I was lurking around on the STAR WARS: The Old Republic website, getting my authenticator issues situated (shout out to awesome CSR service today!), and decided to see what's going on in SWTOR-land. My main is a Smuggler – a Scoundrel, to be exact – so you could imagine the excitement I had when I saw the latest news has to deal with my beloved class. Before the news for Operatives and Scoundrels, the blog for upcoming changes for Gunslingers and Snipers went out. Along with the blog for upcoming class changes in 3.0, BioWare also put out a list of fun facts about SWTOR. But, before we get into any specific news for The Old Republic, let's first get into just STAR WARS with the new teaser trailer for The Force Awakens!
Changes for Base, Gunslinger, and Sniper
Since the Gunslinger and Sniper is the oldest news from STAR WARS: The Old Republic, we'll get into that one first. The write-up is in two parts: one for Gunslingers and one for Snipers. However, since they are mirror classes, the write-up is pretty mirrored, as well. First off, Fragmentation/Thermal Grenade has been changed, so that it's mostly single target. It's damage has been increased, and now it will serve as a minor point blank area of effect on weak and standard targets surrounding the main target you launch your skill at. Other changes to base Agents and Smugglers include XS Freighter Flyby/Orbital Strike and Sabotage Charge/Explosive Charge are no longer available abilities for the base class and have been moved into Advanced Class or specialties. Base classes can now train in Dodge/Evasion at level 10, which increases defense by 200% for three seconds. Operatives and Scoundrels will get a passive that will let Evasion/Dodge purge negative effects, while Gunslingers and Snipers get a passive to the ability that will work “to reduce the damage taken from tech and Force attacks by 75% while it is active, so it no longer removes hostile effects for them – but it now provides them with protection against almost every type of damage (only certain rare types of boss damage will ignore these protections).”
Changes to the base Advanced Class for Sniper and Gunslinger include both having XS Freighter Flyby and Orbital Strike available to them. Explosive Probe and Sabotage Charge are available for Engineering Snipers and Saboteur Gunslingers. At level 22, Gunslingers and Snipers can train in Diversion, which will now affect up to 8 targets in one area. Marksmanship Snipers will now the be only in the Advanced Agent Class to get Ambush. Similarily, Sharpshooter Gunslingers are now the only specialization to access Aimed Shot. Gunslingers get Bravado and Snipers get Energy Tanks, which increases maximum energy by 10. Snipers and Gunslingers get Steady Shots, which gives a 5% increase to Snipe/Charged Burst, Lethal Shot/Dirty Blast, Series of Shots/Speed Shot, and Penetrating Blasts/Penetrating Rounds. Gunslingers and Snipers both get new utilities, as well. BioWare has only revealed two utilities for each Advanced Class. First there is Compounding Impact/Series of Snares, which lets each shot of Speed Shot/Series of Shots and Penetrating Rounds/ Penetrating Blasts slows the target by 20% for 3 seconds. The effect can stack up to 4 times. Secondly, both get Crippling Diversion, which allows Diversion to slow all targets by 50% for as long as they remain in the area.
To see the full sneak peak, head over to this blog on the official site. The community reactions to the noted changes seem to be a bit of a mix. Many are not happy with the removal of abilities they're used to (Flyby and Strike, purge from Evasion/Dodge for Snipers/Gunslingers). Others are cautious until they get to test the changes themselves. PvP players are mostly unhappy with the changes to Dodge/Evasion, as they'd rather have the capability to self-purge over a 3 second defensive cooldown. There is also a lot of knee-jerk reactions from abilities getting shuffled around, as some people are missing changes and feeling that abilities are just getting nerfed. Hopefully after 3.0 is live and people get some hands-on with the changes, there will be a better overall feel.
Scoundrels and Operatives
The blog on these changes do not include any other of the base changes outside of what was described above, so Gunslingers and Snipers, feel free to let your eyes glaze over and scroll down. If you came here to look over changes for this side of the Advanced Class, here we go. First, let's start off with new utilities for them. Operatives and Scoundrels will have Imperial Tactics/Get the Bulge, which will grant either an Upper Hand or Tactical Advantage on either Tendon Blast or Sever Tendon. In addition, Evasive Screen/Skedaddle grants 2 seconds of Evasion/Dodge when Cloaking Screen or Disappearing Act is activated.
