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My Take on a Catalyst Redesign


Downstate.4697

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Catalyst Redesign

We all know catalyst needs to be redesigned. Its clunky, the energy mechanic is not fun to play around, and the interaction with auras is boring.

My overall goal with this design change is to increase the usability of jade sphere,  move away from auras as part of its main features, and providing additional benefits for executing finishers in the jade sphere.

General

Energy mechanic is removed

 

Traits

Hardened Auras - Reworked. Executing a finisher within your jade sphere now provides an additional affect around you.

  • Fire -1s burning 180 radius
  • Water - 1s regeneration 180 radius
  • Poison - 2s poison 180 radius
  • Lightning - 1.5s superspeed 180 radius

Vicious Empowerment - no change

Energized Elements - Reworked. Increases  the duration of jade sphere deployment by 2s

Empowering Auras - Changed to Empowering Finishers. Increases outgoing damage and decreases incoming damage whenever you execute a finisher in your jade sphere.

  • 2% each stack. Stacks up to 5 times

Evasive Empowerment - no change

Spectacular Sphere - no change

Elemental Epitome - reworked. gain a stack of elemental empowerment when executing a finisher. 2s internal cooldown (this should make upkeeping max stacks easier)

Staunch Auras - Changed to Staunch Finisher - cleanse a condition when executing a finisher in your jade sphere

Empowered Empowerment - no change

Sphere Specialist - In addition to its other effects, deploying a jade sphere now grants stability to allies when activated. 2 stacks for 3s. 1 stack for 2s in pvp. (I wanted to give WvW builds the ability to provide stability without relying on aura share)

 

Augments

My overall goal with augments is to improve their usability without removing their unique affects from using them in a jade sphere

Soothing Water - Reduce CD to 20s. Using this skill within your jade sphere gives an additional pulse (this is a powerful heal, but lacks the baseline CD for eles to consider running it over signet of restoration.)

Fortified Earth - Using this skill within your jade sphere increases barrier by 50%

Invigorating Air - Cleanse movement impairing conditions when used within your jade sphere

Relentless Fire - Increase duration by 3s when used within your jade sphere

Shattering Ice - Increase duration by 5s when used within your jade sphere

Elemental Celerity - no change

 

Hammer

My goal for the hammer is to increase its usability with weaver and giving it more finishers so it can interact better with jade sphere. 

Fire Attunement - no change

Rain of Blows - move to 4th slot. Increase range to 300 and damages in a radius around you. (recycle ranger axe 5 animation). CD increased to 15s

Crashing Font - moved to 2nd slot. No longer apply additional hit healing. CD reduced to 10s. Base healing reduced by 10%

Hurricane of Pain - moved to 4th slot and is now a whirl finisher.

Wind Storm - moved to 2nd slot. CD reduced to 15s. Superspeed reduced to 2s

Whirling Stone - moved to 4th slot and is now a whirl finisher. CD increased to 15s. Damage increased by 20%

Immutable Stone - moved to 2nd slot and reduced CD to 15s.

 

 

Do it ANET, you cowards!

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Okay...no. For a "redesign" i was expecting a lot more change in design than a little bit of trait tinkering here and there. The augments are still the most boring set of ele utilities, the long CD's on the new 2nd hammer skills sound wrong. Stacking elemental empowerment will actually get harder in my opinion since you're losing the stack from getting a fireaura when attuning to fire. And the trait "empowered empowerment" should definately give always double the stat increase, not only at 10 stacks, that's such a clunky mechanic.

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1 hour ago, Markus.6415 said:

Okay...no. For a "redesign" i was expecting a lot more change in design than a little bit of trait tinkering here and there. The augments are still the most boring set of ele utilities, the long CD's on the new 2nd hammer skills sound wrong. Stacking elemental empowerment will actually get harder in my opinion since you're losing the stack from getting a fireaura when attuning to fire. And the trait "empowered empowerment" should definately give always double the stat increase, not only at 10 stacks, that's such a clunky mechanic.

Thanks for the feedback. I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to catalyst, it just needs more interesting trait choices that doesn’t revolve around auras.

As for augment changes, I mostly agree that they are boring, but I wanted to be realistic in what anet would actually consider. 
 

