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SWTOR Developer Blog: Sith Inquisitor and Jedi Consular class changes in 2.0

SWTOR.com developer blog covering changes to the Sith Inquisitor and Jedi Consular classes in patch 2.0

Developer Update: Sith Inquisitor Class Changes

Hello everyone. My name is Austin Peckenpaugh, and I’m a Senior Designer on Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, responsible for class design and combat systems. As such, I’m here to shed some light on the changes to the Sith Inquisitor class in Game Update 2.0.

We’ll be writing about recent class changes coming to The Old Republic, but this time we’re going a little more in depth and taking on one class (for both factions) at a time.

Combat Systems

Alacrity Improvements: One of the big changes to combat systems is the way that Alacrity works. Prior to this update, Alacrity came with a tradeoff for some classes, and it was nearly useless to other classes. The faster you attacked, the more resources you would spend, and that only worked if you had channeled abilities or abilities with activation times.

Now, Alacrity will increase the activation speed of all abilities, including instants. We haven’t just shortened the global cooldown, either. When activating any ability quicker, its animation will also play quicker. This makes some attacks look and sound very cool. Furthermore, Alacrity increases resource regeneration by the same rate, helping you to recuperate resources more quickly as you spend them more quickly. Now more Alacrity is strictly a good thing.

DoT Improvements: We’ve changed the way we evaluate damage over time effects, so it should now be less costly to keep your DoTs up and to spread them around.

Shield Improvements: We’ve changed the way shields work to allow them to absorb any incoming kinetic or energy damage regardless of the source (melee, ranged, Force, tech – doesn’t matter). This has significantly increased the importance of shields, and the game has been rebalanced to account for such a major adjustment.

Accuracy Matters: In 2.0, all Elite (gold star) and tougher enemies will have additional defense chances against Force and tech attacks. As a result, Accuracy Rating will play a pivotal role in optimizing your sustained damage in boss fights. Prior to 2.0, Accuracy Rating was valued very differently from class to class (or even spec to spec), and while it’s still different for each class or spec, that difference is now much smaller. In effect, all damage-dealing roles will find Accuracy Rating much more useful than before.

Sorcerer

  • Better Dark Heal: Previously the difference between Dark Heal and Dark Infusion wasn’t as obvious or meaningful as we’d have liked. Now, Dark Heal costs 70 Force and heals for significantly more. Dark Heal should be a better resort when time and immediacy are of the essence, and Dark Infusion should be a better resort when Force-conservation is of the essence. Consequently, parts of the game where Force efficiency is less important, Dark Heal is just a better heal. This makes Dark Heal better for soloing and off-healing in Flashpoints and Warzones.
  • Better Static Barrier: We’ve removed the cooldown from Static Barrier so that it’s easier to protect your allies even when not spec’d in the Corruption skill tree. It still has its Deionized debuff lockout of course.
  • Baseline Polarity Shift: Polarity Shift is now available for all Sorcerers! All Sorcerers can now benefit from 10 seconds of 20% Alacrity and immunity to interrupts.
  • Force Barrier (New ability): This ability grants total immunity to all hostile effects and damage while channeled. Force Barrier can be channeled up to 10 seconds, but like any other channeled ability, you can cancel it or move out of it at any time. While channeled, incoming damage and debuffs will fail to apply.

Below are some additional details on changes made to the Sorcerer’s skill trees. Many more skills than the ones mentioned here have changed; these are really just the highlights.

Corruption

Prior to 2.0, Corruption didn’t have much in the way of unique utility. In fact, many Corruption Sorcerers forwent their high tier skills to pick up some of Lightning’s utility. This is usually a sign that things in your main skill tree aren’t attractive enough, so we set out to address that.

  • Force Suffusion: This skill has been completely redesigned. Now this skill causes your Overload to heal all affected allies for a moderate amount.
  • Corrupted Barrier: While your own Static Barrier or Force Barrier is active on yourself, you heal for a percent of your maximum health. In addition to increased survivability, this skill should help reduce the impact of managing your Force with Consumption.
  • Corrupted Speed: This new utility skill increases the duration of your Force Speed and finishes the cooldown on Force Speed when Force Barrier ends. This gives you the means to a quick getaway after using Force Barrier. When coupled with the existing Fadeout skill, you should be harder than ever to pin down.
  • Force Surge: This skill has been redesigned. Now Innervate critical hits grant 1 charge of Force Surge. Each charge can be spent on Consumption as before to make Consumption not degenerate your Force. You can now have up to 3 charges of Force Surge. Furthermore, each charge of Force Surge reduces the activation time of your next Revivification by 33.34%, such that Revivification becomes instant when spending 3 charges of Force Surge on it.
Lightning

Lightning has gotten a few major changes in 2.0 that should improve their gameplay considerably. However, we’ve also made considerations for how Lightning affects the rest of the game (other player’s gameplay) through Backlash.

