EXCLUSIVE 6.0 Mercenary Class Developer Interview plus Tacticals and Set Bonuses Preview

Star Wars The Old Republic’s next Expansion, Onslaught, is due to be released in September. One of the key highlights of Onslaught is sweeping changes to gearing and combat, affecting all classes, referred to as Spoils of War.

Information regarding one popular class, in particular, has not been released, until now. I was recently given the opportunity to ask the Developers a couple of questions about the Mercenary Class in 6.0 and share a couple of their new Tacticals and Set Bonuses.

As a Mercenary Bodyguard (Healer) main, I’m overall pretty satisfied with the current state of Class and have been looking forward to seeing what Tacticals and Set Bonuses we’ll be getting.

I submitted my questions and the Combat Team graciously answered them. The interview contains some insights from the Team about the Mercenary Class as well as some of the Tacticals and Set Bonuses coming in Onslaught.

From a developer perspective, what are your impressions of the state of Mercenaries throughout 5.0? Are you happy with where they are at? If not, what are some changes being made (via Spoils of War or otherwise) to improve the class?

Leading up to 5.0, we made a lot of changes to the Mercenary class to make it a more effective and valuable class to play by increasing their overall survivability and mobility through new passives and utilities. We feel these changes were pretty well received, and the Mercenary is now one of the more popular classes in the game. 

Overall, we’re okay with how Mercenaries currently stack up against the competition – though the Arsenal discipline is probably a little bit too good when it comes to survivability, and the Bodyguard discipline could probably use some minor improvements. Innovative Ordnance appears to be sitting in a well-balanced spot at the moment, but we look forward to hearing your feedback regarding all aspects of the Mercenary class.

What are/were your overall goals for the Mercenary Class for 6.0 in regards to PvP (when coming up with set bonuses, tacticals etc.)?

We wanted to give Mercenaries some fun toys to play with, without pushing them back to the top of the meta where they started out in KotET.

Innovative Ordinance is one of the hardest specs to master, rotation and resource management wise, will that change at all in 6.0?

Nope, that’s working as designed. We don’t intend to make every discipline have an equivalent level of difficulty. Some are meant to be more casual or new player-friendly, while others are intended to provide a bit more challenge for veteran or skilled players. If you want to challenge yourself with a more difficult play style, you’ve got Innovative Ordnance. If you are looking for something a bit easier to play for Mercenary, then you should look to Arsenal.

What are some of the Tactical items being introduced for Mercenaries? Do you anticipate any big shifts in how any of the specs are played due to them?

Sure. Our intent is that everyone has access to at least one tactical that tweaks their current playstyle to some extent. But we also wanted to provide at least one tactical to reinforce the current playstyle for people who enjoy it. So you should see a mix with the Tacticals, where some alter your current playstyle while others do not. For example, the Magnetic Trigger Tactical for IO Mercs completely changes the way Explosive Dart works, giving you a large burst damage window on demand while maintaining its AOE capabilities. Mercs will be able to opt into some playstyle changing Tacticals or choose to gear into ones that enhance the way they already play. In addition to the Tactical we used as an example above, here are some others:

  • Cool Your Jets – Rocket Out vents 20 heat and roots enemies around you as you leave.
  • Hot Shot – Fusion Missile spreads Heat Signature. Heatseeker Missiles fire additional missiles to nearby targets affected by Heat Signature.
  • Magnetic Trigger – Explosive Dart now remains dormant on the target. Mag Shot detonates it, dealing double its standard damage.
  • Supercharge Burst – Supercharge Gas now generates a large AOE heal on activation.

What are some of the Set Bonuses being added for Mercenaries? How do they fit in with the overall goals for the class?

We’re giving the Mercenary a few utility set bonuses that allow them to increase their effectiveness in specific situations. Technical Medic supports the general bodyguard fantasy for Mercenaries by providing some additional healing for the Mercenary and their allies. Kolto Counter provides Bounty Hunters with an anti-focus mechanic, for whenever they feel like they’re getting more attention from enemies than they should (or simply some planned extra damage output against a tough NPC that you know is going to bring your health low). Here’s the specifics on how those two Set Bonuses work, as well as an extra one:

  • Technical Medic – Chaff Flare heals all allies around you. Onboard AED becomes instant-cast.,
  • Kolto Counter – When Kolto Overload Health Monitor is triggered for the first time from being attacked, it does significant damage to the enemy
  • Power Step – Power Shot, Tracer Missile and Rapid Scan grant a stack of Power Step, stacking up to 5 times. At 5 stacks, your next Power Shot, Tracer Missile or Rapid Scan is more effective and costs no Heat.

Personally, I’m a big fan of adding more mobility to the game. Will any of the tacticals, amplifiers or set bonuses add more ‘mobility’ ie. being able to cast while moving, more break frees, reducing the cooldown of Cure (cleanse) etc. to the class (or are there plans for this in the future)?

We definitely want to try to find ways to add some mobility options for Tacticals and Set Bonuses. If you have any thoughts or ideas on this, let us know! We will also be increasing mobility in some ways at the baseline, but we don’t want to reveal how just yet.

I’d like to thank Dan and Musco for giving me this interview opportunity and the Combat Team for answering my questions!

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