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The Problems with Deadeye in endgame PvE (and how to fix them)


Darkglade.8419

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Deadeye in its current state has been a niche, if not unviable pick on the vast majority of endgame PvE encounters for years now. In this post, I aim to highlight its many problems and offer solutions on how they might be addressed. 

 

Problem #1 The buggy, inconsistent, and punishing profession mechanic

For those unfamiliar with the class, Deadeye replaces the thief’s Steal skill with a new skill called Deadeye’s Mark. Casting this skill on an enemy makes them into your marked target. Using initiative-costing weapon skills against your marked target generates another profession resource called Malice. Stealth attacks, if they strike your marked target, consume all Malice to trigger an additional effect (usually just extra damage). Deadeyes also gain access to a trait that generates initiative and boons upon reaching max Malice stacks.

 

Thus, the general rotation for Deadeye involves marking a target, using initiative-costing weapon skills until reaching max Malice to trigger the aforementioned trait and regain their spent initiative, and then stealthing and using a stealth attack. And then loop starting from weapon skills. 

 

Problem #1.1 Switching targets is hard

Let’s say you’re playing Rifle Deadeye on Xera. You’re DPSing away on the boss without a care in the world, when suddenly, the raid leader calls out:

“Clear Crystals at Arrow and neighbors, please.”

Your Virtuoso friends target the crystals and begin cleaving both them and the boss together. But you want to help too! You want to be a team player. You target the crystals and shoot them with your DPS rotation . . .

And then you realize you didn’t generate any Malice. 

And then you realize you don’t have any initiative now. 

And now your DPS is screwed for 10 seconds until you passively regen your initiative.

 

What was the problem here? The Deadeye didn’t mark the crystal first? See, that wouldn’t be an issue . . .

Except Deadeye’s Mark has a lengthy cooldown!

 

Jokes aside, the fact that Malice generation is tied to hitting your marked target, and that marking a different target relies on having Deadeye’s Mark off cooldown means that Deadeye is forced to tunnel on whatever they marked unless the add they need to kill just happened to line up with Deadeye’s Mark coming off cooldown. This restricts Deadeye’s ability to handle certain mechanics (crystals on Xera, Evil Saul/Prides on Deimos, etc.) that no other class in the game is limited by. 

 

Problem #1.2 Renewing Gaze is inconsistent

Deadeye has a minor trait called Renewing Gaze that refreshes the CD of Deadeye’s Mark if the marked target is defeated. Sounds useful right?

Except . . . it doesn’t always work.

For example, on Vale Guardian, when the boss becomes invulnerable, disappears, and splits into 3 adds, Renewing Gaze doesn’t trigger if Vale Guardian was marked.

Another example is Gorseval, where the boss becomes invulnerable and spawns 4 adds you must kill. Again, Renewing Gaze doesn’t trigger if the boss was marked.

 

Now, I hear you saying:

"But you didn’t “defeat” those bosses, so according to the wording, Renewing Gaze shouldn’t trigger in the first place!"

 

And you would be right. Except it works on Cardinal Adina and Qadim the Peerless! When Cardinal Adina phases, Renewing Gaze triggers. When Qadim the Peerless phases, Renewing Gaze triggers. So clearly, whether or not it triggers depends on whether ArenaNet decided to make it trigger or not. This inconsistency causes Deadeye’s effectiveness to vary greatly across different encounters depending on whether ArenaNet remembered to make Renewing Gaze trigger or not. 

 

Problem #1.3 Being unable to mark a boss at all

If you ever decide to bring Rifle Deadeye to Conjured Amalgamate (I tried it once, wouldn’t recommend), you will quickly notice a glaring issue:

 

You can’t cast Deadeye’s Mark on the boss’s main body! 

 

This isn’t an isolated incident either. Other enemies where the F1 skill decides to just go “nope” include the Leviathan from EoD and the Octovine from HoT. And as was mentioned earlier, not being able to mark the target means Deadeye basically doesn’t get to do meaningful damage to it. Which is of course a big problem, since “meaningful damage” is the only thing Deadeye has going for it. 

