Bouncer: My Fears.

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Some details about Bouncer’s skills have been revealed. By some I really do mean a select few details, which you can read about on Bumped here. As we don’t know all that much this post will just be my speculative worries about what could go wrong with the class.

Craft Mastery

Description: Boosts the power of crafted weapons.

Given that all classes can use crafted weaponry this seems like an unusual skill to give to a single class. Perhaps the designers consider it a method to make crafted weapons better if you were to take Bouncer as a sub-class? While that may be true, there are some potential issues with this I feel.

First, we don’t really have any idea what they mean by “boosted power”. If it’s just attack power then it remains potentially useless as crafted weaponry has some immense damage variance. I won’t go into detail if you don’t know much about it, but suffice to say it means the damage output of crafted weapons is remarkably unreliable. This could be circumvented if you could get your critical hit rate high enough though, which may make another Bouncer skill by the name of “Critical Field” quite relevant. Critical hits in PSO2 don’t work like they do in most other RPGs/MMOs, as instead of granting a damage bonus on hit they just do the maximum damage your current attack power can do with a given attack, effectively cancelling variance.

Of course, the possibility remains that the skill may do something about this variance, which then threatens the game in an entirely different way. If it’s too good, it makes higher rank weapons pointless. If this is combined with any boost to attack this skill could do, it could make Bouncer a mandatory subclass for all classes. Not a fun outcome, but due to how 10* and 11* equipment rely on players spending money on the game (in order to buy them from other players) this kind of outcome seems vanishingly unlikely.

Break Stance

Description: Boosts damage dealt to breakable parts on enemies.

Really just two questions about this stance: How much is the damage boost? Does the boost persist after you have broken the part?

To me, it seems unlikely that the answer to the 2nd question will be “yes” due to how the game works. A breakable part on a boss is a different hit-box entirely. That is to say. Quartz Dragon’s crystal nose is not the same as its exposed squishy nose. That said, something like Vol Dragon’s face may or may not be considered “breakable” given how its hit-box will also disappear once you pass a certain damage threshold. It depends on how the game internally defines what is breakable and what isn’t, as of course the skill will use that data to determine if the damage boost applies. If it’s more flexible in this definition than I expect, then Break Stance could be extremely effective at killing bosses.

Well, it could be anyway. This rather depends on the answer to the first question, to which the answer is “we don’t know”. The damage bonus could be so much that it out-does Weak Stance as a boss killer or it could be so bad it isn’t worth bothering with. If it is bad and only applies to what we understand as breakable parts then the stance would be almost utterly worthless. The worst case scenario for me is if it were something like +50% damage and it was liberal about what it defines as breakable…

Elemental Stance

Description: Boosts the damage dealt to an enemy if you use a weapon with an element that they are weak to.

Essentially this is Element Weak Hit, the stance. If you’re using a fire weapon on enemies weak to fire, you’ll boost your damage. This stance seriously worries me, as I feel it has the potential to do the most damage to the game out of all of Bouncer’s skills.

If this boost is too weak, or around the 20% range, then it clashes with Element Weak Hit too much. Element Weak Hit is a passive skill, making it essentially a free stance. This would suck for Bouncer but it wouldn’t threaten the game.

It being too strong sounds like an obvious thing to worry about, but I’m going to tell you why I think that this could threaten the game more than even Fury Stance. See, if it greatly boosts your damage if you use the correct element, then it also boosts the effectiveness of weapons which also have a latent ability that does the same. One such latent ability is “Ancient Oath”, which boosts the damage dealt by 14% for striking an enemy’s elemental weakness. As it happens, there aren’t many weapons that have this latent but this could change going into the future. The issue this creates is the new top-end could be to take Elemental Stance and equip a rainbow selection of the highest available weapon with Ancient Oath in your given class. Essentially it tuns the game into Phantasy Star Universe. I don’t know about you, but I find the idea of having to find at least 4 copies of the same difficult to obtain weapon, +40 each of them and affix them all accordingly to be a bit of an obnoxious task to undertake. Unless of course you have bottomless pockets of Meseta which is related to my final point in this paragraph. The essential reason why I worry that this skill could make the game worse is it could make the gap between best and decently geared players even more severe than it is. For a lot of players, the top end already feels unattainable due to the layers of random numbers involved. To have that multiplied by several times just seems unreasonable to me. It’s difficult enough, I argue.

This stance may have strong synergy with Force’s skill. “Element Conversion”. If it’s too powerful, this may make Bouncer a mandatory subclass for Force, returning us to a time where Fire and Lightning techs rule the Teching side of the game. OK, ice techs may have a place too if the re-balance adjusts them accordingly.

Again though, this is speculation based on my own fears about how things could go wrong.  It may just be a minor power boost over using a non-elemental power boosting stance (with an Ancient Oath weapon), in which case people are still having to get a rainbow selection of weapons but now they’re spending hundreds of millions of Meseta on something marginally better instead of significantly. The gap between best and decent wouldn’t be changed much.

Deband PP Restorate

Description: Boosts PP regenerated per attack while Deband is active.

