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An Eye on the Deadeye


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  • ArenaNet Staff

A message from Robert Gee, Guild Wars 2 Systems Team:

Hello to all the sneaky thieves out there! I'm unstealthing today to reveal details of the upcoming changes to the Deadeye profession. In a previous update we increased the damage of rifle skills to put Deadeye in a good spot from a DPS-perspective, so this update is focused more around improving their gameplay patterns and mechanics.

The main areas we're looking to address are:

  • Malice Complexity - Malice gain rules are obscure and don't allow much interaction from the Deadeye.
  • Rifle Flexibility - Rifle optimal damage combos are bland and the weapon lacks adaptability.
  • Trait Synergies - Minor traits fight with each other and there aren't strong choices at some tiers.

The Mysteries of Malice

We designed malice as a gating mechanic that would act as a way for a Deadeye to gain increasing damage threat the longer they were in combat with their mark. This system was built to allow for very high damage attacks with enough warning to the victim that there would be room for counterplay.

However while we feel the current system is effective at these goals, it is also confusing. It's difficult to understand how much of a benefit you get from attacking your mark and to calculate when your next malice gain will occur. There also are no rules for which skills scale on malice. For instance, Binding Shadow and Shadow Flare both scale on malice amounts but Shadow Gust does not.

In order to add more interactivity to malice, we are changing the way malice is gained. Malice no longer will build over time but instead will be gained through dealing damage with initiative skills.

Here are the specifics on how it will work:

  • Any skill that spends initiative and deals strike damage to your mark will generate 1 malice.
  • If that skill critical hits you will gain 1 additional malice.
  • Any single skill can gain a maximum of 2 malice from a single use.
  • A skill that hits multiple times can generate 1 malice from a normal hit and 1 additional malice from a later critical hit, but still cannot generate more than 2 malice per use.
  • Malice no longer grants a 3% damage increase per stack. Instead, this bonus has been rolled into traits.
  • Malice scaling functionality is now unique to stealth attacks (more on this in the next section).

In short, malice is now gained through attacking. If you hit your mark you get malice. If you fail to hit you don't gain malice. Investing in precision can increase your rate of malice gain. We feel that this system is more engaging and easier to understand while also preserving the initial goal of requiring a ramp-up time for malice.

Strike from the Shadows

Now that we've gone over the new way that malice is gained, let's talk about the new way that it is used.

Stealth attacks will consume all your current malice when striking your mark to grant bonus effects based on the amount of malice consumed. The actual bonus per consumed malice differs per skill but let's use the sword stealth attack as an example.

Malicious Tactical Strike: If this attack hits your mark, it consumes all malice to regenerate endurance for each malice consumed.

Each stealth attack has a different bonus based on the type of skill it is. Skills primarily focused around damage, such as Backstab, will consume malice for bonus damage whereas skills focused around condition damage, such as Sneak Attack, will consume malice for bonus condition effects. Tactical Strike on the other hand consumes malice to grant an advantage over your enemy via endurance gain.

We decided to tie the malice consumption to stealth for a few reasons. First, we felt that stealth was a solid core mechanic that touched every single thief weapon and had many synergies through core traits and skills. Thief players already understand stealth attacks so this allows malice spending to be an upgrade to an established system rather than an entirely new one. Finally, the Deadeye was already leaning towards being a stealth-based character due to its elite skill Shadow Meld and utility skill Shadow Gust, so we felt that having malice slot into the stealth attack was a natural fit.

The Perfect Shot

With these changes, the iconic Deadeye malice skill, Death's Judgment, is also becoming a stealth attack. This gave us room to make some adjustments to the rest of the rifle skills in order to address its somewhat stale gameplay loop. Kneel and the Silent Scope trait have been changed to allow for more flexible kneeling and stealth while Sniper's Cover has been totally reworked into a new defensive skill that fills the slot previously occupied by Death's Judgement. This new skill creates a defensive barrier while kneeling that can combo with other thief abilities. When taken together, these changes help to give each rifle skill a more defined purpose and allow rifle wielders to handle a larger variety of combat situations.

