Deadly Aim: I agree that it badly needs a buff in one way or another, especially because gun is just not a very strong attack for any build these days since Dex is severely underpowered. I might even go as far as to say it should also buff aux, too, since Tech Mage is really faltering now. But obviously, if we find a way to buff Dex, it's probably fine. I'd propose that Dex should have an additional effect, such as Agility (yes, I know it used to be based on Health), where having a Dex advantage increases both your base defense by a small percentage and/or lower your opponent's. Or something else dynamic, like that, that would make the stat objectively more useful than it is now rather than just buffing block scaling like NW did a couple weeks ago. And, of course, we could always use some more skills that Scale with Dex -- perhaps Cyber Hunter Poison or Malfunction, or Mercenary Blood Commander or something might be quite interesting since those classes don't have any Dex skills currently.
Hybrid/Mineral/Plasma Armor: I wish the armors returned to flat values because they are extremely awkward to use now since lopsided defenses are not favorable, but the only way to make the shield good is to do that. This is especially true for Cyber Hunter. Also, the % makes it so no build except focus or tank builds can use them, which has effectively killed off any strength or support build for the classes that have them since it's hard to compete when they're only giving you 20 defense.
Shadow Arts: I actually really liked the concept of Shadow Arts as an active. I would argue for it to return to that since block % is not a tangible benefit, hardly a strategy, and everyone I know abhors luck anyway. I feel like the old Shadow Arts would help Cyber Hunter focus a lot which currently isn't doing too well as it is.
Adrenaline: Adrenaline sounds nice on paper, but rarely has any meaningful impact on the battle. It's just an awkward concept, really, and the active version was not too much better. If Static Smash gets nerfed real hard, which I feel it should along with Static Grenade and possibly Parasite, Mercenary would likely be underpowered like it was back in Delta due to Adrenaline being so bad. I think a better concept would be to be 10% defense ignore at Max level or something along those lines, or maybe keep it the same % as now but change the effect to ignore more defense on Rage.
Bloodlust: Its really, really good, but still, its fine, I guess (wow, that was a lot of commas). The only thing I would say is that I don't like how Bounty Hunter Massacre and Blood Mage Supercharge just had their health gain effect stripped from them. If we want to diversify all classes' skills, we should re-invent these skills to fit with their skill trees again. For now, a slight damage buff for these skills would probably do (mayber 40% defense ignore for Blood Mage Supercharge), though, just so they aren't just worse versions of Cyber Hunter's and Tech Mage's. I mean, for Blood Mage, Supercharge is absolutely garbage compared to Plasma Cannon now; the only thing going for it before was just its health gain. On the flip side, I'm inclined to say that Cyber Hunter Massacre needs to have its health gain effect buffed to 30% and have Tech Mage Supercharge have 40% health gain but only 20% defense ignore. That would make it so these ultimates are better designed for their respective classes' needs.
Reroute: It's weird. It some ways it was a nerf, in some ways it was a buff. I wouldn't change it for now.
General: The requirements on a lot of the passives should be looked at. They are unchanged from 2013 and a lot of them are really high.
Other comments about the balance brought about by passives: Tech Mage is the only class without a shield or Bloodlust, making a punching bag just like it was in Delta when it was almost as underpowered as Mercenary. Tech Mage desperately needs a major power buff to counter shields/blood lust or a defensive buff to make up for not having either of them. To do this, I think Malfunction needs to be buffed for focus builds. It's hardly useable in its current state. I feel like Defense Matrix also needs a serious buff, which would also help Cyber Hunters. Maybe even make it last four turns. It was undeservingly nerfed a few months ago. Technician, I think, should also scale 3 points per level, like Reflex Boost, to make it better. Overall, Tech Mage just needs a much better way to defend itself like in the old days. However, I think Assimilation should eventually be moved back to 4 turn cooldown and slightly nerfed, but return to 100% damage. It was never meant to be this good of an energy-manipulating skill back when Tech Mages were already the only class that could control energy, and it shouldn't be anymore if Static Smash/Grenade are nerfed. And if those were to be nerfed, add Atom Smasher to the list, too. At this point, EMP Grenade is fine (doesn't necessarily need a buff); it's Atom that feels slightly too good now, now that it's harder to gain energy, and should at least have its cooldown pushed back to 4. And Tactical Mercenary, as it is, is extremely good due to the way its skill tree synergizes anyway. That's a good thing, though, and I don't want Tacticals to be nerfed in other ways for now.
Also, just going to put it out there: Multis need to be buffed. 2v2 strongly favors tank builds now, and almost exclusively the three shield classes since they are difficult to target and have the potential to Jugg should your partner die. We need to bring back some of the craziness in 2v2, I guess.
Spirit Meld: This thing is downright broken. It's a lovely concept and I applaud whoever came up with it, but it needs a cap and the drawback may need to be bigger. Usually, people pull it out near the end of the battle when they are out of energy and the game isn't going to last many more rounds. The 5 turn defense debuff doesn't hurt them very much in that case. I propose that it be capped at 500 Energy and the defense debuff be increase to 20% for 3 turns. I don't know if that'll fix it, but the point remains: something needs to be done about it. It would also help tremendously if the ultimate skills had their cooldowns increased to 4, or even 5 to prevent instant looping with the core, and instant looping in general.
Screaming Soul Spears: This needs to do 100% damage or something. Otherwise, you guys aren't going to be milking the cash you wanted from making it Varium-only.
A whole bunch of other cores are pretty broken, obviously, but there's too much to deal with right now to worry about every little thing. I do wish, however, that there were more cores that can be used multiple times per battle instead of these crazy powerful one-time use things. That'd be a good way to increase build and strategy possibilities and give cores the function that they were always advertised to do -- be a way to make your custom skill tree by being like actual skills. That's why I like the concept for Botanical Hazard and Massive Strike. They becomes part of your build and really sort of created a new style of gameplay that didn't exist before. They are dynamic. They aren't just a situational tool like most cores are now, or a one-time hack like Health Booster, or a disgusting luck boost like 90% of the passive cores that don't give stats.
I....agree with all of this? The one thing I would leave out would be the nerf to Spirit Meld (I want to try this bad boy out while its in its OP state :P) Otherwise, nice post, mirrors what I view of balance right now.