Suggestions for Reconsidering Overlapping Classes

I have mentioned this elsewhere but never made a post about it here in the in-game suggestions.

The main premise of this post is that the melee classes in New Genesis so far (Hunter and Fighter) are both distinctly different classes with a unique playstyle, different focus on how to approach gameplay/combat, and with strengths and weaknesses in different places. I feel this is a very strong impression of melee classes that is promising to me to see how classes like the Braver and Bouncer will fare in the future.

However, I do not feel the same can be said for the Ranger and the Gunner for example, or the Force and Techer, who both have overlapping concepts that I feel makes the classes stand out less than they should.

In regards to the Ranger and the Gunner I feel it is strange that the Gunner still shares the Assault Rifle with the Ranger when their skill tree does not support the Rifle in a unique and different way than the Ranger uses it. I would have preferred and would consider that it could be more interesting if the Gunner, a gunslinging class, would have had a very different handle of the Rifle similarly to how Successor classes in the original game were capable of reusing weapons without completely replacing their original counterparts. In this sense, I really do feel that the Gunner could have adopted the Phantom's Rifle gameplay, aesthetics, and their mechanics (such as the Phantom Marker as an alternative to Chain Trigger).

For the Force and the Techer, this runs a slight bit deeper with one of my gripes of how techniques worked in the original Phantasy Star Online 2. I did not like that in particular the Force, the casting class, was able to have most of their gameplay mimicked by other classes (Force, Techer, Bouncer, Summoner, Hero, and Phantom all had access to techniques and casting though to varying degrees of viability). It irks me in the sense that Foie is the same between all these classes but is artificially bigger in numbers (due to skill tree support) on the Force. It is a personal gripe to me in that sense where any of those classes could play as a caster if they wanted to (but I would definitely raise my eyebrows if I saw a Hero doing this) because by that point the Force would only be able to hold onto Fire, Ice, and Lightning techniques as their greater strengths outside of Compound Techniques and Simple Compound Techniques (which are shared with the Techer).

I was hoping that techniques between these technique-capable classes would have been different both in function and in general use so that the Force as we see them sling and cast the sorts of magic we have already expected. I do not like that the Techer has this as well (though with less mobility) but also has the addition of their Wand Explosions that can be charged with elemental techniques as this gives players less of a reason to decide between the Force and Techer because their weapons ultimately overlap. I don't think it would be a surprise for me to say that the Techer is much more appealing simply because of Shifta/Deband (having techniques the Force doesn't have). I really do feel that the Techer could have been balanced with their rod more easily to utilize their techniques as photon arts instead (effectively giving them the variety of attacks similarly to the Hunter and Fighter) but with something as simple as an element-change wheel via their weapon action. As a result, this would hinder their ability to play with the Wand as a ranged weapon because they do not cast techniques like the Force can - but potentially their Talis could have been similar in this regard where potentially you can get something utility-focused or swift like the Hero's Talis that behaved like a shuriken with positional utility.

I do believe the Force is "fine" the way they are at the moment when you look at the Rod and the Talis on paper - but I personally feel that the reason why they are underwhelming is simply because there isn't much to them that is "theirs" that another class doesn't already have more variety of. I would love to see that the Force and Techer become more distinct and further separated from one another as their skill tree design again reflects how much they do overlap (the Talis and Elemental skills being visible in both trees).

My fear, however, with the Techer, is that I don't quite know how classes like the Bouncer will handle techniques or add to the balance if we have "another" class who can use the same techniques and abilities the Force can in theory. I would imagine that we would likely not have anything like the Bouncer providing buffs or dropping fields to be in-between the other classes, but I really do hope that Sega considers keeping these classes separate and distinct mainly due to the nature of multi-weapons. I don't quite feel it is "special" for a multi-weapon regardess of the10% main class damage bonus to be utilized when your class combinations is something like a Force/Techer just because you wanted to double-dip in overlapping skills when other class combinations would look to something like Bouncer/Fighter because you might legitimately awn to combine the Jet Boots and Knuckles together.

