DISCLAIMER this is an opinion it is not fact and im not saying lucas is not toxic because wifi warriors exist also i play a lot of lucas so i may be biast. so ness and lucas, both of them have similar traits but are different characters and ill be going over both of them and their different levels of bs. lets start with lucas, his pk fire goes straight outward and does knockback but it doesnt do much shield dmg. it has little endlag but will catch those who dont expect it off guard but is generally pesky when spammed. its only saving grace is that its range isnt to large like yink arrows or spamus missiles. pk freeze great range good speed strong knockback and surprisingly low endlag which ive seen catch people off guard. this one is more disruptive but if you know how much range it has and dont airdoge at the wrong time you should be able to dodge it. then theres dsmash which is a strong 2frame tool but requires you to time it (most of the time)theres probably more lucas things that people hate but this is all that comes to mind
ness :pk fire less range then lucas pk fire but instead of dealing knockback it catches you in timmy's tendrils of more pkfire and or the absurdly early backthrow kill OR any combo/kill move he throws at you and im pretty sure it can 2 frame/hit the ledge it also happens to be ridiculously hard to DI out of. yoyo up and down smash for some reason acts as an anti ledge option, which means if you don't have a tether to ledge grab you will be sent either into the top or side blast zone the former more commonly used by casuals but somehow kills with it or leads into 4k pk thunders which will probably kill or you will not be able to recover because you didnt get your jump back and unless you are villager, rob, or have an some absurd recovery you will fall and die. theres also more bs in ness but i cant think of it rn.
basically im just saying i hate ness bs more than lucas bs didnt use rage flair cuz i dont hate people responding (yeah i know why the rule is there)
Reference point: Etienne's stats
Before going any further on a subject that inevitably needs calling out, I will state for the record that I myself do in fact think that Etienne needs SOME buffing, although in a creative manner. What I went through today made clear that Etienne does have some kinks to iron out, because GOSH can his range sometimes show signs of being a half-efforted strength when it isn't confounding his Drones.
OF course, that last part brings up why Etienne still deserves the benefit of the doubt: Etienne is a technical character.
We know the story with these characters: they can be difficult to learn, and when they don't show fast enough results, which is a very real possibility, people get frustrated. If Etienne is legitimately deserving of buffs regardless, it's still better to understand EXACTLY
why that would be the case. We must first understand that Etienne is a case of Gathering Steam, reliant on his fast EXP gains for his strong level ups in general. Of course, people are bothered by how he has low efficiency in his early game, so let's go over that first. The Early Game Technical Show
People do, of course, mention that Etienne's DPS is bad, and it definitely is early on. Of course, looking at his L1 stats, besides that he is basically tied with Striker Jones for best Range (55), he also ties in second place for attack speed with Churchill, beaten only by Gwendolin, whose Range is lower by a wide margin, so he's a functional sniper and leak catcher. Where Etienne's DPS falls apart is that he starts with only 1 Damage and 2 Pierce, ensuring that he ends up with the worst raw group DPS of any Hero at the start, including Quincy. Also, at Level 4, with the +1 Pierce, he barely beats Quincy with the raw group DPS, and doesn't outpace anybody else, and Level 5's attack speed increase just brings up level up competition, where the other characters are still getting their own damage improvements that bring up that by the way, Etienne still has a fairly middling price.
There is also how the Drone will try to track according to its Targeting and only target anything within Etienne's own range, which can confuse its movement and cause it to move to undesirable positions, although it can provide surprising results with lineup shots by hammering the higher layer Bloons because of the fast attack speed. Still, the DPS is an elephant room nevertheless.
However, there is a bright spot: the Level 3 activation ability known as Drone Swarm. This activation ability activates 4 extra temporary Drones, mind you with their own Targeting modes, that have the same stats as the initial Drone that Etienne has. Now people do of course notice that it has a LONG cooldown of 75 seconds. This is justified by the effect itself: it effectively quintuples damage for its duration, and even more useful is that the duration itself is 15 seconds, which the only Hero who has a longer L3 activation ability duration is Churchill, at Level 15 and above. For reference, Quincy's own L3 activation ability, which triples attack speed until a later level up, lasts 6 seconds at Level 8, which I'll get into why that number would no doubt sound familiar to you soon enough.
