Today saw the release of a new Developer Diary by Brian “Zombie Columbus” Aloisio (ZC for short), concerning the upcoming Skill Upgrades that we’ll see in Volume 3, Book 1. I have to say, that within the opening paragraph I was interested to find some interesting inferences as to why we’re seeing skill upgrades instead of entirely new skills.
…The new combat system has had some time to mature, and we are feeling more comfortable with making additions to players’ skills.
I may be reading into this, but does this mean that we did not see new skills because Turbine wanted to see how the new Combat System Upgrade played out? That makes some sense to me, but for some reason I feel a bit disappointed. Granted, I think that they’re right but I can’t help but wonder when we will see new skills? Is the combat system still being evaluated? ZC goes on to state that their goal with the upgrades were (in order) to:
- Enhance underused skills. (I’m actually glad to see that.)
- Give bonuses that are exciting. (Wow… I think that’s a challenge in itself.)
- Don’t greatly alter relative class balance. (Always a huge challenge.)
So what will be seeing upgraded in Volume 3.1?
Mischievous Delight replaces Mischievous Glee and gains a 20% chance to add a Power over time restoration in addition to the heal over time.
This will be interesting to see. However, last I checked the HoT that was given with Mischievous Glee was not all that good. Granted, I have not checked on whether or not that is still true, and it could very well have changed since the release of MoM with legacies. Ultimately, I’m going to have to see whether or not this is actually something to get excited about or if it’s a lame duck. I’d like to hear back from any burglars on this.
Watchful Shield-brother replaces Shield-brother and gains a buff to morale and power regen.
All regen is a useful regen; that is as long as this regen remains constant in combat where it is needed the most. This was actually a player-made skill request and Arbitrary believes that it will be a positive change. I tend to agree with her and think that it will add yet another boon to why Captains are incredible fellowship members as long as the regen is a valuable contribution to the fellowship. If the regen is too little or has a large cycle rate, then it’s time to hit the forums.
True Heroics replaces Heroics and gains a self-buff based on your active stance.
…True Heroics will now also grant the Champion 30 second self buffs, based on the stance they are in. We hope that this will make you want to click that button more!
- Fervour – +30% incoming healing
- Glory – +15% melee damage
- Ardour – +60% to in-combat Power regeneration
PS: Using this skill with no stance will give no buff. So don’t do that
There is still the matter of the cooldown on this skill which means some consideration will need to take place when using it. I know that the Fervour heal makes me laugh considering I know some Champions who definitely will make use of that bonus. The downside though is that it relies on you being healed when you actually have the buff on you. Hopefully this bonus will apply to pre-existing HoT’s as well as new HoT’s and heals. The bonuses for Glory and Ardour are very nice and seem to be a way to attract Champs away from Fervour.
Warrior’s Fortitude replaces Warriors Heart and gains a self-buff based on your stance
…Warriors Heart has legacies and traits that can increase the duration and reduce the cooldown. As a result, these buffs are weaker, but if you build you character the right way, you can keep them up for a large portion of the fight. Try it out!
- Block – Increase block and partial block by 1% each (not rating, a flat increase that will stack with everything!)
- Parry – Increase parry and partial parry by 1% each
- Threat – 2% decreased incoming damage from all sources
- Overpower – Increase melee critical by 2%
Assuming Block is Guardian’s Defence, Parry is Guardian’s Parry, and Threat is Guardian’s Threat; I have to say that I actually like this. I’m going to have to see how I can trick out the legacies to see if it’s worth having an item that uses them. But considering I’m always in a stance I’m good with it. However, it will be a bit odd to have the choice of using Warrior’s Fortitude for an additional bonus versus saving it for an “standing in the poop” button.
Beneath Care replaces Beneath Notice. The power cost of the skill has been removed and now restores power over time.
Much like Burglars, power concerns have been a major Hunter concern lately. While Strength of the Earth has been greatly enhanced (and if you are having power troubles and NOT using it, I have little sympathy for you), many Hunters do not appreciate needing to slow down their attacks for the duration of the skill. To fill this desire and also introduce some tension, I decided to add a chunk of power restoration to Beneath Notice, as well as totally remove its power cost! I like this skill a lot, as it forces a Hunter to ask himself, “Do I want to use Beneath Care now to keep using my skills, or save it for later if I pull agro?”