  • Fixed Backlash: This effect now only triggers when a Static Barrier you put on yourself ends. Placing Static Barrier on an ally will not trigger the Backlash effect when that Static Barrier ends. Furthermore, Backlash’s control effect now breaks from direct damage. Although this change has been a long time coming, we wanted to make sure we didn’t undermine the group support role Backlash had been providing Lightning. To offset this change, we’ve made further changes to Lightning and Sorcerers to help facilitate a strong support role.
    • Lightning Swarm: This new utility skill causes Chain Lightning to slow and briefly immobilize all affected targets. With the increased chance of triggering Lightning Storm, Chain Lightning (and subsequently this effect) will be available very often.
    • Dark Heal: As previously mentioned, Dark Heal now heals for significantly more. All Sorcerers should have better spot healing or off-healing capabilities.
    • Static Barrier: As previously mentioned, Static Barrier no longer has a cooldown, making it easier to protect more allies.
  • More Lightning Storm: This skill’s proc chance has been significantly increased, and Thundering Blast now has a chance to trigger Lightning Storm for better full tree synergy.
  • Conduction: Each time this skill is triggered and stacks, the active cooldown of Polarity Shift is reduced.
  • Chaos Nexus: This new skill increases the chance that Forked Lightning will trigger while Polarity Shift is active. It additionally reduces the cooldown of Polarity Shift and increases its duration.
  • Force Haste: This new utility skill reduces the cooldowns of Force Speed, Force Slow, and Force Barrier.
  • Reverberating Force: This is now a 2-pt skill instead of a 5-pt skill. Its total effectiveness has not been changed. This change frees up more skill points for more utility.
  • Forked Darkness: This new skill gives Crushing Darkness a chance to tick twice and Thundering Blast a chance to produce a second blast, similar to Forked Lightning.
Madness (Sorcerer)
  • Force Horrors: Now affects all periodic damage dealt so that Creeping Terror better synergizes with the skill tree.
  • Deathmark: Now applies 15 charges instead of 10.
  • Death Field: Now affects up to 5 targets instead of 3.
  • Wrath: Now when this effect procs, the damage dealt by your next Crushing Darkness or Lightning Strike is increased by 35% (up from 20%).
  • Haunted Dreams: The activation time reduction on Whirlwind has been reduced in effectiveness. Previously, this skill gave Madness a lot of extra lockdown that we weren’t too pleased with, and after the introduction of Force Barrier, Madness’s ability to flee and avoid conflict exceeded acceptable levels. Now this skill reduces the activation time of Whirlwind to 1.5 seconds. The stun effect when Whirlwind ends prematurely due to damage has not been altered.
  • Lightning Burns: With this new skill, when your Force Lightning or Lightning Strike deals damage, it has a chance to deal additional energy damage after 1 second. Damage dealt by these Lightning Burns restores 2 Force (with max points).
  • Focal Lightning: This new skill gives Force Lightning and Lightning Strike a chance to build stacks of Focal Lightning, which increases Alacrity by 1%. Stacks up to 4 times.
  • Shapeless Spirit: This new utility skill reduces all damage taken by 30% while stunned. Madness has a good deal of self healing through effects like Parasitism and Death Field, but this healing isn’t on-demand and can’t counter burst at key moments. As a result, Madness is especially vulnerable to being bursted down while controlled, so we added Shapeless Spirit to help Madness’s survivability in that department.

