First off, let me say that I have enjoyed your games for a very long time. I own all of these titles:
BG 1 & 2
Mass Effect 1, 2, and 3
Dragon Age 1 & 2
Neverwinter Nights 1 + Both Expansions
Neverwinter Nights 2
KOTOR 1 & 2
And of course SWTOR, pre ordered months ahead of time, have been subscribing and playing consistently for the past year. We are almost at the one year mark. It's hard to believe that a year has gone by. I have had a blast playing this game. It has replaced WoW as my goto multiplayer game. I have logged over 50 days of play time on my primary character, my Sith Warrior Marauder, Aluvian. That's roughly 1/6th of my time this past year, gone into playing your game, or, roughly 4 hours per day on average.
I have put up with a lot of faults with this game. The PvE end game content was nowhere near playable when it first came out. Riddled with bugs and imbalances, mechanics that only worked about 1/4 of the time, and little acknowledgement from your company that there were issues. Granted, I was one of the people that took a week off work and got to 50 within 1 week of playing, and was in ops within the first week of release. The end game content wasn't quite ready, and you guys were forced to push the game out early. OK, I understand that and I can even forgive it. I feel that you have finally gotten PvE pretty well tuned and you have a much better understanding of how to make PvE content and mechanics work with your Hero engine now. I am satisfied with PvE. However, I no longer do PvE content. I PvP solely now, because I find it much more competitive and challenging. So, on to the main issues of this post.
PvP. PvP in SWTOR gets me fired up like nothing since WoW PvP did in the early days of it. It has also gone through some pretty drastic changes lately, and I disagree with most of these changes. Indeed, I feel that many of these changes were not needed, and have made the PvP balance and level of fun in PvP worse. I am going to cover all of the issues that I feel need addressed here, and I welcome discussion - but no flaming or finger pointing please, rational discussion only, of these topics. I will start with more general topics, and get down to the more class specific balance issues later.
I understand how resolve works, but I simply don't like it. It's a lackluster system. In return for being stunned for up to 18 seconds straight, you get a few seconds of cc immunity. During this CC immunity, you will likely be slowed or rooted and unable to act anyway. This can be punishing for ranged classes, but it is especially punishing to melee. Every class has multiple stuns, snares, slows, and roots available to them. In general, you can spend up to 30-40% of your time in a warzone unable to act. Loss of control is one of the biggest complaints that people have in PvP. A much better system would be similar to what WoW has in place, where stuns, snares, and roots all have diminishing returns - the more you get stunned/snared/rooted, the less effect they have on you. Someone has suggested a system like this that would even use resolve. Rather than resolve ticking down to zero once you hit the cap, it diminishes slowly over time, and the higher your resolve currently is, the more resistant to stuns, roots, mezes, and ballistics you are. For example, 80% resolve would give you an 80% reduction in the time you are stunned, amount of time rooted, amount of slow % applied, and % chance to be pulled or pushed. Resolve should also build faster, I think 1.5x the current rate would be fair. Resolve would constantly diminish at a rate of say 50 per second. This is just one of many suggestions, but the current resolve system is simply not adequate. It is not fun. Recent class balance changes have brought to light just how unfun it is.
Ranked Warzones & Cross Server Queue
After tonight, there will be little incentive for players to do ranked warzones. War Hero gear, which so many of us have worked so hard for over the past months, will become easily obtainable in a week or 2 by just about anyone via normal warzone comms. The new Elite War Hero set is a very minor upgrade. I understand that many players were complaining about the gear gap, but the gear gap between Battlemaster and War Hero was not that bad. The main problem was that people were unwilling to augment their BM gear, making it much worse than the augmented WH gear. These same people will be too lazy to augment their WH gear once EWH is out, and they will be just as bad off. The real issue here though, is that because WH and EWH are so close in stats, there is really no incentive to run ranked warzones now, and people rarely ever ran them before. You need to add some kind of incentive reward to do ranked besides a 1% boost to stats on better gear.
