Slayer needs to be looked at. After many starts and stops at 400+ hours I think I’ve done pretty much all I need to do for the sake of testing builds in general and slayer in particular. I want to talk about weapons, about talents, about gameplay, and the reality of the career that exists in the current climate of the game. And oh boy is this one going to be a mouthful. We’ll start out with the basic stuff, for those not too familiar or who don’t have that many games, and we’ll get down to the specifics.
So why do this? Realistically it’s the hope that some of this feedback will shape slayer to the point that I can enjoy being able to play him into any team composition. With the changes to Ranger Veteran it’s pretty clear theirs a lopsided nature in the balance of the careers right now. I started playing slayer at around hour 20. I’ve solo’d my fair share of maps as slayer (and you won’t believe how hard it is to kill your bots off with no ranged weapon) and have tried almost every build I can think of. So believe me when I say I’m pretty intimate with how Slayer works in the current gaming climate.
There’s a lot to be said about every single weapon you can use as a Slayer, and I’ll touch on the ones that bug me.
1H axe is not good
Yes I know you have dual axes. This does not change that fact. I’m not even sure it’s purpose in the game right now. Less attack speed on both it’s left click and charge attacks than the 1H hammer as well as a large delay at the end of it’s 3 hit combo. It’s push attack is bad. It’s charge attack is bad. It’s cleave is bad. Imagine my surprise when I found out it’s damage was equivalent to the 1H hammer in all situations despite being slower in all situations. And for an added kick in the teeth it even has less stamina for reasons that make sense to nobody I know.
I can’t believe I’m typing this. I can’t believe I’m reading this. I can’t believe it when I discovered it, and I can’t for the life of me believe that the changes it got were all the changes it was going to get. Less crowd control than the 2H hammer, an equally bad push attack, laughable boss damage, a terrible swing arc which makes multiple in row headshots require constant positioning. It’s a wonder that this thing even exists in this game at all in its current state.
Neat that they buffed the speed. It needed that. It’s overhead charge attack is still in need of some work for a few reasons. Enemies sliding through each other can push you away from your intended target. It’s hard to even headshot with this thing, which for an overhead weapon this should NOT be the case. It’s push attack is bad. It’s stamina is bad. And all it has is stagger resistance whilst spamming left click. A good left click, with a problem I can’t wait to explore later. A special mention is that a level 2 charge attack has every indication of going through a shield, but deals next to no damage. And even if it does connect, compare that to just about any other weapon in the game. Contrast with the flail.
Great damage to elites. Really unwieldy in everything but the most specialist of builds when it comes to mowing down hordes, which yes I know is not the point. The point i’m making, however, is that the dual axes could be better, especially for weapons with 0 cleave and 2 stamina. High damage against elites on it’s charge shots. A shame then that for all it’s single target damage it’s actually not that useful on a large number of bosses in this game. And for a weapon that has the “shield breaking” description it sure does jack all for your shield breaking endeavours that other weapons can’t also do in the same amount of strikes. More on this later
There are other weapons. 2H hammer is used because of it’s high stagger cleave. 1H hammer was used because of it’s high cleave. They’re fine in their functions as far as i’m concerned. I mention weapons first because to understand some of the more flavorful issues, you have to learn what brings us to this point.
A really short topic of discussion really. This is where comparisons will start and they won’t stop until this is finished. Slayer needs a survivability feature imprinted in his passive.
Zealot is a melee focused damage dealer and gets survivability in his passive.
Unchained is melee focused damage dealer and gets survivability in her passive.
Both of these have ranged options for dealing with specials. Both have options better suited for dealing with shields. Both can do higher boss damage. Both have built in survivability BEFORE talents. Hell, it needs any passive other than it’s rather lackluster attack speed buff and okay Trophy Hunter (and we will talk at length about Trophy Hunter and it’s entire line later).
Both Zealot and Slayer share a 50% damage reduction while Unchained gets it’s 50% damage reduction in the form of a new mechanic it must be mindful of. The difference is that Zealot gets 150 health. Unchained gets 150 health. Slayer gets 100 health.
Slayer is unquestionably squisher than both of them without a talent setup that provides tankability in return for gutting your damage potential. This WOULD be acceptable if any other melee focused career that to make this tradeoff. All of them have built in survivability OR built in damage right into their kit. Slayer get’s trophy hunter, a buff that’s not that good when weighed against other abilities (talents or otherwise) and factoring in it’s upkeep, especially against bosses. And again this is on a job that has no ranged options.
MIND YOU with good playthings like ability to sustain a hit are a non factor. In situations where the host has more than a quarter of a sec delay to you, incidental hits from holding off a horde are as inevitable as they are unavoidable. Making chip damage a very real issue for a career that only has 100 hp. Contrast this with RV. Who has great wave clear, good elite killing potential, and better boss damage. He also has 100hp but he doesn’t have to risk his life constantly in melee range for every encounter forever. Bosses are a different topic altogether. Slayer really should have 125 health or a built in damage reducing passive that you don’t have to talent for.
Afterall, Talents should be boons that you pick that provide bonuses on top of your careers existing capabilities. It should not something that can kneecap with talents that are seemingly mandatory in order to function in the game climate. Now to talk about things in particular;
10% per stack. 3 stacks total 30% extra damage 2s duration.