Assassin

  • Electrostaves: Key abilities like Thrash, Voltaic Slash, and Maul can now be used with an electrostaff!
  • Discharge: This ability no longer has a cooldown for Lightning Charge or Surging Charge. Using Discharge with Dark Charge active now issues a 6-second cooldown. Dark Charge’s accuracy reduction effect from Discharge now lasts 30 seconds.
  • Overcharge Saber: This ability now immediately heals you for 15% of your maximum health, increases the damage and healing dealt by all saber charges by 100%, and increases the chance to trigger your saber charges by 35%. Lasts 15 seconds.
  • Phase Walk (New ability): Activating this ability marks your current location. This location will remain marked for up to 2 minutes. Once active, Phase Walk can be activated again to instantly return to that marked location if activated from within 60 meters of the mark. Once the return effect is triggered, Phase Walk goes on cooldown for 45 seconds. Does not break stealth.

Below are some additional details on changes made to the Assassin’s skill trees. Many more skills than the ones mentioned here have changed; these are really just the highlights.

Darkness

Darkness is a demanding tank role to play, and we’ve been hard at work trying to improve their usability without “dumbing down” their gameplay. In 2.0, the skills in the Darkness tree should do a better job of encouraging the right ability use and making playing a Darkness tank more intuitive.

  • Dark Ward: This ability no longer costs Force and now has a 15-second cooldown. It additionally now has 15 charges (up from 8).
  • Dark Bulwark: This new skill builds stacks of Dark Bulwark every time you lose a charge of Dark Ward. Each stack of Dark Bulwark increases shield absorption by 1% (with max points). Stacks up to 8 times. Lasts for 20 seconds or until Dark Ward is reactivated.
  • Hollow: This skill no longer causes Overcharge Saber to heal you (that is now a baseline effect of Overcharge Saber). Now this skill grants 25% damage reduction while Overcharge Saber is active.
  • Energize: This skill can now trigger its effect from Thrash, Maul, Lacerate, and Assassinate and only works while Dark Charge is active.
  • Electrify: Now while Dark Charge is active, Shock generates 30% more threat and costs 30% less Force (with max points).
  • Conspirator’s Cloak: This new skill gives Thrash and Assassinate a chance to proc Conspirator’s Cloak, which makes your next Maul cost 50% less Force and usable when face-to-face with your target.
  • Assassin’s Shelter: With this new skill, your Phase Walk deploys an Assassin’s Shelter around the placed mark. Those standing within the Assassin’s Shelter deal 5% additional healing.
  • Wither: Now has a 9-second cooldown (up from 7.5), costs 20 Force (down from 30), and deals slightly more damage.
Deception

Our goals with Deception for 2.0 are to improve upon their single target damage and sustained damage without adversely affecting their burst damage.

  • Surging Charge and Discharge: Prior to 2.0, Surging Charge, Static Charge, Discharge, and Recirculation had some conflicting goals. On the one hand, Recirculation let you use Discharge faster, but you usually couldn’t build up 5 Static Charges in that amount of time. In 2.0, these skills have been redesigned to work more gracefully and intuitively. Now Surging Charge has a longer rate limit and deals significantly more damage. When it deals damage, it builds a Static Charge (stacks up to 3 times). Static Charges enable the use of and increase the damage dealt by Discharge. As previously mentioned, Discharge now has no cooldown; its use is limited only by how quickly you can generate Static Charges. At 3 Static Charges, Discharge should hit for as hard or harder than ever before.
  • Induction: This skill now requires Surging Charge to be active and triggers from activating Thrash, Maul, Lacerate, Assassinate, and Voltaic Slash.
  • Chain Shock: This skill is now found in the first tier of the Deception skill tree.
  • Nerve Wracking: This skill has been moved from the Darkness tree into the Deception tree.
  • Impose Weakness: This new skill forces your Spike and Low Slash to proc Duplicity on a separate rate limit. Now after you Spike a target, you are guaranteed to be able to follow up with a powerful Maul.
  • Electric Ambush: With this new skill, while Surging Charge is active, Recklessness immediately builds 3 Static Charges to provide on demand burst. Additionally, exiting combat greatly reduces the active cooldown of Recklessness (60 seconds with max points) to make Recklessness available for almost every fight you engage in.
  • Sith Executioner: This new skill reduces the cost of Assassinate and increases all damage dealt to targets below 30% of max health.
  • Voltaic Slash: This ability has been slightly redesigned. Voltaic Slash still builds Voltage with each use, but Voltage no longer increases the damage dealt by Shock. Instead, Voltage now gives Shock a 50% chance per stack to automatically trigger your Surging Charge on a separate rate limit. Stacks up to 2 times. With this change, the damage boost to Shock has been effectively replaced by damage caused from triggering your Surging Charge, except that Surging Charge additionally builds 1 Static Charge every time it triggers. Therefore, Voltaic Slash and Shock will together help you quickly build 3 Static Charges to rapidly issue powerful Discharges.
Madness (Assassin)