Why is the duration relevant? Because it means that it can be activated early if you anticipate that a given Round is about to cause problems. Round 15's own case of Gathering Steam for example is certainly vulnerable to the wall burst that the Pinks will run right into. Etienne is also decent against Regens because of his attack speed and range, giving him decent potential for Round 17's Regen Yellows, though he would want to use Drone Swarm for Round 19 as well. The cooldown is of course still a factor, but other towers can be used for the Rounds that are upper middle tier threats.
That brings up WHY the supporting towers are relevant: because Etienne can freely upgrade them in paths that don't provide Camo. If Etienne is deployed early enough, he can reach Level 5, which provides him with Camo detection, before Round 24 starts, at which point his Drone will shred the SINGLE Camo Green guaranteed. He does have to be mindful of his support's Damage Typing; for example, Round 25 has Purples to give any Wizards fits, and who could forget that Round 28 has Leads that Etienne will not be damaging any time soon. Round 33 is the next Camo threat and has Camo Yellows that Etienne can shake off with lineup shots; then Round 36 sneaks in a few Camo Regen Greens to add disorientation in usage when it still has the buddy system Pinks at the end; and of course, the end of Round 37 has Camo Whites that Drone Swarm becomes particularly desirable for.
Of course, this does create a bit of a memorization aspect with Etienne, though since it's all happening in early game, the reiteration cycles do thankfully get shortened to more digestable chunks, but I do suppose not seeing Etienne's potential immediately can frustrate people, particularly when Adora, while costing more, still admittedly defeats Regens better.
Still, at Level 7, Etienne gets an extra permanent Drone, which means more passive damage that provides something more passable...oh, but it bumps the effective damage multiplier of Drone Swarm down from 5 to 3 as a result of diminishing.
But not to worry. You might be thinking to get Camo detection for the Round 42 Rainbows or some such. This isn't a problem with Etienne either, because at Level 8, which he can reach soon enough guaranteed, he gets--get this--infinite range Radar Village effect from the Unmanned (or Unmonkeyed as the case may be) Aerial Vehicle.
This makes the Round 40 MOAB the marker of the end of early game, and it particular shows with Etienne when he can shift his Drone Swarm handling to addressing bigger non-Camo issues once the Camo Whites are out of play. Even if Etienne is deployed late enough to have to worry about the Round 42 Rainbows, he can still Drone Swarm them, and honestly, I'm not sure why deploying a Hero later than necessary is a good idea when that's a persisting EXP loss. Keep in mind that if Etienne is deployed on Round 10, he'd reach Level 8 at the end of Round 40 on a Beginner Map.
Of course, this is the least of the big points about the UAV boost. The UAV Boost
When I saw the effect of the global Radar Village, I snickered at how insane it would be. There's a reason why Radar Village costs $2250 (including the useless Grow Blocker, and excluding the additional $1200 for the Village), and that's on top of it using a Village crosspath. Etienne is a Hero by contrast, a staple who got criticized for basically expending as much on this boost.
Does the free Radar boost justify the early game concerns? I would think so.
See, Etienne can have his supporting Towers avoid crosspaths that provide Camo, generally boosting their raw power, or be Towers that don't get remotely easy Camo in the first place. We can do a list of Towers and how they benefit from the crosspaths:
- Dart - well, Crossbow is commonly used and that has innate Camo. However, the other 2 paths could see use with T/M or M/T crosspathing for damage output. Not the best start, though.
- Boomerang - no Camo detection outside T5 utility attack. Speaks for himself.
- Cannon - no Camo detection outside the B5 passive activation that doesn't even help on CHIMPS anyway. Self-explanatory again.
- Tack - exact same comment as Boomerang
- Ice - T4 hits Camos and M4 can use the activation on them as well, but the Bottom path doesn't, though I'm not sure how much he benefits from it.
- Glue - needs specific attacks to hit Camos on his own and they're from the M4 and B4. Self-explanatory yet again.
- Sniper - Camo hitting requires Middle Path. Top Path can more safely get extra speed and Bottom path can opt for more damage.
- Submarine - okay, so Advanced Intel is commonly used and probably will be regardless, but if that's banned in a Challenge, Sub's only Camo hitting ability will be the M4 activation. Uh, yeah.