Reloading Traits

To wrap everything up, let's talk a little bit about the trait changes. Deadeye traits currently have somewhat conflicting goals. There are traits that encourage waiting for full malice (Perfectionist) and traits that encourage killing your mark as quickly as possible (Be Quick or Be Killed) as well as a few esoteric traits that don't quite mesh well with any particular style (Peripheral Vision). We've touched nearly every trait in the Deadeye line in order to better define different types of deadeye playstyles and reduce the conflicts between them. Here's a quick example of a new trait that is aimed at improving Fire for Effect boon-sharing builds while also providing a meaningful damage bonus.

Premeditation: Gain +180 concentration and increase your strike damage by 1% for each unique boon on you.

Fire Away

We're looking forward to seeing these changes redefine the Deadeye specialization and hope that they will sharpen your Deadeye experience. As always, we'll be listening for your feedback on these changes and will make future adjustments where necessary. Happy hunting!

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Are you guys trying to tank this elite to get ready for next expansion? I'm going to have to drop power for precision to dick around with trying to land as many fire and forget hits as possible so that fucks up my kind of build and stealth setup players are going to have to play more like I currently do or they get no malice at all.

I don't want to be discouraged from using my Stealth skills. Now stealth skills consume and reset my malice stacks? As it is right now apart from some skills or traits being a bit jankey, a patch fix or two can smooth that out but most play styles can currently operate with Deadeye. This change would favor my build and play style, but it sounds like it would totally dismantle and shelve other playstyles and builds.

You're basically creating the same feedback loop of skill/initiative to trait modifiers that makes Staff daredevil/acro so fluid as a melee frontline build but with Malice and range because why?

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Wow a thf rework after a mesmer rework a few months ago....mmm what you did to mes absolutly made them a more formidable opponent with there 100% uptime with clones and allowing them to have more then 4 but more like 4-8 out at the same time...mm

Can we assume that every class will get a rework/overhaul by the end of this year?

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@kash.9213 said:Are you guys trying to tank this elite to get ready for next expansion? I'm going to have to drop power for precision to kitten around with trying to land as many fire and forget hits as possible so that kitten up my kind of build and stealth setup players are going to have to play more like I currently do or they get no malice at all.

I don't want to be discouraged from using my Stealth skills. Now stealth skills consume and reset my malice stacks? As it is right now apart from some skills or traits being a bit jankey, a patch fix or two can smooth that out but most play styles can currently operate with Deadeye. This change would favor my build and play style, but it sounds like it would totally dismantle and shelve other playstyles and builds.

You're basically creating the same feedback loop of skill/initiative to trait modifiers that makes Staff daredevil/acro so fluid as a melee frontline build but with Malice and range because why?

Try reading the post, hello? Yes, they consume your malice but youa lso gain it WAY faster

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So if Death's Judgment is gonna become the new Rifle stealth attack, what will become of Cursed Bullet? I really like that boon-strip that CB has/it's also helpful in PoF open-world when bursting down Awakened in the new maps (getting rid of their Protection is super useful). Will Death's Judgment retain that functionality as the new Rifle stealth attack?

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@kash.9213 said:Are you guys trying to tank this elite to get ready for next expansion? I'm going to have to drop power for precision to kitten around with trying to land as many fire and forget hits as possible so that kitten up my kind of build and stealth setup players are going to have to play more like I currently do or they get no malice at all.

I don't want to be discouraged from using my Stealth skills. Now stealth skills consume and reset my malice stacks? As it is right now apart from some skills or traits being a bit jankey, a patch fix or two can smooth that out but most play styles can currently operate with Deadeye. This change would favor my build and play style, but it sounds like it would totally dismantle and shelve other playstyles and builds.

You're basically creating the same feedback loop of skill/initiative to trait modifiers that makes Staff daredevil/acro so fluid as a melee frontline build but with Malice and range because why?

the idea is to generate malice and use it through your stealth attacks to gain the bonus and repeat.

imo it's much better than having malice only as a % modifier and waiting for it to stack.

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This seems a bit... bad, to be perfectly honest. By far, my favourite way to play and enjoy deadeye has been with pistol/pistol and no stealth - allowing for tagging with deadeye's mark, attacking and finishing off with a few unloads. As I understand from the changes, my malice generation will ramp up a little quicker if I change my rotation a bit, but the use of said malice will likely disappear. On top of that, trait changes worry me since I've not found any issues with what's on offer. Different traits are supposed to offer different playstyles, one of which has suited me perfectly fine up until now. Hell, as far as traits and build synergy go, my deadeye is currently my favourite character.

