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Focused Feedback: Mercenaries Revamp


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Mercenaries

Burst, Slug, and M30 Grenade

  • Each of these attacks applies a Focused Fire tag on the target for 30s.
  • Each power's tag will increase Mercenary ranged damage by 3.33%, up to a maximum of 10%.

Equip Mercenary

  • Henchmen passive resistances have been moved to this upgrade.
  • Equip Mercenary now accepts Resistance sets and enhancements.
  • By slotting this power with resistance enhancements, players will be able to improve the henchmen's passive resistances.

Tactical Upgrade

  • This power now grants henchmen passive Ranged and AoE defenses.
  • Now accepts Defense sets and enhancements, will boost henchmen defenses.
  • By slotting this power with defense enhancements, players will be able to improve the henchmen's passive defenses.

Serum

  • Power can now only be activated when targeting a mercenary, can no longer be accidentally wasted by targeting a different pet like Dark Servant
  • Power now buffs all henchmen (animation only plays on main target).
  • Recharge reduced from 1000 seconds to 500 seconds.
  • Power no longer has a crash.
  • The power now grants strong defensive and offensive buffs that slowly decay over a 2 minute window.

Henchmen

  • Their entire power repertoire revamped.
  • Powers have been added, adjusted, and replaced.
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Serum is really good now, only quibble I have is that the ToHit buff it gives hasn't been increased from the old implementation, but now it decays. +7.5% ToHit is not a big amount to begin with, I don't think it also needs to decay over the life of the power.

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Okay, so far, I am in *love* with these mercs changes. I copied a bunch of my live characters over to beta as I had some that I wanted to specifically test. Now, with my Mercs/Traps MM, I have been trying to solo the Black Scorpion patron arc and have been failing miserably. I'm playing at +0/x4 and no matter how carefully I tried to set up all my tricks and traps and haul the crey to their doom, I failed miserably. My mercs couldn't do enough damage, I couldn't do enough to keep them alive... It was a mess.

 

So, my first test was to test the toon exactly as she is in Live. So even without a respec into things like Serum or loading her up with some freebie enhancements (she's underslotted atm on live), I made it through the first wave that's right at the door entrance in the Attack Crey Lab mish. I'm not even sure I can put into the right words how much more improved the experience was that I wasn't running out the mish door nearly dead because I couldn't summon and buff fast enough to stay alive. I left them at these settings for a few spawns to keep getting a feel for it, started losing some mercs, but no catastrophic failures. 

 

After clearing the first floor I decided to respec the toon and provide it with enhancements. No sets or anything, just basic IO's like I do for my toons on live. Again, another marked improvement. Wow... I now properly feel as if mercenaries can properly contend with the other front runners of MM henchmen. Granted, I cannot tell just yet how much my personal attacks are aiding, but I went from feeling like I was going to delete this toon to now being very excited to play her and feel almost as powerful as my Ill/Traps controller does. Now when I leave shellcasings everywhere, they come with a side of actually arresting enemies. 😛

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Global: @Valnara1; Formerly @TigerGoddess on Live

I primarily play on Everlasting, but you may occasionally find me on Indom. 🙂

Notable Characters: Apocolyptica - Demons/Storm MM; Lurking Monster - Human-Form WS; Environmentabot - Bots/Nature MM; Miss Fade - Ill/Traps Controller; Sister Apocalypse - Beast/Dark MM; Dr. Elaina Wrath - Plant/Rad Controller (Join the House of Wrath, and spread the word of science!); ACE 9000 - Fire/Rad Sentinel

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10 hours ago, The Curator said:

Henchmen

  • Their entire power repertoire revamped.
  • Powers have been added, adjusted, and replaced.

This tail-end bit feels like it needs, uh, some detail.

 

All this sounds amazingly good though!

Edited by Clave Dark 5
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Hi, I'm Clave Dark 5!  You may remember me from such characters as King Pumpkin Spice, Stupid Like A Fox, Capt Sam's Space Zoo, The Pink Bamfer, Trash Ghost, Maid Of Metal... as well as a few really stupid AE arcs!