Prior to 2.0, Madness Assassins had a laundry list of ability priorities. For better or worse, playing Madness correctly as an Assassin was pretty daunting and exhausting. We wanted to take 2.0 as an opportunity to reevaluate Madness’s priorities one ability at a time. We are aware that some players will be disappointed to learn that Madness’s “rotation” has been simplified as a result, but their existing gameplay left little room for growth (on our side) and little room for error (on your side).

Now in 2.0, Madness Assassins can get the same results with a smoother, less complex list of abilities and ability priorities. We like that we can make these kinds of gameplay adjustments with the time we have, but we’re also sensitive to what can be perceived as “fundamentally” changing a spec. We don’t believe we’ve fundamentally changed Madness Assassins as they are still very much drain skirmishers, but we will be keeping an eye on how Madness Assassins get played and on player feedback. We’re confident that the changes we’ve made will actually make Madness Assassins a more attractive option to players that were previously turned off by their complexity.

  • Shock, Chain Shock, and Unearthed Knowledge: Prior to 2.0, Shock served as little more than a way to apply Unearthed Knowledge. Worse, Chain Shock was actually in the Madness skill tree, which reinforced the idea that Shock was a good Madness ability. In 2.0, we’ve removed Unearthed Knowledge and moved Chain Shock into the Deception skill tree to try and paint a clearer picture. Madness Assassins no longer rely on Shock for sustained damage, but it’s still a perfectly viable ability for bursting a target down.
  • Calculating Mind and Lingering Nightmares: With the removal of Shock from a sustained damage priority list, Madness Assassins have a lot more Force available. With this in mind, Calculating Mind has been replaced with Lingering Nightmares, which increases the duration of Crushing Darkness.
  • Duplicity: Duplicity is now located further up the Deception skill tree. Previously, Duplicity was available to a fully Madness-specialized Assassin, which is something we should have never done. In general, we don’t like making gameplay-altering skills available as “low hanging fruit” in other skill trees because they alter your established gameplay after-the-fact. This isn’t so much a balance concern as it is a usability and complexity concern. In this specific case, adding Duplicity on top of a full Madness spec felt clunky. Worse, it wasn’t necessary. We’re fully capable of providing the same damage boost to players without requiring them to master additional gameplay. This change aims to do exactly that.
  • Force Horrors: Increases all periodic damage dealt by 9% (with max points). Now affects all periodic damage dealt so that Creeping Terror better synergizes with the skill tree.
  • Deathmark: Now applies 15 charges instead of 10.
  • Death Field: Now affects up to 5 targets instead of 3.
  • Haunted Dreams: The activation time reduction on Whirlwind has been reduced in effectiveness. Previously, this skill gave Madness a lot of extra lockdown that we weren’t too pleased with, and after the introduction of Phase Walk, Madness’s ability to flee and avoid conflict exceeded acceptable levels. Now this skill reduces the activation time of Whirlwind to 1.5 seconds. The stun effect when Whirlwind ends prematurely due to damage has not been altered.
  • Lightning Burns: With this new skill, when your Lightning Charge is triggered, it deals additional energy damage after 1 second. Damage dealt by these Lightning Burns restores 2 Force (with max points).
  • Bloodletting: This new skill increases the damage dealt by Death Field and all periodic damaging effects by 15% (with max points) on targets below 30% of max health.
  • Shapeless Spirit: This new utility skill reduces all damage taken by 30% while stunned. Madness has a good deal of self healing through effects like Parasitism and Death Field, but this healing isn’t on-demand and can’t counter burst at key moments. As a result, Madness is especially vulnerable to being bursted down while controlled, so we added Shapeless Spirit to help Madness’s survivability in that department.

Game Update 2.0: Scum and Villainy and the Digital Expansion: Rise of the Hutt Cartel are now live with the changes above. Please keep in mind that we are always looking at class balance so let us know how you like the changes we have made. I hope the information I could share with you today has helped shed some light on what’s changed and why we changed it. Thanks for reading!

