Hey everyone, Liz here! I’ve finally settled into the office so I’ll be taking over the Dev Blogs from here on out. Chris may return as a guest, but from now on, I’m running the show! And I’ll begin the show with a blog written by Kohake on the backstab mechanic originally included in Patch 0.13.2.0 – the thought process behind it, the differences from Bloodline Champions, it’s strengths and weaknesses.
On a side note, remember today is the start of our Free Week, and that our Halloween Event is coming up soon as well!
Without further ado – Kohake on backstab:
So backstab is a mechanic we’ve considered ever since we started working on Battlerite. Before we get too deep into things, I want to make clear that while we intended on including backstab in the patch and will continue to test internally, there are no set-in-stone plans on its future. The idea of the mechanic comes from backstab in in Bloodline Champions, but has very little in common as your character’s direction in Battlerite is tied to your aim direction, not your movement direction.
Backstabs in Battlerite were intended to be more about flanking the enemy and/or hitting them in the back with a surprise attack (such as long ranged snipes or attacking from invisibility). They also were to make it harder to ignore some players while chasing down a specific target (ignoring Pearl to chase down Jumong for example).
Backstabs added another element of skill to surprise attacks, as player with better awareness and prediction will be better at responding to them. Surrounded players would be forced to make split second decisions prioritizing what Champions to face towards. This also creates a new design space for prediction-based guessing games with abilities like like Ruh Kaan’s Sinister Strike (space), which can often be aimed to land behind or in front of your enemy.
Flanking would be a new element to strategical choices. For example, players who dive past the enemy’s frontline expose themselves to backstabs, but in turning around to punish opponents you’d expose yourself to the enemy team. Diving even further through the team would allow you to flank them without getting surrounded but puts you far away from your allies.
There are plenty more things to talk about – like fears forcing enemies to expose their back – but let’s move on to the topic that has spurred the most discussion. Specifically, how this would buff playstyles that combo disables and burst damage.
While it’s true that some characters have more potent burst follow-ups (Shifu’s Whirling Blade into Impale comes to mind), most Champions would rarely get a backstab in even with 2-4 seconds of disables because of how long it takes to get around the target. If you’re in a close position, it’s easier, but for ranged champions it would mean they give up their position (and maybe even blow a cooldown) to get behind the opponent. Most of the time you wouldn’t because it’s not worth it.
The effects of 20% backstab damage on burst combos from three Champions is actually smaller than you would expect. It is highly unlikely that all three Champions will be behind the target. The most likely scenario is that only one will be in the right position, and thus the net total damage done by the group will be increase by about 7%, rather than 20%
Now, I’m not trying to say that backstab as a whole wouldn’t have a big impact on Battlerite. It probably would. But it’s the kind of impact that we would discover through the slow process of exploring different metagames. We experimented with it internally but knew we couldn’t have an accurate idea of the full impact of backstabs until we’ve saw it in action.
Because we included this without any other big changes or announcement it appeared to a lot of players as an untested mechanic that was thoughtlessly added. While that is not the case, it’s true that such a change would have a negative impact on the balance until we’ve worked out the details of the new meta that would emerge. This is why we decided to hold off on backstabs while we decide how to proceed. We will do more testing internally and perhaps add it in a more limited way in the future.