- Buccaneer - T/M and M/T both have added projectiles. Seriously.
- Ace - banking for DPS Spectre. Enough said. (Also, Fighter Plane and its upgrades can be placed in an out-of-way location if you want and Centered Path will fix as much.)
- Heli Pilot - Pursuit Comanches, Fast Firing Apaches...yeah, Feral is getting his chopper backup soon enough.
- Mortar - Bottom Primary can still remove Regrow or Fortify at higher levels, but Top Primary and Middle Primary still benefit when they're hitting Camos too.
- Wizard - group/flood control Archmage and directed Wall of Fire in general
- Super - Sun path gets epic range and Robo path gets more consistent damage if they don't care about issuing knockback
- Ninja - innate Camo, so not synergetic, though worth noting that Ninja has his M2 upgrade be Decamo that has had some synergy with Flash Bombs, and so can be dumped for the T2 upgrade
- Alchemist - no Camo at all, self-explanatory of course, and becomes worth noting when this makes it possible that Alchemist not buffing Etienne may be intentional but YMMV on that.
- Druid - only T5 and M5 provide any chance of unsupported Camo hitting, so the free Radar is yet again self-explanatory.
- Spike Factory - effectively innate Camo, so generally not synergetic. However, the dummy attack isn't registered as Camo for Advanced Intel, but Etienne's free Radar would fix that, so there's that at least.
- Village - innate Camo on T5 attack but that is useful for trivializing a bunch of Rounds if you can get it out and most Primaries, who get the free tier 2 upgrades, don't have good innate Camo, so it's worth mention. T/B crosspath is more appealing in general and results in discounts mixed with attack boosts.
- Engineer - only Camo hitting is a dedicated path upgrade with iffy handling of Camos, although the dedicated path is good regardless.
As we can see, most Towers get clear benefit from Etienne's UAV effect. Etienne's expected build order can become forced and outright unfamiliar, but when he's planning ahead playing on how he would personally handle Camo, he can REALLY show results from heightened Tower damage output.
In effect, outside the early portion of ABR or an All Camo challenge, Etienne is the same as instant, global, and unconditional Decamo that doesn't even remove Camo Bonus Damage from play, and Decamo has been a proven trait in the past to begin with for the patterns that has created.
And of course, Etienne's selling points don't stop there. UCAV and its implications
So now to get into Etienne's second activation, Unmanned (or Unmonkeyed) Combat Aerial Vehicle. This summons the UCAV plane that will fire a whole host of missiles and hang around to keep doing so for 20 seconds. While, for UCAV's extreme's cooldown of 90 seconds, the Pierce is a mediocre 25 and the Damage is about 3, the missiles are still at a high enough frequency to wreck mid-tier threats, which at the guaranteed time of UCAV's availability will be Ceramics and soon after will be MOABs. It's not best to save it for an outright emergency because the missiles will not scratch Blacks/Zebras due to Explosive Damage Typing, but it can still call out the biggest threats like what Drone Swarm would be used for early game.
Once again, the duration can even leak into a subsequent Round for smacking potential back-to-back threats. Here's an example involving Round 63's last Ceramic cluster (its strongest threat, although the first two Ceramic clusters call out burst damage reliance enough) and Round 64's MOAB rush (which is relatively easier but will punish complacency with MOAB busting): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YleEV2QKLs&list=PLO2o0_k4kOryPHOAuOlnZV2IMBQfoLzWz&index=15&t=11m27s
Oh, and by the way, Etienne gets a 3rd Drone at Level 11, so the Drone Swarm damage boost is further diminished even if the Cooldown has at least been reduced. But hey, you have UAV providing the Radar effect to have your towers go with crosspaths heightening their damage output, you have UCAV to blow anything particularly big sky-high, things are going to go quite well with nothing to really get in the way. What, is there something that points out that the Drones can't damage Leads and the UCAV's missiles can't damage Blacks/Zebras? ...oh....wait. Dealing with Dark Dirigible Titans
Yep, DDTs have both Lead and Black properties. Also Camo but Etienne doesn't care about that. Etienne can't damage them naturally, and this is why he gets dismissed, because he would need either an Alchemist buff, which he can't receive; or what else but the Monkeys In Black upgrade from Village. And would you look at that, MIB requires getting Radar Village along the way. This is at least a simple solution for Etienne, but Etienne arguably wastes his UAC boost as a result, not to mention that he would expend the Village's primary boost just to be able to hurt DDTs himself.