I'm hoping that these changes will be positive in the end - but I'm actually quite worried about what will happen to one of my characters when this goes live. Currently I've got a durable dpser who can dispatch of trash in the blink of an eye, but still offer solid damage in a prolonged fight due to malice building up... I don't see any reason to have to use this in an attempt to make rifle more appealing.

EDIT: After posting, I realised that the idea of deadeye mechanics being "confusing" reminded me of the new player experience. Feeding cows, putting out fires and an optional chess-like mini-game aren't confusing; and neither is waiting and gradually building a damage buff. The specialisation and rifle aren't popular because it's not top tier in raids and fractals, not because it's bad or difficult to understand.

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@Elxdark.9702 said:

@kash.9213 said:Are you guys trying to tank this elite to get ready for next expansion? I'm going to have to drop power for precision to kitten around with trying to land as many fire and forget hits as possible so that kitten up my kind of build and stealth setup players are going to have to play more like I currently do or they get no malice at all.

I don't want to be discouraged from using my Stealth skills. Now stealth skills consume and reset my malice stacks? As it is right now apart from some skills or traits being a bit jankey, a patch fix or two can smooth that out but most play styles can currently operate with Deadeye. This change would favor my build and play style, but it sounds like it would totally dismantle and shelve other playstyles and builds.

You're basically creating the same feedback loop of skill/initiative to trait modifiers that makes Staff daredevil/acro so fluid as a melee frontline build but with Malice and range because why?

the idea is to generate malice and use it through your stealth attacks to gain the bonus and repeat.

imo it's much better than having malice only as a % modifier and waiting for it to stack.

I'll just have to miss running into those builds then and basically see the same deadeye all over. I guess the complaints about those stealth DE's lurking around camps and stuff didn't go unnoticed. If a malice dump stealth skill is going to be DE signature, one weapon set is going to reign. I like S/D, but don't need the extra endurance. I'll shut up and wait and see like everyone else but this change sounds like a tighter funnel into one DE build.

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In addition to restoring endurance, a successful Tactical Strike hit should also steal life (or simply self-heal) increased by malice. As it stands, even with restored endurance, it remains a lackluster Stealth-Attack with laughable damage. :(

I would also like to know what will become of Cursed Bullet. I enjoyed having a ranged unblockable attack with great utility and moderate damage in the current iteration of the game where blocks/reflects/general projectile hate are everywhere.

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i could see alot of problems with the malice change if the traits would remain the same, but as we dont know what they will be like..now will we lose our malice if the stealth attack does not hit, like a warrior missing his burst skills? adrenaline will still be faster build up than malice tho.

if there is still a trait for 7 malice stacks, then we need 4 initative costing skills minimum to get to max. how much resources will we still have to go into stealth and actually use those malice stacks in a stealth attack? or will the deadeye now have cheaper stealth access?

i hope rifle standing stealth skill is cursed bullet and turns now a boon for every malice and kneeling stealth skill is DJ so we can spamm it at max malice as stealth skills do not cost 6 initative..

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@Gaile Gray.6029 said:Here's a quick example of a new trait that is aimed at improving Fire for Effect boon-sharing builds while also providing a meaningful damage bonus.

Premeditation: Gain +180 concentration and increase your strike damage by 1% for each unique boon on you.

Is there any possibility that deadeye becomes a relevant support option, or is that complete trait line just for filling's sake?

Edit: while we're at it, scrapper may need some rework to give it an actual spec mechanic.

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Don't get me wrong - I'm glad they are giving the spec some attention - it NEEDS it - but I'm not sure these changes are going to address the core issues. Deadeye gives up mobility and AOE damage... for what exactly? Other specs easily do more damage with fewer restrictions placed on them.

And its more than just the damage that is at issue here. They touched on rifle being bland in the notes, and I agree... but I disagree with them on WHY it feels bland. IMO it feels bland, not because of its combos/adaptability, but because of kneel.... which is apparently still a thing that exists after this rework. You are literally locked into place pressing buttons. It doesn't really get any less engaging than that and I don't see how changing up a few rifle skills is going to change things.

I'm guessing they didn't bother adding any Deadeye-specific traits for pistol based on the notes... which is a shame... because it fits in with the markmen-like nature of the profession very well. I would love, love, LOVE it if they gave Deadeye the old ricochet trait back so we could use p/p as an AOE option but that probably won't happen.

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