Much has been made for nearly the last 3 years about how Archers really come up with the short end of the stick when it comes to many elements of gameplay. Archer advocates speak of major tactical disadvantages in PvP (lack of damage, nearly identical evasion to fighters, effective evasion vs effective aim, lack of skills, etc) as well as a lack of a defined party role leaving Archers with almost no option other than to solo. So with all of the grumbling, posturing, and debating from the player base, OutSpark asked OnsOnSoft to revisit the Archer class and attempt to put them back on par with the other two damage dealing classes.
Rebalance Strategy #1: Larger Stone Capacity
While this was a tremendous benefit to soloing Archers pre-Prestige, it honestly wasn't that necessary. It was a convenience more than a necessity. A nice-to-have, but no where near a need-to-have. Many of us that hit Prestige before this change was announced did just fine. Some of us adjusted our builds (SP Consumption empowerments to Piercing Shot and Nature's Mist) or just got used to restoning with more frequency. Now I'm not at all against such a change, it was definitely welcome, it helps those that are out there in the field definitely stay out there longer, especially those Flaming Mine - Gold Knight farmers/kiters, but this change also benefited our AOE'ing DD competition, the Mage. Mages when from a paltry 72 or so HP stones to nearly 250. This was a tremendous benefit to soloing Mages as well as those that party. Parties now only had to break/rest when their inventories became jam packed with loot. So a win for the Archers, but an even bigger WIN for the Mages.
Rebalance Strategy #2: Nature's Mist Upgrades
When this was announced, many 85+ Archers were definitely excited, hopeful that their Nature's Mist skill could soon go toe-to-toe in impact damage with Piercing Shot. Sadly, this was not the case. Sure we saw a small increase in impact damage as well as a minuscule increase in DOT damage, but that was it. Oh and it cost us more SP to cast with not much new benefit. Well intended, but for the most part, a failure to deliver anything real.
Rebalance Strategy #3: MultiBloodShot Fixes
If you were 95+ before this fix was made, you never, ever used MBS. There was a very good chance that after the 3rd or 4th cast, your skills would completely lock up. You wouldn't be able to use anything with a cast timer or countdown timer. This included pots, scrolls (both buff and town/teleport), or getting on your mount. If you were kiting a mass of mobs, you either suicided (intentionally or unintentionally) by getting overrun by angry mobs that are enjoying the fact that you're no longer attacking them, or tried to run alllllllllllllll the way to the nearest teleport gate so that you could do a FULL relog of your game client. So after many many months of this nonsense, OS applied a fix. Oh, I forgot to mention that MBS also cost over 900sp to cast, how's that for an extra kick in the teeth? So anyway, back to the 'fix'.... the on-again-off-again relationship we had with MBS being kitable was finally fixed making it fully kitable. SP consumption was reduced by 50% from 900+ to a still SP-sucking 400+. Skill and timer lockups were also fixed. However what wasn't addressed was the fact that the DOT effect that MBS uses is the wrong effect. Instead of, you know, making the target bleed, you would get a disease based DOT, which you already had with Piercing Shot. So yes, Archers have 3 kitable AOEs, but sadly, not all 3 different DOTs will work. Cool down on MBS I believe is 20 seconds also, not anything at all to get thrilled about. So again, same as the Mist upgrades... Well intended, but for the most part, a failure to deliver anything real.
|Stat window prior to increased damage from Passive skills, 100+.|
|Stat window after increased damage from Passive skills, 100+|
Rebalance Strategy #4: Increase in Damage post-Prestige via Passives.
