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Fights [Rift battles] A big overview of all catalysts and the current meta. Catalyst tier list and my suggestions for buffs & reworks.

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[Note: this post was written before the changes to defender and attacker diversity. While they have made rifts much healthier, fairer, and more diverse, the core issues I’m going to discuss here remain unresolved. I took a break before posting this to observe if any major changes take place, but so far I haven’t seen anything brand new, and I believe that the current meta will not be going anywhere. I’ve made some minor adjustments and corrections here and there, but overall, I believe everything here holds true]

Contents:
  • Overview of the current meta and its problems
  • Catalyst tier list + description of each
  • General issues
  • Catalyst suggestions
Catalysts have become a crucial part of Rifts battles and added a lot of complexity and variety to the game mode, making it infinitely more fun to design your base and to fight the bases of others. What they’ve also contributed to is shaping the meta, making some variants, characters and even elements stand above the rest.

A lot of time has passed since catalysts were introduced. The meta has seen some changes, but appears to have been mostly figured out now and seems pretty stable. As someone who’s been around since the beginning and fought all kinds of bases, including those of the highest ranked players, I can say with a great deal of confidence that now is a good time to take a look at all the catalysts, be it the ‘meta’ or the most popular ones, the less common or situational, or those you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere.

I’d like to begin with a rather troubling observation: there are currently 49 catalysts in the game, and only about 10 of them see the most use with others appearing less valuable and impactful. I believe that buffing/reworking the ones that are not generally deemed as strong to bring them more in line with those that are seen most often could make a tremendous difference, such as more variety in bases, more viable variants for both attack and defense, a more diverse meta, more challenges and a larger incentive for players to stick around. It’s important to point out that my observations are primarily based on Diamond rank bases, which is a rather small minority. Nevertheless, the pool of catalysts I see used becomes narrower the higher I climb up and becomes relatively the same at the highest ranks, which leads me to believe that as people progress, they figure out (and learn from experience) what works best and what doesn’t do too well. As a result, we are left with a majority of catalysts (as well as a big part of elements and characters) that don’t see any use at all. This is exactly where I believe improvements can be made.

In order to better explain the situation with catalysts, however, it is important to describe the current meta, its major issues and how we got here in the first place.

There are a couple of elephants in the room to address, but I’ll start with the elements. Light and water elements have always been the most popular, generally having more and better defenders as well as the strongest catalysts. Air and dark elements have a good number of powerful defenders as well, but it’s more difficult to make competitive element-based nodes with them and their catalysts. Fire element is definitely the weakest link, both having a select few defenders and catalysts that struggle to compete.

Catalyst niches. The main purpose of each catalyst, I believe, is to limit the number of tools at the opponent’s disposal, locking out some options and strategies that you believe your defending team would be the weakest against. Most catalysts, by their design, have a pretty clear-cut niche they are supposed to occupy. However, while some catalysts perform their tasks efficiently, others, unfortunately, fail to do what they are supposed to reliably, making certain strategies nearly uncounterable. This forces the one designing their defense to adapt accordingly, leaving only those options that require more ‘counterable’ approaches. This significantly limits the possible team compositions on defense, making entire characters and elements obsolete. Here’s what it looks like in practice: right now, there’s no reliable way to prevent the attacker from using special moves (Special exception doesn’t work well), but there are great ways to make a bb finish difficult (final fight and blockbusted work very well). There’s no reliable way to counter Sketchy, because neither Autoimmune nor Tag n’gag can stop her SA1 and SA2, so she remains as one of the most powerful supports whose only weakness is lack of healing and thus reflect damage. There’s no reliable way to stop single-hit burst damage except for reflect damage, because the only catalyst that can help with that is Cripple decker but it doesn’t do much either. These are just some of the examples.

‘Meta’ variants. This is essentially the continuation of the previous point, but from a different perspective. If catalysts, defenders and attackers interact with each other under the principle of ‘rock, paper, scissors’, then some variants can best be described as ‘having a gun’. Because catalysts are not frequently updated while large system changes occur and new variants appear, there are now cases when they can’t keep up with some mechanics and the current power level of some attackers. Some characters have tools that can’t really be stopped by catalysts, meaning there’s not much counterplay available other than through particular defensive variants or indirect obstacles like reflect damage. This further limits the pool of defenders and catalysts that can be considered ‘good enough’.

The current meta. Without going into specifics, for a very long time light nodes with tanky defenders designed to time the opponent out have been a go-to choice for most people. Everything that had armor was also extremely strong by default. Several factors resulted in a shift to the current meta which is mostly centered around reflect damage (Frost armor, Don’t poke the buer, painwheels with Tainted blood MA, variants with thorns, Immoral fiber etc.) and preventing a bb finish (final fight, blockbusted, Blue screen etc.). Two of the biggest outside changes were the addition of Piercing as a stat and streak modifiers. Both made it much easier to deal with defending teams designed for stalling and solve everything that doesn’t have some sort of reflect damage or additional protection with brute force. The other factor is, of course, player experience and creativity. Over time players discovered new strategies and ‘strong’ variants, found new solutions to the challenging nodes and learned what works best. New defenders, attackers and characters played a huge role as well.

The biggest issues. As I’ve described above, some strategies and variants don’t really have good answers on defense, which, I believe, makes a large part of defenders obsolete. This leads me to the last point of my introduction - ‘the offense meta’ or, rather, some exceptionally powerful options available to attackers. First, special moves are extremely strong. The way things are right now, they can’t really by restricted by any catalysts (unlike blockbusters). There are two kinds of special moves that stand above the rest - single hit burst damage ones and command grabs. The problem with burst damage is that it allows to tear apart defenders while minimizing the chances of any ‘% chance on hit’ catalysts/SAs to activate, and it can’t be countered by anything other than reflect damage. Ranged special moves are especially strong in this regard since they can kind of zone out the AI while it’s trying to close in on you. For example, Xbot with a good move set can obliterate most defenders (especially water element) with just 2-4 theo beams. Model leader with her Blueshift MA seemed like she’d be able to put up a good fight, but to no avail. It turned out that nothing stands in the way of enrage + precision + death mark + crit damage + element bonus, so she doesn’t really end up discouraging low-combo hit burst damage. The problem with command grab special moves is that they can be used repeatedly to lock the AI in one place, leaving it no chance to fight back unless you accidentally leave a gap in your offense. This can be done with multiple copies of the same command grab move in your set, a move set with maxed out special move cooldown + lvl 15 moves or a Harlequin support (the main culprits being Beowulf, Cerebella, Eliza and Valentine, to a lesser extent). What also gives characters with command grab special moves an edge is that, unlike others, they don’t have to rely on punishing/intercepting as much, having an option to force their turn when the AI is blocking. Neuromancer is a variant that can pretty much do all the same but thanks to her SA. Being able to lock the opponent down in the corner is one of the reasons why she’s among the strongest variants in the game. One would think that, perhaps, Neuro could be stopped by Armor rating catalyst, but that’s unfortunately not the case since it doesn’t activate reliably enough, and even if it does activate, a couple of stacks of armor still can’t stop piercing.

