While pulling the lever on the Saturn lottery, I decided to pick something interesting to use than "Click, Bang, Their Limbs Fall Off", and picked up Paris Prime. While checking the build I thought, "Oh yeah, Thunderbolt is a thing. Did they ever make it good?"
Fast forward about a minute to it dealing 81 damage to a level 22 Lancer. Sad.
So what's good about Thunderbolt, what's bad about it, and how might we update it to be more consistent with the current Warframe environment?
First, let's talk about the mod as it is.
Let's start with what's good about Thunerbolt, even though it's not much.
- No Blast Falloff
- Blast Punch Through
- Silent Explosions
So the blast does its full damage to anything in its radius, without regard for such silly things as 'cover', and will not make your stealthy bow alert enemies. So far, it sounds pretty handy.
Unfortunately, the description doesn't tell the whole story.
What it is hiding from the player is that the explosion deals 250 blast damage which cannot be increased without the use of bane mods and cannot crit. This means that you will deal 250 base damage any time Thunderbolt triggers, or 387.5 damage with any primed bane mod. You will only ever deal blast damage, and you will not be able to trigger Hunter Munitions.
The choice a player is faced with when using Thunderbolt is not what to remove to make room for it, but what to replace Thunderbolt with. The mod has no real function or usefulness.
Now, What can be done about this?
So can we make Thunderbolt viable? Good, even? Maybe.
Let's list some potential buffs for the mod, and some debuffs that could go with them.
These are improvements to the mod, some combination of which may be used. The mod is not restricted to a single one, and probably shouldn't have all of them at once. That would be silly.
Fairly straightforward. The explosion deals increased damage, whether it's greater blast damage or some or all of the actual damage of the weapon. This is necessary to make the mod useable.
Mods Affect Damage
A significant part of the problem is that mods do not affect the damage of the explosion. You will always deal the same damage, regardless of how modded the weapon is. A bit of an offshoot of the previous point, but also basically necessary.
Allow the mod to deal critical hits. Not necessary, especially if the explosion is already dealing the crit-modified damage from the arrow, but this would allow the explosion to spread Hunter Munitions effects. This can be easily balanced by giving the explosion it's own critical chance independent of the primary attack.
We've seen this with some Warframe abilities recently, and for things with damage that can't be modded up it does improve the effectiveness. I would not recommend combining it with more than one of the above for balance reasons.
You Control The Explosions
There are many flavors of this. Explosion on Headshot. Explosion on full-charged shot. Alt-Fire to arm an explosive arrow that consumes extra ammunition, or slows the arrow down, or makes the charge time longer, or emails you mean things when it hits an enemy.
Stun or Knockdown
The explosion staggers or knocks down enemies for some crowd control, or stuns enemies, potentially opening them for finishers.
Guaranteed Blast Status
Blast status isn't even that good, with one status effect giving -30% accuracy, and a full 10 giving -75%. An exploded enemy has -100% accuracy. It would at least be something, though.
This isn't TF2. Not everything needs to have a downside, so the mod may not need or have any of these. That being said, if it comes out with increased mod-affected enemy-scaling crit-dealing
strange festive damage, then there should probably be some downside other than "I had to take Argon Scope off".
Straightforward. Slower arrows, less range, harder to hit moving things.
Increased ammo cost
Ammo mutation or sweeper is no longer optional.
Increased Charge Time
If you put this on a Daikyu, weep.
Only fully-charged arrows explode
This might go well with all fully charged arrows exploding, or an additional arming time after fully charging an arrow to fire an exploding arrow.
Shot placement now matters a little more.
The Marked For Death treatment. Base damage is now capped at some number. Please don't actually do this.
Thunderbolt is a bad mod that doesn't match the current Warframe environment. It wasn't very good years ago and it's terrible now. It looks good at first, but it doesn't actually do any respectable damage and should never actually be used. It could benefit enormously from some damage increases and critical hits, and it would be interesting to give it some functionality above a dice roll for an explosion. Thunderbolt doesn't matter right now, and it would be nice to change that.
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