Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR’s Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior changes aren’t bad

    
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It’s been two weeks since I visited Star Wars: The Old Republic in this column, and it’s clear that two weeks is far too long to stay away from a game that will launch an expansion in less than two months. Much of the information we’ve been begging for has started to flow in, despite the datamining. On the 26th, the developers gave us a livestream of a few sequences from the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion. They also answered a couple of questions about companions, but not nearly as many as we’d have liked. One of the Massively OP readers Master Liu expressed my feelings on the subject matter succinctly on his blog. However, The developers did answer a few questions after on the forum, which does make me feel a little bit better, but ultimately, the questions about crafting were not answered.

But today I’m going to talk about the latest blogs posted by the developers about the Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior. Normally, I shy away from talking about class abilities specifically because I don’t really consider myself an expert in how to play all classes. But the Sith Warrior is my class. Both of my main raid and PvP toons have been Sith Warriors. My current raid toon is a Juggernaut. My previous raid and PvP toon was a Marauder. Although I still don’t consider myself the best at the class, like Vulkk, I do know what I’m doing.

hsb-mop-head-40-sith-warrior-01

Base class changes

When it comes to the overall class changes, I have to mirror many of the sentiments of my fellow Warriors and say that the changes are interesting as a whole, but the biggest and best change has to be the new gap-closer.

At level 61 you gain a new ability called Mad Dash (or Blade Blitz if you’re a dirty pub). This ability works like a charge ability that many other MMOs have. You sprint ahead toward your target from at most 30 meters out, damaging everything in your path. If it did nothing else, it would be an amazing ability, but as we can see from the description, it will also make you immune to damage for the duration of the ability, which I’m assuming is one GDC.

According to the base description, a Warrior will not be able to use Mad Dash while stunned or otherwise immobilized. But if you use one of the new utilities, you can make it so this ability can be called on when immobilized. I’ll get more into that later.

Secondly, all the active, passive, and utility point grants have been rearranged. Tier one utility points have moved from levels 11, 19, and 27 to 17, 25, and 33. Tier 2 changed to 41 and 49 from 35 and 43. And tier three was 51 and 60 but now is 57 and 65. The active abilities haven’t changed save for the last two, which are granted at 42 and 58, formerly 41 and 57. Only one passive has changed. You again one at 60 instead of 59, and you get a brand-new one at level 64.

If you’re just now leveling up a character, you’ll probably not notice any of these changes. The biggest thing that people have been leveling toon during the 12x XP days would notice would be the third utility point. As the game is currently, we would gain that third point before we end chapter one, but after the launch of the expansion, we will likely not gain that point until after chapter one, unless you’re really overleveled.

I’m not super upset about this, but I was really hoping to get another utility point with the expansion, but clearly, BioWare believes that it will be better to balance by granting only five utility points, keeping things exactly as they are. The utility point shift is the reason all the numbers are slightly off. BioWare can’t balance classes, but it can balance the skill grants. (Kidding! Not kidding.)

Marauder-specific changes

hsb-mop-head-40-sith-warrior-02Annihilation

Annihilation Marauders are having the most fun, clearly. And it’s about time. Anni Maras have had the toughest rotation off all the advanced classes, at least from the PvE perspective. Granted, the annihilation spec could produce the highest DPS, but it took the most diligence. And the burst damage was insignificant. The new passive skill called Devious Wounds gives bleeds 10% more damage for three seconds after you activate Annihilate. As a matter of perspective, you are pretty much required to use Annihilate every time it’s on cooldown.

Carnage

Carnage spec also gains a new passive skill called Bloody Slashes. This ability seems a bit odd to me. It’s not bad but it doesn’t exactly fit with the way carnage spec is currently utilized. For the most part, Carnage spec is a burst-damage DPS. All the damage is frontloaded, and then it’s a matter of maintaining a steady bit moderate DPS until your burst abilities are off cooldown. Bloody Slashes, however, breaks from the burst-damage modus operandi and gives Carnage a sprinkling of steady damage via DoTs. The passive ability stacks a bleed on the opponent when the Marauder uses Ravage, the most commonly used channeled ability for a Marauder.