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13 hours ago, Clave Dark 5 said:

This tail-end bit feels like it needs, uh, some detail.

 

It intentionally doesn't because otherwise people read the patch notes, don't bother testing anything, and argue for pages after pages on performance based on what they read, rather than any actual play testing. While this always happens, last page it was egregious enough that for this Powers Preview patch we're just not going to be giving extreme detail on things. People should test. We want feedback based on how all the changes combined impact performance, rather than people isolating a single change and crying bloody murder while ignoring everything else.

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5 minutes ago, Faultline said:

It intentionally doesn't because otherwise people read the patch notes, don't bother testing anything, and argue for pages after pages on performance based on what they read, rather than any actual play testing. While this always happens, last page it was egregious enough that for this Powers Preview patch we're just not going to be giving extreme detail on things. People should test. We want feedback based on how all the changes combined impact performance, rather than people isolating a single change and crying bloody murder while ignoring everything else.

 

 

Oof 😄

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4 hours ago, Faultline said:

People should test.

People have always misunderstood that and thought that they "should [be] testy."  😃

 

Ok, that makes sense.

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Hi, I'm Clave Dark 5!  You may remember me from such characters as King Pumpkin Spice, Stupid Like A Fox, Capt Sam's Space Zoo, The Pink Bamfer, Trash Ghost, Maid Of Metal... as well as a few really stupid AE arcs!

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On 10/5/2022 at 8:04 AM, Wavicle said:

I don't know if this is true of all MMs, but Mercenaries, when you dismiss them, their SHADOWS run away 8 times.


Similar behaviour has also been reported in the current game, namely the sick RIPs and cured Lost.

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I went and tested my "CDF Assassins" (Mercs/Nature) build.  Even without taking Serum, they're much improved.  There's two main reasons for that.

First is the "minor" change from the Page 4 patch, the one that altered their redraw.  Before, Mercs would usually redraw their weapons when they switched targets, especially when commanded to.  This really bit into their damage.  Now they almost never redraw, instead spinning and smoothly laying into the new target without a pause.

Second is the changed behavior of Page 5's upgrades--not the defensive stuff, though that's pretty damn sweet, I gotta say.  Previously, Tactical Upgrade replaced attacks for the Soldiers.  Now it addsSoldiers in particular benefit, as they go from having three attacks when fully upgraded to six.  They fire pretty well non-stop now, going from "eh, it's okay DoTs" to "MOAR DOTS holy crap that's a lotta dots, what'd you do, open a bag-full?"

Commando got a little more single-target in the form of a couple of added ST attacks, without losing any of his AoE.  Spec-Ops got damage added to Flashbang, plus another ST attack from Equip (bringing them to 4 ST ranged attacks fully upgraded).  Medic's still kinda meh, but still useful in his way.

If I had a complaint, it's this:  Assault Rifle Auto Fire for the Soldiers should be a little wider.  How about 10 degrees instead of 5?  15 to match Robot Battle Drones would be nice--it'd certainly round out their AoE a bit better.

That said, they are in general much improved.

 

*edit*

 

Having done a respec (which I'll certainly be tweaking later), I've got to say having both Serum and Overgrowth available really improves things.  I can either use one to cover the gaps in the other's downtime, or use both together to really crank their damage output.  The attacks also make for a fun little game of "who gets a little more damage?" as well as giving me more to do and making it so I don't have to stand around so much.  They also make using Bodyguard much more viable.

Edited by Decaying Rose
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  • Developer

To expand a little bit on what Faultline stated above: 

We are not giving extreme details on powers that players don't activate directly. Powers that are controlled by the AI will usually get more broad patch notes about performance adjustments.

 

Player powers will continue to get as precise notes as possible.

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I just logged off of the test server. This is my focused feedback.

