First off, I want to be very clear, that I am very appreciative of, and thankful for @ZOS_Kevin
for taking the time and effort into providing communication between everyone here on the forums and the dev team. You have done an excellent job at relaying feedback from us to the team and vice-versa lately and it has been a huge breath of fresh air and a very welcome change.
Next, and onto the main topic of this thread, with the latest patch notes being released on the PTS and the responses regarding the feedback provided as to the state of certain classes, there are many issues/concerns/questions that I want to bring up, specifically regarding the sorcerer class, to the given developer responses posted to the official feedback thread that it would be nice to have directly clarified/addressed.
For context, here is the response given by the dev team regarding sorcerers from the official feedback for combat/classes thread here on the PTS after the release of v8.3.3 PTS patch notes.
Hi all, we took your feedback to the combat team regarding the state of Sorcerer. We have a few comments to share.
We know survivability has been a concern with Sorcerer, given the feedback received and some of the data. We increased Sorcerer survivability this update by giving a sizable buff to shields. We'll continue evaluating and investigating as we go live as well.
We've also seen feedback regarding Pet vs non-Pet builds. Specifically, wanting more options for non-Pet builds. While there will be no changes to this in U37, we want to acknowledge this sentiment and the team is monitoring this. We want to make sure when thinking about this and reviewing feedback, we are keeping class presentation for Pet Sorcerer in mind while also allowing for class diversity for those who want to play non-Pet Sorcerer.
Regarding Sorcerers and their lack of unique buff/debuffs, this is intentional and there are no current plans to change this. Sorcerers do have some unique abilities in their kit, like silences. However, not locking Sorcerer into having unique buffs/debuff allows for more class diversity in group environments.
Lastly, we want to reiterate the notion of classes having strengths and weaknesses. Sorcerer, like every other class, cannot be good at everything. This is part of building class identity. There are ways for players to bridge the gap through gear, consumables, etc. That does not negate us from addressing problem areas, but it does mean there will be times where elements of a class will struggle compared to others. That is okay and a part of building unique gameplay experiences.
My responses, concerns and follow up questions to the 4 points brought up in the above developer comment are as follows:
Regarding point 1:
"We increased Sorcerer survivability this update by giving a sizable buff to shields. We'll continue evaluating and investigating as we go live as well."
The TL//DR version of all this is:
I went through the specific mechanical and gameplay disadvantages regarding the comparison of shields versus heals in the following quoted post on the official feedback for combat/classes thread here on the PTS.
- can be block-cast which provides a huge amount of mitigation of incoming damage
- they also draw you out of the high pressure execute threshold meaning that combined with block mitigation you can reduce and even prevent the execute bonus damage from triggering.
- can critically heal to provide much bigger healing.
- buffed by raw damage instead of max stats, which is much more efficient, so building for damage also simultaneously builds for better healing as well, thus being able to effectively utilize the latest and best sets that scale with damage to reach their full potential without any sacrifice in either offense or defense capabilities.
- Innumerable CP, named buffs and armor sets that increase healing done/healing taken and also provide many unique extra abilities/functions/bonuses when healing.
- reactive in nature, so they don't require pre-casting to be the most effective and as such tend to be much more effective at recovering from high pressure life or death situations.
- don't gain the block mitigation, meaning that any damage that hits the shield will hit at full power.
- don't factor into the health threshold for calculating execute damage meaning that execute abilities will proc their bonus damage and very often straight up delete the shield as fast as or faster than the shield can be recast all while the other damage instances are still hitting the sorcerers health pool bringing them even closer to death.
- cannot crit to increase the size of the shield like heals can.
- scales off max magicka (and now max health), meaning that to make shields worthwhile to run, you are investing into either max magicka (which scales horribly for damage due to the changes made a while ago to how damage and healing and proc sets very efficiently scale with raw damage compared to max stats) or you're forced to build into max health which makes you tanky, but again doesn't do anything to help with damage. Simply put, the class is forced to choose, build for its defense or its offense, but not both, where as other classes can build purely for damage and at the same time increase their defenses drastically via much bigger heals.
- Very limited CP options to buff this mechanic and dedicated monster sets (infernal guardian) requires damage shields that scale off max stats to proc it, but the set itself scales off damage instead of max stats meaning it will be a very weak proc that is not worth using.
- proactive in nature, meaning they need to be pre-cast to attempt to prevent damage instead of allowing you to recover from damage making them much worse when trying to recover from those life or death situations.
I also pointed out the specific issues with the sorcerer class heals in that same comment:
- the clannfear is a nice PVE heal for tanks as it scales off max health
- matriarch it nice in PVE as its a group heal that is very strong
- but both of these abilities are tied to pets that have their stats based on 2018 ESO combat metrics and as such both of these pets are simply a liability in PVP
- both of these abilities take up multiple bar slots to use them which heavily limits how flexible sorcerers can build if they want to utilize either (or both) of these abilities.
