Adventures on the Legacy of the Sith PTS, Part 4

Late last week, BioWare updated the PTS again to include the Mercenary and Powertech combat styles, as well as a surprise appearance from Juggernauts and Marauders. They’ve also done a general pass over a couple of styles in general and updated various aspects of them, as well as integrating combat-scaling ‘properly’ to planets after a failed attempt to do so last month.

How do all these things look?



Not much is different from a generic standpoint compared to the usual updates. Text is continually being updated to look cleaner, we have a new character sheet, a new inventory, y’know, same-old, same-old.

Wait, new character sheet? New inventory? When did those happen?

I can only think that this is an unintended inclusion, but certain characters may find themselves being able to access new versions of these UI elements alongside the originals. Both are much darker than their current versions and feature more rounded buttons. The new character sheet is much larger than the current one and has a second copy of the inventory irrevocably attached to it. It can be shrunk down to a similar height to the one we all know and love, but the width cannot be reduced to current levels.

From this new window, we can see how various things will come together in a later phase. The Outfitter and companion windows are both still there, with the Outfitter now getting its own separate pane. Combat Styles are clearly going to be selectable in the second pane, even if we still have to use the ‘K’ panel to choose our Disciplines and associated mods, while loadouts will be available in the fifth. No ship pane yet, but I imagine that will be available somewhere.

Neither version of the new inventory seems to have access to the materials bag or disintegration window, but I imagine these will be phased in at a later point.

As part of this new update comes another gear-related tweak: every time you purchase an item, it will automatically be equipped to your character if there isn’t already an item equipped in that slot. This confused the heck out of me when I tried to buy the new 318 gear for my level 80 Sorc (since the 328 gear has all been deleted save for the earpiece, implants, relics, and weapons) as I just wasn’t seeing it in the inventory…

I don’t particularly like the idea of the character sheet unavoidably having the inventory attached, but I do quite like the idea of grouping everything else together like this.



Last time, scaling was only implemented in one place: solo-mode Flashpoints. To experience it, I dutifully sent my Sorc to solo-mode Legacy of the Rakata and was surprised to see that every single stat was scaled. Not just Endurance, Mastery, and Power – now Alacrity, Accuracy, Critical, and even Presence were scaled. So, according to my character sheet, I had gone from 110.00% Accuracy to ~103%... hmm.

I put that on the back-burner until such a time as scaling was implemented elsewhere, since this could just have been a blip. After all, my Primeval Fatesealer relic still worked, boosting my Alacrity from the low hundreds to just under 2,800, so maybe it was just one of those things.

It wasn’t just one of those things.

With how content-scaling works in the current PTS phase, all of our stats are still scaled down but this mercifully didn’t seem to have much impact on my characters’ performance. Provided that they entered scaled content when they were already at 110% accuracy, they didn’t miss any direct attacks whatsoever even with an apparent 7% chance to miss. The only character of mine who was missing with direct attacks was my level 80 Sorcerer, and that’s because with the default 318 gear you don’t quite reach 110% accuracy. I should have used the stim, in hindsight. Oh well.

Unlike the last time, relics do not work when you are scaled down. The Primeval Fatesealer cries “Access Denied” when you try and use it, while if you have the Devastating Vengeance, Focused Retribution, or Serendipitous Assault relics equipped (not that the latter two would have any effect anyway), you won’t even see the buffs activate on your buff bar. If this holds true when this hits Live, there is going to be no benefit to going in with different relics – all DPS and Healers may as well just get the FR / SA relics and be done with it.

Veteran’s Edge appears to have been removed visually but bolster now takes our HP up to higher values on live to seemingly account for its absence. For example, here is a comparison between the character sheets of a 306-geared Level 75 character on the Live version of Yavin IV compared to the PTS:

Also, since Presence is also now affected by scaling this does mean that companions will no longer be overpowered in certain situations. For example, Xalek, my Sorc's Tank, is at 67,282 HP on the Live Yavin IV but if scaling remains the same as it is right now, come 7.0 he will go down to 61,722. His damage-reduction remains the same, at 34.99%, but he'll still be a tad squishier.

