Edit: oh those nonsensical sentences...
After all the threads where i share how i would rework the core ranger it's only left the last trait line Beastmastery. This one is going to be a long thread as it will touch also how to redefine the pets to have some use in WvW.
In opposition to the other overhauls where minimal changes are needed in case of the pets the changes will require a deep change. As the idea is to fix how the pets works in most situations ( in 2010 maybe the behaviour algorithm was sufficient now it is proven incapable to keep up even with the PvE mechanics ). In resume the changes IMO are needed will need the hand not only of a designer but also from a programmer.
Trait line : Beastmastery.
All the stats and speed increased are removed as those become baseline for all pets. The reasoning behind this change is to remove the Stat boost the Soulbeast get from this traitline which makes it somehow mandatory.
This traitline is redesigned to work in conjunction with the pet and enhance greatly the interactions between the ranger and the pet to sustain damage.
- Pack Alpha : their skills gain recharge reduction, while your health is above the threshold , your pet deals more damage. Health Threshold: 75%
- Loud Whistle: Shouts remove a condition from the ranger and the pet.
- Pet's Prowess: When the pets attacks are blocked, the following pet attacks will be unblockable. Unblockable : 2 seconds. (ICD 20s)
- Potent Ally: Additionaly the ranger and the pet grant each other regeneration(6s) when affected by conditions. (ICD 1S)
- Resounding Timbre
- Natural Healing: Your pet recovers health each interval. Healing on the pet is increased when the pet is affected by conditions.
- Interval 3s
- Healing 375 (0.06)
- Healing with conditions: 750(0.12)
- Wilting Strike: Beast abilities inflict weakness(4s), slow(4s) and blindness(6s) on nearby foes. Radius 450 units. ICD 20s. Unblockable.
- Two-Handed Training Increased Fury duration to 8s.
- Shared Anguish: While the ranger has an active companion, the pet takes damage on behalf of the ranger. Damage transferred: 20%
- Beastly Warden: Radius increased to 450 units.
- Zephyr's Speed
- Emphatic Bond: While the ranger has an active companion, the condition affecting the ranger are shared with the pet. Personal condition duration: 50%
Small adjustements and some reorganisation to adapt the skills to the latest changes.
- "We Heal As One!" Increased Base CD to 24 seconds.
- "Sic 'Em!": AoE reveal 1200 up to 3 enemies. If a foe is revealed the CD is reduced in a 50%. No Speed boost. Damage increase: +20% (not 40%)
- "Strength of the Pack!" : CD reduced to 35s. Moved to utility as right now the skill can not compete with all the boon rip and boon corruption it is in game.
- "Search and Rescue!" CD increased to 75s. Ranged increased to 2000 units from the ranger. If the ranger has selected a ally target the pet will go to that one. Otherwise it will choose the farthest one withing the range.
Small QoL features and some changes oriented to limit the burst from the Soulbeast.
- Maul: Removed the Attack of Opportunity effect. CD increased to 8s. Damage increased to 706 (2.5).
- Counterattack is changed for name [Block]. Removed the counter attacks part as it breaks any use for defence of this skill.
- Hilt Bash : Removed the flanking requeriment. This skill always stun.
Pets mechanic are in dire need of an update. How it was designed it would work in 2012 unfortunately it couldn't keep up with following updates and game changes. This changes will require some programming as to keep using the programming blocks from the core mobs doesn't cut it anymore.
- As I understood pets use coding blocks from environmental mobs to handle pets AI. Although that seems like a good idea (as future development in mobs AI would benefit the pets ) actually it is not as it seems the AI for the new mobs is developed in exclusive for them Core pets do not benefit from those improvements.
- As such i would advise to create a copy of the coding blocks used for the pets and simplify the process used by the AI problem solving algorithm, as such could be easily expanded in the future without affecting core mobs.
- The AI process should be downloaded to the client side, so it can be developed further without impacting the servers. Pets actions would be decided by the local AI while the server would verify the information sent the same way players are handled right now. The increase of the network traffic should be minimal and the server off load of those processes could be noticeable. This could be applied for all pets and minions in game so the impact might be greater.
- Security should be good enough as the pet would have similar controls as a player has just reduced for the 4 skills the pet has.
- The pets skills are normalised so the AI can be simple enough to handle most situations successfully.
- Movement: Pathing decision should be client side. Path detection usually are very consuming so this could be handled by the local CPU or even GPU which should be better for this operations.
- Combat: All AI target skills should be targeted to the enemy/ally and determine when the attack animation begins. Right now the attack is decided as ground target which is determined when the precast animation begins which is why pets miss so much in moving targets. Skill cast should be handled also by the client, same way players are handled by the server. Local AI determine the target and send the information to the server.
Pets mechanics and UI.