Developer Update: Jedi Consular Class Changes

Hello everyone. My name is Austin Peckenpaugh, and I’m a Senior Designer on Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, responsible for class design and combat systems. As such, I’m here to shed some light on the changes to the Jedi Consular class in Game Update 2.0.

We’ll be writing about recent class changes coming to The Old Republic, but this time we’re going a little more in depth and taking on one class (for both factions) at a time.

Combat Systems

Alacrity Improvements: One of the big changes to combat systems is the way that Alacrity works. Prior to this update, Alacrity came with a tradeoff for some classes, and it was nearly useless to other classes. The faster you attacked, the more resources you would spend, and that only worked if you had channeled abilities or abilities with activation times.

Now, Alacrity will increase the activation speed of all abilities, including instants. We haven’t just shortened the global cooldown, either. When activating any ability quicker, its animation will also play quicker. This makes some attacks look and sound very cool. Furthermore, Alacrity increases resource regeneration by the same rate, helping you to recuperate resources more quickly as you spend them more quickly. Now more Alacrity is strictly a good thing.

DoT Improvements: We’ve changed the way we evaluate damage over time effects, so it should now be less costly to keep your DoTs up and to spread them around.

Shield Improvements: We’ve changed the way shields work to allow them to absorb any incoming kinetic or energy damage regardless of the source (melee, ranged, Force, tech – doesn’t matter). This has significantly increased the importance of shields, and the game has been rebalanced to account for such a major adjustment.

Accuracy Matters: In 2.0, all Elite (gold star) and tougher enemies will have additional defense chances against Force and tech attacks. As a result, Accuracy Rating will play a pivotal role in optimizing your sustained damage in boss fights. Prior to 2.0, Accuracy Rating was valued very differently from class to class (or even spec to spec), and while it’s still different for each class or spec, that difference is now much smaller. In effect, all damage-dealing roles will find Accuracy Rating much more useful than before.

Sage

  • Better Benevolence: Previously the difference between Benevolence and Deliverance wasn’t as obvious or meaningful as we’d have liked. Now, Benevolence costs 70 Force and heals for significantly more. Benevolence should be a better resort when time and immediacy are of the essence, and Deliverance should be a better resort when Force-conservation is of the essence. Consequently, parts of the game where Force efficiency is less important, Benevolence is just a better heal. This makes Benevolence better for soloing and off-healing in Flashpoints and Warzones.
  • Better Force Armor: We’ve removed the cooldown from Force Armor so that it’s easier to protect your allies even when not spec’d in the Seer skill tree. It still has its Force-imbalanced debuff lockout of course.
  • Baseline Mental Alacrity: Mental Alacrity is now available for all Sages! All Sages can now benefit from 10 seconds of 20% Alacrity and immunity to interrupts.
  • Force Barrier (New ability): This ability grants total immunity to all hostile effects and damage while channeled. Force Barrier can be channeled up to 10 seconds, but like any other channeled ability, you can cancel it or move out of it at any time. While channeled, incoming damage and debuffs will fail to apply.

Below are some additional details on changes made to the Sage’s skill trees. Many more skills than the ones mentioned here have changed; these are really just the highlights.

Seer

Prior to 2.0, Seer didn’t have much in the way of unique utility. In fact, many Seer Sages forwent their high tier skills to pick up some of Telekinetics’s utility. This is usually a sign that things in your main skill tree aren’t attractive enough, so we set out to address that.

  • Psychic Suffusion: This skill has been completely redesigned. Now this skill causes your Force Wave to heal all affected allies for a moderate amount.
  • Life Ward: While your own Force Armor or Force Barrier is active on yourself, you heal for a percent of your maximum health. In addition to increased survivability, this skill should help reduce the impact of managing your Force with Noble Sacrifice.
  • Master Speed: This new utility skill increases the duration of your Force Speed and finishes the cooldown on Force Speed when Force Barrier ends. This gives you the means to a quick getaway after using Force Barrier. When coupled with the existing Egress skill, you should be harder than ever to pin down.
  • Resplendence: This skill has been redesigned. Now Healing Trance critical hits grant 1 charge of Resplendence. Each charge can be spent on Noble Sacrifice as before to make Noble Sacrifice not degenerate your Force. You can now have up to 3 charges of Resplendence. Furthermore, each charge of Resplendence reduces the activation time of your next Salvation by 33.34%, such that Salvation becomes instant when spending 3 charges of Resplendence on it.
Telekinetics

Telekinetics has gotten a few major changes in 2.0 that should improve their gameplay considerably. However, we’ve also made considerations for how Telekinetics affects the rest of the game (other player’s gameplay) through Kinetic Collapse.

