Developer Update: Smuggler Class Changes
Hello everyone. My name is Austin Peckenpaugh, and I’m a Senior Designer on Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, responsible for class design and combat systems. As such, I’m here to shed some light on the changes to the Smuggler class in Game Update 2.0.
We’ll be writing about recent class changes coming to The Old Republic, but this time we’re going a little more in depth and taking on one class (for both factions) at a time. If we haven’t covered your class yet, do not despair; it will be covered in the coming days.
Alacrity Improvements: One of the big changes to combat systems is the way that Alacrity works. Prior to this update, Alacrity came with a tradeoff for some classes, and it was nearly useless to other classes. The faster you attacked, the more resources you would spend, and that only worked if you had channeled abilities or abilities with activation times.
Now, Alacrity will increase the activation speed of all abilities, including instants. We haven’t just shortened the global cooldown, either. When activating any ability quicker, its animation will also play quicker. This makes some attacks look and sound very cool. Furthermore, Alacrity increases resource regeneration by the same rate, helping you to recuperate resources more quickly as you spend them more quickly. Now more Alacrity is strictly a good thing.
DoT Improvements: We’ve changed the way we evaluate damage over time effects, so it should now be less costly to keep your DoTs up and to spread them around.
Shield Improvements: We’ve changed the way shields work to allow them to absorb any incoming kinetic or energy damage regardless of the source (melee, ranged, Force, tech – doesn’t matter). This has significantly increased the importance of shields, and the game has been rebalanced to account for such a major adjustment.
Accuracy Matters: In 2.0, all Elite (gold star) and tougher enemies will have additional defense chances against Force and tech attacks. As a result, Accuracy Rating will play a pivotal role in optimizing your sustained damage in boss fights. Prior to 2.0, Accuracy Rating was valued very differently from class to class (or even spec to spec), and while it’s still different for each class or spec, that difference is now much smaller. In effect, all damage-dealing roles will find Accuracy Rating much more useful than before.
Better Dodge, baseline: Dodge now removes all hostile removable effects for any Smuggler, including the Gunslinger. This used to be reserved for Scoundrels only, but we’ve added the ability to Dodge, baseline, so that Gunslingers can also benefit from this effect.
- Ready for Anything: Now when Gunslingers enter cover, they start building stacks of stealth detection. These stacks climb steadily over 30 seconds and stack up to 30 times. Each stack increases stealth detection by 1 level. This effect ends when you leave cover. We wanted Gunslingers to feel like they really owned an area, especially if they’ve “set up shop” for a while there, so to speak. Stealth characters can still sneak up on Gunslingers when approaching them directly from behind, but now a deeply rooted Gunslinger makes a great lookout, even against unwitting stealth characters.
- Better Crack Shot: This ability used to only increase the range of blaster attacks, but now all important, relevant abilities have been increased to 35 meters.
- Better Scrambling Field: Now lasts 20 seconds (up from 15) and no longer requires cover. You can deploy Scrambling FIeld at your current position and move freely after doing so.
- Hightail It (New ability): This ability makes the Gunslinger roll forward 18 meters, landing in portable cover. While rolling, the Gunslinger cannot be hit, and rolling breaks the Gunslinger out of all movement-impairing effects. 20-second cooldown.
Below are some additional details on changes made to the Gunslinger’s skill trees. Many more skills than the ones mentioned here have changed; these are really just the highlights.
Alacrity was one of those stats that should have benefited Sharpshooter greatly, but in addition to the old Alacrity system’s shortcomings, reaching certain Alacrity levels could make you wait awkwardly on Trickshot’s cooldown. Now that Alacrity is a very useful stat for Gunslingers, especially Sharpshooter, it has become critically important for us to make Trickshot play well at all Alacrity levels.
- Trickshot: Now costs 5 energy and also becomes available after a complete Speed Shot.
- Recoil Control: This skill has been redesigned. Now increases the speed at which Speed Shot channels and fires by 15% per point (30% when maxed). Additionally, firing Charged Burst twice in a row, firing Quickdraw or Aimed Shot once, or completing a Speed Shot now finishes the cooldown on Trickshot. All in all, this will allow you to hit Trickshot more often, and Trickshot will always be available when you want it. Since Trickshot’s availability is now linked to your gameplay (rather than its cooldown), the Sharpshooter rotation plays its best at all levels of Alacrity.
- Burst Volley: We’ve improved this ability in three ways to make it an even better signature skill for Sharpshooter. First, the Alacrity it provides is now very useful. Second, because Speed Shot is so much better than before, finishing its cooldown is now even more useful. Finally, Burst Volley now lasts 15 seconds (up from 10).
