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Mercenary Top 3 Answers!

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EricMusco's Avatar


EricMusco
10.01.2013 , 12:14 PM | #1 This is the last staff post in this thread.  
Hey everyone!

Below you will find your top 3 issues returned. Make sure to read through the whole post as there are a few things the Combat team is really interested in getting your feedback on. Here ya go!

Quote:
PvE

Can you please comment on how you feel both Merc DPS and Heals stack up against their raid spot competitors when it comes to what they bring to the table for ‘Progression Raiding’. More specifically, why would you consider taking a merc in your raid group over a Sniper (DPS) and Op/Sorc (Heals) if faced with the option?

Comments:
Although there is a predominant feeling that Mercs are ‘viable’ in both damage and healing roles when it comes to nightmare progression content, we also think that we are falling short in several key aspects of progression raiding.

DPS: Discussions within the community have revealed, that a lot of arsenal mercenaries don't bring as much to a raid as a marauder or sniper in terms of dps. Feedback from the combat team indicates, that this is because of our utility abilities and that's the tradeoff for them. In this regard, we feel that the perceived usefulness of our own class raid wide utilities (cleansing, battle-rez, off heals, armor debuff) in progression raiding is somewhat exaggerated. Although the idea of having an off-healer-type role that can still do good damage is in theory an appealing role, current end-game content doesn't cater well to it.

Most raid leaders feel (rightfully so), that the main job of a damage dealer should be to come up with the necessary damage to kill a boss, while bringing along some solid utilities that help the raid as a whole. However, every casted off-heal/cleanse hurts our dps severely consuming GCDs/resources. Since our sustained dps is below our sniper and marauder competitors to begin with, we fall even further behind. Suggestions: Free cleanses, off-GCD & low-cost heals.

A Mercenary’s armor debuff is also devalued, given the common nature of Snipers and Jugs in current raid make-ups. So if they do invite a Merc, they probably need the armor debuff which makes Pyro spec even less appealing (on top of lower survivability). To cap it off, our primary rdps competing snipers have a rooted AoE knockback, overall better AoE damage, a beautiful sniper shield for raid damage reduction, rolley polley, entrench and – not forgotten – overall better sustained single target dps.

Heals: Again, we predominantly feel we are viable healers in end game PVE, but it has been established we’ll never put up the healing numbers operatives and sorcs can. We appear to be designed with single-target healing in mind but we don't feel we have a significant enough advantage in that to make up for our short comings in pro-active healing, AoE heals and QoL. The AoE heals on the move are an advantage to the merc that is rarely utilized in current encounters. Suggestion: Allowing for the ability to apply Kolto Shell to multiple targets would be a good move, giving us something that both other healing classes have, a pro-active mechanic that can be applied to your choice of raid members and boost overall hps and make us more appealing.

We feel the level of difficulty to just compete with the best classes is quite high and this applies to DPS and healing, largely due to an unforgiving heat management system.
Overall, we feel that Mercenary/Commando DPS is in a fairly good place; however, we also feel that Mercenaries/Commandos could bring more to an operation as far as utility goes and that the classes pulling higher DPS than Mercenaries/Commandos are doing a bit more damage than we would like. Mercenaries/Commandos are not really underperforming in DPS as some sort of trade-off (unless the Mercenary/Commando actually is spending global cooldowns to cleanse, resurrect, or heal); it is more because we went too far to ensure that guilds would bring Marauders/Sentinels and Snipers/Gunslingers into operations. We did this because, while the other classes have an opportunity to fulfill one of two different roles in an operation, Marauders/Sentinels and Snipers/Gunslingers can only fulfill the damage dealing role in operations. So we made sure they dealt plenty of damage, and then we gave them utility to boot – probably too much damage, and probably too much utility, judging by the operation groups that some guilds put together.

In the future, we would like to balance all of the damage dealing specializations even closer together. Ultimately, we want top-tier guilds to feel like they can bring any class to the operation as a damage dealer, and we would like to give the classes and specializations a variety of operation buffs or debuffs to encourage guilds to bring a variety of damage dealers, tanks, and healers – rather than stack only three or four of the eight classes in the game. We are not fond of how some guilds stack a bunch of the same couple of classes, and we hope to combat some of that with our future balance decisions.

As far as healing is concerned, we agree that Mercenaries/Commandos are viable end game PvE healers, and we have internally been discussing the idea of a multi-target Kolto Shell/Trauma Probe for a while now. We appreciate your suggestion and think it to be a reasonable one. While we cannot make any promises at this time, it is definitely something we would like to give to Mercenary/Commando healers at some point in the future.