In conclusion, I find it questionable that Sega's design for classes (including subclass usage) rides too much on how things were already established and really could have been reconsidered or modified to help each class hold their identity more strongly against one another. I was excited at first to learn that subclasses were more utiltiy-driven and were much more closely in line with what players wanted to do but I am personally disappointed that some class combinations (like Force/Techer) repeat dynamics we have seen in the past and that we do have a legitimate imbalance of what some classes offer being objectively and functionally better than what others offer (such as Ranger as a subclass offering status debuff reductions which is currently not a very big deal unless you are using the Gigantix Gear, or Techer as a subclass offering very little of benefit compared to a Force or Gunner who offers highly convenient PP recovery in comparison). I am happy the focus has moved away from stacking stance and damage multipliers on the skill trees but I find myself hoping that we could still have something "more" to have a stronger sense of balance and identity to the classes.

The games I would cite for this sort of identity are games like Dragon's Dogma Online (which greatly consolidates overlapping vocations from the original game so all classes play distinctly different from one another) and Monster Hunter, but those games did not have multiple weapons with unique playstyles for each class either which makes some of my suggestions like the Rifle-Ranger and Rifle-Gunner being distinct strange when things like subclasses and multi-weapons are considered especially involving the overlapping classes (perhaps Ranger/Gunner's Rifle is combined between the two?).

Wow. Well written.

One portion I find and agree with the most is the ranger - gunner. Especially the weapons.

I love how ARifle plays, Launchers are lacking (I blame the normal attack and the od spread versus an AoE to hit multiple mobs), but love the PAs of Launcher. TMGs feels a bit funky. I love and hate it. Their AoE PAs feel right and fantastic for the play, ST PAs do not sit right with me and feel sluggish and slow.

I been experimenting with Rifle+TMG Resurg. Combo for mobbing mainly doing while in glide approaching a large mob pack; Homing Dart -> HDart -> Aimless Rain (charge) -> HDart and dash about to build PP with slide shot if needed, but to mainly get back up in the air to repeat Tull one or.two are left to switch to Launcher.

On Launchers, it feels like they are halfway done. Even with the skill point to condense the spread, I believe that the weapon is lacking another. If anything it needs a toggle to help it become a primary weapon versus a back bar Optional weapon.

From base game the skill ring Alt. Launcher Attack (think that is its name) pretty much changes the attack to lob higher damage to be in mid to closer range. I find it odd that Launcher though the lowest DPS of weapons apparently has better Single Target versus AR which AR has a better AoE with a single PA versus what Launcher offers with their spread and PAs.

@Viola-Lance Something I didn't add in because I didn't think it would fit into the scope of my initial suggestion was to morph more of the Twin Machineguns-Hero into the Gunner. I'm not talking about turning the player's PP into ammo like the Hero does it (but I can imagine a skill like "Showtime" returning and completely altering that for a timed change in pace) but rather that the Hero's Twin Machineguns was one of the few weapons that actually altered a photon art if you used it as a counter-attack (Brand New Star/Starfire Squall). I would have loved to have seen the Gunner be given that level of utility in both the weapon action and their dodges.

Unfortunate as I play more of the Gunner, the more I want the old Gunner back. The Gunner in Phantasy Star Online 2 is clunky until you get their Forward Stylish Roll (L) ring and once you get it aerial combat becomes a breeze when you have options of staying airborne, options of dealing massive damage with their Chain Trigger, and you have the ability to freely dodge and avoid enemy attacks without being locked into your attacks. In New Genesis, the Gunner got a number of nifty quality-of-life changes but I feel these all come at the cost of severely limiting their mobility (you can't dodge or Stylish Roll out as you want so you will end up eating a lot more attacks) and your photon arts ultimately are so much slower than what the Gunner used to have so you really do end up with Chain Trigger being a very short and one-off attack unless you cancel with something like Stylish Onslaught repeatedly.

As I mentioned for the Rifle as well, I really think the Gunner's handling of the Rifle should be different from the Ranger's handling. I hinted at it in the end of my message, but I would wonder what "could" happen should there be two distinct normal attacks or weapon actions if players play a Ranger/Gunner or Gunner/Ranger with the Rifle to pool together their photon arts and playstyle. I don't see any particular issues on the Ranger side of things because they have Blight Rounds/Weak Bullet which gives them something the Gunner can never have - but if the Gunner has the equivalent of Phantom Marker (distinct from Chain Trigger) for more damage then I do feel like those two classes can co-exist and still be distinct while sharing the same weapons and potentially the same attack.

