Skull Merchant needs more bandages, BHVR...
I just wanted to start this off by asking the people reading to not assume anything about who I main or my skill, they have little to no influence on this.
Skull Merchant is a 4.6 m/s killer. This makes her among the fastest killers in the game. What makes her even faster is the passive haste effect:
- 1 trackable Survivor equals +3 %
- 2 trackable Survivors equal +5 %
- 3 trackable Survivors equal +6 %
- 4 trackable Survivors equal +7 %
Although it's difficult to get 3-4 trackable survivors even in solo queue, it is important to note that even 3% makes a huge difference, exactly like what MfT did. Let's not forget how annoying that perk was to face. This effect is easily achieveable, you just have to force a survivor to get scanned multiple times at a loop with the threat of an M1 attack. The laser cone covers a 10m distance, basically engulfing most loops and making survivors face a tough decision to either continue on with the loop, or run to the next one.
Here's the problem with being able to shut down most loops. She is a 4.6 m/s killer that has probably already developed some haste, before she begins to shut down the loop. This makes it almost impossible to evade a hit in order to run to the next loop unless there's a loop close by or you manage to make them miss badly which is very difficult. This cycle just repeats because there is nothing you can do.
Let's say you wanted to stay at a strong loop as you are in a dead-zone or you're confident. You might get some looping in but it would probably end up being a better option to just W key. Here's why:
SPECIAL EFFECT: LOCK ON
The Lock On Meter receives +1 Stack whenever a Survivor is scanned by a Drone scan line or fails to Hack it.
After 3 Stacks, the Survivor is fully Locked On and experiences the following effects:
- Receives a Claw Trap.
- Changes their Health State:
- Suffers from the Deep Wound Status Effect when previously Injured
- Suffers from the Broken Status Effect.
SPECIAL TRAP: CLAW TRAP
The Claw Trap continuously broadcasts its Survivor's position to the Radar.
The Claw Trap has a Battery Life of 45 seconds, after which it is automatically destroyed.
Whenever a Survivor wearing a Claw Trap is scanned by a Drone, the following effects apply:
The broken effect doesn't really do much since you'll most likely get downed in chase anyway. The deep wound is very irritating on console to experience. I remember having to close my blinds whenever I played the game because some maps were always dark and the deep wound was always a pain, it severely impacted my looping half the time. Now that I'm on PC and invested in a brighter monitor, it doesn't cause too much trouble. It's not a problem for her ability, but I'm just asking for quality of life changes for consoles. Killer instinct only really helps to find people in general, not in chase, so I won't focus on it. The radar ability also isn't a problem, it only makes sense since there are trackers involved.
The most significant impact is that you can get a health state taken off for participating in a core mechanic of the game - looping. Sure, the killer needs a strong ability but this doesn't take any thought to achieve. There's no skill to it. Just deploy drones until they scan a survivor enough times to injure them and then follow up with bloodlust/haste. If I'm wrong, please argue with me about it respectfully.
The last effect mentioned here is hindered. 10% hindered is obscene. If you didn't know, Wesker can only hinder you by 8% when you are critically infected. In order to even get hindered by Wesker, he needs to land a viruelent bound which can be undeniably difficult with experienced survivors. Then, you need to wait a while (I don't know the exact timings) to even get the survivor critically infected. It just doesn't make sense for a killer to have such a effect that gets activated because you're stuck at a loop due to a simple key press to activate M2. 10% hindered is a death sentence, you might as well just stand still and save yourself the effort.
SPECIAL ABILITY: DEPLOYING DRONES
Press the Power button to deploy a Drone in Stealth Mode, which conducts an invisible, continuous sweeping scan of its surrounding area.
- Grants the Undetectable Status Effect for 8 seconds.
This isn't anything too crazy but you have to understand how all these effects combined are making this killer unbearable to face. Let's say you're injured and stuck at a loop with a high wall. The killer has 5% haste from your tracker and some random survivor's tracker. Suddenly the red cone of vision dissapears and silence ensues. Welcome to the hook. The killer surprise attacks you at a generator with undetectable, haste, and STBFL. Welcome to the hook. You get the idea.
In case people have forgotten, this is what bloodlust does.
- In Tier 1 – Gain a +0.2 m/s speed bonus after a chase of 15 seconds.
- With Tier 2 – Gain a +0.4 m/s speed bonus after a chase of 30 seconds.
- For Tier 3 – Gain a +0.6 m/s speed bonus after a chase of 45 seconds
In this case, a tier one Skull Merchant is 4.8 m/s (120%), a tier two is 5.0 m/s (125 %), and a tier three is 5.2 m/s (130%). W keying is not an effective counter and yet it's the only one.
The worst problem here is how easy the lock on meter is to get filled. Sure there's counterplay I guess. Just be stationary or crouch mid-chase! Why did I not think of that when writing this! Well, I hope people understand why without having to explain. It's a great feature for people not getting chased, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't compensate the survivor that's getting chased. Everyone has probably noticed how fast survivors go down against a experienced Skull Merchant.
This is literally how all the games go: survivor runs to loop, killer presses M2, survivor runs to next loop and gets injured in the process (M1), killer presses M2, welcome to the hook. Or it goes like this: survivor runs to loop, killer presses M2, survivor gets injured by the drone and hindered, welcome to the hook. It was frighteningly similar before the rework, but instead of getting injured from the drones, you actually got exposed.
Skull Merchant is just a mess. Her drones make the map look like a mess, she has a mess of status effects to aid her, and her whole ability is just a mess.
In all of my games versing her, there is at least one DC. People can whine it's a skill issue all day long, but this doesn't happen against any other killer. Nurse and Blight might get their fair share but this is next level. It only proves that most people hate facing her, even with the three-gen Chess Merchant situation over. She is a flawed killer in every aspect and I myself would like her deleted out of the game. I have said that her ability cannot be balanced in a game like DBD and I stand correct. I would be fine with any other adjustments as well (such as the lock on needing one more token) but it is getting to the point where it just looks silly asking for another rework.
I only decided to write this now because I thought I was just unlucky enough to go against really good Skull Merchant mains, but soon realized this status was easy to achieve. This discussion isn't as a result of a couple bad games against her. It would be hard to do since I face her almost 1 in 4 games due to the seemingly random uprising of people playing her. I don't blame them, it's easy 4Ks at the end of the day.