While playing with a Heavy/Sniper hybrid, I discovered that Rage Burst (the ability that empties the gun into whatever you’re aiming at) is extremely strong to the point of removing the need for anything else in certain situations (especially Citadel missions and any situation involving a single large target like Chirons and Scylla).
I have a solution that I think would increase the viability of other methods of dealing with very strong enemies while completely maintaining the utility of sniper rifles and Rage Burst (which should obviously be strong as it is a 7th level ability).
TLDR: A shield type ability which could be an AOE or personal/single target buff that reduces incoming damage by a percentage before armor is applied. (Ex: a 120 damage sniper shot is reduced by 30% from the shield effect to 84 before being applied to a 40 armor limb, reducing total damage to 44.)
For example: In a Citadel mission, especially early before more than one Scylla is present at a time:
- Using a scout, locate the target.
- Have a heavy/sniper hybrid (or a heavy of any type with high accuracy that can use a sniper rifle) Rage Burst with the Synedrion sniper rifle (which incidentally has a very high capacity clip) at the Scylla on whatever the lowest armor body part is.
- Damage on say a 40 armor leg will be reduced to 80 (120-40 = 80), number of shots that hit is 14 (with high accuracy ~95%) doing 1,120 damage to the Scylla.
- Scylla either outright dies, ending the mission with little to no risk, or you need to do a little more damage with explosives/another sniper/etc.
I’ve run into similar situations where (for example) the first time I ran into a Scylla was in a Haven defense mission, and I just sort of did a panic Rage Burst and it died instantly, leading to a rather anti-climactic “Ultimate Enemy” that didn’t feel great after the initial terror of seeing it.
My solution is a second type of damage reduction to compliment armor, where instead of flat reduction (which is very, very effective against rapid fire weapons) it removes a percentage of incoming damage, making rapid fire weapons much more attractive, especially when armor piercing becomes involved.
Normally, piercing is strictly worse than regular increased damage, because a weapon with 20 damage 20 piercing has a MAXIMUM damage of 20 per shot, whereas a weapon with 40 damage has double possible damage, while still ignoring the same amount of armor. In a situation where a target has 20 or more armor on a limb (extremely common even early), both of these weapons are exactly as effective, with the armor piercing weapon actually being worse below 20 armor.
(For the sake of comparison, in the Citadel scenario the AP Jericho sniper rifle does only 900 damage if every shot hits)
A percentage reduction shield effect would make rapid fire/armor piercing a tool that actually has a utility in various situations, while increasing the utility of shred and maintaining the appeal of high single hit weapons in most situations.
With something like the shield scenario, if weapon damage is reduced by half, a target with 20 armor would take (per bullet) 10 damage from the armor piercing weapon, and 0 from the 40 damage weapon. At 10 armor, the target would take equal damage from both weapons, below 10 the regular weapon starts to outperform the armor piercing (which is fine, armor piercing doesn’t need to be the solution to everything).
Looking at the Citadel scenario again, with (for example) a Chiron whose abdomen (or even the Scylla’s abdomen/carapace) projects a psychic “shield bubble” 20 tiles around it that gives all allies 50% incoming damage reduction.
A. Rage Burst Laser Sniper at 40 armor leg. ((120/2) - 40 = 20 per shot damage) * 15 = 300 damage
B. Rage Burst AP Jericho Sniper (overcomes armor entirely up to 50). ((130/2) - 0 = 65) * 10 = 650 damage
In either of these cases, you still get to do significant damage to a heavily armored target, but the armor piercing has become dramatically more useful, and you are forced to commit twice as many resources (in terms of ammo cost at least) if you want to take the relatively very safe, long range, instant victory.
Other advantages to a second damage reduction type are that you can have enemies with lower armor thresholds still be intimidating, rapid fire weapons and weapons with low damage / armor piercing capabilities viable in certain situations for longer, DOT effects and shred (shred should probably be unaffected by shields) become much more appealing, and if the players acquire a similar type of tech it would give some kind of defense against the initial round of unavoidable grenades/artillery from enemy forces (which is honestly my least favorite part of the game as they are impossible to avoid if you can’t destroy all of the crabby boi arms on turn one, and they can cripple a soldier before they get a chance to do anything).
Aaanyway. That’s my thoughts on this topic, I hope someone on the team finds it useful. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.