Dungeons & Dragons: Online isn't perfectly balanced. We're interested in discussing what balance means, and how important balance is to you, the players. We want to know how often you'd like to see balance changes.
For this thread, we're looking particular at character balance, and how characters compare to one another. To some extent this borders on discussion of player characters vs. quest difficulty (and all that entails), but the focus here is player characters compared against other player characters (but not PvP). At some other time we may also look at other balance issues, such as Normal/Hard/Elite, or more specific issues like items, quests, monsters, traps, raids, or boss monsters.
Why does Character Balance matter?
We'd like a variety of roles and styles of play to be supported at a high level of play, without some builds that look like fun feeling bad to play because other characters seem so much more powerful. We've heard some level of concern over these topics and related issues. Perfect balance doesn't need to be achieved, and probably can't be achieved, but most or all playstyles should feel competitive. (We recognize that creating terrible character builds with the vast possibilities offered in DDO is always going to be possible, but we can probably all agree that's not the real issue.)
In short, we want you to be able to play what you want to play, have fun doing it, and feel like you can be a worthwhile contributor to a party (if that's how you choose to play).
Why isn't every character made stronger, to match the strongest characters already out there?
- Challenge: We want to be able to provide challenges to those who seek that kind of gameplay. There should be limits to player-character power in order to achieve this, when comparing player characters against monsters, traps, bosses, etc.
- Understanding what's already there: Minimizing changes also allows everyone to keep a consistent idea of what exists. If almost everything changes, it's like starting over from scratch, and therefore much harder to get everything right.
- Time and resources matter: We can save a great deal of time by only changing a few overpowered abilities, rather than changing all other characters, monsters, traps, and quests to match those few most overpowered abilities or features. If we can spend a day or a week pulling back on the strongest rather than months increasing everything else, that leaves us far more time to implement new features.
What are some examples of things that could be better balanced?
We're keenly aware that each player probably has some topics they are concerned about, and we don't like to break characters or take away fun things that are already there. However, we may have been too cautious about balance changes in the past, especially after a new ability or feature has been launched. We'd like to know if you'd prefer changes to come more quickly, or if we should sit back and let you guys show us what can really be done before making changes.
That said, some broad areas that we know perhaps could use some consideration:
- Ranged combat vs. Melee Combat vs. Spellcasting, at all character levels. As an example, not so long ago, ranged combat was largely considered inferior to melee combat. We made some conscious decisions to try to improve the viability of ranged combat. That's at least a partial success, but has brought along some issues of its own.
- Class & Race Balance: They don't all need to have identical appeal from a power perspective (as there are other reasons to play any class), but we should try to get them close enough that it doesn't feel bad to play any particular race or class, or that you feel forced to take any levels in a particular class to feel powerful.
- Epic Destinies: We know some destinies are more popular than others, and also considered more powerful. Sometimes this is a result of unintended bugs. This could include discussions of Twists of Fate, so individual abilities vs. other abilities can still matter, though we don't expect to make every ability equally viable as a Twist of Fate (for its tier). Abilities that can't be twisted (Innate abilities and tier 5 & 6) should be largely considered as a group when comparing entire Destinies.
This does mean potentially looking at things that rhyme with ten-thousand cars, many fought, caster's fritz, chirashi cambrian, the bunk crass, or american overtoad.
We're happy to hear general thoughts on character balance, what you'd like to see, and also why you'd like to see certain changes (or non-changes.) We don't want to change any particular things without good reasons, so convince us!
We'd love to also get feedback from as many of you as possible from this survey!