Here are some of the strongest attackers in the current meta and what makes them valuable (not meant to be a comprehensive list, just for perspective):
  • Beast king. Command grab special moves + blockbusters, single hit burst damage, curse, meter control, very big damage in general.
  • Weekend warrior. Command grab special moves + blockbusters, self-healing, nearly unkillable, near-permanent immunity, debuff cleansing
  • Harlequin. Both an amazing support and an attacker. Loopable command grab special move, command grab blockbuster, built-in special move cooldown, single hit burst damage, armor break, reliable meter control, high damage, makes it easier to spam special moves for others
  • Eliza: buff removal, curse, stun, arguably the strongest chainable command grab special move, access to high combos.
  • Stand out. Eliza’s kit + even more buff removal/curse, high meter gain, self-healing, good against Frost armor and buff-heavy defenders, good damage.
  • Bloody valentine. Eliza’s kit + very strong and reliable healing on demand, excellent against painwheels and reflect damage in general.
  • Red velvet. Eliza’s kit + access to reliable hex.
  • Filia: self-healing thanks to her MA, buff removal, great combos, strong and damaging special moves with access to burst damage).
  • Fukua: high meter gain + meter control, great combos, single-hit burst damage, amazing self-healing, great damage.
  • Shadow puppet. Fukua’s kit + insane damage, safety net, buff and debuff extension.
  • Phantom threads. Fukua’s kit + buff removal, high damage, even more healing.
  • Feathered edges. Fukua’s kit + barriers, great against reflect damage, decent meter control.
  • Neuromancer. Already explained.
  • Fly trap. Huge damage, great self-sustain, good combos, single-hit burst damage via special moves.
  • Biting cold. Self-sustain, great meter gain, blocks revives.
  • Parasoul: Burst damage, immunity, precision, buff removal, high damage.
  • Summer salt. Parasoul’s kit, more buff removal.
  • High ruler. Parasoul’s kit, access to curse and hex.
  • Shadow ops. Parasoul’s kit, access to curse.
  • Robo Fortune: single-hit burst damage via special moves, buff removal + stun, can block revives, meter control, high combos, high damage, good at range. Pretty much has everything valuable for rifts except self-sustain, immunity and precision.
  • Overclocked. Robo Fortune’s kit + precision, barrier and high damage. Good against reflect damage.
  • Xbot. Robo Fortune’s kit + precision, easy barrier access, self-sustain, self-healing, lots of hp, enormous damage, good against Frost armor. Only lacks immunity on her own. Great against everything with the right team.
  • Valentine: self-healing and self-sustain, great combos, burst damage, command grab special move, meter control, good against reflect damage and some debuffs.
  • Silent kill. Valentine’s kit, buff and debuff removal. Jack of all trades but has low damage.
Strongest supports (although no longer exclusively used because of attacker diversity):
Sketchy. Allows to keep your team under immunity and opponent’s team under curse.
  • Surgeon general. Gives reliable access to regen and immunity that protects against many catalysts. Provides a safety net in the form of trauma center, significantly lowering your chances of losing a fighter.
  • Inner pieces (to a lesser extent). Eliza’s kit + an ability to keep, generate buffs and transfer them to others (especially regen for additional healing/sustain), decent against reflect damage, good synergy with Sketchy.
This concludes my overview and introduction. Now, onto the catalysts.

First, I’m going to rank all of them in the form of a tier list and then propose some of my ideas for buffs/reworks in a separate section. Of course, tier lists are always subjective and often divisive, but I’d like to point out that actual ranking here is not as important as the comments. The main goal is to divide catalysts into separate groups based on their frequency of use, strengths, weaknesses and inherent issues as well as to make the whole list easier to navigate.

S tier: the ‘meta’. Catalysts that see the most use in the highest ranks and are generally the hardest to deal with (from my experience). It’s important to note that I don’t think they’re overpowered. I’d much rather see other catalysts on their level.

Character specific:

Don’t poke the buer. What makes this catalyst excellent is reflect damage in combination with the Tainted Blood Marquee ability, neither of which can be disabled by debuffs, which forces you to play around it and be very careful about what variants you pick and how much damage you do. This catalyst is so prominent that it alone makes it worth it to build certain attackers without the crit rate part of their skill tree unlocked.

Element specific:

Frost Armor: This catalyst has always played a strong part in the meta, and for a good reason. Both stalls for time and makes you worry about reflect damage. Perfect synergy with lots of defensive variants. Not only that, it can pretty much turn any water element variant into a defender.

Last words. Used to be the most popular choice for triple nodes for a long time. Excellent for stalling and amazing synergy with strong defensive variants. Now Frost armor has taken over, but it’s still pretty good and sees use.

Unspecific:

Blockbusted. Still insanely strong, even after nerfs. Pretty much forces you to play with immunity or make move sets with one blockbuster or blockbusters of different tiers. Makes it hard to get a blockbuster finish and decreases your damage output.

Curse of knowledge. Curse is a very strong debuff that leaves you with no safety net of supports and prevents immunity that could help avoid other debuffs. Has a very reliable condition for activating.

Final fight. It’s kind of like blockbusted, but in the form of a buff on the opponent. Both stalls for time and makes it hard to get a blockbuster finish consistently.

A tier: very strong options that, while seen a bit less frequently, are still challenging. Slightly more niche than S tier.

Character specific:

Electrostatic field. Can cost you a lot of points if you’re not careful. Inverse polarity is an amazing debuff, and power surge adds up very quickly. Doesn’t have many counters but is weak to immunity, curse and special moves (kind of).

Return to Sender. Not quite as popular now as it used to be a while ago but still very strong. Stalls for time very well if you’re not careful, with Dead alive Marquee only adding to that. Great synergy with strong defenders and Frost armor that often forces you to inflict debuffs.

Element specific:

Into thin air. Can rob you of a Blockbuster finish or remove a much-needed debuff at a crucial moment. Doesn’t let you use many blockbusters in general. Being able to remove debuffs makes it especially strong. Pretty good synergy with a few defensive variants, but not quite enough to put it in the S tier.

Unspecific:

Hexy time. Can easily ruin your day, especially if you find yourself cursed. However, it can be avoided almost entirely with Sketchy or just dodged by tagging out. Surgeon general too allows you to ignore it for the most part. I think it would be better if it activated more frequently with a shorter debuff duration.

B tier: Pretty good, but not necessarily difficult to counter. These catalysts are either:
  • held back by the lack of synergy with current modifiers, other catalysts and variants
  • outperformed by other catalysts and could use some buffs
  • have very niche uses.
Character specific:

Corrosive element. Puts a lot of pressure on you and makes the fight stressful, making mistakes more likely to happen. Locks out good counters to Immoral Fiber and Evergreen Evil. However, with good pressure or even some luck, it can be avoided entirely. It also used to be stronger without defender diversity, but now I’m not sure if it’s worth picking over others as much.

Futile resistance. Nerfs to it and Armor rating (although much deserved at the time) as well as the introduction of piercing hit it too hard, in my opinion. It is still occasionally used, but can be pretty easily dealt with by hard-hitters with not much counterplay available (especially Harlequin who can just loop any Big band to death with Merry go-rilla + battle butt). Its current state makes Big Band, arguably the most defensive character by design, a pretty mediocre defender compared to others (in my opinion).

Great escape. Now that defender diversity exists, I think it’s in a decent spot. However, I still have some doubts. Perhaps, it could use a little buff to be more competitive. For example, a higher chance to proc.

Scratching post. A perfectly fine catalyst. Has an amazing synergy with Super slo-mo. But I think its problem is that there aren’t really any good modifiers and other catalysts it works with. Ms. Fortune also got hit hard with streak modifiers and piercing, becoming even more vulnerable to high damage since she doesn’t have much hp to work with. I think it might get better if other catalysts get buffed and maybe if modifiers see some changes in the future.

Element specific:

Light weight. It’s not bad, but very situational. Its main problem is that it can be dealt with by an outtake or debuff removal, and then it’s gone for the rest of the match. I think it could be adjusted to become something more than a one-time thing.

