Mar 17, 2011

Posted by in Havoc Squad: Life as a Trooper, News | 10 Comments

Trooper Vanguard: Skills, Abilities and Opinions

Well, hello and welcome! This is my first post here on Ask A Jedi so I just wanted to take a moment to say “hello” and introduce myself. A few of you may already know me, I’m one of the developers from R2-Db.com, an avid MMO gamer and a nut when it comes to anything Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ related. I’ll be doing a series here on Ask A Jedi focusing in on some of the inner workings of the game.

I’ve been learning a lot about The Old Republic while developing R2-Db. I wanted an outlet to share this exciting information with you, do some theorycrafting, argue and speculate over topics and get involved… where else better than this, right?

First off, I have a mini-series of articles I am working on regarding all of the Galactic Republic classes in the game, specifically the ones we saw at PAX East 2011 and in the Taral V Developer Walkthrough. This is the first in the series, and is focused in on the Trooper. If you’d like to view all the skill information we’ve collected, feel free to check out the Trooper’s Skills page on R2-Db.com.

NOTE – This information is obviously from pre-release and a “preview” version of SW:TOR. There is no guarantee that this information will be correct when the game is released, it’s all pre-release speculation and my opinions!

Also, if I start using terms that you are unfamiliar with, please just ask, and I’ll be more than happy to explain the MMO jargon.

Basic Mechanics of the Trooper – Ammo

The first thing I noticed about the Trooper was how the class consumed his/her resource, ammo. From what I can tell, ammo is a “regeneration over time” based resource that passively recovers. The Trooper is also given a few abilities to increase regeneration and instantly restore ammo. The regeneration aspect of ammo is very similar to WoW’s Focus on Hunters and Energy on Rogues, for those of you who have played WoW, except scaled down with a smaller capacity. I’ve taken a screenshot of the Trooper’s current ammo interface, which you can see here.

trooper-1.jpg

It appears that this version of the Trooper, a Vanguard Advanced Class, has a capacity of 12 Ammo in a full clip. It’s completely unknown if this cap is affected by talents, skills, gear or even advanced class choices… all things we will learn as we continue to explore the game mechanics of the Trooper. Watching the Taral V Developer Walkthrough, if you pay attention to the portions in which the Trooper is highlighted, it also shows that the Trooper regenerates ammo at around 1 ammo every 2-3 seconds. I’m going to lean towards 3 seconds per ammo, but again, speculation.

From what I can tell, most of the “Offensive Abilities” I’ve seen require somewhere between 1-4 ammo per shot and trigger a global cooldown. None of the “Defensive Abilities” shown require ammo to be consumed in order to use, so I think it’s safe to say that ammo will be an Offensive/Threat generation resource for the Trooper to use, regardless of advanced class.

There’s a lot of un-answered questions about ammo mechanics… can companion abilities affect your ammo regeneration? Is there a “potion”-type item that can restore ammo? What about the regeneration time of ammo, is there a stat that affects the time it takes to regenerate 1 ammo? Are there any abilities similar to an “Execute” ability (from WoW) that uses up the entirety of your clip to unleash a devastating attack? Hopefully all things we will learn as we progress and learn more about each class.

Offensive Overview

Almost all of the Offensive Trooper’s abilities require ammo, as stated above, except for one from what I’ve noticed: Hammer Shot. It would appear that Hammer Shot is your go-to “spammable” ability, the ability you can use regardless of how much ammo you have in your clip.

Since SW:TOR doesn’t have an “auto-attack”, I imagine that all classes will end up with atleast one ability like this, though this isn’t a confirmed fact.

We also have discovered a number of new abilities that the trooper can use for either Damage Dealing, Damage Mitigation or Threat Generation listed below.

(Mouse over any of the abilities to see it’s tooltip)

Direct Damage Abilities

Your bread and butter, single target DPS/TPS abilities… For a single target DPS rotation, these will probably be the focus of your rotation of abilities.