 

Problem #1.4 Going down causes you to lose your marked target

When you cast Deadeye’s Mark on an enemy, you get a buff on your bar that tracks who your marked target is. However, if you go downstate, you lose the buff, and the game thinks you no longer have a marked target. This means if you mark the boss, go down, get rezzed, and your Deadeye’s Mark/Mercy isn’t off cooldown, your rotation is kittened until they one of them comes off cooldown. Going downstate is obviously a DPS loss, but for Deadeye it would be more accurate to say that going downstate could be a DPS crater if you’re unlucky. 

 

Now, that sounds like a lot of issues. And we’ve only been talking about the profession mechanic so far! It would be a lot of work for ArenaNet to address all these issues, right?

 

Well, what if I said there is a simple, easy way to kill 4 issues with 1 solution. Want to hear it?

 

Solution #1 Let Deadeye generate and consume Malice even when not hitting the marked target

What’s that? Decouple the Malice mechanic from the marked target mechanic? Preposterous! How does that help?

If we reexamine the previous scenarios, we’ll notice a crucial detail - all of them involve being unable to deal with certain mechanics due to lack of easy access to Deadeye’s Mark when it’s needed. Because Deadeyes need to mark a target before they can generate Malice from hitting it. 

 

But if they don’t need to mark a target to generate Malice from hitting it, all those problems from before go away. 

 

You could do your DPS rotation on Conjured Amalgamate without caring if it’s marked or not. 

 

You could mark Xera and switch targets to shoot at a crystal without messing up your rotation. 

 

You could mark the boss, immediately go down, get rezzed, and come up guns blazing and still roughly maintain your rotation even though you lost your marked target. 

 

But if Malice generation isn’t tied to Deadeye’s Mark, what point is there in casting Deadeye’s Mark?

 

There is still a point to casting the skill. When it’s cast, Deadeyes get an F2 skill that stealths them if their Malice is over a threshold. In addition, Deadeyes have a minor trait called Iron Sight that increases damage dealt to the marked target by 10%, which is a significant increase. And finally, several Deadeye utility skills have bonus effects if used against the marked target. 

 

So yes. The F1 skill is still relevant even if it doesn’t enable your Malice generation. And just to be clear, this solution has 2 parts:

Let Deadeye generate Malice even when hitting non-marked enemies.

Let Deadeye stealth attacks consume Malice for bonus effect even when hitting non-marked enemies.

 

Both changes are necessary for the solution to be of any help. If there is one change I would like ArenaNet to make from this post, it would be this one. 

 

Problem #2 Kneeling in place is too limiting

Green circles. Red circles. Yellow circles. Shockwaves. Know what all those have in common?

They’re mechanics that require you to move to do them. And what is Deadeye in its current state bad at? Moving. Because Deadeye’s Rifle has a skill called Kneel that roots you in place in exchange for more powerful attacks. And Deadeye’s benchmark is based around you kneeling ALL THE TIME. So in a real fight, you need to be kneeling the vast majority of the time to be competitive with your DPS. Except kneeling all the time means your ability to do certain mechanics plummets. Which is one of the big reasons why this build is not considered viable for most encounters. 

 

So how do we fix that while still retaining the theme of a sniper who sacrifices mobility for long range damage?

 

Solution #2 Let Deadeye move while kneeling at a reduced speed

Kneeling in its current iteration is simply too limiting. As long as it exists as is, Rifle Deadeye will never be considered viable in more than a handful of encounters. So I propose changing the skill to be more lenient, and instead of rooting you in place, it will simply reduce your move speed by some amount. Bonus points if it will also allow you to jump while kneeling (having to press 3 times as many buttons (Unkneel -> Jump -> kneel) to jump a shockwave is quite disruptive to the gameplay flow). 

 

Problem #3 Getting body-blocked by enemies and having 0 cleave

Do you know what the main downside to projectiles is? They can get body-blocked by other enemies if they’re not piercing. And unlike our privileged fellows over in the Virtuoso club, we don’t get piercing on all our projectiles for free. What we do have, is a trait in Critical Strikes called Deadly Aim that gives piercing . . . 

 

To Pistols and harpoon guns . . .

At the cost of 5% reduced damage . . .  

 

Yeah. The trait is nigh useless in its current state. But it could be better!

