Hyperspace Beacon: Concerns about SWTOR's 3.0 combat

Hyperspace Beacon: Concerns about SWTOR 3.0 combat

BioWare has finally begun revealing the specifics of the Discipline system landing in the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion. We have seen the Bounty Hunter, Trooper, Inquisitor, and Consular paths. We have seen in detail how the Discipline system changes the leveling process in SWTOR. We've seen that tanks become tanky faster; we've seen that healers gain healing abilities earlier in the leveling process. A primary goal of the new system has been to ensure advanced classes learn role-specific abilities earlier without worrying about those abilities being exploited by hybridization.

With characters now able to level to 60, BioWare gave each advanced class at least one new ability. For instance, Deception Assassins gain Ball Lightning, a 10-meter ranged ability that inflicts 2652 to 2780 damage and costs 32 Force. Many of the new abilities were specifically designed to make your character feel more powerful, which makes sense, right? You should feel that your character is growing with each level. But do these changes and additions actually make you feel more powerful, or are they just unnecessary impedences to the current priority flow or rotation?


I have always found Madness-specced Assassin and Sorcerer a lot of fun, even when it was one of the least popular builds because its damage frankly stank. But I never ran a Sorcerer nor Assassin in a raid situation except for the unfortunate times that I healed. However, I did run both advanced classes multiple times in flashpoints and loved PvPing on my madness Assassin.

The difficult thing for Madness-specced Inquisitors was keeping track of DoTs. Thankfully, the developers have now added a highlight on the enemy's debuff bar that shows you which effects are yours. You can even arrange the debuffs so that yours appear first in succession. However, despite my enjoyment of DoT classes, I'm not a fan of staring at buff bars the whole time. That's why I've developed a synergy with my DoTs. Although I'm a bit out of practise now, I have been able to instinctually know when to hit the next DoT. I could also know when my Force power was low without having to stare at my energy bar the whole time. For me, the ultimate goal of any class is to still maximize the rotation without having to constantly keep my eye on the UI.

I've never liked playing a Powertech or Vanguard, but I do have a Mercenary and Commando that I've healed with and played as arsenal and gunnery specced roles. And although they weren't my favorite classes, I do understand their rotations well enough to do group content. Of all the Advanced classes, arsenal-specced Mercs and gunnery-specced Commandos have best ability synergy. Of course, it helps that those two classes have the fewest useful abilities in their rotations, but the abilities also flow one into the other. And with the visuals on the character, there isn't really any reason to ever have to look at your toolbar except to look at your health.

Sharing cooldowns

Lightning Flash Gif From

Each of these disciplines have abilities that replace an existing ability. And to be frank, I don't exactly understand why the developers would do that. Each of the existing abilities has purchasable upgrades as it is. Why not just add a discipline passive ability that augments the existing ability?

A guildie explained that these abilities were different, and so to give them the same name might confuse things. Plus, the new abilities have completely different animation and effects. I do have to humbly admit that the lightning flash animation is far better than shock.

Resource management

However, my biggest concern is not the animations, the power, or the shared cooldown; it has to do with the resources. At the top end, Bioware added more powerful and more costly abilities, but we have yet to see any class that is getting any new resource regen abilities.

It's true that most classes don't have resource issues now because we've had over a year to figure it all out and have learned the tricks to keeping our resources in check. However, there are still some classes that don't output optimal DPS or healing because of resource usage.

As much as I like the BioWare livestreams for showing off the new abilities, there is a lack of true demonstration because the target is a target dummy, and it's also not in a group setting. I'm curious whether there will be some classes whose top-level ability will actually become detrimental to its overall damage or healing output.


This brings me back to the synergy of the class. Like I mentioned above, certain classes have a good feel to them. A player can know instinctively when to hit a certain ability. Although I'm not as familiar with the Inquisitor or Bounty Hunter classes, I know that if you follow a pattern of damage output, you will never have to worry about running out resources. I know this pattern for an arsenal Merc and a madness Sorc. But on more than one occasion, I've messed it up on an arsenal Merc, and it's cost me a lot of DPS. Adding another ability could ultimately ruin that synergy.

I don't want to give the impression that I don't want new abilities. I loved some of the additions to 2.0. In fact, most of the abilities actually added to the class. For instance, double saber-throw is a part of the Marauder's regular rotation now. Other abilities aren't used regularly, like the Sorc bubble, but overall the abilities in 2.0 didn't take anything away from the classes. Admittedly, some didn't add to the classes either. (I'm looking at you, phase walk.)

I'm concerned that these new 3.0 abilties will require some re-learning of our classes and could totally throw off how we play our favorite class -- that maybe it won't be our favorite anymore.

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your biweekly guide to the vast galaxy of BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!