So recently as I was working through the forums and old updates on the Kickstarter page I came across this realization.
Blasters are not in the launch plans for City of Titans.
This was confirmed in a post a short while back by Dr Tyche (I cannot find that post now, likely it was removed because it contained the chart which is old information now that the glossary has been released). At the time, disappointment and sadness swept over me, but no more. Today I initiate my plan to return blasters to the forefront of the game's launch and hopefully provide compelling reasoning for including them over the current selection despite their issues. At the very least, this will provide a place for other blasters to vent about the news.
Given the situation the game faces, the reasoning behind this decision is completely understandable. Blasters were always a tough and difficult archetype for the devs in our predecessor game, and I can understand the trepidation at not wanting to tackle them for launch. As a class they were problematic for the 9 years of life that the game had, going through more iterations then any other class in an attempt to repair glaring deficiencies. Note that blasters were the only class data-mined to be performing significantly below the average of every other class. This was the impetus for the first Defiance. Later, they were altered again when data-mining proved that blasters were still under-performing, giving us the second form of defiance that lasted until the game's end. But even that was not enough, as major changes to the way the class functioned and it's secondary power sets worked was slated for the final issue I24. These changes never made it out of Beta. I got to test out many of those changes near the end on the Beta server and even then, i was not convinced that all the alterations the CoH devs had made would go far enough to help the class.
So blasters are problematic, no one doubts that. They were poorly defined for the life of the game. Initially the term glass cannon got thrown around a lot, but if there's one thing that MMO's keep proving again and again, it's that glass cannons are not that fun to play (see Wildstar's Spellslinger for the latest example). A lot of this poor definition came from the nature of the class's secondary power sets. These were so poorly defined in what they did, they complicated the issue in a very extreme way. This is an issue that no doubt must plague the developers here in this game as well. Most of the blaster secondaries were a bad mix of melee attacks, self buffs, and soft controls and debuffs that were ridiculously difficult to balance for and contributed to most of the performance issues the class suffered. Despite all of these issues, and all of the challenge surrounding making a blaster class in this game that will perform as well as the others, it must be taken on. The game cannot launch with Corruptors as the primary ranged damage archetype for the game.
The game intends to launch with classes that will define what powers will mean going forward into the game. In a smart move, the devs have decided to go for the most part with the original 5. Tankers, controllers, defenders, and scrappers (along with a few others) will all be there at the start and will all be available to play. Each of these 4 types strongly identifies with the primary powersets of each class. The problem when you get to ranged is that all of the initial problems that were present with the Corruptor class you get mixed into the initial launch of the game. The accusations that they're just reverse defenders. The accusations that they don't do enough damage to be "real" damage dealers and they don't offer enough support to be "real" support archetypes. Why take a Striker when you can take a Gladiator or Guardian who will do the job better?
And the Striker will HAVE to be a middle of the road class. Otherwise the mix of support and ranged damage will push it into territory that makes it impossible to balance. These are the exact same issues that the Guardian will have as well. Successfully balancing the class will require either a reduction of it's ranged capabilities or a reduction of it's support capabilities at least in part, pushing the two closer together. And do we really want the game to launch with two classes that are mistaken for each other? I think the damage that could cause to the game would be problematic and could easily lead us to the scenario where ranged damage is avoided altogether. Another potential problem is that if they do become the baseline for ranged damage, does melee damage get nerfed in such a way as to bring them to parity? Because people will ask why melee damage is so good and ranged damage is so bad.
Masteries will not be able to mitigate this issue significantly. A strong ranged damage class is required at launch. If the challenge of taking on the offensive mitigation/manipulation secondary is too much, then consideration should be made to allow for the gunner class/spec to go forward. That would at least allow for a strong ranged damage class with less confusion between it and the Guardian. But strong ranged damage is a requirement that I do not think the Striker can provide and you're setting the table without a butter knife if you move forward with it.
Another question this decision begs for an answer is if not at launch, when? The work won't be any less after launch. And given that the chart that floats around has no original archetype under the offensive mitigation column besides blasters, does not bode well. How tempting will it be to put off the class for other lower hanging fruit? Why work on blasters, when they could pump out new archetypes for class/specs that are better defined and easier to make? If not now, when? After Taskmasters are done?
Nevermind the legion of fans who will wonder why they can't make a blaster at launch of the game, of which I number among. Given the legacy that this game is trying to live up to, it's a consideration that needs to be made. At launch, I'll be able to make Superman, The Invisible Woman, Batman, Captain America, Wolverine, Wonder Woman and a host of others. But I won't be able to make Cyclops, or Johnny Storm, or the Punisher, or Iron Man. That is a problem.
As to the work itself, there are things that can be done. From a design standpoint I get the issues with the blaster secondaries and I plan to tackle them VERY soon. But given the issues listed above, there is much cause for alarm at this decision. I hope I've provided some of the reasons for why it should be reconsidered. Thanks for listening.