This is the final part of this series of articles. This last one will be having a quick look at Hunter gear mechanics but the majority will be sharing my own ideas of what may help fix Hunter and maybe improve the game in general.
Hunter’s weapon gears are a mixture of “nice to have” to “absolutely essential for the weapon to even function”. From dealing a bit of extra damage to entirely changing the mechanics of a weapon’s attacks.
Hunter has a new skill coming its way in the form of Fury Gear Up. For 5 skill points, you can increase the speed at which weapon gear is acquired (Hunter main only). This is at the rate of a 20% additional boost as far as I am aware. Is that significant? My gut says no, but I’ll withhold opinion on that until it’s finally out. It does directly address one of Hunter’s issues, but it also perpetuates the issue of Fury Stance taking up too many skill-points.
But yeah, from a practical standpoint Hunter could definitely use help with the way its weapon gears work, particularly for Partisan and Sword.
Wired Lance I really don’t have any personal issues with in its current state, acquisition is fast and can be chosen to be spent on grappling moves. Some Wired Lance Photon Arts will benefit from having gear charges, as it will boost their power by 20%.
Partisan’s acquisition rate is fast but awkward, requiring the player to remain in place while the animation finishes or until it’s been charged through standing there twirling the weapon (doing it this way freezes PP regeneration however). Once filled, it does increase the area of effect of most attacks by a considerable margin, which is OK but in the current environment I feel they could go further with it. They could either increase the damage geared Partisan does or increase the area of effect further still.
Sword has the most issues. It takes too long to charge it (unless you are soloing) and then, for practical purposes, it depletes too quickly. Attacking a high level Kartagot as a test, I found that it took 12 hits with a sword to charge the gear fully, or 9 hits to get it to level 3. Sword is not a weapon that swings particularly fast, so building it with normal attacks on a single target is sluggish. I measured the time it takes for a fully charged gear gauge to deplete to 0 at around 30 seconds. That seems like a very long time, but remember that between spawns this can easily be hit. Not only that, but you will be downgraded to 2nd gear during that, which will impair your ability enough but not nearly as badly as no gear. Remember that you also have to keep hitting things in order to keep your gauge filled, which when enemies are either being mown down by Katana area of effect, ranged attacks, or they’re being blown around by various control effects is a very difficult task indeed. Sword is a weapon that’s dependent on building enough gear to stay on top of things and now it simply can’t do it. I think the real painful thing about it right now is that even after warming the weapon up it’s still inferior to other options right now…
Sword and Partisan also recover PP too slowly per attack. This is to offset their ability to hit plenty of targets at once, presumably, but having enemies bunched up to hit when other attacks can just fill the area with damage seems somewhat pointless. Sword’s normal attacks do at least hit plenty hard, unlike Partisan.
I propose then, that Swords and Partisans gain gear more quickly. That Sword’s gear depletes much more slowly. That Partisans in particular gain more PP per attack. That Sword’s charged attacks don’t take a whopping 5 seconds to charge up without gear (seriously who thought that was a good idea?).
The rest of this post is just going to be my ideas on how to improve the class and maybe help the general game out by proxy. This is just my opinions, there’ doubtlessly things i haven’t considered and I am no master of game balance so I can’t with confidence say that if my ideas were implemented they wouldn’t go on to cause their own issues.
Actual things on the horizon
Hunter so far only has two fixes incoming for it. Level 16 Over End and Slide End are getting buffed. That’s it.
How much of an impact this will have depends entirely on the nature of the buffs themselves, but I don’t expect the overall standing of Hunter to change at all, because this doesn’t help fix their biggest issues. Nor does it do anything about the toxic Fury Stance.
As I’ve said previously, Hunter’s skill tree really makes the class its own worst enemy. Requiring too many points in order to fill out Fury Stance and providing too much of a bonus to other classes that Hunter can’t enjoy as much as a main class.
As such, I propose that Fury Stance be nerfed. Now you may be thinking I’m crazy at this point, because Hunter is already out-performed as it is but hear me out. Firstly, make it cost only a total of 30 skill points to max it out. Secondly, reduce the damage bonus it grants, Now, naturally, Hunter’s damage would take a huge hit from this too. As such, all of Hunter’s attacks would need to be buffed. Fighter’s attacks would also need to be buffed, as it’s currently balanced around it. Yes, this would also mean some Katana Photon Arts would need help. Let’s not forget that before Shunka Shunran and Hatou Rindou that Katanas were a complete joke (aside the impressive coverage of Kanran Kikyou and decent focused damage of Sakura Endo). Let’s also not forget that our melee classes are having to compete with the ranged classes. The actual amounts, I’m not confident enough with my number crunching to say.
