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Heart of Thorns Beta Weekend Event 2 Thoughts In A Nutshell

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Hello everyone! This post is to cover the changes in Beta Weekend Event 2 for Chronomancer, Dragonhunter, Reaper, Tempest, Berserker, Daredevil and the Revenant. I’ll also throw in a little Stronghold.

I want to note that the new section of Verdant Brink players can get into has way more challenging monsters and good event chains which is great. Well, seeing Lord Far… I mean, Swordmaster Faren in a speedo in the middle of a monster infested jungle wasn’t planned but was an interesting twist as side story. Anyways, the enemies are much more challenging and annoying to deal with which is good because players have to actually try and watch their positioning in fights. Alright, now, onto the elite specializations!

The Elite Specializations

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Chronomancer mostly got a balance in traits to reduce illusion spamming as it was a little too good (sorry mesmers). As I was fighting I definitely saw that I needed to work a bit more in order to summon illusions but it wasn’t to the point of being exceedingly hard. Also, Gravity Well (elite) was updated to pull every pulse which I found to be a nice change. Then I experienced it on the receiving end in Stronghold. Not a fun well to be in.

Next up is Dragonhunter. There are more changes in the works but for this beta weekend event the virtues got an update, the longbow’s Symbol of Energy got a damage buff & traps and traits got buffs. The virtues feel good with the Spear of Justice range lining up with the longbow range and Wings of Resolve healing more. I still think the cast time for traps need to go down. I also think Heavy Light needs to be removed or reworked to be attached to a longbow skill besides basic attacks. 240 knock back doesn’t seem like much but it’s enough to knock an enemy out of AoE which is very annoying. No wait, Extremely. Annoying.

Reaper, I thought was good, but now it’s really time to consider fearing the Reaper. They buffed pretty much everything: Greatsword payoffs are better, Reaper Shroud got tweaked and the shouts are stronger and have reduced or instant cast times. So I really have no complaints. One of my favorite changes to greatsword is that you can move while casting Nightfall (Greatsword 4) so you can move with your enemy in order to place the AoE blind properly. This allows you to land the rest of your skills successfully.

Tempest overall got a damage buff to some warhorn skills and overloads. The 2 main issues is a range indicator for Overloads. I’d like to know the area which my Overload Air is affecting when I’m bring lighting down on enemies. The other issue is Overload water as I’m still not really seeing the big heal. Maybe everyone’s health is topped off when I get to that point, I’m not sure.

Berserker is in a solid place. There’s definitely more damage options in the traits and rage skills and a clear view for condition damage that surrounds burning. I especially like Outrage since it’s a stun breaker on a really low cooldown. Torch is a pretty decent condition type of weapon, I can see it being used in PvP. The primal burst skills are all pretty decent, each providing an augmented version of the normal burst skills, most of them supplying fire. Since this is a new elite specialization, I’ll put out a post to describe my thoughts in more detail.

Daredevil brings back the dodge combat that fell out of the thief meta via traits and the 3rd endurance bar. It does so in a way that it isn’t horribly to strong and still rewards skillful dodging. Staff is a decent weapon but it’s hard to say right now if it’ll be viable for sPvP at all skill levels. Bandit’s Defense and Impact Strike are great physical skills to take in most scenarios with the other physical skills being situational (based on the build). I think the damage on the Impact strike combo needs to go down a bit since the first two skills are hard crowd control and Impact Strike’s Finishing Blow kills a person when the damage from Finishing Blow would put them into down state. Again, since this is a new elite specialization, I’ll put out a post to describe my thoughts in more detail.

Revenant Changes & Herald

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Revenant I spent most of my time with Shiro, Jalis and Glint with Sword/Shield and Hammer. So I can’t really speak about any changes to Ventari, Mallyx and their associated weapons. Buff to sword and tweaks to Shiro were amazing. There’s still an issue using Unrelenting Assault on an enemy near a wall but the rest is pretty great. Shiro got some nice tweaks, especially to the heal; you can now proc the heal on attack much quicker.

Now let’s talk Herald. Shield it really good. And I’m not saying that, it’s really good. The base heal on the skills make it a worthy option. To add on Envoy of Exuberance‘s (Shield 4) AoE protection you can grant to allies from a distance is great and the break bar on Crystal Hibernation (Shield 5) really helps with dealing with some binds.