For the hammer changes I wanted to frontload the defensive utility so players have access to it when switching to that attunement playing weaver, but you are right. This could probably cause an overall dps loss for hammer enjoyers.

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28 minutes ago, Downstate.4697 said:

Thanks for the feedback. I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to catalyst, it just needs more interesting trait choices that doesn’t revolve around auras.

I don't want to touch on the rest of your suggestions, because this is really the key piece that needs to be solved first and I think you've got it wrong here. The single biggest problem with catalyst is that it doesn't have a specific wheel to reinvent in the first place. Compare it to weaver and tempest that have clear mechanical differences between themselves and core ele, and those mechanics specifically bring additional advantages and disadvantages. It makes them play differently and have specific strengths and weaknesses that develop into balanced builds.

Catalyst on the other hand has absolutely none of that. If you ask somebody what the mechanic of catalyst is you're going to get a multiple answers. Is it the jade orb itself? Is it the energy? Heck some people point to the orbs on hammer being the mechanic, which should tell everyone how big a problem the class has. Even if you can get a solid consensus on what the mechanic is then you start to ask what is the trade-off for getting access to this beneficial mechanic and there really isn't one. So with no specific mechanic that changes how the elementalist plays, and no drawback for taking it anyways, what you're left with is a basic elementalist with a bunch of goodies in the form of stats and boons piled on top. That's impossible to balance in a way that is fun to play and play against. I honestly thing catalyst should be the number one balancing priority for the team right now, and I don't see how they get it balanced properly without fully developing an actual mechanic for the spec.

Edited by thetwothousand.5049
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34 minutes ago, thetwothousand.5049 said:

I don't want to touch on the rest of your suggestions, because this is really the key piece that needs to be solved first and I think you've got it wrong here. The single biggest problem with catalyst is that it doesn't have a specific wheel to reinvent in the first place. Compare it to weaver and tempest that have clear mechanical differences between themselves and core ele, and those mechanics specifically bring additional advantages and disadvantages. It makes them play differently and have specific strengths and weaknesses that develop into balanced builds.

Catalyst on the other hand has absolutely none of that. If you ask somebody what the mechanic of catalyst is you're going to get a multiple answers. Is it the jade orb itself? Is it the energy? Heck some people point to the orbs on hammer being the mechanic, which should tell everyone how big a problem the class has. Even if you can get a solid consensus on what the mechanic is then you start to ask what is the trade-off for getting access to this beneficial mechanic and there really isn't one. So with no specific mechanic that changes how the elementalist plays, and no drawback for taking it anyways, what you're left with is a basic elementalist with a bunch of goodies in the form of stats and boons piled on top. That's impossible to balance in a way that is fun to play and play against. I honestly thing catalyst should be the number one balancing priority for the team right now, and I don't see how they get it balanced properly without fully developing an actual mechanic for the spec.

Good points all around. Either way, anet will probably never make it a priority with the way they try to release balance and content updates. People would really need to just not play catalyst in most content.

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19 hours ago, Downstate.4697 said:

Good points all around. Either way, anet will probably never make it a priority with the way they try to release balance and content updates. People would really need to just not play catalyst in most content.

I actually think we're in luck in that department. People don't play catalyst in the most important game mode, pve. I pug exclusively and see other elementalists all the time, but I never see catalysts. People only play weaver and tempest, and I'm no different. Catalyst is just not fun to play in pve, and until it is I won't and I think a lot of people feel the same. So between that, the negitive focus it pulls in pvp/wvw, and the fact its ele's quickness spec I think an actual overhaul is plausible in the nearish future. I wouldn't bet on it this year with the launch of the expansion, but the first major balance patch of next year I could see.

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23 hours ago, Downstate.4697 said:

 

As for augment changes, I mostly agree that they are boring, but I wanted to be realistic in what anet would actually consider. 

I'm not so sure about that. They've done some pretty deep reworks to entire skill groups in the past, there's at least a chance they'd rework Stances 2.0 into something more interesting if there was enough demand.