 

Solution #3 Rework Deadly Aim to also affect Rifle

While Rifle skill 2 has piercing by default, it does much less damage than the other main damage skill. So if Deadly Aim were reworked to also affect Rifle (and also get rid of the 5% damage reduction please, not taking the other DPS trait Practiced Tolerance means it’s already a DPS loss due to opportunity cost) it means that Deadeyes would have the choice to switch traits to have better cleave for certain encounters. 

 

Problem #4 DPS

And finally we get to the one thing everyone cares about in the end. DPS. All the solutions I mentioned above would be good, but they wouldn’t mean anything if Deadeye didn’t do enough damage to be considered worth bringing. At the time of writing, the benchmark for Rifle Deadeye is around 34k. Which is rather on the low end considering the many limitations the build has. It is my hope that ArenaNet will buff the numbers on Deadeye’s weapons so that the benchmark could be competitive with that of the newly buffed power Soulbeast (which is around 37k). 

 

Closing

If you managed to actually read this giant post, then congratulations! I’ve been a player of this game for years now, and I wrote this post in the hope that ArenaNet will take heed of this feedback and address some of the issues I’ve pointed out. I don’t claim to be an experienced game developer so my proposed solutions aren’t perfect, but I have experience designing mods for other games, and I did put a lot of thought into my ideas. Thanks for reading!


 

TL;DR for the lazy

Problem #1: The Malice mechanic is too limiting when entwined with the buggy/inconsistent Deadeye’s Mark

Solution #1: Let Deadeye generate and consume Malice even when hitting non-marked targets

 

Problem #2: Kneeling is too limiting

Solution #2: Make kneeling reduce your move speed by some amount instead of outright rooting you

 

Problem #3: Having no cleave potential at all sucks

Solution #3: Rework Deadly Aim trait to support Rifle

 

Problem #4: Having low DPS sucks

Solution #4: Buff DPS numbers

 

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I agree with you that it would make the Deadeye easier and better to play if it could move around and generate malice from all attacks. 

But I don't think they will ever let you generate malice from attacking just any target, for reasons that go back to 2017/2018 and the creation of Deadeye in PoF. They do not want dagger or any other thief weapon to become really good damage on deadeye. The change would probably only be allowed to impact rifle through a trait. It's harder to pierce than to cleave.

Though that's getting ahead of ourselves when they won't even really listen to suggestions about the new elite spec. 

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One thing I really wanna know is; why are we not allowed AoEs? There're 40 thousand enemies on the screen.

Not Deadeye but still relevent to such trends, I almost failed a timer challenge in a Dragon Response mission because I was physically incapable of hitting the boss with my weapon on condi Specter because there were too many enemies bodyblocking my attacks. PvE just isn't fun when you're flooded with single target weapons. 

Like why on earth would I continue on at this point when I can just log onto Engineer now and have my Rifle rapidly cleave everything in front of me in multiple directions at once (pierce+aoe explosion) on just my auto attack for tons of damage + all other skill on Rifle bar AoE as well (even the Net because of Rocket Punch) other than the powerful launch and not only that but even my Rifle's utility skill for movement hits for like 20k damage on a marauder build with vitality. All while not only not requiring immobalizing yourself with Kneel but you permanantly move at max speed. And my pet cleaves and pierces nonstop at same timewhile my Thief dagger AA still doesn't even hit 3 targets yet.

At this point I see no reason to PvE on Thief anymore which I guess is their goal? Recent Rifle buff on Engi makes Deadeye even more pointless than it already was. It has nothing to offer over it and throw on Rocket Boots if you wanna be even more Thief-ish.

For real, if you wanna play Deadeye just move all your stuff to your Engi till Anet decides it wants Thief numbers back up for whatever reason and makes it worthwhile. Sadly there's bigger chance they'd randomly nerf Deadeye before that happens though because the only Deadeye player left in WvW across all servers just happens to get lucky and kills a Developer who isn't playing at 100% during a 3v1 and makes him upset enough to pull out nerfbat.

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21 hours ago, Darkglade.8419 said:

 

 

Problem #2 Kneeling in place is too limiting

Green circles. Red circles. Yellow circles. Shockwaves. Know what all those have in common?

