Thoughts on the Confirmed 5.0 Class Changes

You may have noticed that there was no post on Monday as there usually is. The reason for this is that, with 5.0 just on the horizon, there really isn't that much one can talk about due to the weight of the approaching stuff.

That is, without BioWare's official words on the matter.

Because they released official information on Class Changes on Monday, it's time to finally turn my attention to the changes which have been in the datamined offing for a couple of months now.

Better late than never, right?


If you haven't seen them for yourself, the listed changes can be found here:
Worth noting that this obviously isn't a complete list of the changes. Each Advanced Class will be receiving a new 'suite' of Legendary Utilities, and only three or four are listed in each change post. It is currently officially unknown how many remain in each case to be announced which are new and which are just reshuffled. The same is also true of changes to current Utilities and even some Discipline paths.

How this post will work is I'll be going through each change in the above listed order, focusing first on the Advanced Class with which I have little or no experience and then delving into the Advanced Class which I have used more extensively.


Starting with my beloved Agent and Smuggler class:


Toxic Haze and Bushwhack sound fun. Operatives and Scoundrels have been in dire need of a better AoE since their present one is, quite frankly, awful. However, if this is an AoE which stays put then it's still fairly useless by itself in PvP since a would-be victim can try and move out of it, but of course if there's one class which can master roots and stuns, it's this one. The question of whether or not they really needed any more offensive capability in PvP is still a good one,  but at least they have some semblance of a decent AoE now...

Mobile Strategies and Slippery Shooter will be very useful in the correct circumstances. A Sniper bothering you from above in Huttball and they don't have Hunker Down up? Scamper, shoot them with Overload or Quick Shot to knock them down, and then Holotraverse before they know what's hit them. Granted, a 30-metre knockback is just ridiculous, since no class has had anything this useful before.

Curative Agent and Sly Surrender will be very interesting to see in-practice. Whilst you need to use Countermeasures and Surrender to gain access to the instant 2-stacks of Kolto Probe (very useful in PvP, no doubt), but Kolto Infusion being a higher Instant Heal all-time will result in a fair bit of variety in how one plays an Operative or Scoundrel Healer. Heck, even the 2-stack Kolto Probe will provide a fair bit of burst in PvE healing! In theory, this could make or break how some players heal with the classes, so it will be interesting to see when it goes live.

Blow for Blow and Back at Ya are what I like to call "risky strategic ploys". Reflecting 150% of damage dealt will be very powerful, even if the damage isn't absorbed, which will also have some interesting implications in PvE. Sure, you can't ignore damage like a Guardian can, but we've already seen how some Guardian Tanks use Saber Reflect to their advantage, so I imagine we'll be seeing several Scoundrels and Operatives at least trying to join in...


Maim and Below the Belt are nice to have, and it's fantastic to finally have a stun similar to Force Stun and Cryo Grenade with the 10-metre range. 

I will miss pistol-whipping (good thing I didn't go with that name for the blog, then?) and kicking people in the groin, though. They were fun-looking abilities.

Controlled Chaos and Opportunity Knocks could be fairly powerful depending on your spec. Based on the information provided, it doesn't look like there's a cap, meaning that you could theoretically get a set of seven stacks, each granting 10% Armour Penetration. Basically, if a Marksman or a Sharpshooter gets their full set of stacks, they're going to hit very very hard in PvP.

Defensive Safeguard and Shield Reserve will be very useful in both PvP and PvE. For PvP it not only provides an incredible source of self-healing, but it also prevents users from being forcibly removed from within. It's sort of like a free Hunker Down or Entrench, but the wording of the Utility implies that stuns can still debilitate the Sniper.

Executioner and Guile of Guns is going to be interesting for Marksman and Engineering players in PvP. There's next-to-no reason for Virulence players to use this given that they have that 80% chance to finish the cooldown on their Execute with Cull and Wounding Shots. Additionally, if Maim and Below the Belt function like Flash Bang in that the stunned target is re-awoken with direct damage, following-through the stun with the Execute - whilst being a fair bit of burst - could be risky against certain classes. It will likely have no use whatsoever in PvE.

Tactical Retreat and Bait and Switch are nice little boosts to our roll and dodge abilities. An extra (and quite noticeable!) self-heal is always nice, whilst a 4-second Dodge is a good boost to an already useful defensive ability.


Next, onto Hunters and Troopers:


Deadly Onslaught and Artillery Blitz are replacing the classic Death from Above and Mortar Volley, respectively. Whilst I have a feeling that the Vanguard animation will be staying the same, or if not very very similar (they use their rifle for all but two abilities anyway), I'm curious to see what the new Hunter animation will be like. As long as it's not something silly like a giant pack of missiles strapped to one's back, I'm probably going to be okay with it.