I’m not directly opposed to this new passive. In fact, I’ve always thought that Carnage spec always needed another way to sustain DPS ability other than Massacre. But tying the DoT to Ravage might present a problem when considering optimal DPS output. I can’t say for certain until I can test it, but it’s possible that it might be worthwhile to reposition Ravage in the rotation so that the DoTs never spent too much time off the target. Clearly, we will have to wait and see on this one. Regardless, more sustained damage is good for the discipline as a whole.

Fury

The new passive for Fury helps out the class but does zero to the old rotation. From my perspective, that’s good. Furious Rage makes your next Furious Strike grant your next Raging Burst or Smash 15% more critical damage. Furious Strike and Raging Burst are both abilities that fit nicely into the Fury rotation, so in essence this changes nothing but gives the spec more damage. We will see if it can actually grant the spec enough damage to be comparative to Annihilation and Carnage.

Utilities

Lastly, each tier gains a new utility. At tier one, Marauders can spec into Unflinching Determination. When you activate Saber Ward, you are granted immunity from stuns and incapacitating effects for six seconds. Tier two can give you Thirst for Rage. The utility Bloodthurst instantly gives you 12 Rage. And tier three’s new utility is Through Victory. This makes Mad Dash available while stunned, it also removes any stun effects, too. Although the first two might be a boon to PvP, the last one might actually have a good use in PvE in fights like the Underlurker.

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Juggernaut-specific changes

Immortal

The first new passive mentioned sits in the Immortal spec. With Immortal being the tank spec, it’s only natural that the passive increases defense. Ravage grants up to a 6% defensive increase. Although I’d like to say this is exactly what Immortal spec needs, it really isn’t. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve always seen that the most difficult thing for Jugg tanks wasn’t to say alive, it was to hold aggro. From my perspective, that is because there are too few AoE abilities for the class, and none of the abilities reaches over four meters. Maybe Immortals can now rearrange the gear so that they output more damage, but that’s not going to increase the range.

Vengeance

I do like the new Vengeance specs passive. The three bleeds that this spec gets can increase the damage output of the bleeds up to 15%. Each of the three bleed types will give a 5% damage increase for bleeds. This is relatively good for the spec, and as long as it helps keep it on par with the other classes, it really can’t be anything but good.

Rage

I am a bit confused by the Rage passive. It adds 5% damage reduction with Rage Burst or Smash, the heavy-hitting AoE abilities for the spec. Perhaps this is designed to help with PvP, but as a rule, this spec has difficulty keeping up with damage as it is, so I’m not quite understanding what’s with a defensive increase when other DPS specs are granted a damage increase.

Utilities

You have no idea how happy I will be for this first tier utility: Unshackling Rage. This gives Juggernauts breaks from stuns that is not the standard stun breaker. Enrage, which is an ability that I never use once combat has started, now has a purpose to be on my bar. It breaks stuns and slows when activated. I’m not sure the purpose of the War Bringer utility because the ability to use Vicious Throw even when the target isn’t below 30% isn’t incredibly useful because Vengeance spec would be the only spec that could really make use of it. And that spec already has an ability that does that. And the last utility is the same as the Marauder’s: the extremely useful Through Victory.

That’s my super long take on the situation with Sith Warriors. Thanks for reading. But do let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of BioWare‘s Star Wars: The Old Republic, and posts his adventures in the Hyperspace Beacon. Drop him a holocom on Twitter @Shaddoe or send him a transmission at larry@massivelyop.com. Now strap yourself in, kid — we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!
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sray155
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sray155

Pesko I understand where it’s coming from, however I feel that a lot of it is unfounded at this point in time: compared to both other previous expansions, we know about the same amount this far out from launch.

There’s a subset of the game’s players that seem to be waiting for the other shoe to drop, hence the reason that there’s been all these histrionics of “why won’t you tell us what’s happening” going on around SWTOR since the announcement of KotFE. These players seem to waiting for EA and BioWare to come out and announce “haha, suckers! We’re doing another NGE!” 

