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Nerfs in a PVE game

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Hook, line and sinker. I’m caught. I’ll bite.

Ive seen people complain about builds and weapons but why if you dont like it don’t use it.
Simplistic argument first, if you don’t like a nerf then just drop the chaos level. Gun power restored! Don’t like the tankiness of OP8? Don’t use it.

Argument sounds annoying doesn’t it?

However considering if your fun is coming from using x gun to kill y enemy in z seconds, then what does the OP/Mayhem/Chaos level matter? Playing solo or with a group of friends these systems allow you to find that balance for yourself.

But Pris, my Sandhawk kills enemies 10x faster than my friends Hellfire, so we can’t play at OP1. Well, if the game was properly balanced, this wouldn’t be an issue.

But this nerf centered balancing killed Borderlands 3 for me

Tangent, nerf centric? Count nerfs and buffs. BL3 and Wonderlands are factually buff centric games in how they are balanced. [Here’s a Bl3 count, you can manually count Wonderlands if you want.]
However neither a nerf or a buff is inherently good or bad for balance.
I’ll get to it after this, but BL3 was ruined for me and many friends by its buffs and not its nerfs.
Nerfs rile people up because their build loses a second or two in time to kill, but buffs are also a form of balancing and despite the popular misconception are also GBX’s preferred balance method.

So why balance a PVE game?

– A balanced game has more gear options. By the very nature of how we defined balance the better balanced games get more options.
– Confidence in balancing encourages experimentation. If you know items are well balanced, you are more likely to use any item you pick up. There is a confidence that it will be good, or it can be made to be good.
– Balance allows room for nuanced discussion and min maxers to have fun trying for the “best x” however it also ensures a new player with no knowledge can throw items together that appear to have synergy and still find a level of decent performance.
– This touches on the floor and ceiling of player power. Keeping the margin between these small allows nerfs to reduce the ceiling for player power without harming the lower margins of player power. Ever 1 tap a boss in BL3? Some have, many haven’t. Okay ever 1 tap a boss at Mayhem 10/11? I’m sure many have. How about a mayhem 10 boss with a level 1 weapon? I have.
A level 1 weapon would gain a multiplier of 1075x to its damage if I used an on level version. Yet I used the lower level because I can.
Can you nerf me without really badly affecting that group of players who never 1 tapped a boss? No, the floor and ceiling are so far apart everyone is affected. Yet once I can do that the entire game is boring so I’ll stop playing.
– Balance doesn’t stop you killing x enemy in y seconds, a well balanced game just determines how many guns can do the same thing. If nerfs are slowing down your time to kill, but there are a lot of weapons who still kill at a similar rate as the fastest killer. Thats not a gun balance issue, thats a difficulty issue. At which point take it up with the devs and player base why a slow TTK is fun ruining.

Lets talk player satisfaction. Have you ever toiled with dozens of combos trying to get something to work, then bingo you get the correct sequence and everything works, it feels amazing. Listen to a Remnant/Dark Souls/Elden Ring player talk about beating a challenging boss, talk to a theorycrafter who just made a build. Ask a singer who just hit a high note.
Do you know what kills the entire sense of satisfaction and pleasure in that moment?
Someone walking in and asking why you didn’t just use the win button, haha game easy. You just wasted your time trying to do something difficult.
That is what adding Buffmeister does to Wonderlands builds, that is what removing difficulty from souls likes does and that is why a singer gets no satisfaction because they had to use Auto-tune to get that high note.<sup>1</sup>
Why even try? The game plays itself when badly balanced. Look around at the people who made Bl3 resources, ask how many of them own WL’s and then ask why those that don’t didn’t buy it.
Uncontrolled player power kills fun and satisfaction.

Remember that stupid argument I made at the beginning? Why don’t you just not play Chaos 20 if that nerf hurt? Think on it, I’m fairly certain you’ll reject my idea because that is just not satisfying, there isn’t fun to it.

Well the script goes both ways, buffs without nerfs kill player satisfaction as readily as bad balance.

I’ll draw this to a close, but there are unanswered problems here too. GBX has an approach to balancing that is doomed to be a herculean task regardless of how talented the team is. Thats a task of their own making. However this thread isn’t about the quality of Gearbox’s nerfs, its just about their mere existence.

*Editors note: Friendly musician says my metaphor here is off. They can’t describe why though, guess I shouldn’t meddle with what I don’t understand.*

Love a concerned player 🙂

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