Searing and Ion Wave will be replacing Flamethrower and Pulse Cannon, respectively. I won't miss Pulse Cannon too much, but I sincerely hope that Searing Wave is a worthy successor to Flamethrower. It's another one of those iconic abilities, after all.

Shatter Slug and Flak Shell will be replacing Explosive Dart and Sticky Grenade, respectively. I will definitely miss the Vanguard lobbing their grenade (which now leaves Gut as the only non-rifle offensive ability in the Vanguard's arsenal), but I can't envisage all that much being different between Dart and Slug. Unless of course we start getting into debates about whether it's effective to shoot slimy molluscs at enemies again.

Reel and Rattle and Pull and Pummel are nicely alliterative, and are very decent utilities. Making the pull cause damage is interesting by itself, but making it cause the next Rocket Punch, Flaming Fist, Stockstrike, or Shockstrike deal 20% extra damage and to stun the target is almost overkill. This may also be useful in certain PvE environments, for both DPS and Tanks (although only if nothing else is 'better' for the latter).

Mutilating Shards and Smothering Slag - none of that here, thank you! - are useful PvP utilities. It's nice to see a melee class having the means to slow a target by 75%, which is now only just outmatched by the Sniper's Series of Shots slowing by a maximum of 80%. Granted, the Sniper's is still infinitely more annoying since this can be done from Ranged at all times...

It's hard to talk about Pressure Overrides and Aim Extensions without wanting to resort to an expression of sheer wondrous disbelief. The notion of not one, not two, but eight separate abilities (granted, some of these are across Disciplines so you can't access all eight on one character at any one time) being boosted to 30 metre range whenever Explosive Fuel and Battle Focus are used is mindblowing. Granted, if you're taking it just so you can get 30-metre range without bothering to properly use your offensive cooldown effectively then maybe you're playing the class a bit too recklessly.


Responsive Safeguards and Echoing Deterrence are very nice. If there's one thing which Commandos and Mercenaries have been needing, it's an emergency recovery mechanic of some sort. Boy, did they ever get one! Whilst Reactive Shield is active, all incoming damage is absorbed, 50% of it is reflected, and 5% of the player's maximum health is restored every time they absorb an attack. This is a must-have for any Commando or Mercenary player who does PvP, and it may even have some uses in certain PvE fights as well (*cough* totally-not-referring-to-cheesing).

Tag and Bag and One Man Army are interesting and very decent buffs to Electro Net. It's going to make bursting down that pesky Sage or Sorc while netted in Arenas a lot quicker, that's for sure! Definitely will have its uses in both PvP and PvE for DPS.

Trauma Regulators and Trauma Stabilizers make Reactive Shield all the more powerful when combined with Safeguards/Deterrence. Granted, if you're taking this utility as well then people will definitely know to avoid you when you have the Shield active so you wouldn't gain more than a couple of the health stacks, but it still might be worth considering. Nice 'recovery tool' for PvE where the mobs won't know to stop attacking you.

Battlefield and Suppression Protocols are... interesting. Stealth Scan can be fairly useful, but at other times it can be just a waste of space. Now it's going to be a useful waste of space, since activating it (yet not discovering anyone) gives you 20% increased damage/healing on your next ability anyway. If you do uncover someone, hey, all the more benefits to you! It's a short cooldown, so if you fancy a bit of increased burst every now and again (and who doesn't?) this may be the Utility for you.


Now for the Inquisitor and the Consular:


RIP Phase Walk. As has been pointed out by anyone who knows the history of this ability, this is the first instance of a new ability for one class being granted to its fellow and then being taken away from its original proprietor. Sorcs and Sages still get to keep it as a very useful positioning and escape tool, but Assassins now need to only rely on their stealth to get them out of trouble.

Reaping Strike and Vaulting Slash are two of the only six new Discipline abilities in 5.0, belonging to the Infiltration and Deception Disciplines due to Shadow Technique and Surging Charge becoming Passive abilities. A move which only functions from Stealth or after every Critical hit gives it almost a "Priority #1" status, both as an opener and as a rotational ability. I'm looking forward to seeing what the animation will be like. Hope it's good.

Reaper's Rush and Stalker's Swiftness appear to be encouraging people to use Phantom Stride more often. If it wasn't so notoriously buggy, maybe this would work, but I have a feeling that it won't make any difference whatsoever.

Renewing Darkness and Restorative Shade are going to be very nice for PvP. A Combat Stealth self-heal for maximum 20% HP which also restores Health when Stealth is broken (although maybe it would function 'better' if the stacks 'counted down' so that the Health was always restored by 20% without any penalisation if broken too early or 'reward' if broken slightly too late). It will be very interesting to see this in practice.