Shot in the dark. Very annoying, but not necessarily threatening. Can be avoided just by playing more conservatively than usual. I feel like it doesn’t do enough and could use a buff.

Darknut. An interesting catalyst that I feel has a lot of potential but is not quite there. Its problem is that it’s supposed to synergize with armor, but there are very few sources of armor among current modifiers, dark variants and other catalysts. Could use a buff or a tweak.

C tier: These make sense conceptually but are either not impactful enough (compared to the tiers above, for example) or can be ignored / countered with little effort. Also don’t fit into the current meta. Used very rarely or never.

Character specific:

Do or die. Suffers from all of the issues with the current meta described in the introduction and doesn’t synergize well enough with other catalysts. Also goes to waste if Beowulf is cursed when the catalysts activates. He along with others likely needs some general changes and possibly a stronger catalyst to be able to compete with the ‘top tiers’.

Megalixir. Same situation as Beowulf, although Valentine has better defenders. However, I feel that this catalyst doesn’t do enough in general - it can either be countered by meter control that many strong variants have access to, curse or simply not inflicting any debuffs and thus not triggering ICU, which is the most reliable way to make this catalyst work. I think it would be better if it had some sort of a secondary effect.

Strong Armed. Unflinching is a very powerful buff on defense, but there are still several ways to deal with it, for example, grabs, tag out, buff removal or curse. I like effects that activate on block, but in this case I think the catalyst is not very reliable, doesn’t do enough, and the buff lasts too short. In my opinion, it could either use a secondary effect or another condition for activating as well as a longer duration with a higher chance of activating.

Orbital period. I think its effect is too complicated and doesn’t end up being too much of a threat. Death mark is generally nothing to worry about, and getting your movement locked out, while annoying, is not the end of the world either (although, to be fair, can waste your time). I think it could be simplified to apply the second debuff directly or more reliably. It could also use another condition for activating or a secondary effect (or even both). Another thing it could do is lock your tag-ins upon activation since you can dodge both current effects just by tagging out.

Pharaohmones. Has a very powerful effect. However, Eliza suffers from all of the same problems as Beowulf does. On top of it all her AI doesn’t do too well as a defender in general because of how easily punishable Eliza’s boat (sweep) is. I think she might benefit a lot from some general changes and other catalysts’ adjustment. Although I’d say that her catalyst still needs a buff to make her more viable as a defender.

Sleeping powder. Also has quite a powerful effect. Still, it feels like it doesn’t do enough to warrant picking it over other options. I think it could use a higher chance of activation or no hp restriction or both (or maybe even some secondary effect).

Imminent threat. This catalyst is deadly if you mess up, but that’s also its biggest issue - it requires you to mess up in order to do something. It also relies on the AI to spawn tears. While powerful to an extent, there are always better choices that can lower the opponent’s score more reliably. What’s more, Parasoul suffers from the same problems as Beowulf and others do. I think this catalyst can be buffed to become kind of like Scratching post so that you’d also have to be proactive and scared of playing too defensively, as opposed to just blocking and punishing.

Hollow points. It’s pretty good but I feel like it doesn’t do enough. First, again, Peacock suffers from the same problems as many others on this list. What’s more, her catalyst can easily be ignored with Bloodbath or any ICU Valentine. I think it could benefit from a general buff to Cripple and/or have its own pool of debuffs changed/extended.

Element specific:

High waters. Although strong on paper, it pales in comparison with its counterpart. Armor alone is generally not too much of an issue since it can be brute forced with just piercing. Having an additional restriction for activation doesn’t help either. At the end of the day, it can be countered by anything that counters Frost armor and more, be it curse, meter control, buff removal, armor break or other powerful options that are otherwise weak to reflect damage. Haste, although strong on defense, can be avoided and generally doesn’t have enough time to do anything because of how powerful powerful attackers are, if that makes sense. I think it could either use some serious buffs or a rework to make it more distinct from Frost armor. General changes and buffs to other catalysts might help it as well.

Overload. Has the same problem as Imminent threat, requiring you to mess up to work (although extremely powerful if it does happen). With how air defenders are and the meta is, it’s hard to make it work without making your team too vulnerable. I think it would be better for air element in general if its second catalyst was more defensive in nature. I’d either buff it the same way as Imminent threat or rework it in a way that would reward defenders for getting hit.

Unspecific:

Autoimmune. It used to be an amazing catalyst that allowed for some very interesting nodes. It’s not even the duration nerf that killed it, but rather the Sketchy rework. Originally Autoimmune could proc before her curse, but after her changes the curse would always be applied first. Reverting this interaction to how it was before would be enough, I think. Maybe a tiny buff to immunity duration could help as well.

No high heals. The main issue of this catalyst is that it fails to accomplish what it’s designed to do - prevent the opponent from regaining health. It only procs when the opponent gains regen, but now that the game has evolved, there are more ways to gain health back other than through regen. What this catalyst needs, I think, is a more consistent way to apply heal block. Another way for it to get buffed is by utilizing inverse polarity.

Armor rating. Due to its low proc rate and the existence of piercing, it fails to reliably accomplish what it’s designed for What’s more, other catalysts and SAs that have a % chance to proc on hit already discourage long combos by their design, creating additional competition for Armor rating. What it needs, in my opinion, is either a much higher proc rate or a secondary effect that scales down the opponent’s damage with each consecutive combo hit (or both).

Cripple decker. Being able to punish the opponent for doing too much burst damage is something that Rifts are in dire need of, in my opinion. This catalyst does it to some extent, but its effect is barely noticeable. I believe its main problem is that Cripple in itself is just not strong enough as a debuff. In my view, its effect should either be amplified or it should become stackable. What I also think Rifts could use is another catalyst with a similar effect but in the form of direct damage penalty (like my suggestion about Armor rating, but the opposite). More on that in the suggestions section.

Special exception. Inflicts a very powerful and much-needed debuff. At first it might seem like a counterpart of Blockbusted, but it suffers from a problem that many other catalysts fall prey to as well. It heavily depends on AI to do something and is therefore not reliable.

Super slo-mo. A counterpart of Blockbusted but with some issues. The way I see it, if Blockbusted is designed to punish you for holding onto a charged blockbuster, Super slo-mo’s purpose is to prevent you from charging a blockbuster in the first place. And while both can be countered by immunity, super slo-mo doesn’t do its job that well. First, it appears to be bugged - even if you have a couple of stacks of the debuff, you can still charge blockbusters through throws at a regular rate, meaning they’re unaffected by it. I also feel like a regular golden Super slo-mo doesn’t stack debuffs fast enough to prevent you from charging at least a level 1 blockbuster if have a little bit of meter gain in your set. So, in conclusion, I think that the bug with throws need to be looked into, and the downtime between each stack of the debuff applied to the opponent might need to be shortened a little bit more, despite being pretty low already.

Tag’n’gag. Very situational but can sometimes be a threat. For example, in combination with infected flesh and curse. Its problem is that it can be pretty reliably avoided with sketchy, who one would think should be countered by it. Also AI-dependent, which is not good (although not fully since it also activates after an opponent is defeated). Basically, this catalyst sets out to discourage tag-ins but doesn’t end up being enough of a threat to force the opponent to adjust their strategy.

Wither forecast. Much like Super slo-mo, it doesn’t seem to be impactful enough. All things considered, Blockbusted is a better choice by a pretty big margin. Its issue is that, first of all, it’s pretty easy to dodge by tagging out, having Surgeon general as a support or using immunity, and, secondly, relatively easy to ignore - you can outrun one stack of wither by hitting the opponent and using any blockbuster as soon as it’s charged. I think it could be buffed in a variety of ways - either by decreasing the downtime between each stack of wither applied, making it impossible to get rid of wither by using a blockbuster, applying 2-3 stacks of wither at once or giving it a secondary effect.