- both of these abilities have a 2GCD summon time which can be interrupted and when interrupted they hard lock for 3GCD leaving a sorc without a heal for up to 8GCD (1.5-2GCD for the first attempted summon, 3 GCD for the interrupt hard lock which also stuns the sorcerer, 1.5-2 GCD for the second summon attempt and another final GCD for the actual heal) so with how high and free damage has gotten over the past few years, having no heal for upwards of 8 seconds is a literal death sentence in PVP, especially with how easy to kill those pets are now and the fact that they heavily restrict build/ability flexibility when using them.
This leaves the class with dark conversion as its main burst/self heal for PVP which has its own issues.
- this ability and its morphs are flat heals that don't scale with anything
- they also have very low tool tips for a burst heal, due to this lack of scaling. I.e. the tooltip of this ability is the same as the actual post battle spirit heal value of other class burst heals and as such once battle spirit is taken into account on this ability they only heal for half the amount a burst heal should be healing for.
- This ability also has a cast time on it meaning it is a delayed heal and not an instant burst heal, it is also interruptible (see issue with summoning twilight and clanfear above) where if it is interrupted, it leaves the class without a burst heal for 5GCD (1 GCD for first attempted cast, 3GCD for the interrupt hard lock which again also stuns, then another 1 GCD for the second cast), this, while not quite as long as the pet summon, is still just as deadly with the current high damage available in the game.
- due to having a cast time, this ability cannot be block cast meaning that while you are trying to heal, you are vulnerable to all CC/interrupts and cannot gain the very strong block mitigation to reduce damage taken while waiting for the heal to go through.
This ability is supposed to be the class's sustain ability, but due to how terrible the pets are for PVP, the class is forced into using this ability as its main self heal.
Shields as a mechanic has been left so far behind healing when you look at it from a whole of game perspective
instead of just looking at them individually in a vacuum. It's not just about the size of the shields that is the issue here, it's all the additional factors that apply when using them that has made them so obsolete as a defensive option, factors such as:
- block mitigation not applying to shield mitigation when blocking with a shield up.
- shields cannot be critically cast to get a much bigger shield value unlike heals that can critically heal for upwards of 30k+ (polar winds) in Cyrodiil.
- not being able to block cast or roll dodge cancel heals which provides significantly more mitigation over many more instances of damage than shields ever could, even if shields had something ridiculous like 50k tooltips.
- heals that can be hard locked/killed for up to 8 seconds, no other class has their healing able to be completely locked out like this.
- Heal abilities are generally about 30% cheaper to cast than shields, this is on top of their other benefits including better scaling, chance to crit, block/dodge cast, synergy with block/dodge mitigation etc.
Regarding point 2:
"We've also seen feedback regarding Pet vs non-Pet builds. Specifically, wanting more options for non-Pet builds. While there will be no changes to this in U37, we want to acknowledge this sentiment and the team is monitoring this. We want to make sure when thinking about this and reviewing feedback, we are keeping class presentation for Pet Sorcerer in mind while also allowing for class diversity for those who want to play non-Pet Sorcerer."
I can understand it being too late to implement changes this big now with how late is has gotten in the PTS cycle, but the issue with this is that there were countless threads on the forums here posted by many sorc mains like myself and many others that have been running for months now (since U36 PTS and some even earlier) most of which provided direction to take changes that would help the class.
I am all for keeping pet sorcerer builds viable for those that enjoy using them, however the issue here is that pet sorcerer is the ONLY sorcerer build that has received any love or attention over the past 5 years that has lasted longer than 1 patch cycle. The only non-pet build that is remotely viable at the moment is the lightning staff heavy attack build that crutches on the +80% damage buff to heavy attacks from empower (usually ran with oakensoul ring to make it have reliable uptime) to bring its damage up to acceptable levels for harder content and even this build isn't exclusively pet free, with the best version of this build being a hybrid pet/heavy attack build. The issue is that outside of pets, this build is not unique to sorcerer and doesn't really make use of the sorcerer class kit that another class couldn't do better except when using the pets. Every other build of sorcerer just cannot keep up or even come remotely close to the pet builds or with the other classes and this goes completely against the "play how you want" ethos stated in your most recent developer insight.
Regarding point 3:
"Regarding Sorcerers and their lack of unique buff/debuffs, this is intentional and there are no current plans to change this. Sorcerers do have some unique abilities in their kit, like silences. However, not locking Sorcerer into having unique buffs/debuff allows for more class diversity in group environments. "
The feedback never asked for unique buff/debuffs for the sorcerer kit. The feedback was asking for access to standard buffs such as major prophecy/savagery and major or minor breach.