We do not disagree with your final comment about the “unforgiving heat management system” and are curious to know whether the Mercenary/Commando community would like to see a resource overhaul at some point in the distant future? If we were to make Heat/Energy Cells for Mercenaries/Commandos work more like a Sorcerer’s/Sage’s Force pool, would it be appreciated or despised by those of you who play Mercenaries/Commandos? We are not planning any change to the Heat/Energy Cell system at this time, but would like to know more about the community’s opinion of the current Heat/Energy Cell resource system. We will talk more about this issue in the answer to your third question.



Quote:
PvP

Are the developers aware of how the excessive length of Mercenary utility cooldowns have a negative effect on their capabilities in PvP, and how do they plan to improve this situation for Mercenary players?

Comments:
Mercenary utility cooldowns are all exceptionally long and seem designed around a much slower pace of combat. Most of them do not offer a benefit that accurately reflects the length of the cooldown, and in comparison to similar abilities belonging to other ACs simply do not make sense.

Power Surge: The only baseline cooldown that offers a way to avoid being interrupted in an AC so heavily dependent on casting, has by default a 120s cooldown and affects only 1 ability (it can be talented down to 90s and affect 2 abilities). Mercenary’s only other interrupt resistance comes from the Bodyguard (healing) tree, so for both DPS specs Power Surge is the only way to attempt to maintain DPS output while under pressure. Unfortunately for Mercenary DPS players, pressure from opponents is going to occur much more often than just once every 90s. While proper positioning and use of LoS can help to mitigate this weakness, competent melee opponents have more tools at their disposal to continue to apply pressure (and damage). If Power Surge is not available for use, the Mercenary DPS will be unable to maintain even a semblance of their damage output and will be an easy target for competent opponents.

Thermal Sensor Override (TSO): Also suffers from the same cooldown problem (default of 120s, can be talented to 90s) and also only affects one ability. As only 1 of two skills the class has that help to provide emergency resource management utility (and the same cooldown as an ability (Vent Heat) that refunds 50% of our resource), TSOs cooldown is much too long in terms of the benefit that it is providing.

Kolto Overload (KO): Has a 180s cooldown for Mercenary players. While it is a decent defensive ability (changing the upper healing limit to 35% was appreciated), the cooldown has the potential to be excessively long. If KO is used preemptively, say as enemies are approaching, and is never activated (your health remains >35%), after 60s KO will go on cooldown. This effectively makes the cooldown of KO 4 minutes before it can be used again.

These three abilities are just a few examples (Electro Net also comes to mind) of utility skills that provide important benefits to Mercenary players in certain situations, but have cooldowns that are so long that they are rarely available when using said ability(s) would be beneficial. While these utility abilities are obviously not intended to be used in every encounter, the cooldown length is prohibitively long (players find themselves not using an ability where they normally would/should because the cooldown is so long and they want to use it at the perfect moment. This results in the ability being used far less than intended). The median cooldown of Mercenary utility skills is 105 seconds. Compare that to Sniper, who has a median utility cooldown of 60s (that’s ~40% lower than Mercenary).

Side Note: Tied into the idea of utility abilities is that they play a significant role in our ability to avoid being easily shut down and keep our enemies at range at least momentarily. This is a big concern in the community and the developers have stated they are working on this but a lot of time has gone by with little done.
The reason why Mercenaries/Commandos were originally given longer, weaker cooldowns is because they are passively superior to many of the other classes in the game. By nature of wearing the heaviest armor in the game, they take less damage than many other classes without needing to touch a button. They also have the ability to heal themselves and their allies, along with a 30 meter range for most of their abilities.

It is fairly clear now that Mercenaries/Commandos are not the dominating force on the field of battle that we originally feared they might be. With that said, some classes have utilities that are just too strong and/or cooldown durations that are quite possibly too short – the Marauder/Sentinel is a good example of a class like this. So while some classes may pine to be given cooldowns that will make them as strong as Sentinels/Marauders, we would rather reduce the effectiveness of Marauder/Sentinel cooldowns to make them more like the other classes when it comes to survivability.