Retaliatory and Avenging Grip are the risky strategic ploy abilities for the Assassin. Unlike the 'flat' damage reduction of the similar Operative/Scoundrel Utilities, these two vary from 50% for DPS Disciplines to 100% for the Tank Discipline. However, it being on Deflection and lasting for 12 seconds potentially makes it even more abuseable in PvE, especially if said Assassin/Shadow Tank is being looked after by a very competent Healer and can manage their other defensive Cooldowns well. 


Galvanizing Cleanse and Swift Rejuvenation are very nice. The Cleanse making the next activation ability activate instantly is something which both Healers and DPS players can benefit from (especially since the only cast a Balance Sage has is their Force Serenity ability) in both PvE and PvP. 

Unnatural Vigor and Valorous Spirit are going to be useful. An extra bit of damage reduction never hurts, and neither does a reduced Cooldown on the self-heal which causes it. It was already on a fairly short Cooldown, so this is just going to be silly

Enfeebling Strike and Impeding Slash are... interesting. They are so far the only Utilities which become and replace an active ability, in that they replace Saber Strike with a version which roots its victim for three seconds and slows them by 50% for an extra 6 once the effect ends. Because Sages don't have enough ways to escape from their foes.


Finally, the Warrior and the Knight.


Ravage and Blade Dance (now renamed to Blade Barrage) are now instant abilities. I'm slightly ambivalent about this change, because whilst it allows more manoeuvrability, the 3-second cast presently allows for some abilities to come smoothly off cooldown without many 'filler breaks'. Now, it's going to be much harder to manage a rotation without using fillers all over the place. 


Gore and Lance are the third and fourth of the six new Discipline abilities for Carnage, although Marauder veterans will be eyeing the name "Gore" with some curiosity, given that this already belongs to an ability name. I don't know off the top of my head what name is being given to the old Gore since the new abilities are only in place because Ataru Form used to be an active ability in this Discipline before becoming Passive, so no other abilities will have been removed or changed.

Returning to Gore/Lance for a brief second, it's good to see another Class getting a Hinder ability. As of right now, the Sage is the foil to every class except the Mercenary, whose Net Hinders them and prevents them from using Force Barrier. A melee foil to the Sage is by no means a bad thing in my eyes, and I play a Sage in PvP in the first place!

Ruthless Aggressor and Zealous Judgement are nice Defensive and Offensive utilities. Tech/Force defense being increased by 75% whenever Obfuscate/Pacify are used is pretty damn decent, never mind the fact that the Execute can be used on a target affected by either ability as well. Who said that Marauders didn't have enough tools at their disposal?

Hidden Savagery and Hidden Advance are nice boosts to the Threat Drop. I honestly couldn't help but think of the 5 Rules of Sentinel video and its mock tip claiming that Sentinels don't need a Threat Drop when I saw this change; it's almost as if this move is to directly counter Sentinels who don't ever use the blasted ability when they should. 

Interloper and Intercessor serves as a very nice gap-closer against classes with pesky knockbacks. Well, except for Snipers in cover, but that's a pain which every leaper has to deal with. Leaping to get a second Leap could also be useful to 'bypass' one defender to gain quicker access to the next without worrying about 'travel time'.


Hew and Whirling Blade are the final two new Discipline abilities, replacing Vicious Throw and Dispatch in the Vengeance and Vigilance Disciplines due to Shien Form becoming a passive ability. It has a 30-metre range, but should otherwise function exactly the same in the Discipline path. 

Piercing and Persistent Chill will be interesting to see in PvP, particularly in Ancient Hypergates and Huttball, where outrunning your enemies is an invaluable advantage to have. Extra damage is also nice to have in these moments, of course.

Extending Roar and Unyielding Justice are also... interesting. I don't know what to make of Force Scream and Blade Storm at 30 metres. Again, this is an ability which has more benefit and general use in PvP than in PvE, particularly with its also making Force Push 'help' negate the reduced damage beyond 10 metres.

Thwart and Reckoning will be incredibly powerful in the right hands. I can already hear a guildie who plays Focus Guardian cackling madly at this.


I'm looking forward to seeing some of these changes go live. The changes to Sniper/Gunslinger are probably my favourite 'complete' set of changes, but there are aspects of all of the changes that I like in some way.

I'm not looking forward to seeing Scoundrels, Assassins, and even Commandos join in on the cheesing-fights-by-reflecting-damage trend. It's already ridiculous enough with Guardians alone doing it for NiM Firebrand, Stormcaller, and the Warstalker Walker in Kephess, so this can just potentially get silly if left unchecked.

On the whole, though, it's nice to see that even though this is now the second set of changes done to Disciplines there are very few actually new abilities. Heck, even one of the new Discipline abilities is just a replacement for Vicious Throw and Dispatch! Ability bloat is already a thing for certain classes (*cough* Focus Guardians), so the 'simple' route of more Utilities and Utility Points is far easier to swallow.

It's also nice to finally be able to talk about this stuff officially!

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