While Gunslingers and Snipers are iffy about the upcoming changes because the players of those Advanced Classes aren't sure how they'll end up working out, Scoundrels and Operatives are hearing sadtrombone.mp3 on constant repeat with the upcoming nerf announcements, particular to the healing side of things. I won't lie if I said something about my teeth hurting. I love Scoundrel healing, so reading that the team says that the community will see the upcoming changes as extreme, my eye gets a little twitchy. While the same can be said of Sawbones Scoundrels, this is what BioWare has said of Medicine Operatives:
Overall, Medicine healing was too good during Rise of the Hutt Cartel, so players of the discipline should brace themselves for a rebalancing that might seem a bit extreme. While it might seem extreme, this rebalancing is only aimed to bring Operative healing down to a level that allows other healers to be more competitive and prevents Operative healing from trivializing PvE content that is meant to be challenging.
Ouch. What this really means for both Operatives and Scoundrels is that people will not want to take them on Operations, at least for awhile. I don't think this is much of an overreaction on my part, because I know how it goes. Word gets out that a class – especially a healing class – gets nerfed into the ground, and suddenly people find their class blacklisted. Sure, there will be a few creative and extremely talented players who will continue to perform well. The community is greatly displeased with these changes. Not only are Sawbones and Medicine specializations feeling it, either, since Upper Hand or Tactical Advantage now no longer grant a 5% increase to healing and damage while active. Will Stack the Deck (“Exploits Upper Hand to Stack the Deck for you and your Operation group members within 40 meters, increasing critical chance by 10% for 10 seconds. Does not break stealth”) and Tactical Superiority (“Executes your Tactical Advantage to grant Tactical Superiority to you and your Operation group members within 40 meters, increasing critical chance by 10% for 10 seconds. Does not break stealth”) combined with the new passive to both Medicine and Sawbones that grants a temporary increase to healing after executing a Tactical Advantatge or Exploting an Upper Hand be enough to ease the pain?
Now that we've gotten the heart-dropping news out of the way, not all of the upcoming changes look bad. Sawbones Scoundrels and Medicine Operatives get a new channeled heal that targets eight players within a targeted area called Kolto Waves. The base Advanced Class for each side also has two other improvements to healing: Imperial Brew/Browbeater both give a 10% increase to Slow-release Medpac or Kolto Probe (also increases Corrosive Dart/Vital Shot by the same), and Element of Surprise/Imperial Education gives a 15% critical chance increase to Kolto Infusion, Backstab, and Lethal Strike for Operatives and Kolto Pack, Back Blast, and Point Blank Shot for Scoundrels. Shoot First and Hidden Strike have been removed from the game. However, Back Blast and Backstab have been given increased damage from Stealth to compensate, but this is seen as removing burst damage from Scoundrels and Operatives. If that doesn't hurt enough, head over here for the blog on the changes.
SWTOR Fun Facts
Now that we've gotten through the depressing news, let's finish with some fun. STAR WARS: The Old Republic is closing in on its third year anniversary, which is a game comprised of 57 million characters. 1.7 billion kills have happened in the name of PvP. 17 of those 57 million characters are Jedi. The game now has 104 hours of professionally voiced cinematics (wow), which means you could watch all six of the currently existing STAR WARS films eight times each, combine them, and get the voiced cinematics for SWTOR. More than one million players are currently active in the game, who have had a part in the four billion NPCs who have died since launch. All together, players have put in a combined 635 million hours since launch. A fleet of all of the players who have gotten their class' ship would equate to a fleet of nearly 7 million. Full infographic can be found here.
In the end, even though a lot of these changes look really disappointing on paper, until we see these changes live and actively in the hands of the SWTOR community, it will be hard to know whether or not everything is as bad as it seems. Are these changes as extreme as the dev team thinks we will perceive them, or do the changes go beyond perception into actuality? That will be the biggest question to answer when 3.0 arrives. Now that I know Grumpy has completed his quest to get through class story missions, I can't wait to see his take on 3.0 changes, either.