 

I remade my beloved Merc/FF MM from live at level 30. All SOs, except for a Performance Shifter proc in Stamina.

 

Did some street sweeping in Brickstown, mostly against Freakshow, going all the way up to +6s. I did this specifically because, if I remember correctly, Freaks have S/L resistance.

 

Holy &$*^# Batmanuel! I don't know what you did to the mercs powers but I actually want to play them again. They were killing stuff as fast as my Bots MMs. The Medic wasn't dying constantly, and he was actually healing my soldiers.

 

Also, Serum actually seems worth taking as well.

 

As with the Sentinel improvements, I think the devs hit this nail right on the head as well.

Edited by PeregrineFalcon
Another thought.
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"It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed, the hands acquire posts, the posts become warning points. It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion."

 

Being constantly offended doesn't mean you're right, it means you're too narcissistic to tolerate opinions different than your own.

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On 10/5/2022 at 2:59 AM, Clave Dark 5 said:

This tail-end bit feels like it needs, uh, some detail.

 

All this sounds amazingly good though!


Just going through and comparing to City of Data I put this together for a friend who was asking. Some of this might be off, and I apologize if so. Sometimes MM upgrades seem to replace an attack with a slightly better version of that same attack, so that can be hard to pick out of "new powers" compared to "slightly improved power." I might've also missed something here or there.

TL;DR version though: Most of the egregiously long cast times reduced to 1.00 - 1.67 seconds, KB turned into KD, spec ops mez is more like 9s instead of 2s, pets get +DEF to range/AoE at final upgrade.

Soldiers: Attack has the same damage/debuff but cast time is less than half; RES moved to upgrade (so it can be slotted)
First upgrade: Now grants 2 attacks instead of just 1
Second upgrade: Now gets +DEF to range and AoE

Medic: Med kit animation significantly faster
First upgrade: Attack animation significantly faster
Second upgrade: Stimulant animation significantly faster, frag grenade is KD instead of KB, gets +DEF

Spec Ops: Attack cast times significantly faster, RES moved to upgrade
First upgrade: Flashbang mez time about 4x as long, gets a new high damage attack
Second upgrade: Attack cast times significantly faster, tear gas mez about 4x as long, gets +DEF

Commando: Attack cast times significantly faster (common theme), slug is KD instead of KB, RES moved to upgrade
First upgrade: Buckshot is KD, gets a new high damage attack
Second upgrade: Grenade is KD, flamethrower cast time faster, LRM rocket cast time lowered, recharge halved, and does KD, heavy attack is upgraded to do more damage, gets +DEF

Edited by Dispari
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1 hour ago, Rand0lk said:

My focused feedback: OMG THEY SHOOT. A LOT. I MEAN, A LOT.


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Also noticing they don't move around at all. Though it's been a while since I played mercs.

Noticing the medic has an issue redrawing his gun for almost every attack. (But only sometimes?)

Edited by Dispari
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I am at work right now but Dispari, your posts are making me tingly and HR may not be happy with the results 🙂

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Girls of Nukem High - Excelsior - Tempus Fabulous, Flattery, Jennifer Chilly, Betty Beatdown, Kitty Conflag

Babes of War - Excelsior - Di Di Guns, Krystala, Tideway, Runeslinger, Munitions Mistress, Operative Violet, Boom Boom Britta

 

Several alts and of course my original from live on Freedom, OG High Beam (someone else has her non OG name)

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2 hours ago, Crasical said:

How much is the new slottable Ranged/AOE Defense in Tactical Upgrade?


6.18% range and 3.71% AoE DEF, for all pets (actually it's ever so slightly more for the commando?? Literally only 0.04% more. EDIT: This is probably a result of level scaling and should probably be a static value regardless of level). The Spec Ops also get DEF from their stealth. It takes full slotting so +55% should be about 9.5% range and 5.7% AoE.

Also off topic but the summon and buff animations for mercs are extremely long, can we do something about that?

