This is a very high-level look on BBR's competitive factor, and how it has changed for the worse over time. I originally wrote this to @TacticalWarrior
, with the intent of posting it on the forums soon, to hopefully bring some underlying BBR problems to everyone's attention. Prepare yourself for my massive wall of text, as I release every pent-up disgruntled feeling about BBR I have!!!!!
I'm going to go off on a little tangent first, to help you get an idea of what I'm posting this for. Since the removal of stacking, in general the game has been fairly well balanced in my opinion. It did fix a lot of the problems we had in the past, and I'm not noticing many complaints about buffs/nerfs any more. However, there's 1 factor that has been almost completely forgotten in the process: competitiveness, and the fun of it.
This is a really important analogy that I'm about to give here. I like the game Super Smash Bros. Brawl! But its vanilla metagame leaves a lot to be desired. It's a fun game; feature-packed, with lots of characters and truckloads of content, but it's not a professional fighting game by any stretch. A lot of the physics from its predecessor Melee were watered down, and not as many techniques could be mastered as a result. As for Brawl's balance... I wonder what the devs were smoking when they programmed Meta Knight. Soooo broken. All in all, the hardcore fighting game fans far preferred Melee over Brawl.
Then, a bunch of hackers decided to fix the balance themselves. They created Balanced Brawl, a hack pack to fix the balance problems. It didn't do a whole lot of good. Another one popped up a little later, and this is the first one I tried; it was called "Brawl+". Basically it altered the physics of the gameplay slightly for all characters and balanced each character to the new gameplay style. It actually worked quite well! Almost complete balance between characters had been achieved, and I had fun beating up pro Meta Knights with Ganondorf (former fail-tier).
Shortly afterwards, however, for reasons I didn't know at the time... I switched back to regular Brawl. I didn't know why I wanted to! Brawl+ had no useless stages and balanced characters. There was no good apparent reason to switch, but somehow it didn't feel quite right to me. I never played Brawl+ again...
Much later, I stumbled across another hack pack. This one was called "Brawl-". I assumed at first that it had to be the opposite of Brawl+, being, you know, minus. Maybe it would make the characters LESS balanced? I tried it out of curiosity. I then discovered the purpose of this particular pack after firing it up: It takes a different approach on balancing characters from Brawl+ completely. Rather than nerfing some and buffing others, it gives every character a significant buff. Canceling, juggling, and combos are all possible, unlike in every Smash Bros. game ever. I at first thought, "No way man. Buffing everyone will just make things really annoying", but I was so glad to be wrong!
I was having more fun with Brawl than I ever had before. So many new strategies were open. The gameplay was fast, furious, wacky, and overall a blast to play. People died much quicker, but no worries, just play with 4 stock instead of 3. And through all the mayhem, it kept its original goal of balance and competitiveness its No.1 priority. There's another good pack called "Project M" which helps Brawl physics to simulate Melee's, and it's not quite as broken as Brawl-, but it's not as unique and cool either!
Whew. Anyhoo, this has a lot to do with what I see as (hopefully) the timeline of BBR balance. The game started off unbalanced, but gradual balance was achieved. However, in the process, the competitiveness and fun of the game was lost. I found a lot of fun honing my aim as a noob, but you knew you were in the big leagues when you started scheming on how to sneak up on snipers, find your way to the health quicker, and develop terrifying new strategies beyond mere equipment. Nowadays, all pros have impeccable aim. I wouldn't expect any of you to completely miss even a +2 speed guy, let alone a guy without any speed. That's the big problem: defense has gotten much more difficult. The game, to me, feels very repetitive and dull compared to how Diamond games used to feel.
Here's the biggest gameplay flaw as of late. Problem 1: The inability to get far ahead in score, even if you're more skilled, because of inadequate equipment. For an example, here's your average BBR game, with you as a Soldier!
Step 1: (Re)spawn. 3 possible outcomes for step 2:
Outcome 1: Charge into enemy base. Get pwned.
Outcome 2 (with jump boots): Kill a guy in 1v1, but get wounded. Try to get away, he respawns and kills you while you wound him. Repeat.
Outcome 3 (with Flawless Disguise): Sneak up on a guy and stab him in the back. Skulk away before you get shot and avoid everyone.
Which would you choose? I'd choose 3 if I want to win. But how would you feel on the receiving end? If I were you, I'd probably be annoyed! However, it affords a better chance of survival than with the boots, and you can't dodge fast enough with the boots to make them worth it. That's the problem right there. The box is easier to use, gives less gameplay options, and is overall much more obnoxious to face than the boots. On the other hand, the boots require skill to utilize, offer many strategies with new ones always being discovered, and make duels a LOT more fierce between fellow users! With speed and boots, pros were able to unleash their skill and cunning to the highest degree, and the rift between noobs and pros was nice and wide.
Problem 2: Major class disadvantages as a result of speed removal.
We've all experienced it. You're the only Heavy on your team, at the lava temples, and the two Snipers on the other team have made the rest of your team ragequit with their tower-camping antics. Now you're left helpless as you provide the snipers with excellent target practice. This is a tougher problem to tackle, but it's been made worse by the removal of speed classes. The fun in being a pro was trying to outsmart and outbattle the built-in class weaknesses, so you could overcome them to some degree. There's nothing wrong with that! It's what every BBR player strives to do, and few achieve it. With speed classes, you can use guerilla tactics and rely on teammates for cover as you advance. That's not exactly easy anymore, so you're forced to rely on the box. Ergo, problem 1.
I have an interesting solution to this problem, if SkyVu had an unlimited budget: mid-game class switching. Sniper getting bothersome? Switch to spy Huggable and take him out! Heavy giving your team trouble? Demo's Dark Matter should solve the problem. Of course, this would require rebalancing for each class to give proper weaknesses, but it would make the game more Team Fortress 2-like and bolster team responsibility. However, I'd say to aim for the more reasonable goal of restoring speed classes for now!