The Psyker is currently a very hot topic, and recent changes to try to build a better gameplay loop for the Psyker still need a great deal of refinement. Hopefully the detailed feedback and suggestions below can help direct the Psyker Kineticist into a better state.
Psyker Kineticist – Overview
The Psyker is an offensive ‘technical caster’ like Siena from Vermintide, who uses a unique set of abilities and resources to manage threats from afar or in creative ways up close and personal. Currently, the Psyker struggles to accomplish due to a taxed Peril economy, lackluster Feats, and unique features and equipment that don’t quite work together or hit the mark yet.
In current play, this results in a Psyker that is best played in like an anemic Veteran, who exchanges his reliable ranged combat and plethora of features for a powerful armor-piercing Specialist-hunting tool. This playstyle remains relevant all the way up to 25 in my current experience, with much of Psyker’s toolkit underperforming, clashing against other features, or suffering from critical flaws.
- - - - - - Class Features - - - - -
Blitz - Brain Burst
The bread and butter of the Psyker and the core of its gameplay loop, Brain Burst is highly effective but requires a great deal of commitment that needs reliable teammates and good positioning to make use of. The ability to single out important targets and safely dispatch them by breaking Line of Sight creates a unique playstyle that meshes well with Darktide’s core combat rhythm. Brain Burst is the primary (and potentially only) source of Warp Charge stacks, which means that Psykers are expected to make frequent and often consecutive use of the ability to score kills, which… Runs into some problems that will be discussed later.
However, the ability feels clumsy to use and punishes players disproportionately for mistakes that are often outside their control. First, just channeling the ability builds Peril at an shockingly fast rate (20 Peril, almost half the cost of a successful cast!), which can cause Psykers to generate large amounts of Peril very quickly while trying to select the correct target or when allies kill a target they are locked on to.
This is even worse when trying to ‘free-aim’ a target, which costs an additional +10 Peril compared to a solely locked-on casting and a fast, constant Peril gain while holding onto a primed Brain Burst—which can cause a great deal of frustration as Psykers are forced to lose almost their entire Peril budget when attempting a single Brain Burst in situations without long, safe sightlines and ample cover (which is many of them). Because of this, the place of its ‘stagger’ at the half-charged point (and only against weaker targets), and the very minimal mobility provided while channeling Brain Burst the ability is frequently relegated solely to sniping with Lock-on and abandoning the more expensive, clumsy alt-fire completely.
Finally, and this has been difficult to test, Brain Burst seems to have undergone some sort of change to its targeting. It is now noticeably more difficult to correctly target enemies behind cover, at different elevations, or in groups than it was in the Closed Beta. With how expensive committing to a single Brain Burst invocation is it’s extremely disheartening to fail to lock-on to the correct target; or worse, to accidentally complete a cast on a poxwalker and only being able to tell when you don’t get a scoreboard notification afterwards.
Suggestions: Remove the additional 10 Peril cost to cast a free-aimed Brain Burst and greatly reduce the channeling cost for holding a primed Brain Burst—Committing to Channeling is already a significant opportunity cost so you don’t need to tax Perils any further.
Remove the channeling cost for locked-on Brain Burst OR make the stagger occur earlier and against all non-large targets. Not having either hurts utility and usability.
Finally, and this is the most important change I can think of for the Psyker’s kit, please change Brain Burst’s targeting to be more generous and intelligent like it was during the Closed Beta. I cannot stress how vital it is to Psyker being fun and intuitive to play that he is able to correctly target Elites and Specialists in hectic, awkward or crowded situations. If there is any change you make to Psyker after reading this, please let it be this.
EDIT2: As I consistently complete more Heresy runs and make attempts at clearing Damntation consistently, it’s become abundantly clear that Brain Burst does not hold up in the higher difficulties, even with a build and playstyle that attempts to maximize Warp Charges. There needs to be a way to scale the damage of Brain Burst or some innate % damage to make it more consistent and viable at higher level play, especially when compared to its peers.
A Note On Psyker’s Blitz
The Psyker cannot interact with Grenade consumables or allied effects that grant Grenades. This reduces the effect of these support abilities and robs players of a potential reward for working together, exploring, and managing supplies well.
