A long-delayed post intended a month back…anyway, let’s wrap up the two-part post on Weaponry before the update 14 drops next week.
Here we look into Ranged weapons, mainly Crossbows and Staffs, weapons which I personally enjoy using…and are sometimes are under-appreciated.
P.S.: My Airshou broke so no video documentation this round. 😦
I’m going to start off this introductory section with an important question you might want to ask yourself would be…“Why use Ranged?”
The key, un-refutable benefit is that you do get to shoot down monsters before they touch you, preventing a loss of unnecessary HP as you wouldn’t need to get in the path of monster attacks.
This advantage is perpetrated by the reduction of minions since the conception of SH v2.0 has made it slightly easier for ranged users to participate, since 5 minions that swarm is less problematic to handle than a crowd of 10.
Moreover, this is especially so for the recent update 13 with the general increase of HP and attack of certain minions in strongholds. Such makes them much more dangerous up-close when using melee weaponry.
Not to mention, the new trap, Seashore Retreat, can have its fallen trident destructed at a distance without the dependence on skills (which you’ll probably get silenced in the process) or the concern of being knockdown-ed and swarmed, giving you an added advantage in recovering your much-needed skills back much quicker.
Ranged is also capable of making certain traits much more deadly. Damage boosting traits (Bloodrage, Berserker) and Damage over 3s (DOT) are able to delivered at the distance instead of having to run up to the monsters to strike them, which might result in the effects running out or worse, getting killed before then.
Defensively, HP/Hit can be done so at a distance as well, enabling your character to recover progressively throughout the battle without being on the front-lines, making it particularly useful in tougher WP waypoints.
TL;DR: More dangerous but less minions in raids make it vital to attack them from a distance. Furthermore, damage boosting traits + HP/Hit are much more effective with Ranged weapons.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of reasons to negate the above-mentioned benefits.
When it comes to tighter places with no ally to ‘tank’ for you (ie. Stronghold raids), Ranged users get the short end of the stick. Valenthian Guardhouse, Nettle Grove, Nightmare Pit all lack obstacles for your character to seek cover behind, making you a prime target for angry minions all around.
This is aggravated by the presence of melee strikers (monkeys, ravagers etc.) and Chaser type champions (Wicker Beast, Immortal Gatekeeper, Lord of the Eve, Ignicore) within the confines of the space, which instantly close the distance on you when first entering the room and make your character fight point blank.
Additionally, inanimate objects in the room also serve as potential targets, disrupting the auto-targeting system (if you don’t face the right direction) and sometimes making you hit them instead of the monster breathing down your neck. These include the towers from Valenthian Guardhouse, Mine layers from Bayant Mountain, Crystal in Ruby Temple etc.
What’s more, an increasing number of enemies are granted passive or active abilities to nullify ranged attacks, some of which include:
- Distance dependent Dodge (Vulture Harpy, Corvus)
- Reflect barrier (All Colossi in artillery mode, Vorors, Ethera)
- Side stepping (Sanity Eater, Tormentors etc.)
- Teleportation (Assassin, Cardinal, Prophet, Mezzogian, Wolves etc.)
Furthermore, a good number of projectile skills can easily replace any of these ranged weaponry any day. Although cooldown is necessary, these are able to compensate for the inabilities of Melee users.
Now that we ironed out all of the points for each side, we’ll look into the 2 Ranged weapons (Crossbows and Staffs) first before we conclude how Ranged Weapons can be used effectively in combat.
TL;DR: Inanimate objects, Minion abilities, small spaces and lack of an ally make it tough for Ranged Users to function well. Projectile skills can also provide Melee users with a good ranged ability.
Attack Pattern: Single fire -> Single fire -> Single fire -> Concentrated fire
Speciality: Knockback + Piercing shot on power attack
Difficulty rating: Medium/Hard
A personal favourite but rated poorly in the popularity vote…which is rather unsurprising when you realise the mechanics of this weapon.
First of all, did anyone consider how its power attack physically makes no sense (a super powered energy bolt with minimal recoil but is able to knock enemies back), but hey…magic!
The weapon’s innate specialty – a natural pushback or stagger, is useful when fighting larger mobs, but ultimately restrictive since it is limited to one minion at a time with and those directly behind it, due to its extremely narrow range of damage (for every projectile).
Unfortunately, if you’ve figured out by now, Crossbows are reminiscent to Duals in terms of speed and lack of crowd control capabilities.
Despite possessing speeds comparable to the more popular duals, one might think that they are much more useful in comparison given their ability to shoot from a distance. However, this is not the case as damage is not delivered instantly, making it longer for your attack to actually hit (if it does connect/hit).
