Balancing around PvP and CW

For those of you too lazy to read, I've Bolded the key points.

So let me start off with a introduction/disclaimer.

This post is the product me of constantly bickering with Discordians about how the game should be balanced.

I keep saying that the game should be balanced around PvP, but certain CW elitists keep saying that the game should be balanced around CW because that's the only game mode that matters because, y'know, more people play CW than PvP /s.

So admittedly this weird non-essay will be biased against balancing around CW instead of PvP.

We are not going to talk about balancing around PvE.

Also, disclaimer: I am not a competitive player. I have never really been into ranked game modes, and I have never been in an E-Sports team. Consider this as balancing as seen from the perspective of a casual player who has been playing games for over 20 years.

Balancing around PvP

PvP is a game mode where 2 teams, typically of randoms, atypically with parties, battle to the death or until an objective is completed.

While there are no hard PowerScore (PS) brackets in Crossout, the matchmaking system in Crossout does its best to create matches where the players are close to each other in PS.

Sometimes this doesn't quite work out. For example, a 10k PS player could form a party with a 6k PS friend and throw off the entire matchmaking algorithm. Or the general lack of players available could force the matchmaker to grab a player with a PS outside of the PS (bracket).

Balancing around PvP would mean that any part (module/chassis/weapon) used by players within a particular PS bracket should be as effective as any other part within that PS bracket, while still allowing for a level of effectiveness if fighting someone of a slightly higher PS.

To simplify things, lets consider all items of each rarity as its own tier/bracket. Balancing around PvP would mean that a build fully decked out in Special parts would be as effective as any other build using different Special parts.

A build using only Rare parts would have a hard time fighting a Special build, it would still be possible for them to win. Similarly an Epic could be defeated by a Special build.

However, a Rare build should not be able to defeat an Epic build under typical conditions. After all, in PvP, these two builds should never meet in a fight.

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Fair and logical. Easy to understand and explain, which is why I put this section first.

Balancing around PvP would allow each player to use builds they enjoy playing, while still alowing for particularly skilled players with well thought out builds to carry the game.

Please note that the above statements are made without taking into account builds that counter other builds, or particularly terrible builds.

Balancing around CW (as commonly perceived)

CW is a game mode where two premade teams of 4 fight to the death or to capture the other team's base. This also means that maps with neutral/3 objectives are not use in this game mode (fuck you Crater).

Other than the obvious difference of 4v4 against 8v8, CW differs from PvP in 2 major ways.

The first difference between PvP and CW, is that while CW is divided into ranks (Silver, Gold, etc), CW is an Open PowerScore game mode where 12k (average) PS teams fighting 17k (average) PS teams isn't uncommon.

If we use the balancing system as commonly proposed by players of "buff if they underperformed and nerf if they were too broken", it would mean that said 12k PS team would have a Relative Combat Power (RCP) equal to said 17k PS team.

If the PvP balancing system is followed, the ranking system would eventually filter out these teams into brackets, with teams that have particularly skilled players/good builds fighting above the rank their PS scores would suggest. This apparently upsets CW players for varying reasons that I cannot claim to fully understand.

If following the system of "buff if bad, nerf if good", you would have teams of varying PowerScores in each rank, since all parts are equally viable. Players with extremely open wallets or have grinded countless hours for Relic items would have builds as powerful as players who have played for 1~2 months.

You can see how this would be dissatisfying to the average player, to find out that their progression is meaningless beyond the prestige of owning higher tier equipment.

(Let's ignore the fact that the minimum PS required for CW is 6k, since I doubt anyone in their right mind would suggest that a build should be able to defeat another build that's 2~3 times their PS.)

The second difference is the matter of teamwork and communication.

Of note is that since PvP consists of two teams of randoms, there is usually a distinct lack of communication, teamwork, and a general willingness to help each other out. The average PvP player is oft despised by CW players as different variations of "washing machine brains" due to their general lack of skill.


Meanwhile in CW players are often in Voice Chat, or at the very least they have a coherent plan/strategy going in, and are willing to work together and cover each other's backsides.

What this implies is that PvP can be said to operate under Lanchester's Linear Law, while CW can be said to operate under Lanchester's Square Law.

This is not a precise comparison, but I find it apt enough.

Without going too deeply, Lanchester's Linear Law dictates that the Relative Combat Power (RCP) of an incoherent team (two groups of people shooting randomly into each other) is simply equal to the sum of the strength of all it's members. Two group of 8 equally strong players shooting each other would result in a draw. If one group has a player who disconnected, the other team would win with player remaining.

This also means that if there was a particularly good player in one of the teams, that team would win, but barely. This matches the mindset of many players of "carry or lose" in PvP matches.

Meanwhile, Lanchester's Square Law dictates that the RCP of a coherent team (a team that works together) is equal to the square of the sum of the strength of its members.

What this implies is that any advantage or disadvantage a team has is exaggerated in CW.

This is the reason why KTM builds in PvP would merely be 'strong', but a KTM team in CW can be downright overwhelming.

Balance-wise, this is a double-edged sword. Under Lanchester's Square Law, any overperforming build is easier to spot, as the difference is exaggerated. However, since the difference is exaggerated, it is also easy to over-buff/nerf when balancing.

Note also that this is only when looking at the builds. The effect of things like player skill level, fused parts and counter-builds are also exaggerated in CW.

For example, a build that counters the current meta would steamroll in CW, which can be perceived as the build being "overperforming". Or a clan that uses a less effective build but has particularly good players can cause a typically underperforming build to seem as effective as any other build.

Again, I must re-iterate that I am not a competitive player, the above statements are conjectures made based on general video game experience and observations rather than actual ranked experience.

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Balancing around Competitive Play (CW) (as is actually practiced)

While the above 2 modes of balancing works on the game being actually balanced, this is not how competitive games are balanced in actuality.

In fact, for competitive games, it's better to be intentionally unbalanced.

Game devs would artificially create metas, and then intentionally shake up the meta next season by introducing something new or by buffing/nerfing something.

This makes the game more interesting by forcing players to find new builds to chase the meta, and prevent the game from getting stale for both players and the audience.

Have you ever wondered why devs sometimes take ages to buff/nerf something? This is one of the reasons why. (Also, because money. I'm on to you Gaijin. Don't think I didn't notice you only nerf Kapkans after making a shitload of money off of them and Argus)

Granted, not all competitive games do this. Some games don't really have metas or have really stable metas.

This is particularly obvious in MOBAS and Hero Shooters.

Yes, I realize Crossout is neither of those things, but then again there's not a lot of games like Crossout to begin with.

Final thoughts

As mentioned earlier, I am an advocate of balancing around PvP, primarily because it's the game mode most people play.

I also feel like trying to balance the game around CW is a pointless endeavor, since players who are actually competitive would always be using the most meta builds anyway, regardless of how balanced the game is.

Peace, love each other, and stop throwing salt around.



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