Sabotage Patch Changes: Defending The Medic
Today I was originally going to write a guide on how to gain Attunement in WildStar. Instead, I woke up in a foul mood because I visited the WildStar forums when I opened my eyes to view the latest Sabotage update. I don’t like the criticise and I genuinely don’t often get frustrated with developers, but the latest round of patch notes for the Sabotage update have honestly tipped me over the edge.
For anyone who is aware of my WildStar play, you’ll be aware that, A) I love PvP and B) Play both a Medic and Spellslinger, with both ranked above 1800. I stopped playing my Spellslinger for the simple reason that it’s burst damage potential was insane and as a result, the skill requirement was pretty low. It was simply a case, at times, of pointing in the direction of my enemy, pressing Spell Surge and then unleashing a Charged Shot.
I then chose to pursue the Medic on live, after reaching 1800 on my Spellslinger first, because I was seeking something more difficult. The difficulty I was seeking wasn’t through bad class design but was instead because I wanted to play in melee (significantly more difficult in a PvP environment) while also playing a class that’s both unpopular and which has received its fair share of nerfs.
I’ve already written about how the Medic is desperate need of attention and yet to add insult to injury, the latest patch notes actually nerf the healing and damage potential of the Medic quite significantly. For a class that’s already offering one of the lowest DPS outputs in the game, to reduce it further is simply kicking a dog while it’s down.
What has frustrated me the most about the latest nerf is the fact that it hasn’t been backed up with data or evidence. Merkal, the class lead, stated the following:
I am reading all of your posts regarding potential nerfs and wanted to share our reasoning as well as invite you to share the results of your PTR parses vs. Live Parses, if you do please post your build and Assault Power so that we have some data to compare to internal tests.
Change to 3 Targets: While we want there to be viable builds with different abilities, particular consumers, we felt that the disparity between Gamma Rays and Quantum Cascade to be too polarizing. The new target count will allow Gamma Rays to be viable in more situations, including leveling and PvP.
Damage Reduction: The damage reduction is simply a product of how we balance abilities. Every ability has several data points that are calculated towards its base damage. Single target abilities gain bonus damage. Because Gamma Rays became AE it lost this bonus damage. Based off our internal tests this had very little impact on GR’s DPS output.
Tier 4: The change to Tier 4 did grant a slight damage boost but this change was not made to increase damage but instead to improve the overall “feeling” of the rotation as the instant casts could be hard to track without addons and could be quite disruptive.
Tier 8: Our issue with the old Tier 8 was that missing any of the 3 beams or having any of the 3 beams get Deflected meant that you completely lost out on the Tier 8 bonus. We first simply made the change to cause each beam to grant a percentage change to grant the Actuator. When we performed DPS tests with these changes and the changes to Atomize the Medic was far in the lead compared to other classes. Without the cooldown added to T8 it was essentially reducing the cost of Gamma Rays by 50% and the DPS gained was far more than intended for a major tier. Even after the change our internal tests still have Medic’s in the lead.
The detonation damage gained from both tiers was in a similar position to GR Tier 8 in that they were simply providing way more output than intended for Major tiers and so we have toned it down.
We are tracking down an issue that is causing Medic’s to generate far more threat than intended.
Simply put, I find all the above text nothing short of nonsense. I can accuse it of that because much of the justification is entirely flawed and it’s evident from the text that a grasp on the Medic and what it’s about is severely lacking.
To address his second bullet point, the fact Gamma Rays has changed from Single Target to an Area of Effect skill shouldn’t automatically mean its damage is reduced. In fact, I only have to look towards Charged Shot to prove that point. On the test server, with 2900 Attack Power and hitting through targets, I’d be lucky to achieve more than 4000 damage. In comparison, a single Charge Shot on my Spell Slinger hits for over 15,000 (at times 20,000). The thing is, the cooldown of Actuator accrual versus a single 10 second cooldown of Charged Shot is also irrelevant. It’s irrelevant because the build time of Actuators, combined with the cast time on Gamma Rays, makes for an AOE skill that’s still worse damage than a single Charged Shot when Trigger Fingers is also considered. How then, does the logic Merkal states, apply to Quantum Cascade? 20,000 versus 4,000 hardly seems on equal footing to me.
We then have the problem of the new and improved Tier 8. The new Tier 4 change is the following:
The tier 4 bonus now causes each use of Gamma Rays to reduce its cast time by 0.5 second. Every third cast resets the cast time back to normal.
The Tier 8 changes are the following:
The tier 8 bonus now grants a 33% chance per beam that hits an enemy to build an Actuator.
Landing a hit with all 3 beams still grants a 100% chance to build an Actuator. There is now a 2 second cooldown on the Actuator granted from T8.
I’ve place in bold the biggest bug-bear at the moment and it’s the fact that the internal cooldown on the Tier 8 is, to put it simply, crazy. Let me just get this straight: the Tier 4 of Gamma Rays reduces it’s cast times by 0.5 seconds per cast, to the point where the third cast is 0.25 seconds and yet on the Third cast, there’s a 2 second delay to build ONE Actuator at Tier 8. At what point did one Actuator become overpowered? Delaying the accrual of a single Actuator by 2 seconds...is because of what? 1 Actuator isn’t enough to roll out a single Quantum Cascade or Gamma Rays and yet the justification is the following:
When we performed DPS tests with these changes and the changes to Atomize the Medic was far in the lead compared to other classes. Without the cooldown added to T8 it was essentially reducing the cost of Gamma Rays by 50% and the DPS gained was far more than intended for a major tier.\
Now, I don’t want to necessarily point the finger at Carbine employees and its internal testers, but the suggestion that a Medic, because of the change to Atomize (which is now off Global Cooldown) and Tier 8 Gamma Rays achieved higher damage on rotations than every other class I simply cannot believed. Since the Medic nerf during closed Beta, every piece of raid data leaving the live servers and every testimony from PvP (including my own experiences) places the Medic last in terms of DPS. Even on the test realm this very minute, the damage from the Medic is still insignificant.
Unless the internal testers have discovered some sort of magical silver bullet for the class that miraculously allows us to leapfrog over half a million additional damage (and more in many cases) I simply cannot believe this unless proof is provided. The only reasonable explanation I can find is that the internal testers are terrible:I find that a more likely answer.
In the short space of time I played my Medic today (on the test server) there is, categorically, no way that I could surpass my Spellslinger’s damage potential or that of an Engineer or Warrior. Considering Fissure has had its damage reduced as well as Devastator Probes, it’s just not plausible.
Lastly and as far as Devastator Probes is concerned (as well as Healing Probes as the change affects both), the nerf is simply uncalled for. Against an 1800 heavy armored I used to hit for around 4,000 to 6,000 damage depending on how much I critically hit. Even as an area of effect skill, in a PvE and PvP scenario the damage is still tiny in the fact of Electrocute, Charged Shot and Mind Burst and yet it’s Tier 4 now only deals 35% damage (as opposed to 50%) and it’s Tier 8 now only deals 75% damage. I barely scraped over 3,000 damage on the test server today. Worst of all, it now only affects 2 additional targets (instead of 3).
Before I get my knickers in a twist any more about these unnecessary changes, I’ve reached out to Carbine and will be interviewing them next week, specifically about the Medic. I have a lot of faith in Carbine and they’ve delivered an amazing product, but I want to know more about the reasoning behind these changes, the magical rotation that seems to allude thousands of Medics and where the class is really heading. In the mean time, I’m going to lie down and calm down. Oh, and if you have any questions for Carbine, ask them below!