For a class that is supposed to be a magicka counterpart to the NBs physical damage design, its baffling that NB has countless damage and critical modifiers (to both crit chance and crit damage), but sorcerer cannot get anything outside of minor prophecy which is meaningless with how hybridization has changed the game. This is compounded even further with hybridization making the split on these stats entirely pointless and combined with the current DK meta that we are in where DK provides major + minor brutality to the group making NBs minor savagery a much better fit for group play on top of NB being a superior class overall.
The other unique function that sorcerer had (streak) is also being given out to other classes through the rework to mist form. Changing it into the old pre-nerf Ball of Lightning ability, but with better secondary effects and passives.
With Major berserk also being handed out so freely on wrecking blow and chains, sorcs main contribution to group play (major berserk) was also made completely redundant.
So I ask you this, what is the point of bringing a sorcerer for group content anymore?
- it's unique minor prophecy buff is already covered by NB minor savagery thanks to hybridization making both of these buffs essentially the same thing.
- its unique major berserk buff is covered by chains/wrecking blow (available to every class via a skill that is on a weapon line that was already commonly back barred).
- its unique mechanic of being able to teleport to create/close distance at will while blocking projectiles is being given out to everyone via the mist form rework and the new arcanist class also getting their own teleport ability as well.
- Its remaining unique effect of Silence doesn't affect anything worthwhile in PvE (bosses and mobs with important mechanics are unaffected by/immune to silence and stuns) and silence doesn't do enough in PvP with stamina being completely unaffected by it and stamina being significantly stronger than magicka overall in PvP to warrant using it outside of niche organized group play scenarios. You are better off just slotting an AoE stun instead of a negate since a stun prevents enemies from being able to cast both magicka and stamina abilities not to mention it also prevents movement as well and with knock backs they also cause desync issues on top of everything stuns provide.
Regarding point 4:
"we want to reiterate the notion of classes having strengths and weaknesses. Sorcerer, like every other class, cannot be good at everything. This is part of building class identity. There are ways for players to bridge the gap through gear, consumables, etc. That does not negate us from addressing problem areas, but it does mean there will be times where elements of a class will struggle compared to others. That is okay and a part of building unique gameplay experiences"
Classes are supposed to have strengths and weaknesses, that is fine and I definitely agree with you here. But I ask you, what are a sorcerers strengths?
- Every class already runs around at the speed cap thanks to Celerity and Hasty CP, swift jewelry trait, easy access to major expedition via race against time, orc racial sprint passive and mythics such as ring of the wild hunt and every class will be getting access to what is essentially a better ball of lightning so that teleport "advantage" sorcerer has is gone now too.
- This is supposed to be the class's weaknesses and it certainly is a weakness with no mitigation passives and relying heavily on active forms of defense (shields and kiting) instead of the passive forms of defense that all the other classes get so freely.
- As mentioned above in my response to point 1, the class heals are outdated and far too easily punished to be reliable in PvP, where the pace of the combat has become way too fast for their outdated mechanics to keep up with.
- As mentioned above in my response to point 3, Sorcerer doesn't provide anything unique that another class cannot already easily cover. It's only remaining unique function, Silence, doesn't do anything at all in PvE and is completely outclassed by every other type of CC in PvP so a class with an AoE CC (DK standard/leap, NB soul tether, NB fear, FG turn evil, etc) will always provide much more utility than a sorcerer can outside of very specific niche use cases (an organized ball group fight against another organized ball group).
- Sorcerer is all single target damage with very minimal cleave (AoE) damage compared to other classes. Now this is fine if that is how the class is designed and when it comes to single target damage exclusively, sorcerer is fine, but this focus on single target should be taken into account when deciding how to balance the class, especially with majority of content requiring a decent amount of cleave to clear at the highest levels. The other issue with damage is how effective buffs, debuffs and status effects are at enhancing the damage done.
It makes parsing on a single trial dummy a very unreliable and biased way to determine how strong a class is. With the target trial dummy providing all of the buffs/debuffs for the parse so the only difference between the classes becomes the tooltips, the difference is not noticeable between sorcerer and the other classes, especially when parsing on a single trial dummy instead of parsing on what a typical set-up would be in a boss fight/PvP encounter where there are a lot of additional enemies that need to be dealt with.
The point of this is that while sorcerer looks fine on single target dummy parses where all buffs, debuffs and statuses are provided, when it comes to actual in game group content, it falls of significantly for most of it because the other classes have their abilities designed around the requirements (cleave) for that group content alongside actually providing all the additional buffs/debuffs and statuses that boost the damage of the other classes considerably beyond what the tooltip shows. This allows the other classes to come much closer in actual content to what they can achieve when parsing on a trial dummy, while a sorcerer will always fall off compared to its trial dummy parses unless it's part of a very specifically designed and highly organized and optimized group (think the top 0.1%).