I honestly think this skill is “pure win”. It’s free power, although it is at the cost of an “oh poop” button. However, with the cooldown of 5 minutes, it’s not something that can be in a regular rotation in a boss fight;
and it would be overpowered if it could be as well. Although one could argue if you’re out of power you might need to pop this anyway… Just in case.
Continual Air-Lore replaces Air-lore. This skill is now a toggle skill with a power upkeep cost.
…For the level 64 version of the skill, we removed the need to remember to re-apply the buff by making it a toggle. To keep the skill balanced, an upkeep cost was added which is lower than the power cost of re-applying the skill once every minute.
Basically this is a damage shield that can be placed on any target (other than yourself). There’s really not much more to say about it… Now in EverQuest (original) damage shields were king, and in DAoC they were “OK”, but after that I really haven’t seen a game that takes advantage of how good the DPS of a damage shield can be, especially in a game like WoW where health pools have gone crazy. However, considering that the upkeep is 2 power… It may be worth trying out.
**Note**: I saw this in the Dev Tracker feed and thought it might be worth passing along:
Pulled some strings, Air-lore will be 2 power upkeep as of Book 1. Unfortunately, I am unable to fix the traitline bug. So, the tooltip of Air-lore will stay the same for now, claiming to reduce damage 1% of the time (which it doesn’t.)
Lyric of the Hammerhand replaces Lay of the Hammerhand and will now negate all induction knockback. Note this does not prevent interruption effects.
…A number of Minstrels have looked with envy at the Rune-keeper’s ability to avoid knockback, so here is a toggle skill of your own. However, remember that Lay has a long cooldown, drains a lot of power to keep active, drains even more power when you are hit and is turned off if you are stunned…
It is a good "oh poop” button, and I think I’m starting to see a theme here in the skills. While many of us are getting some bonuses, I’m seeing a lot of skills that are either tied to or are becoming survival skills. This one is decent, but unless you have power, potion, or some other means of getting power you had better plan just how you’re going to use this skill.
Armaments of “Element” replaces Weapon of “Element” and adds a bonus to tactical and ranged damage.
Weapon of “Element” remains a skill that is not used very often, so it seemed like an obvious choice to upgrade. The amount of the buff is not very large, but as with Shield-brother, this is a toggle skill that already grants other bonuses. That said, you can now choose to spend some power on upkeep to gain a bonus in tactical damage. Sounds like an exchange that is worth some consideration!
Again… I don’t know if I’m excited about this. The power-gamer in me says it will be worth trying out to see if the bonus is worth the power cost. In fights you definitely want as much bonus to your damage as possible, as it shaves seconds/minutes off your fight which can make all the difference in whether or not you’re successful. It’s really going to boil down to how much damage can be generated in having a Rune-keeper with their full power versus how much damage can be generated by the group having the buff up. It’s been my experience though, that the damage generated by the group usually wins.
Unerring Strike is a new 5 Spear gambit that is difficult to block, parry or evade and leaves a damage over time effect that stacks with other Spear gambits.
This skill is very much an upgraded version of Mighty Blow. It has the same Gambit requirements, with one more spear on the end to make it 5 (Spear, Shield, Fist, Spear, Shield). It bypasses enemy avoidances, and leaves a common damage DoT on the foe. This damage over time effect will stack with the other two spear-based DoT’s, Mighty Blow and Power Attack, to help fulfill all your DoT stacking desires!
Nothing huge jumps out at me here other than wanting to shout “More DoT’s!”. But I think this is good. More DPS is always welcome. So while nothing outstanding seems to come out of it, it definitely is a nice bonus. It does make me wonder if Wardens were just too good already to need something improved?
Overall, I think it’s a decent job. It is nice to have skills that are not used due to whatever reason get a make-over. Hopefully this will increase their use and in the future we will see more underutilized skills updated. However, that being said I still think I would like to see some new skills in the next expansion (and no, a teleport to a new location does not count for Hunters) to make things a bit more fresh. Because while everyone loves having something upgraded, something new is always feels a bit cooler!