Relevant patch note:
- Headshots and Critical Strikes now longer automatically apply a light stagger to enemies.
In 2.0 as part of the overhaul to the stagger system a feature was implemented that allowed any weapon to lightly stagger any non-monster level enemy with a headshot or critical hit. This premiered fast weapons and attackspeed where they could outshine heavier slower weapons in their crowd control capacity. This now functions the same as before patch 2.0.
I get the thought process here. Smaller weapons had more opportunities to stagger more, and were thus making use of the stagger system more due to headshots and crits. Get rid of that, and bigger, slower weapons are buffed, yeah?
Ehhhhhhhhh. The real result is that this made the Smiter and Assassin talents even stronger than they already were (and they were the strongest picks by a huge margin). This change incentivizes bypassing the stagger system more than you already are, which is exactly what those two talents are designed to do. On elites (and potentially some infantry units, pending difficulty and the weapon in question, pushing aside, which is not always sustainable), smaller weapons will no longer be able to access the stagger system that previously they could. The result is a direct nerf to anyone using a smaller who does not have access to those two talents to.
And for reference, the three characters that don’t have either Smiter or Assassin are Foot Knight, Ranger Veteran, and Unchained. That means that they have all just received a notable damage nerf and/or weapon restriction - a notable decrease in their ability to deal with elites.
Previously, they could at least get a stagger state via crits/headshots, and so you weren’t penalized as much and could at least say, “Hey, at least my shitty stagger talent is doing something for me.”
Now, if those three classes aren’t using a smaller weapon that innately staggers, their stagger talent is even more worthless than it was previously.
This change highlights the importance of Smiter/Assassin, the imbalance between those two talents and Mainstay/Bulwark (specifically, that they’re… not in a good place), and that the stagger talents very much need a looking at.