  • Hammer Shot – A direct damage shot on a single target, no ammo required.
  • Full Auto – A channeled shot ability, lasting 3 seconds, dealing heavy damage to your target. Interestingly enough, it also seems to deal damage to anything in the line of fire at the primary target as well.
  • Stockstrike – Every ranged class needs a powerful melee hit, this is the Trooper’s. It also has a knock-down effect, which means it could also be used for kiting NPCs.

AOE Abilities

These abilities all have an Area of Effect damage component them, causing them to hit multiple enemies.

  • Explosive Round – An explosive shot that hits the primary target hard, then hits all nearby enemies for a lesser portion of the damage. Will be a great opener for a pack of NPCs where you want to hit one really hard and get agro on the rest.
  • Pulse Round – Sounds a lot like Explosive Round above, except that the range is 1/2 that of it, and does more AoE damage. Pulse Round seems like more of a straight-up AoE ability, when you want to deal damage evenly across all targets.
  • Explosive Surge – A point-blank AoE ability, dealing damage to all enemies around the  Trooper. Will be great for building some initial agro on large packs of NPCs, but not spammable due to its cooldown.
  • Sticky Grenade – A delayed-explosion AoE, waiting a few seconds before detonating and dealing damage to all enemies around the target.

Now, this is just theory because I haven’t played the Trooper obviously, but as a tanking Trooper, a great AoE opener for tanking a bunch of NPCs I’d imagine would go something like this…

Sticky Grenade > Pulse Round (Repeat) > Explosive Surge (When the NPCs get near you)

The AoE component of the Pulse Round should pull the NPCs towards you, while the Sticky Grenade‘s timer is ticking down. As the NPCs near you, the Sticky Grenade should detonate, doing massive damage and knocking them back, which then gives you the perfect opportunity to Explosive Surge and do even more damage! A rotation of these 3 abilities (thus far) seem like they’d make the trooper a great AoE tank.

One caveat: I’m not sure how far the Sticky Grenade‘s knock back is, so the Explosive Surge may not be worth it at the end. The NPCs could very well be knocked pretty far away from you. I know how angry people get when (in World of Warcraft) a Druid decides to knock back and entire pack of mobs off the tank… it’s frustrating having to chase them all back down or for the melee to all the sudden be “Out of Range”!

Activatable Buffs

The best part of any class, the abilities you can activate to gain a boost in your DPS performance!

  • Reserve Powercell – Your next shot requiring ammo is free, lets you get that one last crucial shot off regardless of whether you have the ammo for it or not. 2 minute cooldown.
  • Recharge Cells – This ability is to recover used ammo, and from the looks of it in the video, it instantly restores 4 ammo and is on a 1 minute cooldown. Gives you that little extra “umph” when you need it.

I’d imagine that the DPS version of the trooper will have many, many more of these abilities.

Taunt/Agro Abilities

Need to pull a NPC off of a healer or a DPS? Want to do some tank-swapping during a boss fight with a taunt rotation? Here’s your options…

  • Neural Jolt – A straight up ranged taunt, causing the NPC to attack you!
  • Sonic Round – A ranged AoE taunt, which is interesting. Target an NPC in the middle of a group, pop a Sonic Round off on it, causing that NPC and all nearby NPCs to come at you.

Defensive Overview

Every tank needs a cooldown or two, well atleast that’s my opinion. As an FYI, the definition of a “Cooldown” – implies an ability you can use that grants temporary buffs to you/others but you cannot use it that often, it has a “cooldown”.

Standing there and just letting things beat on you while you fire at them is no fun. You need those buttons for those “Oh ****!” moments where your healer isn’t paying attention and you want to take your life into your own hands. I’ve played a tank for a few years, it’s no fun 100% relying on someone else, especially when you don’t know that person. With a few cooldowns, you only have to rely on that stranger for 95% of the time…

Crowd-control Abilities

The Trooper seems to lack a bit in the CC department, but that very well may be because all we are seeing is the “Tank” version of the troopers abilities and this isn’t the final copy of the game. Right now, it seems this is the only one (that we’ve seen).

  • Cryo Grenade – 1 minute cooldown, 3 second’s worth of CC and 6 seconds worth of snaring/slowing the targets. This also has some pretty good potential uses in PVP as a kiting ability.