To rectify this, the Psyker should gain 1 Warp Charge any time he would gain a Grenade as a base part of Brain Burst, and full Warp Charges if he becomes able to pick up a Grenade consumable.
Aura – Psykinetic’s Aura
The actual impact of +10% Elite Damage is difficult to quantify at this stage in the game, but it appears by all experience to be a good effect that strongly encourages cohesion—which means that the frail, immobile Psyker will have the friends around that he needs.
Class Ability – Psy Wrath
The Psyker’s last line of defense and their sole ticket to escaping death by Perils, Psy Wrath fits well into the Psyker’s kit but needs some tuning to truly shine. Psy Wrath is far and away the worst Class Ability among the four classes currently as it lacks mobility and protection, has very limited effectiveness on small targets, has NO effect on enemies heavier than a guardsman, only effects an awkward cone shape with significant falloff over distance, and unlike other classes it is vital to the Psyker’s resource generation.
This opportunity cost, mixed with the lack of power and range falloff, means that I very seldom find a reason to use Psy Wrath as anything but a Peril battery.
Suggestions: Significantly widen the area of effect and range or change Psy Wrath’s cone shape to a spherical blast centered on the Psyker.
Increase the power of Psy Wrath’s push effect, making it capable of interrupting heavy enemies (Maulers, Mutants, Dogs) and properly moving and knocking down nearby light foes.
Iconic Ability – Warp Charges
A stacking damage buff for successfully integrating your Brain Blast (and later, Feats) into your playstyle works well to encourage weaving psychic abilities in combat.
Suggestion: None! Warp Charges themselves are fantastic, the lack of sources is the only issue related to them.
EDIT2: I strongly suggest that Warp Charges decay one at a time, or have a dramatically longer
Iconic Ability – Battle Meditation
Oh boy, this is… This is bad. Battle Meditation is unreliable, has unavoidable anti-synergy with some Psyker’s options, and can’t be properly capitalized on with many weapons. This is currently the worst Iconic in the game by a significant margin and is the only one potentially harmful to its class.
It can provide an extra chaincast of Brain Burst, which is nice, and it would work well with Force Staff if it were more potent but Battle Meditation in its current state is not fun or functional.
Suggestions: Completely rework this Iconic or change it into a Feat if you want to keep it available as an option. My suggested change is “Killing a Specialist stops your powers from generating Peril for 10 seconds”.
- - - - - -Feats - - - - -
Tier-for-Tier the Psyker Kineticist has some of the worst Feats in the game. Many of his Feats lack synergy, have very poor numbers, or simply do not function as intended. Their Toughness Feats are very unreliable and they lack many of the Toughness Regeneration/Damage Resistance and Damage Increases that other classes can take to augment their already superior statlines.
T1-1 (Essence Harvest): Versatile and handy at first glance, Essence Harvest isn’t anywhere near good as it seems. The duration, stretched-thin trickle of Toughness and inability to stack Harvests makes this very difficult to utilize in combat situations even with everything built in its favor.
Suggestion: Reduce the heal-over-time duration to 3s. Allow multiple instances of Harvest to stack, up to a maximum of 3.
T1-2 (Warp Absorption): A reliable, if very small effect. The Psyker does not have access to many Warp Damaging attacks and all but one of them is single target, with that sole exception being cumbersome and weak.
Suggestion: Increase the regained toughness to 30% if the target was an Elite or Specialist. Also, see “Force Sword” and “Force Staff”.
T1-3 (Quietitude): Previously rendered entirely obsolete by the nerfs to itself and Psy Wrath, the updated Quell rates have given it new life when combined with Staves or 4-3 (Mind in Motion) to quickly top off between fights. Sadly, the half conversion rate, lack of Quelling in most scenarios you would actually lose Toughness and want to heal, and the fact that it doesn’t function with Peril Decay make it incredibly underwhelming.
Despite that, it is still the only functional Toughness Feat for Psyker for most of his career, as he doesn’t have any good source of Warp Damage or Charge Stacks until levels 30 and 15 respectively.
