Adventures on the Legacy of the Sith PTS, Part 2

Earlier this week, BioWare updated the PTS yet again to include two fairly big things (although only one of which is big from my own perspective). Firstly, they’ve added a WIP version of the new Discipline UI (huzzah!), allowing players to see the full extent of the ability and passive choices without needing to read the forums to learn what was what. Secondly, they’ve added both Operative and Sniper to the PTS, otherwise known as my current main-raiding combat style (albeit on the opposite faction) and the style I’m thinking of trying out to use instead of Vanguard for my Trooper.

As I say, the latter is big from my perspective!

So, how do things feel as-is?



Since it has now been confirmed that gearing changes will happen in 7.0 and all current set bonuses will stop working at level 80, BioWare have disabled all current set bonus items in the PTS build to begin focus on actual gear customisation. Tacticals are still in the game and fully-functional, but it has been mentioned that a good number of these will probably also disappear as well. Some may be worked into combat styles, but we have seen little evidence of this being a potential thing thus far.

So as far as gearing goes, it doesn’t matter what armour you get for your PTS toons as… well… nothing works. I took advantage of this with my third PTS Guardian and got her the Culling Blade set, since it is the most Jedi-like set appearance wise available for the Knight combat styles. Gotta make up for the absence of many decent Jedi-themed sets somehow!

Speaking of Knight, they’ve also updated the options available for both Guardian and Sentinel. For example, Saber Throw is now a default ability at level 35, while Cyclone Slash is now a choice at level 20. Similarly, Enure is now default for the Defense Discipline while still being a choice for DPS, which is fine. At least it means Tanks get their self-cleanse by default, which is absolutely crucial for them.

A full list of changes can be found here

Collections has also been updated to include the Remnant sets from the Alliance Supply Crates. Huzzah! I am so looking forward to being able to clear out some tabs in my Legacy bay, since I have kept about fourteen full sets in there just because I didn’t want to waste them. So at least now I should be able to have those at my beck-and-call no matter what (and get some decent companion-fashion choices for alts) thanks to this!



On the whole, I really like the options for Sniper as they are in the current PTS build. The passives for the Virulence-specific abilities are decent, even if my ideal choice of passive at level 15, Critical Grenade (+20% crit chance on periodic effects if Corrosive Grenade is present), isn’t functional right now. I’m honestly surprised we get to keep both Covered Escape and Entrench, as I was certain at least one of those abilities would be made optional. I’m also sad to see Target Acquired become optional, although that’s only really worth using for Virulence in the first place if you have Precise Targeter equipped.

Which I do, because screw using Established Foothold.

I have some concerns about energy-management for Virulence in the future, since with my Tactical of choice (Exploited Weakness) possibly going to disappear in 7.0, that’s my main means of managing energy potentially just gone. Sure, the +20% extra crit on poison effects from Critical Grenade will have some impact when used alongside the Critical Compounds (critical periodic hits restore 1 energy) passive, but I wouldn’t imagine it would be as beneficial as having the poison from Lethal Shot on a target and adding its own contribution to periodic-energy-restoration effects.

Having done a couple of FP runs on the PTS (even if it could only have been Spirit of Vengeance and Secrets of the Enclave as everything else was 5 levels beneath us and Objective Meridian seemed to lack its mission terminal…), Virulence feels pretty similar to where it is now, rotationally. My concerns about energy proved to be well-founded since I experimentally unequipped Exploited Weakness for one boss and I found myself severely starved for energy even when using Adrenaline Probe on cooldown.

So that’s one thing which I hope becomes less of an issue as the PTS goes on!

Marksmanship feels really nice this time around, since with passives that reduce the energy cost of Ambush by 5 and cause critical weapon attacks to restore 2 energy, our resource just flows much more smoothly in the current PTS build than it has for a long while. This is even when manually applying Corrosive Dart instead of relying on it being refreshed via Agitating Energies as on Live; I basically never dropped below 70 energy.

These tests wouldn’t be all too useful if they didn’t account for the potential removal of these items, I feel!

