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Streamlining the Cover System

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Classes
Streamlining the Cover System

Mapex's Avatar


Mapex
02.13.2012 , 12:01 AM | #1
After playing the new and improved Gunslinger (compared to my summer-time experience during beta with a level 30 Gunslinger), I have some new thoughts on how to improve the cover mechanic, making it more fluid and less frustrating while retaining its high skill cap. I will be updating this post as new ideas come to mind and will incorporate any ideas from posters that are sound. Hopefully we can see some of these things make it onto live in the future.

More Cover Locations and Types

There are so many obstacles that look like cover objects but fail to pop up a Gumby silhouette. There are so many bottlenecked areas, such as the hallways in Ord Mantell and flashpoints such as Athiss, where putting a cover spot on either side of the doorway would be perfect (I don't know why pillar and door covers were removed back in beta but I hope they make a come back).

Simply put, natural cover is king and we need more of it. I'd like there to be a situation where you have so much cover available to you at any given time. More cover locations grants more survivability, yes, but ALSO more MOBILITY; you never have to be restricted to such a small area of the battle to ensure you get the bonuses of natural cover if there are enough locations to hide behind.

Defense Against Tech and Force Attacks

I have an anecdote to share, but I'll first detail this point: Tech/Force attacks should not bypass cover but should instead "break" cover. A portion of the damage from all Tech/Force attacks should be completely absorbed into your cover (higher mitigation behind natural cover, of course). After your cover absorption achieves a certain threshold based off your maximum HP and/or other factors, the Gunslinger's/IA's cover should break. Hunker Down/Entrench should provide raw immunity to the breaking mechanic, but otherwise you should be forced to seek new cover ever so often. If your cover breaks, you should be unable to enter cover for 3 to 5 seconds.

It doesn't make sense that a missile or Force energy/lightning attack completely defies the laws of physics, passes through the physical object we are hiding behind, and hits us square in the face for full damage (before armor); cover should defend against these attacks. However, these attacks are powerful enough that they should force us to seek new cover (or spec in a way that mitigates their effects on our cover location of choice) if we want to avoid being rendered defenseless.

A short anecdote: I recently did Fall of the Locust (Heroic 4, Republic Taris) and we had a very unorthodox group (Sage, two Sentinels, myself as a Gunslinger). We didn't have a proper tank so I knew I had to ranged tank a mob or two, abusing the crap out of my 100% ranged defense bonus when behind natural cover, to keep our Sentinels alive. And ranged tank I did.

I bring up this anecdote for two reasons: 1) so I could tell Bioware to PLEASE add a tank skill tree to Gunslingers/Snipers in the future, that experience was fun as hell and so Star Warsy!, and 2) the bosses demonstrated the "cover breaking" mechanic I outlined above. After enough attacks from The Locust boss, I started losing stacks of my "Cover Reliability" buff; when I lost all the stacks, I was kicked out of cover for 4 seconds, completely vulnerable to the extremely powerful enemy in question.

Good news: the cover breaking mechanic is already in the game! It just doesn't apply to Tech/Force attacks and to PvP. With enough tweaks and design passes I am sure we can see cover utilized in PvP as something not only as an enabler of a specific set of abilities but also as an actual form of defense.

Automatic Cover on Defensive, Cover-Only Ability Use

I think this header is self-explanatory, but let me clarify. Abilities such as Pulse Detonator and Hunker Down/Entrench should automatically make you crouch (or jump into natural cover) if you aren't already utilizing cover. Streamlining these abilities would allow the player to more quickly react to the everchanging battlefield without having to fumble all over their mouse and keyboard by first manually entering cover and then pressing the button to defend against the enemy.

The goal of this type of change would be to minimize frustration and lack of user-friendliness as opposed to lowering the class's skill ceiling. It's bad enough that you have to manage 30+ hotkeys, but when you can't fire off those powerful cooldowns just because of an extra hassle, it can be very frustrating. In that split second between life and death, the game is basically asking you to be superhuman as you need to do 2x as much work as your enemy to stay alive.

TPS-style Cover Entering/Exiting/Switching

I get that this is an MMO, but I don't see why we can't enjoy some of the finer aspects of the cover systems of the third person shooter games that have basically perfected this system.

