BP Dev Log: 0.13.0 Balancing Act Patch

Hello, this is Dongsoo Oh, Creative Director of Blackout Protocol.

In our last devlog, we shared an update about major changes to our roadmap, to prioritize improvements relating to core gameplay and first-time player experience. If you haven’t seen that yet, you can read it here.

The volume and scope of changes in patch 0.13 is fairly extensive, so I won’t go into all the details here. If you’re curious, I encourage you to read the full patch notes. But here’s a general overview:

  • Main Updates
    • Improvements to first-time player experience and early levels.
    • Improvements to general controls and playability, with an emphasis on movement.
    • Major design changes to the Panic system, and how it interacts with light and dark areas.
  • Additional
    • Balancing tweaks to various weapons and Synaptic Enhancements.
#1: Changes to Early Gameplay

At present, Blackout Protocol introduces its various systems to a new player in a somewhat chaotic, disorganized fashion. In this patch, we’ve put a lot of effort into addressing that across the first 3 zones (the Parking Garage, Lobby, and Office levels). Here are some of the changes we’ve made:

  • Increased the starting weapon selection from 1 to 3 (Assault Rifle, SMG, and Pump-Action Shotgun) so players have more variety to choose from while they’re still learning the game and struggling to reach the first Safe Room.
  • Changes to the drop rates for Tactical Gear items (in Rogue mode only). Throwables are now initially encountered in an order that’s a bit more intentional, and are then added to the random drop algorithm afterwards.
  • Numerous polishes to the design of the Parking Garage level, specifically balancing for playtime and the rate at which Synaptic Enhancements are acquired across different map variants.
  • Repositioned supply boxes throughout the map, and made adjustments to the logic for how enemies drop ammo. Players will now encounter Small and Large ammo kits during gameplay, as well as a Supply Crate in every Safe Room.
  • Previously, picking up ammo fully refilled both the player’s current clip and surplus ammo storage. Now, acquiring ammo kits only refills surplus ammo, and doesn’t affect the current clip at all. The Supply Crates in Safe Rooms fully restore both.
  • The Medical Equipment in Safe Rooms now has greater restorative effects. It fully treats all injuries, fully restores HP, and also replenishes the Panic gauge.
  • Made various changes to how Violet’s messages are presented and in what order, to facilitate better teaching of game mechanics.
  • Previously, weapon blueprint drops were mostly random. Now, defeating certain creatures is guaranteed to drop certain blueprints. Our goal is to reward ambitious players for tackling harder enemies, and do a better job of introducing the more complex weapons a little later in the game (rather than dropping them too early, when players are still trying to grasp the game’s basic systems).

With these improvements, we hope new players will feel like they’ve been introduced to the game in a smoother, more stable way.

#2: Movement and Controls

We’ve also made a number of changes to basic gameplay.

  • Increased Agents’ movement speed to feel more responsive. We also increased the movement speed of some enemies, and tweaked various Synaptic Enhancements relating to movement speed, in order to maintain the intended feel and balance.
  • Significantly decreased the cooldown time for rolling, with a corresponding reduction in distance. (We also removed upgrades related to rolling cooldowns, as they no longer feel like they make a meaningful difference.)
  • Tightened the I-frame window while rolling. As a result, rolling now feels more responsive, but also requires more precise timing to dodge attacks.
  • Fixed a bug that created inconsistent firing intervals with single-round weapons.
  • Made changes to Scalpel and Red’s special ability animations. Basically, they’re now snappier and less likely to get you killed.
  • Added a visual cancel indicator to better communicate when the reload animation is interrupted by other actions, such as rolling or shooting.
  • Added visual and sound effects upon triggering instant automatic reloads (e.g., when dodging with the “Rollback” Synaptic Enhancement).
  • Made interactable objects less annoying, by lowering the time needed to activate them, and removing the need to face them directly.

Many of these changes are in direct response to core feedback we’ve been getting since the start of Early Access, so we hope they’ll help satisfy some of those recurring quality-of-life concerns.

#3: Changes to the Panic System

It’s fair to say that the current implementation of the Panic system isn’t quite living up to our goals. Many players still don’t understand what that purple bar even is, or how it interacts with light and dark areas, which is obviously not ideal. If you fall into that category, this section should interest you.

  • The Panic gauge is no longer recovered by standing in the light.
  • We’ve reduced the length of the panic attack that happens when an Agent’s bar reaches zero. In addition, when a panic attack ends, the gauge now just automatically restores to full. (The medical equipment in Safe Rooms also restores the Panic gauge.)
  • Slightly increased the flashlight’s distance.
  • Improved the responsiveness of Crawlers to the flashlight beam, and made adjustments to their attack rate and damage.
  • Skirmishers now react much differently to Agents’ flashlight beams (cowering and retreating so long as they’re in light, as opposed to just being briefly stunned). The goal here is to create a risk/reward scenario that encourages players to get in close, and rewards coordination in teams. We’ve also adjusted their spawn locations to account for this.
  • Made adjustments to the Ravager (the beefed-up version of a Skirmisher) to make them more distinctly recognizable. We’ve also adjusted their spawn locations.
  • Added a new Tactical Gear item, the Meteolight, that illuminates an affected area when thrown. (In Rogue mode, Metolights will enter the drop algorithm after the first time the player picks one up. They’re first encountered on the Deep Storage level.)

