Tuesday February 28th
We're in the process of finalizing the changes outlined in this post before we hit the launch button on the upcoming PTS update. The update is still set for this week, so keep an eye out for the update and a more detailed summary of changes in the coming day or two.
As outlined in our last update post from February 10th we've received a lot of great feedback regarding every aspect of the Skill Tree during its time on the Public Test server. While the reception to the overall framework of the Skill Tree has been positive, it's abundantly clear there are ways to improve the implementation.
If you want to catch up you can also check out the original Skill Tree PTS announcement here, though as we'll outline below there are some important changes on the way.
The biggest topic of discussion has undoubtedly been the economy of the Skill Tree system. Much of the feedback we received also centered on the relative balance of the Skill Tree and the structure and content of certain Skill Branches and Skill Nodes.
This post will provide you with some of the broad-stroke changes you’ll see in the next PTS update as a result of your feedback. Complete details, particularly in regards to balance changes, will be provided in a more thorough post coinciding with the release of the PTS update.
The next update to the PTS Skill Tree build – the contents of which are outlined below – is currently slated for early next week.
Changes to Skill Tree Economy
Unlocking 1 Skill Node for the first time (for the individual ‘Mech whose Skill Tree you are working with) will now only require 60,000 C-Bills and 800 XP. This is a reduction from the 100,000 C-Bills and 1,500 XP required in the previous PTS build.
There is no longer any C-Bill, MC, or Experience cost for removing a Skill Node once you’ve unlocked it.
Removing a Skill Node you’ve already unlocked (for the individual ‘Mech whose Skill Tree you are working with) has no cost associated with it whatsoever.
In light of the above change, removing a Skill Node you've already unlocked will no longer return the XP spent to acquire it. However, that brings us to the next change.
If you wish to re-acquire a Skill Node you previously removed (from the individual ‘Mech whose Skill Tree you are working with) you will not be required to repurchase that Skill Node at the initial purchase cost.
Re-acquiring Nodes you previously purchased at full cost will only require 400 XP.
Changes to Skill Tree Structure and Nodes
While the various Firepower Skill Branches were intended to provide players with a similar analogue to the Module system, the distinct Branches overwhelmingly favored single-weapon Loadouts and provided ‘Mechs suited to that configuration with a significant number of Skill Points to invest elsewhere. ‘Mechs with an array of Hardpoints of different types did not share that freedom.
In the upcoming PTS update you’ll see a significant rework of the distinct Firepower Skill Branch into a single, all-encompassing Firepower Branch. All individual Weapon Branches have been removed, such as the LBX Skill Branch or the Autocannon Skill Branch. The new Firepower Branch will contain Skill Nodes which provide universal bonuses to all weapons. There are no longer distinct Cooldown Nodes specifically for Autocannon weaponry, for example. In their place are all-encompassing Weapon Cooldown Nodes affecting all Ballistic, Energy, and Missile weaponry.
Some weapon-specific Nodes such as UAC Jam Chance and Gauss Extended Charge do still remain, and will be located in a Ballistic ‘hemisphere’ of the Firepower Tree. Laser Duration Nodes also still remain, located in an Energy hemisphere of the Firepower Tree, while Missile Spread Nodes are located in a Missile hemisphere.
The goal here is to provide players with more options for skilling ‘Mechs with multiple Hardpoint types, ensuring that investing into Firepower Skills will provide the same benefits to a much larger variety of builds.
More detailed information regarding the consolidated Firepower Tree will be provided when the PTS update arrives.
While we’re happy to see enthusiasm for the Survival Skill Tree, we feel the average investment seen in these Nodes did not represent a compelling give-and-take scenario. In the vast majority of cases investing all the way into the Survival Tree was almost seen as mandatory. As a result we have altered the overall layout of the Survival Tree, spreading the bonuses across a greater number of Nodes within the Tree. We have also introduced a new defense-oriented Skill Node which will allow for a reduction in your chances of receiving a Critical Hit.
With the changes you’ll see to the Survival Tree, unlocking the full potential of Structure and Armor Skills will need greater investment, requiring you to evaluate the potential commitment more deeply.
Similar to Firepower, we did not feel that the division of distinct Mobility-based Skill Branches facilitated the give-and-take nature we intended with Skill Tree choices. For this update we have consolidated the Upper and Lower Torso Skills into a single Mobility Tree, with many of their values receiving adjustments.
We’ve significantly boosted the benefits provided from investing into the Jump Jet Branch, making them more compelling choices for ‘Mechs capable of equipping Jump Jets. The Jump Jet Branch is also receiving a new type of Skill Node aimed at reducing the amount of heat generated by Jump Jets.
