So, today I thought I'd discuss another ability that many Tenno generally find unappealing, underwhelming, and underpowered, taking a look at why it's weak and what could potentially be done to improve it. I'm also gonna have to reiterate; I'm by no means a game designer or balance expert, but I think I have a firm enough understanding to at least pose ideas – whether they're good or bad ideas is beyond me to say, though. So, let's get to talking about Ballistic Battery.
Ballistic Battery as it is Now
Upon activating the ability, Mesa begins to convert and store damage that she deals into her batteries, converting up to 70% of the damage she deals – up to a maximum of 140 damage per instance of damage – topping out at 1,600 damage stored at 100% charge – which you'll be able to see over the ability icon.
When you deactivate the ability, all damage stored is then loaded into the next shot you fire, applying the bonus damage to the shot.
Additionally, its augment mod, Ballistic Bullseye, grants the empowered shot up to 100% bonus status chance based on the amount charged.
As for the ability scaling, the only mods that will affect this ability are Ability Efficiency for its activation cost, or Ability Strength to increase the damage conversion, damage stored per shot, and maximum damage stored for the ability. Ballistic Bullseye does not scale with any mods.
What Are Ballistic Battery's Issues?
Well, first and foremost; the payoff. You can only store up to a specific amount of damage, and that damage is added flat to your next shot – and only one bullet/projectile of the shot – after which you'll have to reactivate the ability and recharge. On most weapons, this is a negligible buff, even with higher Power Strength values to increase the cap.
Granted, on certain semi-auto crit weapons, that flat damage bonus might prove beneficial, but by and large, you could probably still get more bang for your buck just firing the weapon normally.
Besides that, the only time this ability can do anything noteworthy is giving you bonus status chance with its augment mod, which even then has only some niche benefits. For Projectile weapons, it is added as an absolute value to the math, while hitscan weapons get an additive bonus from the augment mod.
But, if your goal is to apply status effects, you're likely aiming to stack up multiple status effects quickly and consistently – two things that Ballistic Battery/Ballistic Bullseye aren't, outside of high-multishot weapons like shotguns – and as stated above, the effects of Ballistic Battery are only applied to one bullet/projectile, not the whole spread.
So, for being the gunslinger frame, Mesa's first ability doesn't lend itself well to the playstyle – by the time you get the bonus damage, you've already killed a room and a half, and when you fire it off, it's not doing much against any medium-level enemies, and its augment gives a status-chance buff that just doesn't mesh with status-focused builds.
But, as ever, bad abilities still have the potential to be good.
Suggestions on How to Improve; + Other Ideas
So there are a decent number of additions/alterations that could be made to improve Ballistic Battery; the first and simplest being to make Ballistic Bullseye baseline; give the ability an innate effect besides a flat damage increase, and instead make Ballistic Bullseye grant an addative Crit Chance bonus – it is called "Ballistic Bullseye", after all, which Crit lends itself more to the idea of accuracy than Status.
This could increase build variety a little for Mesa, giving Ballistic Bullseye a spot for a sniper/marksman build to amplify crits. She certainly still wouldn't be competing for Harrow's position, but it'd certainly give her more options.
Secondly, you could also make the bonus apply to all pellets/bullets/projectiles in the next shot, improving its usage on shotguns or multishot weapons. Since it does take a bit of work to cap off your battery, it should make sense that if you get up close and hit someone with an empowered shotgun blast, it should very much hurt in terms of raw damage, if nothing else.
And for a crazier idea; completely change Ballistic Battery's damage-storing/buffing paradigm to both increase its efficacy and make it more engaging. My suggestion is as follows;
Make Ballistic Battery function a little like Gauss' Electrokinetic Battery or Ember's Immolation, giving it a UI element that, while it's active, causes it to charge up the more damage you deal, and passively drain when you're not hitting enemies. The more battery charge you have, the more raw damage you deal per shot and the quicker you can holster and swap your weapons.
As for how to handle the augment, you could keep it the same or use the first suggested alteration – giving it a more consistent increase to status / critical chance based on the charge – or you could change the augment to have a unique effect when you're at 90% + charge – whether something of a passive aura or an ability you can use at 90% charge for deactivating the ability, like a devastating flourish of gunfire around you.
This is definitely a lot wilder in terms of suggestions past the first, but I do believe that, as it is, Ballistic Battery might need something a little wilder to be useful in Mesa's kit rather than just being universally relegated to "the ability you ditch for Helminth". Mesa is a fan-favorite largely due to her room-clearing ability, but she should still be a warframe who takes the gunplay up a notch over everyone else.
What do you all here on Reddit think? Do any of these ideas stand out to you as good, or do you have ideas of your own you'd like to share?
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