Invincible armada. The idea of a catalyst that stalls for time through invincibility sounds cool, but I feel like it’s too unreliable to use. Sure, invincibility is in a league of its own when it comes to defensive buffs, but the death of a teammate which can only happen a maximum of 2 times (if there are no revives) combined with only a 50% chance (on an unspecific gold catalyst) to proc is a bit too much of a restriction. Under normal circumstances, there’s a good chance an unspecific gold catalyst won’t even proc. Sure, you can use its character-specific variant with a 100% proc chance, but then you’ll be left with just 2 procs that are still weak to tag out or buff removal. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not useless, but there are better options that can lower the opponent’s score more reliably. I think Invincible armada could benefit from some kind of a rework that will, on the one hand, guarantee invincibility (perhaps, a different, maybe not one-time condition) and, on the other, give the attacker a way to deal with it (like the current Wither forecast or Darknut, for example).

D tier: These are either flawed in their design, outdated or don’t bring any meaningful advantage compared to other catalysts. Pretty much never used.

Element specific:

Rising temperatures. Falls prey to the same issue as many other similar catalysts - it’s most impactful when you end up getting hit, and therefore is not as good as other options by default. Enrage is certainly not the first buff you’d want on your defenders. Although 5 stacks of it can result in a fair bit of chip damage, equipping this catalyst means giving up on something that could otherwise slow the opponent down, provide more survivability or give a clear advantage when the defending team is taking damage. And that’s not even considering the fact that you can avoid the enrages through curse, tag out or locking down the opponent with special moves, for example. To sum it up, there’s no guarantee the defending team will get to have its turn to make use of the enrages. And even if it does, you’ll have to get hit first to take some meaningful damage. I’d say it either need some serious buffs (e.g., a couple more effects) or a complete rework.

Fire starter. Same problems as Rising temperatures, To be precise, Record breaker etc.

Unspecific:

To be precise.
This one’s first on the list because it technically doesn’t fully fit the criteria described above. It’s the only catalyst in this tier that actually does get used relatively often, maybe even more often than those in the C tier. However, I believe that there’s still a big flaw in its design - it synergizes with just three variants in the whole game. Its synergy with Overclocked and Head hunter is great, although still weak to Neuro/command grabs; it can also work with Rogue agent, but it’s much less reliable since it depends on whether the AI decides to take the head off. The problem is, it brings no benefit to any other variant in the game. Even if you get hit against it, there’s not much difference as you simply suffer a few critical hits - it’s very unlikely that the attacker will be relying on some sort of a defensive SA that can be canceled out by a precision hit. Painwheels with Grudge MA even benefit from precision hits. And even then, you’d have to get hit in the first place. It’s pretty tricky to balance this catalyst without giving too much power to OC and HH on defense, but I think it needs to have some sort of a secondary effect that will make this catalyst beneficial for any variant.

Record breaker. Again, it relies on you making mistakes and getting hit, which automatically makes other catalysts that give you trouble just by existing stronger and more reliable. What’s worse, the reward that the defending team gets is very unimpactful. It might have been scary on the boss node in Rifts 1.0, but nowadays there are no modifiers it synergizes well with, and the bonus hp you get from streak modifiers gives you a safety net in and of itself. I think this catalyst should either punish you for blocking or playing too defensively or be reworked into something completely new.

Bleeding guilty. This catalyst is extremely niche by design because there are not that many sources of bleed in general. But that’s not the main issue. The problem is that it sets out to amplify something you’d be countering in the first place. If there’s bleed in your way, you’ll be doing everything you can to avoid getting debuffed and losing hp. I think there’s a pretty easy fix for this catalyst- it should just do what it’s designed to amplify directly, simply inflict bleed. It would be competitive but still have enough counters, in my opinion.

Regeneration X. It suffers from exactly the same problem as Bleeding guilty. Instead of prolonging the regen you’d be trying to prevent or counter in the first place, I think it should just apply regen directly. That would make it both interesting and competitive.

Post haste. I find it both too complicated, not reliable and not impactful enough. First, it can just be avoided by relying on special moves, and secondly, even when it procs, its impact is barely noticeable. It doesn’t really stop you from brute forcing the defending team or waste your time. There’s a good chance the fight will be over by the time it creates a problem for the attacker. Maybe it’s just more of a meta problem, but still, the bottom line is that it could definitely use a buff or a rework. I’d opt for making it more direct and reliable (giving the defending team more meter faster) and maybe adding some secondary effect.

Primal rage. Same problems as Rising temperatures.

The angry flinch. As mentioned before, unflinching is a powerful debuff on defense, but there are still ways to deal with it. The problem of this catalyst is that it’s so unreliable that it might not even proc once throughout the fight. First, it’s AI-dependent. Second the AI needs to charge a blockbuster and be able to use it in the first place. Third, it only has a 50% chance to proc unless it’s character-specific. In order to compete with other catalysts, I think it should have more reliable conditions for activating and likely a secondary effect.

Marked for deletion. Death mark alone is just not enough of a threat. It also requires you to take damage (if I understand it correctly) to activate, and I think it’s most likely to work once per fight at best. And that’s only for 15 seconds provided that you don’t have immunity. I can confidently say that it needs some serious buffs or a complete rework - a better condition(s) for activating, a couple more debuffs and possibly another effect.

Stun grenade. Stun is among the strongest debuffs you can suffer. But even then, this catalyst is extremely unreliable. Again, it all comes down to the AI to use the right special move or blockbuster at the right time and actually hit you. I think it either needs a complete rework or another condition for activating as well as a secondary effect.

Doomsday device. This is a tricky one. On paper it seems strong, but things are complicated. You are most likely to get hit by a level 3 blockbuster on a triple node since they take the longest to clear. This is where you’d probably want to put a catalyst like this since there are 3 slots to work with. However, the way I see it, if you get hit by a bb3 on a triple node, you’re either going to die anyway OR you’ll have a support (say, Surgeon general with Trauma center, for example) that will likely save you with the help final stand or immunity. I feel like these are the most likely scenarios, and in both cases the catalyst doesn’t end up doing much. And this is all not considering the fact that there are other, much more valuable and reliable choices for a catalyst slot. All in all, I think this catalyst needs some adjustments - probably other conditions for activating along with some kind of a secondary effect. Maybe it could just be changed into something like a Transducer modifier.

Umbrella tier: It remains to be seen how Umbrella will fit into the meta and how impactful her catalyst is going to be. It sounds pretty good, but it’s simply too early to tell.

Rhyzm and Ooze. ?

My suggestions. Possible adjustments, reworks and buffs.

It goes without saying, but I’m no game designer. I can’t confidently say how all of my suggestions are going to interact with each other without testing. What I’d like to see, however, is more variety with a larger pool of characters, elements, variants and catalysts that are considered ‘good enough’ on defense. What I’m also hoping can be achieved is an rps-like model where any strategy/variant can be countered in some way, thus promoting more variety on attack. In my view, in order for that to happen, some impactful changes need to take place.

General issues:

I’ve talked about what’s strong pretty extensively, and I’d like to take this opportunity to address the core issues I’ve pointed out at the beginning that are not necessarily about catalysts but heavily affect their balance and the meta in general.