Suggestion: Either increase it to 1:1 gain or make it function with natural Peril Decay; Psyker already has next to no defensive features and the worst resilience in the game, you don’t need to shaft him on Toughness Recovery too. Also, see “Force Sword” and “Force Staff”.
EDIT: After testing and examining recorded footage, this does seem to work with all sources of Quell, including natural decay, but it’s very inconsistent. I have seen it working with Psy Wrath and natural decay and not, so this just seems to be a bug that needs to be addressed.
T2-1 (Psykinetic’s Wrath): Completely unusable at this point in time due to anti-synergy with Battle Meditation and a lack of supported equipment. Actual effectiveness outside of this is too difficult to judge for now.
Suggestion: See “Battle Meditation” and “Equipment: Force Sword”. Rename it to “Psychic Warrior” or something so it does not share a name with the Class Ability.
T2-2 (Inner Tranquility): Another ability that is cool in theory but does not work well with the class as it is currently designed. Without 3-1 (Psychic Communion) difficult maintain Charges, they’re forcibly reset in many missions due to downtime/loading areas, and the way to get charges—expensive Brain Burst casts—are what generate the most Peril to begin with. It’s a tool that ensures you’re always getting the least possible out of it, save for an extra cast or two during the butt-end of a holdout (provided, of course, you never need to do anything but cast and don’t lose your Charge stacks to downtime between waves while doing a servoskull minigame…)
Suggestion: Invert the ability’s scaling. “+40% Peril Resistance. This is reduced by 6% per Warp Charge.” This will make the Feat the most functional when it is needed most, help the Psyker build Warp Charges rather than force them to upkeep them, self-balances against BB-spam, and turns the anti-synergy with T6 Warp Charge-consuming abilities into a great synergy.
T2-3 (Wrack & Ruin): Perhaps I am unable to reach its true potential right now, but W&R is very underwhelming in its current state. The Soulblaze radius is exceptionally small, and I frequently see it fail to reach even adjacent guardsmen in the same piece of cover as the Burst’d target. The damage is also very weak, unable to kill a single poxwalker on Malice difficulty. Even if this ability were to be working at a far greater effectiveness and radius it would still be a hard sell, as enemies being near an Elite or Specialist when a cast completes is almost completely out of your control.
Suggestion: Increase the radius to 7m and have the ability inflict 1 Soulblaze for each Warp Charge Stack possessed (minimum 2).
T3-1 (Psychic Communion): A well-designed Feat that encourages cohesion and provides the only true alternative to reliably generate Warp Charges. Unfortunately, T3 is highly competitive for Psyker’s feats, and this is a truly selfish option—which is seemingly mandatory to some builds because many of Psyker’s other Feat choices rely heavily on this one.
Suggestion: Psychic Communion grants a Warp Charge to all Psykers when it activates, not just the owner of the Feat. This will go a long way towards making the Feat less selfish, and enable Warp Charge builds to select other T3 Feats if they can cooperate with another Kineticist.
T3-2 (Psykinetic’s Aura): A mixed bag due to how little content currently exists but it’s soundly designed. The 15% CDR on Elite Kill bonus gets better in higher level play, is future-proofed to help later additions, and while very underwhelming with the current selection of Class Abilities it at least benefits other Psykers.
Suggestion: None! It’s great, it’s everyone else that sucks.
T3-3 (Cerebral Lacerations): A wonderful Feat that seems at odds with the rest of Brain Burst’s design—Brain Burst is intended to kill targets, as almost all Feats and even Brain Burst itself only reward the player if it’s a killing blow. Most targets you’d want to Burst will also die in 1~2 invocations, so this really only shines as damage against Bosses, where it is invaluable.
Suggestion: This one is easy, just grant all Psykers a Warp Charge whenever an enemy under Cerebral Lacerations dies. This solves its anti-synergy with Brain Burst and promotes cooperating to take down threats with your team!
T4-1 (Kinetic Deflection): While not as good as it appears, it is as close to a synergy as Battle Meditation gets in its current state. However, given the Psyker’s squishy statline, missing melee weapons, lack of defensive Feats, and minimal mobility they never want to be in a situation where their best option is to block, making it a Feat that excels at something you’ll never want to do in the first place, at the cost of your class resource, and which doesn’t function if you’ve already used said resource.
