Hello again, fellow Tenno. After getting some great discussion on my Ballistic Battery post a few days ago, I figured it'd be worthwhile to start another post/discussion talking about bad Warframe abilities, and suggestions on how to improve them. Some notes going in;
- I'm by no means an expert on balance, nor a game designer, but I do have enough experience and knowledge with Warframe to be able to spitball ideas.
- The primary goal is to make a given ability both good and worth using in the context of the Warframe's core kit; all Warframe kits should stand well enough alone without Helminth Infusions.
- Secondary goals are usually to compliment the Warframe's thematic and/or playstyle; in the case of Nekros, a master of death who sunders the souls of the living, and binds them in undying servitude.
Now, with that out of the way, let's talk necromancy.
Soul Punch as it is Now
So Soul Punch is ostensibly a fairly basic ability; target an enemy, and literally punch their soul out. The initial damage to the target is 500 Impact damage at max rank, and the soul itself becomes a projectile, dealing 50 Impact damage to anyone it hits in its flight, and 100 Impact damage in an area around it when it slams into a surface. Additionally, the main target and anything hit by the disembodied soul are ragdolled (typically in a violent fashion.)
Additionally, it has a fairly neat, if niche, Augment mod; Soul Survivor. You can target a downed ally with Soul Punch, expending all of your energy to auto-revive them, healing them for 30% of their max health.
As for ability scaling, Soul Punch scales off of Ability Strength, increasing the damage of the initial strike, as well as the percent max health you heal allies for with Soul Survivor, and Ability Range, which increases the cast range, and of course Ability Efficiency, influencing the casting cost.
What Are Soul Punch's Issues?
Well, it probably goes without saying, but for, and I quote; "A blow so powerful, it turns the enemy's very soul into a deadly projectile", it sure isn't set up to do a lot of (see; any) damage at all. Ability Strength only affects the initial damage, completely ignoring any damage that the soul itself does, and the damage itself is Impact, which isn't particularly powerful against anything save shields – and even then, it's lackluster.
Additionally, the soul itself is very finnicky when it's launched out of your target, and the fact that every instance of damage ragdolls enemies, potentially launching them off into oblivion, makes it pretty terrible to use unless you absolutely need to make space to breathe – but since Nekros' other abilities tend to require enemies to be near you or die near you, banishing them to the out-of-bounds with a phantasmal yeet isn't exactly the best idea.
Soul Survivor is probably the only factor that makes the ability usable right now, and even then, it's an exceptionally niche augment, since most Nekros' are built to tank with Shield of Shadows and maintain efficient farming through Despoil.
Ultimately, Soul Punch is entirely useless in its current state, dealing minimal damage to just the initial target, and being wildly disruptive with violent ragdoll effects. For a master of death and a close-range CC/farming frame, Soul Punch could definitely use a rework.
Suggestions on How to Improve; + Other Ideas
So, the obvious and least work-intensive route here is to make all instances of damage scale, increase the raw damage of the soul impacts, and change the damage types; something like Radiation, Void, or Cold, or potentially even True damage to make it stronger outright – though, going that route would also require tightening the scalings.
Additionally, remove ragdolling from the ability in all instances; replace the initial target ragdoll with a knockdown, and replace every soul impact ragdoll with a stagger. Ragdolling, as an effect, is just too disruptive to be useful – as evidenced by the overwhelming pushback to the initial concept for Blast Status during the Melee 3.0 + Status update.
Now, what about ideas that push a little further? Something wilder that changes more of how the ability works? Well, here's my idea;
Rather than having the soul become a projectile launching out of your initial target, create a cone AoE behind the target (relative to Nekros' current position) that damages enemies, applying the stagger (as mentioned above). Additionally, make it so that every enemy affected by Soul Punch has their armor reduced by…Eh, let's give a rough margin of 30% at max rank, for something like 10-15 seconds, with the effect lessened/halved for enemies that aren't the initial target of Soul Punch.
Why add temporary armor reduction onto this ability? I've got a couple reasons; firstly, it'd create a natural synergy with Nekros' Terrify, which also strips armor temporarily. The increased resultant lethality from comboing those abilities would also lend to Nekros' thematic of being a master of death – someone who could very easily kill you with his necromantic prowess, and beyond that…D'you really think someone would be able to shrug off having their soul punched out of them? They're going to be extremely weak after that, and it should make them easy prey once you've punched their soul out.
And of course, with the change to how Soul Punch works, it should also involve changes to how the ability scales; have initial damage, soul damage, and armor strip affected by Ability Strength, have cast range and cone area affected by Range, and have armor strip affected by Ability Duration.
Definitely a lot simpler than last time, but blessedly Soul Punch is a simple ability that, while inarguably terrible right now, can easily be worked into something good. If anyone else has any changes they'd like to suggest to Soul Punch or its augment (the latter of which I honestly think is fine), or any points to bring up that I might have missed, feel free to discuss.
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