I've primarily played force since NGS launched, and have noticed a few things about how force plays in practice that I'd like to discuss. While I've certainly still got plenty of room to improve as a player, I feel I've got the basics down pretty well at this point so it seems like a nice time for a chat.
Really interested to hear what other force mains in the community think in particular but of also just opinions in general. Gotta have something to do during maintenance downtime am I right? Please feel free to post your own thoughts about the force class unrelated or related to below as you please.
A couple of prefaces purely for context for any not familiar with force, and also to frame my later points. Skip to section 2 for the TLDR.
Section 1: Mini force intro
The forces main weapon is the rod. The main damage source for this weapon is the casting of techniques, and most of the forces skill tree is dedicated to improving PP management to allow for efficient tech casting. Each tech has both a charged and uncharged version.
- Rod weapon action:
The rod weapon action is a parry ability. The force tree has some skills available improving this action. Ideally you would want to parry incoming attacks whenever possible in order to both protect yourself and put some extra punishment on your enemy, so generally you would expect these skills to be no-brainer choices for a main class force.
- Technique casting/animation locking:
When you cast a technique you are committed until the animation has completed, often referred to as animation locking. I should note that if you use the 'charged' version of a technique, you can dodge or parry cancel out at any time until you actually begin the attack animation, but the same locking then applies. Rod normals seem to lock you in as well, but have a significantly shorter animation, so are much less risky in practice.
- Boss mechanics/class role/MPA composition:
Damage aside the main benefit a force brings to a party fighting something like a UQ boss is the inducement of elemental status effects. These allow a boss to be stunned temporarily, increasing party DPS.
About some specific skills:
- Charge PP recovery
This main class force skill allows for your PP to continue recovering naturally while charging techniques. A great skill on paper for spamming more techs over time.
- Bartablot and Zondeclad
These two skills allow you to use several uncharged techs to build up a damage bonus, then extract that bonus using the charged version of a tech.
- Elemental bullet
This skill adds a damage bonus to your next technique used after you parry an attack.
- PP Convert
Decreases your max HP while increasing passive PP regeneration. Another useful skill for technique uptime on paper.
Section 2: Practical issues for discussion
- Aggressive enemies and defensive options
Against many enemies, defensive tools are unnecessary. But when fighting aggressive enemies a few issues begin to surface.
Casting techs and defending against an incoming attack are mutually exclusive activities within certain windows of time. If you happen to pull aggro from many UQ bosses, you will often need to defend against multiple incoming attacks in short succession. If you try to actually cast a tech, you are unable to parry or dodge for the duration of the attack animation, and wind up eating turf when the pain arrives. On the other hand, if you just throw out normals and play defensively, your damage and status output chance tanks.
In addition the elemental bullet skill winds up being largely wasted whenever you have to defend against multiple attacks, because you don't have time to actually finish casting a tech before another attack comes in. Rods parry skill seems to work best when a single big attack is coming your way which you can easily anticipate well ahead of time, which doesn't pan out too well against certain bosses/attack patterns/phases. Nex Vera is probably one of the worst examples of this, because he can attack you in relatively short succession six times in a row, with spaces in between too short to safely cast a tech.
In short, I've found that even if you learn a bosses attack patterns quite well, you wind up having to choose between casting techs and risk taking a big hit, or throwing filler normals while your dps tanks so you can parry or dodge in time when the boss has you in their sights. I'm not sure if this is intentional design, or an unintended consequence, but it seems a sub-optimal situation for a class built around tech spamming.
- Bartablot, Zondeclad, DPS and the charge recovery skill
I've seen some dps comparisons around suggesting that bartablot and zondeclad (and the uncharged techs that feed them) are generally worthwhile using compared to charged techs DPS wise. However, this does not appear to take into the PP charged PP recovery skill. Charged techs get a window of PP regeneration during the charged period due to this skill, whereas uncharged tech spamming ceases PP recovery completely for the entire period you are casting in. From my testing at least, bartablot and zondeclad (and uncharged techs in general other than zonde for groups and gizonde for a bit of extra pulse damage over time) are therefore not worth using, which is a bit unfortunate. This has become more obvious as I've invested further points into PP recovery skills on the force and gunner tree.
- PP Convert skill
While I do have points in PP convert and use it from time to time, the effect of this skill is largely wasted since PP regeneration completely ceases during the attack portion of a technique or PA. A large portion of the potential PP this skill could generate winds up disappearing into the ether every time you use it.
Siderant: Other than this being a copy paste from PSO2, I'm not really sure why it was coded this way. The way the game works right now, it would probably be more logical if the skill simply refilled your whole PP pool instantly once in a while at a button press, since that's the way you wind up using it anyway. Since it has charges now, you could simply balance based on the charges/cooldown without much hassle. Maybe they want to keep the health reduction theme? Seems unnecessary since force already has the lowest base HP in NGS.
Extra section: Multiweapons
Finally, my thoughts on multiweapons for forces, just because it ties into the above.
I've messed around with the other weapons to see what fits, but so far I've only found two multiweapon setups that seem to make any sense for me.
1.I've found that some melee weapons have a slightly more responsive block/parry weapon action compared to rod, with comparable damage output normal attacks. I wouldn't say it's a great solution, but I've found it much easier to avoid damage while going ham with twin dagger normals against a number of enemies including some bosses then I have doing the same with a rod (if you are stuck normal attacking, might as well bring the best block for the job, right?). It's also kind of nice as a change of pace after throwing lightning bolts all day.
Note: Normals and weapon actions don't require a subclass at present, you can just pick the subweapon you like and then get used to weaving attacks/blocks from it into your gameplay which is nice. For example, I play fo/gu, with twin daggers as the multiweapon for my foursis rod.
2.Talis as your multiweapon. I'm aware of dislike for the talis in some parts of the community, but if you want to use it its a good way to do so without doubling your enhancement and augmenting resources. Not that multiweaponing itself is cheap, but cheaper overall to multiweapon than to grind a second one in terms of total resources afaik.
One thing I would say for anyone experimenting with multiweapons, do your homework and testing with throwaway 1 star weapons before you make any big decisions
I feel like subclass weapons otherwise don't have a lot to offer in terms of utility to a main class force, would be great to hear your thoughts.