Without its staggers, flourish & finish is a useless ability and will make the rapier obsolete as an offensive weapon.
FnF isn’t even typically used for its damage, but rather its utility and ability to interrupt melee attack animations. This allowed for aggressive combos to be set up with fleche and evade which gave rapier users a chance to compete point-blank against players holding stronger melee weapons (interrupting mages mindlessly holding flamethrower is another great feature). But without the initial stagger from the flourish “swipe,” it’s nearly impossible to land the finish “stab” since the target, unless stammed out (exhausted), will inevitably dodge through the animation, making the ability nearly useless both offensively and defensively because its utility goes out the window if there’s no stagger to peel for yourself with.
I’ve spoken with many high-level players across a spectrum of classes in the game and all agree that the flourish and finish nerf was unnecessary. Most competent players are aware that you can block FnF with almost any weapon and receive minimal stamina damage - all it takes is a little anticipation or decent reaction timing. It’s rare enough that anyone uses the rapier offensively when there are far better options, so it feels strange to nullify the one ability that allows us to use it in a fun way. If the goal of this PTR update was to remove staggers and CC’s from damage abilities, then this change should be reverted, since it is not inherently a damage skill. I understand, for example, removing the stagger from ice spike since it deals an extreme amount of burst damage, but removing the stagger from flourish which only does 90% weapon damage seems strange and antithetical to this balance patch as a whole.
A fair compromise might be to lower the ability’s damage even more, like what was done with the spear cc’s, or even to have only the flourish swipe stagger. No stagger at all is no bueno. Maybe update a perk that gives both parts stagger because the “deadly flourish” one is virtually useless and hasn’t worked properly (only applies to the initial swipe) for as long as I can remember. No stagger, no bueno. Something needs to be changed because the current iteration of this PTR makes the rapier feel significantly worse in a seemingly unnecessary way.