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Class Questions Answered: Sniper

Via Bioware from the SWTOR Official Forums:

Hey Snipers!

Here are your top 3 issues and the answers given back to me from the dev team. Thank you all (especially Poawee) for your hard work in gathering these. Hopefully these answers help in looking at your top 3 issues. I will make sure the combat guys try to keep their eyes on the thread for any followup. You can see the answers posted twice below, the first is with Sniper skill names the second is with Gunslinger. Just to make sure there is maximum readability for each side.

-eric (Musco)

Question #1 (PvP):

With 4v4 arenas on the horizon, one concern about the value of the sniper class is its lack of any significant offensive cooldown(s) compared to some of the other ACs. Snipers are capable of some of the highest and most consistent DPS in the game, but are also quite predictable because of cast abilities requiring static line of sight and lack of any dynamic burst that comes along with a valuable offensive cooldown. While useful in their own right, Target Acquired and Laze Target don’t have the same on-demand impact that one comes to expect from an offensive cooldown. Are there any plans to address either one of these abilities, considering their slightly underwhelming impact in PvP?

Response:

Target Acquired, while admittedly “boring” in what it does, is a rather powerful cooldown in PvP. It’s great for cutting through a tank or heavily armored opponent’s defenses, or simply improving your already great damage. On the other hand, Laze Target does leave a bit to be desired. As you stated in the question, Snipers already deal some of the highest, most consistent damage in the game, so any change to Laze Target would likely come at a price. For example, we could consider changing Laze Target to increase the critical hit chance of your next Ambush, Explosive Probe, or Takedown by 100% (instead of Snipe) – but would you really want that change if it meant that another minute or two were added to Laze Target’s cooldown?

Illegal Mods, while admittedly “boring” in what it does, is a rather powerful cooldown in PvP. It’s great for cutting through a tank or heavily armored opponent’s defenses, or simply improving your already great damage. On the other hand, Smuggler’s Luck does leave a bit to be desired. As you stated in the question, Gunslingers already deal some of the highest, most consistent damage in the game, so any change to Smuggler’s Luck would likely come at a price. For example, we could consider changing Smuggler’s Luck to increase the critical hit chance of your next Aimed Shot, Sabotage Charge, or Quickdraw by 100% (instead of Charged Burst) – but would you really want that change if it meant that another minute or two were added to Smuggler’s Luck’s cooldown?

Question #2 (PvE):

A specific 5/18/23 hybrid spec appears to be quite popular at current due to higher dps. In your play tests, do you have any numbers that support this theory in comparison to numbers for full lethality snipers? Is Lethality in a good place right now in relation to the Hybrid and what, if any concerns, do you have about balance?

Response:

Lethality appears to be better single target DPS than the hybrid. However, since a lot of encounters have two or more mobs, the hybrid spec would likely appear to come out ahead of a full Lethality build quite often.

That said, we are not completely satisfied with Lethality at the moment. We specifically don’t like that using Orbital Strike and Explosive Probe rotationally as a Lethality Sniper increases your single target damage, but that’s more of a problem with Orbital Strike and Explosive Probe than Lethality. Weakening Blast could probably use an energy cost and, as a result, get a damage boost. Series of Shots and Snipe could probably use some boons to make them stronger abilities in the Lethality rotation – as it stands, they are in the rotation, but not strong enough to keep players from using Explosive Probe and Orbital Strike.

While all of this is less than ideal, making changes to Explosive Probe and Orbital Strike could have negative effects on the other Sniper specializations, so it isn’t likely that you will see changes for this anytime soon. But we will certainly be addressing these issues at some point in the future.

Dirty Fighting appears to be better single target DPS than the hybrid. However, since a lot of encounters have two or more mobs, the hybrid spec would likely appear to come out ahead of a full Dirty Fighting build quite often.

That said, we are not completely satisfied with Dirty Fighting at the moment. We specifically don’t like that using XS Freighter Flyby and Sabotage Charge rotationally as a Dirty Fighting Gunslinger increases your single target damage, but that’s more of a problem with XS Freighter Flyby and Sabotage Charge than Dirty Fighting. Hemorrhaging Blast could probably use an energy cost and, as a result, get a damage boost. Speed Shot and Charged Burst could probably use some boons to make them stronger abilities in the Dirty Fighting rotation – as it stands, they are in the rotation, but not strong enough to keep players from using Sabotage Charge and XS Freighter Flyby.

While all of this is less than ideal, making changes to Sabotage Charge and XS Freighter Flyby could have negative effects on the other Gunslinger specializations, so it isn’t likely that you will see changes for this anytime soon. But we will certainly be addressing these issues at some point in the future.

Question #3 (Wildcard):

Engineering snipers currently use a strategy of rolling Scatter Bombs to target a large or predictable boss. However, this strategy becomes unworkable when encountering less predictable opponents like Kephess the Undying or multi-target fights like Cartel Warlords and Dread Master Styrak. Engineers tend to fall behind Marksman and Lethality snipers in situations when they are unable to set up Scatter Bombs. In addition to Scatter Bombs, Plasma Probe’s effectiveness suffers in high movement or quick target swapping fights. This is due to the issue that Plasma Probe has no way of continuing damage to targets who have already left its radius. What are your views on this perception of the Engineering sniper? How would you assess the Engineering sniper’s PvE performance – both strengths and weaknesses – in relation to Marksman and Lethality, and what might be done to address those weaknesses?

Response:

We don’t intend for Scatter Bombs to be rotational in any way, shape, or form (for PvE or PvP usage). Scatter Bombs are meant to be a fun bit of extra damage that occurs when you roll into or away from the action. That said, we’re okay with you trapping an unsuspecting enemy for a “wall bang” every now and then. After all, they can avoid this with careful positioning (just as you must be careful about your own positioning to set it up).

We are not completely satisfied with how Engineering currently plays in general. When compared to Lethality or Marksmanship, Engineering feels rather clunky. The strength of Engineering in PvE is definitely AoE damage, while the weaknesses are mostly quality of life issues like energy management, Interrogation Probe’s single target limit, Plasma Probe’s cooldown, and lack of a well-flowing rotation – thanks to the extremely long cooldowns on Explosive Probe and Orbital Strike, along with the unfriendly requirement of using EMP Discharge with Adrenaline Probe to maximize sustained damage.

We don’t intend for Scatter Bombs to be rotational in any way, shape, or form (for PvE or PvP usage). Scatter Bombs are meant to be a fun bit of extra damage that occurs when you roll into or away from the action. That said, we’re okay with you trapping an unsuspecting enemy for a “wall bang” every now and then. After all, they can avoid this with careful positioning (just as you must be careful about your own positioning to set it up).

We are not completely satisfied with how Saboteur currently plays in general. When compared to Dirty Fighting or Sharpshooter, Saboteur feels rather clunky. The strength of Saboteur in PvE is definitely AoE damage, while the weaknesses are mostly quality of life issues like energy management, Shock Charge’s single target limit, Incendiary Grenade’s cooldown, and lack of a well-flowing rotation – thanks to the extremely long cooldowns on Sabotage Charge and XS Freighter Flyby, along with the unfriendly requirement of using Sabotage with Cool Head to maximize sustained damage.

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