S2Games have released Savage 2 version 1.7.0 a few days ago with a multitude of changes. Rather than just stating the changes we felt it might be more interesting if we discuss the major alterations to balance, the general opinions/consensus held by Newerth.com admins, Newerth.com forum members and S2Games forum members, with the aim of allowing us to reflect on the success of S2Games after market continued development of the game.
The first major change we will discuss is the removal of interrupt and the introduction of a block meter. This meter determines the strength and integrity of your block and depletes over time as you keep blocking and whenever you block an attack. We can only assume that the block meter has been implemented to stop people spamming block continuously but feel that currently blocking is ineffective, complicates melee and adds little to the overall melee system due to the changes made to charge and dodge which we will discuss and explain next.
Charge and Dodge both now use the charge meter and do not use stamina. We feel that this increases the gameplay's overall speed and means you spend vastly less time travelling from A to B. These changes also have repercussions on the melee system, where previously the momentum of your attack was affected by dodging and the relatively high recharge rate of charging, often leaving you unable to manoeuvre or tactically retreat from a battle. We hypothesise that this limited the scope of melee battles to head-on charges where the outcome related disproportionately towards how many units your team was fielding at any given time/place and not player skill. This probably left lots of new players feeling rather frustrated or bored, not wanting to continue to play the game and likely is one of the reasons behind the small number of people playing the game. To a certain degree these issues have been resolved with the changes but due to increased mobility of units, moving around a player blocking has become a lot easier and thus we feel limits its use. However, one possibly unforeseen advantage of the limited usefulness of block is that, if you exclude its use all altogether, learning to grasp Savage 2 melee has got a lot easier for beginners and therefore possibly more rewarding.
Another major alteration that has been made to the dynamics of the game, is the removal of the Maliken unit. We feel that the right decision has been made removing it which many people have commented on as being severely overpowered and having detrimental effect on how much new players enjoy the game.
S2Games has removed the Maliken unit from the game.
A few other minor changes worth commenting on that don't seem to be mentioned in the change log are the increased effectiveness of Behemoths akin to those of Savage 1, the increased rate at which gold seems to be earned and possibly a reduction in spawn time.
The latest patch has also seen the introduction of many new features such as: 4 new maps, a community and clan panel, in-game clan management and an IM style messaging system with player status notifications. For a full overview of changes see the Savage 2 change log here
One major issue we feel is still out standing and affecting the retention of players in Savage 2 is the stability of the game. More people than normal, on the S2 Support forum, seem to be reporting increased occurrences of the game crashing or worse, hanging your PC. We can only hope that the causes of this issue are swiftly dealt with and fixed.
So what is our overall verdict of the changes? Well we feel that it is worth picking up Savage 2 again to see what S2Games have achieved in the past few months, that they seem to be moving in the right direction, albeit slowly and still have far to go in perfecting the game. In general the update sees a reduction in player frustration, an increase in the pace of gameplay and a more entertaining and enjoyable experience.
As a side note it has also been reported by some users that Savage 2 is now free 2 play
and the time restrictions on demo accounts have been lifted. So if you haven't already bought the game, download it and enjoy an extended preview.Update (01/12/08):
S2Games have released a minor patch for Savage 2, version 1.7.1 that should help to overcome some stability issues with the game. Check the change log link above.