Sabotage is now patched into the game and players can log in and experience a daunting amount of changes. The patch notes are so huge that I couldn't get through them all in one sitting. After two sittings, I still haven't gotten through all of the class changes. Seriously, this thing is massive. While I do fully intend on hitting a good amount of the high points, if you want all of the nitty gritty details, I recommend heading over to the official forums and reading the notes in their entirety.
Every class in the game received a ton of changes, improvements, adjustments and nerfs, to not just their abilities, but also core functions and AMPs. Since each one received so many changes, we'll go through them one at a time. We'll also go over all the new fun stuff Sabotage has to offer, since an article solely about nerfs is too depressing to think of writing, and I'd need to change out this coffee for whiskey. We're not going there.
What is Sabotage?
With The Strain we saw all parts of the game get additions that were based on a theme of the grotesque (and, let's be honest, pretty humorous) and Sabotage seems to be no different. While most aspects of the game were touched, overall, Sabotage's main area that it hits is the PvP game. Carbine is calling this one the PvP patch and says that the next Utradrop will be the PvE patch. Carbine is now entering the tricky time of balance, which always leaves a camp feeling like the red headed bastard stepchild, especially when a game wants to create balance for both PvE and PvP. When a change is made for the sake of one area of the game, the other is likely to suffer.
One of the largest aspects of the Sabotage Ultradrop is the new PvP battle, Daggerstone Pass. Daggerstone is a massive, 15v15 battle where players fight to control satellite uplinks in the middle of the map. That's not all – players can find bombs throughout the map, which begin to tick down the moment they're picked up. You can use these to bomb your enemies and their base. Being successful at Daggerstone will require more than just turtling until the counter times out. Winning games will require strategy and cooperation among the players.
Daggerstone Pass also comes with a large list of achievements for players to work on, often with multiple tiers per achievement. Too bad there's not one for “died the most in a game” because I'd totally be server first all over that one. Most of the achievements can be obtained through normal gameplay, but some of them will require some forethought to be done on purpose, such as, assisting 40 player kills within one game. I imagine that will be easier for DPS, but I've been enjoying leveling through PvP so I can do what I enjoy most: healing. There are also role specific achievements for the trinity, so healer, damage dealer and tank can all work out on different goals, while working as a team.
While I haven't seen any images for the new armor, Carbine has said that there are new patterns added into the game to craft some new bombastic gear. There is a new pair of boots in the game – Daggerstone Pass Boots. Available in light, medium and heavy armor, and for players level 46 or higher, the boots have a special of “Calisthenics” and a bonus of +44 to a random stat.
In addition, each faction gets five new housing items to collect and add into your plot. Exiles get a Base Fence, a Medical Monitor, a Turret, a Spotlight, and a Notice Board. Dominion get similar items in their own flavor: a Cage, an Emblem, a Military Fence, a Medical Station, and a Fuel Tank. While there are some overlap between the two (med stations and fences), it's pretty cool that there are also completely different items to collect per faction. If only you could mix and match, I'd have the creepiest housing plot on the market.
Now that we're done going through the pretty splash page for Sabotage, it's time to move over to the patch notes and see what else got added in with this update.
Since Sabotage is the PvP update, obviously it got a huge amount of changes. My personal favorite, because I'm totally not biased at all, is that healing for open world PvP has been adjusted. Healing outside of battlegrounds has been increased to compensate for skirmishes that break out while a faction is working on taking down a world boss and the other faction shows up to play. Players will also see PvP stat scaling give better overall gains. While lower level players will see this change as a nerf, higher level players will get a bonus from this scale change.
There's also been a big change to what was originally called PvP Offense. Now, it's PvP Power and it comes in two parts. Part One is PvP Healing, which is the healing output efficiency. The second part is a damage output efficiency from PvP Power. This changes PvP Offense to now have a healing component. Both stats for PvP Power are available on the character sheet. PvP Defense was also changed to be a direct counter of an opponent's damage.
PvP itemization was adjusted with future inflation in mind. This has been toned down some to bring PvP item stats more in line with the overall game. Players will see this as a nerf, since all gear across the board had a stat reduction for PvP gear, but there was an issue on the backend that would have allowed for stats to reach unintentionally high gains. Anyone who plays World of Warcraft knows that stat inflation gets out of hand pretty quickly (uhhh, do my hitpoints really need to jump from 100k to 900k in five levels guys?), so it's nice to see Carbine addressing this early on in the game, even if it's technically a nerf for now.