- Pets, spirits and minions UI is moved to one side of the screen . It should be shown in a similar way to a party member with small icons. As such the player will have information about conditons/boons affecting them.
- Pets do not aggro. I realise this is a controversial topic but i stand firm on my ground as promote the pet to tank for the players means the player is allowed to skip encounter mechanics promoting a very passive gameplay. Removing pet aggro (so the enemies only fight the pet if it's the only at reach) would also help to remove AFK gameplay/farming from the game.
Attack My Target (F1) will override the normal behaviour of the pet making in it to stay in the selected target until :
- Another Target is selected with the F1 command.
- Pet is recalled with Return to Me(F3) command.
- The target die.
Additionally those changes to other mechanics would be needed to a complete rounded focus mechanic for the pet.
- Special Skill(F2) will not change the target, The Pet will cast the F2 against that previously selected enemy.
- The Attack My Target(F1) icon appears in the Pet status bar and UI to remind the player the pet is focusing on one foe.
Pets combat state changes to three state icon which will determine the max distance the pet will travel from the ranger.
- Blue Shield: Guard. This state will make the pet stay always close, at 300 range max. This is designed for supportive pets which the ranger sill want always as close as possible.
- Yellow sword: Stay close. Pet doesn't go further than 700 units. This is designed for ranged or squishy pets which needs some room but the ranger don't want them to go too far.
- Red swords: Aggressive. Pet goes to the max range of increased 3000 units. Designed for melee pets.
Pet power/precision/toughness/vitality are increased in +150.
- Pets HP are calculated for all game modes as Players. Every 100 vitality = 1000HP in all gamemodes.
- Pets are affected by ranger traits and skills which cleanse conditions. When the ranger trigger an skill or trait which cleanse the pet is also affected by that cleanses.
- All pets gain increased movement speed of 30%
- All pets do 50% less damage in all Auto Attacks. The function of the pet should be to keep pressure on the enemy not to overcome ranger DPS. The damage should come from the burst skills (AI and F2) which are easier to balance (in CD, cast time and output). Damage should be about 400 -1000 plus a 150% ferocity for crits (max 1500 hit for a melee glassy pet). Might should increase that damage around 1% per stack. ( ideally full stacked max 1875 in critical) .
As general design we could use this AI algorithms:
- Healing skill: While the pet is under 75% HP is cast off-CD
- Skills designed to break stun/invuln/cleanse : when pet is affected by stun or movement impairing condition.
- DPS / CC skills are cast off CD .
To accommodate the new design some families are removed a new families are introduced.
I'll include core pets as the expansion pets are all over the place.
- Harmonic Cry: ICD 30s. Heal and apply resistance (3s) to nearby allies. Radius 300. Triggers when pet is under 75% health off-CD
- Motherly squeal : ICD 40s. Break stun and apply stability(5s) to nearby allies. Remove movement impairing conditions. Radius 300. Triggers when pet is disabled or affected by movment impairing conditions.
- F2 - Protecting Screech. CD30s. Create a protective dome which destroys projectiles. Last 3 seconds. Each Moa type will apply 3 pulses of a different effect. Pink moa may apply 3 pulses of confusion to enemies entering the area. Other moas could apply small healing, protection, or barrier to allies inside the area.
Hyena is removed. There is no point to have a half pet. HP desirably around 26K. SmokeScale could fit in this category.
- Cripling leap. Call off CD. Increased pet range to 800 units.
- Brutal charge. Call of CD. Increased pet range to 400 units.
- F2 - Houl. ICD 25s. The F2 creates an 120 radius combo Area wich last 3 seconds which can be blast. Houls effects up to 3 targets.
- Fern hound : water
- Alpine Wolf: Ice
- Wolf : dark
- Krytan hound: lighting.
Pets designed to have a full attack melee pet in oposition to canines which are off-support. Hp desirably around 18K
- Pounce: Range 600. Cast Off CD
- Maul. Increased damage in 50%. Cast Off-CD
- F2- Stalk . ICD 25s. Pets stealth(4s) ( identical to jaguar F2 Stalk without the buffs application). Additionaly they causes different effects to the pet or to the target.
- Lynx : heavy bleeding and cripple to target.
- Jungle Stalker : 10 might to the pet(8s).
- Jaguar : Quickness(6s) and 25% critical-hit chance and +25% critical damage to the pet.
- Snow leopard : Chill(8s) on target.
Glassy pet with some limited support options. Hp desirably around 12K
- Swoop: increase the range to 1200.
- Quickening screech: Additionaly apply Quickness(4s) and Evade(1s) to the pet.
- F2 - Talon strikes. Skill which applies repetitive attacks, The animation last 1.5 seconds. replicating the animation it uses now x3. Impacts x6. Each impact applies the following effect.