Our hope for these changes is that the Panic system will feel simpler and more intuitive, and that players will interact with it more frequently, but faster, and less disastrously.
We hope you’ll have fun playing with the new mechanics and taking advantage of them to overcome enemies.

#4: Weapons and Synaptic Enhancements

We’ve said in previous dev logs that one of our biggest design goals for Blackout Protocol is to ensure that it feels good for players to experiment with various weapons, builds, and playstyles, to discover unexpected points of synergy.
Because of this, our team has been working hard to adjust the balance and usability of various weapons, along with corresponding changes to related Synaptic Enhancements. We’ll be making more improvements like these down the road, but here are details on the ones we’re rolling out in patch 0.13.

Weapon Usability and Balance:
  • Made changes to the maximum ammo size of various weapons, to coincide with changes to the reload and ammo drop systems.
  • Fixed an issue where the pistol sometimes fired at an inconsistent speed when clicking repeatedly.
  • Made changes to the SMG to account for its repositioning in the meta as a starting weapon. It now does slightly less damage, but has greater range. (We also fixed a bug related to the SMG’s stun/knockback effects being a bit overpowered, making it possible to basically immobilize certain enemies with continuous fire.)
  • Fixed an issue with shotgun weapons, where creatures killed by a few pellets in the spread of a shot would still absorb others that collided with them, until their death animation was complete. While technically more realistic, this made shotguns feel less powerful, by reducing the number of pellets that actually reach living targets.
  • We also reduced the overall pellet count of shotgun weapons by about 30%. This was both to compensate for the increased damage from the above, and because the pellet-based nature of shotgun weapons meant they were interacting with certain Synaptic Enhancements in weird ways, resulting in some brokenly overpowered builds.
  • Reduced the reload time for the Sniper Rifle.
  • Fixed a bug relating to weapons with a charging time (flamethrowers etc) that allowed players to bypass penalties to turning speed. To compensate for this, we’ve reduced that penalty significantly.
  • Buffed the Minigun by about 25%. It now has higher firing speed and each shot deals more damage.
  • Buffed the Plasmoid Launcher similarly, and added a slight knockback effect.
  • Defeating the Exosuit now drops a blueprint, and the RNG for the drop prioritizes either a Lv. 1 Minigun or Plasmoid Launcher. Upon unlocking either weapon, blueprints for higher-level versions are added to the normal drop algorithm any time a blueprint is encountered.
  • Changed the nature of the Tactical Crossbow, and nerfed it slightly. Previously, it was a long-range weapon that overlapped a bit too much with the Sniper Rifle. Now it’s got a shorter range and aim distance, and bolt velocity has been reduced slightly. However, we also made some adjustments to its perk levels to balance things out a bit.
  • Overhauled the Photon Cannon’s controls, which were previously a bit wonky. Players can now simply hold down the left mouse button to continuously charge and fire shots. In addition, we’ve adjusted one of the weapon’s high-level perks, to add a rapid 3-shot burst.
  • Tweaked the Sawed-Off Shotgun to make it more viable. It’s now got a faster firing speed and a slightly longer reload time. (So, higher DPS in short engagements, but balanced out over longer skirmishes.)
Synaptic Enhancements (Adjustments and Additions)
  • Added new enhancements for all weapon types that increase base damage, and adjusted the overall number and drop rates of enhancements in each weapon category, to ensure they’re better balanced.
  • Temporarily removed a few enhancements that were either too weak or too strong as a result of all these other changes. We’ll be tweaking and readding them once the dust settles a bit.
  • Changed some Synaptic Enhancements that were previously tied to the Firearms Department, so they’re now neutral/untyped.
  • Added 2 new Firearms enhancements.
  • Added 2 new R&D enhancements, as well as a buff to the “Budget Killer” card.

This section’s getting a bit long in the tooth, but we wanted to explain things clearly (particularly areas where we’re nerfing certain weapons or upgrades), so players understand where these changes are coming from.

We’ll be making a few more major weapon adjustments down the road — particularly buffing the Arc Cannon, and making sure the Flamethrower plays nicely with more Synaptic Enhancements. So we hope you’ll look forward to those changes.

Our efforts in this patch update were primarily focused on fixing deep, systemic issues where we felt the game wasn’t meeting expectations. But the hope is that these changes will lay the groundwork for flashier, more fun updates later on. In our next major update, we’ll be making additional changes to weapon usability, as well as continued balancing to Synaptic Enhancements. We’re also looking at adding some kind of in-game guide to terms and mechanics, and possibly revisiting the addition of new content from our prior roadmap.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Blackout Protocol.


Dongsoo Oh, Creative Director

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