I spent a good month or so personally parroting lots of feedback to get the Throwing Hatchet reworked properly, so the stealth nerfs are a real point of conflict for me.
On one hand, it was really exciting to see the under-utilized skill tree come into it’s own niche with really good damage output and reworked mechanics so that Aimed Throw can function.
On the other though… there were some concerns about Throwing Hatchet going life in the state that it was in during PTR.
Let me explain:
After some testing today (120% wep damage) Infected Throw was head shotting target dummies with no other debuffs for around 2400-2500 dmg while I was playing in Heavy Armor and had no other debuffs applied to it other than what Infected Throw applied. It’s only against a target dummy of course, but when considering other damage multipliers like Light/Medium armor, the re-worked Rending Throw perk, Hurdling Force passive, the now buffed Persistent Hindrance, and stuff like Slashing dmg increase gems, Throwing Hatchet’s damage output was starting to look insanely high without ever needing to really used Aimed Throws to enable or support the abilities.
Before the nerf when Infected Throw was hitting for 165% weapon damage, just the Rending Throw perk alone would get that up to almost 200% weapon damage. Add on 10% from Medium Armor, 6% (two debuff average) from Persistent Hindrance, 10% (medium range average) from Hurdling Force, and you have an ability that applies Weaken, Disease, AND Exhaustion hitting for around 210% - 220% weapon damage. Infected Throw should be incredibly strong, but maybe something with that much utility hitting as hard as Sticky Bomb isn’t okay.
The real culprit (excluding Infected Throw) that led to us getting these nerfs is likely tied to this point I alluded to earlier though.
Throwing Hatchet’s damage output was starting to look insanely high without ever needing to really used Aimed Throws to enable or support the abilities.
With how high the damage multipliers were prior to the changes, lots of people were only using the Throwing Hatchet abilities as something to cycle though; they’d swap to hatchet, throw all their abilities out, and swap back to whatever their main weapon was. Reason being, is that if they landed 2/3 for any of them, it was usually enough to get the job done and still keep pressure up without doing a lot of thinking or aiming.
Take a moment to look at the other passives upgrades in the Throwing tree: almost all of them have some kind of interaction with Aimed Throws, something to benefit or reward you for landing them, and to be used in JUNCTION with the abilities. Having really high damage multipliers casts a shadow over Aimed Throw when you’re directly comparing the viability of cycling all your abilities VS using them spaced out and weaving normal throws in comparison, because it’ll almost always be better to just ability dump cycle and then swap back to your other weapon and keep rolling.
I can’t speak for certain on what their design intentions of the weapon are, but looking at how low the damage multipliers are for the abilities on Live are, how the stamina passives function, and the very clear focus on having stamina advantages over your target, it seemed like the intention was a medium-damage, medium-to-high weapon that focuses on the consistency of landing attacks while juggling stamina over your opponent to win, instead of outright bursting them down.
The TL;DR version of it is, I think the nerfs are being implemented because the consistency of Throwing Hatchets went up. Our movement speed while aiming was almost doubled, the speed of the projectile went up, it’s hit boxes were made more accurate to the aiming crosshair, Infected Throw’s animation speed is close to 3x it’s original speed on Live, Social Distancing was given more utility, a stagger, a root, and CDR bonuses with it’s new perk, and damage bonuses are far more common with the skill than they used to be.
It was upsetting a little bit at first, but when you consider how much more mechanically smooth Throwing Hatchet functions now, having lower damage numbers means that more priority is shifted on to the Aimed Throws themselves as a mechanic to continue enabling the other elements of the skill tree, perhaps like they originally intended.
The main benefits of the changes I could think of are:
Increased build diversity - Prior to the changes, the majority of players would definitely consider Infected Throw a must-pick to the point of ruling out other options. Now it’s something people can debate about if it’s worth picking to them over other abilities
Higher skill floor - The average player will need to put more effort in, or be a better player in general to fully utilize how Throwing Hatchet functions, and keeps the weapon firmly locked into a “you have to try with this” type mindset VS picking up Bow and ending up in the top 10 of OPR your first week of playing
Tempers excess saturation - Hatchet before the rework, even it’s melee side, is kind of a niche pick most of the time. Loads of people are going to be trying out the new changes when PTR goes live, and that means meta chasers galore trying out the HOT NEW CRAZY (gone wild XXX) super powerful weapon that’s available; keeping damage multipliers lower means that a high skill cap (not the same as skill floor) play style is semi-enforced and means that it’s only going to truly shine in the hands of niche, above average, or skilled players while still retaining it’s previous role in the weapon meta, but being far more mechanically functional than Live servers hatchet
Room to grow - It’s disheartening to see nerfs to something that I’m hyped out of my gourd for, but generally speaking I’d rather see weapons that need overhauls landing on the weaker side of an update instead of overpowered; if something needs improvement, it can always be buffed in reasonable increments to a healthy level, instead of being overly nerfed as a knee jerk reaction to negative feedback, which over all means more time spent playing a healthy version of the weapon in the long run
I’m still mixed about the changes some, but there are reasons behind why they might be changing those damage values.
My guesses in regards to the melee passive changes are that they want to lower some of the values since Throwing is far more accessible now as an accessory to the Berserker Hatchet tree (increasing the duration of Relentless Fury reeks of that) and could actually be used in between melee attacks / with melee attack damage modifiers and they don’t want those combinations to be too strong, since players could actually weave in and out of melee and ranged attacks smoothly now.
Give Berserker it’s own entire balancing pass look over to consider elements of it’s design for underused passives, like the DoT cleanse, and CDR when below 30% hp. It’s in a more solid state than Throwing on live, but has very limited build diversity.
Increase the damage scaling of Throwing’s capstone, Persistent Hindrance so that its 4% per stack, or 6% per stack. This would keep the nerfs from the other abilities not feel so bad, while keeping conditional requirements
Consider adding some form of damage over time effect into the tree, in the form of a short, low or medium strength bleed. This would allow for more mechanical value out of the skill tree’s passives in a self contained way, without requiring other effects like Keenly Jagged.
Gonna keep mulling over the changes and considering ideas though. AGS has better developers than we like to think sometimes, and almost always have a reason for what they’re doing. Worst case scenario with these changes means we don’t have to deal with BowPR 2.0: Throwing Edition.
@Aenwyn @Luxendra @Shadow_Fox @Kay @o-o
We got feedback happening in here!