Edited by Dispari
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I overall like the upgrades to Mercenaries. I've never wanted to make a Mercenaries character before, and now I do! However, my personal bugbear has always been the basic attacks in the Mastermind sets, and Burst, Slug, and M30 Grenade aren't putting up a strong first impression.

 

In my opinion, +3.33% damage per attack is too little. Any MM with a secondary with -res has a better damage improvement option than getting Burst/Slug/M30. It's still not worth the end cost, and even if a build does want the bonus damage it really needs to get all three to get an amount worth noting and that means three power choices. I think this is in the right direction, it encourages coordination with your henchmen instead of just fighting one guy while your henchmen fight the rest, but it needs to be MUCH stronger.

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Transferred my Merc/Traps over from live, noodled around a little bit doing the repeatable missions in dark astoria.

Definitely feels like I'm doing more damage due to my henchmen attacking faster, though the incarnate BP still tore my ass open even through all my layered defense, resistance, and healing. The gimmick of the soldiers going from using SMGs to Assault Rifles when upgraded appears to be gone, they just get more and more attacks as they get upgrade.

 

Does focus fire do much? 
No, not really, at least not versus standard bosses. Vs. AVs and EBs, it will probably be more impactful. It's a small 'gravy' bonus for having the attacks more than a huge change in and of itself. If you didn't take the attacks prior, I don't expect this to change your mind, but if you already took one or two, it's an add-on.

 

Does the slotting change for Equip Mercenary and Tactical Upgrade change much?

Also not really. The extra 8-9% resist from swapping over from an Endred IO (that I didn't need) to a +Res IO was nice, as was the small amount of extra defense.

 

Serum is actually good now! I still have it muling the resistance IOs, but it's a fat +Res/+dam boost for the whole team, and it mez protects against things that my FFG doesn't (Namely, knockdown: I can pop serum to keep my guys from ragdolling everywhere or getting clowned by an ice slick). I found myself using it reactively more than anything, and it was up when I needed it. Nice.


It's a couple small nice things, plus the mercs getting reworked to be more aggressive/faster attacking. It's nice.

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Tanking is only half the battle. The other half...

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Okay so I copied over my level 43 Mercs/Traps MM (kinda stopped playing her even though she was the first character I (re)created when I arrived on HC).  So that means no incarnates and only about half of her slots filled with either IOs or Set IOs.  She is kind of built as a proc monster on certain things and the pets have the RES and DEF procs (1 of each) spread around.

 

Parked in PI and started hitting street mobs (46-48 Possessed Scientists/Death Mage types as well as Rikti and Malta), so we are talking Red to purple.  Now I do have Tactics running.  Bottom line, enemies didn't wipe me out, something that when tested on live in the same area (and same type) was happening.  Granted at 48 there were tough fights but I was doing solo small mobs (3-4).  I am not little miss hardest setting.  Jumped into a Council radio mission (since they are heavily resistant to S/L) and the boys did their job, I even notched the diff up to +2/+4 (about my limit).  On the live version at that same setting, I got my a$$ handed to me.  Also, and this is just because it felt good, I jumped a large spawn of Malta creeps, like 8 or 9 with 2 LTs and the rest minions all yellow or orange.  Wiped their sneaky xenophobic butts.  It felt good.  Hollywood.

 

So in summary I am supremely pleased here.  I have never expected them to be buffed to some kind of uber level and while I still think the issue of their level scaling needs to be addressed, I feel that this is pure win for Mercs.  I mean when my Reinforced Fire Team rolls in with a wall of bullets, the bad guys should die loudly and now they do.  The pace is a little faster and they feel more fluid.

 

I did not test Serum, never took it and may never take it because I am content, I will leave the testing and feedback on that to others.

 

The Resistance and Defense slotting I did test by adding a second slot to each so that those buffs did provide a noticeable (at least to me) improvement when coupled with the pet global in that area.  I will tweak the future build a little to factor this in when it goes live, but not three slots there.

