I understand why my main got nerfed, but the pain is real

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Nerfs kind of suck, right? We’ve all had something we love playing decimated by a nerf and I’ve finally come to realise just how many times patches have ruined my fun. I am all for games nerfing overpowered elements, that’s part of making things fair for everyone. But seeing a character you main get absolutely battered by a nerf because everyone suddenly realises how good they are is gaming’s most humbling equaliser. 

In short: Riot is about to implement a big nerf on the Valorant agent Chamber. In the PBE (public beta environment) there have been a plethora of nerfs tested and they’ll soon be on their way to the game. His teleport, ‘Rendezvous’, takes longer to come off cooldown, even more so if destroyed by the enemy. His trap, ‘Trademark’, doesn’t slow enemies for as long and has a smaller trigger radius. Chamber’s ultimate, ‘Tour De Force’ takes one more point to earn, and his pistol’s bullets, ‘Headhunter’, costs more in the buy phase. These changes make him expensive and less evasive, allowing more opportunities to flank and track him down. And this will raise the question of if he’s longer worth a spot in a competitive matches.

There is a lot of relief from non-Chamber mains, as almost every match at the moment comes with at least one French sniper, which suggests the character is overpowered and Riot is right to try and change that. At VCT Valorant Masters Stage 2, he was picked a mighty 77% of games. But as someone who plays Chamber a lot, it sucks to see the nerf on the horizon.  

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Am I just going through the seven stages of nerf grief

He may be overpowered but I don’t think I play him because he’s overpowered. I play him because his kit appeals to me as someone who mained Widowmaker in Overwatch. I’m not good enough that I dominate every game or plan teleports to safety after every shot. I just like shooting people from far away with a French accent. It’s a happy coincidence that he’s also the most powerful agent in the game at the moment.

Similarly, my other main Raze was overpowered at the beginning of the game’s life with two grenades and blast packs that did far too much damage to enemies. I didn’t play her because she was overpowered, I only played her because she and I look decently alike. That was it. I just thought she looked enough like me that I found it amusing to embody the character while bouncing around Bind. 

There is that common fear when seeing a main nerfed though, isn’t there? “Was I ever actually that good in these matches?” “Did I only like them because I instantly had some success with their abilities?” Did I only ever stick with Raze and Chamber because they always seemed like sensible picks to my team, and the wider community, or am I just going through the seven stages of nerf grief? 

(Image credit: Tyler C. / Blizzard)

Nerfs as old as time

I’m a Gold player that can now often find myself in match lobbies beating Platinums and even Diamonds on the scoreboard when I’m performing my best. I’m consistent in my performance, as I always at least contribute to a match even if I’m not top fragging and that’s enough for me. What I do know for certain is that the fear of having to polish up a new agent to the level I was playing Chamber at is an exhausting proposition. And suddenly I’ve had flashbacks to all the times this has happened before. 

It’s not just Valorant nerfs I’ve felt the effects of. I mentioned Overwatch’s Widowmaker, one of my longtime mains, and there’s nothing I like more than clicking a head while flinging myself through the air with a grapple hook. It took me a really long time to get good with her and eventually after many hours of practice I even got accused of cheating a time or two by enemies because of the flicks I pulled off.

Widowmaker eventually had a health nerf to make her easier to kill once you closed that distance and for a while, that felt like shit. Though still playable, now it was far easier to be countered by a Sombra running up behind you and shooting you in the head. As it should be. I guess.

(Image credit: Tyler C. / Blizzard)

Nerfs are an unavoidable part of multiplayer game development

Similarly I played a lot of D.Va as I liked her mobility and her pink mech suit (I liked Barbies as a kid too, what can I say?). She was cute and fun and made a big difference on the battlefield, especially when you were losing a defence and needed someone to stay on the objective or payload. She underwent a big nerf back in the day too where the Defense Matrix became a shadow of its former self. And suddenly players went from happy to see me pick a D.Va, to admonishing me because it wasn’t part of the current meta. I’m playing Arcade mode bro, leave me to have my fun.

Nerfs aren’t only present in hero shooters of course. I used to play a lot of Hearthstone and its nerfs and card buying cycle burned me out hard. I loved playing a version of Evolve Shaman once upon a time, and modified that deck to fit my needs. There were the times I played fun Hunter or Odd Paladin decks and had a blast with them for a short while before having to make an entire new deck because of nerfs or card removals. Odd Paladin had to go, but why take away my Evolve Shaman too Blizzard? Though perhaps a fun challenge at first, getting a deck to work for you in Hearthstone could take a lot of time, and frankly, money to get the cards necessary for a workable collection. 

Nerfs are an unavoidable part of multiplayer game development. Some things are just too powerful for the good of the game and removing and changing things is necessary. Nerfs can go too far and completely remove a character from feasible play, like Valorant’s Astra for a while, but thankfully these are rarer than suitable compromises. Nerfs are often for the good of a game’s community but gosh, it just sucks to have an expiry date on your own specific, overpowered, cheeky choice of fun. Oh well, at least I’m not going to go create a crypto currency off of the back of this. 

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