Nightstalker needs some help in relation to PvE and echo of instability potentially needs some help too. (post 3.0)
I have play-tested stylish executioner on void hunter for a bit now. While it can be fun to use in a moderate amount of scenarios, I find that there are plenty of scenarios where it can noticeably lag behind other Nightstalker aspects in relation to usability. Trappers ambush can easily make a reliable ability loop along with vanishing step while stylish executioner has a much harder time doing a similar ability loop without being clunky and doesn’t really synergize with either of the other 2 aspects. While volatile flow was in the game, the issues I’m about to explain weren’t an issue. Now that volatile flow is gone, these problems I’m about to explain are now very much an issue.
The first problem is the fact that the ability loop for stylish executioner is mainly centered on devour from echo of starvation and volatile rounds from echo of instability. This is kind of of clunky and massively unreliable because of the following few contributing factors;
1. Orbs of power cannot be picked up when the player’s super is full, even with echo of starvation or non combat style orb mods like innervation. This dramatically gimps the usability of volatile rounds on hunters, forcing them to use their super or restrict their load out with an explosive light weapon
2. There is no grenade feedback loop system built directly into this subclass and neither is there exotic armor that has synergy with stylish executioner. This feeds into the first factor.
3. Volatile rounds from echo of instability is very unforgiving in how short the duration is and can lead to a frustrating chase to get to enemies in time or get my grenade back quickly enough. This compounds the first two factors.
The second problem is the second part of stylish executioner where the player’s next melee after performing a stylish execution will weaken the target. This can allow for a more reliable feedback loop, but is immensely clunky to the point of significantly slowing down the hunter’s combat flow in low or high tier PvE content. The clunkiness mainly comes from the “too stylish” debuff that serves as a cooldown to stylish executioner, but is also compounded by the fact that melee is far inferior to gunplay in terms of DPS, fire rate, and range. Combined with the weakening effect disappearing as soon as the player breaks invisibility, this makes it very punishing as well as even more clunky. This, in turn, is highly detrimental to the hunter’s combat utility. To make matters worse, melee in high tier content is suicidal due to the fact that the target that the player is hitting with melee can just turn around and instakill the player. Now glaives may allow the hunter to use stylish executioner more effectively, but that still significantly limits a hunters build crafting capability by limiting the player to melee weapons. In addition, it is still clunky due to “too stylish”, and is still suicidal in high tier PvE content. All in all, the drawbacks to this play style are still just too severe to make it worthwhile. It is also just too restrictive in terms of build crafting by limiting players to melee
The third problem is that vanishing step has too few of fragment slots for only granting invisibility. It does nothing else like weakening or suppression. It just does invisibility and for such a short duration too. This is probably the simplest fix out of all nightstalker aspects though, and it doesn’t require a buff to it’s effects. Just a fragment slot
These problems have all led to me being very frustrated over time with how difficult it can be to reliably use stylish executioner to its fullest and I’m pretty sure some other players can relate on this. Also volatile rounds, once again, are similarly frustrating to use due to the short duration and using them to their fullest potential is very difficult. I have rather successfully achieved a near constant flow of it with my build; however, the lack of room for error has resulted in a lot of stress in using this build. Also, the fact I can’t pick up an orb if my super is full forces me to use my super or use an explosive light weapon (which significantly restricts my choice of heavy weapon) in order to use devour at times.
Anyway, now that I’ve explained the problems, here are a few potential suggestions / solutions I have come up with in terms of remedying the problems;
1. Add a hunter exotic to the game that has synergy with stylish executioner, allowing for easier access to the aspect’s effects. Volatile rounds and perhaps grenade regeneration would be a good means of achieving this with an exotic. My own personal concept of this is a pair of exotic arms that would grant grenade energy on defeating void debuffed targets and would allow the player to charge up volatile rounds by getting kills. Grenade energy granted would be roughly 10% and after getting roughly 7-10 kills in PvE, the player can hold reload to load volatile rounds into their gun and kills partially refresh the timer. The volatile rounds would be able to be stowed indefinitely unless the player dies or fast travels, especially since it is tied to the arms, not guns. Theoretically wouldn’t be too powerful in pvp, would be excellent in pve, although would come at the expense of an exotic slot, preventing the use of certain top tier exotics like Orpheus rigs pr star eater’s scales.
2. Rework the second part of stylish executioner. My idea for the rework to the second effect of stylish executioner is for all of the player’s attacks after performing a stylish execution (or going invisible in general, as it would add synergy with vanishing step and trappers ambush) weaken targets for 5 seconds. This would completely remove the clunkiness of stylish executioner from PvE by allowing players to use guns with stylish executioner’s weaken effect and giving players an extended window to weaken targets. This would, in turn, also leave hunters viable in all PvE content and also wouldn’t be broken in PvP as the cooldown timer for stylish execution in PvP is much longer being at roughly 10 seconds. Reducing stylish executioner to 1 fragment slot may be acceptable though if it is too powerful; however, vanishing step should be buffed to 3 fragment slots in such case and really should have 3 fragment slots anyway since it all it does is grant invisibility for a shorter duration. Also, I doubt stylish executioner would be so powerful with this buff in PvE to justify only having one fragment slot.
3. Add a fragment that grants grenade energy on defeating void debuffed opponents, or make grenade regeneration a part of stylish executioner itself. This would help hunter out a lot.
4. Change echo of starvation and orb of power reliant mods like innervation to allow for orb pickups while the player’s super is full. This would help both titan and hunter, although hunter would be benefited more by this change.
5. Potentially make echo of persistence apply to volatile rounds. This would help all parties involved, but hunters would probably see the greatest benefit from this change.
While this is a suggestion, nightstalkers are arguably in a pretty bad spot right now in PvE. Stylish executioner could be a major part of the answer, but right now, it just isn’t worth the time. These changes could make it much better in PvE than it currently is and would go a long way in making void 3.0 hunter valuable in high end pve content again. I wanted to put my idea out there so that at least it might be considered, but one thing is for sure. Stylish executioner needs a buff in PvE to be viable.
Edit: Another thing that has come to my attention is the weakening debuff seems a little weak, especially considering that the radiant buff is now in the game with solar 3.0. Radiant equals a 25% damage buff while weaken is only a 15% damage debuff. To make matters worse, radiant is more accessible than weaken on the hunter. I find this to be absolutely ridiculous in terms of class balance, so I believe weaken should at least be buffed to a 20% debuff. That combined with some of the previously aforementioned changes would leave it on par with radiant when used solo, thus making it viable for solo play. Also, I believe that “too stylish” as it is right now is a bit excessive in PvE with lasting 2 seconds. I believe it should last 1-1.5 seconds instead for simple quality of life.