- Heads Up: When Hunker Down ends, you gain Heads Up, which increases your movement speed by 50% and grants immunity to movement-impairing effects for 6 seconds.
- Stay Low: Increases the duration of Hunker Down, and, when you roll with Hightail It, you land in portable cover with a few seconds of Hunker Down. When this Hunker Down ends, you also benefit from Heads Up if you took the skill.
We like that Saboteur has a strong niche role in AOE (area of effect) damage, but we really want to dispel the perception that they can’t deal competitive single target damage. To that end, we’ve made it easier to focus in on one target by freeing up Shock Charge. We’ve also reduced the downtime between Sabotage Charge -> Contingency Charges -> Speed Shot combo chains.
- Shock Charge: Shock Charge now has no cooldown but can only be active on one enemy at a time (such that attaching it on a second target removes it from the first target). It also costs less energy than before and gives Saboteur the flexibility to swap targets more easily for better parity with Incendiary Grenade and Sabotage.
- Sabotage: This ability no longer requires a target and no longer requires an active Shock Charge. Sabotage is now activated on yourself and finishes the cooldowns on Defense Screen, Cool Head, Hightail It, and Hunker Down.
- Jury-Rigged Mods: Reduces the cooldowns and energy costs of Sabotage Charge and Speed Shot. These abilities are very important to giving Saboteur competitive sustained damage, and that’s the first thing we wanted to address for them.
- Blazing Speed and Hot Shot: Blazing Speed is now a 1-pt skill with a slightly reduced effect. However, Hot Shot is a new 2-pt skill that gives Charged Burst and Quick Shot a 50% chance per point to apply 1 stack of Blazing Speed’s effect to the target. This will further improve sustained damage and also help the Saboteur’s out-of-cover on-the-run gameplay. It additionally synergizes well with Hot Pursuit, which was a previously underwhelming skill.
- Contingency Charges: Reduced the rate limit by which the bombs can be detonated.
- Scatter Bombs: With this new skill, when you activate Hightail It, you drop several bombs behind you that detonate moments later, dealing damage to everyone in a line behind you. This doubles as a fun escape and a surprising entrance.
- Cool Under Pressure: This skill has been redesigned to be more useful. Now, for as long as you remain in cover, you heal a percent of your max health every 3 seconds.
Dirty Fighting (Gunslinger)
Dirty Fighting has a lot of consistent and reliable damage, but we’ve injected them with some new gameplay to help spice things up.
- Concussion: This skill makes it so that your periodic damaging effects do not tick on targets affected by your own sleep effects, like Flash Grenade. Previously Flash Grenade was very difficult to use as a Dirty Fighting Gunslinger on account of your DoTs. While we’re okay with different specs valuing different abilities, the lack of a reliable Flash Grenade really detracted from Dirty Fighting’s ability to escape one or more attackers. This change completely flips the table, allowing you to go so far as to setup on sleeping targets without fear of waking them.
- Dirty Shot: Dealing damage with Wounding Shots has a chance to finish the cooldown on Quickdraw, allowing your next Quickdraw to be used on any target with any health.
- Shrap Bomb and Vital Shot: These abilities now cost much less energy to use, and Shrap Bomb no longer has a cooldown.
- Incendiary Mine: When you activate Hightail It, you detonate an incendiary mine behind you, which fills the area with flames that damage and slow all enemies within.
- Lucky Dodge: This passive has been removed and its effects have been incorporated into Dodge by default (Dodge removes all removable hostile effects).
- Pugnacity: We really didn’t like how Pugnacity was essentially a maintenance ability. If it fell off, you just became worse, and there was no compelling gameplay in monitoring it. We’ve changed Pugnacity so that it’s now an active ability with a 2-minute cooldown. When activated, you gain one Upper Hand on demand and 15 seconds of 10% Alacrity. As previously mentioned, Alacrity now reduces the activation time of all abilities, including instants, and increases resource regeneration. Pugnacity is still usable off the GCD.
- Street Tough: This new passive ability increases your energy regeneration rate. It effectively replaces the effects of the old Pugnacity.
- Kolto Pack: Previously, the intricacies of when to use Kolto Pack over Emergency Medpac were pretty unclear. Kolto Pack has been redesigned to better convey its intended use. Now Kolto Pack heals for a good amount up front in addition to a good amount over 9 seconds. It requires and consumes one Upper Hand and is a strictly superior heal to Emergency Medpac, but it has an activation time, a resource cost, and a cooldown.
- Upper Hand: The “giggle proc” is back for Upper Hand, but we’ve toned down the frequency at which it occurs. Now this sound effect only plays when you previously did not have Upper Hand (it will not play when your stacks of Upper Hand increase).
