The second part of this series of articles sharing my thoughts on the problems that Hunter currently faces, in light of upcoming balance changes. This part will be focusing on Fury Stance.
Fury stance is a curse to the game in general, but I argue no class feels it more than Hunter. It’s the main reason for almost anyone to have Hunter as a subclass. Fury Stance is a tremendous damage buff to both melee and ranged classes (it offers no benefit to Teching classes at all). The actual damage bonus is multiplicative, which means that all of the bonuses are multiplied together to derive the actual percentage that’s applied to your damage. If you’re unaware of the numbers involved, here they are:
- Fury Stance: 125%/110% (striking/ranged)
- Just Attack Bonus 1: 110%
- Just Attack Bonus 2: 110%
- Just Attack Combo: 120%
- Fury Stance Up 1: 110%
- Fury Stance Up 2: 110%
Multiply them together!
Melee bonus: 1.25 * 1.1 * 1.1 * 1.2 * 1.1 * 1.1 = 219.6%
Ranged bonus: 1.1 * 1.1 * 1.1 * 1.2 * 1.1 * 1.1 = 193.2%
As a subclass, Hunter nearly doubles ranged damage output and more than doubles melee damage output. What’s more is this comes with almost no penalty whatsoever. Compare to Fighter Stances which offer bonuses to damage with positional restrictions, but don’t offer nearly as much damage as this.
But surely Hunter has access to this as well, so what’s the problem?
Actually, it doesn’t. See, as a subclass, you can afford to throw every single skillpoint into Fury Stance and its related skills with no problem. As I explained in the last post, Hunter has a number of skills that greatly enhance its overall survivability. All of these skills however will have a hugely negative impact on your outgoing damage, which is a significant problem not only from a competitive point of view but it also effectively reduces your survivability. A dead enemy is less of a threat than a live enemy. It is much easier to survive a boss when it dies in 1 minute as opposed to 10.
The reason this occurs is because of the amount of skill points the Fury tree eats up. To max it, you will need to spend 70 skill points total. Right now, at cap players have 75 points available to them. That only leaves 5 points for Hunter to invest in skills that aren’t “do more damage”. FIVE. Let’s ignore all of the cool survival skills and consider just the more vital portions of the class, such as Just-Guard. Step-Attack is a more essential skill for combat, but that can be covered by a subclass.
Just-Guard modifies the guard effect of all Hunter’s weapons, changing it to consume no PP and nullify all damage. A very powerful survival skill for instances where stepping to avoid damage may be dangerous or impractical. It costs 4 skill points to obtain it. If you take this, there will only be 1 skill point to spend elsewhere. What makes matters worse is that 3 non-Hunter melee weapons effectively get this skill for free. Fighter’s Knuckles and Daggers both have something that works like Just-Guard without requiring any skill points, with one dodging and another parrying all incoming attacks (if the time between them is short enough). Note that neither of these effective variants of Just-Guard are direction dependent as they will nullify damage from all directions, not just the front. However, the catch is that the timing on them is much more precise. Katana of course gets Just-Guard and even Just-Counter for free.
Speaking of which, remember those gear skills I mentioned earlier which boost the effectiveness of Hunter’s weapons? What if you wanted all gears, as you use all the weapons where they perform the best. Well Partisan and Wired Lance are both on the Fury side of the tree anyway, so those are just 1 point each. Sword however is buried under two skills, requiring all 5 of your spare skill points to take. In other words, if you want all weapon gears you’re going to have to give up some damage.
The point I’m illustrating here is that Hunter has to give up 10% of its damage, or that last 1.1, reducing its outgoing damage to 199.6%. This would free up an additional 15 skill points (an absurd amount for that remaining 10% I’d say), allowing Hunter to grab all its gears, Just Guard and even Step Attack if it wanted. Let’s not forget that 30 s-atk for one point skill, otherwise known as Rare Mastery. It could take all that and still have a couple of points left over!
Regardless of how much you may personally value some of the skills I’ve mentioned, the fact Fury Stance eats up 70/75 skill points is the absurd part from Hunter main’s point of view and it effectively makes Hunter its own worst enemy. The reason Braver and Gunner are so strong is mostly thanks to Fury Stance. None of their native skills come even close to the strength that Fury Stance imbues onto them, perhaps not even the mighty Shunka Shunran. I am not saying that Shunka Shunran or S-Roll JA Bonus aren’t in need of re-thinking, because they are, but I argue those skills are much less impactful than this one.
In the third and final part, I will be looking at ways I feel the class could be improved, as well as the issues with gear gauges.