Streak modifiers. I completely understand the idea and why they were added, but I’m personally not a fan of them. I think they’ve made offense a great deal stronger (perhaps than it needed to be), made it easier to solve a lot of problems with brute force and created some shortcuts (for example, with bonus hp you don’t really need to worry about defense on your attackers; you can survive more attacks, sometimes even lvl 3 blockbusters, tank down a lot of reflect damage (with extra hp in your move set, even Immoral fiber’s SA can be ignored instead of relying on hex/precision). I’d rather prefer Rifts to be without them, or at the very least without the hp modifier, but my opinion might be unpopular here.

Strategies and variants that have no direct answers. Burst damage can only be stopped by catalysts and variants that reflect damage back (and some variants, most notably Robo Fortunes, can even find a way around that thanks to barriers and precision). Special moves and, more importantly, command grab special moves than can lock the AI down don’t really have an answer (catalyst-wise). Neuromancer, being able to lock any opponent in the corner, can only be stopped by reflect damage as well (despite there being a catalyst that discourages high combos). Neither of Sketchy’s SAs can be reliably countered by catalysts (one allows you to keep your team under constant immunity, while the other lets you juggle the defending team with an outtake to keep everyone cursed until there’s just one fighter left). All of this, in my opinion, significantly restricts the pool of catalysts and strategies/variants used.

In my view, the catalysts responsible for these niches need serious buffs first and foremost. Here are my suggestions:

Armor rating.

OLD. 10/12/15/17/20% chance when HIT to avoid all damage and gain ARMOR for 5/15 seconds if the opponent has over 10 COMBO HITS.

NEW. Damage inflicted by the opponent is reduced by 5/6/7/8/9% (or maybe even 8/9/10/11/12%) per every opponent combo hit over 20/10.

OR: 20/22/25/27/30% (or maybe even higher) chance when HIT to avoid all damage and gain ARMOR for 5/15 seconds if the opponent has over 10 COMBO HITS.

OR: A combination of both but weaker.

Autoimmune.

OLD. 25/35/50/75/100% chance when suffering a DEBUFF to gain IMMUNITY for 1/6 seconds.

NEW. 25/35/50/75/100% chance when suffering a DEBUFF to convert it into IMMUNITY for 1/6 seconds.

[Should work in such a way that would stop Sketchy’s curse from being 100% consistent. Alternatively, Sketchy can just be adjusted in such a way that she will apply slow before curse, leaving a chance for slow to be followed by immunity upon the catalyst’s activation].

Cripple decker.

General change: Cripple now reduces damage inflicted by 50% (or 60%)

OR: Cripple now stacks up to 5 similar to enrage. When suffering from 5 stacks of cripple, hitting the opponent removes all stacks/every hit landed on the opponent removes 1 stack of cripple.

Hexy time.

OLD. Every 30/25/20/18/15 seconds opponents suffer HEX for 3/13 seconds.

NEW. Every 20/17/15/12/10 seconds opponents suffer HEX for 5/10 seconds.

[I think it’s best to balance it in such a way that a gold non-specific version will always activate before Surgeon general’s immunity]

Special exception.

OLD. 25/35/50/75/100% chance when using a SPECIAL MOVE to DISABLE the opponent's SPECIAL MOVES for 5/15 seconds.

NEW. 25/35/50/75/100% chance when either fighter uses a SPECIAL MOVE to DISABLE the opponent's SPECIAL MOVES for 5/10 (or 5/15?) seconds.

Tag n’ gag.

OLD. 25/35/50/75/100% chance when TAGGING OUT to DISABLE opponent TAG-INS for 5/15 seconds.

NEW. 25/35/50/75/100% chance for the opponent to tag in with DISABLE TAG INS for 5/15 seconds. 25/35/50/75/100% chance when TAGGING OUT to DISABLE opponent TAG-INS for 5/15 seconds.

[The debuffs should be able to be applied before Sketchy’s immunity].

OR: Increase the opponent’s TAG IN cooldown by 30-70%/60-100%/80-120%/110-150%/130-170%.

OR: Whenever you or the opponent TAG IN, there’s a 25/35/50/75/100% chance for the opponent’s TAG IN cooldown to be increased by 20-120%.

A brand-new addition.

I’m still not confident that a buffed cripple decker would be enough to discourage single-hit burst damage. First, its potential is not to be underestimated (a throwback to Model leader’s MA vs Xbot) and, second, it still leaves burst damage + immunity out of the equation. While Cripple decker might be a better choice against burst damage in general, I’d like to propose an entirely new catalyst that would ensure single-hit burst damage (most used by Robo Fortune, Cerebella, Beowulf, Fukua with lobs etc.) has counterplay as well.

New catalyst.

[Insert catalyst name here] Damage inflicted by the first hit of the opponent’s combo is reduced by 80%. Each successive hit removes 20% from this penalty. [This is how I see a general maxed out gold catalyst]

I have a few other ideas for new catalysts but I’m going to hold onto them for now and instead focus on the rest of the existing catalysts. A few important notes:
  • Some of the changes I’m proposing are very ambitious, but I believe that strong buffs are necessary to ensure that catalysts can compete with each other. After all, catalyst slots are limited, so you always want to pick the best of the best. That is why every catalyst has to be impactful, especially character-specific ones. On the other hand, if some of my ideas are too strong, I hope that at least the general review and some of the concepts (or their parts) I’m proposing can be of use.
  • All of the values and chances for activation are rough estimates based on what I think might work. Nothing is set in stone because in the end such things are best determined by testing.
  • Some catalysts, in my opinion, need stronger buffs than others. A good example here is Fire element: it doesn’t have nearly as many formidable defenders as other elements do, so it needs every little advantage it can get.
  • It’s not easy to tell how all the changed catalysts are going to interact with each other, so in case some overpowered combinations emerge, one possible solution is to make some catalysts mutually exclusive instead of going for direct nerfs.
  • Some catalysts don’t have clearly defined niches and can be adjusted in a variety of ways. I’m only suggesting certain options, but I’m sure there are limitless ways in which any catalyst can be changed.
  • I personally find rifts more fun and interesting when there is a lot of strong stuff and everyone kind of struggles. I think it’s much more exciting when both sides try to minimize their losses as opposed to maximize their gains. I’d much rather have a hard time on my opponent’s base and expect them to struggle on mine too than have no difficulty on attack and have no faith in my own defense either. Maybe that’s more of a high-end rifts problem too, but that’s how I feel. Basically, I think it’s better to make everything strong and tone down some of the changes over time than to play it too safe.
  • While it is difficult to make catalysts both beginner-friendly and challenging enough for veterans, I think that generally catalyst levels and tiers do a good enough job. Upgrading catalysts is not a top priority for players who are starting out, but the higher you climb, the more likely you are to find gold-tier and higher-level catalysts that make things more challenging. That being said, since some of the ideas I’m proposing have a few effects at once, one possible solution to make them not too difficult from the start is to have additional/secondary effects or bonus properties unlocked only at lvl 11, kind of similarly to moves. This might not be necessary, but I think it’s still something worth considering.
With all that said, here are my suggestions for the rest of the catalysts:

Element specific:

High waters.

OLD. 10% chance when HIT to gain ARMOR and HASTE for 10/30 seconds if you have a fully charged BLOCKBUSTER.

NEW. Start the match with 2 permanent stacks of ARMOR. When falling below 50% hp, one stack of ARMOR is removed. 10% chance when hit to gain haste for 10/20 seconds and remove all of the opponent’s buffs if you don’t have a fully charged blockbuster. [Or vice versa]

Frost armor: No changes.

Overload.

OLD. Deal 50/100% bonus damage if the opponent has a fully charged BLOCKBUSTER. Also gain a 15/20/25% chance to inflict a 5 second STUN.