With your note on the launcher, I do think it is strange that Sega flip-flopped the weapons (Rifle was originally the boss weapon and Launcher was the mobbing weapon) and seeing how it played out in New Genesis is fascinating to me because of how different they are. I have not played with much of the Launcher but I really do feel like the Ranger needs to have something significant for the Launcher to make it stand up against the Rifle - or if perhaps Weak Bullet was revamped and turned into something that is built up like how the Phantom built up Jellen by attacking. This alone would probably automate building up weakpoints (or areas rather than specific points) and would encourage Rangers to be using both weapons to do so rather than the current complaints you can see of "everyone's a Ranger but no one uses Weak Bullet" elsewhere on the internet.

Personally with the Launcher, as cruel as it may be, some of my favorite things was using the whacking photon art it had to ragdoll enemies and to use Rodeo Drive Type-0 for flying around. I'm not anticipating movement photon arts again but I would love for some of these weapons to have some of those properties again (for instance if you can substitute a Photon Dash with a Rodeo Drive Type-0-esque sort of motion).

I am curious to know what Sega was intending when the melee classes are all distinct from each other and the Ranged and Technique classes are still sharing weapons (and thus gameplay mechanics/skill tree skills) with each other because I would have loved for the Ranger, Gunner, Techer, and Force to be more strongly distinct even with the weapons and concepts they share in common than they currently are. When you take away the Rifle for the Gunner you don't lose much because they already had that support for pure Twin Machineguns which makes me question the use of a Rifle (you can subclass a Ranger for Homing Darts on a Rifle if they didn't have a secondary weapon, for example), whereas for the Force and Techer I feel the problem goes a bit more deeply where if you take away the Talis for both classes (which does do what I would have liked for the Wand in a way), the Techer can do "more" than the Force can do when you compare wands against rods because the Techer has techniques the Force can't access from its skill tree and at the same time they have multiple ways of applying elemental downs whereas the Force's only unique attack with the Rod is their normal attack and their Elemental Bullet. I feel strongly convinced that something can be done to sharpen the Force and still keep the core of the Techer without them overlapping so much.

@VanillaLucia said in Suggestions for Reconsidering Overlapping Classes:

Something I didn't add in because I didn't think it would fit into the scope of my initial suggestion was to morph more of the Twin Machineguns-Hero into the Gunner. I'm not talking about turning the player's PP into ammo like the Hero does it (but I can imagine a skill like "Showtime" returning and completely altering that for a timed change in pace) but rather that the Hero's Twin Machineguns was one of the few weapons that actually altered a photon art if you used it as a counter-attack (Brand New Star/Starfire Squall). I would have loved to have seen the Gunner be given that level of utility in both the weapon action and their dodges.

I'm against this, I would like to see Heroes TMG to return in NGS and not to be waved away with some gimmicky half hearted implementations into Gunner.

@Ryoga I agree with that as the Gunner's playstyle is fundamentally different to the Hero. I only mentioned that as a possibility in the case if the Hero does not return. I personally prefer the speed and control the Hero's Twin Machineguns have compared to the Gunner's raw power and more technical gameplay. I still think the Gunner can benefit from some of the Hero's speed and control (especially moreso now in New Genesis than in Phantasy Star Online 2) but I would ultimately love for the Hero's Twin Machineguns return in some form if possible. However, that does have me going back to my original point about what happens to classes like the Phantom and their gameplay overlapping (specifically the Rod with the Force and Phantom as they are both casters) and the nature of the Etoile whose mechanics have largely been ripped out and given to the original classes in New Genesis. I'm certain Sega can find new twists for them to make them stand out again - but it does not solve that the Gunner overlaps with the Ranger with the Rifle and that the Force and Techer overlap a lot in techniques and the Talis.