Pretty alright. Not really that stellar. Really at it’s best during hordes. And if ranged didn’t exist in this game it’d be damn good. As it stands, even an ally cleaving your same puddle can cause your stacks to fall off. It’s pretty decent. However:
This ability is bad. It’s very bad. It’s existence only serves to increase the potency of 2H weapons against single targets. 2H weapons themselves not being in a place that they’re useful against single targets for reasons explained above. It’d be useful against bosses if adrenaline surge wasn’t better in every situation. This thing needs to either give you more stacks, give you crit, or further increase the time of your buff. Taking unstoppable is giving up more damage and more survivability for essentially nothing in return. It’s useless in hordes. It’s not good on stray targets. And it doesn’t last enough between even idle mobs given that those generally attack in clusters. It’s a poorly planned, executed, and implemented idea that wouldn’t need to exist if the already good Leap was slightly better.
This and/or Oblivious to Pain feel mandatory. If you want to take Crippling Wounds. You have to take Moving target. However, unlike Oblivious to pain, moving target goes away when you get pounced or otherwise incapacitated. Hell, if anything pushes you, an action that you must take with a smile, your stacks will likely drop off during your stagger.
Contrast this ability and it’s entire tree to Huntsman’s level 10 line. A line that’s practically exclusively for damage. Meanwhile, as Slayer you choose between ‘don’t die from chip damage’, ‘die from specials if your team dies’ or ‘you have to take moving target’. An ability that’s already hampered by the fact that it needs your dual axes, a property on those, a talent, and a trinket property all used to take advantage and guarantee upkeep. All of it for 20% damage. None of it worth dying over.
and now for the elephant(s) in the room
Slayers boss kill was nothing special to begin with. Every single enemy in this game has strong anti-melee properties. From the stormfiend that can outright kill you if you fail one sidestep, to the chaos spawn which gives you 1 hit every blue moon when it’s agroed and refuses to be tanked in place.
Your melee damage is low, even with the most focused build I could get for killing bosses, Slayer boss kill remains subpar. Ranger veteran is higher. Ironbreaker is safer. Bosses move too much and require too much movement in turn to be able to attack them. There are two bosses that outright teleport all over the damn place. Bosses that charge. And every boss has adds which you must respect. Yes including the 4 random bosses which will likely come on the coattails of a horde or escorted with an entourage of specials that you, as a slayer, lack the ability to deal with.
Often, when you leap that leap will see, in the best conditions, maybe half of it’s duration useful for attacks. However, it doesn’t even give you two attacks in the space of one because of how often you must dodge. And it’s night impossible to attack freely because you rip agro off immediately when you DO get hits in. For how unfriendly melee is in a melee focused game, the dual axes should do twice the boss damage they do now to balance how rarely you get to land boss damaging attacks. Especially on a career with no ranged alternatives.
Ranger Veterans career skill now gives him 100% crit and it’s extremely easy to game two of them out in a boss fight even assuming said boss could last that long. Hell, with the right build you can have disengage up for nearly every horde and every patrol. Why can’t leap have that. Or failing that, why can’t trophy hunter have crit. Or failing that, why can’t crit be talented into anything other than the level 1 tree. Or hell, failing that, why can’t Slayer’s leap max out Trophy Hunter for it’s duration. Sheesh.
Imagine for a moment a team with a Foot Knight using handgun, a Shade or Handmaiden, a Slayer, and a Zealot. Specials target the first thing they see. A max range blight stormer could be stopped by me if I was IB because I can shoot it as I’m the first to spot it before it tornados. A slayer, however, can not do that. In situations where ammo boxes are scarce, team ammo is almost as important as team hp or black and white status. As people run out of shots, the effectivity of the team severely diminishes as it takes only one bad special placement to wipe the group.
If somebody gets hooked into a horde, as IB or RV I can shoot it and have my guard up in time for a parry. As Slayer I have to now risk both our lives in situations where my allies can’t react. In short. As Slayer your inability to deal with specials are a direct detriment to the team and the ability to succeed in a Legend run. Given that, by nature of being a relatively squishy melee unit in a game with amazing range crowd clearing options, this really makes taking Slayer a much higher risk than taking Ranger Veteran with less of a reward.
You can’t attack into them. Your most effective weapons don’t have special modifiers towards them. And you don’t have the stamina to block them. Fighting those 8-12 Berserker clusters in the beta is miserable. Watch, my friends as I leap with crunch and effect nothing. Behold as I use my attack speed steroid to back away as while 1 berserker is easy to melee, the multiples that ALL berserkers spawn in are not easy to melee and aren’t even advised to melee due to their high damage.
- Many weapon choices for Slayer aren’t all that good.
- Boss damage is relatively low and non existant when compared to every ranged career and even a few melee ones.
- Some talents need to be changed or reworked
- Durability needs to be baked into the career
- There needs to be a bigger compensation for not being able to kill specials or an ability to kill specials. *Why is the one career that’s more prone to being hooked, unable to get a talent or passive that reduces grab damage.
- One of your weapons need to handle your melee based weakness given that, unlike Zealot, you can’t just shoot them and be done with it.
I like Slayer. A lot. But dag nab it some of these issues just grind my gears. And this isn’t isolated. My results (and ease of soloing) as literally anything but modest. I absolutely crush games as RV, any sienna, elf, saltz, or kruber. If nothing else, just please fix the 2H axe.