The utilities are fantastic to say the least. The healing skill can help you heal to full if getting bombarded with attacks. In fact all the utility actives are pretty decent, You have a stealth reveal, AoE damage/condition field, a facing damage swipe, and a channeled cone knock down. What’s cool about the Facet utility skills is that you can have 2 or 3 on at a single time which is great for preparing for a fight or simply running around. I mean, who doesn’t like perma swiftness?

The Herald is meant to be a party support type but the specialization line can be customized to support you in combat or your allies around you.

Stronghold Hype!

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The first BWE I didn’t get a chance to get into stronghold because I was testing out the elite specializations. This time I actually spent quite a few games in Stronghold. So the opening strategy I like the best is sending one person to defend (preferably someone tanky), one or two to the enemy guards (DPS) and the rest to supply camp. From there you assess what to do next. Trebuchet is really good for the one defending because people don’t expect it and either come up to stop you or still try to take out guards which is much more in your favor. The strategy I saw in a few games is that people wrap around the backline in order to attack the enemy doorbreakers earlier. This works if no one is escorting. I don’t like it too much because you run a high risk of being seen by a lot of people before actually attacking the doorbreakers.

I still find the map a bit snowball-y if a team gets a really good start due to the death timers being the same for the duration of a match. If a team is hard pushing for lord and fail, they don’t really get punished due to just reapplying pressure. There’s not enough time for the other team to mount a half decent offensive unless they have really mobile people. Thankfully, there’s overtime. Overtime is a cool mechanic. I only experienced it once and won because I cleaved someone to gain the 5 point lead before the timer ran out.

To Conclude

And those are my thoughts from BWE1 into BWE2 and Stronghold. I’ll be making separate posts on Berserker and Daredevil. To summarize, Chronomancer is in a good spot, Dragonhunter still needs work, Reaper is in a good spot, Tempest is almost in a good spot, Berserker is solid but can use some tweaks, Daredevil need some tweaks, Revenant is looking pretty solid and Stronghold can be a bit snowball-y if your team mess up early; otherwise it’s a very fun PvP mode to play.

Heart of Thorns Beta Weekend Event 1 Thoughts: The Dragonhunter

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These are my general thoughts of the Guardian elite specialization: the Dragonhunter. I was able to try out this elite specialization for the first time ever in the first beta weekend event for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns! I’ve got quite a bit to say about this one.

Longbow

Now, the addition of Longbow is great for Guardian players as it offers a new ranged option. However, it may not be necessary better in terms of what players want to use it for. The longbow is meant to be a more support type of weapon; but we all know a majority of people want to do damage with it. So, in terms of fighting rather supporting, some of the longbow skills feel a bit slow. Let’s go over each skill:

Puncture Shot (Skill 1): The basic attack speed is quite in line for a longbow although it could be difficult at times to get the cripple feature if there are few enemies and they’re not lined up.

True Shot (Skill 2): A big hit that you have to stand still and channel for. Since it has 1200 range I can live with it; but it makes for a predictable projectile to dodge.

Deflecting Shot (Skill 3): is an arrow that takes out enemy projectiles that blinds and does damage on targets it hits. I don’t have a really problem with this skill. The only thing I would like, and this is a personal preference, is to have this skill automatically shoot where you’re facing or targeting rather than be a skill shot.

Symbol of Energy (Skill 4): is a slow arcing arrow that turns into a symbol on impact that causes damage and burning while granting vigor to allies. It’s a pretty good symbol but I’d say speed up the slow arcing part.

Hunter’s Ward (Skill 5): is basically a Ranger’s Barrage with a barrier that locks down enemies in the area after you successfully channel it. This is a bit of a double edged sword. If you guess correctly where enemies will be 3 seconds after the cast, they’ll be locked down. If not, they won’t be locked down. If you move, the entire cast ends early. Also, it looks like there’s a bug where the barrage portion doesn’t hit at all versus smaller targets.

Landing Symbol of Energy and Hunter’s Ward can be a pain sometimes. Using these two skills are more rewarding in group fights given that you’re at a good distance and not getting jumped. I will say thought that attacking crippled opponents with these skills provides better results.

Traps

Ok, now for Dragonhunter traps. To be quite frank, these traps have way too long of an arm time. In Verdant Brink, I used traps if I wanted protection in case some random enemy came at me or if I knew I could get a full cast in. I say shave the arm time in half. I hate to make the comparison but the other traps in the game have a 1/2 second arm time and I feel that’s a good spot for trap cast time.