NEW. Gain 5% (?) meter per second if the opponent doesn’t have a fully charged blockbuster. 10% (?) chance when hit to gain MIASMA if the opponent has a fully charged blockbuster.

Into thin air. No changes.

Rising temperatures.

OLD. Gain a 10/30 second ENRAGE every 10/7/5 seconds.

NEW. Reduce the duration of all debuffs suffered by 5 seconds [or maybe 50%]. Gain THORNS and ENRAGE for 5/10 (or 5/15) seconds while draining 10/20% (or 5/15%) blockbuster meter for every 30/20% (or 25/15%) hp lost.

Fire starter.

OLD. Gain 1 stack of PRECISION every 15/5 seconds. Landing a CRITICAL HIT grants permanent ENRAGE.

NEW. Every 8/3 seconds gain AUTOBLOCK and ENRAGE while the opponent suffers GUARD BREAK for 5/15 seconds

OR: Every 15/5 seconds gain AUTOBLOCK and ENRAGE while the opponent suffers GUARD BREAK for 10/20 (15/25?) seconds

Last words. No changes.

Light weight.

OLD. Begin the match with 10/30 seconds of UNFLINCHING and IMMUNITY.

NEW. Begin the match with 10 seconds of UNFLINCHING and IMMUNITY. Gain UNFLINCHING and IMMUNITY for 10 seconds every 50/30 (or 45/25) seconds after.

Shot in the dark.

OLD. 25/50/100% chance when BLOCKING a HIT to inflict WITHER for 5/15 seconds.

NEW. 25/50/100% chance when BLOCKING a HIT to inflict WITHER and gain THORNS (or barrier) for 5/15 seconds.

Darknut.

OLD. Begin the match with 5 stacks of ARMOR. Each stack is removed when HIT with a combo count at any multiple of 10. Gain a 10% chance to inflict BLEED for 5/15 seconds when HIT while benefiting from ARMOR.

NEW. Begin the match with 5 stacks of ARMOR. Each stack is removed when HIT with a combo count at any multiple of 10. Gain a 10% chance to inflict BLEED for 5/15 seconds when HIT while benefiting from ARMOR. After the timeless stacks of armor have been removed, 15% chance when hit to gain ARMOR for 2/12 seconds.

Character specific:

Orbital Period.

OLD. When Annie BLOCKS a HIT, she inflicts a 20/10 second DEATH MARK, which is removed when she suffers a 10 HIT COMBO. If DEATH MARK expires, opponents suffer IMMOBILIZE for 15 seconds.

NEW. When Annie BLOCKS a HIT or loses more than 40%/20% (?) hp from a single hit, the opponent loses all buffs and suffers FATIGUE (and cripple, maybe) for 20/10 seconds, which is removed when she suffers a 10 HIT COMBO. If FATIGUE expires, opponents suffer IMMOBILIZE for 15 seconds.

Do or die.

OLD. After 130/30 seconds have passed in the match, Beowulf gains permanent IMMUNITY and HASTE.

NEW. After 130/30 seconds have passed in the match, all debuffs are removed, and Beowulf gains permanent IMMUNITY, HASTE and ARMOR (or maybe 2 stacks?).

Futile resistance.

OLD. While Big Band is above 50% HEALTH opponents suffer 1/6% damage when landing a HIT that deals less than 1% of Big Band's MAX HEALTH.

NEW. Opponents suffer 1/6% damage when landing a HIT that deals less than 1% of Big Band's MAX HEALTH. When Big Band’s HEALTH drops below 50%, remove all debuffs and gain permanent ARMOR.

Strong Armed.

OLD. Cerebella has a 25/75% chance to gain UNFLINCHING for 3 seconds when BLOCKING any attack.

NEW. Cerebella has a 50/100% chance to gain UNFLINCHING for 7 seconds when BLOCKING any attack, breaking a throw or using a special move.

Corrosive element.

OLD: Opponents lose 1/6% HEALTH per second while Double is at an ELEMENTAL ADVANTAGE.

NEW. Gain 0/5% (or maybe a fixed but lower number, like 3%) health per second while not at elemental disadvantage. Opponents lose 1/6% health per second while Double is at an elemental advantage.

Pharaohmones.

OLD. Eliza has a 5% chance when HIT to inflict HEX and CURSE for 5/15 seconds if her opponent has a higher percentage of HEALTH remaining.

NEW. Eliza has a 7% (10%?) chance when HIT to inflict HEX and CURSE for 5/15 seconds and gain (maybe even drain?) 0-5% hp (or 2-7% hp) if her opponent has a higher percentage of HEALTH remaining.

Great escape.

OLD: Filia has a 50% chance to gain 1 stack of EVASION for every 15/5th combo HIT suffered.

NEW: Filia has a 50% chance to gain 2 stacks of EVASION for every 15/5th combo HIT suffered.

OR: Filia has a 75% chance to gain 1 stack of EVASION for every 15/5th combo HIT suffered.

Sleeping powder.

OLD. Fukua has a 5% chance to inflict FATIGUE for 15/5 seconds when HIT below 50% HEALTH

NEW. Fukua has a 7% chance to inflict FATIGUE for 15/5 seconds when HIT.

Scratching post. No changes.

Don’t poke the buer. No changes.

Imminent Threat.

OLD. Parasoul gains PRECISION when spawning a TEAR. Each CRITICAL HIT Parasoul lands increases CRITICAL DAMAGE by 10/110%, and inflicts permanent BLEED.

NEW. Every 15/5 seconds Parasoul gains PRECISION, and the opponent suffers GUARD BREAK for 5/15 seconds. Each CRITICAL HIT Parasoul lands increases CRITICAL DAMAGE by 10/110% and inflicts permanent BLEED.

Hollow Points.

OLD. Peacock's projectiles inflict Heavy Bleed, Cripple and Armor Break for 5/15 seconds when blocked.

NEW. [General: Cripple now reduces damage inflicted by 50% (60%?)] Peacock’s projectiles inflict Heal block, Heavy Bleed, Cripple and Death mark for 5/15 seconds when blocked.

Electrostatic field. No changes.

Return to sender. No changes.

Rhyzm and Ooze. No changes.

Megalixir.

OLD. Valentine gains 1/6% METER per second while benefitting from REGEN.

NEW. Valentine recovers 2% (or 3%) HEALTH per second (passively) and gains 1/6% METER per second while benefitting from REGEN.

Unspecific:

Bleeding guilty.


OLD. 25/35/50/75/100% chance when inflicting BLEED to increase its duration by 1/6 second.

NEW. 3/5/7/10/12% (?) chance when hit to inflict BLEED for 5/10 (or 5/15?) seconds.

[In order not to completely overshadow the defensive variants that inflict bleed via their SAs, this catalyst could also have a secondary effect just for them. It could be tied to “if the attacker is already suffering from bleed inflicted by the defender themself” and give an additional bonus, like “also inflict heavy bleed/heal block/another debuff’ or “x% chance when blocking or suffering a hit to have all active stacks of bleed converted to permanent bleed (like The first cut MA)”].

Regeneration X.

OLD. 25/35/50/75/100% chance when gaining REGEN to increase its duration by 1/6 second.

NEW. 3/5/7/10/12% (?) chance when hit to gain REGEN for 5/10 (or 5/15?) seconds.

[Similarly to bleeding guilty, it could also give some kind of an additional bonus to the defenders that get regen by themselves]

Blockbusted. No changes.

Curse of knowledge. No changes.

Doomsday device.

OLD. 50/75/100% chance to inflict 30/10 seconds permanent DOOM when using level 3 BLOCKBUSTER.

