PTS 2.0 Vanguard / Powertech Changes Overview

Spurred by the need to compile class changes in order to update my SWTOR Mirror Skills Translator, I'll be posting a series of overview articles to detail the class changes currently on the Public Test Server, many of which are not detailed in the patch notes, and what you can expect when the Rise of the Hutt Cartel expansion is released. Let's start with the Powertech (Empire) and its counterpart, the Vanguard (Republic).

This article compiles information from the official PTS Patch Notes (including the updates), official SWTOR forums, /r/swtor, OSW Guild (who posted a 30-minute Youtube video illustrating many of the ability changes in-game), SWTOR-Spy (who posted up a talent calculator for PTS 2.0).

Select: Vanguard (Republic) Powertech (Empire)

General Changes

  • The Trooper's Energy Cells have been reworked to be a 100-pt resource system. Players will see Energy Cells be consumed and regenerate in fractions, and all Energy cell costs will be charged against the new 100-pt total rather than the old 12-pt total.

    With the old 12-pt system, there was a bit of discrepancy between the resource regeneration tiers that slightly favored Bounty Hunters over Troopers.

  • The Alacrity stat has been redesigned to reduce the activation time of all abilities, including instant abilities. If such an ability is reduced below the global cooldown, the global cooldown is reduced as well. Alacrity now also increases resource regeneration for all classes by the same amount that it increases ability activation speed.
  • Personal shield generators are now effective against all attacks that deal Energy and Kinetic Damage, rather than just direct weapon attacks.

    If you want to know more about how shielding worked prior to 2.0, check out Taugrim's detailed guide about tanking in PvP (the concepts applied to PvE as well). This change will allow personal shield generator carrying classes (Vanguards included) to mitigate more damage types with shield absorption. Keyboard Ninja explains why Shield Chance has become the dominant stat that tanks are investing in on the PTS.

    Note that on the live servers (currently v1.7) Vanguards must be using Ion Cell to activate the shielding property of personal shield generators. In 2.0, shield generators will be able to shield attacks regardless of the cell you are using. [source]

  • Stat benefits have been reduced per point, as explained by Keyboard Ninja:
    • Defensive
      • Defense Rating - Now scales roughly 118% slower
      • Shield Rating - Now scales roughly 50% slower
      • Absorb Rating - Now scales roughly 127% slower
      • Armor - Now scales 2.5% slower, but remains on a linear progression
      • Health - Buffed significantly at level 55 (base health is 4000, vs 2500 at 50 on live)
    • Offensive
      • Crit % (from crit) - Now scales roughly 122% slower
      • Crit % (from main stat) - Now scales roughly 140% slower. The soft cap has also been reduced to 20% (from 30%)
      • Surge % - Now scales roughly 100% slower
      • Accuracy % - Now scales roughly 118% slower
    • General
      • Alacrity % - Now scales roughly 127% slower

    Some general things can be surmised, looking at this list.

    • BioWare seems to be prepping for a much higher stat budget.
    • PvP tanks are getting a serious, serious long-term buff in that shield rating scales 52% faster than crit rating. This is significant, because crit and shield are rolled against each other (just as are accuracy and defense, which scale identically). This, together with the fact that shield is now effective against all K/E damage will make tanks very, very hard to kill.
    • Main stat bonuses (or lack thereof, in some classes) are getting devalued by an appreciable amount, and by extension, so are the A variant mods.
    • Power scales exactly as well as it does on live, and thus far better than crit/surge with current stat budgets.

    Maktari has posted an updated chart at MMO Mechanics illustrating diminishing returns for 2.0.

    OFLGotBanned started up a discussion about the changes to critical chance and surge on Reddit as well, complete with charts for crit and surge.

New Abilities

  • When activated, Shoulder Cannon ability loads a missile, once every 5 seconds, up to a total of 4 missiles (limit can be increased by talents). The first missile is loaded immediately upon activation, so it would take a total of 15 seconds to load all 4 missiles. When a missile is loaded, you will see a little circling/targeting animation around the shoulder cannon on your character, and a corresponding (stacking) buff icon will appear on your unit frame. You can fire as many missiles as you have buff stacks at any time. Each firing depletes one stack of the Shoulder Cannon buff and initiates a cooldown of 1s. After using the last missile, Shoulder Cannon goes on cooldown for 1.5 minutes.

