I'll refer here to the Imperial classes, but know that all of this replies to their Republic versions as well.
Recently, I switched from an Annihilation (Watchmen) spec on my Marauder to a Carnage (Combat) spec because overall DPS in Carnage exceeded Annihilation's. Despite the RNG necessary to maintain the high DPS for Carnage, it always outshined Annihilation because the buffs necessary to maintain consistent DPS would always drop during boss battles. Even though I don't know Carnage as well as I do Annihilation, I can tell you that I'm outputting about 100 to 200 more DPS just by switching specs.
However, update 2.5 might change this a bit, causing me to switch back to Annihilation. The two buffs (Annihilate/Merciless and Juyo form) that help maintain the high level of DPS will receive a 15-second extension to their cooldown, and the Juyo buff will be applicable once per second instead of every second and a half. If you've watched my raid night streams, you've seen me lament over losing these buffs just before Titan 6 lands, and I have to rebuild the stacks.
If this were the only change to Marauder, then I would be more than happy. You wouldn't see me complaining. However, we will also experience two changes that will decimate the overall effectiveness of the class.
At first, it appears that being able to grant an AoE buff to all team members from Bloodthirst (Inspiration) within 40 meters of you is a wonderful boon. When we built groups in raids before, we had to make sure that I was grouped with the DPS that would be most effective when receiving the 15% bonus to damage. After 2.5, it won't matter which group I'm in; the whole raid will be buffed. Sounds great, right? However, the whole raid will receive a debuff that will prevent raid members from being buffed from Bloodthirst again for five minutes, which is the duration of the cooldown for that ability. This means any given raid group will need only one Marauder. Our group, which has two, will have to weigh the overall DPS of having a second Marauder versus having another DPS class entirely. Although I don't foresee one of us being cut from the group, our overall effectiveness will absolutely be hampered.
Secondly, the Marauder's panic button, Undying Rage (Guarded by the Force), still cuts the Marauder's health in half, but instead of dumping health when the player hits the button, Undying Rage now waits until after the duration of the effect. Oftentimes, I will hit Undying Rage, which reduce my overall damage taken by 90% for four seconds, then pop a med stim. On top of that, healers could easily restore my health before the Undying four seconds is up. Now, healers will have to pay closer attention to the buffs so that they know not to heal me until my Undying buff is gone, and I will have to count to four before popping my med stim. Essentially, BioWare has made this ability unnecessarily difficult to recover from.
On the flip side, the Operative isn't being nerfed enough. I am aware that Concealment (Scrapper) needs love in the PvE department, but in PvP, we need some reduction in power on both the healing and DPS sides.
Ensuring that the cover mechanic doesn't stop a Marauder or Juggernaut leap is certainly a step in the right direction, but it doesn't affect the most powerful and overused ability in the Operative's arsenal. Even if cover abilities are taken away from the Operative, he can still roll out of combat range for melee classes in just two clicks (and for ranged classes, three clicks) of the roll ability. By my count on my Operative, I have a total of six rolls until I completely run out of energy. Since there is no cooldown on the ability, I can be out of range of everyone in about three seconds. I don't mind this ability being quick, but at least give it a few second cooldown so that it's a defensive maneuver and not the best PvP defensive cooldown.
I will admit one good thing BioWare has committed to with the Operative. Since launch, it's been more feasible and practical for an Operative (or any Agent, for that matter) to avoid using Overload Shot (Quick Shot). Although the damage output was certainly decent, the overall DPS was compromised because it cost far too much energy; other abilities like Rifle Shot (Flurry of Bolts) were far more effective overall. But in Update 2.5, BioWare intends to increase the damage of this ability. Hopefully, the damage increase will justify the energy spent; otherwise, it might be better to just decrease the energy usage and keep the damage the same.
If you missed last week's discussion on the 2.5 changes to the Inquisitor, be sure to read up on those changes as well, then let me hear your thoughts and fill in the blanks in the comments. I'll see you next week.
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!