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This suggestion was previously posted to the DB reddit, but most redditors did not bother reading the suggestion before posting their responses. I encourage readers to suspend judgment until after they have read the actual suggestion.
I am reposting here in hopes the devs will consider testing it, and also get better responses than reddit, as written in the following.
Some preemptive responses based on experience on the DB reddit:
1. "Sneak-attacks are bullshit, OP, and Phantom should not exist": SD made it inherently clear that Phantom and his cloak will not be removed, grieving about that on this post will not contribute anything to the discussion, please grieve somewhere else.
2. "Decloak-delay was already proposed, SD said it felt janky": I am well-aware of this, but I am not proposing a hard decloak delay; this proposal is something different.
3. "Phantom's cloak does not need any more nerfs": this suggestion gives some room to buff Phantom's cloak; in any case, cloak nerfs are relevant if you only use the katana as Phantom's default weapon instead of his ranged kit since you have to get close up for melee.
4. "Cloaking is OP, it should not exist in a skill based shooter": see item 1.
5. "Phantom's cloak is now useless": see item 3.
The proposed cloak mechanics for Phantom comes in two parts:
Why and how this would work:
1. Disabling Phantom's cloak if broken when Phantom attacks imposes a cool-down period, just like Assault and Fire Support Q-skills. Since Phantom's "first strike" capability is a high-impact skill, e.g. like Fragger's grenades, Stoker's molotovs or Javelin's rockets that have high killing potential, using his cloak to perform sneak-attacks should be spaced out appropriately to reduce it's spammability.
2. This cloak cool-down would reduce Phantom's dependency on cloak-and-melee and "first strikes", this will hopefully encourage Phantom players to engage in fair gun fights once in a while.
3. Decloaking with 'Q' that has an animation delay introduces a different play style where Phantoms are encouraged to use their cloak for repositioning, instead of solely for face-stabbing.
In other words, Phantoms will now have incentive to use their "first strike" intelligently since it costs them a cool down period, like how Assault and Fire Supports do with their Q-skills; however, it still retains the option of using Phantom's cloak as an espionage/repositioning tool. It also encourages Phantoms to coordinate properly with their team.
Moreover, since "first strike" is no longer a spammable aspect of Phantom, it is then reasonable to buff Phantom's cloak invisibility and audibility, so that "flanking the enemy under their noses" is a viable option again for Phantom.