Basically I wrote out this for the 2K survey, and wanted to post this here to share and see other’s comments.
Gameplay wise, everything seems well done. I feel sniffing sound should be more prominent to have a larger trade off, but besides that the changes I see would be more relevant to competitive play and matchmaking.
I strongly feel a few things should be set for competitive play.
First off, while everything is fairly balances, there are still some classes/monsters that match up better against each other. For this reason, I believe there should be an option to pick/counterpick in a draft format as in many other games. Of course, given one team only has one player, the picking would have to be asymmetrical as well. Given the balance, I’d recommend going with an alternation between the hunters picking 3 of their characters, the monster seeing this, picking his monster with this knowledge, and then the 4th hunter picking theirs. Perks can be locked in after characters locked for maximum flexibility (i.e. saving medic pick for last, you may want to grab lazarus…But that mainly only works in competitive play if people have selected health regen perk)
Of course, this selection mode wouldn’t be the default for normal play, but as a draft option in custom games or in a separate queue for full 4 man team of hunters (Ranked queue?).
As well as the draft option, competitive play tends to frown upon randomness. For this reason, I feel the game also needs an option (or contained with draft picking in a ‘competitive mode’) to make buffs constant per map and not random. This makes it now strategy to grab the perks you want, deny the ones you don’t want them to have, etc, as a conscious choice and not random luck that may determine the result of the match itself.
Finally we take a step back from actual in game settings and look more at the structure around it. To begin with, the nature of the game being asymmetrical bring in several goals for competitive players: Those that want to be the best monster, the best hunter team, and the best evolve team. These three should remain independent, though there may be overlap with the best players.
For the fractured goals, going for purely best monster or best hunter team, I’d implement simple ladder style system ideally managed by an ELO scoring system. Hunters would register their 4 as a team, and start queuing together in the ranked hunter queue, and be matched again a fitting monster opponent who queued up in the ranked monster queue. These queues would be on going and ideally split into tiers and seasons.
Hunter-monster teams together would not be represented in the ladder format, as they are irrelevant and misleading; Why create a pseudo ‘team’ with a pseudo ‘rank’ only created through averaging of each team’s independent elo, instead of just ranking each one by their merit.
On the other hand, tournaments could be represented in both ways; By having hunter teams and monster register individually or by having hunter-monster-teams register together. The former would score teams (hunters and monsters separately) based on their wins/loses before taking the top from each side into a BO3 tournament with the tops from each side, eventually determining the best monster and hunter from each side for one final showdown between them. The hunter and monster in the end both get the recognition for being top of their division, but the crowd would still want an epic final showdown for the true top! =]
The other option would be to combine hunters and monsters into one team, however this doesn’t make sense again just like in the ladders; Why wouldn’t we score teams separately and judge them off their own merit instead of pretending like a hunter team and monster team are together by anything other than name. Team allocation would be arbitrary and just result in ‘best hunter teams’ going with ‘best monster teams’ with no synergy or any tie between them needed at all. If there were going to be H-M-teams in a combined tournament, the only way it would make sense would be to have one of the four hunters from the round become the monster in the next (or the monster becomes one of the 4 hunters in the next). A tournament like this would showcase a team that is truly the top in evolve, mastering both sides as one team.