As mentioned in our previous posts, the focus of the next few Alpha tests is to rework the remaining Battle Disciplines so that their core mechanics are more fleshed out and we can begin to truly balance the game's combat. Today I wanted to share with you a little more about what we're doing for the Musketeer.
Decision Making, Awareness, Preparation
When considering the play style of the Musketeer, three phrases come to mind: Decision Making, Awareness, and Preparation. As the primary healing class in the game, the Musketeer features a fast playstyle that can feel quite hectic at times. Not only are you responsible for managing your collection of floating orbs and using them at the right time, you've also got to pay attention to the health and well-being of your fellow party members. Although mechanically speaking the Musketeer doesn't feature the same sorts of challenges as the Runemage or Ranger (because there's no runes to memorize and you have the advantage of firing your shots in a straight line), instead it emphasizes fast-paced decision making during battle and preparing appropriately for the fight.
Note: Not all orb icons are in yet, hence some are duplicated currently.
Your fight preparation is key to success. The Musketeer has the second-largest arsenal of abilities in the game, behind only the Runemage. Unlike the Runemage, however, the Musketeer does not have access to all of their tools at once. Instead, they can choose to equip four orbs to have access to during combat. You equip orbs just like any other piece of gear, and during the Alpha you'll start with all of them available in your inventory. (During the live game you'll have to earn them as you level up). Each orb has its own strengths and weaknesses, serving a unique role. The new system also opens up the ability to outfit your Musketeer as a Support DPS role, a Healer, or a hybrid of the two, depending on what your party needs.
The currently available orbs are:
Renew: Provides a heal over time effect for a moderate period of time. Has a very short cooldown. This is your bread-and-button healing orb, as it will frequently be available. However, since the healing it does occurs slowly over time, you have to use it effectively and make sure that you don't fall behind the healing needs of your party, or you'll find that your heals take too long to work to save them.
Cure Wounds: Provides a large heal immediately. However, the cooldown is nearly 3x as long as that of Renew, so this orb will need to be reserved for key moments in the fight such as area of effect attacks.
Shield: Places a shield on your allies that absorbs a moderate amount of damage, but the shield lasts only a short time before expiring. The key to this orb is knowing the fight; the shield is powerful but it only lasts a short time, so you need to use it at the right moment to mitigate the maximum amount of damage. Has a medium cooldown, so you can use it more often than Cure Wounds.
Decurse: Removes a negative status effect ("debuff") from your party members. Like all of your other abilities, this can affect multiple targets at once if your group is well-positioned, which will be key for some fights.
Lifewell: Places an area of effect on the ground where it strikes that lasts for a moderate period of time. Allies who stand in the area will heal damage. It's vital that your teammates work with you to get the maximum healing out of this ability; it's on a long cooldown, but if used effectively it's by far the largest healing you can do.
Poison: An offensive orb that places a damage over time effect on your enemies. Shares the same stacking counter as the Ranger's Poison Arrow, so be sure to keep that in mind.
Frost: An offensive orb which can do a small amount of damage and slow targets. Pairs well with a Runemage using Ice Lance.
Gravity: An offensive orb which creates a gravity well where it strikes, pulling in nearby monsters and briefly stunning them. If used effectively, this can be a great tool for setting up awesome combo moves with your other orbs to apply status effects to lots of creatures at once, as well as helping your party members do additional damage as well. Shares diminishing returns with other CC abilities, including the Runemage's Pushback and Polymorph spells.
Weakness: An offensive orb which weakens enemies to increase damage dealt to them for a short period of time. Time this well with your other party members for maximum damage.
In previous tests, the Musketeer's orbs just spawned at random, and they all shared the same cooldown and buff/debuff duration. Now, you choose what orbs to equip, and they each have their own separate cooldown as well as durations. So that means if you use your Renew orb, you know it will always be available again 6 seconds later.
Your Turret Knows Some New Tricks
In addition to the new orbs above, we've re-worked the Musketeer's trusty turret so that it can now be useful for both damage and healing roles. By default, it retains its current behavior; while deployed, it will automatically attack nearby targets to increase your damage output.
However, you can also now "shake" the turret before deploying it to change it a healing mode. In this mode, the turret will automatically provide an ongoing blast of healing to nearby allies. It will prioritize the allies nearby that are lowest in health. However, it doesn't have infinite range, so choosing a good deployment spot is going to be key to effectively using it.
The turret also retains its current behavior of amplifying your orbs if you choose to sacrifice it by firing at it yourself. That's super helpful for doing massive healing or applying status effects to large groups of targets. In order to make this choice more meaningful, we are also increasing the cooldown of the turret so that it takes longer to respawn after being sacrificed.
Our goal with providing you with these orbs to choose from and the turret system is to maximize the number of pre-battle decisions you can make to have a meaningful impact on your group's success. We anticipate that advanced Musketeers will frequently change their loadout several times even in the same dungeon run, and even switch their turret style mid-battle.
Battlefield Awareness Is Key
Since all of your abilities have a small range upon exploding, it's vital that you have excellent battlefield awareness to get the most out of your abilities. Getting off a heal on multiple targets, or a poisoning multiple enemies, is going to make a big difference in your overall ability to contribute to the fight.
And that also goes for your fellow party members as well. Groups that know when to group up (and when to spread out!), pay attention to when Lifewell is active, and coordinate their attacks to take advantage of the Weakness debuff on enemies, will have a much easier time taking on the various challenges that await you in the world.
You'll get a chance to test out the Musketeer as well as all of the new orbs during the next Alpha test in less than two weeks. Keep in mind when you do, the abilities still may not be very balanced yet, so don't be surprised if the turret does a little too much (or too little!) healing, or the cooldown on something feels a bit off. We'll keep fine-tuning those things as we progress into Beta.
See you then!