In addition to the obvious fact that crossbow wielders are very bad at handling large groups of monsters, crossbows in general are designed without damage boosting traits (eg. bloodrage, berserker) and few possess elemental attack bonuses (correct me if I’m wrong), but instead come equipped with elemental armor bonuses. This essentially indicates that the game recognises that you’re going to be hit more, which contradicts the idea of being a ‘glass canon’.
To make up for their lack of crowd control, a number of crossbows possess two slots of crowd control abilities (eg. stun, fear, pushback). While this is good on paper, since you only strike one monster at a time, they only get inflicted with one of these effects…if they get inflicted.
Furthermore, although there are ones with the all-useful HP/Hit, Attack Speed and DOT, these traits are rare at best and only exist together on WC-types or event-exclusive crossbows.
+ Inherently fast weapon speed
– Real speed is not actually fast (since projectiles take a while to travel)
– Poor Crowd Control
– Badly designed traits
Attack Pattern: Single blast -> Single blast -> Single blast -> Triple blast
Speciality: Attack splits to three blasts on power attack
Difficulty rating: Medium
The other ranged weapon that is actually decent in terms of crowd control, Staffs are single hitting ranged weaponry till their power attack, which handles more monsters in front of you in travelling along the edges of a 60 degrees arc.
While monsters don’t always approach you from the line of attacks for a staff’s power attack, staffs are significantly much more equipped than handling swarms of monsters compared to crossbows in general. In addition, this could be sped up with a Haste skill, enabling you to perform power attacks more frequently.
True to their ‘supposed‘ nature, staffs are designed with traits that have either skill cooldown, skill damage boost or both within them. Such makes them worthwhile when it comes to the usage of skills, particularly since most have attained the level of T6. As such, staff users could pair up with Area of Effect (AoE) skills (eg. Ice Stalagmites, Entangling Vines) or damage boosting skills (eg. Warcry, Haste) to fend off incoming swarms.
Moreover, multiple crowd control traits on a single weapon actually do make sense here, as you are hitting multiple monsters upon your fourth attack. This makes it much quicker to weed out the numbers than crossbows.
+ Crowd Control is actually decent
+ Skill traits are useful with T6 skills
– Range of Power attack is too specific for long distances
– Needs to get to power attack before it can crowd control
Favored Ranged Traits
Different from the list I prepared for Melee traits, I’m going to break it down into a numbered list which reflects a personal ‘recommended’ preference based on a descending order of priority to have. Of course, this is based on a subjective notion of what is good (or not) so do let me know if there’s any major opposition to my list.
Moreover, the list will also have traits that also contribute indirectly to the offensive/defensive capability of the weapon. For example in this case, Crowd Control traits indirectly help defensively as they whittle down the numbers of incoming minions.
- Attack Speed
- Damage over 3s
- Bloodrage/ Berserker
- Elemental Attack Bonus
- Elemental Skill Bonuses (cooldown, damage)
- Critical Hit Chance/ Damage
- Stun/ Fear
- Pushback/ Slow
- Elemental Armor Bonus
- Stun/ Fear (indirect via crowd control)
- Pushback/ Slow (indirect via crowd control)
In summary, Ranged weapons are preferred by majority to be used as Secondary weapons.
While they might have been much more useful in the past, increasing number of monsters with abilities that can counter projectiles or ranged weapons make the crossbows and staff appear to be less tasteful as an universal application on the battlefield.
Additionally, regardless of how fast the ranged weapon is, it still takes some time for your shots to actually reach the opponent, hence giving them enough time to dodge/teleport and avoid the incoming attacks from you.
Nonetheless, much defensive play is needed, with constantly running, rolling and attacking behind environment-laden obstacles (eg. statues, urns, tables etc). This is made easier for larger maps with lots of space to run around, hide behind these objects and fight without receiving much damage. Trap rooms, such as Ruby Temple, Seashore Retreat, Forbidden Courtyard, Ashkardian Crypt and certain spaces in Trial of Elements (ToE) do provide the decent size and obstacle coverage to allow for Ranged weaponry to be used effectively.
Should there ever be PvP (or a character vs character like SH v1.0), wielding a ranged weapon might be much more favored if crowd control effects have a greater impact against human-based characters or if damage is scaled well. Unfortunately, this might not sit well with the former long stretched out battle against fear and stun when used in this situation.
However, true to the hack-and-slash nature of the game, it is definitely much more satisfying to lay waste to the enemy with the direct swing of a hard-hitting Greatsword or cutting up hordes with dual blades with incredible attack speed. Psychologically in this context, the ‘awe’ factor is simply just absent, making it less of an instant first-choice preference.
TL;DR: Preferred as a secondary weapon, Ranged users need to play more defensively than melee types. Also, they function better in larger maps with obstacles.
That’s it for now.
*crosses fingers and hope the GW gets fixed for the Asian iOS server*