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My First Days In Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

It’s been a few days since Heart of Thorns has launched and I’ve been buried in since. I decided to peel off for a little bit to make a post about my first couple of days. Note that I will not talk anything story since it’s still too early to get into that just yet.

So I have to say the Heart of Thorns launch went pretty smoothly as far as MMOs go. I experienced a few crashes here and there as well as some bugs but these are to be expected with a launch an MMO expansion. Things seem to be getting more stable nowadays and bugs seem to get fixed within a few days which is pretty good.

Map Exploration

I spent my first days exploring all the maps, leveling masteries, and getting any vistas, points of interests and hero points along the way. I have to say the maps are quite vast; even Verdant brink threw me off as the realization of the areas from BWE1 and BWE3 were parts of the same map.

My favorite map has to be Auric Basin, specifically Tarir which is the Exalted city; I mean look at all that shiny! Skritt would not know what to do with themselves!

The HoT map reward system is pretty easy to understand: the more you participate in events, the better rewards you get. There are also some places you can’t get to unless you have a certain mastery or it’s a certain scenario such as you can only get to the vampire hero point which is in the canopy of Verdant Brink during the night cycle.

Hero Points 

Speaking of hero points, the hero points that are fight encounters have a champion and require you to team up with, from my experience, at least 1 or 2 other players to succeed. I have mixed feelings about this since Hero Points have been soloable up till now but on the flip side these hero points promotes you to work with others.

There’s also the concern of maps being less populated over time making these Champion hero points more difficult to get but HoT maps are rewarding much like Silverwastes so we’ll see if it works out down the road.

Mastery System

For masteries, they give you certain attributes or bonuses and, like I said, grants you access to places you can’t get to without them. This is true for some NPCs as well; for example you can’t buy exalted items from an exalted merchant without learning the Exalted Acceptance mastery.

Now I know I said I wouldn’t talk about story but some story was gated via masteries. As of now, you have to fill out all your tier 1 HoT masteries and your tier 2 gliding mastery for updraft. If you want to finish the story without interruption, I suggest getting these masteries in the correct order which is: t1 Gliding, t1 Itzel, t1 Exalted, t2 Gliding, then t1 Nuhoch.

Guild Halls

Now for guild halls. I really like guild halls. Lost Precipice has many nooks and crannies plus the overlook of the area in addition to the sky, night or day, is amazing. Gilded Hollow is a cavern that has a feel of natural life in it due to the forestry but definitely is exalted based with some golden structures and pathing that compliments the cave. Alright, I’m going to stop being all artsy now.

Leveling your guild hall definitely takes a team effort as there are many items you can get by yourself but there are some items that cost quite a bit to get or are hard to acquire such as Watchwork Portal Devices.

Elite Specializations

Moving onto the elite specializations. I don’t have much to say on them just yet but I did I play with each of them, with the exception of Herald, and they all feel way better than the last time I played each of them in a beta; especially Dragonhunter and Daredevil.

World vs World

Finally, World vs World. Similarly to the Heart of thorns maps, the WvW desert borderlands have levels to them and have many varient landscapes as you explore the map. Definitely worth a look even if you’re not into World vs World.

Other than a few new elements such as elemental shrines and the Oasis event to control the Skysplitter cannon, WvW feels pretty similar in play. We’ll see how WvW gameplay transitions over time.

And that’s been my first days, with many more to come. I haven’t done much PvP or Stronghold yet sadly but I’ll probably do some of that in the next couple of days. I’m looking forward to PvP Leagues and raids that will debut in the upcoming weeks!

Thief Elite Specialization Thoughts: The Daredevil

dare devil

I have been waiting literally months for this moment. This is the moment where I share the Thief elite specialization that’s coming in Heart of Thorns: The Daredevil. For those who don’t know, I main a Thief so I’m super hyped for this. Sorry this is coming out a little later than usual, I did a bit of theory crafting.

Dodge & Staff

Glamour

Game Designer Karl McLain released a blog post today giving us the lowdown on the Daredevil. Alright so rather than your F1-F4 skills changing into something different, this elite specialization grants you benefits to your dodge. Instead of two endurance bars, Daredevils will get 3 and the Grandmaster traits will give you an extra feature to add to your dodge; we’ll get to that later.

As many of you know, Thieves will be getting Staff! Staff allows for evasion and AoE melee damage. Blind and weakness are the key conditions on staff. Here are some of the skills:

Weakening Charge: Twist forward, dealing damage and weakening enemies you strike

 Debilitating Arc: Swing your staff forward, crippling enemies and launching you backwards

Vault: Leap to a targeted area, dealing massive damage to enemies struck

Physical Skills

Let’s move onto physical skills that the Daredevil will have for utilities. Some of these skills combo into another skill. Let’s check them out:

Channeled Vigor (Heal) – Channel to gain endurance and health per pulse. Gain more health if endurance is full.

