It is necessary to talk about the future of the HR class in Neverwinter – and whether it has a future at all. HRs find themselves in the same position as mod 4 TRs, where due to bad game mechanics, low damage and large buffs given to other classes, they were increasingly irrelevant, rarely played, and unable to contribute effectively in PVE or PVP. TRs got help – far too much of it – with mod 5. HRs have not. Many other people have raised these issues; I'm doing it because at this point repetition can't hurt. We deserve some answers.
In PVE, there are a few stubborn holdouts still playing the archery tree, but its low survivability and inadequate damage make it a curiosity at best. Almost no one plays the combat tree anymore whether in PVE or PVP.
In PVP, trappers can still be of use as a support class, but against practically any equally geared opponent of another class they are at a huge disadvantage. GWFs of course have to do little besides get hit to proc Unstoppable and spam sure strike. GFs still have a one-rotation kill with powerful, long-lasting control abilities that are not mitigated by dodges or control resist stats. CWS have an overpowered repel every few seconds combined with high damage. SWs can deal enormous damage and tank through their life steal abilities. TRs and OPs, of course, require no skill at all to play and have a 1k-1.5k item level advantage against most other classes.
Compared with this HRs can do basically no damage with their at-will powers. Their encounter powers and even dailies are out-damaged by the at will powers of some other classes. I have personally, with a 3.9k item level and about 14k power and 10k crit in pvp, stood off from a GWF and aimed one encounter power after another at him, watching his health bar heal on its own while I actually took damage due to Fey Thistle. Three guesses how long an HR would standing their under assault from the encounter powers of any other class. HRs' stealth power, Forest Ghost, has a long animation that eats up a significant part of its (very short) duration and makes it only marginally useful. HRs' dodge is tiny, does not evade the area of effect of, for instance, GWF at wills or smoke bomb, or much of anything in PVE, requiring the class to use two dodges where others only have to use one. Dodge immunity frames are also insufficient and often do not match the timing or placement of the dodge.
Certain encounter powers are so poorly designed that no one uses them: ambush and bear trap, for instance. Animations for many abilities are far too long. The charge cooldown of Cordon of Arrows is so long that it is foolish to use it in the race atmosphere of a group dungeon because it will leave us with no charges up and thus interfere with our ability to keep our cooldowns cycling if we keep up with a group. Many abilities, such as cordon of arrows or rain of arrows, either do not work at all or only partially work with weapon enchantment buffs, reducing their effectiveness hugely. Oak skin only heals based on base HP and not max HP, making it useless above level 60. The HP buff of Stag Heart is similarly useless. The animations of aimed shot, aimed strike and gushing wound are too long and unwieldy for use in combat. For some reason - and completely senselessly - HR gear provides even less damage resistance than CW gear.
HR feat trees are another issue. Though we are supposedly a striker class, our feat trees are woefully compared to others (I have done a line-by-line comparison of pathfinder/tracker with destroyer/swordmaster in another thread). Lest we forget, in the real world, trained archers were the dominant force on battlefields for millenia. A longbow arrow pierced the chest of Alexander the Great and ended his compaign of conquest at Multan. Outnumbered and starving archers fighting on foot in the mud against armored knights on foot (GFs and GWFs depending on their choice of weaponry) slaughtered them wholesale at Agincourt. About 1500 archers behind cover and on a hill devastated the armored cavalry of France at Crecy in their tens of thousands. The crossbowmen of Genoa were in demand as mercenaries for centuries. The compound bows of the Mongols allowed their small armies to annihilate larger, armored forces at range across most of the inhabited world. Yet in Neverwinter, bowmen do relatively insignificant damage. The feat trees need a complete rework.
The only strength left to HRs from mod 6 onwards was their stun ability, but as any player of the class can tell you, this is laughably ineffective against well geared pvp players of any class. Half the classes are essentially control immune (breathe on a GWF and you proc Unstoppable; TRs have ITC or the Whisperknife control break, not to mention stealth; Paladins have their control immunity aura and, besides, are a nonsensical entity in pvp for a dozen other reasons; I've shot at CWs, SWs, DCs, TRs and every other class and watched them simply hop around as if no one were applying strong or weak grasping roots or disruptive shot at all.
Some of this is doubtless due to the power creep that has been affecting PVP and deserves its own huge rework, but it has also been known to HRs that our control bonus buffs have never worked properly. The base two and a half seconds that roots or dazes supposedly last against players in PVP is, in reality, a quarter second at best in most cases even after the buffs are, again supposedly, applied. Compare this with Crescendo or smoke bomb or a whole array of other control abilities whose duration is NOT practically instantaneous and does, therefore, affect gameplay significantly.
TRs needed a complete rework by mod 5, having been ignored since mod 2, and got one – which admittedly went much too far. GWFs didn't need one at all and got one anyway for mod 6, making them hugely and unreasonably powerful for their gear. If the devs intend to leave the HR class in the game, they obviously must want people to enjoy playing it in both PVE and PVP. However, players can easily tell that the class has been over-nerfed, neglected and in many respects badly designed. Three and a half mods' worth of dealing with this is enough. It is long past time to bring the HR back into balance with other classes at its gear level.