First, some context. I have played Firestaff/Sword and Shield in Heavy armor since New World launched over two years ago. I am well known on Castle of Steel as "that guy that runs heavy flamethrower" and having played many arena matches against Nyce Gaming himself I can't help feel I shaped his opinion somewhat.
The first area that Nyce touches on is how flamethrower is "one button" press and how the player doesn't run out of mana and with the right haste abilities can scoot around with the flamethrower without getting hit (note: he shows this in PvE). This is a fair assessment of the ability but I'd ask what is different with this than infinite left click melee light attacks? Light attacks require no resource management, are area of effect (AoE) damage, and can hit much harder than flamethrower. Many light attack chains also apply various debuffs and DoT (damage over time) effects.
If you consider PvE for a moment where melee is king because of the cleave AoE most ranged weapons suffer a good bit comparatively (which is why AGS made it so ranged weapons do more damage in PvE). Again no melee user is spending a resource such as "mana" to do their damage so it is a mute point that flamethrower can be used "without losing mana". Mana is dumb in the first place in New World if melee has no equivalent such as having to use their stamina to attack. Also the "kiting" shown in the video is doable by any ranged weapon; nothing unique to flamethrower here.
If you consider PvP a lot of the same points as PvE are relevant. Again melee is out there never even having to think about managing a resource to be able to attack. Players also stagger and stun a lot more in PvP than you experience in PvE; each of which stops flamethrower. Also popular in PvP currently is Alacritous Punishment which is +20% damage to players with haste so having haste + flamethrower going can open you up. Flamethrower also slows the player down, even with haste, which is problematic in PvP and allows players to get away.
The only real point made at the start here is flamethrower is one button press vs other parts of the game require more button presses/clicks. The argument about mana is mute until such time melee also has a resource pool to worry about.
Next Nyce talks about "they can whip it right back out" which refers to the flamethrower upgraded ability where it can be used without a cooldown compared to most abilities that have a cooldown after being used. Having no cooldown flamethrower requires multiple investment points in the tree which means there is opportunity cost going this route as the player cannot invest elsewhere. There was also a 2.5s cooldown added if the player is interrupted using flamethrower.
Further into the video Nyce starts talking about the Firestaff artifact Inferno. In the current version of the live game this changes damage to strike (instead of fire), damage scaling off STR, +damage to targets within 8m, and has the incinerate perk locked. In the version on PTR (assumed for next patch) the strike damage is replaced by fire damage and the incinerate perk is gone.
|Inferno Live vs PTR (as of 11/27/2023)
Nyce posits that this change will mean Inferno becomes the defacto best firestaff and will encourage flamethrower use. I think this is a fair argument; the changes to inferno look very strong. I'd argue though it is not just about flamethrower... it will be good for any firestaff player. And more worrying than flamethrower will be firestaff/blunderbuss combo as that combo is almost always done right into the face of the opponent.
So I'll jump on the bandwagon with Nyce that the PTR Inferno is too strong but will argue it's less about flamethrower and more about other builds such as the blunderbuss combo that is already top dog in PvP. The only real downside of Inferno is it can't slot a gem (gem slot is not allowed to be added).
Personally I don't like when artifacts offer straight up mathematically better versions of the weapon the way Inferno is doing on the PTR. I much prefer artifacts that are designed for the player to lean into the uniqueness of the artifact. Original Inferno with Empowering Incinerate did exactly that. The only issue with original Inferno was the conversion to strike damage vs staying as fire damage; that completely gimped the damage. I think keeping Empowering Incinerate on the weapon would help offset the change back to fire damage and fit better thematically.
If Inferno goes into live as it is on PTR it will be my goal to snag one as soon as possible. My prediction as well will be firestaff/bludnerbuss will be that much more of a problem than it is currently. This basically is giving that combo close to guaranteed max empower cap (+50%) on the firestaff portion of the wombo combo. If you think it hits hard now wait until it hits even harder.
Over all I think the constant cries to "nerf flamethrower" are less about it being too strong (Nyce says as much in the video that flamethrower is not too strong) and more about folks perception of how "easy" flamethrower is compared to whatever thing they are playing as. If flamethower gets changed in some meaningful way there will just be whatever is next on the list for these folks that is "too easy" compared to whatever left click spam they are playing.
Again, I've played with firestaff since day one. I played it from when it was nerfed into worthlessness all the way until now where it is in a pretty good spot for my build. I do see where over all firestaff is probably too strong (especially the combo with blunderbuss) and that is the larger concern in my book for the PTR version of Inferno. The issue is not flamethrower; it is just the fact that firestaff + INT attribute bonuses make it some of the best damage in the game. Flamethrower itself is in a good spot. The damage feels balanced and the interrupt has done a lot to get away from the "whip it back out" of the past. You also don't see many light firestaff players using flamethrower because it does open you up to big hits which is why you are seeing more of my style of flamethrowing: in heavy!