Anyone who has spent some time in the new Hard Modes operations will tell you one thing; melee is worthless, pointless, and it’s best to reroll ranged. Maras, Jugs, Sins, and Ops are DPS of the past; subbed out and switched for their 30 meter brethren who can bring more to the table after balance and class changes. But, is this rush to pew pew over stab stab simply a trend based on what’s being played at the top? Or, is the reign of the ranged something more?
So, which is better, RDPS or MDPS?
Ranged has always performed well in SWTOR. You could (and should currently) bring 4 ranged DPS to any fight. Mercs and Snipers consistently have topped charts and have brought raid utility since the beginning. Ballistic shield, self- cleanses, and off heals were all checks in the positive for these classes. Sorcs, who for long were the lowest ranged DPS, have also grown in popularity after the Madness buffs.
Ranged has the advantage of being able to be anywhere and hit the target. Switching to adds is easier for ranged, and ranged classes are more mobile now; even during transitions they have DPS uptime. Positioning wise, ranged is also superior. Being able to stack, or not stack, allows for many fight mechanics to be dealt with easier.
Melee has never been in a particularly good place throughout the history of the game. Operatives have seen more nerfs than any other class, and for a long time was not favored in PvE (or PvP). Juggs and Sins also haven’t really stood out as the best DPS classes. For a long time these classes were weak defensively, and only exceptional players who magicianed the numbers were worth anything. Maras on the other hand were always the shining star melee class. Bloodthirst and multiple defensive cooldowns made them a needed and sought after DPS. Not to mention, Maras got the job done. It may just have been the Maras I played with, who were some of the best in this game, but they were always the last to die, the top of the charts, and if could DPS tank a boss longer than anyone else. The fact that each class can hypothetically parse around the same has very little impact when it comes to what is going to work best in a raid environment. DPS uptime is really the determining factor on how much damage you do.
Other than the raw numbers, cooldowns and utility are the deciding factors when it comes to who to play and who to bring. Most classes have seen an increase in the amount of damage they are able to mitigate through defensive cooldowns or by choosing certain Discipline Utilities. This aspect used to be a boon to melee, but is now shared amongst all the classes. Bloodthirst, and other utility spells, are also spread out since 3.0, Mercs, operatives, and Sorcs all have their own “bloodthirsts” now. Certain fight mechanics also can be avoided or cheesed by some classes and their particular abilities.
The fight designs in Ravagers and ToS have led to the “Ranged is Right” mentality. Sparky, Bulo, Torque, Cortanni, Walkers, and Revan all highly favor ranged. Mechanics in these fights cause long and constant DPS downtimes which ranged simply don’t have to deal with. Minecarts, Load Lifters, and AoE fires require melee to move outside their 5-10m ranges, over and over and over again. Less DPS uptime means less DPS. Not to mention many of the AoE affects crowd up the real estate the Tanks need to use to tank. Many ranged DPS are also able to mitigate fight mechanics due to their CDs, something that melee could more exclusively do in the past. Mercs and Snipers can both avoid Magnetic Clamps on Torque, and their superior knockbacks made Revan far easier. If you’re a mara or an op, good luck.
And that’s part of my problem, classist mechanics. In DF and DP we saw this with self-cleanses, but in the new operations it has evolved. If a mechanic is in a fight, every class should be able to deal with it. Sure, someone can knock back for you, but then it shouldn’t be a targeted mechanic. Another example is Sparky add management. While ranged can simply turn and shoot the adds, which can’t be near the boss, Melee have to either move to them or stay on the boss. On Walkers, it’s easier to avoid damage with players spread as well. Not to mention the loss of DPS having to run out of and back into range if you get the grenade.
Balance or FotM
It’s not that you couldn’t bring a Melee to a fight, but why would you? I don’t exactly prescribe to the “everyone should play what they want” mentality. Sure, if you‘re just here to raid casually and not compete, play what you want. But if you care about numbers, progression, or bragging rights there really isn’t a choice. This game, and most MMOs, have long had a FotM problem. Look at PvP stats from the last two Ranked Seasons and you will see Sorcs and Sins everywhere. <Zorz> cleared ToS with 8 bounty hunters, capitalizing on Merc healers and DPS putting out HUGE numbers. As well as Hydraulic Overrides being overpowered.
There is a cavernous gap in this game between what it good and what is not, with long spells of the status quo remaining the same. In SWTOR, unlike other MMOS, people have MANY alts. Most WoW players have a few characters, but most SWTOR players have 6-7. The fact that so many players have everything, or multiples of the same class, means people jump on the FotM bandwagon hard and fast. And due to the fact that balance happens in this game all at once across all the classes, the constant fine tuning to create true balance can’t be accomplished. The demographics of what is being played and used, compared to not used, is a good indicator of what needs work or not.
So, do you play ranged or melee? Have you had to switch? Is one truly better than the other?