Thursday, January 5, 2012

They Would Be Crazy to Follow Us, Wouldn't They? Kiting in SWTOR

Nazbur (my close friend and longtime MMO buddy), Dunquinn (Phyona's super-cool mom), and I were cruising through our first Flashpoint, the Esseles, when we hit a bit of a snag. It was that bonus droid boss. You know, the one that you have to activate by hitting those two levers at the same time? Anyways, Droid Boss executed some nasty AOE-lightning thing (?) and Nazbur, his little droid companion, and Dunquinn all perished in a matter of seconds. (More to come on these two; they're excellent players.)

I had been throwing out some spot heals and occasional damage from cover, so now I was left alone with a lightning-infused droid meanie.

In a true stroke of martial genius inspired by Monty Python and O.J. Simpson, I ran away.

And that's when I noticed an interesting side-effect of SWTOR's lack of an auto-attack.

I could still do significant damage. Reflexes had kicked in and I was kiting the boss in a looping figure-eight around the room. Through years of hunter-pvp-induced muscle memory (and that alone, I'm no pro), I was jump-turn-firing every 1.5 seconds and managing to keep up a steady stream of damage. After a prolonged chase, the boss collapsed into a pile of scrap metal.

For those who don't know or aren't sure, kiting consists of attaching fabric to a firm frame and allowing wind to "fly" said kite while it is tethered to you via a long piece of string.

In MMO terms, kiting consists of dealing damage while keeping an opponent at a safe, comfortable distance. Generally,  the kiter will periodically snare or slow an opponent while maintaining dps on the run. One of the best methods for achieving this is jump-turning. As long as you are using the mouse to move rather than your W key, you can

1. Run away.
2. Jump.
3. Use your mouse to turn 180 degrees in the air.
4. Now that you are facing your target, fire off an ability using a hotkey.
5. Turn back 180 degrees before you hit the ground.
6. Continue to run away.

This definitely takes some practice, but once you get used to it, it will become second nature. And you'll feel like a total bad-ass.

As a smuggler in particular, you are gifted with so many instant casts that can keep up decent damage even if you are melee/scrapper specced or a cover-reliant Gunslinger. Keeping a vital shot up, flinging grenades, and filling in with blaster fire will keep their HP dropping, while abilities like Dirty Kick and Tendon Blast give you the separation you need. An important part of kiting is keeping yourself from getting slowed, so be sure to use Escape if you need to.

 In WoW, classes are dependent on either auto-attacks and their auxiliary effects or hard casts. For instance, as much as ~60% of a Rogue's damage came from auto-swings and poisons and an Arcane Mage needed to stand still for 2+ seconds to cast an Arcane Blast, their main attack.

In SWTOR, a class with ranged capabilities can decimate an opponent or mob or whatever while kiting. Keep that in mind when you're out and about, Smugglegoods! May the Force be with you, I guess...


  1. I've been doing it wrong! All this time... I haven't been jumping.

    I hadn't thought about the lack of auto-attack and how it affects kiting... most of my experience in MMOs comes from casters so click-to-do-stuff has always been my thing. But you're right, abilities are balanced around those being the only damage. It makes quite a difference in gameplay.

  2. Just wait, in a few days you'll start looking like a jumping bean while running missions!