Crowd Control is a sensitive topic for each MMO in both PVP and PVE. Too much of it turns battlegrounds into frustrating fights in which you are chained to death and it weakens the role of healers and tanks in dungeons. Too little however invalidates a fun mechanic and certain builds, classes and powers.
Large parts of the original game up to Module 2 represent the first side of the imbalance. Control Wizards owned because of their great synergy of CC and DPS up to a point where full CW teams laughed at the Dracolich multiple times per hour. Over time the devs upped the Control Resistance and damage of stronger mobs to enforce the original trifecta of Tank, Heal and DPS and of course Tenacity would deal with the problem in PVP. With the raise of the level cap in Elemental Evil crowd control or DPS could no longer replace a tank in PVE because squishies couldn’t survive the initial hit to cast anything. Or any hit for that matter. And even if, mobs were hardly stunned long enough to offer an advantage for the group.
That and the ongoing powercreep slowly moved the game towards buff/debuff, DPS and one tank as most effective option. It’s not that I want Spellplague and its Repel-Mania or chain Singularities in CN to return, but announcing a cast sequence in chat was actually a true mechanic. A lopsided one in terms of class variety for sure, but fun and challenging for those involved. In PVP players are going for damage as well, although partly thanks to their desire to rather pwn people than being a strategic asset of the party.
So today you can safely say that crowd control has gotten a little bit too unimportant. And I don’t think you actually need to completely remove it from the game to make PVP more fun and PVE more challenging. If you want to make a certain role vital for content, all it needs is one situation where you either have that particular role filled or can’t succeed. If trash mobs wouldn’t hit as hard, you still needed to bring a tank because there’s no chance to survive boss fights. And if you want crowd control to matter, then you are going to need at least one situation that can’t be solved by a tank, a healer or DPS.
The Corruption of the Throne variant of Throne of the Dwarven Gods and Tiamat have a controlling element in it. You need to protect the Clerics. But Tiamat as we know has developed into a DPS zergfest and although the Underdark skirmish introduced aggro-immune mobs, they die too easily to matter and the run can’t fail anyway. Same applies to the Balguras that go directly for the portal or harper in Demonic Heroics.
I think it’s hard to introduce true control necessity in trash mobs, because it would make beating them a tad too annoying. All you could do is enhancing the convenience, but that’s nothing you scratch an additional DPS for. Like running into mobs using the Ambush Ring and fire off a CC (everybody can be a TR with Smoke Bomb nowadays!). It’s not really game-breaking because it essentially only grants the party first strike, but it’s not needed either because you’re probably getting bubbled anyway.
Boss fights are much better suited. You already have one uncontrollable mob that needs to be tanked and can therefore require the controller to handle certain adds. One possibility of an add that needs the group to carry a controller would be a Neverwinter version of the Headless Kamikaze of Serious Sam with a sufficient health pool. It shouldn’t be killable before it reaches a player and kaboom. At least one down, havoc, wipe. The only way to counter such a mob would be a strong controller to hold it up until it gets killed. Other possibilities include to prevent mobs from reaching certain places or the necessity to kill mobs at a certain place and moment. Ideally this mechanic would also not diminish with higher item levels or DPS.
For PVP it’s a little bit different. Tenacity was introduced because damage and crowd control had gotten through the roof and players were either controlled to death or generally died too quick by damage scaled for PVE content. And at least Domination already has a strong mechanic to make CC useful in pushing players off nodes or preventing them to get there to keep the score running for your team. So it’s more about finding ways to make CC viable without the ability to infinitely chain it. One thing that comes to mind are ICDs. You could think of a system in which the first CC ignores all sources of resistance (Tenacity, stats, powers, immunities and the Elven Battle Enchantment), while subsequent are gradually less effective within a certain timespan. You could go ahead and remove any CC effect starting with the 5th power or proc, which would as a nice side-effect also deal with the current HR perma-rooters. But this would probably just lead to players starting off their rotation with their strongest CC.
A better solution in my eyes is making CC an exclusive skill-shot. Stuns as reward of timing and counters are great, but this probably warrants a full review and rework of balancing and powers. But Neverwinter as an action MMO generally meets the requirements to set up such a system. You could grant CC to powers if used after an opposing dodge or sprint or encounter activation and whatnot.
Overall I think the devs have devalued crowd control in both PVE and PVP too much. Introducing clever mechanics and making CC dependent on timing would introduce viability and skill to crowd control abilities without breaking the game in either game mode.
What’s your take on Neverwinter and crowd control? Share your thoughts in the comments below or post to our message board!