I’m not too sure what to make of all these changes for scaling. It does make me somewhat concerned for how it will function with operations, since the DV / PF relics and Proficiency stims are both useful for improving our performance when scaled down in really difficult high-end fights. If operations are all still scaled down and we can’t augment any of our stats beyond bolster, then we’re all going to have to be reliant on BioWare’s tuning things properly or everyone in the group being able to push as far as they can with their classes. Sure, I can see some people really loving that in the hardcore raiding side of things, but I can also see this being slightly problematic for a lot of other groups – those who have one or two noticeable weak links in the DPS or Healing teams, for example, even if the rest of the team is fairly decent.

That’s not something which we can really get a feeling for at the moment. We know that BioWare will be adjusting operations again, so the tuning should at least be better than it was at the start of 6.0 – but if it’s still “too high” for certain groups that can do reasonably well with progression at the moment, that mightn’t bode well at all.

Time shall tell.



Powertechs are an… interesting… case of a combat style. They’ve broken pretty much every pattern which has been pre-established in the build-up to their inclusion on the PTS.

All discipline abilities are presented in the same order as acquired on Live! Nope, Oil Slick (first) and Firestorm (last) have switched places in the Shield Tech discipline.

All abilities introduced with Onslaught are now optional, if not removed entirely! Nope, Powertechs not only keep Power Yield as a baseline ability, it’s now a level 10 ability and has different benefits depending on discipline alongside its current effects (e.g. for Shield Tech it heals them for 6% HP per stack when it ends).

The level 70 tier has a choice of three actives! Nope, Powertechs get two actives (Electro Dart and Hydraulic Overrides) and a passive (Shield Cannon) across all three disciplines.

There are no objectively new abilities (as in: new abilities that a discipline can get without foregoing another option)! Half true. Powertechs get a new version of leap – Rising Phoenix – that incorporates the Flame Surge passive (two free uses of Flame Burst / Flame Sweep when you leap) and immobilises enemies near the target. Half true because this isn’t strictly a unique new ability, but just a conglomerate version of Jet Charge.

To explain how Powertechs get this new ability out-of-the-blue, Translocate has been made optional at level 20 alongside a passive version of the Second Contract tactical (which still gives Grapple two charges) and Extraction Plan, an updated version of Grapple that also pulls allies. Additionally, this does also mean that Jet Charge is no longer a baseline ability for Powertech DPS, as once again they have to choose it at level 20.

I do find it interesting that Powertechs are just unique in how they not only have a passive option to choose from at level 70, but that the Shield Tech discipline sees abilities move around within the tree. No other combat style or discipline has seen such an occurrence, and I’m honestly wondering if perhaps they should have seen them. Several utilities are still absent, for example, so are there really not any abilities that they’ve made optional that they couldn’t now replace with such a passive…?

Regardless, it’s intriguing to say the least. Even if I hadn’t gone in to this PTS phase with the intent to test Powertech DPS, I would have commented on this.

Several people who have been reading the previous entries of this blog will be aware of my plan to move to Scoundrel and Operative instead of Powertech and Vanguard. I can tolerate Powertech reasonably well on Live, as I feel that with certain items the heat-management of Pyrotech is the best it’s ever been, but while I do find some enjoyment in it, I also find it the clunkiest of my four playstyles.

As a result of the PTS, I have found some decent enjoyment in my possible-replacement playstyle of Operative and am fairly certain I will make that move. I still wanted to try out Powertech, just in case BioWare were doing something to make it less resource-consuming as a spec without relying on certain items. I didn’t want to write it off entirely without seeing what they had planned!

Long-story short: all aboard the Operative train.

So this boils down to two things.

Firstly, I mentioned earlier that Pyrotech is in the best spot it’s ever been for resource-management, and this is down to the set that most Powertechs use and the Tactical which I combine it with. The Meteor Brawler set is wonderful because it reduces Flaming Fist and Rocket Punch’s heat by 4, and then after Explosive Fuel has ended it reduces the heat of all abilities by 50% for 20 seconds. Amazing stuff, and honestly these are what keep me tied to the set which otherwise I have an absolute loathing of.