However, this does not mean that we should ignore Mercenary/Commando (or any classes, for that matter) cooldowns. We might consider lengthening the duration of the Health Monitor/Fired Up effect provided by Kolto Overload/Adrenaline Rush and maybe even not put the ability on cooldown unless the effect actually triggers Kolto Overload/Adrenaline Rush before it expires. It might be safe to shorten the cooldown on Power Surge/Tech Override or maybe even allow it to affect two abilities baseline. Our concern with Thermal Sensor Override/Reserve Powercell is that the ability only exists to mitigate the frustration caused by an unforgiving resource system, and we would prefer to fix the resource system rather than give players additional buttons or shorter cooldowns to fight against their obstinate resources. Electro Net is a powerful, strategic ability that we feel has an appropriate strength with an appropriate cooldown length, so we probably will not be making any changes to it.

Unrelated to utility cooldowns, another thing that we have been internally considering for a while now is adjusting our pushback & interrupt systems because we believe the classes that have abilities with activation and channel times are simply being too greatly affected by those systems. These adjustments would primarily benefit all Mercenaries/Commandos and Sorcerers/Sages (Snipers/Gunslingers do not gain much because they are already immune to pushback & interrupts while in cover). Power Shot/Charged Bolts, Unload/Full Auto, and Tracer Missile/Grav Round are some key abilities that would benefit from these adjustments. Please let us know your opinion of the pushback & interrupt systems as they currently stand, and we will take the community’s feedback into consideration.


Quote:
Other

A big concern/complaint in the merc community revolves around resource management across all specs. How do the devs feel about where the Merc A/C is at regarding heat management? Do you intend to make any changes in the (near?) future to alleviate some of the community’s frustration over heat management?

Comments:
Changing the 4pc eliminator set bonus in 2.0 was not well-received by the community. We guess that the intent was to make it usable by both dps specs, but many Arsenal Mercenaries still use the old Dread Guard set bonus because it is easier to manage heat and doesn't result in a dps loss. In fact, it is actually a dps gain up until full Kell Dragon where the dps difference becomes negligible. Simply put, the new set bonus still has the same problem as the old one: it clearly benefits one spec more than the other. Suggestion: Making a Cylinder-based set bonus would be a perfect solution to this issue so both arsenal and pyro benefit.

RNG also plays a big role in our heat management with the Barrage talent, and many players feel the chance to proc Barrage is currently too low.

Pyrotech: We recognize the current changes on the PTR to pyro’s Incendiary Missile heat cost will go a long way to alleviate this spec’s resource management. We would love to see a similar improvement to the other specs.

Bodyguard: We still lack the basic ability to heal ourselves with our default heal (Rapid Shots) -- a basic function we need to share with Operatives with a similarly tiered resource regeneration system. ur very roundabout way of doing it with Kolto Shell + Peacekeeper, is only minimally useful in PVP, dismal in PVE, and above all else, is not as simple as what the other healers have. If you overextend and drop into low-tier regen, you're punished quite a lot if vent heat or TSO aren't available to help you get back to a manageable level or throw out a big heal while you don't have you heat to do so. You only have rapid shots (small heal) and emergency scan (long cooldown) while you slowly regenerate energy, and no way to speed up the process.

In comparison, Operatives can use diagnostic scan and its crits restore energy, and Sorcerers can use consumption, and they also regenerate force at the same rate no matter their force level anyway. Suggestion: Having heat dissipation added to rapid shots when used to heal an ally (could be a solution for Arsenal dps; dissipate on damage). Another suggestion we can think of is some proc that lowers the cooldown of TSO so that it can be used more often.

Side Note: The Commando ammo display is a huge QoL issue. It’s difficult to scan quickly for your current ammo level and where the next ability will leave your resources at. We hope something can be done, like a 1-100 scale used by Mercs.
We are sorry that the community did not positively receive the change to the 4-piece Eliminator set bonus, and the change was in fact directed at making the set useful for Pyrotechs/Assault Specialists. But in reality, this set bonus only served to mask the real issue: a systematic problem with the Heat/Energy Cell system.

As a damage dealer, it is not fun being forced to fight two battles at the same time – one against your enemy target and another against your resource bar. As you pointed out, we have made changes to certain abilities (like Incendiary Missile/Incendiary Round) and even created entire abilities (Vent Heat/Recharge Cells and Thermal Sensor Override/Reserve Powercell) to mitigate the frustration caused by an unforgiving resource system. But maybe the time has finally come to fix the real problem – the resource system itself?

Thematically, we would still use Heat/Energy Cells, so the change would only be in functionality. There is nothing that thematically requires Heat/Energy Cells to work how they currently do. For example, we could let you safely use more than 40% of your resource bar more than once every 2 minutes; however, we cannot allow Mercenaries/Commandos to heal indefinitely – which is actually the reason why the system works like it currently does. This is why a resource system that works in a similar manner to the Sorcerer’s/Sage’s Force resource could work for Mercenaries/Commandos, while something like the Juggernaut’s/Guardian’s Rage/Focus resource would not be feasible. We should state that overhauling a resource system is a substantial amount of work on our end, and as such, it is not something that would happen anytime soon. We will be looking for your feedback here, because we would not want to make a drastic change to your resource system without support from you – the players.

