You probably heard with the winter update that Gearbox Software is changing up the multiplayer game type Meltdown. The development team over at Gearbox Software have been looking over all the stats and feedback. And while a lot of player like this game mode the way that it is, there is a reason why Gearbox is changing things up. Even the creative director mentioned that he had to be convinced that these changes were for the greater good. While being skeptical at first he now understands why these changes are necessary. But why did Gearbox decide to change up this game type that you and I got to fall in love over the course of time? I got my first hands-on experience with the CTT and later during a play session at the 2K Office here in Holland. Then we got the Open Beta and now the game has been released for some time.
In the early days of Meltdown there was a big snowball effect with this game type. Teams that got the early lead were more likely to win because of the advantage they gained in the beginning of the match. Getting that early XP and healing station in the center let your team dominate the match. Over time this got somewhat balanced because Gearbox changed a number of things to provide equal opportunities. Healing stations and turrets got moves or replaced, minions got stronger, and Player kills gave less XP because this wasn’t the core objective of this PvP Mode. Over course of time Meltdown got polished to be a more fun game mode for everyone. Now Gearbox is taking these adjustments a step further. But before I go into why they are changing things up let us talk about what they are actually changing.
BE REBORN WITH UPGRAAAAAAADES – MINREC
Meltdown Finale Changes
Meltdown will be renamed to Meltdown Finale as this game type will now have a second stage that serves as the finale of the match. The second stage will be triggered after you complete the first segment which is a regular match of Meltdown. However, the required score is lowered from 500 points to 300 points. Your grinders will still relocate after reaching the score’s halfway point, in this case, 150 points. If one of the teams reaches the 300 mark or if the time limit of 20 minutes is reached the final sequence will be triggered. The team that achieved this will still have the lead and will get an advantage in this second stage of the match. In this phase, there will no longer spawn waves of little minions for both teams, but there will be spawning Ultra Minions. These are even bigger and more powerful minions than the giant minions you can purchase during the match. During the first wave of this finale, the team that has the lead will get the Ultra Minion spawn. They will get 1 Ultra Minion in each lane and have to guide one of them to a grinder to secure the victory. The other team won’t have any Ultra Minions for this first wave and have to fight off the Ultra Minions of the opposing team in order to stay in the game. On the second wave, there will spawn Ultra Minions for both teams. The team that had the lead will still be having an advantage as that team will be getting stronger Ultra Minions. If both teams are not successful in escorting an Ultra Minion too it’s goal a new wave will commence with stronger bots. The power of each team’s Ultra Minion is indicated on the top of the screen highlighting the Ultra Minions version number 1.0 – 2.0 – 3.0 – 4.0 and so on. The team that is able to push their Ultra Minion into the grinder wins.
Why Meltdown is being changed
Now that you have a better picture of the changes lets go over several of the reasons why Gearbox is making these changes to Meltdown. First off their decisions are supported by the data they have gathered from all of our play sessions. A few developers have even been providing additional information at the GBX Forums in response to some player concerns. So here are some explanations why these changes improve this PvP Mode.
Remove Snowball effect
These changes should enhance the ability for a late game comeback, which was something that was possible in the previous version of Meltdown (Classic), but it was not common due to the snowball effect. Most often the first team to pull ahead is able to keep that lead through the end of the game. Now with Meltdown Finale the team that does well in the first phase are still getting a lead in the second phase of the match, but the losing team still has a fighting chance.
Give room to more strategies
These changes should help to de-emphasize the superiority of wave clearing as the key (sometimes regarded as ‘only’) strategy to winning Meltdown maps. Meltdown Finale should offer more options in strategy and in team composition that could result in victory. The first phase plays exactly like traditional Meltdown with emphasizing good lane play, minion clearing, and zone control to get groups of minions into the grinders. This should feel mostly unchanged to previous Meltdown fans. The Finale Phase, however, switches waves of minions for bigger, beefier targets. A defense/support team who lost the opening phase could still do exceptionally well in the Finale Phase, and (in fact) could intentionally create team comps and loadout sets for pulling off the Finale win. Grant did mention in the live stream that it is possible to tank up in the first phase and win in the second phase of the match, however, he addressed this on the forums that this is very hard to pull off.
Heightened adrenaline rush
Meltdown: Finale creates more drama and tension for the ending of the game. This heightened adrenaline rush could make Meltdown more enjoyable to watch as an e-sports game or a twitch broadcast. Classic Meltdown could end with a single, damaged minion stumbling through the gate far away from where most of the players were fighting, and then a sudden Victory or Loss screen. With the Finale it gives you large focus points (the Ultra Minions), which should both motivate more coordinated areas of conflict as well as different strategies (attack or defense) during those waves.
Attract and retain more players
A little while ago the Creative Director posted a comment mentioning that they need to look at ways how to get more player to Battleborn, but also ways how to keep them playing the game. Gearbox is making an attempt to reduce the frequency that the match goes to 30 minutes. They have done quite a bit of testing and research on this over the life of Battleborn’s development. It’s known that competitive FPS matches that pass the 30 minutes mark suffer dramatically from increased fatigue. That is the reason why Gearbox has always hard-capped the match there so it doesn’t become a drag. The 20 minutes mark has always been their general target. However, based on what they have seen in the match times is that people leave Meltdown, this is why they want to try and speed up the experience a bit and see if this picks up the intensity of the mode. Making it not only accessible to all types of players but also keeping it interesting for more players. There were lots of core issues that cropped up since Battleborn’s release, things that Gearbox didn’t anticipate on such as games going to time with teams stalemating around 300-400 points. Lots of games devolved into team deathmatch or worse, base camping, and players stopped playing the mode. They knew that by changing numbers such as Minion Health/Damage, Player AoE damage, and other mechanisms that this would only affect the outcomes in minor ways. Hopefully, these changes will result in more finished matches, keeping players in the game, and make Meltdown Finale a more enjoyable mode for everyone.
95% of Meltdown is still intact in Meltdown: Finale. The only change is the victory condition. For the first 20 minutes or up until 300 points, Meltdown: Finale is exactly Meltdown. Once the Finale activates, you’ll experience the same if not heightened adrenaline rush that the last wave of original Meltdown gives when both teams are close to victory. Grant K. – GBX Game Designer