- This is the one area that the class does ok in compared to other classes. It is by no means a sustain king, but it is not behind the other classes either. Its sustain is also entirely selfish, while plars can help the groups sustain with shards and every class has access to necrotic orb/morphs to help group sustain.
- DKs get overloads resource restore in a passive that works with any ultimate, not even just class ultimates and it scales, allowing the class to deal a lot of damage with much stronger ultimates and still get a big burst of sustain as well as a lot of healing, on top of getting essentially infinite free stamina via ash cloud (yes the unintended interaction will be removed but it was a sustain tool the class had access to and they still have access to it as a way to sustain in the way it was intended originally).
- NBs get their own version of crit surge that is easier to proc and also provides sustain on top of healing as they weave light attacks to increase their damage/healing and power up their "delayed burst" and all of their abilities are much cheaper than sorcerers abilities with no ramping cost in sight on top of an abundance of free passives and secondary effects that help with sustain.
- Plars have a ground based AoE that gives healing over time on top of sustain that is so cheap its practically free to cast and affects all allies in that AoE. They also have a ranged instant cast damage ability that provides a burst sustain synergy for the group to help with overall group sustain.
- Wardens that have a pet that provides free sustain that only takes up 1 bar space, is free to cast, has no cast time, provides major brutality/sorcery and provides a purge on cast and every 5 seconds and provides a small heal when it ends (including when recast).
- Sorcerer gets cost reduction (not enough to counter how much everything that is important costs to use) and a burst resource restore that is tied to a cast time. I wouldn't be against this ability having a cast time if it only needed to be used as a sustain ability, but it is also the closest thing the class has to a proper burst heal for PvP where pets get targeted down because they expose the sorcerer and also pets are a major liability now with the heavy attack builds proccing tri-focus off of an empowered heavy attack hitting a pet that can easily hit nearby players for 30k+ ticks.
- Necro has possibly the worst sustain out of every class, but it does have a lot of no cost abilities and secondary effects that make this issue much less punishing than it can be for the class.
In regards to the sorcerers strengths, I once again ask Where are the class's strengths?
What are the reasons to give it a slot for group content over one of the other classes?
As you can clearly see, the class barely keeps up for only 1 of the 6 main aspects of combat (sustain) and while it keeps up in that aspect, it by no means outclasses any other class in that aspect. The other aspect it supposedly keeps up in (damage) is only via a very biased and favorable test (parsing on a single trial dummy) that doesn't reflect the true nature of the actual in game content that the classes are required to account for and contribute towards overcoming/completing harder content.
One final point I wish to re-iterate that wasn't addressed in the dev response, Sorcerer has quite a few outdated passives that essentially make the class pay 2 skill points for what other classes get for 1 skill point (daedric protection, health and stamina recovery, and capacitor, mag recovery, take 2 passives to do what refreshing shadows, health mag and stam recovery does in 1 passive), not to mention passives that don't synergise with the class design at all (persistence, reduced cost of a non core combat ability after blocking an attack, but the only
mitigation sorc has access to is major resolve on lightning form/morphs and the bound aegis morph active component, both of which require a bar slot to use that the class just does not have available without giving something else up that is just as, if not more, important so the class relies much more on avoiding damage instead of trying to reduce it.
I hope @ZOS_Kevin
that you can have a read through this feedback, pass it on and take it under serious consideration and hopefully this provides some real insight into the issues facing the sorcerer class and why the responses to the proposed changes and feedback responses for U37 were the way that they were.
I want to re-iterate that the class doesn't need large buffs to its tooltip values
, those are in a good spot for the most part, what it needs is a tidying up and updating of its passives and abilities so they synergize better with the entire kit and not just the pets. Alongside in class access to more staple buffs and debuffs that every class should have as standard and look into providing a proper burst heal option for pvp use that is not tied to pets that are based on 2018 combat standards or tied to an ability that is supposed to be a sustain ability and not a heal.
Note on this final point about a burst heal, I am more than happy to see (and actually encourage) one of the ward morphs be reworked into a proper reliable burst heal if you guys are overly concerned with stacking reliable heals on top of strong shields. Doing this would have multiple benefits for players
- It allows players the choice between shields and heals to suit how they want to play while also preventing sorcs defense from becoming too strong via stacking both.
- The matriarch would not be as heavily relied upon for PvE healing so less complaints about flappy birds being in everyone's faces.
- Gives Stamina/hybrid sorcerer some defense that will compliment their more in-your-face playstyle and allow them to compete better as a melee class instead of being forced into a bow build.
- Opens up options for a melee magsorc build using the vampire spammable, Eviscerate/morphs giving another way to play the class some viability.
P.S. Sorry for the long post, but the issues with sorcerer are numerous and complex and due to not being simple numbers buffs, require a lengthy post to properly cover everything with enough detail to ensure a good direction is taken when designing fixes to ensure a better outcome for the class, but not one that will make it OP without risking it becoming much worse 1 patch later.