With this in mind, the only traps I saw worth using in PvE were Procession of Blades which does straight up 10 hits of damage, Test of Faith which is a zone trap that cripples foes who pass through the threshold, and Dragon’s Maw which is the elite trap that pulls in and holds enemies. The healing trap Purification meant death for me as it has a long arm time, an initial heal and a trigger heal. If I’m fighting a ranged enemy, I get half the benefit of this skill. There aren’t a lot of enemies currently that warrant the reveal effect from Light’s Judgement but the 10 stacks of vulnerability it applies might be worth testing out more. Fragments of Faith could be possibly good for the defensive aegis fragments but I’d prefer using the other traps. I can see traps as a whole being more useful in sPvP Conquest.

New Virtues

The new virtues are a bit of a conundrum with me. Overall, they’re kind of weird to use because they’re not an instant active anymore. I know the rule of thumb is not to use the actives given the passives provides better overall combat effectiveness. But if I’m about to die, I’m popping virtues. Anyways, let’s go over the new virtues. With Spear of Justice (F1), it may have been just me but, I found that I never saw a “light spear” getting thrown per say. Also, it always looked like I tethered to one enemy rather than 2 or 3 if I used the spear in a mob; Maybe I’m just bad at getting that effect to proc. The burn pulses works well though. Wings of Resolve (F2) is alright, maybe the animation when reaching max height and coming down could be faster in order to flow better. Shield of Courage (F3) is good but the cast time should be instant in my opinion.

The Dragonhunter specialization line is solid for adding benefits for the longbow, traps and virtues. Depending on what you want to do, there is a pretty clear path on what to choose which simplifies things. A personal thing that I think should be changed is the Heavy Light trait. This trait allows Dragonhunters to knockback with a longbow basic attack on a 7 second cooldown. Players hate Ranger Point Blank Shot knockback because it pushes enemies out of AoE. So please, please don’t add onto the pain.

Overall, Dragonhunter feels a little clunky to use. Some tweeks are definitely needed in order to make the skills from this elite specialization flow better.

Summed Up In Video Format

The First Heart Of Thorns Beta Weekend Event Starts August 7th!

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It’s that time again friends! The latest blog post by Colin Johanson reveals that the first beta weekend is upon us and starts Friday, August 7th at noon Pacific and ends on Monday, August 10th at noon Pacific. Anyone who pre-purchased Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will be able to try out the starting area aka Verdant Brink for Heart of Thorns as well as the first story instance. The content in this area will give ArenaNet enough information to gain a good understand of how everything works and to properly update the content that appears later in the expansion. There’s also the following:

– Players can make a character of any profession and any race; you’ll will have access to level 80 gear.

– The Revenant profession will be available as well as the Shiro legend and specialization line. The elite specializations announced will be available as well. That’s Chronomancer, Dragonhunter, Reaper and Tempest

– You may take your beta character into the world of Tyria for PvE, PvP & WvW

– The sPvP Stronghold mode will be available and pre-purchasers will have all 3 Mist Champions unlocked

– The Map Bonus Reward system, which basically rewards players for completing events, will be active so players can experience what it feels like

– Progress for this beta weekend event will be saved for the next beta weekend so you can pick up where you left off

– Players will have 4 beta character slots to play with

Looking For Feedback

ArenaNet want your feedback on all the content they’re letting people play so they can fine tune it or make it better. Is the jungle content not to your liking? Why so? Do you like the feel of Dragonhunter? Do you like the bonus map rewards you’re getting? These are just some of the questions they want player’s feedback on. I encourage you to let yourself be heard on the forums.

If you’re not going to Gamescon, I hope you didn’t make plans for next weekend!

Guardian Specialization Thoughts: Support And Dragonhunter

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Dragonhunter is the elite specialization for Guardians. Who would have thought it eh? While I’m sad that it’s not Paragon, seriously those wings are misleading, the Dragonhunter is a pretty cool specialization. I’ll go over the Dragonhunter’s Virtue active changes as well as the longbow abilities. First let’s take a look at the core specialization that Guardians have.

Guardian Core Specialization

Zeal‘s line focuses on Symbols and damage. Symbolic Power offers a chance for symbol to burn enemies. Zealous Blade offers the Greatsword bonuses. Kindled Zeal grants condition damage based on power which is great for increased burning damage. Expeditious Spirit is the spirit weapon trait that burns foes and reduces recharge. If a player doesn’t use spirit weapons, Shattered Aegis might be a better pick as it does damage to nearby foes when aegis is removed from you. There’s also the option of Symbolic Avenger that lets you do more damage to enemies standing in your symbol.

