Sunday, November 09, 2008

CoH: I13 Epic / Patron power changes

Now that Issue 13 is in open beta, I figured it was time to go over some of the changes that are in the game right now. One of the major changes is that Hero Epic and Villain Patron powers are getting some reworks. Epic and Patron powers are player powers that become available once the player achieves level 41.

As I understood the Epic powers back in I7 when I got my first 50 they were basically intended to round out various weaknesses in various builds, giving classes like Defenders and Controllers some protection against damage; giving Tanks and Scrappers some ranged damage or extra accuracy; and basically turning trigger happy blasters into maniacal weapons of destruction. Just trust me on this, Blasters get a bunch of awesome epic powers, ranging from the debuffing cold mastery that my Archery / Fire blaster took, to an extra nuke, to a sniping nuke, to a self rez.

The big problem with the Hero Epic powers is that for many classes, only one or two of the Epic power sets available made any actual sense. A good case in point is the Controller archtype which typically lacks any status protection, force field and sonic field controllers to the side. The Epic Psionic set gives Controllers some protection against status effects, as well as helping to shore up direct and aoe damage. A defenders biggest problem is the sheer lack of damage, and they get a Power Boost as an Epic power choice. Scrappers and Tanks typically have a bit more flexibility, but by and large, most Scrappers and Tanks go after Focussed Accuracy because it doesn't matter how much damage you do, if you can't hit it will not matter. The Blaster class is really the only archtype where it didn't matter what players picked, the choices were pretty much all good.

Then came Villain Patron powers which were... well... confusing. The Villain Patron powers didn't clearly shore up any obvious weaknesses in each archtype. In fact, I know a lot of villain players that decided to just skip the Patron power sets. Granted, I only have one 50 villain, and it's a stalker, where as I have 50's in tanks, blasters, controllers, and defenders. Speaking for myself, as a stalker, I really don't need a summon pet that I have no control over when, where, or what it attacks. Okay, I can appreciate having a decent hold as a stalker, and yeah, there are times when being able to snipe from range while being invisible has it's advantages. However, I really didn't have a choice. Pretty much all the Patron sets for stalkers consisted of a short ranged attack, a sniper shot, a hold, then a pet summon.

Players in Grandville could also check out the Patron powers that other classes got, and it was pretty much the same. No matter which Villain Patron you went with, be it Captain Mako, Ghost Widow, Scirocco, or the Scorpion, the powers each archtype got were pretty much all the same for each Patron. Compared to the Hero side where even the most limited archtype, scrappers, still had 3 drastically different sets to choose from.

For reference, scrappers can take Body Master, which offers extra accuracy, an endurance usage buff, and two ranged attacks; Darkness Master, which offers a hold and 3 ranged attacks including a group immobilize; or Weapon Mastery, which has 3 ranged attacks and a mob slow.

With Issue 13, a lot of the Epic and Patron powers are changing. If you don't mind the CoH Forums, the full list of powers is located here.

Some of the changes directly affect characters I have. A good case in point would be my archery / fire blaster which has the Cold Mastery set. One of the current Cold Mastery powers is flash freeze, which does a quick hold that can be broken by any more attacks. Pointless on a class that does nothing but attack. Well, flash freeze is gone, being replaced by the Health Buff power, Hoarfrost.

Tanks are also getting a rework, with their epic sets getting various debuffs, such as Melt Armor, Shiver, and Quicksand.

One of my older builds on the test server was still specced for the Pyre Mastery set, and I also have a Thermal Radiation controller, so I decided to check out the Melt Armor for tanks.

Well. It's not good. It's actually really bad. To set up how bad the Epic power is against the normal power, I did a comparison of various Epic powers against their normal cousins on other archtypes at about lvl 41.

As always, click on the picture for the full size version. A side note before we start. I know these pictures are cropped. I forced myself to use Vista to put these together, and... no other way around it. Vista's handling of grabbing images from the frame-buffer is the worst Microsoft has managed yet.

First up, the Controller power of char

The Tanker version doesn't look so hot, pun intended. It does less damage, and has a much longer recharge time, works for less time, but the status magnitude effect is about the same. From a status effect point, the Tank is about 30% down on effect time when comparing the controllers 21 second effect to the tanks 13 second effect.

So how about the controller power of Shiver?

Compared to the Controller, a Tank isn't that bad off on shiver. The recharge time is actually faster, while the endurance usage goes up a bit. Once again, the overall status effect is down by about 30%, comparing the ~80% debuff against the ~50% debuff, around 40% on length of effect comparing the 18 second effect time versus the 10 second effect time.

Okay, lets take a look at another debuff, the Freezing Rain from the controller Storm set.

Surpisingly, at 41, the damage between the Controller version and the Tank version is the same. The status effect also remains consistent with an average difference of 30-40% on the length of the status effect, and the strength of the status effect.

For a tank then, most Epic debuffs seem to fall within 40% to 30% of the effect that a controller using the same power. So what about attacks?

Well, lets check out the Blaster Fire Blast.

At 78 points of damage on average to 51 points of damage, the Fire Blast power is staying well within the expected delta of 30% to 40% drop.

Okay, how about Energy Torrent?

59 points of damage on average versus 39 points of damage again holds true to a difference around 30%, and actually falls on the high 20's side. Granted, the slightly higher damage comes at the price of a little less... I don't mean little. I mean a lot less knockback. However, the tank's attack will always do knockback, where as the blaster power only has a chance of knocback.

How about a power that's not native to blasters, but is still ranged? Well, Tanks can get Laser Beam Eyes, and as far as I saw, there was no direct equivalent in the other normal archtypes.

However, the Peacebringer Epic Set has a Glinting Eye attack...

In fact, it's pretty much the exact same power. The only numerical differences appear in the recharge time, 4 seconds versus 6 seconds; the debuff, 18% versus 14%; and endurance cost, 5.20 versus 6.50; which all fall on the 20% side of 30%.

So, overall then, players can expect their Epic Tank powers to have an average of 30% difference versus getting the power natively on another archtype.

Or can they?

Melt Armor Controller

Melt Armor Tanker

The word you are looking for is OUCH. The status effect is the WRONG SIDE of 60% difference.

Word of advice to the developers? Get consistent with the epic powers. Melt Armor is just outright tacky.
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