benefits of chain trigger?

while gunner is a lot of fun, the numbers aren't adding up on this class skill for me—i know how to build up and end a chain, and i know it boosts the damage of the ending charged PA by about double and, with an appropriate additional skill, boosts your attack speed by up to 20% for 45 seconds afterwards. but all this comes at the cost of only using a charged PA twice every 30 seconds or so; and the difference between a charged and uncharged PA is something like a 50% damage boost. is it actually worth it or more just a change in playstyle?

I also main Gunner and I've found that adding food buff and increasing floor potency (Deftness, Mastery, Dolz Soul, Alts Secreta, Dread Keeper afixes and Fixa Fatal) on gear helps.

thank you for your advice! helps with what?

edit: sorry, i realise my initial question might not have been super clear. i was wondering whether using chain trigger and avoiding charged PAs during it actually gives you more damage than just doing charged PAs all the time and ignoring chain trigger.

Charged photon arts in my experience don't actually add much except for starting and ending Chain Trigger. Throughout the entirety of Chain Trigger you aren't getting a buff but instead "should" be attacking the enemy aggressively to build up your chain. At the maximum of 100, using a charged photon art will break the chain and activate "Chain Finish" where your chain turns yellow. At this point all damage you do (photon arts or attacks) are amplified significantly until the yellow number is gone. Afterwards, you will be left with the "Chain Boost" which increases your attack speed depending on what your chain was at previously which is a timed buff that lets you build up your next chain even faster.

Chain Trigger is what sets the Gunner apart from every other class as this was one of the biggest balancing nightmares for Sega in the original Phantasy Star Online 2 (with the proper setup you can easily hit millions and millions of damage consistently).

My personal rotation so far is to build a chain to 100 when possible (typically using S-Roll Arts when in a mob or around a boss) and then to use a charged Point Blank or charged Aimless Rain when very close. Just after the first hit (the moment the chain turns yellow) I would repeatedly hit the enemy with Stylish Onslaught until the the chain completely goes away and you're left with Chain Boost.

At least in my experience so far, the Gunner is still very good at melting mobs and bosses alike similarly to how they did it in Phantasy Star Online 2 only this time you don't have overly powerful Chain Trigger rotations because the Gunner's photon arts now are too long to properly utilize Chain Finish.

i see—so technically, the chain finish boost doesn't just apply to the charged photon art that you end the ability with, but to all damage done within 2-3 seconds of the first hit of that final photon art, but practically this is more or less the same thing since most of the PAs take a long time to execute?

that changes things a little, but from what you're saying, not a huge amount—point blank is the only photon art that could fit more than once in that span, and in exchange it does less than half the damage of other PAs, so it'd amount to more or less the same result.

you mention that charged photon arts don't add much, but in my limited testing, charging a PA multiplies its damage by about 1.5 times—a 100-combo boosted charged PA seems to do about double the damage of an unboosted charged PA, which is to say a 3× multiplier over an uncharged PA. as you noted, most gunner PAs have a long animation, and they also have a very short charge time which seems to make the time taken to charge a PA pretty much insignificant.

unless my math is off, or there are buffs or other factors that improve chain trigger, that means that if you perform four or more uncharged PAs in the process of getting to 100 combo count and executing the combo finisher, you are actually losing damage compared to if you spent the same amount of time doing charged PAs instead. this doesn't account for the attack speed buff, however, or any extra PAs or other damage you might manage to squeeze into the combo finisher; both of which could easily push you over the break-even point with regards to DPS. even so, it sounds like the difference between using chain trigger and not using it is actually a lot smaller than i expected it would be.

the notes on base pso2 are interesting as well—i imagine any gear or augment that boosts attack speed in future is also going to increase the potential utility of chain trigger, since you'll be able to squeeze more into the yellow buff timer?

@starryeyedgiant I can try to provide you a few links that I have saved up elsewhere from Reddit to hopefully demonstrate what I was trying to explain in a visual sense.

Phantasy Star Online 2 - Gunner Chain Trigger with Double Infinite Fire Type-0

The main trick with this first video is that you have to "whiff" your first photon art to activate the Gunner's "Stylish Short Charge" skill which allows you to directly skip to the charged portion of a photon art. This allows you to start breaking your chain with "Infinite Fire Type-0" or Infinite Storm Zero which allows you to instantly deal millions of damage. You can follow this up with another photon art to repeat the process (Satellite Aim or Dead Approach/Advance Assault being fast options) before firing Infinite Fire Type-0 again. If you are fast enough, you should be able to fit in both big shots into the limited time you have to maximize damage.