- Smuggle: This ability has been redesigned slightly to make it easier and more intuitive to use. Now the Scoundrel must be in stealth to use Smuggle, which still puts nearby group members into stealth with the Scoundrel. Smuggle now allows both the Scoundrel and other affected group members to use abilities like Sneak and Blackout. Furthermore, we’ve added a visibility ring to Smuggle that shows the stealth field’s perimeter being projected around the smuggling Scoundrel. Finally, Smuggle now reduces the movement speed of all affected party members by 15% (down from 30%).
- Scamper (New Ability): Roll forward 12 meters. When slowed, you only roll forward 6 meters. While rolling, your chance to dodge melee and ranged attacks is increased. Does not break stealth. Cannot be used while immobilized. This ability costs 25 energy and has no cooldown. Scamper should be very useful for closing and widening gaps, and frankly it’s a lot of fun to use.
Below are some additional details on changes made to the Scoundrel’s skill trees. Many more skills than the ones mentioned here have changed; these are really just the highlights.
One thing we really wanted to address for Sawbones was their options. Sawbones has always been great at what it does, but a few great abilities have edged out the other options in what should be a great spread of abilities. This led to the perception that Sawbones Scoundrels had a fairly narrow, limited role.
- Kolto Pack: As previously mentioned, Kolto Pack has been redesigned to have a more obvious application. This should be a welcome “re-addition” to your arsenal as a healer.
- Puissant Poultices: This new skill increases the healing done by your Kolto Cloud and Slow-release Medpac, as well as increasing Kolto Cloud’s duration and reducing the energy cost of Slow-release Medpac. You should have to spend less energy on keeping Slow-release Medpac up and have more energy to use other abilities.
- Medpac Mastery: This skill has been changed so that Kolto Pack, Slow-release Medpac, and Kolto Cloud ticks all have a chance to grant Upper Hand. This should help ensure that all of these skills are equally useful and that this Upper Hand gain is more reliable.
- Smuggled Med Delivery: We really wanted to add some gameplay to using stealth as a Sawbones Scoundrel, so we added this new skill. Now when you exit stealth mode, you immediately gain 1 stack of Upper Hand per point (2 stacks when maxed).
- Kolto Cloud: Sawbones should have a better resource management game in 2.0 (including both energy and Upper Hand), and this will give Sawbones Scoundrels more opportunities to make use of Kolto Cloud.
- Scamper: While Sawbones Scoundrels have always been good at healing on-the-run, they would spend so much time running that there wasn’t much time to do anything else. With Scamper, it should now be possible to more easily establish some distance and breathing room to allow you the time and space to use more healing abilities.
- Flying Fists and Round Two: The rate limit has been removed from Flying Fists and added to Round Two. This effectively preserves the rate at which Upper Hand could be re-gained with this effect without limiting the times Flying Fists can hit your target.
- Turn the Tables: This skill has been redesigned. Now in addition to increasing the damage dealt by Sucker Punch and Flying Fists, when Flying Fists damages an enemy, you immediately recover 5 energy per point (10 when maxed).
- Flanking: This is now a 2-point skill, such that maxing this skill out makes Back Blast free of an energy cost.
- Sucker Punch: This ability now costs more energy and deals more damage. In combination with the above changes, Scrapper Scoundrels should be able to put out more reliable, less streaky sustained damage.
- Slippery Devil: This utility skill reduces the energy cost of Scamper and gives Scamper a chance to trigger 1 second of Dodge, making you impossible to hit with ranged and melee attacks and removing all removable hostile effects.
Dirty Fighting (Scoundrel)
- Concussion: This skill makes it so that your periodic damaging effects do not tick on targets affected by your own sleep effects, like Flash Grenade and Tranquilizer. Previously Flash Grenade was very difficult to use as a Dirty Fighting Scoundrel on account of your DoTs. While we’re okay with different specs valuing different abilities, the lack of a reliable Flash Grenade really detracted from Dirty Fighting’s ability to escape one or more attackers. This change completely flips the table, allowing you to go so far as to setup on sleeping targets without fear of waking them.
- Unfair Advantage: Blaster Whip has a chance to trigger Unfair Advantage, which makes your next Wounding Shots re-grant Upper Hand and cost no energy.
- Shrap Bomb and Vital Shot: These abilities now cost much less energy to use, and Shrap Bomb no longer has a cooldown.
- Scurry: When you activate Scamper, you have a chance to gain Scurry, which makes your next Kolto Pack activate instantly, cost no energy, and not require or consume Upper Hand.
Game Update 2.0: Scum and Villainy and the Digital Expansion: Rise of the Hutt Cartel are now live with the changes above. Please keep in mind that we are always looking at class balance so let us know how you like the changes we have made. I hope the information I could share with you today has helped shed some light on what’s changed and why we changed it. Thanks for reading!