Suggestion: Rework to “You lose between 20% and 100% less stamina when blocking attacks, based on your current Peril.” This would synergize well with 2-1 (Psykinetic’s Wrath) and Force Weapons.
T4-2 (Kinetic Shield): This Feat is either nonfunctional or its effect is barely noticeable. On Malice and above Ranged damage becomes incredibly deadly and KS does very little to stop it even if at Critical Peril, nor does it seem to prevent other damage from ‘ranged’ sources like Toxflame and Grenades.
Suggestion: Buff to “33% to 100%” Ranged Toughness Damage Resistance. The Psyker has no way to avoid suppression or to approach ranged units when it is necessary, this would fulfill that role at the cost of their spellcasting to naturally encourage weaving between weapons and psychic powers.
T4-3 (Mind in Motion): Currently the best option by a wide margin, even if compared to my suggested buffs for KD and KS. Quelling is a huge part of the Psyker’s gameplay loop and outside of channeling it is when he is most vulnerable. MiM is a simple change that has game-changing impact for the Psyker by allowing him more opportunities to quell and making it possible to manage Peril in hectic situations that call for many invocations.
Suggestion: None, this is perfect as it is.
EDIT3: Obviously this applies drastically less to builds that use a Force Staff, as it already has built-in MiM-lite and Quells faster.
T5-1 (Warp Battery): Simple. Straightforward. Effective. Interacts with and enhances other parts of Kineticist’s toolkit.
T5-2 (Kinetic Overload): Kinetic Overload is not an ability that functions nicely with the Kineticist’s kit or the Soulblaze-Warp Charge archetype it seems to want to belong to. Single-target damage over time, especially randomly-selected single-target damage over time, is not good and becomes much worse in higher difficulties where enemies are stronger and more numerous.
Suggestion: Completely rework this ability, it is a trap option.
T5-3 (Kinetic Flayer): This ability either isn’t functional, or there is some sort of miscommunication with how it works. Regardless, an ability that I cannot control, with a lengthy cooldown, that doesn’t work in the scenarios where I lose my alternative to attacking is not desirable in any way.
Suggestion: Completely rework this ability.
T6-1 (Quicken): Quicken is, unfortunately, outdated already due to the nerf to Psy Wrath’s Peril clear; and even without it I would struggle to call this a worthwhile choice for anything but Burst-Burst-Wrath spam. Currently this capstone serves no purpose and is actively harmful as it exchanges Warp Charge stacks for no meaningful gain.
Suggestion: Completely replace the ability with a support augmentation for Psy Wrath. “Allies within the effect of Psy Wrath regain 60% Toughness and gain 50% Toughness Damage Reduction for 10s.”
T6-2 (Ascendant Blaze): Harder to judge than its peers, Ascendent Blaze finally enables the Blaze-Charge build that so many of Psyker’s Feats have been building up to. However, in practice the gameplay loop it tries to enable is fragile (especially if your squadmates kill most of the afflicted) and struggles to keep up in higher Threat levels where midrange enemies are capable of easily surviving middling stacks of Soulblaze. (I’ve been informed there’s a 4th Force Staff that inflicts this, but I’ve never seen it in person or in game. Limiting a capstone to 1 weapon to be effective is not great, though.)
Suggestion: Change the Feat to allow Any enemy afflicted by Soulblaze dying to trigger the 10% chance, not just death by Soulblaze. This would make it so that teammates cannot accidentally sabotage you, and makes the Charge generation team-friendly instead of stall-oriented.
T6-3 (Kinetic Barrage): The best of a rather fruitless bunch, Kinetic Barrage is the most reliable and powerful option by almost no merit of its own. The discount struggles to be relevant, perhaps enabling a burst of casting in a hectic situation, but the Channel Speed is the real star of the show—something the Psyker can get nowhere else but for such an incredibly limited amount of time. The Feat does lend itself to the idea of using Psy Wrath to send an approaching threat sprawling and then quickly snapping a Brain Burst onto it, but… Psy Wrath doesn’t effect most close-range elites and specialists. Oops.
