“Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station!” — There is no better example of damage in the Star Wars galaxy than the scene attached to that quote. Each week in Fully Operational, join Kray as he takes a look at the damage dealing role in Star Wars: The Old Republic. And yes, we’ll blow up a planet if we get the chance.
Back in August (I’ve been slacking!) we went over all the advanced classes in The Old Republic that you can choose from to deal your damage. Republic here, Empire here. The sharper tacks among you may be saying “… but Kray! Every class can deal damage! How does that make any sense?!” Aside from telling you to lay off the exclamation points, I would say you are indeed right. TOR is pretty unique in the fact that no matter what you choose, you have at least one skill tree available for damage dealing. And that’s what we’re talking about today.
(Almost) Everyone’s a Hybrid!
Flexibility is key when it comes to the advanced classes in TOR — nearly any character you create will have the ability to spec as either a tank or a healer from within their advanced class. To give a quick review, consult the hastily-constructed chart below.
As you can see, we have three tanks, three healers, and a ton of dps. The thing about it is, that chart doesn’t even take into account the fact that, in addition to the two specific roles that you can spec into, each class has a shared tree that can be accessed by either advanced class. Good Lord, that gets confusing fast!
What we really need to take away from this is the idea that you should stay open-minded. Sure, you may only want to deal damage or tank or heal or jump around wearing a dress, but BioWare is giving us OPTIONS and we should use them! Unfortunately, that flexibility will come at a cost, as BioWare has not confirmed a dual spec system for launch, meaning if your group needs you to switch roles or you want to alternate between PvE and PvP, you’re going to have to come up with the credits to do so every time. Personally, with a system as flexible as this, I think the absence of dual specs is a huge design flaw, but we’ll have to see how things go after launch.
If you’re a die-hard DPSer and want to have the most options available to you, you’ll either want to be a Sentinel/Marauder or Gunslinger/Sniper, depending on your range and faction preferences. Each of those advanced classes will have 3 dedicated DPS trees available to choose from. I’m no engineer (that’s a lie), but that’s at least 40 bajillion different ways to kill stuff.
The Hybrid Tax
One issue you’ll see people ranting and raving about all over the Internet is something that World of Warcraft dubbed the “hybrid tax”. For those not familiar, this is the concept that since Marauders can only fill a DPS role, they should be better at it than a Mercenary, who has the option of switching to heals if a group requires it. Being the best on paper supposedly ensures that the so-called “pure” damage classes will always have a spot available for them in groups. First off, this is a complete logical fallacy, as 99.9% of groups running flashpoints and operations will take many factors into account rather than raw dps, such as gear, skill, ranged versus melee, and the general likability of a person. On this note let’s switch over to a July quote from Georg Zoeller, Principle Lead Combat Designer for The Old Republic.
It’s simple. Let’s say you have a DPS-focused Jedi Guardian or Sith Juggernaut. You get to wear heavy armor. You get to do a small amount of damage less than, say, a Gunslinger who isn’t wearing heavy armor. Well, in reality it’s not really that simple at all.
This particular bit is referring to PvP, but you get the gist — the difference in damage between classes is negligible, and we should trust BioWare to ensure everything is balanced in the end. The people on the forums are incessant when it comes to this sort of thing, so Georg responded again just a few days ago:
The design for the game is that if you fully spec into a specific role (dps, tank, healer), you will be comparable in effectiveness to characters of all other classes in the same role. No second class healers, tanks, or dps.
A DPS Juggernaut is a pure DPS character, not a hybrid.
Yes, the hybrid tax exists. No, it is not going to affect your gameplay. On a long crazy fight, a Juggernaut might be able to survive longer than a Marauder due to having a few survivability buttons and heavy armor, thus doing more damage over the course of the fight! Don’t let naysayers fool you, pick what advanced class you want.
Keep in mind this point doesn’t apply when you refer to where exactly you place your talent points. If you try to make a Vanguard build that’s half tank and half dps, you’re going to be subpar at both — there’s no getting around that. If you want to be doing the best damage possible, you’ll need to pick mostly damage talents!
How Companions Fit In
From a leveling or small groups perspective, none of this really matters too much. The fact of the matter is, BioWare’s companion system in TOR means that no matter what you pick, you can choose a companion to compliment your character. If you’re a Jedi Sage with healing and damage talents, grab a tanking companion and go to town. If you’re a Bounty Hunter Powertech focused on tanking, get yourself a dps character to help you mow things down. Each class has a full set of companions that will be able to fill any role you might need while flying through the galaxy fixing (or causing!) problems. The Old Republic is giving us a lot of options, and a lot of ways to use them.
If you liked this article, be sure to check back next Friday for another regularly scheduled episode of Fully Operational. Can’t get enough of me? Follow me on Twitter for more updates and musings.