The Tactical that I use, Flame Dissipation, means that Searing Wave sees its heat reduced by 3 every time Flame Engine reaches or refreshes to two stacks. At the full number of stacks, 5, this means that the ability only costs 5 heat. This is difficult to maintain on a consistent basis due to the amount of heat one must spend in a single rotation to reach this number, but even a 9-heat reduction of Searing Wave is incredibly useful for helping with resources.

On the PTS, while Flame Dissipation still works, the Meteor Brawler set is disabled. This means that our heat management in general is back up to an incredible consumption rate, and my beloved Flame Dissipation just isn’t practical in this situation since you can’t really afford to use more than two Flame Bursts in a single rotation. So you consume far more heat on a consistent basis, and Rapid Shots needs to be used very frequently.

The second issue comes from something BioWare have done to both Mercenaries and Powertechs. They’ve combined Thermal Sensor Override (causing the next ability you use to consume no heat) with Vent Heat. This may not seem like that much of an issue to those of you who like to use both at the same time, but if you like to use TSO to buy you some time before you must use Vent Heat, you must either wait until you’re starved with energy (risking consuming the free energy on a ‘cheap’ ability) or burn Vent Heat before you’re ready to use it.

For me, I currently use TSO at the start. Open with Scorch, use Flaming Fists, then TSO with Incendiary Missile and go from there. Gives me enough ‘extra’ heat to continue with the full rotation to get the most benefit from Flame Dissipation, then Meteor Brawler does what it does and gives me 50% reduced heat for a good period thereafter. I save Vent Heat throughout this time since it can be used as a rescue point later if necessary.

I can’t really hope to comment on the mods they’ve come up with for the spec since I just haven’t been able to complete a single parse on the PTS. I just run out of heat all the time. The mods the discipline has are okay, and I imagine a lot of people will get a kick out of Whistling Birds (Incendiary Missile becoming AoE and placing a detonator on targets which explodes when hit with Searing Wave), but without satisfactory experience of how things are… yeah, I’m not going to try to pretend that I have a good bearing of how they will impact things.

So… yeah. I’m sure that if I worked at it I could come up with something that will work without guzzling too much heat, but that also seems like a lot of work for a playstyle which I only really enjoy at the moment because I no longer need to worry about guzzling resources as much as I used to. Pyrotech just feels like it’s going to be even clunkier than it already is, and so I think this is the push I needed to move on when 7.0 comes.

I’ll still give it another chance and see what its sets are like. If they do another set like Meteor Brawler that helps with resource management to a good degree then I’m happy to throw myself into another bit of testing one last time. If things are still going to be as ‘bleh’ as they are now, then yeah, I’m done. I’ll give it that one last chance. The class deserves that much.



I may not play Mercenary at the moment, but I do have some history with it that always keeps me interested in what happens to the style every expansion.

I really like what they’re doing to Bodyguard. Merc healing is in the top-spot in a lot of places right now as it is, but it doesn’t look like the mods they’re introducing to it will make it massively more powerful than it already is. That’s the ideal spot, I think, although I do feel that the mods beside Integrated Scanning for Healing Scan could be touched up a tad.

Arsenal… I honestly feel like they could have done more with this discipline. It’s currently one of the lowest-performing disciplines in the entire game, even if it is by design. The options they’ve come up with (such as Priming Shot dealing 50% more damage to targets affected by Heat Signature, or Heatseeker Missiles having a 10% increase to both critical chance and critical damage) will help it out somewhat, but they’re hardly going to be stellar improvements to an already-ailing spec.

I don’t know enough about Innovative Ordnance to really gauge how those mods will impact it, but it looks alright. I do find it fascinating that BioWare have resuscitated part of the original Concentrated Fire set for IO, with one of its passives now boasting that every 10 seconds, gaining a stack Supercharge will increase your critical chance by 10%. The same passive also increases DoT damage by 30% under 30% HP and damage of elemental attacks to bleeding targets by 3%, so this is a very powerful passive for this spec even if they alter or remove the Supercharge element.