- Eagle : 3xvuln(8s). Increased power damage(x6): 7.5K
- Hawk: 2xbleed(8s)
- Owl: chilled(1s)
- Raven: Blindness(2s)
Off-support tanky pet. Increase damage on all skills to be on par of Canines. Lacks gap closer or leaps which should limit it's damage.
- Bite : increase healing to 2500 - 3000. Increase damage. Call under 75% hp off CD.
- Defy pain: Reduce CD to 40s. Effect last 3s. Breaks stun. Cast when pet is stun or affected by movement impairing condition.
- F2 - Roar . (CD 45s) Designed to provide different support effects around the pet. In opposition to moas or canines, the effects are only applied once around the pet. Radius 600
- Brown : Consume 2 conditions from nearby allies. Each condition heal the bear for 300hp (max 3000 healing)
- Black: Apply fear and weakness to nearby enemies.
- Polar : Apply chilled and slow to nearby enemies.
- Muremellow : Increase the poison cloud range to 240 radius. The cloud additionally heal nearby allies for 600x7.
Ranged condition pet. All projectiles speed is increased in 50%. Bristle back could fit in this category.
- Twin darts. Ranged increased to 1200.
- Lash Tail. Cast off CD when foes within 240 units. Increase range up to 240 units.
- Retreat: (CD 30s) Increase movement to 600 units. Breaks stun and remove impairing movement conditions. Cast when stun or affected by movement impairing condition.
- F2 - Rain of Barbs: Skill is designed for rapid applying a condition burst on the target. All attacks are x10 (total 3.5K) range 1200 (to align the family with the bristle back)
- Carrion : Apply poison.
- Lashtail : Apply bleed
- Wiptail : Apply weakness.
Ranged power off-support pet. All ranged attacks increased to 1200 units. Projectile speed increased in 50%. The actual skills of providing effects to the ranger attack don't differentiate enough to provide the Soulbeast a reason to unmerge.
- Entangling web.
- Poison gas.
- F2 - Spray. It follows the PvE mobs, sprays in a cone front of the spider. Cast time 1.5s. Apply effects x3 in three pulses. Each pulse apply Slow(1s) and additionaly
- Cave : Apply 3 stacks of vulnerability and weakness(6s)
- Forest: Apply poison and blindness (6s)
- Jungle: Immobilise nearby foes (2s)
Pigs are replaced by rams. The forrage skills have an strange design (with the environmental weapon system) and the RNG pasted to the CD makes the F2 skills not really usable. It's a fun concept unfortunately impossible not mechanically enjoyable in a gameplay where controlled effects are needed.
Rams can offer a similar set of skills and change the F2 skill while keeping the game coherence. Skills can be based in the Rock gazelle. This family will be used to provide another team supportive pet
- Charge: (CD 30s) range 300. Apply daze(2s) when hit. Cast off-CD
- Flock Bleating: Apply protection, regeneration and swiftness to nearby allies. Range 400. CD 20s. Cast when under 75% off-CD
- F2 . Bleat (CD 35s). Break stun for nearby allies radius 400. Chanel 1s . Additionally apply following effects to nearby allies:
- Llama : Heal(4.5k) and cleanse one condition from nearby allies.
- Black Ram: Apply Alacrity (5s) and Aegis(10s).
- Longhorn Ram: Apply stability(5s) and Vigor(10).
I know those are a lot of changes, but IMHO i think this could solve most if not all of the core issues with the ranger. All the changes in this and all the other threads aren't meant to make the ranger a must in squads, but just to give the core class enough room to make possible for the E-Specs to shine. As the changes to the pets are necessary, the pets right now can't keep up with the game in any of his modes unless using special treatment like ignoring the damage in PvE (which together with the aggro they pull make them an easy way to cheese the game)
After all this changes future E-Specs can be fine defined to fill specific roles and shine like any other class in game.
Druid could become the support class it was designed to be. It could make use of the enhanced spirits (with a new Druid trait) and native skills to become the opposite force of the scourge bringing the forces of the cosmos to his aid. With limited access to barrier by the Avatar skills, access to Condition to Boon conversion in allies and the existing limited access to soft CC and healing, Druid could become a pillar against the scourge meta.
Soulbeast could become the niche melee fighter. He lost some of his damage potential with this changes but not to worry, some of damage lost is restored while merged with an small change in the archetypes design. This way there is better control of the boost the Soulbeast get. He becomes better doing what he decided to build for but at the same time is more limited doing anything else. And now staying merged is not a problem as if the Soulbeast want to access to the additional and powerful effects the pet's F2s provides the soulbeast will have to unmerge. But not because the player must but because the player want to do it.
Soulbeast could become a DPS class / off-support with the stances enhancement. It would never replace a support class but it would help to alleviate the pressure the Firebrand gets now. or when it's balanced to provide that cornerstone to the combat so it doesn't crumble again in the scourge meta abyss .
I don't know. What you do think? Is it a good change? Would you do it differently?