Valve are working on releasing a big old house cleaning patch for Team Fortress 2. They’ve already said how they’ll be tweaking maps to take care of exploits introduced by features added to the game since the maps’ original release. They’ve now opened up on how weapons are to be rebalanced and item sets are to be stripped of their bonuses.
“To start with, let’s look at the “banner” items for the Soldier,” write Valve in the blog post on the changes. “The most popular of these by far is The Buff Banner, which provides an offensive buff enabling nearby teammates to do additional burst damage. Conversely, The Battalion’s Backup, another Soldier “banner” item, is barely ever equipped. The Backup’s owner-equip rate is well below what we’d consider healthy, with less than 15% of players who own it ever equipping it. If this data wasn’t enough, the feedback we’ve gotten from the Backup’s owners easily corroborates the lack of interest.
“Clearly, we needed to bring The Battalion’s Backup up to parity with the usefulness of The Buff Banner. Previously, The Battalion’s Backup rewarded players for taking additional damage, making it a frustratingly high-risk item. We found that most Soldiers would die well before they were able to build a full charge. When the next update ships, The Battalion’s Backup builds up its charge by dealing damage rather than receiving it and provides additional damage resistance while active.”
Valve have used data in this way across the board to determine which items are overpowered and which are underpowered.
The biggest across the board changes is happening with item sets, namely Valve are scrapping them: “they limited player choice, making players feel like they would be underpowered if not wearing the complete set,” the post explains. “[Also,] it was a balancing nightmare. An individual item that might be balanced as part of a set could feel underpowered (or overpowered) on its own.
“One of the main goals of introducing a new weapon is to give players more choices that will help them explore the game in fun new ways. Set bonuses had the opposite effect, making many players feel constrained in their choices.”
Valve’s way of solving this problem is to move the set bonuses to single items within the set and imbuing new, non-game breaking set bonuses, to those who equip all the items of the same theme.
There’s still no word on exactly when this new update will come out.