The problem with Ranked warzones, is that it takes a minimum of 16 player on at one time per server to run one. There are usually only around 300-600 players on between all the fleet instances at one time, and only a portion of them are lvl 50. Let's be optimistic and say 400 on. Of those 400, probably only half PvP, and of those 200, maybe 1/4 are serious enough to consider ranked. So we are left with 50 pvpers that might do ranked wrazones. That leaves us with 6 teams. 5 of those teams won't queue, because the other team always beats them, and they can't stand losing. If the pool was larger, and they only had a 1/20 chance of getting matched up against that really insane team, maybe they would queue, and ranked would be more active. To accomplish this, we NEED cross server queues. I can't put it any more plainly; cross server needs to happen for pvp to flourish. That, or the server size needs to increase by a lot. In other MMOs, there were THOUSANDS of players at max level on a single server all queueing for warzones, and they still implemented cross server.
Matchmaking PvP System
Another huge problem with PvP is that PUGs and non premades get stomped excessively hard in most warzones. While these players believe that the solution is to make two separate queues for premade and non premade, that would only cause queue times to become much much worse. What needs to be implemented is some kind of matchmaking system. There are many such systems out there that you can model this after - SC2 has an excellent one, the WoW Arena MMR as well is quite good. This system should not necessarily be based on gear, since you are closing the gear gap, but on wins/losses and other factors, such as dps/hps/objective point thresholds. I leave the math up to you, but something needs to be put in place to make team matchmaking more fair for the average player. As much as pugs get sick of teams like my guilds beating on them, we also get sick of having zero competition.
Here is where I feel things may get heated. These are my opinions, and my opinions are shared with the majority of players. Here are my list of grievances for class balance change. I am using the empire side names for things, because that is what I know, apologies to republic players.
Marauder / Sentinel
Rage needs to be tuned down a bit. It is unfair that I am critting people harder with an aoe ability than carnage and other specs can hit with single target abilities. Again, I leave the exact numbers and tweaks to you Bioware, but it needs to be turned down. I say this as a Rage Marauder with full best in slot min/maxed PvP gear. Someone who has critted for over 9k on a smash on one target in level 50 pvp.
Annihilation needs some kind of anti cleanse ability, or dots should not be cleansable. It is already the worst of the 3 specs for pvp, but being able to cleanse the dots makes it extremely weak.
Juggernaut / Guardian
Vengeance needs some love. Both for PvE and PvP. Damage output could be tweaked a little. Maybe not a ton, but a little. It should not do as much as rage for PvP, but it should be competitive with other single target specs. Jugg tank threat also needs a boost badly.
Sorcerer / Sage
Bubble stun for everyone has to go. Everyone can get bubble, but not everyone should get the stun portion. Keep the stun for sorcs, as in, the stun portion only works for bubbles popped on the caster. Since this ability can be used offensively, WHILE STUNNED by right clicking the bubble off, it needs to build resolve appropriate to an offensive ability, or remove the ability to right click it off and stun people.
Sorc DPS needs to be bumped up, or at least the burst does. Sorcs need a real defensive cooldown, like energy shield / saber ward, something similar.
Mercenaries / Commandos
They are currently trash in every spec. Lackluster heals, lackluster dps that requies a cast bar for nearly every ability and has unavoidable pushback. These guys need some serious love.
They need some kind of mobility. As a primarily melee class with no way to close the gap, they suffer hugely after their initial burst. Once out of stealth, they are very vulnerable. They also lack sustained dps in both PvP and PvE.
Thank you for taking the time to look this over. I hope that you will take some of this into consideration. I simply do not agree with many of the changes made to classes recently. Buffing one of the strongest PvP dps specs (rage)? Nerfing the least used one (annihilation)? Ignoring the shortcomings of Mercenaries and Operatives, while making an already stunfest resolve system stun people even more? These are not the decisions of a company that listens to it's community feedback and plays it's own game at the higher levels of pvp play. With other developers, I may not always agree with some of their decisions, but I understand why they made them. With the last few months of changes to Star Wars: The Old Republic, I have been simply shocked and appalled at the decision making.
At this point, after being one of your most loyal fans, I am considering unsubscribing within a few months, or when the next big game comes along, if things here do not improve. I know, I am only one subscriber, Bioware probably doesn't care, but there it is. I am sure that I am not the only person that feels this way.
This is Star Wars, not Stun Wars. Fix it Bioware.