Developer Blogs

04.17.2013

Developer Update: Sith Warrior 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 Sith Warrior 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.

Combat Systems

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. For Knights and Warriors specifically, attacking faster means generating resources faster. 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.

Marauder

Dual Saber Throw (New ability): This ability throws both sabers forward, dealing high damage to everything in their path. Upon striking a target, that target is additionally slowed by 50% for 6 seconds. 18-second cooldown.

Below are some additional details on changes made to the Marauder’s skill trees. Many more skills than the ones mentioned here have changed; these are really just the highlights.

Annihilation

Annihilation has always had a strong rotation with good sustained damage and utility. We didn’t want to mess with the formula to Annihilation’s success, so we just made them better at doing what they already do.

  • Agonizing Sabers: This new utility skill causes your bleeding targets to deal less damage.
  • Blood Ward: This new utility skill causes you to heal for a percent of your maximum health when attacked while Saber Ward is active.
  • Indefatigable Onslaught: Increases the maximum stack size of Juyo Form and Annihilate by 1. With this skill, Juyo Form stacks up to 6 times and Annihilate stacks up to 4 times, ultimately giving Annihilate a 6-second cooldown.
  • Bloodlust: Bloodlust will help give you the Rage you need to fuel more Annihilates. Your direct damage attacks that critically hit a target have a chance to build 1 Rage.

Carnage

Carnage has been criticized for being a little too simple to play. While they have lots of fun utility, their core rotation was a little boring. However, some players like a more relaxed playstyle, so it’s important to us that we don’t change things too much.

To that end, we’ve helped unlock Carnage’s most fun utility (Predation, right?), and livened up their core rotational gameplay with a deadly new proc effect.

  • Frenzied Sabers: Marauders in general have great survivability tools, but their passive survivability is very low. In large part, this is intentional, but Carnage receives very few survivability boosts even for a Marauder. With Frenzied Sabers, each time your Ataru Form procs, you gain a stacking damage reduction buff.
  • Brooding: With this new skill, whenever you use a “rest” ability (Channel Hatred, Carbonite Chamber, etc), you generate Fury over the channel duration. This lets Carnage front-load a Berserk, Predation, or Bloodthirst without having to use Frenzy!
  • Slaughter: When your Ataru Form triggers, you have a chance to gain Slaughter, which finishes the cooldown on Gore and Vicious Throw and makes your next Vicious Throw free and usable on any target at any health level.

Rage (Marauder)

Our intentions with Rage Marauders in 2.0 are to continue to support their viable sustained damage, but to lessen the burst potential of Smash. This isn’t solely about correcting issues though, so we’ve also added some gameplay improvements and better utility to Rage.

  • Changes to Smash: Smash hits for significantly less in 2.0, reducing Rage’s on demand burst. However, Smash is now responsible for less of Rage’s overall damage output, so these changes don’t negatively impact Rage’s sustained damage.
    • Shockwave Acquisition: Shockwave is no longer acquired from Force Choke. Now, stacks of Shockwave are acquired from Berserk (in Shii-Cho Form) and damage dealt by Force Crush.
    • Dark Resonance: Previously, this skill increased the critical damage of Force attacks by 30%. In 2.0, it increases the critical damage of all attacks by 15%.
  • Redistributed Damage: Damage has been redistributed from Smash into other abilities, reducing Smash’s contribution to your overall damage while increasing that of other key abilities.
    • Dark Resonance: As previously mentioned, Dark Resonance now affects all abilities by a lesser amount.
    • Force Lash: Vicious Slash deals additional energy damage as Force damage.
    • Cascading Power: Increases all damage dealt by 9% (at 3 points) for 6 seconds after using Smash. This does not apply to the Smash that triggered this effect.
  • New Utility: Rage had previously been a one-trick pony, with the thought being that the burst it provided effectively served as its utility. With that way of thinking behind us, Rage has received some new and improved utility skills.
    • Payback and Cloak of Rage: Payback has been replaced by Cloak of Rage, which increases the damage dealt by Cloak of Pain and increases its duration.
    • Strangulate: Now reduces the cooldown of Force Choke.
    • Interceptor: This skill has been moved and repurposed. It now gives Force Charge and Obliterate a chance to slow the target by 50% for 6 seconds.
    • Force Jump: This new skill makes Obliterate usable while immobilized.
    • Force Vigor: Reduces the health spent by Undying Rage and causes Dual Saber Throw to generate Rage.

Juggernaut

  • Endless Rage: Previously, Forms would enable through various skills the generation of Rage when attacked. These skills have been removed or repurposed, and Juggernauts now gain this effect through this new passive ability.
  • Sundering Assault: Now has a 15-second cooldown, generates 5 Rage, and reduces the target’s armor by 20% for 45 seconds. Previously, Sundering Assault was a very high maintenance ability. It was unfortunate that maintaining high Rage and quickly applying stacks of Armor Reduction were more important than dumping off that Rage and getting to deal some damage. With the new Sundering Assault, fewer of your global cooldowns will be tied up in maintenance, affording you the time to actually spend your Rage without worrying about constantly maintaining your Rage levels.
  • Saber Reflect (New Ability): Reflects the damage dealt by all incoming ranged, Force, and tech attacks back to their source. Lasts 3 seconds. The damage dealt back to the source is capped by a value determined by the ability’s rank.

Below are some additional details on changes made to the Juggernaut’s skill trees. Many more skills than the ones mentioned here have changed; these are really just the highlights.

Immortal

We found that a lot of players were dissatisfied with the top of the Immortal skill tree, forgoing Crushing Blow and other skills for other options in Vengeance or Rage. We like it when it’s because players see low-hanging fruit they’d rather have, but we really don’t like it when it’s because players find their capstone ability underwhelming. Therefore, we’ve really beefed up the value of high tier skills and Crushing Blow in the hopes of making players feel better rewarded for fully investing in the Immortal tree.