Combat situations are constantly changing and the current cover system roots the player too much for us to be able to adapt. I'd like to see the following modifications to cover in this game to make it more user-friendly:
  • Allow lateral movement (see Alderaan middle fortress ledges) to fight LOS or range issues; useful for staying in cover as you move around crates and pillars or hug walls
  • Ability to cancel channeled/casted attacks without breaking cover or pressing the escape key (out of comfortable reach). Lateral movement behind cover can achieve this.
  • Fluidly switch between nearby cover locations (see Alderaan ledges again...jump from one side of the ramp to the opposite side by using Take Cover while already in cover)

More to come.
Streamlining Cover to be More User-Friendly and Intuitive
Improving the Adv. Prototype/Tactics Tree
Imperial: Mapex (PT) | Jerro (Sorcerer) | Khallus (SM) | Vinegarstrokes (Operative)
Republic: Mapekz (GS) | Khallas (JG) | Ammon (Shadow) | Bobbumman (Commando)

Tenacity's Avatar


Tenacity
02.13.2012 , 01:56 AM | #2
Dont forget - they need to fix the bugs which prevent many of our abilities from working while in natural cover.

Currently if you try to use entrench and occasionally ballistic shield while in natural cover (as opposed to portable cover/crouching), the ability will last for 1 second and then disappear, using up your cooldown.

Similarly, going into natural cover with talents like marksman's instant snipe or ballistic dampeners will cause those buffs to disappear after 1 second, rather than lasting the duration they're intended to.

Right now, these abilities only work with portable cover or crouch, which offers far less in the way of defensive bonuses than natural cover does (allegedly).

Also, effects which immobilize you not only remove you from cover but also prevent you from going back into cover until they wear off.





Additionally, I think more defensive perks are needed while in cover. Currently, any short-range knockback effect or AOE knockback effect will remove you from cover even while entrench is active, despite the fact that entrench is supposed to protect you from these types of abilities. It's frustrating as hell going into cover and using entrench only to be knocked out of cover a couple seconds later by an NPC or player knockback effect that you're supposed to be immune to.

Personally I think we should naturally be immune to any movement altering when in cover - this means immune to knockback effects, immobilizing effects, and the like. Stuns and crowd control should still, obviously effect us while in cover - but entrench will protect against those types of controlling effects.



Another thing that really annoys me is the fact that when NPCs use abilities like force pull, grappling hook, or leap/force charge, all of these work despite me being in cover. However, player abilities of the same type (assassin force pull, powertech grapple, etc.) are unable to be used against targets in cover. Double standards are never good for games like this, if the player abilities are not going to work against targets in cover then the NPC abilities should not work either.


Akeema Lynx Mirialan Freelancer

archifikoss's Avatar


archifikoss
02.13.2012 , 05:50 AM | #3
Good suggestions, me likey

Mapex's Avatar


Mapex
02.13.2012 , 05:09 PM | #4
@Tenacity

Since your post had a lot of content, possibly because you have so many frustrations and ideas and wanted to put them all down, I am going to condense your points so they're easier for others to follow.

Bugs: it's kind of a given that these will eventually be fixed. My thread is more about design changes to the system at a fundamental level.

Entrench Bugs: I have not experienced this same issue with Hunker Down at all against players. I will have to level up a bit more to see if mobs can do the same thing.

Immunity to Movement Impairment in Cover: Right now cover is only really useful for fighting off ranged blaster attacks, charges attacks, and grapple attempts. However, if we were to simulate cover as seen in other games, knockbacks should definitely function as they currently do (but can be nullified if you are using HD/Entrench) and Tech/Force attacks should first break our cover instead of bypassing it entirely. But it still makes sense that slows and roots shouldn't affect us until we exit cover.

Being Pulled/Charged by NPCs when Behind Cover: Yes, this is bogus. Not only are NPCs immune to casting/channeling pushback, but they also completely disregard Smuggler/IA cover mechanics. It is insanely frustrating.
Streamlining Cover to be More User-Friendly and Intuitive
Improving the Adv. Prototype/Tactics Tree
Imperial: Mapex (PT) | Jerro (Sorcerer) | Khallus (SM) | Vinegarstrokes (Operative)
Republic: Mapekz (GS) | Khallas (JG) | Ammon (Shadow) | Bobbumman (Commando)

