I've been working on a guide on our guild forums for PvE dps as an Arsenal spec Mercenary Bounty Hunter and reached the point where I figured I would share it on here, as it might help people.
Things to note:
- This is a PvE DPS guide (not PvP, but the build does pretty well at pvp anyway).
- Sustained dps is different to blowing away a handful of standard/weak mobs when doing missions.
This is always one of the first things everyone wants to know. What talents should I take? Well, there's not really much of a choice available.
Bodyguard = healer
Pyrotech = PvP dps (lower sustained dps, more burst and utility)
Arsenal = PvE dps (highest sustained dps and what this guide is about)
I play as Arsenal spec, which is what this guide is all about.
The build above is pretty much set in stone, other than a few filler talents noted below. you can change these around if you like:
Power Barrier - defensive talent that may well save your ass in fights. I think it has the edge over Integrated Systems, but you can swap them if you like.
Jet Escape - I've taken this because I like to PvP here and there, so a reduction in cooldown on Determination is handy. Feel free to substitute for elsewhere in the tree.
Pinning Fire - mostly a PvP talent, but could be useful in PvE when you need to slow a target for some reason. Feel free to replace with another talent.
Surgical Precision System - I put this in because sometimes you NEED to throw a heal when under fire. Can be the difference between success and death. Bounty Hunters don't DO losing.
An Explanation of Key Talents
You could just take my word that you need all of the other talents to be awesome, but I'll give you some reasons why, so you can pass on the advice to fellow Bounty Hunters and help them dominate dps as well. Many of the talents you'll take are fairly explanatory, such as +3% accuracy, +6% crit, +X% damage to ability Y. I won't go into these, they should be fairly obvious.
Tracer Missile - this is your primary single-target ability and the one that does most damage to initiate with. It also debuffs your target up to -20% armour. Other classes can also place this debuff. They don't stack. This ability replaces Power Shot.
Light 'Em Up - debuffs your target quicker, means more damage sooner.
Terminal Velocity - with a decent crit value, this really kicks in and is what allows you to keep nuking your target hard without pausing.
Barrage - the +25% damage from this makes Unload worth using over tracer missile. See the section below about ability priority.
Heatseeker Missiles - instant cast attack for decent damage.
Stats Value & Priority (gear & mod choices)
This is without doubt your number 1 stat. If there is ever the choice between Aim and another stat, you take Aim.
Aim gives you:
- Ranged Damage bonus.
- Ranged Damage crit % chance.
- Tech Damage bonus.
- Tech crit % chance.
- Healing Power (heals CAN be handy at times - though this is clearly not a priority)
Power adds to the damage of your attacks in much the same way as Aim does, but doesn't increase the crit % chance.
Your chance to cause a critical hit, which will inflict at least 50% more damage (and trigger various abilities).
As a base, you have a 5% chance of any attack scoring a critical hit.
You want to get your crit % to a decent level, to ensure Terminal Velocity procs fairly often.
This increases the amount of damage done by your crits.
As a base, a critical hit does an additional 50% damage. ie. an attack that would normally do 1,000 damage will instead do 1,500 on a critical hit.
I've not done the maths yet on how well surge works, but given we want a decent crit %, we should score fairly frequent critical hits with all of our abilities and thus having those crits hit harder can't be a bad thing.
This is your chance to hit your target. Regardless of how much damage your attacks do, you need them to actually hit your target.
You have a base accuracy with Rapid Shots of 90% and accuracy of 100% with your special attacks. Your offhand blaster has a penalty.
Increasing your Accuracy over 100% will subtract from the target's defense. There's no real way to know how much defense mobs or bosses have at this time though, so it's difficult to say how good this stat is in PvE.
An Important Note on Alacrity and why you don't want it
What does alacrity do?
"Reduces the time needed to activate or channel abilities, so they can be executed more quickly."
So this applies to both Tracer Missile and Unload, two of your primary dps abilities, so it would seem alacrity is good for Mercenaries, as it allows them to damage their target quicker, right?
edit: perhaps the most important argument against alacrity for a merc is that it does NOT reduce the global cooldown of 1.5 seconds. This means that, whilst it reduces the time taken to fire a Tracer Missile, you are still limited to a maximum of 1 ability every 1.5 seconds, so ONLY Unload gains ANY realistic benefit.
Heat build-up is the single biggest limitation on Merc dps. If you're reading this, I am assuming you have a Merc and are familiar with what happens when your heat bar fills up - you end up standing there just hitting your default attack. That's because heat management is a vital part of playing the Merc effectively (again, see below).
