Meta Report: December 9, 2023

The Snowbreak meta update for December 9, 2023, covering the latest Snowbreak gameplay news.

As Verdurous Holiday comes to a close, its effect on the meta only continues to grow. Also, Cherno turns out to be pretty useful in making enemies be less annoying.

Lasting Effects of Amarna Squad

Amarna Squad is still a very good logistics set, remaining relevant and probably continuing to do so for the foreseeable future. It still finds use everywhere, from its intended user Shadow Ka to unexpected operatives like Wild Hunt. Another operative that greatly benefits is Fritia, which may not make sense at first. However, the bonus damage that her support skill applies on shots will trigger the second part of Amarna’s effect, giving her essentially full uptime on the short but potent attack buff from the logistics set.

The effect that Amarna has had on the meta goes both ways, however -  those who can’t benefit from its buffs or apply them effectively naturally become weaker in comparison. Absconditus and Hush in particular suffer for this, while Mauxir - Meow also loses value as she can’t take advantage of Amarna and her strongest pairing in Absconditus drops in rating.

Ghost in the Logistics

Phantom Squad has been around since the start of the game, but it’s never been paid much attention as its shinier alternative Xinye Squad took the spotlight. But as players look to optimise Neural Sim times, some have found that being able to access an operative’s ultimate ability earlier is more valuable than doing more damage with said ultimate. Phantom Squad has thus found a niche combo with Xinye as a means for operatives like Winter Solstice and Hush to get their ultimates as soon as possible. While this is mostly a strategy employed by highly invested accounts that have damage to spare, it’s still worth experimenting with to see if it can help reach a certain breakpoint in damage dealt versus the accessibility of that damage.

Tier List Updates

For a long time, I’ve thought about the best way to keep the tier list relevant for all players, from newbies to longtime veterans. But as time progressed, I’ve taken a deeper look at who it really is for, or rather who it should be for. Balancing clarity and depth is important, and I’ve tried to maintain a depth of scope in reviews, assessing operatives at all parts of their investment curve. But I’ve also realised that this can lead to issues with the clarity of an assessment. Not everyone reads the full review of an operative (and Hush being rated at T0.5 with no context does look a bit silly).

To fix these issues, I’ve made the largest change to date to the way the tier list is organised. Operatives will now be assessed at a state closer to where the “average player” would have them. This means up to two Manifests with an operative’s signature weapon. For operatives whose performance significantly changes with further investment, they’ll receive an additional entry denoting their new placement. This will allow for more detailed assessments for these operatives, while also making tier lists placements clearer. In practice, this doesn't change a lot currently, as only two operatives are actually affected. But as more content gets added to the game, it should help maintain the important balance of clarity and depth.

Haru - Absconditus lowered from T0 to T0.5

Haru (specifically Absconditus) hasn’t been doing too great, or at least as well as she could be. She was never one of the best bossing units to begin with, and mobbing has been a less valuable niche as the increasing strength of the average account means that players can just use their “bossing” operatives for general mobbing too. Verdurous Holiday releasing with a very strong gun damage support and logistics set only makes things worse for Haru. She hasn’t gotten any worse per se, but other operatives have gotten stronger, leaving her at a growing disadvantage.

Fritia - Hush lowered from T0.5 to T2, new High Investment rating set at T1

As an operative already heavily weighted towards back-loaded damage via her ultimate, Hush has always struggled to stay relevant in the meta, requiring heavy investment to reach a competitive power level. But as more traditional gun-based operatives get juiced up with Shadow Ka and Amarna, Hush once again gets left behind as her damage fails to keep up while her existing clunkiness remains. This only worsens at lower investment levels, where her damage is even worse, making Hush a tough recommendation compared to bullet-slinging alternatives.

Marian - Swift lowered from T0.5 to T1, new High Investment rating set at T0.5

There’s no actual change to Swift’s “real” rating, but she does get her base rating lowered as she’s definitely not as good at lower investment levels. Losing the skill cooldown reduction from Manifest 3 hurts a lot more than you’d think.

Cherno - Those Two raised from T2 to T1

Despite not gaining any power as an active operative, Cherno’s support skill has given her new usefulness. The value of the Slow effect from said support skill has made her a viable if not slightly inferior alternative to Redacted. While she can’t provide free starting U-Energy, she does allow for gapclosing mobility which is especially useful against melee bosses. Being an SMG user also means she has access to the very strong weapon that is Alloy Truth, and the Slow effect being the same as Redacted’s means she can provide an additional damage amp with Navigator Squad. As more and more mobile bosses get added to the game, the value of having a second source of universal crowd control gives both Cherno and Redacted a secure spot in many Neural Sim lineups.

"The Slowduo"
It's not the worst joke I've made. Probably.

Mauxir - Meow lowered from T0.5 to T1

The Mauxir experiment hasn’t quite gone to plan. Whether it’s a bug or an intended interaction, the orbs from her support skill don’t count for Amarna’s second effect. This limits her value as a support for Ethereal Cloud, and while she’s still a great companion to Absconditus, the post-Amarna game state hasn’t been kind to her either. There’s definitely still potential in the future, but Mauxir just doesn’t quite have enough going for her now.

Minor updates to Lyfe - Wild Hunt.