They’re mechanics that require you to move to do them. And what is Deadeye in its current state bad at? Moving. Because Deadeye’s Rifle has a skill called Kneel that roots you in place in exchange for more powerful attacks. And Deadeye’s benchmark is based around you kneeling ALL THE TIME. So in a real fight, you need to be kneeling the vast majority of the time to be competitive with your DPS. Except kneeling all the time means your ability to do certain mechanics plummets. Which is one of the big reasons why this build is not considered viable for most encounters. 

 

So how do we fix that while still retaining the theme of a sniper who sacrifices mobility for long range damage?

 

Solution #2 Let Deadeye move while kneeling at a reduced speed

Kneeling in its current iteration is simply too limiting. As long as it exists as is, Rifle Deadeye will never be considered viable in more than a handful of encounters. So I propose changing the skill to be more lenient, and instead of rooting you in place, it will simply reduce your move speed by some amount. Bonus points if it will also allow you to jump while kneeling (having to press 3 times as many buttons (Unkneel -> Jump -> kneel) to jump a shockwave is quite disruptive to the gameplay flow

 

Bladesworn feels ya man

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I mean, there's the Mercy utility, but ...

 

... who the heck is taking that in place of any of the myriad signets and other skills that are way more worthwhile (and versatile) than a 30-second "oops, my bad"?

 

In all seriousness, though, I feel this.  Started playing deadeye shortly after Path of Fire went live (within about a month or so), and within weeks of me picking it up, they completely redid rifle to be far less fun.  With all the nerfs that have come in and the nonsense encounters of "MOAR ADDS LOL," playing deadeye has mostly turned into me running a pewpew pistol meme build (or just dagger pistol) because it legitimately feels more performant.

 

But most of the time?  I play daredevil, because at least it can move.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Deadeye just needs cooler things. On paper it seems like a fun build, but when you're not kneeling you're on the run dealing with one target or another, and when you're kneeling - you're kneeling. 

 

As a distance build, I guess the theme isnt really making a stand, but DE doesnt seem to even have enough to keep things at a distance either. Yeah, there are a couple skills but you're not doing enough damage to down or debilitate targets before they reach you and you're on the run again. I wasted some time on a crit build the other day and on that alone, it just didn't have enough to stay in the fight at any range. Single target, no crowd control, not enough damage. Maybe my attempt was all wrong, but the one trick pony p/p or d/p DE just does all of that better. And honestly, why play DE with p/p when it allows thief to use rifle...

 

You mentioned already something that is just plain silly, and that's the fact that pistols and harpoons get piercing but a sniper rifle that is notable in most games as having the ability to pass through multiple targets as its default function sees none of that here. But since other classes can use rifle, rifle - unfortunately, cant have piercing as a default function. DE has to have something that sets it apart from other classes that can use rifle. You can say that just by choosing DE, which gives thief the ability to use rifles, that this also comes with piercing on all shots, but that is so broad now it doesnt make things more "fun".

 

I like the idea that malice is gained more passively, separate from mark, but mark still needs to have a notable function. So I would suggest that mark no longer generates a stolen skill, but instead opens up the kneel ability. Kneel can only be used if at least one target is marked and kneel skills cause higher damage to marked targets but can be used against all targets while kneeling. Let's be honest, kneeling as a skill is a wasted skill slot for something that can add more to DE. Kneeling is a mechanic that occupies a skill slot(?). Also, while kneeling, all rifle shots gain piercing, and rifle skills change more in line with actually having a benefit to kneeling situationally - like obtaining skills that allow for more crowd control and more debilitation to maintain distance. Also while kneeling, all targets should receive more damage the further they are. There can be skills like ricochet that hit multiple targets, skills that cause conditions as well, since snipers are known to target vital organs to maximize efficiency if a kill shot can't be taken the target can either be immobilized or bleed out.

Malice definitely needs to stay in a way where the more you generate, the more DE benefits from it up to a max. But I think it would be cool if it were more in line with a target rich environment so that generating it and maintaining its benefits isnt arbitrary. In essence, you have to be constantly hitting/killing targets or else it diminishes; for example you lose one malice for every two seconds you don't hit a target.