    The missiles inflict kinetic damage, so the damage inflicted can be mitigated by armor. Also, it is important to note that the ability has an attack range of 10m.

  • Into the Fray is a new passive ability given to all Vanguards.
  • Diversion, formerly a Commando-only ability, is now a base Trooper ability trainable at level 30. This gives Vanguard DPS specs a much-needed threat reduction ability for PvE.

Talent Additions and Changes

Place your mouse cursor over any of the highlighted boxes for a description of the change.

New talents are marked by a rectangle with a solid border:
1
Existing talents that have been altered are marked by a rectangle with a dotted border:
1
Existing talents that have not been altered but have been moved to a different tier are marked by a rectangle with a dashed border:
1

  1. Static Field duration changed from 15s for both ranks to [10 / 20]s.
  2. Steely Resolve moved from Tier 2 to Tier 1 (in Overcharged Cell Capacitor's old position {3}).
  3. Intimidation renamed to Overcharged Cell Capacitor and moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2.
  4. Shield Cycler energy cell refund chance increased from [25 / 50]% to 100% for both ranks. Because of the rescaling of energy cells to a 100-point system, the energy cell refund actually decreased from 1 ammo (8 cells) for both ranks to [2 / 4].
  5. Smoke Grenade renamed to Riot Gas. Duration decreased from 18s to 17s. Melee and Ranged accuracy penalty increased from 20% to 30%. Enemies are also slowed by 70% when in the gassed area.
  6. Ceramic Plating no longer decreases the cooldown on Adrenaline Rush.
  7. Static Shield renamed to Hydraulic Shield. Ccritical chance bonus to Stockstrike and Explosive Surge decreased from [8 / 16]% to [4 / 8]%. The cooldown-resetting effect has had its internal cooldown increased from 4.5 to 7.5 seconds.
  8. The duration of the speed boost from Charge! is now refreshed if you are attacked while it is still active.
  9. New Talent: Shrap Satchel
  10. Counterattack has been renamed Deflective Guards and is now a 1-rank talent that increases melee and ranged defense instead of a 3-rank talent that increases shield chance.
  11. New Talent: Pulse Engine
  12. New Talent: Guard Cannon
  13. Power Screen moved from Tier 6 to Tier 7. Shield absorption bonus decreased from [1 / 2]% to 1%. Ion Cell procs now trigger this ability. Duration increased from 15 seconds to 20 seconds. Max stacks decreased from 4 to 3. Now reduces the cooldown of Energy Blast.
  14. New Talent: Soldier's Grit
  15. Energy Blast moved from Tier 7 to Tier 8 and redesigned.
  16. Power Armor moved from Tier 2 to Tier 1 (in Containment Tactics's old position).
  17. Focused Impact armor penetration bonus decreased from [20 / 40 / 60]% to [15 / 30 / 45]%, and it now also increases ranged and tech accuracy by [1 / 2 / 3]%
  18. Containment Tactics moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2.
  19. Serrated Blades has been condensed from a 3-rank talent to 1 rank.
  20. New Talent: Triumph
  21. New Talent: Advance the Line (replaces Hold the Line, which was converted into a Trooper base class ability)
  22. The slow effect of Hamstring has been increased from 30% to 50%.
  23. Reflexive Shield moved from Assault tree Tier 5 to Tactics tree Tier 7 and now also has a [10 / 20]% chance to create a small damage absorption effect for 6s.
  24. New Talent: Charged Loaders
  25. Fire Pulse moved from Tier 7 to Tier 8
  26. Superheated Plasma increased the chance to trigger Plasma Cell from [2 / 4 / 6]% to [3 / 6 / 9]%
  27. New Talent: Electro Shield (in Degauss's old position)
  28. New Talent: Assault Frame (in Rapid Recharge's old position)
  29. Ionic Accelerator has been condensed from a 3-rank talent to 1 rank.
  30. New Talent: Hyper Assault Cell
  31. Degauss moved from Tier 3 to Tier 6 (in Adrenaline Fueled's old position)
  32. Rapid Recharge moved from Tier 4 to Tier 7 and now also increases alacrity by [1 / 2]%. Cooldown reduction now also applies to Reserve Powercell.
  33. New Talent: Riot Augs
  34. Adrenaline Fueled moved from Tier 6 to Tier 7 and now triggers by getting attacked (100% chance) instead of dealing a critical hit ([50 / 100]% chance). It no longer affects Reserve Powercell.
  35. Assault Plastique moved from Tier 7 to Tier 8