I don’t know Engineering at all, but even if I did the current PTS build is missing a buff which is vital to the new setup. As such, I wouldn’t be able to really get any feel for how things really could be with the spec.

We’re also seeing more signs of them combining two different abilities, since our Countermeasures can be specced to also act as our Evasion (this choice also has a reset of Covered Escape built in). I do quite like this, since it is in theory a nice idea to be able to simultaneously drop threat and avoid a big attack if you’ve stolen aggro from a tank, but at the same time I can see some players taking this and then never using their threat drop since they’re holding onto Evasion, “just in case”. This is also one passive which will almost never be chosen for PvP since the other choices at level 20 are Maim and Trauma on Snipe / Lethal Shot. 

As a result of Trauma being added to Snipe as a spec-in choice, Flourish Shot is a thing of the past now. I still remember the days when that was our Sunder...

The level 50 choice is honestly a really hard one for me, as I currently use Snap Shot and Ballistic Dampeners pretty much all the time, with Pillbox Sniper worked in as and when needed. I think of these three Ballistic Dampeners is probably the best for generic use, but I certainly will miss the instant Lethal Shot.

Once choice which I don’t see remaining a choice all the way through to Live is at level 70; we’re asked to choose between Hololocate – the Phase Walk we got in 6.0 – Ballistic Shield – our group-wide shield – and Orbital Strike. Now, for Virulence, Orbital Strike is neither here nor there. We pretty much use it at the start of fights or if a boss or add turns immune for a short time and we have a window to use the attack. It does have its uses, but I don’t see it as an utterly crucial loss for raiding; for dailies, etc. that’s another story!

However, for Engineering, Strike is one of the rotational abilities. Indeed, the PTS build for Engi still incorporates various buffs for the ability, so it’s not as if the spec is being geared purely towards its own core combat abilities or anything (for the moment). So for Engi, you either screw up your own rotation or provide a useful group defensive. Not ideal for them!

Hololocate… I won’t miss it. The idea of Snipers getting Phase Walk never really sat right with me, and although I had been known to use it in TITAN 6 in particular, I do view that as very cheesy. I was quite happy to see it screw up once when I teleported away with the grenade, only to instantly be teleported back and subsequently blow up many rocks. I love it when cheesy stuff backfires spectacularly.

Speaking of cheese, we’re also losing Siege Bunker, which gives us +60% AoE damage reduction while in Entrench. Again, this is something which I won’t miss in the long term since it can be used to utterly negate so many AoE abilities. TITAN 6’s grenade? Entrench. Grenade during Sword Squadron? Entrench. Mass Barrage? Entrench and just sit there. Heirad’s Lightning Field? Entrench. Tentacle Slam in TFB VM+? Entrench. You get the picture. I will of course be sad to lose it, but I also wouldn’t mind needing to move or receive healing on these fights for once!

So that’s Sniper. We’re going to be squishier, and we won’t be able to negate nearly as many mechanics as we’re currently used to, but this is one of BioWare’s overall objectives with 7.0. Cut down the amount of ways certain classes can just utterly bypass mechanics and extend time-to-kill in PvP. Which is fine, those are both rather problematic from a designer’s viewpoint at the moment no matter how luxurious they are for players.

Offensively, I’m happy with the two main specs I play and feel that they pack the same punch that they do currently. I do hope for Engi Snipers that they find a way of making Orbital Strike a default ability for them somehow, as the idea of gutting a rotation even if it means you bring extra mobility or defensive potential… yeah, that’s not fun.



So while I don’t play Operative at the moment, I am looking into doing so in 7.0. As I highlighted in my “Reflecting on Combat Styles” post, I am potentially looking at turning my Trooper into an Operative and my Hunter into a Scoundrel. Vanguard / Powertech has always been a class I’ve struggled to get my head around, and while I have since succeeded in doing fairly well with Pyrotech I do still find it very clunky and am looking for an alternative.

Of course, there are more alternatives than Operative. I could go Commando or Merc… except that the entire reason why I actually tried Vanguard / PT again in 5.0 was because I finally grew so tired of Commando that I just felt that I had to get away. I could go Advanced Prototype… although I’ve tried that a few times and I just know that as clunky as Pyrotech is, it is at least much simpler for me to understand than its equivalent. I could, of course, go Gunslinger or Sniper… but I don’t really want to have more than two of the same combat style across my legacy.