Girls of Nukem High - Excelsior - Tempus Fabulous, Flattery, Jennifer Chilly, Betty Beatdown, Kitty Conflag

Babes of War - Excelsior - Di Di Guns, Krystala, Tideway, Runeslinger, Munitions Mistress, Operative Violet, Boom Boom Britta

 

Several alts and of course my original from live on Freedom, OG High Beam (someone else has her non OG name)

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13 hours ago, Crasical said:

Serum is actually good now! and it mez protects against things that my FFG doesn't (Namely, knockdown: I can pop serum to keep my guys from ragdolling everywhere or getting clowned by an ice slick). I found myself using it reactively more than anything, and it was up when I needed it. Nice.


 

 

Might be the best underappreciated part of serum.  There are very few ways to provide knockback protection to MM pets.  Mercs now has one built in.

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1 hour ago, High_Beam said:

Okay so I copied over my level 43 Mercs/Traps MM (kinda stopped playing her even though she was the first character I (re)created when I arrived on HC).  So that means no incarnates and only about half of her slots filled with either IOs or Set IOs.  She is kind of built as a proc monster on certain things and the pets have the RES and DEF procs (1 of each) spread around.

 

Parked in PI and started hitting street mobs (46-48 Possessed Scientists/Death Mage types as well as Rikti and Malta), so we are talking Red to purple.  Now I do have Tactics running.  Bottom line, enemies didn't wipe me out, something that when tested on live in the same area (and same type) was happening.  Granted at 48 there were tough fights but I was doing solo small mobs (3-4).  I am not little miss hardest setting.  Jumped into a Council radio mission (since they are heavily resistant to S/L) and the boys did their job, I even notched the diff up to +2/+4 (about my limit).  On the live version at that same setting, I got my a$$ handed to me.  Also, and this is just because it felt good, I jumped a large spawn of Malta creeps, like 8 or 9 with 2 LTs and the rest minions all yellow or orange.  Wiped their sneaky xenophobic butts.  It felt good.  Hollywood.

 

So in summary I am supremely pleased here.  I have never expected them to be buffed to some kind of uber level and while I still think the issue of their level scaling needs to be addressed, I feel that this is pure win for Mercs.  I mean when my Reinforced Fire Team rolls in with a wall of bullets, the bad guys should die loudly and now they do.  The pace is a little faster and they feel more fluid.

 

I did not test Serum, never took it and may never take it because I am content, I will leave the testing and feedback on that to others.

 

The Resistance and Defense slotting I did test by adding a second slot to each so that those buffs did provide a noticeable (at least to me) improvement when coupled with the pet global in that area.  I will tweak the future build a little to factor this in when it goes live, but not three slots there.

You're missing out by not taking Serum on beta. It's a truly wonderful addition to what your mercs can already dish out.

Global: @Valnara1; Formerly @TigerGoddess on Live

I primarily play on Everlasting, but you may occasionally find me on Indom. 🙂

Notable Characters: Apocolyptica - Demons/Storm MM; Lurking Monster - Human-Form WS; Environmentabot - Bots/Nature MM; Miss Fade - Ill/Traps Controller; Sister Apocalypse - Beast/Dark MM; Dr. Elaina Wrath - Plant/Rad Controller (Join the House of Wrath, and spread the word of science!); ACE 9000 - Fire/Rad Sentinel

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I am sure at some point I will, but at the moment I have to work out how to fit in the changes that I did test into my overall or new build.  Serum will have to wait at least for now.  But I will pocket your advice for later review.

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Girls of Nukem High - Excelsior - Tempus Fabulous, Flattery, Jennifer Chilly, Betty Beatdown, Kitty Conflag

Babes of War - Excelsior - Di Di Guns, Krystala, Tideway, Runeslinger, Munitions Mistress, Operative Violet, Boom Boom Britta

 

Several alts and of course my original from live on Freedom, OG High Beam (someone else has her non OG name)

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