The insane part of that, to me anyway, is that EA already announced that back at E3, because that’s exactly what KotFE is: SWTOR’s version of the NGE (minus a fundamental change in the combat system). 

The NGE and KotFE have the fundamental idea: draw in a type of player that traditionally does not play MMORPGs by drastically changing focus on a style of game play that appeals more to them (drawing in traditional RPG gamers with story focused content in this case). We’ve been told, point blank, to our faces, by EA and BioWare that they’re doing exactly this with everything but actually saying “NGE”, and I guess that people so incredibly stunned by this reveal that their brains refuse to process it.

The one difference is that the NGE was a terrible idea, and KotFE is a great idea. Different times, different circumstances.

Pesko
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Pesko

Well, I can understand the concern. The seemingly drastic changes with the plot and companions with this expansion creates a desire for clarification about other info about the expansion.

EO_Lonegun
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EO_Lonegun

Thank you for the heads up on these changes. The Juggernaut/Marauder are my favorite classes.

SirUrza
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SirUrza

What about the set bonus change to Guardian/Jugg? The 4 piece change means less resources and less opportunities to use the 6 piece bonus.

sray155
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sray155

When you compare the timeline of this expansion to the previous two, the amount of information known at this point is about the same. It seems to me that there’s a lot of people forgetting that the previous two were announced with just over two months lead in time; whereas this one has had 4 months lead in time. The amount of concern over the “lack of information” appears more like anxiety over the apparent abandonment of traditional MMO endgame players in favor of trying to attract more traditional RPG players. I don’t think that the complaints about transparency are particularly valid at this point in time.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

ColdinT Also, I can guarantee that there has been absolutely zero testing on the delayed availability of abilities and utility points to determine if it will cause any problems with particular classes or missions during the leveling game. And if the last round of changes to the leveling content balance is any guide, it will cause problems, and in some cases they won’t be small ones.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

Clearly, http://massivelyop.com/2015/09/08/hyperspace-beacon-swtors-jedi-knight-and-sith-warrior-changes-arent-bad/massivelyop.com/tag/bioware/ believes that it will be better to balance by adding absolutely nothing and leaving us to grind five more levels just to get back all of the things we have right now, today.

FTFY.

Bobuster
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Bobuster

Just a clarification: Through Victory breaks roots, not stuns.

The tier 1 ability for Marauders should help with the main problems of Marauders in PvP right now: being stunned within the first few seconds and being “globaled” in 2-3 seconds. They are one of the few melee characters with only 1 stun breaker.

ColdinT
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ColdinT

The problem I have with the changes has nothing to do with the new abilities added. It’s that they’ve delayed a large portion of current abilities, moving them several levels ahead (and past a couple level cap raises in some cases). Just not how game design should be to take away stuff from players only to give them back later.

ApathyCurve
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ApathyCurve

“the most difficult thing for Jugg tanks wasn’t to stay alive, it was to
hold aggro. From my perspective, that is because there are too few AoE
abilities for the class…”
Agreed.  Holding a crowd of mobs with people firing off heals and DoTs is tough. Once they lose interest and start zipping off after their various targets of choice, you’re left standing there all alone with your… um, lightsaber in your hand.  It’s downright embarrassing.  =)

I stopped playing my Juggernaut with groups because it’s just too damned hard to hold aggro.  It seems like his skill tree is more designed as a compromise for solo easy-mode than as a group main tank.  I mean, seriously: if you put Quinn on as a healer, you’d have be a drooling idiot to get killed by anything in solo play.  The health bar barely even twitches against champions.

I’ve played a lot of tank classes over the years, (my first MMO character was a warrior in EQ and I was damned good at playing him, all modesty aside), but the Juggernaut just doesn’t feel like it’s got the Right Stuff to do the job.  Not a big deal, since I’ve been drifting increasingly towards lazy DPS classes like the sniper over the past couple years.  Much less drama.  Or maybe I’m just getting old.