  • Fixed Kinetic Collapse: This effect now only triggers when a Force Armor you put on yourself ends. Placing Force Armor on an ally will not trigger the Kinetic Collapse effect when that Force Armor ends. Furthermore, Kinetic Collapse’s control effect now breaks from direct damage. Although this change has been a long time coming, we wanted to make sure we didn’t undermine the group support role Kinetic Collapse had been providing Telekinetics. To offset this change, we’ve made further changes to Telekinetics and Sages to help facilitate a strong support role.
    • Cascading Force: This new utility skill causes Telekinetic Wave to slow and briefly immobilize all affected targets. With the increased chance of triggering Tidal Force, Telekinetic Wave (and subsequently this effect) will be available very often.
    • Benevolence: As previously mentioned, Benevolence now heals for significantly more. All Sages should have better spot healing or off-healing capabilities.
    • Force Armor: As previously mentioned, Force Armor no longer has a cooldown, making it easier to protect more allies.
  • More Tidal Force: This skill’s proc chance has been significantly increased, and Turbulence now has a chance to trigger Tidal Force for better full tree synergy.
  • Tremors: Each time this skill is triggered and stacks, the active cooldown of Mental Alacrity is reduced.
  • Flowing Force: This new skill increases the chance that Telekinetic Momentum will trigger while Mental Alacrity is active. It additionally reduces the cooldown of Mental Alacrity and increases its duration.
  • Force Haste: This new utility skill reduces the cooldowns of Force Speed, Force Slow, and Force Barrier.
  • Reverberation: This is now a 2-pt skill instead of a 5-pt skill. Its total effectiveness has not been changed. This change frees up more skill points for more utility.
  • Mental Momentum: This new skill gives Mind Crush a chance to tick twice and Turbulence a chance to produce a second blast, similar to Telekinetic Momentum.
Balance (Sage)
  • Drain Thoughts: Now affects all periodic damage dealt so that Sever Force better synergizes with the skill tree.
  • Force Suppression: Now applies 15 charges instead of 10.
  • Force In Balance: Now affects up to 5 targets instead of 3.
  • Presence of Mind: Now when this effect procs, the damage dealt by your next Mind Crush or Disturbance is increased by 35% (up from 20%).
  • Containment: The activation time reduction on Force Lift has been reduced in effectiveness. Previously, this skill gave Balance a lot of extra lockdown that we weren’t too pleased with, and after the introduction of Force Barrier, Balance’s ability to flee and avoid conflict exceeded acceptable levels. Now this skill reduces the activation time of Force Lift to 1.5 seconds. The stun effect when Force Lift ends prematurely due to damage has not been altered.
  • Rippling Force: With this new skill, when your Telekinetic Throw or Disturbance deals damage, it has a chance to deal additional kinetic damage after 1 second. Damage dealt by these Force Ripples restores 2 Force (with max points).
  • Telekinetic Focal Point: This new skill gives Telekinetic Throw and Disturbance a chance to build stacks of Telekinetic Focal Point, which increases Alacrity by 1%. Stacks up to 4 times.
  • Mental Defense: This new utility skill reduces all damage taken by 30% while stunned. Balance has a good deal of self healing through effects like Focused Insight and Force In Balance, but this healing isn’t on-demand and can’t counter burst at key moments. As a result, Balance is especially vulnerable to being bursted down while controlled, so we added Mental Defense to help Balance’s survivability in that department.

Shadow

  • Electrostaves: Key abilities like Double Strike, Clairvoyant Strike, and Shadow Strike can now be used with an electrostaff!
  • Force Breach: This ability no longer has a cooldown for Force Technique or Shadow Technique. Using Force Breach with Combat Technique active now issues a 6-second cooldown. Combat Technique’s accuracy reduction effect from Force Breach now lasts 30 seconds.
  • Battle Readiness: This ability now immediately heals you for 15% of your maximum health, increases the damage and healing dealt by all techniques by 100%, and increases the chance to trigger your techniques by 35%. Lasts 15 seconds.
  • Phase Walk (New ability): Activating this ability marks your current location. This location will remain marked for up to 2 minutes. Once active, Phase Walk can be activated again to instantly return to that marked location if activated from within 60 meters of the mark. Once the return effect is triggered, Phase Walk goes on cooldown for 45 seconds. Does not break stealth.

