Adventures on the Legacy of the Sith PTS, Part 3

It’s Total Galactic War week again on Live, which ordinarily I would be all-in for. However, due to a general feeling of apathy towards all the games which I am currently involved with (one of which is certainly due to burnout, so very much looking forward to taking a much-needed break after ten or so weeks of focus!) I’m not going to be all too involved with it this week.

Mercifully, the monotony has been broken up somewhat by BioWare updating the PTS to include my current favourite class (or at least its Imperial equivalent), the Sorcerer, and its combat style sibling, the Assassin. In this post, I shall only be covering the Sorcerer as I do not play Assassin. I don’t want to try and take guesses about what may or may not work without even a baseline understanding of how their abilities work.

I may be in an "I enjoy learning new things!" phase, but I do have limits.

Additionally, and more crucially, level 80 is now available in a limited form! It’s nice to see more things coming out, especially as now character-copy is enabled again. Yay for being able to get more of a grasp of how these things will probably work!

Let’s get started!



With level 80 now being available for testing for the first time, with it comes our first simplified look at gearing and the revised level-scaling options.

For gearing, the only level 80 option open to us right now is an unmodifiable set of purple 328-rating gear. Since gear levels and the like have yet to be established properly, it’s unknown whether 328 being purple quality is to be expected on Live or whether this is just a PTS thing. If 328 truly is going to be purple when it hits Live, we’re looking at gold gear being not too much higher. I wouldn’t necessarily mind having fewer gear tiers to chase through, I can tell you that much!

For level-scaling, I have actually struggled to find many places where it was enabled. They commented that it was available on planets and daily zones alongside chapters and SM FPs, yet the locations where I have been to (Tatooine, Voss, and Onderon) have us still set at 80 with no scaling down. When I ran into Legacy of the Rakata, scaling worked there and I was scaled down to 55 with 30 stacks of Veteran’s Edge (despite evidently not being in the best quality gear at 80).

I wouldn’t mind Veteran’s Edge still being a thing in 7.0, as I think it works nicely on planets and in various bits of group content. It means that gearing up still matters somehow despite us being scaled down to match the planet’s level, and is a nice evolution of the quite limited nature of SWTOR’s scaling methods.

This brings me to operations. BioWare have frequently referred to level scaling with regards to operations, which suggests to me that they are once again going to sync players down whenever they enter an instance. This likely means that everything that’s at 70 will stay at 70, Nature of Progress will be scaled at 75, and only R-4 Anomaly will be at level 80. Since they are actively working on rebalancing fights based on the reduction of defensives, I am at least hopeful that these operations will not have the very spiky tuning which is currently available on Live. We shall see!

There isn’t really a lot else to say about level 80 stuff until we see the sets and level-scaling is introduced to more areas. Right now, it’s just an extra thing that wasn’t there before. It’s nice to see, don’t get me wrong, but it does leave you wanting more.




Unlike Operatives, which for the moment have lost their raid buff entirely, Sorcs still get to keep theirs but only as an option at level 35. For Sorcs, level 35 is a mixed bag between personal defensives, group utility, and some really quite bizarre options for damage / healing. For example, Corruption Sorcs get a passive which causes the next Reanimation or Dark Infusion to be instant if a friendly player dies while Resurgence is active on them. What a weird passive that is! I mean, sure, the Reanimation one could be handy as a “burst revive” but speaking as someone who’s in a raid-group with someone renowned for reviving as soon as a player goes down (occasionally leading to wipes when someone more important dies who could have held the group together) I’m actually quite concerned that this will be the option that player picks to maximise their already-extreme revive potential.

Since we don’t yet know exactly how level-scaling is going to work in operations, it’s entirely possible that the Sorc raid-buff will continue to be situationally-useful at best. Sure, it’s 10% to all stats, but that 10% is probably going to be wasted outside of R-4 Anomaly and the Elom flashpoint, just as it’s only really useful currently as a heal to anyone below 100% HP. As such, while I’m on the fence about losing the raid-buff it could be entirely possible that it just isn’t a practical option to take in the majority of content.