So yeah. Mercs seem like they’ll still be the ‘best’ healers, Arsenal still seems like it’ll be impotent, and IO seems like it’s still going to be a decent contender in raids at the hands of a skilled player. As much as things change, eh?


Guardian / Juggernaut

With the inclusion of Juggernaut, some updates have been retroactively made to Guardian. For example, Guardian Leap is now baseline for all three disciplines again. Additionally, all of the mods for Blade Barrage across the disciplines have been turned into Debilitating Slashes. This means that, rather than Burning Barrage now causing Blade Barrage to deal extra damage as burn damage, this mod will now cause Blade Barrage to generate 1 focus and immobilise the target.

This last one, as heartbreaking as it is to me, does make sense. Having three different mods for a single ability across an entire combat style just sounded horrendous from a balance perspective. I think many players will welcome the return of the immobilise effect, while Blade Barrage now generating focus is also a nice benefit even if we are swimming in focus right now.

For Vigilance, Searing Meditation has been redesigned. Previously, every time you critically hit with a burn attack you would generate 1 focus, and activating Combat Focus would reset the cooldown of Blade Storm. Now, this mod makes it so that you no longer generate 6 focus when activating Combat Focus, but for 10 seconds after using the ability you will have 10% increased critical chance for burn attacks and generate focus with each critical burn. It’s… intriguing, but I think I’ll stick with Critical Conditions reducing the cooldown of Combat Focus with critical burns.

Not much else to say, really. New-Vengeance feels identical to new-Vigilance, and I’m happy with both versions of the combat style.



The level 70 tier for Sorcerer has been redesigned: instead of providing a choice between Extrication, Force Barrier, and Volt Rush, Sorcs now have a choice between Phase Walk, Volt Rush, and Whirlwind. Extrication and Force Barrier are both baseline abilities by default. Similarly, Emersion and Force Mobility have switched places, so Force Mobility is now a level 60 passive and Emersion is now level 80. Still a relatively brutal situation for midbie PvP, but less so than it used to be.

So… that level 70 tier. In my last post, I commented on how it would make PvP choices risky, but there’s a fine line between acceptable risk and untenable risk. It would be a brave Sorc who would forego Force Barrier for anything, even if doing so would mean they could help someone score or escape a fire-pit in Huttball. I was surprised that we had kept access to Phase Walk as a baseline ability, so I have to say that I think they’ve made the right choice here.

Volt Rush also now has more potential life breathed into it with this update, as once again it would be a very brave Sorc who would choose to forego Force Barrier in high-end PvE content for the extra DPS or healing potential that Volt Rush would bring. Phase Walk in PvE is only situationally useful, and Whirlwind in PvE is very much an ability only useful for helping with adds, doing dailies, or Flashpoints. Experimentation is thus far more possible with these choices than it was initially, which again is a good thing.



Okay, so apart from the introduction of Merc and Powertech and game-scaling now being on planets, not much has really changed on-the-whole. I think that’s an alright thing, but it is getting a bit late in the PTS cycle and we still haven’t seen what they have planned for endgame content. I can completely get why, as the changes to the classes are substantial and deserve far higher focus than they have done previously, but there’s still a lot of stuff that’s missing.

We still have two months until Legacy of the Sith is destined to go live at its likely earliest point, so we still have time for at most two additional PTS phases. While I was hoping to have seen the operations and flashpoints etc. be implemented by now, I don’t really see much reason for concern yet. Certainly, I don’t see there being all too much reason to suspect that a delay is likely yet.

It’s nice to see a version of all the playstyles on the PTS at last, and I look forward to seeing what they do with them going forward. We’ve also seen the first instance of mirroring across factions, and I am keen to see similar updates going forward. It’s a bit disappointing, having started on the Republic faction, that every update since then has focused on the Empire yet again.

Oh well.

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