Fighter, formerly known as guardian fighter will undergo a number of exciting changes in the upcoming expansion. If you haven’t already, take a look at the introduction to classes developer blog which discusses the class changes overall as well as high level adjustments to healing and tanking. This post will discuss the upcoming changes to fighter in detail.
With the release of Undermountain changes to healing and threat management will reinforce the importance of tanks and provide a new and improved tanking experience. The fighter’s core design will remain as unshakable as the fighter itself—a tough as nails, sword and board wielder who defends allies and crushes foes.
Now that the great weapon fighter has been repackaged as the barbarian, the two classes—barbarian and fighter—no longer share paragon paths. Fighter will lose its special class mechanic Mark, gaining a new class mechanic in its place.
Before we talk about Dig In, fighter’s new class mechanic, we must first discuss the overhaul of blocking. The act of raising the fighter’s shield, or the Block tactical power has been completely reimagined and will now play a much more active role in combat. Block no longer applies a damage resistance bonus, but instead provides a hit point shield whenever your shield is raised.
The hit points of your block are determined by your remaining stamina and your maximum hit points. When you raise your shield to block an attack, the attack depletes your stamina as if it were hit points, damaging your hit points only if the damage exceeded your block. While your shield is raised, you won’t regain any stamina, but lower it and it will begin to refill.
It’s hard to overstate how much of a dramatic change this is, and how different it will be to use block after Undermountain arrives. Not only will block provide a more noticeable effect, enemy damage has been rebalanced around the change and you can now more freely lower your guard to use your powers, without worrying about instantly taking lethal damage.
The fighter’s new class mechanic Dig In builds on the fundamentals of block and provides an alternate method to block enemy attacks. Dig in sees the fighter hunker down into an extreme defensive position, blocking attacks from all directions (block only blocks frontal attacks.) Fighters also regain stamina while using dig in, albeit at a reduced rate.
The new Vanguard paragon path takes the place of the old Iron Vanguard. The vanguard is concerned chiefly with the defending their allies. Able to attack from behind the safety of their shield or bull rush into enemy lines, the vanguard uses brute force to catch and hold the enemy’s attention.
With the expansion, generating threat will be more about dealing damage and less about “taunting” foes and forcing them to attack you, regardless of who currently had their attention. Classic powers like Enforced Threat still exist, but they will now place you at the top of the enemy’s target list, as opposed to forcing the enemy to attack you for a set duration.
Tanks like the vanguard will also have passive powers which increase the threat generated by their actions, and a variety of actions to choose form that generate additional threat, while sacrificing a bit of damage. It may sound like a lot of work, or like you’ll be dealing less damage than before—but nothing could be further from the truth.
Where before you would have to spend a lot of time marking targets, you’ll now be able to focus on attacking your foes to get their attention. You also won’t have to remember to re-mark bosses and other tougher enemies before it wears off or risk losing the enemy’s attention, as you’ll be able to build a proper foundation of threat on the enemy.
Fighters looking to branch out will also be able to play and queue for content as a dedicated DPS, in the form of the fighter’s new Dreadnought paragon path. If vanguard is the immovable object, dreadnought is the unstoppable force. The dreadnought blocks their foe’s attacks to build vengeance, then unleashes crushing blows in retaliation.
Any time the dreadnought blocks an attack, the stamina lost is converted into vengeance. Their dig in mechanic is replaced with Seethe. While using seethe the dreadnought takes up a similar position behind their shield but stamina is converted into vengeance, even if they are not struck. When their vengeance gauge passes a certain threshold, their damage increases.
Dreadnoughts seethe behind their shield or bait their enemy into attacking them, unleashing a storm of steel and fury in vengeful retaliation. In addition to increasing the dreadnought’s damage, some powers spend vengeance directly for additional effects. Dreadnought provides a new style of play and new skills to master.
Hopefully you’re as excited as I am for you to try out the big changes coming to fighter! Neverwinter: Undermountain is out now on preview, so look forward to more information in the near future, and preview the changes yourself if you have the time. See you on the Sword Coast!
Doug “Asterdahl” Miller