Certainly, for PvP, the defensive options look to be the better option in this tier. With Innervate giving a 6% damage-reduction boost to healers, Static Barrier absorbing 10% more damage for Lightning, and critical hits from DoTs giving a 15% damage-reduction boost for Madness, there are some quite nice options to increase survivability that could also be useful in PvE.

Speaking of PvP functionality, how about that level 70 tier! Force Barrier, Extrication, and Volt Rush! Obviously, we’re all going to be so cut up about the loss of Volt Rush that we just can’t carry on and need to delete our Sorcs… okay, I can’t carry on with that line of thought and keep a straight face. Fare thee well, you mostly-useless Volt Rush!

With all seriousness, the choice between Extrication and Force Barrier is going to be an interesting one. For healer Sorcs in PvP, the choice is now essentially between you being selfless or selfish in various tiers. I can see it now: a close Huttball match ends in a loss because that Sorc was running Force Barrier and couldn’t pull a stunned ball carrier out of the fire; a Sorc utterly melts in Civil War because they took all the selfless Huttball-friendly options and just couldn’t withstand the damage.

I don’t necessarily mind this being a thing, as I quite like the idea of PvP-speccing being a strategic, thus risky, thing and, even as a previously-avid player of one in this field, I do feel that Sorcs have had it very easy in PvP for quite a while now. Pulls, teleports, invulnerability-bubbles, speed boosts. Sorcs are great fun, don’t get me wrong, but they also have an insanely powerful toolkit for certain PvP areas. I feel dialling that back a bit will be useful. It won’t stop various Sorcs just dominating the playing field in certain situations, but it will mean that they’d need to be very careful in what they pick and how to play to counter their newfound weaknesses.

Oh, and Force Mobility is now an option at level 80. Have fun in midbie PvP without it!



While I do mainly focus on Madness, I have occasionally dabbled in Corruption throughout 6.0. Due to not feeling confident in the role (and for good reason), my experiences in this role tend to be limited to Master Mode flashpoints and Story Mode operations, with one Veteran Mode operation (TFB) under my belt. As such, I do feel that I have enough of an understanding on the core mechanics of the discipline to comment on the changes.

On the whole, the incoming active / passive choices look… intriguing. Since the Sorcerer is the only healer whose Discipline does not include an AoE heal as one of its first two abilities (a.k.a. the abilities which BioWare are creating morphs for), both Dark Infusion and Innervate will now have AoE options available to them, although they are only situationally useful I think.

‘Rally’ for Dark Infusion causes Infusion to hit one additional target within 10 metres, while ‘Dark Resurgence’ for Innervate causes Innervate to spread Resurgence around to nearby allies.

Rally could certainly have its uses, but I believe that as a PvE option for Dark Infusion it pales next to ‘Sustained Corruption’, which causes Infusion to place a 12-second HoT on its target. As an option for raiding, it currently makes more sense to me that the HoT would be the go-to choice here. In the basic 328-rating gear, the total healing from the HoT tends to heal for just a little bit less than the standard hit (approx. 22k), so it’s quite a powerful option for focusing on the tank.

The third option, ‘Haste’, is more of a burst-healing tool. Whenever you use Dark Infusion, you gain the buff Haste which causes your next Dark Infusion to activate instantly. This can only occur once 10 seconds. I would personally choose either of the other two morphs, but I can certainly see some Sorcs out there really enjoying this!

Dark Resurgence, meanwhile, is quite the powerful beast. In my testing, it appears that Resurgence can be spread around within a 19-metre radius, although I have admittedly yet to find a full limit for it. Still, 19m is quite an impressive range for that! In terms of single-target healing, a decent option exists in ‘Corrupted Bastion’ which generates stacks of itself during Innervate, with each stack increasing the healing of your next Dark Heal or Dark Infusion by 3%.

The third option, ‘Polarized’, just isn’t worth taking at the moment. It causes Polarity Shift to increase the healing of Innervate by 3%. Woohoo? I mean, sure, it’s more healing, but in comparison to spreading a HoT around or getting 9% extra healing from Dark Heal and Dark Infusion? Consider also that Polarity Shift only lasts 10 seconds and has an almost 2-minute cooldown (this is assuming that the Gathering Storm set will be removed come 7.0). That just isn’t worth it!

