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Balancing Update: Baron Zemo and Absorbing Man

MCOC TeamMCOC Team Posts: 536
edited May 2023 in News & Announcements

Hey all,

Balance Team here with an update on Absorbing Man and Baron Zemo!

Absorbing Man

On Attack, Absorbing Man had some specific targets to hit in the current Meta: Path 9 in AW, as well as some annoying Cosmic defenders such as Terrax, Knull, and Annihilus. So far we’re happy seeing players use Absorbing Man very effectively in those matchups and are happy with where he has landed as an Attacker!

On Defence, Absorbing Man had the goal of being a difficult defender looking for specific RPG counters in addition to mastering punishing his Special Attacks with your own Heavy Attack. So far we’re seeing that Absorbing Man has made a strong impact in the current Defender Meta. In Battlegrounds, we’re currently satisfied with his performance as a Defender as his ban rate and defensive win rate are in a healthy and expected spot. 

While Absorbing Man’s Defensive Win Rate started off high on release in comparison to strong defenders who benefit from Defense Tactics, we’re seeing it trend down over time as more players become familiar with the playstyle needed to counter him, as well as the champions who counter him effectively. Dev Note: Try to avoid using Red Hulk. However, we’re seeing a trend in the Challenger and Hard tiers where Absorbing Man’s Defensive Win Rate is higher than what we’d like to see, more specifically: in the same War. This indicates that there are situations where players who bring a suboptimal counter are stuck fighting Absorbing Man over multiple fights due to his strong Regeneration resetting progress in the fight. While we still want to keep the threat of his Regeneration on Defense, we’re looking to lower the amount of cases where a player can lose their progress between attempts and become fully stuck. 

Since we’re happy with his performance as an Attacker, we’re looking to make a change that only affects his Defender threat in Alliance War, and are looking to target this part of his Signature Ability: 

  • When Absorbing Man consumes Morph Charges, he gains a non-stacking Regeneration Passive, healing {10-30%} of his missing Health over 12 seconds. As a Defender, this effect also triggers whenever Absorbing Man enters or refreshes any form. 

In its current state, since Absorbing Man starts the fight by entering his Black Uru form, he also triggers the Regeneration clause in his Signature Ability. Since this ability firing on Fight Start doesn’t give the Attacker the chance to counter this Regeneration, it results in players losing progress. To lower the frequency of encounters with lost progress, we’ll be looking to add a clause to the ability that prevents it from triggering at the start of the fight. Our hope is that this will lower the cases where Attackers give up multiple attack bonuses to Absorbing Man, while still encouraging players to move away from using Red Hulk against him and to use Void more. 

Baron Zemo

Baron Zemo is doing a good job of hitting his attribute and meta goals. On attack, he’s showing up as a viable attacker option with either his Bleeds or Furies, especially against Science Champions with many debuffs or defensive abilities. On defense, he’s encouraging Bleed Resistance on attackers that fight him, his indefinite effects are the right level of terrifying, and his Root is somewhere you definitely don’t want to be caught!

While we’re happy with the power level of Zemo in day-to-day content, he has two abilities that were intended to be defensively-focused but that are heavily shaping his offensive identity, too:

  • his Fury gained from Purify or Immunity, and 
  • the Armor Up Buffs that function as a cooldown for his Cleanse Passives. 

We want to preserve the strength of his Fury and Cleanses while making sure Baron Zemo feels interactive to play as and against.

Though we want to adjust these abilities, we want these changes to feel neutral or even beneficial in most fights. For the handful of existing matchups that are affected by the change direction below, like Black Widow (Claire Voyant), we still want him to feel like a strong attacking option.

Furies on Purify or Immunity

Zemo gains a potent Fury Buff each time his opponent Purifies a debuff or is Immune to an effect. These can stack and apply to all debuffs or effects, including those from any quest nodes. 

This combination can leave open some interactions that are either too punishing to play against when he’s a quest defender or incentivise play that breaks the core fight flow as an attacker. We’ll be looking to safeguard against some of those potential combinations while still keeping this ability as a major damage source for him, with the early direction being to add a simple cap at around 15. Since most of his matchups involve him using a Fury as soon as he gains it, this ability should still feel quite strong, which is our goal. We believe this will affect niche but extreme matchups on both offense and defense.

Cleanse Passives and Armor Up Buff

When Baron Zemo uses all his Cleanse Passives, he Roots his opponent and gains an Armor Up Buff. As soon as that buff is no longer present, either due to expiring or being removed, he regains his Cleanse passives and can start the loop again. 

Because regaining Cleanse Passives is tied to an Armor Up Buff, fights with effects like Armor Break and Nullify have drastically different pacing compared to fights in which Zemo has to wait the full 20 seconds of his Armor Up buff. We want to make the cycle on his Cleanse feel more consistent, preserve his Cleanse uptime to counter debuffs, and prevent him from too quickly being able to put his opponent back into Root. To accomplish this, we’re looking into changing the Buff to a Passive and reducing its duration so his Cleanse is more consistently back after about 15 seconds. With the idea of it being changed to a Passive, we’re also exploring what type of defensive effect best helps Zemo as a Skill attacker.

What’s Next?

Changes for both Characters! As mentioned before, we don’t have their changes locked in and are still working on them. However, here’s a brief timeline of how this round of changes will go:

  • 40.0 (June) + 40.1 (July): Absorbing Man and Baron Zemo’s changes hit the CCP Beta for members to dig into and create content with
  • 41.0 (August): Absorbing Man and Baron Zemo release with their new changes
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