CellCylinder/Stance Changes

Two of the three Vanguard stances have changed in Game Update 2.0:

  • Ion Cell now also reduces the player's damage by 5%, bringing it (arguably) closer in line with the tank stances of other classes, which already had some form of damage penalty prior to game update 2.0. Damage nerfs directly affect threat generation (relevant to PvE tanking), but this may have been suitably offset by threat generation increases and damage ability/talent changes elsewhere.
  • High Energy Cell now increases internal and elemental damage by 8% (up from 5%).

Ability Changes

  • The Guard mechanic has been nerfed in a couple of ways, especially for PvP, where cc breakage and shared proc effects could be considered major perks of protecting another player:
    • Crowd control effects that break on damage will no longer break from damage redirected through Guard. For example, a blinded guarder will no longer be broken out of the blind from damage dealt to a guarded target within guard range.
    • Effects that are triggered through dealing damage which affect a target who is guarded will no longer also affect the guarder.
  • Hold the Line, formerly a Vanguard Tactics tree tier-5 talented ability, is now a baseline Trooper ability (trainable at level 26), providing a welcome mobility tool that also provides snare and physics immunity on a relatively low cooldown. Note that Hold the Line does not make you immune to stuns or incapacitates (mezzes), and the speed boost is not additive with the Sprint (+35%) out-of-combat run speed passive, so you won't notice the speed difference out of combat.
  • Adrenaline Rush has been reworked from a weak 15% health self heal over 10 seconds to be a stronger 30% health self heal over 8 seconds defensive cooldown. However, the new self heal will not restore your current health above 30% of your max health. Due to the addition of the Health Monitor mechanic, this ability can be used preemptively. The cooldown only seems to come into play if Health Monitor is triggered.
  • Energy Blast, the top tier talented ability in the Shield Specialist tree, has been altered to work around the changed Power Screen mechanic to boost the shield absorption of a tank-oriented Vanguard.
  • Blitz has been removed from the game. This was the standard PvE hard-hitting free instant ability to use against trash that every class had.

Set Bonus Changes

The only relevant set bonus change for Vanguards are to the Commando Combat Medic (PvP) 2-pc, which was previously used to stack duration extensions of Reactive Shield in niche specs:

Battlemaster Combat Medic's Gearv1.7
(2) Increases the duration of Reactive Shield by 3 seconds.
Combat Medic's Gearv2.0
(2) Reduces the cooldown of Hold the Line by 5 seconds.
Combining the Advance the Line talent with this 2-pc set bonus yields a 12-second Hold the Line with a cooldown of 25 seconds, effectively giving it nearly 50% uptime. However, most players will probably continue to gravitate towards damage or defensive oriented set bonuses.

Trending

It is hard to say just how much specs will change in 2.0. Currently, on the PTS, Vanguards are enjoying a comfortable dominance in PvE DPS (operations dummy parses) with an Assault / Tactics hybrid (variations of 0/21/250/21/25) which requires all 46 talent points from Rise of the Hutt Cartel to achieve. It is quite possible that this hybrid will be nerfed prior to the live release of Game Update 2.0.

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    Just fixed a bug with the blog, which was causing a tooltip loading error for ability names with apostrophes (e.g. Soldier’s Grit).