A View from Atlas Park: I HATE STALKERS!

A View from Atlas Park: I HATE STALKERS!

That’s it. I hate Stalkers. End of story.

For the record, I DO NOT think that Defenders are a bad archetype. I wrote a little in my last column about Defenders (especially non-healer Defenders) not being sought after for groups and got back a few emails that tried to “correct” my view. I don’t need correcting – I think a well played Defender character belongs on any team. They are really the Jack-of-all-trades AT, able to damage, heal, buff or control, depending on their powersets. I’m more than happy to team up with a Defender, or have a Defender on my team.

My point at the time was (meant to be, anyway) that not all players feel the same way. I’ve been on teams that have rejected perfectly good players because “We need a healer” – a statement that I find incredibly short-sighted, especially since when I’ve managed to cajole some teams to go forward without healers, we usually beat the mission fairly easily. (Of course, sometimes we end up face first on the ground, but let’s not talk about that…).

So there you go – I like Defenders fine.

Stalkers, on the other hand, I hate. I hate them as a Blaster hero who, on several occasions, has been two-shotted straight into hospital. It’s just not fun.

I hate them because they are the dominant villain AT in the PvP zones when I’ve been playing (off-peak hours). They form the bulk of the teams I’ve vainly tried to fight against. Based on personal experience, I’d say that a team of eight Stalkers could probably Assassin Slice’n’dice any other team of eight heroes, with a potential exception for a team of eight Tankers.

I hate them because they seem overpowered for PvP, but to weaken their ability would likely neuter the entire reason for Stalkers existing. If their inherent power of Hide was weakened (with a short active time limit, or longer recharge times, or not allowing hide and travel powers to work at the same time, or something like that), things might balance out a bit more because it would require more skill than just running up to a hero and hitting a few buttons – a player would have to time things accurately to pull off an attack. Decreasing the power of the Assassin blow would just lead to lots of Stalker players crying, “DOOOOM!” in the forums, and probably isn’t an option, regardless of how much other players (ie me) would probably enjoy it.

I hate them for the way they should be played to be successful, which is hit-and-run. Now, PvP in CoH is already a pretty much hit and run affair unless you have the benefit of overwhelming odds. From what I’ve seen and experienced, as soon as one party looks like they might lose, they tend to run away. Stalkers, however, have to rely on this tactic if they wish to survive at all. They hit, do the damage, maybe see if they can hit again and get a two hit kill, but are often away before your health bar has stopped dropping from that first hit. This gives the target no time to mount a defence or return attack, which basically leaves you feeling like pinata at a party filled with particularly malicious children.

All of which sounds like whining (which it is, I guess) but it’s born of frustration in having to deal them all the time. Personally, I’m interested in how well my hero plays against the other villain ATs, but do I see them in the PvP zones? Not really, and I never get to fight them either, because as soon as I stop I seem to get [strike]ganked[/strike] !ASSASSIN! hit by a Stalker. It’s not fun.

I’ve taken some steps to make myself less vulnerable against Stalkers, but it still seems even if I see them coming, I still suffer the crippling !ASSASSIN! hit. Or I manage to dodge a Stalker 20 times (I say dodge, because they run away as soon as they encounter incoming fire, so it’s hardly a victory for me) but get hit on the 21st run.

Of course, I could really rant over who thought that having an AT that was capable of two-hit kills was a good idea in a PvP game, but I’ll leave it alone (for now). Someone at Cryptic who is obviously wiser than me thought it was necessary, so Stalkers are here to stay. I don’t have to like it, though.

And for those would say to me, “Don’t go into PvP zones then”, I agree. As soon as I get those badges, I’m gone. And the reason I won’t go back to PvP isn’t that I can’t stand losing, it’s that I can’t stand losing because there is no way I could win using my own skill.

Two PvP tricks I’ve found out about:

1) Stalkers leave trails in the water if they enter it, so you can still see them coming.

2) From Ripperjack: use Shadowfall (or equivalent) to stealth a number of turrets near your base. Stand in full view of your opponents. Watch their surprise as they suddenly enter multiple cones of fire.

– UnSub [email protected] 15 December 2005

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