Mercs – How Do They Work? – Part II

September 17, 2014

This is the second of a two part article looking at Mercs, and why they’re one of the cornerstones of Dirty Bomb. If you haven’t read Part I, you can do so here.

Meet Dirty Bomb’s Mercenaries (or Mercs for short) – the living, breathing (often bleeding) embodiments of competitive, fun multiplayer gaming. They come from all over the world, from every kind of background, united by an unquenchable thirst for cold hard cash. They’re the very best at what they do, and what they do involves reaping riches for shooting lead and obtaining objectives. They each have a unique trick up their sleeve, a special combat ability that marks them out from the common herd.

The Evolution of a Merc:

As they’re an integral part of Dirty Bomb, its Mercs are an element that will continue to grow and evolve alongside the game during beta and beyond. Thanks to a combination of community feedback and gameplay data, we can compare and contrast match data and player feedback; and incorporate the resulting key points into our own plans for the future of Dirty Bomb’s Mercs.

Merc popularity and usage is the usual starting point when it comes to identifying which Mercs need the most love. We then go about conducting internal reviews of the character to identify what can be done to make them even more of a blast to play; while ensuring that they remain balanced. The process continues with a few flexible plans in mind, and a look at feedback from the forums, focus tests and internal playtests to see what all of the wonderful players around the world think of that Merc. Typically we work on improving the feedback, usability, player-mastery and effectiveness of Merc abilities but occasionally we also rework the Merc and their various elements to better suit their intended role.

Explosive Bundles of Fun:

The ultimate goal with our Mercs is to make explosive bundles of fun that inspire players to poke, prod and push at the boundaries of their own comfort zones. By doing this, we hope to encourage everyone to increase their knowledge of each Merc, and ultimately, their mastery over Dirty Bomb as a whole.

For those Mercs who do need either a pat on the back, or a more extensive overhaul; we’ll be working to improve their distinctive qualities by increasing the emphasis on their abilities and pushing different combat styles beyond the standard tracking-aim. We’ll be making abilities stand-out more, be bigger, louder and more vibrant, while also increasing their effectiveness in some cases and reworking their mechanics in others. As CB testers may have noticed, some Mercs have been removed from closed testing in order to allow us to take the necessary time to bring them up to the level of the current selection.

As for new Mercs? We will of course continue to introduce never before seen soldiers for hire to Dirty Bomb. With those Mercs, we plan to introduce a few of the more unique abilities and combat styles. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, we’ve got to get the first batch of Mercs into more hands first!

Finally we will continue to work to improve the balance of our Mercs as Dirty Bomb evolves. We’re constantly monitoring community feedback and Echo data surrounding specific elements such as ability effectiveness, Merc life expectancies, weapon damage and kill data. As we move forward with more controlled, skill-based, matchmaking game modes; we can start using data like win-percentage and pick rates much more effectively to balance each Mercs as a whole.

Our aim will always be to ensure that every Merc has their own place in the constantly evolving Dirty Bomb universe, especially when it comes to the competitive environment. That not only includes balance, but also ensuring that they each fill a role, are distinct in their own right, and most importantly, that every Merc is a ton of fun to play!

Let us know what you think of the Mercs in the comments below. What do you think of a constantly evolving roster of Mercs? Is there anything in particularly that you want to know about them?

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