A cylinder/cell based set bonus is a good idea, and we may do something like that at some point in the future. One of the problems with doing so right now is how big the set bonus item tooltips would become – and that is on top of an already enormous item tooltip. But because we like the basic idea here, you can expect to eventually see something like this in the game – even if it takes us a while to get there.

As for the RNG complaint, we could probably increase the chance to trigger Barrage/Curtain of Fire, but this would almost certainly come with an increased rate-limit.

We think it seems reasonable for Mercenaries/Commandos to be able to heal themselves with Rapid Shots/Hammer Shot, and we will look into making this a possibility – but it might not generate Combat Support Cylinder/Cell charges when you heal yourself with the ability. It is something we will need to test out internally first.

As for venting Heat/recharging Energy Cells when Rapid Shots/Hammer Shot is used, that may be something we could do. However, it is also possible that the energy return tied into Diagnostic Scan makes Operative healers better than they should be. It does seem strange that one healer would have an energy-returning ability, while another healer using basically the same type of resource system has nothing to compare with it. We will investigate this further, and the outcome should be positive or at least neutral for Mercenaries/Commandos.

It should not be too difficult to add a 1-100 UI scale for Commando Energy Cells (like the one that Mercenaries can enable for Heat), and we will try to add that in as soon as we can.
Eric Musco | Community Manager
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PerinnAybara's Avatar


PerinnAybara
10.01.2013 , 12:32 PM | #2
Not Heal to Full answers.

Finally a satisfactory answer.
Character: Mathrim Cauthon, 50 Mercenary on Prophecy of the Five

-Sullster-'s Avatar


-Sullster-
10.01.2013 , 12:32 PM | #3
I'm liking the possibility of the change to the resource management.. At last
Sullster
Mercenary Pyrotech
"Fight Fire With Fire!"

AMightyKnight's Avatar


AMightyKnight
10.01.2013 , 12:39 PM | #4
only skimmed it since we are raiding atm - Overall very satisfactory answers IMO. Especially the soon on UI change for Commandos.

edit

Quote:
We do not disagree with your final comment about the “unforgiving heat management system” and are curious to know whether the Mercenary/Commando community would like to see a resource overhaul at some point in the distant future? If we were to make Heat/Energy Cells for Mercenaries/Commandos work more like a Sorcerer’s/Sage’s Force pool, would it be appreciated or despised by those of you who play Mercenaries/Commandos? We are not planning any change to the Heat/Energy Cell system at this time, but would like to know more about the community’s opinion of the current Heat/Energy Cell resource system. We will talk more about this issue in the answer to your third question.
Personally I’m against a radical change when it comes to resource management since I like the fundamental concept of the system. I don’t see anything fundamental wrong with it and think that there are far greater issues which need to be addressed.
What I’d like to see is a simple change in the Arsenal tree to somehow give us our free High Impact Bolt back. More is simply not necessary IMO, I have no problem at all fighting two fights at the same time. And who the *** cares about tooltips?
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BigDumbViking's Avatar


BigDumbViking
10.01.2013 , 12:45 PM | #5
This might be the most well thought out set of class answers yet. I appreciate the fact that there was actually some time and thought put into these answers. (The whole "heal to full" debacle must have shaken things up over there...).

I'm a bit nervous about the whole redesign of the resource system. I think for right now we really need to look at some sort of stop gap to prevent us from getting left behind... then we can talk longer term issues.

I love the comments on the CD's, even though I don't like the nerfing other classes talk. And the Pushback restructuring would be a huge PVP improvement.

Thanks Eric... Good work.
Bibifhet FrankDukes TerriblePerson

SiXXXX's Avatar


SiXXXX
10.01.2013 , 12:56 PM | #6
Thanks for the answers, love playing my merc as it was my very first toon.

As for heat management, I think it would be a mistake to completely change it, however without the old set bonus staying under 40 can be a real pain in the butt at times. What if you simply changed it to keeping your heat/ammo at 50% rather than 40?

I think the common theme of this article is noting how other classes are too op, rather then the merc is underpowered. I realize we are meant as a support class but there is no way you guys are going to realistically nerf snipers, marauders, etc. in order to balance things.