NEW. When either fighter uses a level 3 BLOCKBUSTER, the opponent suffers a 30/10 seconds permanent DOOM. When the catalyst activates, there’s a 50/75/100% chance for the opponent to lose all buffs and suffer curse.

OR: Gain 1% blockbuster meter per second. When a level 3 blockbuster is charged, reduce the opponent’s blockbuster meter by 100%, reset their special moves and tag cooldowns. 50/75/100% chance to inflict 30/10 seconds permanent DOOM when using level 3 BLOCKBUSTER.

OR: Gain 1% blockbuster meter per second. A level 3 blockbuster is used immediately upon charging. 50/75/100% chance to inflict 30/10 seconds permanent DOOM when using level 3 BLOCKBUSTER.

Final fight. No changes.

Invincible armada.

OLD. 25/35/50/75/100% chance when a teammate is defeated to gain INVINCIBLE for 5/15 seconds.

NEW. Gain invincibility for 5/10 seconds every 35/30/25/20/15 seconds (or 30/25/20/15/10 seconds or even more often). Invincibility is removed when HIT with a combo count at any multiple of 5.

Marked for deletion.

OLD. Opponents suffer DEATH MARK for 5/15 seconds when falling below 25/40/50/60/70% HEALTH.

NEW. Opponents suffer DEATH MARK, 5 stacks of GUARD BREAK and DISABLE TAG-INS for 5/15 seconds when the defender falls below 25/40/50/60/70%HEALTH. Gain 5% meter per second whenever the opponent is suffering from a debuff.

No high heals.

OLD. Suffer HEAL BLOCK for 5/15 seconds when gaining REGEN while above 65/50/35/25/15% HEALTH.

NEW. Suffer INVERSE POLARITY for 5/15 seconds when gaining REGEN or recovering hp while above 65/50/35/25/15% HEALTH.

OR: Suffer HEAL BLOCK for 5/15 seconds when gaining REGEN or recovering hp while above 65/50/35/25/15% HEALTH.

OR: Whenever above 65/50/35/25/15% HEALTH and not suffering from HEAL BLOCK/INVERSE POLARITY, opponent suffers HEAL BLOCK/INVERSE POLARITY FOR 5/15 SECONDS.

Post haste.

OLD. 15/20/25/35/50% chance when HIT with a BLOCKBUSTER to gain HASTE for 10 seconds. When HASTE expires, gain 10/30% meter for all BLOCKBUSTERS.

NEW. When either fighter uses a BLOCKBUSTER, gain HASTE for 5/15 (?) seconds and 20/25/30/35/40% meter for all BLOCKBUSTERS.

Primal rage.

OLD. Gain ENRAGE for 10/20 seconds for every 15/12/10/7/5 combo hits suffered.

NEW. Gain ENRAGE and BARRIER while inflicting POWER SURGE (or guard break) for 10/20 seconds for every 15/12/10/7/5 combo hits suffered.

OR: Gain ENRAGE, BARRIER and BLESSING for 5/15 (or 5/10) seconds for every 15/12/10/7/5 combo hits suffered.

Record breaker.

OLD. Each HIT has a 15/20/25/35/50% chance to inflict ARMOR BREAK for 5/15 seconds. Landing a CRITICAL HIT will convert ARMOR BREAK to a permanent ARMOR BREAK.

NEW. Each hit blocked by the opponent has a 15/20/25/30/35% chance to inflict GUARD BREAK for 5/10 seconds. Landing a critical hit will convert all stacks of GUARD BREAK to permanent GUARD BREAK.

Stun grenade.

OLD. PROJECTILES have a 15/20/25/35/50% chance on HIT to STUN opponent for 1/6 second.

NEW. Whenever either fighter blocks or gets hit by a projectile from a special move or a blockbuster, the opponent has a 30/40/50/60/70% chance to get STUNNED for 1/6 seconds.

OR: 30/40/50/60/70% chance to STUN the opponent for 1/6 seconds when blocking a special move or blockbuster or when hitting the opponent with a special move or a blockbuster.

OR: Blocked hits have a 30/40/50/60/70% chance to STUN the opponent for 1/6 seconds.

Super slo-mo.

OLD. Opponent suffers SLOW for 5/15 seconds after every 10/7/5/4/3 seconds not using a BLOCKBUSTER.

NEW. [General: SLOW now affects throws the same way as regular hits]. Opponent suffers SLOW for 5/15 seconds after every 6/5/4/3/2 seconds not using a BLOCKBUSTER.

OR: Opponent suffers SLOW for 10/20 seconds after every 10/7/5/4/3 seconds not using a BLOCKBUSTER.

OR a mix of both.

The angry flinch.

OLD. 25/35/50/75/100% chance when using a BLOCKBUSTER to gain UNFLINCHING for 5/15 seconds.

NEW. 25/35/50/75/100% chance when either fighter uses a BLOCKBUSTER to have all debuffs removed and gain UNFLINCHING for 5/15 second (or 5/10 seconds).

To be precise.

OLD. Gain 1/2/3/4/5 stacks of PRECISION every 15/5 seconds.

NEW. Gain 1/2/3/4/5 stacks of PRECISION and 1 stack of EVASION that lasts 5 seconds every 15/5 seconds.

Wither forecast.

OLD. Every 30/25/20/18/15 seconds your opponent suffers WITHER for 5/15 seconds. WITHER is removed if the opponent uses a BLOCKBUSTER.

NEW. Every 20/17/15/12/10 seconds your opponent suffers WITHER for 5/15 seconds. [In this case I think it’s best to balance it in such a way that a gold non-specific version will always activate before Surgeon general’s immunity]

OR: Every 30/25/20/18/15 seconds your opponent suffers 2 (or 3) stacks of WITHER for 5/10 seconds. WITHER is removed if the opponent uses a BLOCKBUSTER.

OR: Every 12/11/10/9/8 seconds your opponent suffers WITHER for 5/15 seconds. WITHER is removed if the opponent uses a BLOCKBUSTER.



The end!

Thank you for reading. I’ve been thinking about all this for a very long time, and it took me a lot of effort to finally sit down and write everything. There might be a lot of subjectivity here, and some changes I’m proposing might seem too strong, but hopefully my thoughts and suggestions can prove useful in one way or another nonetheless.

TL;DR: Only about 20% of all catalysts see the most use while others remain pretty unimpactful. In order to fix this, some serious buffs and reworks are in order. A few catalysts need to be more effective in their niches to ensure that all strategies/variants have an answer; others just need a power-up to be able to compete with the rest. All of this combined along with some general changes should be enough to add some much-needed variety to the current meta.
 

Dusty00

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Great write up, Rando! Only took me a few days to read through 😂 That’s quite the analysis coming from a regular top3 rifter. I think you’re spit on with where we stand with the current meta and offer some great tweaks to think about.

I’m on the same page where I missed the early days of Rift1.0 when we were all still figuring out how to beat each other’s challenging base and there’s a sense of accomplishment when your base succeeded in presenting a challenge for others to clear. Even with some of the flaws to 1.0, it really challenged players to think about their collections and plan both attack and defense constantly. The current meta is so stale that unless you’re gunning for top3 it’s pretty much just a grind fest like PF.

I do think some of the catalysts suggestions you offer would make it too hard for the average person to deal with. There’s only a very small percentage of players like us with access to almost all of the variants and good move sets to be competitive with offense (diamond ranks). Remember even the old Futile Resistance was really difficult for many to deal with… and you suggest yo make it even harder 😂

I’ll leave with one final thought - HVS has done quite well with fan art and combo contest up until now. What about a contest for us to submit ideas on catalysts and node modifiers? Perhaps they can be three categories: 1) design a new genera catalyst 2) design a new character/elemental catalyst 3) redesign a pool of selected unused catalyst. Winner’s catalysts will then be introduced to the game in a later patch. @Sairus what do you think?
 

