Updated Sun, Apr 27, 2014 by skylatron
I’ve previously written at length about the Spellslinger and the changes I felt it needed to bring the class up to the standard of those around it. Having received significant improvements in the last update, I wanted to take a look to see how they stack up, now that we’ve all had the opportunity to get our hands on the gun wielding menace.
In my original article, A Spellslinger Analysis, I felt the main flaws were the following:
As you’ll notice and if you’ve read through the UI 2.0 Patch Notes, you’ll be aware that the vast majority of these bullet points have been fixed. First up was Spellsurge skill bonuses and the disparity between some skills: Ignite famously received a 300% boost while others only received 20%. Such large differences made skill choice limited, placing skills such as Ignite firmly on your bar because it was madness not to have it. Fortunately for us, Carbine have tweaked the numbers across the vast majority of all Spellslinger damage skills despite slightly increased cooldowns. Rex_Marksley over on the official forums has done an incredible job of number crunching, but for ease here are his main points:
As you’ll notice from the data, it’s all positive. Although there have been some slight nerfs to certain skills (notably surging and AMPs) the gains on other skills are significant. To simultaneously address point (2), there has been an excellent leap in our base damage to the point where you no longer feel like you’re tickling your opponent but are now strong enough to kill them without surging.
Where point (3) is concerned and this was a big issue for many, Spell Power accrual is now the same in combat as it is out. While the change might seem minor, its made a huge difference to our spike potential and leaves us with a mechanic that actually has utility through prolonged encounters. After your initial spike where you’ll Spellsurge and rattle through Charged Shot, Wild Barrage/Rapid Fire and True Shot, it doesn’t take long to get back to a minimum of 1 charge (usually the time it takes for Rapid Fire to come off cooldown). The joy here is that your downtime is relatively low, your damage no longer suffers horribly (due to point 2) and you can count your Spell Power accural to predict when your second, third and fourth charges will be ready.
What might frustrate some players is the fact there’s still a need to micromanage your Spell Power. You have to quickly assess when your next charges will come online (the new UI has made an enormous difference here) while you’ll need to remember to toggle your Spellsurge on and off. Wasting your Spellsurge on skills such as Quick Draw or Assassinate is just a no-no if you want to maintain your damage output. Despite this, I’m really loving Spellsurge in its current form and although it has much more potential (I’d like to see more utility rather than outright damage) it’s doing exactly when it says on the tin: providing spike damage.
Where points (5) and (6) are concerned (I’ll come back to (4) and (7)), there have only been a few changes to skill mobility but all of them have had a huge impact. Healving Salve, Sustain and True Shot can now be used on the move (Healing Salve is now officially awesome) and although Charged Shot is still stationary by default, I’m willing to forgive the fact you need to make it Tier 4 for it to be mobile. Although skills such as Rapid Fire or Arcane Missiles are still Freeform/Stationary, it seems fitting for those two considering the former replenishes True Shot and your Dash counter when tiered up and Arcane Missiles, similarly to Charged Shot, is also mobile when tiered.
Have these changes addressed the need for “mandatory skills?” technically yes and no. There will always be the perfect rotation for maximum damage but the key difference here is that you no longer feel crippled if you mix things up a little bit. Personally I’ve dropped Ignite, Wild Barrage and Flame Burst and instead picked up Rapid Fire, True Shot and when soloing, even popped Healing Salve on my bar to keep me up. DPS purists are probably convulsing but certainly from a PvP perspective I’ve still managed to stay top of the damage charts (see above).
To address my final points of revisiting the visual effects of a Spellslinger when Spellsurging and ensuring that all skills have a Spellsurge component, I’m pleased to say the former has been given a thorough spruce up. When you Spellsurge now there’s a clearly defined sound that crackles in the ears while there’s also new graphical effects on your hands and on the initial surge. It makes a massive difference to recognise when an opponent is surging but also the feeling that you’re that little bit more powerful. Although I’d still like to see a better lightning animation that flows across the Spellslingers body, I’m super pleased with what we now have.
As for the latter, I’ve actually backtracked a little bit and can appreciate that some skills such as Flame Burst just don’t need it. The fact they are utilised as purely a spike based attack is more than sufficient, though I’d still appreciate some form of utility when they’re surged.
Lastly and to address a recent discussion on the official forums regarding Healing Torrent, I do agree entirely with its cooldown change. As far as healing skills are concerned it’s still pretty much a must for the Spellslinger but it’s incredibly powerful. To have this skill without a cooldown is madness and causes a Spellslinger to neglect all their other healing skills. Admittedly it’s a little tougher now but I’ve managed perfectly fine simply utilising Vitality Burst, Healing Salve and Astral Infusion although and I must caveat this, I need to test much more in all PvE environments to roadtest this change fully.
Overall then, the Spellslinger is in a pretty bloody good place right now and while it’s still easy to be demolished by a Stalker or Warrior if any of your escape skills are on cooldown, they are very powerful. People might be claiming that they’re overpowered (lord I’ve heard plenty say it over the weekend) but the reality is that they are now a challenge as opposed to a free kill.