There are a few systemic problems which are actual impediments to balance. Regardless of the effort Michi puts forth in attempting to balance the game, these issues will continually impede progress.
I will discuss them here, and I encourage others to chime in.
Problem #1 - Perk checks
This is by far and away the most significant problem in game currently, that is not only a serious threat to current balance, but will continue to be a significant threat to actually achieving balance.
Roll back ALL perk checks to 100% skill vs 100% relevant defence.
In order to understand how seriously dependent perks are to balance, we only need to look at the incredible success that Agents are currently (not) enjoying in PVP, the level of OPness which was prevalent with ranged advy's in the last 5 years, and the incredible amount of QQ 1hb/1he enforcers generated in that time as well.
Many agents say PVP is simply too easy. That's how bad it is. Why is it so easy? Agent perks have very low checks which means that they can simply do a fast debuff then queue several hard hitting perks, pop an AS in the middle and targets drop like flies. Fair? No. Is there a defence? occasionally, but hard to use with agents often leading with a stunning perk.
When pistol perks went to 80%, advy also got the tro'aler pistol and the peh'wer pistol, these two changes paved the way for an unprecedented level of success which really went unmatched for years. Was advy OP as hell? yes. did everyone roll an advy? almost. Was it stupid? Yes. It was stupid.
QQ. What's that? I can't hear you, you must be at reclaim. While it wasn't necessarily the perk check that was the problem, it was a known exploit, with far less HP across the board for every prof, the enforcer perk alpha was devastating. With the changes to HP and gear, and some new nanos... this would be less of a problem today.
So, the first thing we must do is simply RESET ALL perks to their BASE checks - not just for agent, for all profs.
And do some minor tweaking on perk chains/damage.
All general perks should be reset to a standardized system.
CONC/COLI/COLA/COHA/COHI - reset them to AMS vs DR/EC Or even for a more aggressive balance, reset to AR vs 100% DR/EC
The reason for this change should be obvious. With this change, all profs revert to their Pre-adjustment power level.
Opi genome perks are incredibly strong, and may warrant some review as well.
With this change, we can next get a TRUE understanding of what each prof is capable of killing using perks.
What kind of AR is common in Current Game?
In a maxed out setup here's an example of some Ballpark numbers, including raidbuffs, but not towers or breed buffs/debuffs.
Enforcer: 3600 buffed AR (1hb AR) challenger
SMG Soldier: 3600 base AR (SMG AR)
AR soldier: 3700 base AR (AR AR)
2HE Keeper: 3700 buffed AR (2he AR) insight
ME keeper: 3700 buffed AR (ME AR) insight
MA: 3700 buffed AR (MA AR) moonmist
Agent: 3600 buffed AR (rifle AR) concentration
advy: 3600 buffed AR (pistol AR) frenzy of fur
fixer: 3400 base AR (SMG AR) <-- edited, thanks for clarification!
shade: 3700 base AR (piercing AR)
AMEP Engi: 3700 base AR
non AMEP Engi: 3200 AR base (pistol AR)
Crat: 3200 AR base (pistol AR)
Bow MP: 3200 base AR (bow AR)
Trader: 3700 buffed AR (shotgun) drained
Doctor: 2900 base AR (pistol)
NT: ?? 3600 MC+AAO AR
These are just ballpark. But there is a very obvious trend, which is that profs who do not have pets or huge heals (doctor), have about 500 less AR than "direct" combat profs.
Possibly irrelevant discussion about game historically
Traditionally, the game was balanced using weapon specials: if your weapon required landing many bullets/perks/hits in order to do damage, you got either higher static AR, bigger buffs to AR or debuffs to lower the checks:
soldier/keeper/enforcer on the high AR side, soldier got debuffs and high static AR, keeper got perkbuffs and some debuffs, enforcer got big buffs to AR
fixer/agent with next highest static AR but big debuffs to go with them
MA's/advy/shade were sort of in the middle AR wise, and MA got buffs and debuffs, Advy got AR buffs but better defence to wear down opponents, and shade got high static AR, but is required to land debuffs to boost AR
Then came the control profs: low AR, but had pet damage to boost damage:
Engi/crat/MP had the lowest AR of the profs that needed to hit people to kill them: engi got no buffs and debuffs to remove some defences, crat got some weird evade debuffs that didn't work, so their toolset was fleshed out to include init debuffs, and MP's didn't get AR or evade debuffs, but instead got nanoskill debuffs which in theory should stop several profs from getting combat buffs or getting off combat debuffs.
Then finally were the oddballs who were kind of in their own class: Doc/trader/NT which rely on crippling a prof to wear down and kill it in the case of doc/trader, and NT's are nukers.
That was the traditional balance system, and to some degree it worked quite reasonably. But some things were a bit out of balance.
How we got to where we are now
The first of the big problems started when advy's thought they should be high AR profs despite being the KINGS OF DEFENCE. GD's gave in and lowered pistol checks to satiate advy professionals. This was the beginning of the sh*tstorm.
With pistol checks getting a 80% check, every other prof started wondering why they shouldn't get the same. Well, pistols, it was argued, were a "support" weapon, and since so many profs used pistols (advy/doc/MP/engi/crat <- note these are all the low AR classes except advy), it made sense that support classes should be able to kill something using perks.
But was this change a good one?
Does a doctor deserve 80% pistol perk checks? Doctors aren't pistol masters, are they? they are healing masters.
Does a crat deserve 80% pistol perk checks? Are crats pistol masters? As I recall, they use pistols out of default.
Does an engi deserve 80% pistol perk checks? Are engi's pistols masters? Engie's so far are the best choice, but still not really masters
Does an MP? MP's are not pistol masters.
And advy? Advy is the jack of all trades, masters of none. Advy should never have got this unwarranted boost.
So if not one of the profs really deserved the 80% check.... why did it go ahead?
This is the first and most important check to roll back.
Then every check can be rolled back, and evades can actually mean something again - AND, more importantly, balance can be achieved since original definitions of balance can be respected and worked with.
Perk roll back will reset balance to a level which was pre-whiny Advy, pre-bad decision.
Yes, there were some problems in game back then, but realistically, we should be able to address those problems individually, without operating in the broader broken perk context which places an inordinate amount of value on AR, and disproportionally devalues evades.
Why are evades devalued?