Healing right now is pretty bad IMO, unless in a 16 man op where the merc is strictly a main tank healer. Other then that, they bring nothing that the sorc and op can't do better. I like the idea of rapid shots mitigating heat on crits though.

As for PVP, I still refuse to play my mercenary. They simply aren't all that viable and all it takes is a melee class or two to destroy us. Unless we either get a new cooldown, or shorter cooldowns there is simply no hope for me to attempt pvp personally.
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BobaFaceroll's Avatar


BobaFaceroll
10.01.2013 , 01:00 PM | #7
I also approve of this response. Those are some wonderful answers to tough questions, and ones that could have just as easily been dodged.

Resource Management
I don't think you need to completely revamp the class's energy system. I just think a few tweaks need to be made to the current system. A slight bump to baseline ammo regeneration would help every class. From there you can tune via specific traits. If Arsenal still needed a little love on resource management you can tweak Terminal Velocity. The same holds true for Pyros and Superheated Rail. You can also (as has happened and is still happening) tweak specific skill costs.

For Bodyguards I think they simply need some skill tree specific mechanics that help alleviate resource costs or refund ammo, much like Scoundrel/Operative healers. More ammo back from Superchanged Gas, an ammo return on critical heals from Hammer Shot (akin to Scoundrel/Operative's scan heal), an ammo return on Kolto Shell healing all come to mind as possibilities. Making Kolto Shell free again would also be fantastic....even better if it's coupled with the ability to put it on more than one target.

In reality I'm just glad it's a recognized issue and you're actively looking at (and listening to feedback regarding) changing things for the better. Resource management is, at least to me, the only thing holding this class back in all three trees.

Ability Pushback & Interrupt

A change hear would be welcome! Sorc/Sage got a skill that prevents interrupts for 10 seconds, and a way to reduce the cool down of the skill via class trait (one tree only?). Something similar would be welcome for Mercs/Commandos. Two Charges as a baseline for Power Surge would also be great. 10sec of interrupt immunity every 2min for every class plus an extra instant cast would make a huge impact in PvP. You would still be a cast time class, but there would be more ways to get those casts off under heavy pressure.

PS: DOT protection as discussed in the Shadow/Assassin answers thread for Pyros! That plus more DOT damage (undo some of the cylinder damage reduction in 2.0) and it would actually feel like a DOT spec. Right now it feels like a "Have a DOT there for Rail Shot" class...I'd like the DOTs to be more significant than that.

Zoom_VI's Avatar


Zoom_VI
10.01.2013 , 01:02 PM | #8
Some of the answers look like they are directed as overall ones. Such as talking about maurader/slingers being over tuned, and the interrupt system. They are definitely trying to make all their design intentions clear.

This was definitely the shining spot of the representative system
Crinn
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Projawa
10.01.2013 , 01:15 PM | #9
Devs: It seems most of these answers describe how you'd nerf other classes in order to balance mercs and other hybrid classes. What about positive changes? For example, giving marauders a self cleanse to compensate for reducing their defensive cooldowns.

TUXs's Avatar


TUXs
10.01.2013 , 01:20 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by EricMusco View Post
Unrelated to utility cooldowns, another thing that we have been internally considering for a while now is adjusting our pushback & interrupt systems because we believe the classes that have abilities with activation and channel times are simply being too greatly affected by those systems. These adjustments would primarily benefit all Mercenaries/Commandos and Sorcerers/Sages (Snipers/Gunslingers do not gain much because they are already immune to pushback & interrupts while in cover). Power Shot/Charged Bolts, Unload/Full Auto, and Tracer Missile/Grav Round are some key abilities that would benefit from these adjustments. Please let us know your opinion of the pushback & interrupt systems as they currently stand, and we will take the community’s feedback into consideration.
THIS! THIS THIS THIS!!!! This is the bane of so many issues imo. The punishment we suffer from pushback and interrupts are the cause of almost every one of this classes problems (minus resource management).

Far too many of our harder hitting abilities are dependent on getting that channeled skill off...and they're far too easy to shut down by any competent player (speaking for PvP specifically). I understand the fear of the "ranged" DPS, but without the ability to cast any of our skills, we're nothing.

My suggestions:
- Interrupt/pushback immunity for 15 seconds after an interrupt/pushback, or, any Interrupt/pushback instantly triggers a Tech Override charge - I'd suggest a Tech Override charge for EVERY interrupted cast - it's just far too easy to shut down the cast dependent classes in PvP and this is the single biggest issue I feel the class has.
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