Okay, so what exactly does that mean? Basically the level 100+ Passive skills, your Masteries (Bow/X-bow), see an upgrade in the damage they add to your character when you activate them. While we don't yet know the specifics, I can at least give you a baseline of what my SharpShooter has at 106, prior to tonight's patch as show in the above screenshot. I'm hopeful, but being a realist, I can't imagine the damage increase being anything to get too thrilled about. When you activate a new passive at whatever milestone level you just hit, you see a slight increase in your stat window, but it's not much, and how that equates into real damage is anyone's guess. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to get any field testing in prior to the announcement in the OSKI and the game being shut down for weekly maintenance, so anything I report will be based on 'feel' more than raw data. I know that many non-Prestige Archers are feeling like they got the shaft with this update, and I feel for you, I really do, but the damage increase is a bigger necessity after 100 than it is prior simply because of the time commitment needed to grind.
Many Prestiged Archers are still using either an HG or a BKR or even a TBK to kite. Meaning they've been kiting perhaps the last 10 levels with basically the same damage but have gone from needing 143m EXP to level at 90, to now needing 440m EXP at level 100. Factor in the cost of enhancing a level 100 weapon, and the fact that they are no better than BKRs and still inferior to Hellgaits, and this same archer will likely be using the same weapon, doing roughly the same amount of damage but now needing experience in the BILLIONS to reach the next level. So yes, this was a change that Prestiged Archers needed more than the general populace of Archers do. Aside from PvP, 99% of Archers will probably agree that their damage is sufficient when kiting. Archers traditionally already level at a fast pace from 51 onward, an increase in damage at those lower levels would make an already quickened pace that much faster.
The Result? Okay now that the game is up, I was able to log back in and see the difference first hand.... and what do I see? 122 more damage. Yes, one hundred, twenty-two. If you compare that to the 4632 max base damage I had, that's a 2.6% increase. Thumbs up for rebalance. Excuse me while I put the champagne back on ice.
So, is that it?
Geez, I hope not. There is so much more that the Archer class needs to not even "get ahead" of the other classes, but just to catch up. So what would I like to see? A lot really....
FatalLace's Archer Rebalance Stratagem #1: Honor Attack Rates
You know how that lovely Dance of Sylph (Level 70 Blue Bow) has that scrumptious 1.0 attack rate? Wouldn't it be just peachy to be able to get that attack rate regardless of your distance in relation to the target (within auto-attack range of course)? Unfortunately, for some reason we're stuck on a 1 arrow per screen restriction that forces us to get into the face of our target to get anywhere close to a decent attack rate going. So yeah, wanna use Nature's Speed and take on a Fighter? Be prepared to eat a lot of his debuffs up close and personal and pray your meager evasion advantage holds up. So that's my first and most important fix that needs considering.
FatalLace's Archer Rebalance Stratagem #2: Retool Prestige Skills
Any Prestiged Archer of either subclass will tell you that many of the skills we get are just wonky. Yes, wonky. They make absolutely no sense. Since I use a SharpShooter, let's use that to start off:
Slow Shot: I will be the first to admit that although Slow Shot is for the most part worthless, it's still kinda fun to just mess around with. And by messing around with I mean either 1-shotting level 40 and lower players in FBZ, or just irritating other players with. Oddly, many players find it entertaining to be chased by an arrow. But anyway, so what's broken? Everything. Damage on the skill is absolutely pathetic, it doesn't matter what weapon I equip 105 +10 Ashur or a Level 1, the damage remains constant, a whopping 150-200 on a level 100 player of any class. Even fully empowered, the damage is ridiculously low. Cool Down even fully empowered is 35 seconds. Many of us had hoped that we would be able to spam this skill much like the Nerpas in Dragon's Tomb do. The Nerpas can launch 3-4 of these guys in a row and watch the damage stack as they all hit the target at nearly the same time. You add a stack like that of say 500-700 damage per Slow Shot along with the rest of your skills and you would have something formidable when those Slow Arrows impact.
So how would I change it? One of two ways:
1. Make Detect spammable and instead of targeting an area, make it centered around the SharpShooter, similar to a Cleric's AOE heal, and give it a 15m radius.
2. Eliminate the active skill and make it a passive with SharpShooters always able to see hidden Rangers. By that same token, make Rangers impervious to exposure from any AOE. This provides a better balance between the two subclasses.
** Still more to come **