Suggestion: Increase the Casting Speed bonus to 33% or extend the duration. Also, see “Psy Wrath”.
- - - - - - Equipment - - - - -
The Psyker currently has two unique weapons returning from the closed beta, the Force Sword MkII and the Trauma Force Staff.
Force Sword MkII ‘Blaze’
The Force Sword has an undeniably awkward moveset, an incredibly expensive and difficult to use Special Attack, and coverage of a single-target niche that the Psyker already comes well-equipped to deal with. The weapon was previously not very good but was fun to use due to its unique block and push/attack; but the Force Sword now has a Peril cost associated with both pushing and push-attacking which cripples the weapon by taxing the Psyker’s primary resource, interrupting Peril decay, and potentially locking off one of the core parts off melee combat in the situation they are most reliant on it. This is also a huge anti-synergy with several Feats, which cannot be used with Force Swords due to this change.
Suggestions: Reduce the Peril Cost of the Special Attack to 20, 10 for the initial cast and 10 on a successful follow-up hit. Successfully killing an enemy with the Special Attack should generate a Warp Charge, to reward the player for pulling the manuever off in place of a safer, ranged Brain Burst. Most importantly, the Peril Cost on Push/Push-Attack must be removed. The weapon will not be functional so long as it generates any Peril on this core part of its moveset.
Force Staff ‘Trauma’
The Staff feels more like a toy than a weapon, unfortunately. A lack of reliance on ammunition, an exciting alternate fire, and a faster Quell speed all make for an interesting concept but the execution is currently lacking.
The primary fire does decent headshot damage and staggers but comes with a very awkward delay before firing that makes landing shots frustrating, especially when trading fire with ranged units in cover or enemies that are sprinting, flailing, and wildly attacking.
The alternate fire is a fun conflagration but it is a charging spell has no synergy whatsoever with the Kineticist’s kit. It also has surprisingly little range (it can’t reach the opposite side of the average room), the damage falls off rapidly once you reach Malice or higher Threat (a non-centered Poxwalker can survive a fully charged blast), and it remains very expensive despite its increased quell rate.
Suggestions: The Primary Fire needs to be made instantaneous, and the area of the alternate fire should have increased radius and range. The alternate fire would also be helped greatly by apply Soulblaze on hit or dealing more damage to non-centered targets.
Unfortunately, given the state of the Psyker and his weapons at this time there is no reason to ever use the Force Staff or Force Sword on Malice or higher. The generic Catachan MkI you start the game with outperforms the Force Sword in every regard, and the Force Staff is a cute toy to play around with in Threat 1~2 but is not a winner once enemies begin to shoot back and survive its AoE party trick that takes as much time and Peril as a Brain Burst would have. Because the shared weapons do not tax Peril, can have functional movesets, and aren’t saddled with glitchy delays or chargeups almost any decent shared weapon is a better choice than the underperforming Force weapons.
There are currently no issues with how the Psyker interacts with shared weapons, just room for ample changes to let their own class-weapons shine and issues with severely underpowered shared weapons that don’t need to be repeated here (Axe needs cleave, Autoguns are very bad, etc.)
- - - - - - Final Thoughts - - - - -
The game is fun, and I look forward to seeing it improve up to and after launch.
I also appreciate anyone that took the time to read through this collection of feedback. I tried to be thorough and test everything I talked about, but there’s only so much we can do with what we have.
If there’s anything you take away from this, let it be these five high-priority ideas:
- Enhance Brain Burst Targeting - Being able to pick out Elites and Specialists from crowds, awkward angles, and cover all at a distance is vital to its usability.
- Replace Battle Meditation - This Iconic ability needs to be reworked or swapped with something else, it’s weak at best and harmful at worst.
- Buff Psy Wrath - The Class Ability is inconsistent, doesn’t effect the heavy targets you’d want it to, and has little impact on the ones it does work on.
- Remove Force Sword’s Push/Attack Peril - Push/Attack is a core defensive feature and a big part of mitigating its very awkward moveset. The Peril cost makes it unusable.
- Make Force Staff Primary Fire Instantaneous - The delay and travel time is incredibly detrimental to accuracy in any situation.