You will already be using Rapid Shot a fair amount, rather than Tracer Missile, to keep heat down to a manageable level. Itemising alacrity, would mean you are able to use more abilities in a given space of time, so giving you better "burst" but overall, heat will still limit the amount of abilities you can use.
Also, If you take a careful look at Terminal Velocity, you'll see that it can only activate once every 3 seconds at most. However, Tracer Missile has a 1.5 second activation time, making two of them back-to-back exactly 3 seconds. Even with the ability queue system in place, you can maybe add a few milliseconds gap between them.
If you gain ANY alacrity at all, then you'll bring a double activation of Tracer Missile under 3 seconds and start to lose out on the important proc from Terminal Velocity.
* As a note, at max level, it may be possible to gain enough alacrity to bring it down to close to 1 second per activation, which may be worthwhile, but even then, there's still the issue of heat build-up from an additional acivation of the ability.
* Further note, see my additional post further down this thread on the maths behind alacrity itemisation
OK, enough background, how do I do this awesome DPS?
First, let's take a look at the abilities we have at our disposal and an analysis of their damage compared to heat and time.
Note that this is currently using the damage values from my lvl 50 character. I've got a mixture of well-modded orange gear and pvp epics.
Ability analysis, in order of damage-per-second (max nuke)
Ability analysis, in order of damage-per-heat (efficiency)
The rotation I use on a boss, or other tough target, is reasonably simple. I start off with Tracer Missile x3 (puts a full 5 stacks of Heat Signature on target).
From that point, I follow the priority order:
Fusion Missile > Unload > Heatseeker Missiles > Rail Shot > Tracer Missile > (Missile Blast) > Rapid Shots
- Fusion Missile - solid damage + a DoT. Especially good against heavily armoured targets.
- Heatseeker Missiles - not only a solid damage ability, but can be used when moving.
- Rail Shot - instant activation, so can be used when moving.
- Unload - the torhead tooltips display too low a damage value. Use it.
- Tracer Missile - your default attack when the ones above aren't available.
- Missile Blast - usable when moving. Don't ever use when standing still.
- Rapid Shots - use for heat management purposes only (see below).
- For an Arsenal merc, some people say that Power Shot is OBSOLETE and you should NEVER use it. As my spreadsheet shows, this isn't quite true, but it's in practice, there's enough abilities to try to remember, so you're better off just sticking with using tracer missile as your filler attack. Edit - Power Shot cannot proc Terminal Velocity either, which makes it very much inferior to Tracer Missile - thanks Ighox
- Fusion Missile does AoE damage, so be careful of any targets that you don't want to do damage to. Also half of it's damage is a DoT.
- Missile Blast is on there as it is an instant and can therefore be used when moving. If the fight means you need to run for some reason and you are on low heat, you are better off using Missile Blast than Rapid Shots.
You see those 4 little arrows to the right of your heat bar? That shows how quickly your heat bar is cooling down. You want to keep that on 4 arrows, or at worst 3 arrows. The higher your heat rises, the less arrows you have and the slower your heat dissipates.
You need to keep a careful eye on your heat bar as the proc from Terminal Velocity is a random chance, so sometimes you can nuke like crazy and other times you need to be more careful.
As a general guide, whenever your heat exceeds 30, at the point where you want to activate your next ability, use Rapid Shots instead of the ability you would normally use within your priority order.
There is perhaps one exception to this. If the stack of 5 Heat Signature is about to expire from your target, you should throw another Tracer Missile to prevent the debuff expiring.
According to the in-game tooltip, your heat dissipation per second is:
0 - 40 : 5 heat per second
40 - 60 : 3 heat per second
60 - 80 : 3 heat per second
80 - 100 : 2 heat per second
Yup, that's correct. At this time, the 40-60 and 60-80 categories are both 3 per second.
Don't go over 40 heat!!!
If you do need to nuke really hard for a short duration, don't despair, you have Vent Heat for exactly that reason. Don't be afraid to use it!
WTF? Where is Death from Above you noob?
Ah the awesome Death from Above.
With a cooldown of 60 seconds, it can't really be placed within a rotation or priority order for dps. This ability is awesome for boss fights that have spawning adds, along with your other AoE abilities (something the Bounty Hunter excels at).
As for using it on a single target, you can see from my spreadsheet it's not your best option for single target dps.