The game as a whole would potentially benefit hugely if Fury Stance were brought down. Imagine a PSO2 in which Braver/Fighter was a viable option? Or even Fighter/Braver. Perhaps even Gunner/Fighter, or Gunner/Braver? Ranger/Fighter or Ranger/Braver? Instead of locked to Fighter/Hunter, Gunner/Hunter and Braver/Hunter (which would still be viable options, just not the only ones). I’m not naive of course, I’m well aware that if one combination did say 5% more damage overall than another the player-base would flock to it as the new flavor of the month. Doubtless it’d be a delicate re-balancing act on Sega’s part but one that needs to happen.
I’ll take this opportunity to wish for Techer to become a viable sub at that, because it is absurdly fun for some reason.
From Hunter’s point of view, having Fury only cost 30 points has the benefit of allowing it to spend 40 (45 after the next patch) points in any other skills it desires. There are certain issues with the way the tree is laid out (the defense side of the tree does also need an absurd number of points for certain skills) but it’d least allow Hunters to actually have the opportunity to choose from some of its more interesting skills. Not only that, but freeing up those points would allow Hunter as a sub-class to also present more interesting options to its main class, in the form of powerful survival skills. Imagine a PSO2 where the choice between say Ranger/Hunter and Ranger/Fighter is “I may do slightly more damage as one, but I am more guaranteed to survive if I go with the other”. Naturally, in that situation for competitive time-attack everyone would just switch to Fighter sub…
Seriously. Nerf Fury Stance.
It can’t be said enough. Nerf Fury Stance!
Re-Establish the role.
If Sega wants Hunter to be the area-of-effect melee specialist there is nothing inherently wrong with that. It’s just to achieve this end, you actually have to give the class the tools to fulfill that role, because right now it just doesn’t seem to have them. If this means significantly altering how Hunter weapon Photon Arts work then so be it. Do it. Because right now the difference in coverage between Hunter weapons and a Katana is just absurd.
Just Guard + Just Counter should be inherent to Hunter weapons. Sega made equivalents inherent to other weapons, so why not? Why is Hunter the only class that has to pay for it?
Gotta Go Fast(er)
Hunters were designed in an era where monsters and bosses were much slower. There are situations now where Hunters may find it tricky to get any attacks in without having to mitigate damage somehow. This will only get worse if enemies get faster in newer difficulties to come. It can lead to situations where the choices are Just-Guarding, Step-cancelling your slow attacks or dying. Nothing wrong with that on its own as long as attacking becomes an option often enough to take bosses down in a reasonable time-span (skill permitting). As the slowest of the three melee-types right now, Hunter may need some adjustments to help it cope with faster and faster enemies going forward.
What about Guard Stance?
I gotta throw my hands up here. I have no idea how Guard Stance could be fixed with the game the way it is now. It needs it, because right now it’s kind of completely useless, but the exact how I’m not sure of. At the very least I think fusing both Flash Guards and Tech Guard into Guard Stance would be a good start. For me, that would seem like a reasonable thing to gain in exchange for giving up almost all of your damage, related to which I think it’d be good to remove the outgoing damage penalty as it’s redundant. By switching from Fury Stance you’re already giving up damage.
And that’s all my thoughts on the problems that Hunter faces in the current game. As always, these are just thoughts and there may be numerous issues I’m not considering or things I did consider that aren’t really problems at all. This is of course also not to say that Hunter is the only class with problems or the class with the most problems. Balance in this game is more than just a mess, it’s an embarrassment that Sega let it get out of control as they did (and non-communication between departments really is no excuse).
Sega has said that they will be putting work in addressing balance issues and that it will take time to do it right. It certainly is something worthy of careful thought, but right now PSO2′s classes aren’t just imbalanced, they show no plausible sign of ever becoming reasonably so. So far, I also worry that they may not ever fix some of the more glaring issues with the classes. Will we see drastic changes to Hunter’s tree? To Ranger’s godawful tree? What about Techer? Fighter’s is also kind of a mess too. For Hunter, will we finally be able to perform the role of area-of-effect melee or will we always be shit Bravers?
I guess in the coming months we’ll see.