An analysis of the current issues the Bounty Hunters and Troopers have with their resources – Heat and Energy Cells respectively. I also feature my vision for an interesting solution to that problem with minimum rework for the class!
Existing Problems and Requirements
I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about how to fix Heat / Energy Cells, the resource for Powertechs / Vanguards and Mercenaries / Commandos because it’s been the cause of some major problems for a long time.
These issues have only been exacerbated in 7.0 because Vent Heat and Thermal Sensor Override / Recharge Cells and Reserve Power Cell were combined, resulting in lower damage output and more frustrating resource management. I think I’ve come up with a solution and wish to share my vision with all of you. I want to be clear, this is just an idea; it is not actual news from BioWare.
The goal is to completely reimagine Heat / Energy Cells so that it better represents the concepts of cooling and reloading while, at the same time, actually differentiates the class resource from Agent / Smuggler’s Energy, provides more interesting and visceral gameplay without negatively impacting game balance or existing playstyles, and fixes long-time resource management problems with those combat styles. Oh, and it needs to be relatively simple, too!
A Detailed Overview
Heat / Energy Cells would no longer passively dissipate / regenerate at all and would instead be closely linked to a reworked version of Vent Heat / Recharge Cells with the basic idea that you expend Heat / Energy Cells with your abilities as you do now and use Vent Heat / Recharge Cells periodically to dissipate Heat / regenerate Energy Cells.
The interesting part comes from new features of Vent Heat / Recharge Cells. The ability itself would have a 1.5s cast that could be cast while moving and be comprised of up to 100 (or appropriate equivalent number of) charges with 1 charge generated each time you deal damage or healing and once every X seconds unique to each Gas Cylinder / Cell to compensate for discrepancies in tick rates between disciplines as well as perpetuate some idea of natural regen and account for things like alacrity, downtime, some margin for error, etc.
Each time you activate Vent Heat / Recharge Cells, all charges are consumed and you vent the same amount of Heat / recharge the same amount of Cells. Doing the rotation correctly would allow for just enough charges to be generated such that you hit max Heat / 0 Energy Cells right as you get the max number of charges.
The fact that Vent Heat / Recharge Cells would have a cast time and charges gives it some interesting PvP interactions and potential for additional effects, particularly in AoE situations.
Perhaps a successful activation deals AoE damage (or healing) and knocks back nearby foes while getting interrupted would trigger a malfunction explosion producing a larger explosion that deals more damage and affects both friends and foes. The intensity of these effects would scale with the number of charges used per activation and could even be unique to each discipline.
Single-target damage for Mercenaries / Commandos would likely need to be balanced around Vent Heat / Recharge Cells not dealing damage. For Powertechs / Vanguards, it would be more straightforward to balance the damage because they’re already in melee range.
Since Rapid Shots / Hammer Shot each hit 10 times but deal garbage damage, the benefit of those abilities as basic attacks is preserved. BioWare would also have additional control over balancing AoE damage, including making it super powerful, because the cost per target could just be too high to make it impossible to use the ability.
Sample Tooltips and Effects
Here are sample tooltip descriptions for Vent Heat and Recharge Cells based on Arsenal / Gunnery tick rates without Rapid Shots / Hammer Shot that should generate 250 charges every 90 seconds:
Level Granted: 1
Activation: 1.5 seconds
Cooldown: 3 seconds
Consumes all charges of Vent Heat to dissipate an equal amount of Heat. An additional effect is also applied depending on your Gas Cylinder that scales with the number of Vent Heat charges consumed. Can be cast while moving. If this ability is interrupted by an enemy player, a malfunctory explosion is triggered that deals damage and knocks back up 8 nearby allies and enemies within 8m. This malfunctory explosion cannot occur more than once every 30 seconds.
Vent Heat charges are also generated whenever you deal damage or healing. You can have up to 250 charges of Vent Heat.
Level Granted: 1
Activation: 1.5 seconds
Cooldown: 3 seconds
Consumes all charges of Recharge Cells to regenerate an equal amount of Energy Cells. An additional effect is applied depending on your Cell that scales with the number of Recharge Cell charges consumed. Can be cast while moving. If this ability is interrupted by an enemy player, a malfunctory shockwave is triggered that deals damage and knocks back up 8 nearby allies and enemies within 8m. This malfunctory shockwave cannot occur more than once every 30 seconds.
Recharge Cell charges are also generated whenever you deal damage or healing. You can have up to 250 charges of Recharge Cell.
Damage + Knockback is a little boring, so I have also come up with some wild alternative effects that could trigger when activating Vent Heat / Recharge Cells depending on which Gas Cylinder / Cell is active with the X values scaling with the number of charges of Vent Heat / Recharge Cells:
- Bodyguard / Combat Medic: Triggers an immediate AoE heal to up to 8 nearby targets within 8m for X healing and leaves a Residual Globule beneath each target that also heals for X amount but can only be consumed by another player.
- Pyrotech / Plasmatech and Innovative Ordnance / Assault Specialist: Soaks all enemies in sticky fuel that slows all affected targets’ movement speed by X% for X seconds. If the affected target takes fire or plasma damage, the fuel ignites, replacing the slow with a DoT that deals elemental damage over X seconds causing flaming fuel to frequently drip onto the ground. If another enemy player steps into one of these Flaming Globules, they take X fire damage and are rooted for 2 seconds.
- Arsenal / Gunnery: Scatters X number of Heat Beacons / Gravity Wells on the ground around you. Stepping into one applies Heat Signature / Gravity Vortex to you and makes the next Heatseeker Missiles / Demolition Round automatically critically hit.
- Shield Tech / Shield Specialist: Generates 3 Heat Screens / Power Screens and makes your next Heat Blast / Energy Blast increase your Shield Chance by X% in addition to its other effects.
- Advanced Prototype / Tactics: Detonates lacerating shrapnel that applies Retractable Blade / Gut to up to X nearby enemies within X meters.
An Unlikely Future
I want to reiterate that this is just an idea I came up with to help fix a big problem that’s existed for some time. I’d love for BioWare to implement it, but I know game developers rarely implement player ideas, especially when they already have too much on their plate.
I can’t say this is essential either. It would force BioWare to review Heat / Energy Cell costs for all abilities, but they could fix the biggest problems with Heat / Energy Cells just by doing that anyway. They don’t need to rework a class resource, but I still think it’s fun to think about, and hope you agree!
SWTOR 7.1 is coming up in mid-Summer and with it BioWare is making several Class Balance Changes to a number of Disciplines and base classes. If you have not been keeping up-to-date with latest news and announcements, check out my coverage of SWTOR 7.1 PTS and more specifically the Manaan Daily Area Preview with new Reputation Rewards, the new Operation and Gear Progress Changes, new Cartel Market Items coming out soon and more.