March - last edited March
The Burst Mortar is the worst of the ordnance launchers currently, and I want to explain why this ability is so completely disappointing, and go a bit into how to fix it.
The core idea behind the Burst Mortar is great. You fire several small grenades to unleash an artillery barrage all by yourself. If you enjoy the idea of being a heavy artillery piece and just peppering your enemies in explosives this ability should be perfect for you. In reality it completely underperforms though, to the point of basically being unusable.
The problem this ability has is that since it fires multiple shots there is the possibility of all of the shots hitting the same target. That breaks the ability because it means that you either balance it so that it does good damage at long range where usually only one of the grenades actually lands on a target, but then it's overpowered when you use it up close where you can make all 4 grenades land, or you balance it so it does good damage up close when you make sure all of the grenades hit, but then it isn't useful at long range when some of them miss or hit something else.
It's multishot capability basically makes it impossible to make the ability balanced at both short and long range. Since the only thing this ability does is damage, no primer, no other effects, the ability would have to do extremely high damage to actually be worth using.
The Titan's Hail masterwork is also one of the worst masterwork traits in the whole game. It simply adds the ability to detonate to the Burst Mortar, which does absolutely nothing for this ability, and doesn't even seem to work. A mortar as a detonator is simply not a very useful ability. The mortars are slow to deploy, and the travel time of their shell means that even if they launched very quickly, it would take too long for them to get there to be a good way to detonate a combo. There are also no long range Heavy Assault Launcher slot weapons, making it doubly useless to have a mortar as your detonator unless some else continuously primes all targets, and even then there are better ways to detonate them.
The Firewall mortar does the job this weapon is supposed to do significantly better. It covers a large area, it leaves fire in the area to serve as an area denial tool, it primes targets to set them up for additional damage, and it doesn't suffer the issue of having its damage diffused at range by multishot mechanics.
So what could be done to fix this ability?
One possibility would be to make it inflict some kind of status effect on enemies. If it does something like stun the enemy for a short period then there is a payoff to hitting a larger area that doesn't multiply when an enemy is hit multiple times. The ability would still do pretty lackluster damage but if it had some kind of binary effect where an enemy is either affected or isn't affected that would give you a reason to try and spread out the shells to hit as many enemies as possible with it if the effect is strong enough to be worth applying to as many enemies as possible. An ability that delivers multiple hits but isn't meant to be used up close like a shotgun or land hits in series like a machine gun is usually best designed to deliver a binary effect, since that makes spreading the shells beneficial. Having a "Concussed" or "Suppressed" status that enemies can take from explosions would go a long way toward making explosive fire support more useful.
Another possibility would be to to change the damage calculation so that the individual grenades don't inflict their own damage, the ability simply applies a single high damage number to any target hit by any of the grenades once. This isn't elegant, but it would allow giving this ability a very high base damage and more substantial AoE capability without making it overpowered if you use it up close.
Another alternative would be to eliminate the spread from this ability and instead give it a much larger radius. The grenades would hit more or less the same spot in sequence, which means the expected damage for enemies that stay in that area for the duration of the barrage is consistent at all ranges. Unfortunately this eliminates the possibility of actually covering a large area in shells and it becomes just a variant of the HE mortar which has more pinpoint targeting.
The ability could also be changed so that it's shells each target their own spot on the ground, and don't allow overlap, no matter how close to yourself you fire. Instead of just seeing one spherical aim marker on the ground you would see a string of them extending out from you, and the shells would always fire so that each one flies a little further than the last in the same direction. As long as they always have a decent arc and always come in at a steep angle even if you fire up close they won't very easily all land on the same target. It would still be possible to hit an enemy with all four shells under very specific circumstances, but you'd need a very large target to make it easy, and it wouldn't be done by simply using the ability from as close as possible, you'd have to actually construct a shot that makes the enemy intersect all four arcs. The grenades wouldn't prime until they reach the zenith of their trajectory, so you couldn't simply do it by standing directly in front of the enemy either.
The radius and damage of the ability should be increased in any case. The ability currently isn't even particularly strong when used up close, and at range it's entirely worthless since the explosions are too small to even reliably hit enemies with it.
As far as the masterwork trait is concerned, it should be something that actually supports the idea of the ability, which is laying down an artillery barrage at range. Perhaps the masterwork could increase damage and radius of the shells depending on how far they have traveled, so that shooting from far away is more devastating with this ability than just standing up close.
At any rate, this ability needs an overhaul. It's not very good in its current incarnation. It doesn't lend itself to playing an artillery battery because it's much stronger up close than at range. It doesn't reward spreading the shells around and hitting as many enemies as possible, and it's masterwork trait is pathetic. I hope we see this ability become every bit as cool as it could be, because the general idea behind it is awesome.
I just got the Titan's Hail and yes, this thing is garbage. Not only does the MW inscription not work right now (patch please?), but the damage is pitiful. I thought it would be a significant upgrade over the Epic version, but this thing is weak. 2k base DMG with terrible accuracy, slow activation, slow flight time, and a small radius with a stupid spread make this in-deed the worst ordinance launcher.
Yup, I tested it with a Titan's Hail that had +100% charges, which let me fire this thing almost non-stop, and even when I was running up to enemies and firing from so close that they took all 4 shells it didn't do enough damage to be actually good. At ranges where some of the shells started missing it was completely pointless.
March - last edited March
Apparently they are giving a huge buff to this thing with the patch. A lot more damage, and reduced cooldown.
That doesn't fix the problem of this being an artillery piece that is more powerful up close than at range.
Maybe in the future they can update the Masterwork trait from simply allowing dets to increasing damage the further a shell has traveled, so that by the time the shells no longer overlap they have enough bonus damage to rock an enemy on their own.
From today's patch notes:
Burst Mortar’s damage has been increased to 300, up from 145 and its cooldown has been reduced to 6 seconds, down from 10 seconds. Its description has also been fixed
This is either not actually true or they didn't update the item's tooltip. It shows exactly the same amount of damage as before, and exactly the same cooldown as before.
I have been experimenting with this weapon recently, playing with it and the gulp (Black Powder) just to see what they are about.
I did not ever bother with the epic or lesser variants, the first time I used it was the Titan's Hail.
I do not know if I completely agree with all your points.
First, it does have a very fast recharge rate, and with inscriptions, you can make it faster. Against GM1, it crushes basic mobs. (well, everything crushes basic mobs in GM1 now. I also think the special ability is not registering correctly. However, if I prime a target first, it does seem to generate ultimate faster on my ultimate bar. I think maybe they just did not put in the proper animation. You know COMBO. When I target ARMOR targets with the Titans Hail, I seem to always get a critical affect.
But I do use it as an artillery piece. I can lay out alot of shots with that weapon at a fast rate compared to the Firewall Mortar. That is the only reason I like it.