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I've got to agree that Cata feels like just a better Ele rather than its own thing. Since noone likes dealing with the energy system in its current implementation, make it work kind of what exhaustion was in gw1. For instance: with each jade sphere you activate, gain 10 exhaustion. At 25+ exhaustion all your jade spheres increase their cooldowns +10 seconds. Whenever you hit your enemies, reduce exhaustion by 1 (no matter if you've got an active jade sphere or not). Also, add a better visual indicator of the current exhaustion level above our healhpool (a la Druid). I think the visual indicator should be implemented even if Cata stays as it currently is.

On a more realistic note, I think augments could be turned into elixirs, to be better themed around the Catalyst techno-chemistry theme (and to start reusing some utility types ahead of having relics that enhance certain utility types).

They could do pretty much the same, but would enhance the jade sphere too if used inside it, giving a similar benefit (but numerically reduced for balance) to allies within the jade sphere radius:

+ Water elixir: heals each second

+ Fire elixir: increased strike and condi dmg

+ Ice elixir: extra hits

+ Air elixir: endurance regen

+ Earth elixir: barrier each second

+ Celerity elixir: reduce cd on weapons

Either that or change them completely. The way the jade sphere resembles an astrolabe, I think they could make them into actual wells or even skills that summon celestial bodies (soothing nebula, relentless meteor, shattering comet, invigorating aurora, fortified asteroid, elemental starfall).

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Another thing they could do with the augments is to theme them around the creature projected by the sphere. Earth is already kinda like this - protect yourself with a big stone shell shield. Give the others themes of being inspired by dragons, phoenixes, and kirin. 

Edited by draxynnic.3719
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What if the catalyst mechanic had a downside to avoid that was similar to holo heat? If you get exhausted beyond a threshold, then your skills recharge slower for a period of time. All skills!

Then, augments could be used to remove some of that exhaustion or interact with it in some way like the GW1 skills that improve when you have exhaustion. 

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personally, i think a major flaw of the catalyst is that a part of the class mechanic is on the hammer instead of the spec. the orbs that hammer have should have been a part of the spec itself instead of the weapon (for example when you combo in specific field, you create an orb)

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On 7/29/2023 at 8:22 AM, crosknight.3041 said:

personally, i think a major flaw of the catalyst is that a part of the class mechanic is on the hammer instead of the spec. the orbs that hammer have should have been a part of the spec itself instead of the weapon (for example when you combo in specific field, you create an orb)

I actually don't think the orbs are any more Catalyst's class mechanic than Mirage's swirly axes or Renegade's portal-arrows are their class mechanic. It's just how Ele/Catalyst would use a hammer.

I think the bigger problem is that the things that *should* be Catalyst's mechanic: energy generation, geomancy boon/combo fields,  augmentation, and trait lines are just so weak, clunky, and poorly implemented that Catalyst feels like it doesn't have much of a mechanic outside of the orbs.

And then, as a slightly lesser problem, Grand Finale really is a parasitic feature of Cata hammer. It forces a pretty strict and monotonous rotation and is so powerful that none of the other hammer abilities really matter much. So naturally you feel compelled to use hammer, and in doing so get sucked into Grand Finale loops that only make all of Cata's other features feel even weaker and less important.

Obviously I think first point of order would be redoing Catalyst so that energy, jade sphere, and augments all actually feel impactful and come together to be more.

But I think second point of order would be reworking hammer so that it doesn't feel so central to Catalyst's mechanics when by design it never wanted to be. I think giving it MORE mid-range orbs and slingy spells on other skills would help dilute hammer 3's identity, as well as make it feel more like what a mid-range weapon should be. And I think opening up hammer 3 to allow the player to summon multiple orbs of the same type would make it feel like more of an option or merely a phase of hammer rotations rather than being the all-defining feature.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ever since the announcement of SOTO Weaponmaster training, I've been wondering the same general thing: "what is the point of Catalyst?"

Often, new weapons added a more iconic identity to new elite specs, like Weaver swords. But Weavers do just as well with any other weapons, as I was pleased to discover, and I'm sure most have figured out by now. But take away the hammer from the Catalyst and what are you left with?

I tried out a staff Catalyst today, and... I'm not really sure if I'm doing something wrong. It seems Catalyst basically amounts to a boost to base stats and a deployable damage/combo/boon field?

