I was catching up on twitch streams recently, was to busy playing during head start to laugh at Tony, when something caught my attention again, the Ability Mechanics Dev Speak. In that video it derides the old MMO ability mechainc staples, instant, cast time, and channel, implying that its boring to have those as the only option and Wildstar is doing something better. It occurred to me, however, that Frost was also describing the Engineer class. Instant, cast time, and channel literally describes over 95% of our abilities, and almost all of the ones that I actually use regularly. No rapid taps, no press and holds, no charge and releases, one utility skill with ability charges. And even our ability to move while casting and channeling is reduced.
Additionally, we have quite a few skills that aren't often utilized. Target Acquisition is often seen as poor Volatility gain and damage for its cast time, with the added problem that the cooldown starts when you cast it, so you can get nothing from it if a sudden dodge or sprint is required. Mortar Strike is a skill that I love dearly, I leveled from 25 to 50 with it in beta, but it currently sits in an awkward, unused niche for our Volatility spenders, as a costly, instant AoE in a class who's meta needs slow Volatility spending to minimize the need for Volatility building.
I think, however, that we can kill two birds with one tier 4 Target Acquisition mark. By giving some underused skills a proper Wildstar treatment and improving their ability mechanics, we can have interesting options to use instead of Energy Auger or Bio Shell and Electrocute or Bolt Caster.
Target Acquisition, in my mind, seems the perfect candidate for rapid tap. Imagine if instead of holding the line on your target for three seconds, you had twelve (or some other arbitrary number) rapid taps with each tap applying a mark. Then when time expired or all taps were used, the orbital strike would hit. Right now, getting all of your marks on a target is often based on luck, that your target is in the correct spot at the quarter second marking and that you have no need to sprint, dodge, or interrupt for three seconds. If you were instead rapid tapping your marks, you'd actually be able to respond to the situation and getting all of your damage from the ability would be another skill the good Engineers would need to master. It would also make Target Acquisition a much more tempting unlock in our Assault tree.
Mortar Strike is an interesting beast, and one that I think can be improved by changing it to a charge and release mechanic. However, instead of the charge increasing damage like charge and release often does for higher charge levels, I think that it should instead decrease the Volatility cost. This would give Mortar Strike an interesting mechanic, as well as make it a great tool for managing Volatility and keeping us in the zone. Right now, Bolt Caster is a better instant spender, Electrocute has always been a better AoE spender, and there is little need for an instant AoE spender that costs so much since the AMP based Volatility regen can't keep up. By letting us fine tune how much it costs, at the expense of increasing its cast time, you can widen Mortar Strike's applicability considerably.
And speaking of Electrocute, with the somewhat recent change to when it starts doing damage, I feel like it and Particle Ejector are a great candidates to become interesting press and hold abilities instead of the boring channeled ones they currently are. While there isn't an incredibly pressing need for a change here, I do feel like this would be a great way to give us more control over Volatility spending. Currently the global cooldown incurred by restarting Electrocute can make it difficult to stop it with another ability before leaving the zone, but as a press and hold ability we would gain a measure of precision that could only serve to increase the class's skill cap.
These are just the few ideas I had initially. Feel free to suggest any other mechanic changes that could make the special sauce in the Engineer's combat sandwich more interesting.