Randomizer

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Hahaha congrats on making it through! Thank you! Yeah, I might have gone a tiny bit overboard with the volume.. I honestly didn't expect many people to read the whole thing but I made sure to write everything I wanted to say so that I can have a clear conscience😄

It really is quite the task to make catalysts both impactful enough for late game players and not too rough for the rest of the player base. I have to admit that the number one thing I had in mind while coming up with the suggestions was to make everything viable at the highest level, especially all elements and characters. I might have went too far with some ideas but hopefully the overall context or at least separate concepts I provided could be of use in the future.
One thing I'll say though is that I believe there could still be ways to make some of the more controversial catalysts go both ways. For example, all of their effects could scale with the level of the catalyst (e.g. if it's Futile resistance, then all of the values would change like so: While Big Band is above X% HEALTH opponents suffer X% damage when landing a HIT that deals less than X% of Big Band's MAX HEALTH). As I've also mentioned in the post, upgrading a catalyst to level 11 (or a new max level, something that could be made very expensive like moves) could give it some bonus properties/additional effects that would otherwise not be available. That's just an idea off the top of my head, considering that not many people upgrade catalysts to max level, and, from what I've seen, it's usually the diamond players who care about it the most. It's definitely something that complicates things further, but an idea worth exploring, I think.

Love the idea of a contest! If catalyst/modifier adjustments are not on the radar right now, it would be awesome if they at least made it to the list sometime later. Perhaps, in that case a feedback survey similar to the guilds one could be of help as well!
 
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Dusty00

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Hmmm I like the idea of increasing new catalyst level to unlock more proprieties/effects for end game players. A couple more ideas on that train of thought:

Using the new rift reset threshold of 1000, 1150, and 1350, we essentially have three difficulty levels of rift defined. So let’s say each catalyst has also three tiers of effects that would only become active when the player is above a certain rift rating threshold. For example:

1000 and below = lv1 catalyst effect.
1000-1150 = cap at lv6 effect of catalyst
1150-1350 = cap at lv11 effect of catalyst (current cap)
1350+ = new cap with additional properties and effect to challenge end game (diamond rank) players

We can take this concept a step further and apply these restrictions for move and character levels as well. This would give a pseudo scaling effect, making the offensive requirements for mid-level player much lower to progress. Defense also wouldn’t be too difficult because lower character levels and move levels would make the base easier to clear. In addition, this would address end game player sandbagging in lower difficulties as their base will be more inline with those mid-level players.
 
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Randomizer

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Great ideas! I think such restrictions would make rifts more beginner-friendly and simultaneously create an opportunity to make catalysts more challenging on the higher end 👌
 
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First post for me here on the forums, so a quick bit about me:

I started playing this game in spring of last year, and made level 70 in December. Since that time I struggled to get into d4. I did make it eventually, and recently (post update) I manage to make d3. So my rift experience is limited aswell as my general knowledge about the game and the previous iterations of rift.

Last thing I'll say about me is that although I'm fairly new to the rift experience, I feel like it's the last big challenge the game has to offer me. It feels really rewarding to conquer a difficult base, and since that also means I've beaten that player out of their score placing, it also gives me a sense of progression. Each season inching my score up little by little.

So with that said, I 100% love all these ideas and have been thinking along similar lines to changes myself (though without the experience and specifics in mind). I think a general increase to the difficulty would be alot of fun. This could also bring about true defender diversity, by allowing many alternate units to be strong defensively because they would have good catalysts to pair with. It's also very apparent the power disparity between many of the catalysts, where many seem to have little to no conceivable use at all (Marked for deletion).

"S tier: the ‘meta’. Catalysts that see the most use in the highest ranks and are generally the hardest to deal with (from my experience). It’s important to note that I don’t think they’re overpowered. I’d much rather see other catalysts on their level."

Although I don't play at the highest ranks myself, I agree with this statement. Buffs > Nerfs

Thanks for all your work on this!
 

Randomizer

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Thank you for your input! Really glad to hear the opinion of someone who's a bit newer to Rifts. I might be a long-time player, but this also means that my perspective is likely biased in one way or another. So I'm glad you feel the same way!
 
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Thank you for your input! Really glad to hear the opinion of someone who's a bit newer to Rifts. I might be a long-time player, but this also means that my perspective is likely biased in one way or another. So I'm glad you feel the same way!
Randomizer I was wondering whether autoimmunity would be beneficial to model and pwheel defenders. I hav a pwheel autoimmunity catalyst. Do u think immunity could help these defenders? Really appreciate your thesis on rifts. I was actually looking everywhere for decent info and some sort of insight to be a little more better at rifts. This piece of information u wrote is invaluable I must say. You didn't hold back at all 😊👍
 

Tsukiakari

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Randomizer I was wondering whether autoimmunity would be beneficial to model and pwheel defenders. I hav a pwheel autoimmunity catalyst. Do u think immunity could help these defenders? Really appreciate your thesis on rifts. I was actually looking everywhere for decent info and some sort of insight to be a little more better at rifts. This piece of information u wrote is invaluable I must say. You didn't hold back at all 😊👍
The thing is, you have to know your fighter and your counter to that fighter is.

First up: Painwheel
Her counter: Beowurf Weekend warrior, Squigly Bio Exo, some valentine variants. Do they inflict curse? Rarely. Do they rely on said buff to attack? Not really
Painwheel herself: Her main niche for defense is damage reflection via Don't Poke The Buer, and on some variants Tainted Blood. Do they need Immunity to work? No
-> Conclusion: Painwheel don't need Autoimmue.

Second: Annie - more specificly Model Leader
Her counter: X -Bot, and on certain extend Sketchy. Does X-Bot inflict curse? Yes, in the form of Death Mark. Does she rely in it? Yes and no, Death Mark help her damage, but enrage and presicion is enough for her. Sketchy is, as mention by Randomizer above, totally undermine the use of Autoimmunity if you get curse by her.
Model Leader herself: She have the ability to cleanse debuff herself, although not as good as Immunity, but it's surfice.
->Conclusion: Model Leader also don't need Autoimmue.

Beside, there are many catalysts that go better with them (beside their main Catalysts Frost Armor and DPTB) like the Unspecific S tier Catalyst Randomizer mentioned
 
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The thing is, you have to know your fighter and your counter to that fighter is.

First up: Painwheel
Her counter: Beowurf Weekend warrior, Squigly Bio Exo, some valentine variants. Do they inflict curse? Rarely. Do they rely on said buff to attack? Not really
Painwheel herself: Her main niche for defense is damage reflection via Don't Poke The Buer, and on some variants Tainted Blood. Do they need Immunity to work? No
-> Conclusion: Painwheel don't need Autoimmue.

Second: Annie - more specificly Model Leader
Her counter: X -Bot, and on certain extend Sketchy. Does X-Bot inflict curse? Yes, in the form of Death Mark. Does she rely in it? Yes and no, Death Mark help her damage, but enrage and presicion is enough for her. Sketchy is, as mention by Randomizer above, totally undermine the use of Autoimmunity if you get curse by her.
Model Leader herself: She have the ability to cleanse debuff herself, although not as good as Immunity, but it's surfice.
->Conclusion: Model Leader also don't need Autoimmue.

Beside, there are many catalysts that go better with them (beside their main Catalysts Frost Armor and DPTB) like the Unspecific S tier Catalyst Randomizer mentioned
I see ty for giving feedback. I guess it's back to the drawing board 😞