Why the game goes to late game so often –
With the protoss upgrades of the shield battery and the speed buff / cost reduction of the void ray, protoss are comfortably going into one or two safety voids which allows protoss to hold roach / 3 base ling timings more comfortably than in the past. These early voids also deny early scouting and push back overlords making void rays a very high upside unit choice early on. While Z scouting still occurs with overlord speed upgrades, it is very hard to determine if the protoss will try something like a glaive adept / charge lot follow up. They can also just tech up the robo tree to colossus or the protoss may just double down on the stargates and start moving to carrier/void/templar. In either case, the zerg cannot break the toss, so it is always better to make 6-8 queens, and move into hydra/X compositions. Because the protoss composition is relatively easy to maneuver (although carriers are slower), the Z often needs to be reactionary and the protoss dictates the pace of 80% of their games. Voids are great against corruptor and shred muta, meaning hydra (ground) are the only good counter. The Zerg needs to choose what the best options are for the remaining composition. Proper hydra micro can stay on the edge of the carrier range allowing you to fight smaller batches of interceptors but templar storm shreds hydras from afar. The natural evolution is broodlords to contest the ground units and corruptor/ viper to help contest the air. Speed bane run by attacks and ling/bane drops should be utilized to harass the slow protoss but be weary as voids are fast and will intercept quickly. Lurkers are used as static defense for areas your main army can’t defend quickly and there is a case for ultralisk to tear down enemy bases but the meta hasn’t taken kindly to them.
What needs to happen to PvZ to make the matchup less “solved” by going to 30 minutes.
Make the void ray cost more. Its new role of scout/creep denial is a great one. But a unit that is fast, hits hard up and down and flies across the terrain needs to have a high cost or there is just no reason not to make a few against a race that cannot shoot up on the opponent’s side of the map for at least 4 minutes (unless your Serral and can defend voids with ravagers – see G1 Serral v ShowTime Bo5). Reducing the speed makes it less effective in this new role and removing the ability to shoot up or down will do the same. The other option is to reduce the damage it deals to non-structure units to make it more ideal for its new role but adjusting the cost feels like an easier solution that doesn’t shake up the sandbox too much.
What needs to happen to make Protoss feel less imbalanced against the other races overall.
Shield batteries are very strong. The building costs 100 minerals (stalker is 175 CR), this structure has 150/150 shield health (stalkers have 80/80 and hit for 13DMG /18DMG vs armored). This structure has 100 energy, and restores 3 shields per 1 energy, can heal at a rate of 17 energy/second (50.4 shields). That means this thing is a stationary + 280 shield that can be fully utilized again in 1min 40 seconds. The overcharge ability is the real problem. It makes the battery recharge shields at 100 points per second for 14 seconds without using energy (1400 total shield). This means you really cannot fight it unless the player with the battery has a very small unit count and isn’t melting you for that 14 seconds. There is a 60 second cool down which is great. This structure is a huge crutch for players to be greedy in the early game. It would be more balanced if it costed 150 minerals to increase the opportunity cost of not making a unit. The overcharge can simply be corrected by reducing the speed at which it recovers shields. Reduce the 100 shields/second down to 75 per second (1150 shield total). This will reduce the crutch for protoss to wall with void/battery.
NOTE: Shield battery is a welcome addition to the game. It prevents protoss from being melted by all ins and hold off harass from oracles, banshees, drops, roach timings. This makes those engages less punishing. As cannons require a forge first, protoss can’t drop spores as early as zerg (who also have high range / armor queens) without sacrificing production facilities or slowing tech. This makes them way more susceptible to air harass without the shield battery.