Fist Flurry (Utility) – Strike an enemy multiple times. If all attacks hit, this skill turns into Palm Strike. Palm Strike strikes an enemy marking them with Pulmonary Impact. After a short duration this mark hits the enemy again for non-crit damage.

Bandit’s Defense (Utility) – Briefly block incoming attacks. Blocking a melee attack knocks nearby enemies down

Distracting Daggers (Utility) – Equip daggers that can be thrown to daze and interrupt enemies. Interrupting a skill increases the recharge of the skill that was interrupted.

Impairing Daggers (Utility) – Throw daggers at a single enemy causing poison, slow and immobilize.

Elite Skill (Elite) – A 3 hit combo that finishes on the 3rd strike. The first hit is Impact Strike that dazes on hit, the second hit is Uppercut that sends your foe flying into the air. The third strike is Finishing Blow sends a downward strike on your foe that finishes downed foes.

Traits

Dust-Strike

Finally we have traits! Traits will focus on helping Daredevils stay in fights via dodge and hits.

Minor Traits: Unlocks the elite specialization, gain endurance on steal and health on successful evades.

Adept Traits:

Evasive Empowerment: After dodge rolling, your next attack deals bonus damage.

Weakening Strikes: Cause weakness to enemies you critically hit.

Brawler’s Tenacity: Gain endurance when you first activate a physical skill. Physical skills have reduced cooldowns.

Master Traits:

Staff Master: While wielding a staff, gain endurance for each initiative point spent. Deal bonus damage when your endurance is not full while wielding a staff.

Escapist’s Absolution: Remove a condition when you successfully evade an attack.

Impacting Disruption: Enemies that you interrupt suffer a Pulmonary Impact. After a few moments, Pulmonary Impact delivers a massive blow to your foe.

Grandmaster Traits:

 Lotus Training: Your dodge changes to Impaling Lotus. While in combat, each dodge you use will throw daggers that bleed, torment, and cripple enemies. Additionally, this dodge functions as a whirl finisher.

 Bounding Dodger: Your dodge changes to Bound, which gives you the ability to leap in a direction, dealing crushing damage at the location where you land. This dodge ability also functions as a leap finisher.

 Unhindered Combatant: Your dodge ability changes to Dash, which removes cripple and chill effects from you and increases the distance you dodge.

My Thoughts?

Oh man, there’s quite a bit I have to say about this. First off, this is where the rest of the Acrobatics line (with the introduction of specializations a few months back) went. This elite specialization works very well with Acrobatics both lines being dodge-based.

The traits have various options that I’m excited to try out. The Master traits might be a toss up if you go dodge condi cleanse or stealth condi cleanse. Grandmaster traits have the three dodge options that all sound interesting and will be fun to experiment with each one.

The staff skills seem pretty great, re-positioning you for increased damage potential. It will be interesting to see what this will be paired up with. For PvE and WvW I’d imagine shortbow for range damage but for PvP this could vary if the staff provides enough mobility to swap shortbow out for something else.

The physical skills are really good. The ones I especially like are Bandit Defense for the blocks while stomping or running towards a ranged enemy, Distracting daggers for stopping stomps and interrupting from afar. The elite is very good and is really strong but I need to see it to determine if it’s OP or not. We’ll find out on Points of Interest tomorrow on Friday August 28th at noon Pacific on the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel!

Warrior Elite Specialization Thoughts: The Berserker

Berserker

Well this one sounds painful! Today we get a look at the elite specialization for Warriors: The Berserker!

Warrior Elite Specialization

Berserker_Skill5_Flames_of_War

Game Designer Robert Gee tells us a bit about the Berserker. This elite specialization looks to be utterly devastating. The Berserker is meant to be a force of nature, damaging anyone in it’s path.

Let’s start with the Berserk mechanic. Berserk is a mode Warriors can enter when their adrenaline bar is full. When in Berserk mode, the adrenaline bar changes from 3 bar tiers of 10 adrenaline each to one bar tier of 10 adrenaline. This smaller bar is to help Berserkers get their F1 burst skills up faster which are called Primal Burst skills in Berserk mode.

Primal Burst skills vary with the (main hand) weapon a Warrior has equipped. These burst skills also have lower skill recharge and act as Tier 3 burst skills.

Here are some Primal Burst examples:

Scorched Earth: longbow primal burst – leaves a trail of fire on the ground in a straight line

Skull Grinder: mace primal burst – disrupts a target for a short duration and applies multiple conditions on the target

Berserker_Offhand_Torch

The new weapon Warriors will be getting is offhand torch. The skills on torch show how Warriors are getting more condition options added to their kit.

