This article overviews and analyzes the changes announced specifically for Lightning Sorcerer and Telekinetics Sage planned for SWTOR Update 7.1.1. I will have separate dedicated articles for Madness / Balance and all of the healer changes.

The Current State of Lightning and Telekinetics

Pun intended. In 7.0, Lightning / Telekinetics has emerged as an outlier in terms of single-target sustained damage output because the DPS provided by Halted Offensive / Power of the Force enabled a new completely static rotation to be possible. You can gain 1k+ single-target DPS out of Lightning / Telekinetics by hard-casting Halted Offensive / Power of the Force.

With 330 gear and gold augments and no dummy parse funny business, basically all of the rDPS disciplines are sitting in the ~25-27k single-target sustained DPS range with burst typically performing worse than DoT.

Meanwhile, mDPS tend to be in the 28-29k range. BioWare has been moving DPS into these ranges with recent balance changes.

7.1.1 Lightning and Telekinetics Changes

Lightning / Telekinetics is sitting up in the high 28k range where the mDPS (and Engineering Sniper / Saboteur Gunslinger) reside basically entirely thanks to Halted Offensive / Power of the Force.

Given that the static hard-cast rotation is new in 7.0, it’s likely that BioWare didn’t anticipate players using it and happened to overshoot with Halted Offensive / Power of the Force anyway just as they undershot with Mercenary / Commando DPS.

7.1.1 Lightning and Telekinetics Announced Changes

  • The critical hit damage boost provided by Reverberating Force has been reduced to 12% down from 15%.
  • Thundering Blast / Turbulence The second arc of damage from Thundering Blast / Turbulence provided by Dark Thunder / Enhanced Turbulence deals 20% of Thundering Blast / Turbulence’s damage down from 25%.
  • Stormwatch damage decreased by 4%
  • The cast time of Halted Offensive / Power of the Force is now 3s up from 2.5s. Alacrity still affects cast time.
  • Decrease Halted Offensive / Power of the Force damage by 15%.
  • Convection / Clamoring Force now grants an additional effect: Thundering Blast / Turbulence grants Reserved Darkness / ???, making Dark Heal / Benevolence an instant cast and increases its healing by 30%. Stacks up to 2 times.

Note: These are not final. It is very likely that BioWare will make tweaks based on internal tests and/or feedback from the community.

Source: SWTOR Forums.

7.1.1 Lightning and Telekinetics Changes Analysis

These changes represent a massive nerf to Lightning / Telekinetics single-target damage output, easily the largest “given” to any discipline after the release of 7.0.

BioWare appears to be invalidating the hard-casted Halted Offensive / Power of the Force build that has allowed Lightning / Telekinetics to greatly surpass the performance that BioWare likely intended for the discipline. The rotation will be invalidated because the cast time increase and nerf to damage dealt will make it more worthwhile to just use Lightning Bolt / Telekinetic Bursts instead.

On its own, Halted Offensive / Power of the Force will still deal slightly more damage compared to 2 Lightning Bolts / Telekinetic Bursts, but you won’t be able to cast it without delaying Thundering Blast / Turbulence and you’ll miss out on higher uptime on DR and there’s less risk to the cast getting interrupted. It will not be worthwhile to hard-cast it.

7.1.1 Lightning and Telekinetics Changes

Unfortunately, BioWare likely believes this is still too much DPS compared to the other ranged burst specs that are hovering closer to 25k, which is why I believe we’re seeing the other nerfs to damage output besides just changes to Halted Offensive / Power of the Force.

Combined, the nerfs will result in an additional DPS loss of about 1200 after factoring in that we’ll have to use the priority system again, resulting in ~26.3k DPS compared to 27.5k without hard-casting and 28.5k with the existing optimal rotation. It’ll still be a bit more powerful than Arsenal / Gunnery and Marksman / Sharpshooter while being comparable to Madness / Balance.

Reducing the DPS Spread

Credit where credit is due, the spread is considerably more narrow than it was when 7.0 launched, but 3k DPS is still way too big of a spread; that’s about a 10% difference between the top and bottom performers. It’s problematic because difficult fights are balanced around much tighter tolerances, creating significant viability issues.

Players shouldn’t be forced to play something else because what they want to play doesn’t offer enough single-target sustained DPS. Damage dealers should not compete on single-target sustained DPS at all. Specific capabilities like fun, burst vs AoE potential, range, group utility, and debuff composition are sufficient motivators for getting people to try out new specs.