Defensive Abilities

As a tanking Trooper, you are going to need some cooldown abilities to use when the boss goes berserk on you or the healer is um, “distracted” by something else. Listed below are the abilities we found for the trooper to use to stay alive.

  • Reactive Shield – Not sure if this is a “toggle-able” ability or has a cooldown, or even a duration. The tooltip we saw is listed above, it appears this may be a “stance” ability that the Trooper can use when he wants to be in “tank” mode. Reduces incoming/outgoing damage, but increases threat generation by 100%
  • Defensive Tactics – The Devotion Aura (WoW reference) of the Tanking Trooper. Increases armor by 5% of all nearby party members and only one “Tactic” may be active at any given time. We didn’t get a chance to see the other tactics, but last year we did see a similar ability called Offensive Tactics that increases crit.
  • Adrenaline Rush – Increases the Troopers total life by 20%, for 20 seconds, which is then lost at the end of the effect. I play a Death Knight in WoW and this ability is incredibly similar to Vampiric Blood!
  • Hold the Line – This ability will prevent you from getting knocked around. While this is a great tanking ability, I imagine it’s going to be widely used in PvP as well.

My opinion of the Trooper

The Trooper looks to be a pretty solid class so far… the utility shown by these abilities has proven that the versatility of these classes will be great. Looking through this list, there’s a lot of possible rotations that you could come up with for different scenarios. I’m sure we are missing a lot of abilities, even abilities that come further in the game (these abilities were all pulled from a level 32-33 character), not to mention the Talents that we will learn about and how they affect these abilities!

The single target rotation seems like it could use another ability or two, maybe a super-hard hitting ability that takes a second or two to “cast”, with a cooldown on it. As far as the tanking and AoE abilities of the Trooper, I couldn’t approve of them more.

A ranged tank is something that no other MMO has really perfected (IMHO), but with this list of abilities, it looks like BioWare has done it and done it well. The gameplay looked enjoyable, the rotation seems to be fast-paced, and the graphics are awesome.

Kudos to Bioware for accomplishing all this!

  1. This is awesome… easily the most in-depth look at the class so far! Hopefully we’ll see more of this as the game matures and releases?

    • I’m being a hawk when it comes to in-game information about skills and abilities, so I plan on providing lots of updates about them as we learn more ;)

      Thanks for the kind words!

  2. Lethality says:

    Thanks Jesta, great article!

    I played the Trooper in Taral V at PAX East and enjoyed it greatly… there was a little pressure of jumping right into it, I don’t think I took enough time at the beginning to orient myself to the abilities.

    For example, I didn’t develop a strategy for rounding up a group of enemies until about halfway through the flashpoint, but looking at your idea above without even having played the game, it makes more sense :)

    I encourage any potential Troopers reading this to ask questions here! Or please contribute to the theory-crafting discussion if you can!

  3. TheDarkKnight says:

    My first gametime at Pax east I played the Trooper. I have never been a tank in any MMO, becuase I hate melee combat. But I loved the Trooper tank. Yes some mobs came within Melee distance but you could soon move or use an ability to get them back to range.

    With the three main agro abilities combined with the DPS I felt right at home. I normally play Warlock in WoW etc.

    I may consider this AC when I play TOR.

    It was fun!

  4. Good overview with lots of new information which is appreciated. Keep up the good work.:)

  5. Quick question:
    Explosive Surge seems to be a consuming-active-shield ability. Do you need to recast your shield after using it?

    And thanks for the info, of course.

    • Lethality says:

      When playing the Trooper at PAX, I didn’t notice the details on this, but the UI only supported 5 visible buffs/debuffs so it may have not even been visually represented (and we couldn’t open any windows like the Character Sheet to see difference in stats, etc.)

      Good question though!

  6. I have a question. Does the Vanguard have any healing abilities? I want to be able to heal my teammates but I dont want to be a commando.

  7. Great read, thanks so much Jesta. Its this kind of information that has swayed me into playing trooper as my main! Thanks again, and great effort!

  8. This guide was helpful but I still don’t know if I want to be a trooper or Jedi because I like light saber battles but I like the feel of being a unit and not being targeted by the enemy first

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