In the “General” section of the patch notes, you'll notice that /follow no longer works when one of the two people involved is dead. Your voice over of encouragement calling you a special cupcake and other pet names as you level up will now take precedence over other game sounds now, making those level ups even more awesome. More grammar fixes were added in, as well as additional line of sight improvements. The installer should no longer feature an “Unknown Failure” message.
Mobs everywhere got nerfs, too, so don't worry players. It wasn't just your class. The patch notes have a huge list of named and generic mobs getting toned down all over the place. I wouldn't call this a dumbing down of content pass, since the adjustments are all over the place, so it looks more like some mobs were unintentionally doing more damage than they should have been. Also, there were some issues with nameplates, animations, and telegraph sizes here and there, so not all adjustments are directly tied into damage done with mobs.
Guilds also received a bug pass, seeing fixes to several areas from achievements to progress bars to UI errors. Characters received improvements in areas concerning clipping issues, animations, and you'll no longer feel like a voyeur when you get to your character selection screen, since those exhibitionists should now be fully clothed. There are quite a lot of other changes, adjustments and improvements overall, but rather than going through all of that, let's move on to the classes.
Engineers overall received plenty of improvements. Sure, you can no longer reach players on ledges in PvP instances, but I can't call that a nerf. Their abilities received an improvement sweep, where everything looks to have been adjusted for the positive. I'll go ahead here and point out that I have not played an Engineer, so I might be reading these wrong, but the notes here look overall positive. Feel free to let me know how wrong I am in the comments!
Ahh, here is where my heart lies. Yes, Espers have received some mobility improvements, but do not expect to just run around everywhere. A good portion of spells that required holding still have not had this limit lifted, but the timing restrictions have been scaled down. Tier 8 Psychic Frenzy got a nice improvement, requiring only 3 stacks instead of 6 for the bonus Psy Point. Telekentic Strike can now be cast while moving, which should make this usable again for everyone who swapped it out in builds. I didn't like the feel of any of the community's recommendations and stuck with TS, so it will be nice to continue to use this. However, because it's now mobile, it has received a damage nerf, which will require seeing how this works out to see if it's worth keeping around. I imagine people will try it again, but not everyone will stick with it.
Oh, Medics. As you know, fellow TTH staffer Lewis plays a Medic and has been covering their changes rather extensively. I won't be going into DPS Medic nerfs, especially since I will not be able to give any analysis on the scale of which Lewis can provide. I have fun playing them, but mine is so low level, who would want to listen to my opinion on that? DPS Medics weren't the only ones to feel the pain this patch, as healing received adjustments as well. Medics overall were toned down, and the community is not happy with these changes. The core of the class, however, received some improvements, but that is all related to cooldowns.
Like Engineers, Spellslingers can no longer hit enemy ledges to damage players respawning. Like Medics, Spellslingers also saw quite a few downward adjustments. The notes read like Spellslingers were over-performing in quite a few areas, so both DPS and healing received nerfs, from straight numbers to telegraph size. There were a few minor improvements from these adjustments, such as Spacial Shift now properly disorienting targets.
It's hard to gauge Stalker changes properly, because their section of the patch notes reads like a roller coaster. If an ability received a nerf, the next ability in the list received a buff. On top of that, it looks like damn near every Stalker ability received an adjustment in one way or another. I'll keep an eye out on community reaction to see how this is going. It also looks like I'll need to work on my Stalker some!
Overall, Warriors received quite a few bug fixes with a few nerfs here and there. The biggest downward adjustment comes from Rampage, however, this looks like it was reduced in the name of preventing inflation too early on. I know a lot of people who played Warriors initially and switched over to Engineer because they wanted to play a tanking class (and didn't believe me when I said Stalkers can tank), but didn't enjoy the Warrior class because of all of the bugs. Hopefully this patch makes Warriors far more enjoyable to play now.
Of course, there are plenty of additional changes added into the game, but we're on the verge of 2,000 words here. For the sake of brevity, I'll once again encourage anyone who is truly curious about the changes to please visit the official forums and read the patch notes list in its entirety. I will, however, put in one spoiler alert: costumes in PvP instances. Hooray! Vendolyn can now look like a proper 70s roller skate queen, and not just have her feathered Farrah Fawcett hair.