 

I exclusively play thief, because I love the idea of the class. I'm not as intelligent or as smart as min-maxers or theory crafters but I believe I am a good player - but there isnt much viable beyond Spectre in pve - of which I only play open world. That said, Spectre is the least fun I've had playing a thief, and I would much rather play DE which was the most fun I've had. Spectre is just so easy to build to almost crush content where DE is very niche and needs to be so tuned up to be as viable as Spectre - imo.

 

None of this matters though because the meat of this discussion is suggesting a total rework of DE, and how likely is that to happen?






 

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3 hours ago, Jianyu.7065 said:

And honestly, why play DE with p/p when it allows thief to use rifle...

 

As someone who almost-exclusively ran dual-pistol deadeye since not long after the first rifle rework, it's because Unload generates more might more reliably (with a lower initiative cost), doesn't root you to the ground to build damage, fires faster, and has more interrupts and control effects for dealing with tough foes.

 

In short, it does everything rifle wished it could do, with none of the drawbacks (because that faster attack speed actually results in equal or greater overall damage, even on a pure power build).

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38 minutes ago, itspomf.9523 said:

 

As someone who almost-exclusively ran dual-pistol deadeye since not long after the first rifle rework, it's because Unload generates more might more reliably (with a lower initiative cost), doesn't root you to the ground to build damage, fires faster, and has more interrupts and control effects for dealing with tough foes.

 

In short, it does everything rifle wished it could do, with none of the drawbacks (because that faster attack speed actually results in equal or greater overall damage, even on a pure power build).

 

 

Well, that's exactly my point. DE introduced a new weapon to thief, a weapon you can only use as a thief if you choose to spec DE and it's not really even a good weapon to use with DE. 

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I feel like Premeditation is a big problem for Deadeye. It's a big damage boost and I'm pretty sure all the raid-build numbers balance is oriented around it, which means no "serious" raid build can make use of Silent Scope or Payback — traits that either simplify the rotation or let you do more interesting thins with your utilities. Power thief builds in instanced PvE basically get only 1-2 traits that do anything other than "increase strike damage some more," whereas playing Condi Specter I at least get to save team mates with Consume Shadows and I can swap in Bountiful Theft for boon removal without messing up my build.

The raid-build damage numbers are also balanced around Kneel, of course, which means you're quite likely playing a below-replacement-value build in any situation where you can't Kneel consistently.

I really like the idea of the spec, and I like how it works in most situations, but power rifle DE is punishingly unpleasant in fractals/raids. (And any open-world thing where you get one of those head-and-hands bosses because of how Mark works.)

Edited by ASP.8093
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Its not just Deadeye. The Malice issue is, but some of these issues affect the class as a whole.

 

My big questions are:

1. Why so much single-target stuff on Thief? Its why I absolutely despise playing Thief in PvE, a game mode centered around slaying masses of monsters. Ever taken a Thief to Aspenwood meta?

2. Why is sword so horrendously bad in PvE? This leaves all melee Thieves on dagger (or staff if they have Daredevil).

3. Why doesn't Alacrity affect Initiative regeneration?

4. Why are all Thief mechanics based around stealth, when its an optional mechanic on every other class? Why is there nothing that replaces stealth on any of the elite specs? (Daredevil can play without it, but just barely.)

5. For Deadeye specifically, why is it only range 1200 when unrooted? Why does rooting exist to begin with? Imagine if kneeling worked more like Dragon Trigger on Bladesworn, it would be 100% better without giving up the mechanic of sacrificing movement for increased effectiveness.

 

I'm going to say it: Even Warrior rifle is better than Deadeye's in general PvE, and that's pretty bad. Despite low damage its pretty good at taking down multiple targets at once with very fluid movement.

 

Basically, Thief has the same problem as Druid, where they do just one thing and that's it, and they're not even that good at it. The difference is, Druid and their healer lock-in is a elite spec issue, while Thief has these problems through the class as a whole.

 

Deadeye just brings out the worst of it since its viable in alot fewer situations than the other elites. Daredevil and Spectre both bring something to the table, Deadeye just fumbles around.

Edited by Mariyuuna.6508
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