Below are some additional details on changes made to the Shadow’s skill trees. Many more skills than the ones mentioned here have changed; these are really just the highlights.

Kinetic Combat

Kinetic Combat is a demanding tank role to play, and we’ve been hard at work trying to improve their usability without “dumbing down” their gameplay. In 2.0, the skills in the Kinetic Combat tree should do a better job of encouraging the right ability use and making playing a Kinetic Combat tank more intuitive.

  • Kinetic Ward: This ability no longer costs Force and now has a 15-second cooldown. It additionally now has 15 charges (up from 8).
  • Kinetic Bulwark: This new skill builds stacks of Kinetic Bulwark every time you lose a charge of Kinetic Ward. Each stack of Kinetic Bulwark increases shield absorption by 1% (with max points). Stacks up to 8 times. Lasts for 20 seconds or until Kinetic Ward is reactivated.
  • Impact Control: This skill no longer causes Battle Readiness to heal you (that is now a baseline effect of Battle Readiness). Now this skill grants 25% damage reduction while Battle Readiness is active.
  • Particle Acceleration: This skill can now trigger its effect from Double Strike, Shadow Strike, Whirling Blow, and Spinning Strike and only works while Combat Technique is active.
  • Bombardment: Now while Combat Technique is active, Project generates 30% more threat and costs 30% less Force (with max points).
  • Shadow Wrap: This new skill gives Double Strike and Spinning Strike a chance to proc Shadow Wrap, which makes your next Shadow Strike cost 50% less Force and usable when face-to-face with your target.
  • Shadow’s Shelter: With this new skill, your Phase Walk deploys a Shadow’s Shelter around the placed mark. Those standing within the Shadow’s Shelter deal 5% additional healing.
  • Slow Time: Now has a 9-second cooldown (up from 7.5), costs 20 Force (down from 30), and deals slightly more damage.
Infiltration

Our goals with Infiltration for 2.0 are to improve upon their single target damage and sustained damage without adversely affecting their burst damage.

  • Shadow Technique and Force Breach: Prior to 2.0, Shadow Technique, Exit Strategy, Force Breach, and Security Breach had some conflicting goals. On the one hand, Security Breach let you use Force Breach faster, but you usually couldn’t build up 5 Exit Strategies in that amount of time. In 2.0, these skills have been redesigned to work more gracefully and intuitively. Now Shadow Technique has a longer rate limit and deals significantly more damage. When it deals damage, it builds a Breaching Shadow (stacks up to 3 times). Breaching Shadows enable the use of and increase the damage dealt by Force Breach. As previously mentioned, Force Breach now has no cooldown; its use is limited only by how quickly you can generate Breaching Shadows. At 3 Breaching Shadows, Force Breach should hit for as hard or harder than ever before.
  • Circling Shadows: This skill now requires Shadow Technique to be active and triggers from activating Double Strike, Shadow Strike, Whirling Blow, Spinning Strike, and Clairvoyant Strike.
  • Upheaval: This skill is now found in the first tier of the Infiltration skill tree.
  • Nerve Wracking: This skill has been moved from the Kinetic Combat tree into the Infiltration tree.
  • Impose Weakness: This new skill forces your Spinning Kick and Low Slash to proc Infiltration Tactics on a separate rate limit. Now after you Spinning Kick a target, you are guaranteed to be able to follow up with a powerful Shadow Strike.
  • Potent Shadows: With this new skill, while Shadow Technique is active, Force Potency immediately builds 3 Breaching Shadows to provide on demand burst. Additionally, exiting combat greatly reduces the active cooldown of Force Potency (60 seconds with max points) to make Force Potency available for almost every fight you engage in.
  • Judgement: This new skill reduces the cost of Spinning Strike and increases all damage dealt to targets below 30% of max health.
  • Clairvoyant Strike: This ability has been slightly redesigned. Clairvoyant Strike still builds Clairvoyance with each use, but Clairvoyance no longer increases the damage dealt by Project. Instead, Clairvoyance now gives Project a 50% chance per stack to automatically trigger your Shadow Technique on a separate rate limit. Stacks up to 2 times. With this change, the damage boost to Project has been effectively replaced by damage caused from triggering your Shadow Technique, except that Shadow Technique additionally builds 1 Breaching Shadow every time it triggers. Therefore, Clairvoyant Strike and Project will together help you quickly build 3 Breaching Shadows to rapidly issue powerful Force Breaches.
Balance (Shadow)

