It was a simple makeover really -- just minor changes in my focus and equipment using gear I already had in my bag and abilities I already had access to. Did it help? Did my effectiveness as a damage-dealer increase? The outcome was rather surprising.
Remember when I noted that you shouldn't let a lower-quality level dissuade you from equipping gear? I already mentioned that my attack increased when I dropped a QL 10 talisman for a QL 6, but I didn't elaborate on just how much; that one gear swap alone bumped my attack from 470 to 675. Since I now knew what to look for, I scoured through my bags and bank and found a few more items better tailored for the DPS build we discussed, so I then I changed out two more talismans and swapped out the glyphs in two others.
The numerical change in stats from the makeover is obvious, but the true test comes in how it performs. And boy, did it perform! I was actually amazed at the immediate difference the new stats and my change in focus to ranged made. Just as a single degree course correction for a ship can lead to a vastly different destination, these minor alterations made the difference between repeated deaths and actually completing the mission. But you don't have to take my word for it; you can see for yourself. Here's a video in which I attempted to complete the Tyler Freeborn story arc right before the makeover (beginning at the 17:35 mark):
Ouch. Not exactly a pretty sight, huh? Well, now take a look at the result of putting these slight modifications in gear and thinking (meaning I moved to ranged) into practice:
Besides the gear swaps, I also took the advice to move to ranged and rigged up a build of abilities that focused on my rifle instead of my sword. Note, I didn't have to spend a single AP for this change, as I had already bought them while working on the Slayer build. I kept the sword build for the first encounter since I already knew it worked, then switched to ranged. And voila! I finally succeeded in conquering not only my filth-infused nemesis Norma but the entire mission.
It's fair to say that a number of players have their own version of a Norma nemesis, a personal brick wall in game that they just can't quite knock down. If your weapon QL is appropriate for the zone, perhaps these hints for strategy and gear can help give you that extra oomph to finally break through.
However, this makeover guide specifically targeted those folks who either haven't had the time to research and experiment with builds or just found themselves stuck for whatever reason. It's meant to be a foundation that players can build off of, not an end-all. Can truly successful DPS be melee? Of course they can! But for folks just trying to get the hang of things, ranged really is easier, precisely because it gives you more maneuverability and a wider field of vision to see how the fights are progressing.
It is also important to keep in mind that you can have passives that trigger off of active abilities. For instance, Infohound pointed out that in the assault rifle tree, the passive ability Extra Bullet adds an additional hit to the active Safety Off. If that doesn't seem like a big deal, consider that using the two together gives you a 33% increase in DPS every time you use Safety Off.
And don't forget those little green zones between the different weapons. Players can find everything from threat enhancers (for tanks), threat reducers (for everyone else), and even self heals there. And you won't need tons of AP saved up to get them; some of the really good abilities are all under 16 AP. There's sure to be an ability or two there that could be useful in at least one of your builds.
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