I've never actually had much interest in playing hammer Catalyst, but upon hearing that Grand Finale basically overshadows everything else, wouldn't it make more sense if the Catalyst F5 and hammer 3 skills were just swapped around? That seems to go more in line with the Catalyst's description of "wielding nature's forces with scientific precision".

Would it be terribly bad if the hammer 3 skills were changed to the Jade Sphere field skills instead? Or maybe they'd have to move it to 5 or something, because of Weaver compatibility, unless they don't mind giving Weavers dual boon fields or something. Then again, maybe that could be a sort of support option for Weavers that they seem to be sorely lacking at the moment? Hammer would then get a sort of unique identity as a mid-range boon support weapon.

Sure, they'd have to rework Catalyst traits, but maybe this is one of the "easier" ways of giving the Catalyst some identity? Even then, the whole mechanic of having to rotate through all elements seems a bit too much like the Weaver's Weave Self, feeling a bit uninspired, but maybe it's too late for a full rework.

Anyways, I ain' an expert and I'm probably just going to keep playing Weaver. RIP Arcane Archer, may pistol hopefully save us.

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One of the biggest problem with catalyst is the hammer. You get damage, crit chance, damage reduction, and condition duration reduction on a weapon. You could see how busted this was in the beta with the power builds of core ele and weaver.. That much stats for free is way to much. Makes the hammer seem really good, but the other weapons are severely lackluster. Hammer needs a total rework. The orbs are trash. Impossible to balance in regards to the rest of the elite spec. As long as hammer orbs exist, all other weapons in PvE, and most weapons in PvP will be subpar. It's like having 4 additional traits you can take for nothing. There is no other weapon in the game that gives you those bonuses. This is one of the biggest reasons why Catalyst is impossible to balance in regards to the rest of the ele specs. You will see damage nerfs to all the rest of the specs unless Anet deals with hammer. 

The way the class interacts with aura's is also a huge issue. Any combo giving an aura is nuts. Especially when you have no ICD on traits that gives you damage reduction, damage increase, and stability. Even with the signet and scepter nerfs, the build is still good in pvp and completely busted in wvw. So, weapons are going to keep getting nerfed to maintain the poor elite spec design. This makes fresh air scepter weaver hit like a noddle now. It makes condi scepter incredibly weak in PvP modes. Sword is the next thing to get nerfed into the ground because of catalyst design issues. To many leaps to combo with the sphere's. By the time they are done nerfing weapons and other traits because of catalyst, no ele spec will be playable unless it's support. 

Elemental empowerment is garbage to balance as well. Because of how difficult it is to maintain the stacks, the entirety of the traits are worthless in PvP/WvW settings where reactionary play is always taken over rotation based play. You will never get enough stacks to make it worth even considering the 3rd trait. The first two are so lackluster compared to the alternative traits you will never see them get used. Also, gaining the toughness makes it really hard to utilize in PvE unless someone adjusts there gear to ensure they stay the tank. It's a cool idea, but it's really impractical in every game mode. 

The utility skills are also really rough to use. Ele has a severe problem with supportive utility skills. Tempest has them. That is it. This pigeon holes Cata into very selfish play. That is why it will never compare to a quickbrand, a chrono, a scrapper, or Herald (good god is Herald good right now). Cata utility skills are bland. Core skills at best in a sense of creativity. The only one that has potential in pvp settings is relentless fire for the unblockable effect. The heal is ok, but when you have a water field, why would you not be taking arcane brilliance with the buff it just got? You can cleanse like an idiot because of the aura's and fire traits as it is. The utility skills are designed to be selfish, but they are not good enough to warrant taking over core utility skills 90% of the time unless you are in a PvE rotation. They need to be better. 


The energy mechanic is the only thing that has potential with a tweak and not a total rework. All you have to do is remove the ridiculous concept of not gaining energy in a sphere in pvp/wvw settings especially. You are not hitting something a million times a minute in pvp settings. These spheres need to be up on demand in order to be effective. Let them be that way. Also, make it like a rev so that you start at 50% without having to hit a bunch of random stuff in combat to get the energy up before you can use it. The way they are now makes them feel like a really bad version of necro shroud.

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