Blaze Breaker: Slam your torch into the ground creating an avalanche path of rocks and flame that travels to a target. This burns and cripples any foes on the path.

Flames of War: Encases yourself in flames cleansing conditions and creates a fire field around you that burns foes. This fire field explodes after a short duration dealing damage and applying burning to foes.

Berserker_Utility_Wild_Blow

Utilities are up next! Berserkers will be getting a new utility type called Rage skills. We only know the details of one right now but it’s pretty sweet:

Wild Blow: launch a target as a projectile that can knockback any other foes the target hits

That. Is. Awesome!

Finally, the elite specialization line will have buffs for aspects of the Berserker. There will be traits that benefit going Berserk, burning, condition damage, healing options and stun breaks.

My Thoughts?

Warriors are going to be even more deadly. The Wild Blow utility alone is worth picking up, I really want to see the other utility skills in action. Berserk mode sounds fun as it provides a skill on a low cooldown for more damage. I’ll be very interested to find out what the other primal burst skills are as there are quite a few weapons Warriors have access to. The torch skills themselves sound really strong and definitely promote condition damage Warrior builds. I can see Sword/Torch being a thing. Warriors didn’t have a lot of great condition options outside bleeding (and a bit of torment) so adding burning really helps them out here.

ZAM’s Matt “Mattsta” Adams got an exclusive on this specialization. Be sure to check his post out if you want a few more details including his interview with Robert Gee. Mattsta even made a gallery of Berserker images (including torch skills and all utilities and the elite) on his site. We’ll find everything on Points of Interest on August 21st at noon Pacific.

Why Main Hand Shield Would Be Awesome For An Elite Specialization

gw2-flamesekker-prophecies

A few weeks back I was talking with a few Guild Wars 2 guild mates about how main hand shield would be awesome for the Warrior elite specialization. One person wasn’t really convinced and jokingly said I should write an editorial about why it would be awesome. And here we are. Here are my reasons why main hand shield would be awesome for an elite specialization and, well, is just awesome in general. Note that I’ll be talking about using main hand shield in a melee fashion for the most part.

Why Main Hand Shield Would Be Awesome

1) Very Innovative: Off the top of your head, name an MMO that allows a class to wield a main hand shield. Go ahead, I’ll wait. You can’t, can you? Guild Wars 2 has always been about thinking outside the box and innovating on good ideas. Melee staff and ranged hammer are cool to wield but I really can’t see a better outside the box idea for a weapon than wielding a main hand shield.

2) Possibly More Defense, Small Hit In Offense: In GW2, a main hand shield means you get more defense for a small hit in your damage. However, this damage decrease isn’t so bad that makes wielding a main hand shield worthless. At least in my opinion it doesn’t. For example: The best dual hand damage would be something like dual Swords which would give you 1810 – 2000 damage with no defense. An exotic Sword and an off hand Shield would yield 1711 – 1909 with 61 defense. Two exotic Shields would give you 1612 – 1818 with 122 defense. The worst stat combo would be (exotic) main hand Shield and Torch which would give you 1595 – 1835 with 61 defense. You see where I’m going with this.

3) Good Balance of Offensive & Defensive Skills: With respect to off hand shield skills they, more or less, provide the defense nature already. Main hand shield skills could provide the offense. Slam-like basic attacks, offensive shield leaps, and charge attacks are some of the skills that would compliment a main hand shield.

4) Grants Access To Different Conditions: A Guardian is a good example for this point. A Guardian’s main damage-over-time condition is burning and not much else. I know the Dragonhunter elite specialization will allow Guardians access to bleed but main hand shield can facilitate access to more conditions. Some possible conditions for a main hand shield I can see are confusion and maybe bleed if a skill added spikes your shield when you hit or something like that.

5) You Could Wield Two Shields: Think about that fact. Think about running around with two Flameseeker Prophecies and bashing Mordrems in. Is that not a sight to behold?

Why Main Hand Shield Probably Doesn’t Work

gw2-Echo-of-Memory

Main hand shield is a cool idea, but not without it’s pitfalls:

1) Sheathing A 2nd Shield: Besides stacking shields on one’s back, which would probably look awful with clipping, there’s no real visual way to store a 2nd shield well.

2) No Attack Value: May not be relevant here since in GW2 shields have a damage value because weapons determine some of the skills you have. However, with other MMOs, shields may only have a defense value which is probably the main reason why you don’t see main hand shield in MMO games. So unless you really want to be tanky, you can’t do much else.

3) Damage/Defense Values Not As Intended: I know this counter acts my pro point #2 but I’m not a GW2 game dev. It may be possible that I see the dip in damage main hand shield facilities as not a problem whereas the GW2 balance team can see it being a problem.

