Although Community Manager Eric Musco has repeatedly warned players that we should not take anything as final until the official patch notes are released, the series of posts he made on the official forums do give us the broad strokes and vision behind the changes to the classes. The one word that best describes the changes coming with 5.0 is “streamlined.” In the past, some expansions have attempted to make the characters seem more powerful, but this time around it’s more about refining your character’s role and playstyle and removing the extra junk.
With that in mind, I’d like to dive a little deeper into the upcoming changes to give you the five biggest class changes to watch out for.
Lightning/Telekinetic Throw are gone from Assassin/Shadow
In the vein of streamlining, the changes to the Consular and Inquisitor advanced classes are probably the most defining. I mentioned that Lightning and Telekinetic Throw are gone from the Assassin and Shadow advanced classes respectively, but this is reflective of an overall change to this class. A handful of abilities has completely disappeared from the Inquisitor and Consular advanced classes.
If you’ve played SWTOR long enough, then you’ve certainly seen a Sorcerer run up to an NPC and attempt to slash it with her lightsaber. That kind of thing makes me want to scream at my screen, “You’re doing it wrong!” Sorcs and Sages are not melee classes, but because of their base class, they had melee abilities. And conversely, Assassins and Shadows had ranged abilities like Force Lightning and Telekinetic Throw.
Although I’m sad to see some of the mid-ranged abilities leaving the Assassin’s repertoire, I’m more than on board with Sorcs becoming streamlined into the ranged class they are supposed to be.
Cover is gone from Operatives/Scoundrels
During the first 10 levels, a player looking to play an Operative or Scoundrel would use the cover skill just like someone looking to play a Sniper or Gunslinger. However, during the next 10 levels, there was inevitably an awkward period when the first experience with the class clashed with what the class was now becoming. Players had learned to take cover when jumping into a fight, but once the advanced class hit, they would struggle with how to best juggle between taking cover and sneaking in close to stab someone.
Of course, if you were savvy with the class, then you could use the up-close-and-personal abilities even during the first 10 levels. However, the vast majority of players were not familiar with the mechanics and were highly confused and frustrated by the polarity shift in the class. Now with cover being taken away from Operatives and Scoundrels altogether, the confusion no longer exists.
Ravage/Blade Dance changed for Warriors/Knights
To examine the changes coming to Warriors and Knights, we have to turn to the developers’ words themselves. “[Ravage] is now an instantly activated ability to help add more mobility to the Juggernaut.” All right, and then they also wrote this about the Marauder: “With Ravage no longer being a channeled ability, we have elevated the fluidity with which the Marauder plays.”
Marauder was my very first class in SWTOR, and I have about a dozen Guardians, Juggernauts, Sentinels, and Marauders across all servers. I’ve seen the good and the bad of the class, and I’ve had the Ravage or Blade Dance ability in my priority rotation since the beginning. To use that ability properly, there is a timing to it. You have to clip it at just the right moment because the channel is longer than the damage it deals. And I’m going to miss it when it’s gone in 5.0.
I can’t say that it’s bad that the channeled ability will go away. It’s likely going to make Warrior and Knights just that much more mobile, but unfortunately, we will not know the actual fluidity that BioWare mentioned until after 5.0 goes live.
Stances are invisible and based on spec
Two and a half base classes use stances of some sort. For Bounty Hunters and Troopers, it’s cylinders. For Warriors and Knights, it’s saber forms. And for Assassins and Shadows, it’s charges. These stances determine what role your class plays and the playstyle that goes with it. For instance, a tank Juggernaut would most likely use Soresu, and a Vengeance-specced, DPS Juggernaut would most likely use Shien form. In 5.0, those stances are passive abilities and are automagically applied to the character based on the discipline chosen by the player.
I’m neutral about this change because it doesn’t really change the way that I will play my Juggernauts, but I do know some people, especially PvPers, that might be upset about this change. There is a Juggernaut build in PvP where it’s more beneficial to take the DPS discipline but play in the tank stance. Of course, it’s not exactly based on your effectiveness in the warzone but on the number of points you get. Regardless, it’s still a popular way to play, and BioWare is getting rid of that ability by making stances passives.
No more base class
The biggest change that affects every single class is the removal of base classes. Now, you will immediately on character creation choose an advanced class. And I am very sad about this change. But I’m not exactly opposed to it because it will allow the developers to streamline class and eliminate ability bloat. However, it also eliminates one of my personal achievements. I like to create an alt and never choose an advanced class. My highest level right now is a level 65 Bounty Hunter. It makes me sad that I might never have a level 65 Smuggler or Jedi Knight, but in the name of better gameplay, I’m willing to ride along with BioWare on this one.
Musco mentioned quite a few changes to the classes; did I miss any big ones for you? What were they? What do you think of my picks? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and as always, may the Force be with you.