So, as disappointed as I am in the lack of pet damage buffs in this hotfix (I know it will happen eventually, I just want to play them now) something really interesting came out of today’s hotfix that I don’t think a lot of people are really taking under consideration.
Prior to this hotfix, FL4K (IMO) only had 2 Synergistic builds: Hunter + Stalker (crit build) and Master + Stalker (Pet build). Master + Hunter combinations were non-existent in pre release build theorycrafts, and only 1 or two were listing in the post release “What Fl4k Build Are You Running Thread”. I take this to mean that most people had no interest in running Master Hunter builds.
The reason is fairly understandable. The two trees have little to no naturally synergy. Although Head Count is crucial to lowering Gamma Burst’s cooldown, the Hunter tree offers no other benefits to pets. Aside from Galactic Shadow, it has no survivability at all outside of Rakk Attack augments. Play style wise, it didn’t offer anything Stalker builds didn’t. You could stand still and snipe using the pet as a tank with either combination, but Stalker offered more survivability and pet utility + damage.
However, now with the buff to Barbaric Yawp, things are changing quite a lot. The spiderant countess gives 5% damage reduction at base. With the new Barbaric Yawp providing a 200% bonus, that now becomes 15%. Combine that with Hive Mind (15% damage redirection), and FL4K has a passive TRUE 30% damage reduction with no additional investment. Combining that with who rescued who and Burst Aid, FL4K’s ability to take damage will certainly rival that of Stalker.
It also has great implications for damage. The best way to increase damage is to build a solid base damage and then stack as many multipliers as you can. Flak already has a tremendous amount of Bonus Damage and Crit damage. Now you can add in a PASSIVE, NON-CONDITIONAL 30% elemental damage. That is almost as much as a Bone of the Ancients!! And unlike the other characters, this applies to ALL elemental damage. You can take a Hunter Build, with all its damage, and combine it much more effectively with perks in the Master tree to increase survivability. You’d already have 3% health regen per second just for having Scorcher equipped. Every time Scorcher damages an enemy, that would go up to 5%.
Lastly, in an offhanded way, this buff also effects pet damage. As long as the Skag’s 5% bonus damage and Scorcher’s 10% elemental damage apply to themselves, this hotfix buffed their damage by 10% and 20% respectively.
All in all, I think this fix has some serious potential for builds. It doesn’t fix the hot mess that Gamma Burst is currently, but it makes the Master tree itself a far better option for mix-and-match with both of the other trees.