Tait Watson went on the forums today to clarify that using low level bolstered mods in PvP is not considered an exploit. Some testing results were also provided against Obroan PvP armor.
Over the past few weeks, we have been looking into your reports of lower level mods giving higher stats with bolster than Obroan gear. To test this, we checked the relative power of multiple gear sets against each other, which provides us with our “power differential” between players. We are currently shooting for about a 7% gap between bolstering and default Obroan mods, if you assume the same level of augments.
That said, we tested with a Lethality Sniper and found that there is about a 5% differential between Obroan and the bolstered lower level blue mods. This is with default Obroan mods, so there is some customization potential in the PvP gear that would further improve the gap. Both gear sets included Augments and a Power Crystal. Your results may vary depending on your class and specialization.
Bolster tends to favor pure power as a stat, so the lower blue mods WILL show higher bonus damage values vs default Obroan, which, in turn, grants slightly higher base damages on abilities at the sacrifice of other ratings and endurance. For example, with default Obroan, the Explosive Probe tooltip states it maxes at 3876 damage, while with the blue mods and bolster it tops out at 3915. However, Obroan has better alacrity (+0.06%), crit (+6.22%), and health (+343). In the end (and in a perfect rotation environment), the player wearing Obroan will win a duel.
So what we’re seeing is that, yes, if you’re willing to sacrifice other stats for damage output, these mods can be optimal for your play style. This is not our final design implementation and we are going to continue looking at the balance between default Obroan and bolster. However, we are currently okay with where it is, even being a bit less than the target. Do note that we are aware of an issue regarding Main Hand and Off-Hand gear when it comes to Expertise crystals vs. stat crystals, and are working on a solution. I don’t currently have an ETA for you, but will update you as I know more.