I've mentioned this elsewhere, but I'm still really surprised at how many people are liking the new rifle and disliking the new launcher. I have the exact opposite experience. The rifle just feels weak now to me due to a combination of windup, slow fire rate, and weak visuals/SFX on the normal fire. Which it also is, since from what I'm seeing online you actually get more DPS by stomp kicking enemies. Weapon Action is floaty, though that's a personal preference. I can see how it would feel nice on CASTs. On the other hand, launcher feels like a step up from PSO2 with how powerful the attacks feel. The character animation matches the visuals of the shot now instead of all but like two or three PAs having just a little twitch of recoil.

I like the idea @VanillaLucia put forth for differentiating the rifle between classes. Even just speeding up and weakening the normal on Gu and slowing it down but adding more power (or just Ph style but with multi-hit bullets) for Ra would give a different feel. Neither class is going to default to that to build their marker anyways, since there's better options. WA could also be split between a single non-AoE bursting bullet and the triple shot we have now without really impacting play. Maybe tighten up (power up too?) Blaze Shot's spread for Ra, while changing it to a closer-ranged (faster?) spray with more lenient critical distance for Gu? Dunno how that one might affect balance.

@AiC-L I don't think I have mentioned if I like the Ranger's Rifle (my bias for Rifle-Phantom may be showing) but I personally don't like the animations on attacks like Blaze Shot because it looks like my characters are channeling Rambo which isn't something I envisioned for them. In New Genesis, however, I do like that their attacks are simplified from their variety of shots in Phantasy Star Online 2 but I agree with you that their charged shot, sound design, and their general feel lacks a lot of weight and power to it. In comparison, Blaze Shot looks a lot more whimsical to me than how "focused" Parallel Slider Type-0/Slideburst Zero looks and when you do compare the damage Blaze Shot is just a faster normal shot with mobility attached to it as well. I have suggested it elsewhere that the rifle for even just the Ranger could be given something similar to the Force's PP Maintain but perhaps with some critical rate or bonus weak point utility if players were given a timing window for tapping the fire button in a semi-automatic or single-shot fashion rather than simply holding down the attack button to attack quickly, but I feel it should both be balanced in a way that encourages changing things up and shouldn't default back to the Just Attacks doing "more damage" (similarly to how Fighter's Acceleration Drive is more utility-driven and how Force's PP Maintain simply restores PP).

For me regarding the launcher, however, I liked how over-the-top it could have been in Phantasy Star Online 2 and never got to try them very much in New Genesis. From what I have seen of others using it, however, it really does surprise me how the Launcher was given more than just "more rockets" like how the original game was going when it got to the point where its biggest buff was either being used as mobbing utility or actually becoming viable to bosses via its Complex Photon Art or weapon potentials (the Contact Blast-counter-attack for example). I feel this got condensed in a very good way to be practical, usable, and also to feel "powerful" in the right situation as Fear Eraser seems like Sega added a lot of power (and risk) to using something like it especially compared to the infamous Million Storm, Shifted Kurgelsturm, and Twin Machinegun-Hero normal shot spamming/channeling you would have seen because it was also easy to use with relatively low risk.

Oh, I was referring to @Viola-Lance when I mentioned the Rifle/Launcher opinions. I see a lot of people praising rifle's new implementation without much said for launcher, but I have basically a complete 180 on that opinion where it feels to me like rifle was incomplete while launcher has a more or less complete kit for what's currently available. Rifle has a lackluster normal, a WA that's basically a starter for grenades, Razing Shot feels like it should just be the normal attack with a charge function, Homing Darts is fine, and Blaze Shot overlaps with the WA. The faster fire rate isn't that useful when you're whiffing half the shots at critical distance and the final shot doesn't even hit that much harder for how flashy the flip is. The shotgun also feels like it should have just been a PA. There's no real change on down phase (spam Razing and skills when off CD), no real interactivity with multi-target (spam Darts), and it just generally feels like the animations are half-done. Blaze Shot looks like your character just strikes a pose and gets hauled around by a wire attached to the top of their head. Launcher on the other hand has small radial AoE, shotgun AoE that can be focused for single targets, and piercing AoE on demand with normals, a unique WA, an actually useful movement+precision+sustain tool, a powerful feeling DPS button, and a prefiring+vertical flexibility tool. Normal animations are a bit exaggerated, but still imparts that the weapon is powerful rather than being a superhuman playing with toy guns. Maybe keeping launcher unavailable until release meant they got to polish it more?