The damage this skill could do to the game seems limited on its own, it really depends on how much the bonus is and how strong the above skills are. This skill could make the above worse by allowing people to use Photon Arts more frequently on top of the bonuses the other skills may grant.

Closing Thoughts

While the balance changes announced during the last broadcast are for the most part interesting and do sound like they could go a fair way towards balancing things, I worry that they may not be balancing Bouncer along with them. I just hope they are carefully considering the power of the skills involved, not just so we don’t end up with new overpowered builds but also so that Bouncer actually can compete with the other classes.

New Class: Bouncer

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During the broadcast, a new class was announced. That class is Bouncer. The rest of this article probably won;t be stating the obvious quite so much.

Alright, so this one really kinda came out of the blue. There was no data in the client at all which suggested that a new class was coming, nevermind additional weapon types for such a class. The client has plenty of space for new classes, so them adding one at all is less of a surprise. Through speculation and pondering which classes Sega would add next, I doubt “Bouncer” ever entered anyone’s minds. Let’s see the trailer dedicated to the class:

Bouncer is a hybrid melee/teching class which… hm. This sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

While the preface sure makes it sound like the already existing hybrid melee/teching class, Techer, the trailer clearly shows it plays nothing like it. Techer’s melee portion is really just the ability to bonk things with a wand. Normal attacks. Unlike Techer, Bouncer has access to photon arts for its striking weapons.

The class’s native weapons are Dual Blades and Jet Boots. That’s right, Twin Sabers are back and stabbier than ever if the demonstration is anything to go by. Dual Blades are a pure melee weapon, whereas Jet Boots are a hybrid melee/teching weapon which allows you to er, cast spells with your feet.

Dual Blades

As a striking weapon, Dual Blades seem to be remarkably nimble. As agile, if not more so, than Twin Daggers I would say, with similar amounts of airtime between the two weapons. There does seem to be a mechanical difference between the two weapon classes however, that being an array of photon weapons that the player seems to surround themselves with. This is plausibly the weapons “gears” mechanic.

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Aside stabbing things, I’m not sure what these photon blades actually do. The trailer shows the character embedding a Rockbear with numerous of these blades, however I don’t believe they ever show the purpose of this. Can the player detonate them for extra damage, for example?

Jet Boots

Goddamn Jet Boots. We’re really Sci-Fi now! Much like Dual Blades, these are also very agile weapons with plenty of air-time. Jet Boots will allow players to double-jump.

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The weapons will automatically cast support techs, as well as allow you to cast techs with them in general. The exact mechanism behind auto-support casting isn’t known.

Really, Jet Boots weren’t even on the radar as far as potential future Teching weapons go. Looking back on the series, the only weapon type I imagined would fill this role would be Slicers (given their role in Phantasy Star Zero as casting weapons).

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Jet boots allow for aerial tech casting, holding the user in the air while charging. Forgive the poor quality of the image as it is captured from a stream, but it shows the player charging an Ilfoie whilst mid-air. Being able to charge such a tech with increased safety may prove interesting…

Thoughts

So we have two more very agile melee weapons,

With regard potential sub-classes, it partly depends on stats. If for example, Dual Blades are purely S-atk based striking damage then, under the current environment, Hunter would be by far the best subclass choice.

Rumour has it that Jet Boots ate T-atk based, but I can’t find the source to confirm this. Should this be true, it then depends on if the damage from melee attacks with Jet Boots counts as striking damage. If it does, then Hunter still remains the best choice even if specializing in the weapon as it offers the highest modifiers for striking damage. If, however, all Jet Boot attacks are counted as teching damage, then Hunter will offer pretty much nothing! In that case, Fighter and Braver (Weak Stance) become the better options. Oh my, imagine a Bouncer/Fighter. You’d be able to kick things with legs of fire and then switch to Knuckles to punch things with fists of fire. Kick, punch, it’s all in the mind! Of course, augmenting their support abilities could be achieved through Techer, as well as Force offering the most augmentation for attack Techs.

The Jet Boots image posted above shows a firey effect, but I don’t know if this is attached to casting techs or may be an effect on a given Photon Art or maybe by weapon gear. Watching the video, it seems to be the former.

If I’m interpreting an interview correctly, it seems one of the ideas behind the class is to make it easier to support players in the midst of all the action. So its like Techer, but better because it doesn’t need to do that thing where it stops attacking in order to support other players. I can’t help but wonder where Techer is gonna fit into the game after the introduction of this class? As a main class, Techer still has the strongest support skills and it can apply them for the longest amount of time per cast, so really it comes down to wether or not Bouncer has skills that augment the strength and effectiveness of support techs.

In any case, this is the second true hybrid class to be added to the game. Where Braver was a hybrid melee/shooting type, Bouncer is a hybrid melee/magic type. Doesn’t really tax the imagination to imagine that the next class to be announced may be a shooting/magic type.

Also I am going to say it, Bouncer is a really odd name for a class. No wierder than “Braver” I suppose but still pretty odd!