This is not an analysis of how ability choices will affect your combat style in SWTOR 7.0, but what impact they will have on the whole game!

The 7.0 PTS has been taken down and will not be returning until after 7.0 is released. This is a preview and analysis of all Ability Tree Choices for each discipline from the final build of the PTS, it also contains new abilities, effect chances, and completely pruned abilities.

To be clear, this is definitely not the final version we’ll see in game, though I suspect many of the choices will be similar to what we actually get with the 7.0 Expansion. 

I won’t be analyzing individual choices like I have been in previous 7.0 articles detailing individual class changes, though I do want to point out some notable trends.

What effect the Ability Choices will have on gameplay

Almost every Combat Style has 5 currently-accessible abilities locked behind 3 choices. Don’t just look at your favorite Combat Style and compare it to everything else on live. 

The Level 73 Choice – Pick 1 of 3 Abilities

At level 73, each Combat Style has to pick between 1 of 3 abilities. All Combat Styles (except Sniper / Gunslinger) have one of their primary CC (crowd control) abilities offered as a choice here.

Every single Combat Style has either the 8s mez (stun that breaks on damage) or 4s hard stun (does not break on damage) locked away behind a choice, with the other remaining accessible to the Combat Style baseline or being pruned. 

SWTOR Yavin 4 Warzone - Middle Section Overview3

If I had to guess, I’d say that BioWare wanted to reduce the amount of CC present in PvP because the result of this choice is that the amount of time you’ll be spending locked out of your abilities in PvP is gonna be reduced by approximately half, if not more!

All Combat Styles (except Assassin / Shadow) also have one of their movement abilities locked away in the level 73 choice, and it’s always the ability with the longer cooldown that tends to have some sort of defensive component to it. In PvP, this will force players to choose between CC and mobility.

The third option in the level 73 choice is far less consistent. I can’t seem to find a pattern to it. Sometimes it’s a strong DCD, other times it’s a part of a very specific multi-part build. I think the third option really just gives BioWare some extra wiggle-room with balancing where they can choose to make it truly consequential when needed, or just make it a choice between the defensive movement ability and CC when they don’t feel anything else needs to be taken away from the Combat Style for it to be balanced.

Level 47 Choice – 1 Ability or 1 of 2 Passives

Each Combat Style has to pick between 1 ability or 1 of 2 passives at level 47. The ability that is locked away in this choice is always an offensive cooldown (except for PT / VG) and it’s almost always the one with the longest cooldown duration, though there are a couple of minor exceptions. 

swtor 7.0 ability choices
Early version of the new Character Panel UI, showing Combat Styles tab

The other two choices tend to be fairly strong offensive or defensive boosts, though they’re a bit inconsistent in how strong they are. I might be reading into it too much, but it seems like the strength of the passives are similar to the strength of the offensive cooldown (OCD) option. 

The Combat Styles that get offensive passive options tend to act as capstones for builds you can make with the lower level choices, as this is the last level where you’re making discipline-specific choices. Everything at higher levels is usually the same for all disciplines in that Combat Style. 

Level 35 Choice – 1 Ability or 1 of 2 Passives

At level 35, every Combat Style has to pick between 1 ability or 1 of 2 discipline passives. The pattern isn’t as consistent here as it is for the other two ability choices. Most of the time, there seems to be 2 clear options for PvP where BioWare only wants you to have 1 of those capabilities in PvP and then a third option that is useful in PvE, but isn’t quite as strong in PvP. 

swtor 7.0 ability choices

It definitely seems like BioWare felt that having this additional choice was important for balancing some Combat Styles where most or all of the options are quite consequential while others are minor boosts. 

Clarifications on Exceptions

I mentioned some exceptions to the patterns I observed when looking at the choices that involved abilities:

  • Snipers / Gunslingers have their CC locked away in the level 35 choice instead of the level 73 one. I suspect that both of those choices will be refined for the final release of 7.0 since there are some problems. 
  • Powertechs / Vanguards only have 2 abilities locked away in the level 73 choice as opposed to 3, though the passive that’s locked away is Shield / Guard Cannon, which is a critical part of the Veteran Ranger build, and I think it’s easily as consequential as some other Combat Styles’ choices at that tier like Volt Rush / TK Blitz, Severing Slash, and Infiltrate / Smuggle.
  • Assassins / Shadows didn’t have a movement ability locked away, but the rest of their ability choices are a bit more consequential than what most other disciplines have to deal with, like they’re missing out on something big no matter what they pick. Also, I think BioWare wants to give them more mobility to feed into that speedy Phantom / Reaper / Ghost playstyle. 
  • Mercenaries  / Commandos have 7 abilities that are locked away instead of the usual 5, so at level 35 and 47, they have to pick between 1 of 2 abilities or 1 passive. I think this is reasonable since they had the most ability bloat by far. They certainly won’t be less capable compared to other disciplines as a result of having 2 more abilities locked away.

None of these exceptions mean that one individual Combat Style is stronger than another. It seems that BioWare is just trying to be sensible by choosing to follow the spirit of the rules they establish rather than the letter in order to offer a more balanced experience. 

Better way to look at the Combat Styles changes

Don’t just look at your favorite Combat Style and compare it to everything else on Live. Every Combat Style will generally have the same types of abilities locked away behind choices. Some Combat Styles are getting hit a little harder than others, but the ones that have gotten nerfed the most by these changes seem to be the ones most in need of nerfs. 

I wanted to analyze all of the changes in this way because it seems like a lot of players are just looking at how changes for their main will work in a vacuum and not in the context of changes that are happening to other classes that they aren’t as familiar with. 

Part of this is BioWare’s fault, they could have done a much better job explaining the rationale behind these choices and ability pruning so that the whole community doesn’t feel like their favorite Combat Style is getting ruined. 

I believe that the game will be more balanced as a result of these changes and I’m mostly happy with what BioWare has done with the ability trees. They provide more interesting and impactful choices than utilities while still offering a balanced experience, something that the original skill trees couldn’t provide. 

The Legacy of the Sith expansion knocks on your door already. SWTOR 7.0 launches on December 14th 2021. Make the best with your time until then by learning how to prepare for the expansion!

Author Lokzmir
Categories SWTOR News
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