At least MIB is an option. Of course, who is to say that it's the ONLY
option? I don't want to go into too many details because this is stuff we should be looking at and this whole post is long enough anyway, but I can say that non-Camo crosspaths, as well as singleton target crosspaths (for example, M/B or B/M Boomerang), tend to involve more focal and ultimately technical gameplay to manage their effectiveness. These can be used to bust up the DDTs without MIB usage. This
is an example, even if it's ultimately for Hero comparison purposes.
MIB can still provide a bypass for something like MOAB Mauler or Spectre to work with, so it can still have flow if you don't mind the funds being away from something contributing to busting the normal blimps. Of course, effective usage of towers that handle DDTs more naturally is bound to also contribute to defeating the blimps, and naturally, Etienne contributes to the normal blimp attack Rounds with UCAV, as well as his Drone DPS being not only accommodated by an activation ability that can be active half the time to make up for the effective damage multipler being minimized to 2, but also having the passive raw DPS be doing reliable keep-up with the other Heroes' DPS since around Level 12, with his Level 16 raw DPS (3 shots of 3 Damage x 9 Pierce every 32 frames) in both the group and singleton department actually beating that of PAT FUSTY.
(And before you make a comment saying "bad example", Pat Fusty's raw DPS (at L16, it's 5 Damage + 4 Damage x 20 Pierce every 39 frames) is simply gimped by his very wanting range, a distinction that doesn't hinder him in floods or at the entrance. And I'm aware Pat still damages Leads and has Bonus Damage against Ceramics, but Etienne's insane range and faster Level Ups makes my point stand because of blimps.) I can surmise under all of this that Etienne is a big time case of risk-reward, particularly involving anti-armor usage.
And the reward for navigating through the 90s Rounds is having the UCAV be permanently out, making his DPS jump even with the Level 10 stats. It can be used to handle Round 99's DDT rush, Round 100's Pinata BAD, and Freeplay. ....wait, what? (Yes, it's a Bragging Rights Reward, at least on Beginner Maps.) Closing
I've been suspecting that people are thrown off by Etienne's gameplay, and I stand by that notion. Most other Heroes damage Leads on their own before even getting any Level Ups, Quincy and Benjamin being outliers but Benjamin is pure economy and Quincy is immediately available for purchase, although Brickell could have reason to be concerned too when her Pistol doesn't damage Leads, just her Mines. Etienne warrants the comparison to Quincy because he similarly and to an extreme has effectiveness against Camos but not Leads, as I had guessed pre-release, but then gets contrasted by costing $850 base (out of range of immediate purchase on Hard with MK, and any difficulty without MK) and having to work off of his Level Ups and his technical gameplay to achieve his effectiveness.
Of course, I do think that Etienne, although playable enough that I could do this week's Odyssey on Hard with effective CHIMPS rules aside from losing Lives due purely to overbanking (I didn't reset the map because Bazaar was already aggravating me), has SOME underwhelming aspects. The most flagrant, the only one that really bugs me, is that his Range stays at around 60 from Level 2 to Level 15, and when he hits Level 16, it jumps to about 80, making for a jarring increase made even worse when Etienne would want the 80s Rounds to get there. I think that should be fixed by having the Range growth be more gradual, because I can tell you how Firing Range ABR was not fun to deal with when the Drones refused to move to the middle lane from Etienne's range being too short.
People have complained about the lack of Alchemist buffing to Etienne. I could see that changed up, but I can guess that the Alchemist thing would be deliberate to maintain his DDT weakness, although I'm up for knowing what the devs think.
Overall, I think Etienne is worth giving the benefit of the doubt. We are 2 days into Etienne's release and the clearest thing about him is how he has enough nuances going on to give him a learning curve. u/mattius3939
is certainly right to mention that he should be given time instead of being treated as Discount Adora or Discount Churchill when Etienne is so much more.
Really, the whole debate about Etienne does need rounding up at the very least.