Phantasy Star Online 2 New Genesis - Gunner Chain Trigger with Stylish Onslaught

This is a lot of the same strategy except unlike Phantasy Star Online 2 you can use photon arts to build the chain. You can do this however you like (I personally use S-Roll Arts because it splashes mobs and has a relatively wide hitbox despite its smaller range nerf in this game). When you break the chain, you can shoot the first shot of Point Blank or have it play out entirely (I personally only fire the first shot) and then you can repeatedly use Stylish Onslaught as your fastest-hitting attack to take advantage of Chain Finish while it is active. This person was able to fit in four Stylish Onslaughts before time ran out.

I don't know about the actual math between a perfect rotation of Chain Trigger and not but if you weren't using Chain Trigger in this sense (amplifying the power of your photon arts) you really would have had a very hard time keeping up with damage-check bosses like solo Sodam from the original game. Perhaps in New Genesis it's not as important as it once was - but I still feel that the Gunner makes very short work of most bosses and enemies when properly setting up and having a very hard-hitting rotation for Chain Finish. It really suffers when you use the slower attacks, unfortunately.

i see! so, momentarily disregarding the possibilities for base pso2, which, while interesting, involve photon arts and class skills that are not available and may not ever be available on ngs—the basic point here is that spamming stylish onslaught is actually significantly higher dps than any of the gunner photon arts, and should be used for chain finish during boss downs?

@starryeyedgiant I'm not certain if it was intentional that Stylish Onslaught was meant to be used like this - but it's definitely the best attack that I can think of that utilizes Chain Finish in the closest way to how Photon Arts would have utilized it in the original game.

If that isn't the gameplay you are going for, I would imagine that you can still utilized Chain Trigger with Charged Photon Arts for the boosts - but I would personally question the potency of Chain Trigger in that case when Stylish Onslaught actively (and when you nail it) rewards you with very high damage during Chain Finish compared to every other option I have tried which lets you get in one or two photon arts before it expires.

@VanillaLucia thank you for explaining then—this is good information, and it definitely slants things in favour of using chain trigger over ignoring it, since you can't normally spam stylish onslaught during combat—this approach gives you higher burst and lets you capitalise on openings and downs better.

the reason i was asking initially was that i was interested in using tmgs while running gunner as a subclass to hunter, but i was worried that the weapon was balanced around chain trigger boosts and would not be useful at all without them. this works things out nicely: while i'll be able to use the tmgs, i'll be doing so in a way very different from how i'd use them as a gunner main, and would lose out on the unique properties that make the tmgs powerful in ideal circumstances. (it'd be nice if other classes and their weapons worked the same way, honestly.)

in case anyone's curious, i figured i'd run some quick numbers on presently available chain trigger combos in ngs. these aren't by any means thorough—i basically just ran a few fights against the cocoon bujin, avoiding crits and stylish roll strike back.

method one: charged point blank (full) + 4× stylish onslaught

(432 + 305) + 247 + 246 + 258 + 250 = 1738 damage

pp to execute: 20 + 4×10 = 60

this method is as in the video above. going by the numbers, allowing point blank to do both its hits seems to result in about 50 more damage than replacing the second hit with a stylish onslaught.

method two: charged bullet rave (full) + uncharged bullet rave (first volley only, four hits)

(85 + 78 + 81 + 83) + (74 + 78 + 85 + 81) + (38 + 37 + 34 + 33 + 33 + 33 + 36 +33) + 542 + (51 + 51 + 49 + 54) = 1669 damage

pp to execute: 2×22 = 44

it seems that even if you begin a photon art during chain finish, any hits that happen once chain finish ends do not receive the boost. it also appeared to be impossible to fit a stylish onslaught after a full bullet rave, which would have resulted in about 50 more damage than the above: possibly someone with less latency to the servers might have more success than i did.

method one (point blank + stylish onslaught) seems to do approximately 4% more damage than method two (2× bullet rave). if you were to successfully activate stylish roll strike back before chain finish, however, method two would gain the greater benefit and come out on top by about 4% instead (1962 damage vs 1885 damage). method two is also slightly less situational, since it can do its full damage from a moderate vertical distance, making it usable on certain bosses even when they are not downed.

a third method would have been to fire bullet rave without lock, and purposely whiff the first three volleys in order to trigger chain finish with the final hit. this would hypothetically allow 5 stylish onslaughts to be added onto the end, amounting to something like 1800 damage, but i'm not sure i'd be able to properly time it, and it'd be quite tricky to use; the whiffed damage would also result in more lost dps than you'd gain by successful execution.