Prior to 2.0, Balance Shadows had a laundry list of ability priorities. For better or worse, playing Balance correctly as a Shadow was pretty daunting and exhausting. We wanted to take 2.0 as an opportunity to reevaluate Balance’s priorities one ability at a time. We are aware that some players will be disappointed to learn that Balance’s “rotation” has been simplified as a result, but their existing gameplay left little room for growth (on our side) and little room for error (on your side).

Now in 2.0, Balance Shadows can get the same results with a smoother, less complex list of abilities and ability priorities. We like that we can make these kinds of gameplay adjustments with the time we have, but we’re also sensitive to what can be perceived as “fundamentally” changing a spec. We don’t believe we’ve fundamentally changed Balance Shadows as they are still very much drain skirmishers, but we will be keeping an eye on how Balance Shadows get played and on player feedback. We’re confident that the changes we’ve made will actually make Balance Shadows a more attractive option to players that were previously turned off by their complexity.

  • Project, Upheaval, and Twin Disciplines: Prior to 2.0, Project served as little more than a way to apply Twin Disciplines. Worse, Upheaval was actually in the Balance skill tree, which reinforced the idea that Project was a good Balance ability. In 2.0, we’ve removed Twin Disciplines and moved Upheaval into the Infiltration skill tree to try and paint a clearer picture. Balance Shadows no longer rely on Project for sustained damage, but it’s still a perfectly viable ability for bursting a target down.
  • Sharpened Mind and Mind Warp: With the removal of Project from a sustained damage priority list, Balance Shadows have a lot more Force available. With this in mind, Sharpened Mind has been replaced with Mind Warp, which increases the duration of Mind Crush.
  • Infiltration Tactics: Infiltration Tactics is now located further up the Infiltration skill tree. Previously, Infiltration Tactics was available to a fully Balance-specialized Shadow, which is something we should have never done. In general, we don’t like making gameplay-altering skills available as “low hanging fruit” in other skill trees because they alter your established gameplay after-the-fact. This isn’t so much a balance concern as it is a usability and complexity concern. In this specific case, adding Infiltration Tactics on top of a full Balance spec felt clunky. Worse, it wasn’t necessary. We’re fully capable of providing the same damage boost to players without requiring them to master additional gameplay. This change aims to do exactly that.
  • Drain Thoughts: Increases all periodic damage dealt by 9% (with max points). Now affects all periodic damage dealt so that Sever Force better synergizes with the skill tree.
  • Force Suppression: Now applies 15 charges instead of 10.
  • Force In Balance: Now affects up to 5 targets instead of 3.
  • Containment: The activation time reduction on Force Lift has been reduced in effectiveness. Previously, this skill gave Balance a lot of extra lockdown that we weren’t too pleased with, and after the introduction of Phase Walk, Balance’s ability to flee and avoid conflict exceeded acceptable levels. Now this skill reduces the activation time of Force Lift to 1.5 seconds. The stun effect when Force Lift ends prematurely due to damage has not been altered.
  • Rippling Force: With this new skill, when your Force Technique is triggered, it deals additional kinetic damage after 1 second. Damage dealt by these Force Ripples restores 2 Force (with max points).
  • Crush Spirit: This new skill increases the damage dealt by Force In Balance and all periodic damaging effects by 15% (with max points) on targets below 30% of max health.
  • Mental Defense: This new utility skill reduces all damage taken by 30% while stunned. Balance has a good deal of self healing through effects like Focused Insight and Force In Balance, but this healing isn’t on-demand and can’t counter burst at key moments. As a result, Balance is especially vulnerable to being bursted down while controlled, so we added Mental Defense to help Balance’s survivability in that department.

Game Update 2.0: Scum and Villainy and the Digital Expansion: Rise of the Hutt Cartel are now live with the changes above. Please keep in mind that we are always looking at class balance so let us know how you like the changes we have made. I hope the information I could share with you today has helped shed some light on what’s changed and why we changed it. Thanks for reading!

By Dulfy

MMO guide writer and blogger. Currently playing and covering SWTOR, GW2, and TSW.

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