Mapex's Avatar


Mapex
02.17.2012 , 03:45 PM | #5
Bump for more visibility.
Streamlining Cover to be More User-Friendly and Intuitive
Improving the Adv. Prototype/Tactics Tree
Imperial: Mapex (PT) | Jerro (Sorcerer) | Khallus (SM) | Vinegarstrokes (Operative)
Republic: Mapekz (GS) | Khallas (JG) | Ammon (Shadow) | Bobbumman (Commando)

Celerian's Avatar


Celerian
02.17.2012 , 05:47 PM | #6
Quote:
Being Pulled/Charged by NPCs when Behind Cover: Yes, this is bogus. Not only are NPCs immune to casting/channeling pushback, but they also completely disregard Smuggler/IA cover mechanics. It is insanely frustrating.
Just to expand on this: NPC's can use gap closers (charge/grapple) on PC's in cover. The reverse is not true. So apparently the way cover is coded currently is that players can't use gap closers on targets in cover, not that targets in cover are immune to gap closers (a subtle but important distinction). Either allow us to charge/grapple mobs in cover, or make it so mobs can't charge/grapple us if we're in cover.
Playable Zeltrons. Make it happen!
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Mapex's Avatar


Mapex
02.17.2012 , 10:36 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Celerian View Post
Just to expand on this: NPC's can use gap closers (charge/grapple) on PC's in cover. The reverse is not true. So apparently the way cover is coded currently is that players can't use gap closers on targets in cover, not that targets in cover are immune to gap closers (a subtle but important distinction). Either allow us to charge/grapple mobs in cover, or make it so mobs can't charge/grapple us if we're in cover.
Good call. It makes sense from a technical standpoint, too; it's easier to make a charge/grapple ability check if the target is in cover when the player attempts to use the ability as opposed to making the Crouch/Take Cover buff check to see if any enemies are currently trying to charge/grapple you and prevent them from doing so.

That said, mob charges and pulls need to respect cover.
Streamlining Cover to be More User-Friendly and Intuitive
Improving the Adv. Prototype/Tactics Tree
Imperial: Mapex (PT) | Jerro (Sorcerer) | Khallus (SM) | Vinegarstrokes (Operative)
Republic: Mapekz (GS) | Khallas (JG) | Ammon (Shadow) | Bobbumman (Commando)

dougan's Avatar


dougan
02.19.2012 , 10:51 AM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by Mapex View Post
Automatic Cover on Defensive, Cover-Only Ability Use

I think this header is self-explanatory, but let me clarify. Abilities such as Pulse Detonator and Hunker Down/Entrench should automatically make you crouch (or jump into natural cover) if you aren't already utilizing cover. Streamlining these abilities would allow the player to more quickly react to the everchanging battlefield without having to fumble all over their mouse and keyboard by first manually entering cover and then pressing the button to defend against the enemy.

The goal of this type of change would be to minimize frustration and lack of user-friendliness as opposed to lowering the class's skill ceiling. It's bad enough that you have to manage 30+ hotkeys, but when you can't fire off those powerful cooldowns just because of an extra hassle, it can be very frustrating. In that split second between life and death, the game is basically asking you to be superhuman as you need to do 2x as much work as your enemy to stay alive.
I agree with this, but see no reason why it shouldn't extend to all cover abilities. I'm still pushing two buttons to an enemy's one regardless if it's an offensive or a defensive ability. And sometimes the best defense is a good offense, a cliche that our class knows all to well.

Also, I don't think it should automatically roll you into cover as that can sometimes move the character rather inconveniently (between catwalks in huttball, anyone?). Simply crouching wherever you are would suffice.
Dougan

FFdreamer's Avatar


FFdreamer
02.19.2012 , 02:25 PM | #9
I like the auto cover mechanic idea, but it's been discussed in many threads. I really wish they'd just scrap the cover mechanic at this point. Tired of being rooted, but that's just my opinion. Gunslingers need some love, yet they haven't seen fit to give us any attention.

dougan's Avatar


dougan
02.20.2012 , 11:22 AM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by FFdreamer View Post
I like the auto cover mechanic idea, but it's been discussed in many threads. I really wish they'd just scrap the cover mechanic at this point. Tired of being rooted, but that's just my opinion. Gunslingers need some love, yet they haven't seen fit to give us any attention.
They won't just scrap cover, whether or not they should, and I think this idea is a good alternative.
Dougan