We also want players to feel like they’re not missing too much when they finally let go of the skills from Vengeance or Rage. To achieve this, we’ve really improved the Immortal’s command over the battlefield, giving them distinct and powerful utility that’s totally unique to the tree.

  • Crushing Blow: Now deals area damage to adjacent enemies if the primary target is affected by your Armor Reduction. Additionally, Crushing Blow enables the use of Retaliation and increases your damage reduction by 3% for 20 seconds.
  • Vicious Retaliation: Reduces Retaliation’s cooldown while Saber Ward is active.
  • Lash Out: Now additionally increases Retaliation’s critical chance while in Soresu Form.
  • Warmonger: Being attacked while in Soresu Form reduces the active cooldown of Force Charge.
  • Thrown Gauntlet: Now reduces the cooldown of Force Push and reduces the Rage cost of Chilling Scream.
  • Sonic Wall: Now places an absorption shield (similar to Sonic Barrier) on all allies, excluding you, in range of your Threatening Scream.
  • Sweeping Fury: This is now a 1-pt skill. Reduces the rate limit by which Endless Rage can generate Rage by 3 seconds. Additionally reduces the Rage cost of Force Scream, Sweeping Slash, and Crushing Blow.
  • Rule of Two: When your guarded target (an ally under the effects of your Guard) is attacked, you gain a speed boost for 6 seconds.
  • Intimidating Presence: Force Charge finishes the cooldown on Disruption. Additionally increases the duration of Saber Reflect and causes Saber Reflect to issue high threat to all engaged enemies within 30 meters.
  • Pillar of Strength: Increases the damage dealt by Backhand and Crushing Blow, and reduces the cooldown of Retaliation and Invincible.

Vengeance

Vengeance is a fun, satisfying spec to play, so we didn’t want to mess with it too much. However, we have implemented some gameplay improvements and given Vengeance a deadly new proc to liven things up.

  • Shatter: This ability no longer requires your Armor Reduction effect to be present on your target.
  • Destroyer: This new skill increases the damage dealt by your bleed effects and triggers when dealing damage with Ravage or bleed effects. When triggered, Destroyer finishes the cooldown on Vicious Throw and makes your next Vicious Throw free and usable on any target at any health level.
  • Savagery: Savagery no longer affects Vicious Throw. We removed this effect because it lead to the awkward gameplay of waiting to get both procs before using Destroyer, which made Destroyer feel less awesome and less immediately important. Because Savagery now only affects Force Scream, its effects have been increased. Now, Shatter, Impale, and Vicious Throw have a 50% chance per point to grant Savagery, which increases the critical chance of your next Force Scream by 25% per point. Stacks up to 2 times. With 2 points at 2 stacks, Force Scream has a 100% chance to critically hit.
  • Unstoppable: We’ve decided to make Unstoppable exclusive to Vengeance Juggernauts (more specifically, Juggernauts in Shien Form). This is functionality that can be too good in the hands of other Juggernauts, but we like it too much for Vengeance to reduce its effectiveness. We understand some players will be unhappy with this change, but that’s why Immortal and Rage have been given so much additional and unique utility.
  • Seething Hatred: At 2 points, this new utility skill finishes the cooldowns on Force Charge, Enrage, and Saber Throw when you exit combat. We want Vengeance to feel as front-loaded as possible (within reason of course), and to achieve this we want to make sure you have all of your fun rage-filled tools at the start of every new fight.

Rage (Juggernaut)

Our intentions with Rage Juggernauts in 2.0 are to continue to support their viable sustained damage, but to lessen the burst potential of Smash. This isn’t solely about correcting issues though, so we’ve also added some gameplay improvements and better utility to Rage.

  • Changes to Smash: Smash hits for significantly less in 2.0, reducing Rage’s on demand burst. However, Smash is now responsible for less of Rage’s overall damage output, so these changes don’t negatively impact Rage’s sustained damage.
    • Shockwave Acquisition: Shockwave is no longer acquired from Force Choke. Now, stacks of Shockwave are acquired from Enrage and damage dealt by Force Crush.
    • Overpower: Overpower now additionally reduces the active cooldown of Enrage, allowing Enrage to be used with greater frequency.
    • Dark Resonance: Previously, this skill increased the critical damage of Force attacks by 30%. In 2.0, it increases the critical damage of all attacks by 15%.
  • Redistributed Damage: Damage has been redistributed from Smash into other abilities, reducing Smash’s contribution to your overall damage while increasing that of other key abilities.
    • Dark Resonance: As previously mentioned, Dark Resonance now affects all abilities by a lesser amount.
    • Force Lash: Vicious Slash deals additional energy damage as Force damage.
    • Cascading Power: Increases all damage dealt by 9% (at 3 points) for 6 seconds after using Smash. This does not apply to the Smash that triggered this effect.
  • New Utility: Rage had previously been a one-trick pony, with the thought being that the burst it provided effectively served as its utility. With that way of thinking behind us, Rage has received some new and improved utility skills.
    • Strangulate: Now reduces the cooldown of Force Choke.
    • Interceptor and Oppressor: Interceptor has been replaced with Oppressor and moved. Gives Force Charge, Obliterate, and Intercede a chance to grant Oppressor, which makes your next Chilling Scream cost no Rage and activate with a 0.5-second global cooldown.
    • Force Jump: This new skill makes Obliterate usable while immobilized.
    • Force Resistance: Reduces the damage taken from Force attacks and causes you to build Rage when you reflect Force attacks with Saber Reflect.

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!