While many of us are busy over the holidays plugging away at our backlog of single-player games we didn’t make time for in the last few months, others are no doubt returning to multiplayer games they’ve put on the backburner. But, if you’ve been away from popular character-based multiplayer titles for a while, you’ll probably notice a few changes. In competitive shooters like Titanfall, Battlefield, or Call of Duty, you may be saddened at the decrease in power to a gun or tool, but having your character changed means something more personal.
Now, calm down. The changes aren’t as big as they seem. This is still the game you love, and it will continue being that game for years to come, hopefully. That said, it’s understandable to have some emotions when a game you’ve treated as an Old Faithful is suddenly different. It can be scary to comb through patch notes and have a swarm of different, conflicting feelings about the +5% increase in motion animation ascension.
But don’t worry! I’ve developed a quick guide to how to feel about things. After mining various forums, threads, and social media reactions to when big patches to multiplayer games dropped, I’ve assembled the five only acceptable ways you should feel about what’s happened to your favorite game.
They’ve Ruined My Character
You were so used to it. The way you’d melt tank characters as McCree in Overwatch with his Fan the Hammer skill when you first played the game in May, or had your Ryu combos down in Street Fighter V up until a week ago. Even though people told you your character was among the best in the game, you chalked up your high kill/death ratio to your own personal skill anyway. You’d built a bond with an inanimate amalgamation of code and assets (it’s 2016. Who hasn’t, right?). And now you see these dreaded patch notes addressing your character’s strengths, and you feel like it’s the end of an era. What are you going to do now that your character isn’t the overpowered jack-of-all-trades they used to be?
This is a perfectly fine reaction to have. With what was likely one of the most powerful tools in your character’s arsenal taken away, you’re worried your character has entered the dreaded “bad” territory. However, it’s likely your character is still perfectly capable of doing what you need them to do. It’s just going to be a bit more difficult, so you’re going to have to try a bit harder. Are you prepared to do that? If yes, great! If not, you’re probably better off jumping ship to whatever character everyone says is too good now. You’ll have more fun that way.
I Don’t Need To Adapt
Most of the time, the nerf your character gets isn’t that bad. If your character received major reduction in power across the board, it was with good reason, and you’ll have to deal with it. Sometimes, though, if you played Sniper in Dota 2’s 6.83 for example, the nerf was bad. As in, astronomical. As in, “I mean, I knew the character was too strong, but yeesh.” You read people referencing that The Wizard of Oz song a lot. Lots of sentences in all-caps from people who are overjoyed. And they’re talking about your character.
But, since you play that character a ton, you think to yourself, “I don’t see the big deal. This character is still really strong, and I’m going to keep playing them the same way I have been.” That’s perfectly fine! But then you see your winrate tank. Your old setups don’t work anymore, but the muscle memory is still there so you try to string together two moves that don’t combo anymore, or feel safe because skills that used to guarantee your safety aren’t as effective as they used to be. What is this character supposed to do now?
You have two answers: stop playing that character and learn a new one, or pray there’s a new patch that belatedly address what you already know: this character is bad now, and they need to be buffed.
My Opponent’s Character Is Still Too Good
In many major patches, it’s likely that your favorite character wasn’t the only one who got a major downgrade. Sweeping changes can affect everyone, and some slight changes can have a cascading effects that change other characters as well. Then you see the notes and find that one character seems to have gotten away unscathed. They got an upgrade, actually, and while you’re trying to figure out what to do with yourself, everyone else is rejoicing.
It’s going to seem unfair, and it can feel that way even when nothing’s happened to your own character. It’s just, you were expecting something for your character, some bone thrown your way, and you got nothing. And meanwhile D.VA gets 100 more health, faster movement speed while firing a huge buff to here ultimate, and she can still active the stupid bomb on her mech even after it runs out of health and starts malfunctioning? How does that even work?
Anyway, you’re going to have to accept it. Many of these changes are born from large amounts of empirical data, and while anecdotally they may have seemed strong before, they needed an extra boost in power to get them where they needed to be, strength-wise. Unless it’s D.Va. I hope they nerf her.
This Whole Game Is Broken Now And Will Never Be Good Again
When games get updates as Dota 2 or Street Fighter V got earlier this month, there’s bound to be a few hitches along the way. Adding in new features, interfaces, characters, and environments can muck with the current code bases and introduced performance hitches and other small bugs. And while you’re experiencing them, it might seem like they’re not going to get fixed, that the game is now utterly and irrevocably broken, and that the dark age has come in which any semblance of the game being fun or worthwhile is gone, and that 1000 years of the kill-to-death score being moved from one side of the screen to the other will reign upon us.
Again, it’s understandable to think that developers don’t see the deluge of complaints about these issues and will do nothing to resolve them. But keep in mind that sometimes, they do. It’s all you really have to cling to in these terrible times.
When’s The Next Patch?
As Seismic as some of 2016’s biggest patches have been, they can be a bit of a let down if you only ever play one character for hours on end and nothing big or important has changed for them. When this happens, it’s tempting to think, “Forget it, this patch is dumb, boring, and I’ve already digested every possible dynamic these changes will mean for the game. I don’t want to spend anymore time on it and the people who make this game should just make a new one to satiate me.”
A reasonable reaction, of course. But keep in mind that we exist within the inevitable but slow grind of time, and that developers need this precious time implement new changes after the changes they were working on earlier released not literally a week ago. So give it time! In a few months, you’ll have a brand-new set of changes to complain about.