As for everything else, Corruption has quite a tough choice at level 20. Dark Speed (+50% speed boost to targets of Dark Heal), Cloud Mind (the threat drop, now with the damage-reduction utility built in), and a new option, ‘Dark Power’ (Dark Heal having a 50% chance to cause Resurgence to tick twice) are all on the same tier. Of these three, to me Dark Power seems like the throwaway option, but the other two can be really useful in both PvE and PvP. Since Force Barrier is now an option at level 70, foregoing Cloud Mind in PvE is not necessarily an issue if you still take Barrier, since that is by design a threat-drop. Not ideal use of Barrier, though!

I'm intrigued to learn what my fellow guildies and friends who do main Sorc-healer make of these changes. I think they look decent, but I'm very much a novice compared to some, so they may see merit in some of the things I dismiss in favour of others.



This is my main spec, and the only other one I play for Sorcerer. As such, I shall not be touching on Lightning in this post as, much like Assassin, I do not feel that I can begin to comment on what’s changing.

So, for Madness, one of the things which I came up with when thinking about potential morphs for various combat styles was a single-target Death Field. “What use is that?” you may be thinking? Well, let me break it down.

Since Death Field is an AoE ability, it is of course purely reliant on your ability to place it or to use the sticky-ground-targeting-reticule option. For the majority of fights the latter works well enough and it’s a great QoL option, but there are some fights where it is impractical. Namely, Toth and Zorn. The bigger the enemy, the closer you must stand within maximum-range to be able to use the sticky reticule. So, for Zorn, I need to stand about 27 or so metres from him to be able to use Death Field reliably without manual targeting.

Notice the potential issue yet? No? Well, this is where one of Zorn’s abilities in Veteran Mode and beyond – Fearful – comes in. If you are standing approximately 28 – 29m away from him, it won’t affect you, but any closer and you get hit. This ability causes you to take damage every time you attempt to damage Zorn, and this also impacts DoTs. So, in the current system, Madness lends itself very easily to the risk of the player being affected by Fearful, therefore almost certainly dying as a result. Sure, this issue could also be rectified by manual targeting the Death Field, but that’s also quite a clunky option and does require you to be both quick and accurate (and for the tank to not move the bastard as I’m trying to Death Field him). I’m certainly not both of these.

Similar to Toth and Zorn, the Tyrans fight in Nightmare is quite impractical for Madness with how my group handles the ranged-DPS platforms. I’ve seen my guild’s resident Balance Sage MM DPS officer standing ahead of the rest of the DPS, simply because much like the two drouks, you realistically need to be within 28m of Tyrans to be able to Death Field him without manual targeting.

Plus, then you get fights like Firebrand and Stormcaller or Kephess in Veteran Mode when an accidental “sorry, it’s a reflex!” use of Death Field can cause fatalities. It shouldn’t happen, but if it does… yeah. Not pleasant. Then you get fights like the Terror in TFB where automatic DoT-spreading to the boss may not be too helpful, or fights like Revan when you can't even use the automatic sticky reticule to use Death Field on the Core (the same also applies to the Terror in "Tantrum" phase).

All-in-all, it has more use than you might think from a PvE perspective!

So this was one of the things which I was hoping to see come in for Madness, and I’m very pleased to see that a single-target option (‘Death Brand’) has been introduced. The other two morphs for Death Field both look great as well for different reasons. The first, ‘Unrelenting Affliction’, gives Death Marks a 50% chance to not be consumed, and the second, ‘Sustained Corruption’ (I haven’t gone mad, there are two different Sorc ability morphs with this name!) causes Death Marks to heal you for 1% of your maximum HP whenever they are consumed.

