Everyone knows the Pantheon class of robots that appeared earlier this year.
They are composed of three robots: Hades, Nemesis and Ares.
Once again, many stated their opinions regarding the Ares and yes, once again many outside of the War Robots and mobile mech community in general can’t comprehend how one robot can define the way a certain game operates…
What is an Ares robot?
An Ares is a robot with two medium slots and two light slots, making it similar to the Griffin in gameplay.
However, instead of a jump ability, it is equipped with the Retribution-class barrier, which can absorb all incoming damage for a period of time before sending it back to the enemy with four energy guns that can shoot up to 500 meters.
Wait, what? 500 meters? That’s the range of most mid-rangers out there!
Good thing if it only has these attributes, as it is actually a bit squishy compared to other robots in its class.
The main deal breaker here is that in addition to the Ares’s base speed, everyone behind the Retribution-class barrier (i.e. the purple wall of death) is protected, thus making it easy for the Ares to hide behind cover…or in the case of a full-stacked clan, a multitude of Ares robots.
This makes the Ares push out more damage than it would do otherwise. If you get locked down from anywhere, expect to be destroyed, disabled, smashed and demoralized (in no particular order) as it releases its blue barrage of death.
For the average player, it takes a long time to get one Ares online from the Workshop, thus making it a prime symbol of the pay-to-win attitude that prevails in War Robots today.
What are the setups that are most commonly used on the Ares?
The Corona-Halo, Taran-Halo, Taran-Magnum, Scourge-Spark, Corona-Magnum, Corona-Gust and every other combination that allows fast burst damage plus lockdown ability are used on this cancerous robot.
With the Lockdown Ammo module in place, you have only a couple of seconds to pray before you melt into useless scrap and wonder why you even played this game in the first place…
What’s wrong with the Ares?
Once again, the Ares is a manifestation of a very top-heavy balancing approach to the game.
First, games are balanced in various ways: They can adopt a rock-paper-scissors approach (Total War series is the best example of this), they can adopt a full-nerf approach (Saying hi to Riot Games and League of Legends here), they can adopt an all-comers approach by making everyone powerful enough so that they can be viable (Valve’s Dota 2), they can use a similar power creep level across the board, while retaining key elements playable (Horus Heresy card game) and they can just give everyone the same weapons with different niches and let them figure which one is best for them (Counter-Strike, Overwatch and literally most decent competitive first-person shooters out there fits this category pretty much).
The problem is that the power creep for War Robots is extremely insane to start with and the newest robots/weapons typically have their counters nerfed directly or indirectly at one point or another (example in point here is the Trident nerf – it was a cheap counter and definitely makes the Ares cry a lot due to its splash damage). So, due to this balancing philosophy, things like the Ares, the Spectre and the Shocktrain can exist in this game; if this was another title, these monstrosities would not even survive 48 hours, let alone a week.
Valve’s Counter-Strike had this with the Revolver. At $850 (which costs pennies as far as Counter-Strike standards are concerned), it could one-shot any part of the body, has extremely strong penetration that you can potentially kill 4 to 5 players with a single bullet and is notoriously accurate, as well as having no damage drops despite an increase in range.
IT GOT NERFED IN TWO DAYS.
To a lesser extent, it also had this moment with the AUG. Not once, but twice.
In its first release, the AUG is basically a laser beam with high damage due to its insane accuracy and spread, in addition to great firerate, crazy range and high stopping power. ANALOGY SOUNDS FAMILIAR? IT GOT NERFED IN A WEEK OR SO – but it was still powerful although it was expensive.
In its second release, the AUG’s price got reduced to $3150, thus making it accessible to everyone. Soon, everyone from the amateurs to the pros and their dogs used the gun in nearly every match.
VALVE RETURNED IT TO ITS ORIGINAL PRICE AFTER A FEW MONTHS.
Now, try imagining you are playing a hero or a champion who can use his or her ultimate every 10 or 20 seconds or so, all the while being fast enough and sturdy enough to use it in multiple teamfights.
This is what the Ares does.
Any game element has three characteristics: trade (damage output and efficiency), crowd control (defense, potential maximum range of weapons, any attributes that can disable or deter enemies) and tempo (mobility, threat reaction, synergy with teammates). The Ares is overpowered because it can do all three functions very effectively, in comparison with the Invader (excellent trade, good CC and good tempo) or the Bulwark (good trade, bad tempo, excellent crowd control).
So guys, this is why the Ares is overpowered.
Wait, doesn’t the Ares have counters?
The Ares has no hard counters. Only soft ones – and the hard counter in the form of Trident was nerfed earlier this year.
A Bulwark can withstand a couple of Ares waves before being whittled down to zero. An Invader is pretty much the same, except that it could reduce the Ares damage when it is inside its jump range.
Any AoE weapon is good against an Ares without the Retribution-class shield up.
The problem is that when multiple Ares bots are in the same place and time their shields to form a “train”- this renders all of the above counters near useless.
Stealth? We have Quantum Radar. Worse, we have lockdown ammo and the energy shotguns can lock you all the same!
Other than that, treating it as a number one priority has been proven to be the only way so far to deal with these monsters.
Anyone who plays a game should know that overpowered (or preferred tools) should only have a tradable value of 2:1 at most…and the Ares way passes that mark (SIMILAR TO THE SPECTRE AND THE SHOCKTRAIN), to the point that its users survive on only one robot throughout the entirety of the match and garnering seven-digit damage values.
How did it change the metagame?
As mentioned above, it is an continuation of an arms race in which firepower was valued over skill and teamwork.
Due to the Ares, a good number of players have lowered their activity in-game, stating that “there is no point to be a part of being a slaughterhouse.”
It also forced players to go for damage-based lineups instead of tactical-based lineups; after all, the mantra right now is “either I kill you or I get killed – and do it as fast as I can.”
What is the solution for this?
Handing small nerfs or allowing users to develop a way to increase the counter-play options for that robot seems to be the best compromise in order to keep the Ares competitive, while at the same time, manageable for all players.
These changes will also allow the game to be more diverse again, especially at the highest levels of play, thus ensuring a healthier metagame and more “creative” and “conducive” game environment for the users.
The Ares is a robot that is extremely cost-effective and fills multiple roles for the price that it entails. As a result, it should be nerfed in order to keep the game more interactive.
Counterplays are one of the key hallmarks of a game like War Robots.
Without counterplay, matches become straight brawls where brawns, not brains, turn out to be the winner. Wasn’t War Robots supposed to be a combination of skill, strategy, tactics, teamwork, determination (and luck)?
If we are to go back to the previous quality of matches as well as the high levels of play that we’ve experienced in the past, we should start encouraging good balance in terms of weaponry.
And there’s no other way to start than by putting the Ares into its proper place – yes, its spotlight is more than enough now.