Continuing his streak of highly informative posts on the main SWTOR forums, Principal Lead Combat Designer Georg Zoeller, voted most likely in his class to scream out “Mein Luftkissenfahrzeug ist voller Aale!” at inappropriate times, stopped by once more to enlighten us about Smugglers and their Cover mechanics.
All Smugglers have access to cover, but depending on Advanced Class and Skill set, cover plays a less or more important role for your gameplay.
A Gunslinger with lots of points in the Sniper tree will have made cover a core part of their combat routine, with abilities like ‘Entrench’ and ‘Cover Pulse’ improving the utility and protection their cover ability offers, while utilizing several ‘cover only’ abilities for heavy frontloaded damage. There’s some interesting dynamics in this kind of setup as well, such as a skill that makes your next Snipe instant after rolling to cover…
A Scoundrel on the other hand will have fewer abilities that modify their cover mechanic and can be played in a way that does not rely on cover very much or at all. Their Stealth Field generator allows them to approach targets unseen and they have a decent arsenal of close to mid range scatter gun abilities and melee moves to round out their blaster capabilities.
Unlike the previously described Sniper (who values a very deliberate, planned approach to combat), the scattergun specced Scoundrel is much more about getting deep into the action, guns blazing…
Although his points were made directly in regard to the Smuggler class, we can assume that the Imperial Agent will operate much in the same way.
Now for starters, we have further confirmation that the Smuggler’s reliance upon Cover is really going to depend upon his Advanced Class choices. Clearly, BioWare envisions the two Advanced Classes here being potentially quite different in their approach to dealing damage. The Scoundrel, he states, does not rely on cover “very much or at all,” eschewing all that for a chance to sneak around on the battlefield unseen. Portable Cover for the Gunslinger on the other hand, will be crucial part of their repertoire.
Georg also mentions two abilities here, ‘Entrench’ and ‘Cover Pulse’, which have been referenced previously in one of his developer blogs. There, Georg describes the two (in reference to the Imperial Agent), stating:
The Sniper’s entire skill tree has been reworked to include PvP feedback from internal and external tests. The Sniper is now able to entrench himself, providing a viable initial counter against attacks that would previously knock him out of cover. The Sniper also gained Cover Pulse, a player triggered pulse mine that can knock an unsuspecting attacker away from the Sniper.
This was great news for Imperial Agents and Smugglers alike, especially those who have an eye on PvP play. This will probably not be nearly as important in PvE, but in PvP, the combination of abilities seem to offer quite a bit of utility and survivability for aspiring Snipers/Gunslingers. If both Advanced Classes make heavy usage of ‘Cover Only’ abilities, it would be extremely frustrating to find yourself knocked out of cover at every chance by your opponents. Hopefully, ‘Entrench’ and ‘Cover Pulse’ will be just what the doctor ordered.
In the end, no one will be necessarily forced to utilize Cover if they don’t want to, and it seems that specced correctly, an Imperial Agent or Smuggler may be able to avoid the mechanic entirely (though I personally find it quite intriguing).
How do you intend to play your own Agent or Smuggler? Previously, the devs’ mention of the possibility of playing a ‘stealth healer‘ sparked my interest. My own agent, should I play one down the line, would probably fall into that category, but I’m also very curious to see how the ‘scattergun and stealth’ playstyle ends up working.
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