Radiance is the critical hit line. Radiant Power as a minor trait alone seem pretty useful as it grants increased crit chance when attacking foes on fire. Wrath of Justice I can see being useful as it immobilizes a target when you hit with Virtue of Justice active. Radiant Fire look so good as you gain Zealot’s Flame AoE fire around you when you crit, you gain more burning duration AND your torch skills recharge faster. So you can combo the trait with the actual Zealot’s Flame skill of constant AoE fire damage around you or your target. Combine this with the Grandmaster trait Amplifed Wrath for an increase in burning damage (and burn enemies who block you) and it’s scary to think about. Perfect Inscriptions is useful for Signet builds as it’s the signet traits rolled into one.

Valor is the defense line. Might of the Protector grant you might when you block attacks. This minor trait alone will be great for high skill cap players who know when to block in order to gain a lot of might stacks. Strength of the Fallen I can see a lot of players taking as you lose a condition at a set interval plus you degen less health while in down state. Altruistic Healing is a trait that heals you when you apply a boon to allies. This would work really well in shout builds. Monk’s Focus is really good for Meditation builds as it rolls all the meditation skills into one.

Honor seems like the boon line. Honorable Staff reduces staff skill recharge and increases boon duration. Pure of Voice is the trait to have when running a Shout build as it reduces recharge on shouts and converts conditions to boons. Pure of Voice can be contested with Writ of Persistence as it’s the symbol trait that makes symbols larger, last longer and heals.

Virtues mainly is for Virtue F1-F3 skills. The main thing that changed in this line is Master of Consecrations reduces recharge and increases the duration on Consecration skills. Consecrations are automatically ground targeted.

In summary, the Guardian core specializations feel like you know where you want to go if you want to go damage oriented or support/bunker oriented. Some lines combine really well with others. For example, Valor with Radiance alone makes for a great blocking burn build. For Support you don’t have to pour into all defense and have a bit of offense as well which is nice. I alos like that there are more “Support” options to have a balance of offense and defense rather than choosing one. DPS builds I feel will go into Zeal and Radiance for sure. Valor, Honor and Virtues are the go-to options for Support and Bunker builds.

Dragonhunter Elite Specialization

Game Designer Karl McLain who work on the Guardian, Elementalist and Thief specializations wrote the article about the Dragonhunter which is the elite specialization for Guardians. Note that this specialization will be available if you get Heart of Thorns. This specialization offers new active Combat Virtues with similar effects, access to the longbow, some trait features, and new trap skill along with their elite trap: Dragon’s Maw.

So, when Dragonhunter is chosen as a specialization, a Guardian’s virtues have more of a combat aspect when activate while retaining the same type of passive effects. Here’s how the active for Virtues will change:

  • Spear of Justice – Virtue of Justice’s active changes into a spear, that sounds like a skill shot, as it pierces through enemies in it’s path tethering them. The tethered enemies then get hit with pulses that cause burning.
  • Wings of Resolve – Virtue of Resolve’s active changes into a leap (hence the angel wings) where allies are healed wherever the Dragonhunter lands. This Virtue can be traited to additionally do damage to foes.
  • Shield of Courage – Virtue of Courage’s active changes into a shield that is placed in front of you that blocks attacks. Since this says attacks and not just projectiles, I assume any not projectiles like a Thief’s Cluster Bomb can be blocked as well.

The longbow shoots fast, light based projectiles. The longbow offers Guardians a better, viable range option but allows for support as well. For example, the longbow for Dragonhunters has the longbow skill Symbol of Energy which grants vigor to allies. There’s also Deflecting Shot which is an arrow that can block enemy projectiles.

Finally, Dragonhunters will have the “hunter” part of their name have meaning (exclusing the longbow) with light based trap skills. Traps offer a small heal when placed and can be traited to cripple and bleed. One trap described in the article is the elite skill: Dragon’s Maw. This trap does damage and blinds enemies when triggered by an enemy. Allies in the area get healed by a large amount.

This elite specialization is great for Guardians. First off it grants them a really good long range option for Guardians (Scepter and Staff weren’t cutting it). It also combines well with a Damage oriented Guardian or a Support oriented Guardian. The longbow and Virtues also offers a low and high skill cap where a more well placed Spear of Justice or Deflecting Shot will offers better results.

The Dragonhunter can be seen in action on Ready Up tomorrow on May 8th at noon Pacific. As usual, it will be on the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel!