frontlines, though, so maybe OK for now. Worth keeping an eye on.
Juno — high winrate, probably overpowered. Lots of people complaining about her. I would have reverted the damage buff on her primary, or at least half of it (a la Elle). She does have clear weaknesses, but still worth keeping an eye on.
Kaigin — please see below walls of text.
Please get my main (Kaigin) just a tiny bit farther out of the dumpster. The devs said they are waiting on Kaigin changes to see how Tol-Ren (who fills a similar niche) performs with the -6 hp nerf. Spoiler alert: Tol-Ren is still going to be better than Kaigin. However, I’m glad that the devs are waiting on Kaigin changes, because I’d really like to see something more comprehensive for Kaigin than just “+3 damage on primary” or whatever. While it’s true that anything can be balanced through numbers alone, that doesn’t necessarily make for interesting gameplay (example: a lancer that deals 200 damage to target enemy and to itself. second example: Quark).
I’ve previously suggested buffs to Kaigin’s invis (well, just reducing the cooldown by 1 baseline, and maybe having Cover of Night cost more mod points but reduce it by 2 instead of 1 to make for an interesting playstyle), but what I think Kaigin actually needs most is the ability to heal himself on a disengage. It’s very common to be able to strike, then return to the shadows for a couple of turns. Awesome, very thematic and a cool style, but you don’t always have the ability to go get a health powerup, and you only have Second Wind at most once (and even then you’re not able to take something like Brain Juice, which I’d love to take). You often aren’t near your healer or can’t rely on support. And you can’t really stay in a fight for any length of time if you don’t have support.
So — when Kaigin disengages, I’d like him to be able to heal himself. I’m not sure how — his kit doesn’t really have abilities that would “do that.” You could, say, buff Soothing Shadows, but it still requires him to basically waste his invis to get value there. You could make him heal off of certain damaging abilities — in fact, mods for that already exist on his primary and ultimate — but they’re just not very strong. I was told the original reason for this is that the devs didn’t want Kaigin to be a “drain tank” — i.e. sustaining himself in a fight and becoming frontline level of tanky. For one thing, I don’t think this is a realistic concern in the slightest. No one is going to mistake Kaigin for, say, Asana, who has 35 more hp and a free action shield on a 3-turn cooldown, gets shielding on her ult, and herself has a better drain mod on primary than Kaigin. In fact, we can look at this other lancer called PuP who AUTOMATICALLY gains 10 hp on his primary PER TARGET HIT and has 30 more base hp than Kaigin, and is still fairly squishy as melees go. So, if we made Feed on Fear restore 15 hp (for hitting a target — as it currently reads, not per target, AND with the requirement that the target be Void Marked) instead of 5, I don’t think that would break Kaigin at all.
Of course, that’s not even the change I want. What I would like to see is something along the lines of a change to Kaigin’s “ultimate,” or rather, the bit that reads “Passive: Whenever damage is dealt to an enemy they are void marked. If an enemy is already void marked deal an additional 10 damage to them.” What I’d like it to say is: “Passive: Whenever damage is dealt to an enemy they are void marked. If an enemy is already void marked deal an additional 10 damage to them. If you do not damage any enemies on your turn, gain 10 health.“
Why this change? As noted above, this supports Kaigin’s playstyle. Because of his kit, he often cannot stay in the fray for multiple turns (and if he can at some point, this gives him no benefit, which is fine since he clearly doesn’t need it in that instance!). But Kaigin has no way to recover health. Of course, most non-supports do not have ways to restore their own health, but what many do have is a shield that can come off cooldown and give them extra effective hit points if they continue fighting.
In fact, Kaigin is the only melee in the entire game that lacks any self-healing or self-shielding (disregarding a few fairly crappy mods in his kit). Think about it. PuP has good self-healing on his primary, and good shield mods on his invis and ultimate. Tol-Ren has a Ren’s Fury shield on a 3-turn cooldown. They also have 30 and 14 (post-Tol-nerf) more hit points than Kaigin, respectively.
Frontlines got a damage buff — they don’t do Kaigin level of damage, but they’re not far behind. Asana has Ret on a 3-turn cooldown. Brynn has Aegis on a 2-turn cooldown. Garrison gets shields on his dash and can heal off his ultimate. Isadora can restore her shields. Magnus has shields on Horns Up. Phaedra has Mending Swarm on a 4-turn cooldown. Rask has Augmented Regen (long cooldown, but he’ll get another one every time he ults). Rufflebucket has a wall, which comes with a strong shield mod, and has a strong shield mod on his unstoppable as well (and has his ult). Titus has good hp regeneration mods on every ability, as well as a Free Action AoE weaken. Oh, and all of these characters have between 35 and 70 more BASE hit points than Kaigin. That’s right — if Titus took absolutely no self-healing and Kaigin got 5 hp per turn for (1) hitting an enemy or (2) not hitting an enemy or (3) chilling in Africa on safari and assuming Kaigin was damaged so as to benefit from the regen, and pretending Titus never got any benefit from his free action shout, it would still take 14 turns for Kaigin to have as much effective health as Titus. Oh, and if they each die once then Titus gets another 70 health for free.
What’s the bottom line? If I’m, say, Asana or Tol-Ren, who are probably the characters most similar to Kaigin, I can take 2 turns off from the fight while my abilities are recharging and come back in with extra effective hp. Kaigin cannot do this. I cannot tell you how many games I get whittled down from Grey-drone-esque chip damage without even eating a real attack and am still practically dead by Turn 20. Even with Second Wind and stealing health powerups. It is extremely frustrating, and it feels like there is nothing I can do about it. Even on a ranged firepower, maybe you don’t have self-healing options, but you can stay at range, or hit through / around walls, etc. Kaigin can’t really do that. Shurikens is a proper ranged attack, yes, but it’s only available every other turn. And you’re basically just as squishy as they are (in fact, even Lockwood, Zuki, Grey, etc. get 20 shield mods on their dash! So they might be MORE tanky than Kaigin in some circumstances!). It feels like playing half a freelancer. And Kaigin’s benefits — the occasional invis, and two damage-dealing dashes — are quite nice, but just aren’t quite enough. I can’t see why you would ever take him over a second frontline in this meta, and I don’t see this patch changing that.