So that leaves me with two choices: either stay as Pyrotech since I know it works relatively well for me, or try an Operative spec. So this is partially what I’ve been using this PTS phase to test – how either of the DPS specs for the combat style feels and whether or not they have potential.

As of right now, I feel Concealment is probably going to be the way to go. I feel I need to get geared up properly with level 80 stuff, get accuracy to 110%, and see what the new set bonuses and Tacticals are like before I can really make my mind up as part of this also depends heavily on what they do with Vanguard / PT stuff.

Right now, the Tactical I use, Flame Dissipation, gradually reduces the cost of Searing Wave each time Superheated Flamethrower reaches 2 stacks. With enough abilities, this would effectively mean that Searing Wave would cost 5 heat, although with heat management being something of an issue you’d often only be able to hit this every second rotation. Still, the cost reduction would still apply no matter how many stacks you had whenever you used Searing Wave, so it’s a really nice Tactical for resource-management.

So if that goes away, and there isn’t anything that I like better as a replacement for the same purpose, then I’m pretty much stuck with an even clunkier and more energy-starved rotation. If it stays, or a new Tactical is introduced which helps with resource-management, then things won’t be quite as problematic.

But right now I think Concealment has potential for me as a spec, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out in future builds.

Much like Snipers, Operatives can have a combo of Countermeasures and Evasion, but the other way around; they keep Evasion since it's their self-cleanse, but it can be specced to act as a threat drop. This has further passives depending on Discipline, as Medicine Operatives get a Tactical Advantage whenever they use Evasion, Concealment Operatives get a Speed Boost, and Lethality Operatives get... nothing beyond a threat drop. Yay?

It would be remiss of me to touch on Operatives and not mention their healing. A friend and I did Spirit of Vengeance VM together with him healing, me on my Sniper, his 2V (apparently) DPSing, and my 2V tanking. Spirit proved to be really painful at times, and his healing just was not enough to keep up with certain add or boss pulls. I’ve seen people complain about Spirit’s tuning for a long time, so I’m guessing that this was mainly responsible for his strife.

We had someone else pop on for the final boss and the subsequent run of Secrets of the Enclave, where healing wasn’t an issue in the slightest until the final boss.

It’s hard to gauge from that, but it seems that Operative is still in an alright place. Certainly, the passives for healing look to be very decent, including a 5% damage reduction buff on targets of Kolto Injection and extra critical chance for Recuperative Nanotech depending on how many people it affects.

A bit of a rambling view on Operatives, but I’m sure people who have actual long-term experience with both DPS and healing with this class will add their own voices to the ring across various sites for a more personal touch.



We still have at least two months of proper testing ahead of us (since BioWare will likely be taking the PTS down for good in very early November), and there are still plenty of things for us to see before then. Combat-style-switching, Commando, Elom, level 80, loadouts, Manaan, R-4 Anomaly, Sage, scaling changes, Shadow, and Vanguard. Still, we now at least have access to an early version of the new Discipline UI which is the one thing I really wanted to see at this early stage.

It’s one thing to tell people what options will be, but it’s another to allow people to choose properly for themselves and discover what does what, so I’m very glad that we now can tailor the new trimmed Disciplines to our liking. Certainly I’m really happy with Vigilance at the moment now that I have access to Saber Throw again, and I don’t think there’s anything else which I could really want BioWare to modify for that Discipline.

Sniper needs a bit of work still, since if certain items vanish then resource-management could be really problematic. If these items persist, then it should be absolutely fine, but we won’t know more until BioWare unveil their gearing plans later this year. It’s great to see things in general picking up, but there’s still a bit of a ways to go!

UPDATE: Since I posted this yesterday, BioWare have now made Orbital Strike a baseline ability for Engineering Sniper, with Maim now being a level 70 choice to replace it and Takedown replacing Maim as a level 20 choice. Curious to know how much impact that could have for Engi Snipers, since Evasive Countermeasures is in the same tier...

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