4) Possibly Too Overpowered CC-wise: Let’s face it, Dual Shield alone in GW2 would just be too awesome and would become meta in an instant if main hand shield status effects would, most likely, feature dazes and knockbacks. That would just be too annoying to deal with by any standard.

In conclusion, I really see the possibility of main hand shield in the future for Guild Wars 2 since they have a pretty good way to implement it. If they can work out the visual and damage trade off issues, I think they have some thing to work with. Right now, I can’t see it happening for the Heart of Thorns expansion.

This is meant to be more of a gag article. However, I’m going to use this article as a reference for “I called it!” if main hand shield ever gets implemented.

Elementalist Specialization Thoughts: The Tempest

ele-tempest

Usually I’d start these off talking about the core specialization but since it’s been a while since the new specialization lines have been in, all you elementalist pretty much get a grasp of what your specialization lines are about.

For those that don’t really have an idea, I can summarize the lines as pretty much being similar to pre-core specializations. The main things I see are Auramancers, Double Dagger, and Support Staff. Something I see more now is the use of scepter for condition builds which is a nice twist on things.

Alright, enought of that, Tempest time!

 Tempest Elite Specialization

Tempest_Fire_Overload

Game Designer Karl McLain gives us a look at the Tempest. This spec looks so awesome. The Tempest is meant to bring about a new way to support, outside of staff, by being where the action is at while also rewarding positioning.

Let’s start with the elemental attunements. Each attunement when in Tempest will have an Overload ability. Overload occurs when an elementalist is in an attunement for a long period of time. After that amount of time, the elementalist can reactivate their attunement for a channeled ability. After using an Overload ability, you get locked out of that attunement for a little while when you swap to another attunement. For example, If I used the Fire Overload ability, then swap to Earth attunement, the cooldown to switch back to fire is longer than usual.

So, what are these abilities? We’ll let’s have a look:

  • Overload Fire: An inferno tornado builds around the Tempest over time. This tornado constantly burns and does damage while also granting allies might. After the channel is complete, the tornado stays in place for a period of time.
  • Overload Water: An aquatic bubble starts to form around the Tempest that cleanses conditions and heals yourself and nearby allies. After the channel is complete, the bubble pops providing a large heal to allies.
  • Overload Air: A nimbus cloud forms around the Tempest striking nearby enemies. After the channel is complete, a lighting field is left at the location for a period of time striking enemies.
  • Overload Earth: The Tempest starts to ride the ground below them as it shifts and grants protection to nearby allies and cripples enemies. After the channel is complete, the shifted earth returns to the ground creating a blast that immobilizes enemies.

Now let’s talk Warhorn. Not what a lot of Elementalist were expecting (or wanting) but let’s have a look. Naturally, since elementalist have 4 attunements, warhorn grants access to 8 new skills. Like Dagger, the Warhorn will emit elemental themed attacks. Such as when in lighting attunement, one warhorn skill will emit a cyclone that pulls enemies to a point. Check out the picture below for what that looks like.

gw2-ele-Warhorn-Skill-Electric

Next up, utilities! Tempest will be getting shouts:

  • Wash the Pain Away (Heal) – Heals and cleanses conditions. Heals nearby allies for the same amount.
  • Feel the Burn – Lays a fire field at a certain location
  • Eye of the Storm – Calls down a storm on you that stun breaks for you and nearby allies that also grants superspeed.
  • Aftershock – Calls a earth force around you that cripples nearby enemies. An aftershock occurs that immobilizes nearby enemies after a short delay.
  • Freeze – Air around you gets condensed which damages and chills foes for a short duration
  • Rebound (Elite) – An arcane shout skill that causes the next ability used by you and allies affected to have a 25% recharge reduced

Finally the trait line. As far as we know, the minors in the Tempest line really give off the support/defense play and bonuses of overloading attunements:

  • Singularity (1st Minor) – Gain access to Overload attunements
  • Speedy Conduit (2nd Minor) – Gain swiftness while overloading an attunement
  • Hardy Conduit (3rd Minor) – Gain protection when you start to Overload an attunement

My Thoughts?

Wow. I need to see the Tempest in action but, if it’s this good on paper, then I can’t wait. The goal of making the Tempest a front line support really is portrayed well here. Tempest has an offensive nature but defensive nature as well which really appeals to me.

I know double dagger elementalist is all about having and offensive and defensive skill rotation while swapping into a different attunement every 5 seconds (give or take). This really brings about a reason to use attunements not only for a new set of skills to use but you have to consider using that skill set for a longer period of time due to using an Overload ability. Very interested to see how Elementalists will pull off Overload attunement rotations.

TenTonHammer’s Lewis B got an exclusive on this specialization. Be sure to check his post out if you want a few more details including his interview with Karl McLain. We’ll find everything on Points of Interest tomorrow per usual on July 24th at noon Pacific.