In PvP, the concerns about range are overblown anyway because all mDPS have equal or better survivability compared to rDPS and each have at least 1 gap closer that deals at least half a GCD’s worth of damage. Furthermore, a meta is gonna emerge no matter what, so there’s not much of a point in trying to preemptively steer so hard away from a specific outcome that’s never really even been an issue in SWTOR.

I recognize that’s a big shift in philosophy, but even shrinking the spread to 5% would result in a 27.5k DPS low end and a top end that remained at 29k. For Lightning / Telekinetics, this would exclusively require nerfing Halted Offensive / Power of the Force’s damage dealt while buffing most of the struggling rDPS to reach that new low end.

Keeping the Hard-Cast Rotation as an Option

Most Sorcerer / Sage DPS mains I know were pretty unhappy about being forced to hard-cast Halted Offensive / Power of the Force in order to deal max DPS because it is a major playstyle change to go from a pure priority system to pure static rotation. On top of that, it came with some significant additional limitations to mobility, survivability, and stability.

However, the static rotation itself is quite elegant and deserves to stick around. Some Sorcerers / Sages (including me) actually enjoy it.

In order to accomplish this while still hitting that 27.5k DPS target, the other nerfs to Lightning / Telekinetics will unfortunately still need to happen. Halted Offensive / Power of the Force also needs to grant the DR and Force regen procs currently granted exclusively by Lightning Bolt / Telekinetic Burst and maybe also grant a stack of Convection / Clamoring Force.

It’s essential that Halted Offensive / Power of the Force grant the Lightning Bolt / Telekinetic Burst procs because Halted Offensive / Power of the Force replaces about half of your Lightning Bolt / Telekinetic Burst GCDs, so you can’t maintain those procs when using the hard-casting rotation.

Making Halted Offensive / Power of the Force grant a stack of Convection / Clamoring Force is more about partially compensating for the hit to mobility by enabling that entire 3x Lightning Bolt / Telekinetic Burst segment to be instant. If that’s too much, perhaps it would only grant the proc when Halted Offensive / Power of the Force is hard-casted.

Improving Suppressive Current and Dormant Tremors

Of course, if the static hard-cast rotation is to remain viable, we’ll need another way to boost the damage dealt by the priority system. Making the Suppressive Current / Dormant Tremors ability tree buff trigger off of single-target abilities in addition to Force Storm / Forcequake is the best way to handle this.

The damage dealt by Suppressive Current / Dormant Tremors + Chain Lightning / Telekinetic Wave is already pretty comparable to Halted Offensive / Power of the Force, so it’s really just the fact that it has to be triggered with Force Storm / Forcequake that causes the DPS loss. All that needs to be done is make it so Suppressive Current / Dormant Tremors can also trigger off Thundering Blast / Turbulence so that players don’t lose single-target DPS.

I also strongly recommend breaking the Suppressive Current / Dormant Tremors debuff into 4 stacks that each deal a quarter of the existing damage dealt so that there is no longer any incentive to clip Force Storm / Forcequake and prevent hard-casting Chain Lightning / Telekinetic Wave from being viable in single-target situations with this ability tree buff.

In order to compensate for the additional stacks in single-target situations, Lightning Bolt / Telekinetic Burst would also need to be able to trigger Suppressive Current / Dormant Tremors.

In summary, I propose that Suppressive Current / Dormant Tremors have the following effect:
Dealing damage with Chain Lightning / Telekinetic Wave applies 4 stacks of Suppressive Current / Dormant Tremors to the enemy. Dealing damage with Force Storm / Forcequake, Thundering Blast / Turbulence, or Lightning Bolt / Telekinetic Burst consumes 1 stack of Suppressive Current / Dormant Tremors, causing the enemy to take additional damage.

This would enable a single-target priority system that is more competitive with (though still slightly inferior to) the hard-casted Halted Offensive / Power of the Force static rotation. The only snag with this approach is that it gives Lightning / Telekinetics considerably more AoE than other burst disciplines get these days. I would personally be okay if Chain Lightning / Telekinetic Wave only affected 4 additional targets as a concession, though I’m not sure if the community would be on board with that.

Combining Convection / Clamoring Force and Subversion / Concentration

There are 2 procs that make Lightning Bolt / Telekinetic Burst instant: Convection / Clamoring Force and Subversion / Concentration. If you have both procs at the same time, they’ll both get consumed on the same activation, causing one of them to be wasted.

This should be fixed by making Subversion / Concentration grant 1 stack of Convection / Clamoring Force instead of being its own proc and increasing the base stack limit of Convection / Clamoring Force to 3 (or 4 with Eyrin’s Haste).

Author Lokzmir
Categories SWTOR News
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