For PvE, I would probably take Unrelenting Affliction in most fights. In specific fights, I would definitely choose Death Brand, but Unrelenting Affliction has some interesting synergy with a later passive that I think could be really useful for most fights. Sustained Corruption is something I would pick if I knew I would be taking lots of damage while also being sure that I could spread Death Marks to as many foes as possible. Essentially, if ever I were to do PvP in 7.0, this would be my pick!

Creeping Terror gets some decent morphs, but my eye is drawn to ‘Down Fall’. This causes Creeping Terror to consume two Death Marks, dealing increased damage whenever it does so. For AoE fights this has appeal because Death Marks on other targets are never consumed all in one sitting on Live unless you have the tactical which spreads Demolish to other targets. More ticks, more damage, we’re golden. However, this is where Unrelenting Affliction comes back in. These additional stacks of Death Mark consumed by Creeping Terror through Down Fall are also subject to the 50% chance to not be consumed, making both options powerful regardless of the situation.

The other options for Creeping Terror are so-so. ‘Critical Movement’ causes critical hits from the initial hit of Creeping Terror to reduce Force Speed’s active cooldown by 3 seconds, while ‘Creeping End’ causes the application of the DoT (once every five seconds) to reduce the cooldown of Recklessness by 2 seconds. Force Speed’s cooldown is neither here nor there for me as, even if the damage boost from Gathering Storm stays in somehow, I would still only use it before Force Leech and not take advantage of it being available 3 seconds sooner. Shortening the cooldown on Recklessness is quite appealing, but I do feel that Down Fall is just an all-around better pick.

Our level 20 choices alongside Cloud Mind are okay. They’re not great, but I can see some people enjoying them. ‘Overloaded Strike’, replacing Lightning Strike, hits two targets within 10 metres, while ‘Finish Them’ causes Shock to finish the duration of any DoTs on the target and deal their remaining damage to them. I can certainly see these abilities having some use, but I for one feel that Cloud Mind is just the better option. I don’t really care for finishing DoTs in one go, as I quite enjoy keeping track of them in real-time, while Overloaded Strike just doesn’t seem worth it.

Of course, it could have decent synergy with one of our level 35 options, ‘Over Whelming Force’, which gives Lightning Strike a 25% chance to cause the next Crushing Darkness (which obviously should be Demolish for Madness, but it’s the PTS, I imagine that’ll be sorted before this hits Live) to be a critical hit. I’d still choose the morph that gives us max. 15% damage reduction from DoT critical hits, but I can imagine that together the Strike / Force options could yield interesting results.

I really like some of these options, and I'm very excited to see what sort of potentials this could yield for Madness when 7.0 hits Live!



On the whole, the Legacy of the Sith PTS is shaping up alright at the moment. September’s release is reasonably big, although perhaps not quite as big as I had originally been hoping for. Since we’re still looking at a December release, the PTS will be going down for good at some point in November. October, therefore, needs to be the month when we’ll be seeing a lot more of this content be test-ready.

Of course, they might not be actively testing absolutely everything. Their main goal with introducing scaling to flashpoints and operations was to minimise the amount of work they needed to do in future expansions, so if they just update the scaling in-theory they only need to ensure that everyone is scaled correctly when they enter. Of course, this was before all the tuning issues that arose throughout 6.0 and their new “reduce the defensives” philosophy, which is almost certainly why it’s taking them so long to implement the operations this time around.

As a result, it could well be that all they want us to test, as far as the older operations are concerned, is how certain fights feel, whether the scaling still works, and… not much else. Of course, R-4 Anomaly still requires more substantive testing but, beyond that, the other operations shouldn’t really require too much work if they’re just leaving the scaling in place.

Certainly, I am very much of the opinion now that if all operations and flashpoints were to be boosted to 80 that we’d have seen a far faster push to get level 80 to us followed by operations being September’s thing. We don’t have all that long at this point to test revised mechanics and an entirely new tuning system to account for five extra levels!

I intend to stick around with this phase of the PTS for another week or so. Get some guildies in again and go run the three level-75 MMFPs with level-75 characters to get more of a feel for how things feel on-level (since scaling isn’t in yet for anything beyond Story Mode). I’m still eager to see more, but I’m still pretty content with what we’ve seen in recent weeks.

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