It seems they went the route of balancing channeled/held PAs by making them just shy of optimal DPS on sandbags, where the balancing aspect is that the boss will either just walk out of it or jump over and slap you silly due to throwing so much DPS its way. Partisan's Javelin got the same thing from Rain of Tears. Basically the only thing left out for now was rifle's normal, which is basically the worst option to choose in the kit. Step attack chaining like Ph might do is both higher DPS and more mobile.

You brought up Talis overlapping before, and while it feels much more fun than in OG PSO2 it also feels like it's kind of incomplete. There's just a lack of mechanics aside from choose turret type, choose firing pattern, hold to spam element. Don't get me wrong, I love diving into a mob and using the radial AoE. Feels great even if hitting Darts a few times would be more effective. Was just hoping it would play more of a dodge-counter style compared to Rod/Wand's WA counter. Something like a temporary extra turret or firing glyph, a weaker burst of homing cards for Fo, storing a player-centered AoE like Photon Bullet for Rod on Te, or a mobility boost on successful dodge would have been great. Maybe I'm just too used to Hero Talis.

@AiC-L In regards to the Talis, that was part of why I kept bringing up the Hero's Talis. I don't particularly like that the Talis has two photon arts that change the shooting mode (one that shoots a single bolt and another that has two stages that shoots three bolts ahead or shoots around you - to which I feel these could have just been condensed overall). I don't mind the weapon action's "auto-turret" setup because it can come in handy for PP management but I can't imagine why you wouldn't have had utility or support for something evasive or parry-related. My impressions initially were that it could have been very cool to be something along the lines of Techer complementing something like the Gouhei and Ofuda (essentially the wooden wands with white streamers you see in Shinto rituals and the paper talismans) that emphasizes something more reactive and defensive in contrast to the Ranger. I think the Talis could benefit from something "like" the Hunter Arts Avenger where the Talis throws effectively magical cards to ward off attacks as well based on the timing on top of their ability to shoot elemental bolts. The Hero's Talis was boiled down to a "shuriken" in my description because most of the time you're throwing something at enemies (usually Racer Edge or Dive Bullet) while setting up Wise Hound and Jet Wheel for Hero Gear building or setting up teleportation options. I like that the Talis is so different now - but at the same time like you said it definitely feels very incomplete when you realize that two of the photon arts start the same (single shot or triple shot) and if you wait on one of the other photon arts it turns into an AoE shot and that the support for the Talis doesn't feel as "strong" because it is a shared weapon by both the Techer and Force who both seem to use it relatively equally (except Techer seems stronger because of Shifta/Deband).

If Million Storm returns for the Braver, I really do hope that the risk in its usage starts becoming something along the lines of "use it when the boss is down or you will get whacked" or that it ultimately just requires more skill to use (I can imagine that instead of the "hold to fire" approach it can be an attack where players have to mash or time their attacks to correctly). I'm simply not fond of channeling attacks that are safe since it neutralizes the challenge and difficulty in a lot of these fights - but I am already enjoying that in New Genesis so far enemies are at least aggressive enough to whack you over for standing still.

I would love for alternative forms of "Normal Attack" to show up for classes like the Ranger. In my time of playing with the Rifle, I already have avoided the normal attack (which feels like a slowed version of the Twin Machineguns-Hero) and it also happens to feel extremely weak and less usable compared to the weapon action. As you said, outside of the piercing shot and Homing Darts I find myself more engaged using the step attack and the dash attacks instead simply because it's closer to the Phantom (though the animation lock on the step attack greatly annoys me). I want to see how this class develops in the future - but I am also curious to see how Sega addresses players who don't play the class "correctly" when they also avoid skills like Weak Bullet.

@VanillaLucia I don't think they'll do anything about players who avoid WB any more than they will players that avoid S/D. It's actively choosing to not use the best solo and party tool the class has. Heck it's worse on the Ra side since WB actually does nice damage on its own, while reaching over to hit S/D means you're not smacking the enemy.