As with Survival, bonuses provided from the Operations Skill Nodes have been spread across a greater number of Nodes within the Operations Skill Branch. Unlocking the full potential of this Branch will need greater investment, requiring you to evaluate the potential commitment more deeply.
For now, the Sensor Branch remains unchanged. We’ll continue to monitor its role in light of the other changes seen in the upcoming update.
Second only to the changes seen with the Firepower Skills, the Auxiliary Branch is shaping up to receive the most significant changes to its structure and content. Our current goal is to allow players to field additional Consumable items, with greater benefits to each, by investing into the Auxiliary Skill Branch. Skill Node boosts for Cool Shot and Strike Consumables will also be introduced into the Auxiliary Branch.
We’d also like to take a moment to reiterate that C-Bill and MC Consumables of the same type will be evenly matched in their fundamental capabilities. A C-Bill UAV and an MC UAV will both possess identical Range and identical Duration, for example. Both will of course benefit from unlocking UAV Skill Nodes, as will all other Consumables benefit from their own associated Skill Nodes.
The changes to Critical Hit systems seen in the first PTS brought with them an unanticipated bug in the way Critical Hit chances were being determined. This bug significantly increased the chances of a Critical Hit. We’ve corrected this behavior in the latest PTS update. As a result, we are not making any adjustments to Component Health or any aspects of the Critical Hit until we can see how the previous changes play out when a bug isn’t impacting the results.
Disassociating ‘Mech Mobility Attributes from Engine Ratings
Engine selection has long been a balance sore-spot in MWO. Too much was gained by upgrading Engines to higher ratings, with little opportunity for providing a compelling give-and-take between the lighter, slower Engines against the heavier, faster Engines. The system also created a dynamic where baseline ‘Mech viability could be dramatically impacted by the inherent Engine restrictions of a 'Mech. These issues only compounded Inner Sphere and Clan imbalances, with Clan 'Mechs fielding much heavier Engines than their Inner Sphere counterparts - with no sacrifice to Loadout - due to fundamentally lighter equipment.
With the above issues in mind, we intend to break baseline Mobility characteristics away from Engines. Mobility will instead be determined by the overall tonnage of the chassis. It’s important to note that this will not affect the speed of a ‘Mech, which will remain tied with Engine size.
This change was specifically designed in the context of the Skill Tree, but was omitted from the first PTS as we continued to finalize some work required for implementing it. With that work complete, this system will be on full display in the upcoming PTS update.
At a top-down level, you can expect Mobility to now be roughly equal across tonnage lines. While their speeds will differ, an UrbanMech will now have the same Mobility attributes as an Arctic Cheetah, while a Kodiak will share the same Mobility attributes as an Atlas.
This change is not only intended to improve baseline balance between ‘Mechs, techbases, and Engines, but also to accomplish one of the stated design goals of the Skill Tree system. That is, to facilitate a drastic reduction in inherent ‘Mech Quirks.
As a result of this change we will be removing all of the current Mobility Quirks from Inner Sphere BattleMechs and Clan Center Torso OmniPods. Non-CT OmniPod and Set of 8 Mobility Quirks will remain.
Many ‘Mechs previously balanced around superior Mobility Quirks will instead see those Quirks integrated into the inherent Mobility attributes of the 'Mech. Those inherent Mobility attributes will then be evaluated and adjusted against similar 'Mechs within their tonnage bracket. For example, the Phoenix Hawk will be provided with higher baseline Mobility stats compared to the Blackjack.
This change allows for the following changes to the Skill Tree:
• With Mobility Quirks now rolled into the base Mobility attributes of a ‘Mech, Skill Nodes will have greater influence over the final Mobility attributes of a ‘Mech when compared to their impact previously seen under the Quirk system.
• Creates greater value for Mobility-based Skill bonuses for ‘Mechs which possess naturally high Mobility attributes.
• Streamlines the influence of the Skill Tree on ‘Mech Mobility, providing more transparency within the MechLab in terms of how Skill Nodes influence the Mobility of a ‘Mech.
These changes will bring some necessary UI improvements to provide players with more feedback regarding the Mobility attributes of their ‘Mechs within the ‘Mech Stats window.
More detailed information covering the Engine and Mobility changes will be provided regarding with the complete PTS notes.
Finally, we’d very much like to reiterate that we are continuing to evaluate baseline systems in an attempt to better balance not only the Inner Sphere and Clan dynamic, but any other aspect of the game and its systems where we determine baseline systems may favor one specific approach over its alternatives.
We look forward to your feedback on all of the above items when the PTS update arrives. That update is currently slated for Friday, February 24th. However, the update may arrive next week if more time is required. We’ll keep you posted if anything changes.
Thank you for reading MechWarriors, and thank you for playing. Keep the feedback coming.