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Guild Wars 2 Balance Goals In Winter 2016 Update

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Hey everyone! Karl McLain made a blog post today about balance for each profession. Before we get into that, let’s look at some overall points made:

  • There will be major balance update with each quarterly seasonal release
  • Quickness and slow will no longer have an effect on resurrecting allies or stomping enemies
  • Slow will be worked on to bring it more in like with it’s counter part (which is quickness)

Elementalist

  • Defense nature will be fine-tuned
  • Offense will see a bit of improvement
  • Diamond Skin trait will act as a condition removal rather than condition avoidance
  • Air grandmaster traits are getting usability and offensive improvements
  • Scepter and focus are getting good quality-of-life modifications

Engineer

  • Improve less used traits and rework some functionality for Scrapper traits
  • Core specialization trait improvements have been made to make more impactful choices for more distinctive builds
  • Defensive nature of Scrapper is being monitored; may implement a reduction in survivability

Guardian

  • Updated traits and abilities to be more useful and have more impact
  • Looking to make slight adjustments to Dragonhunter burst and disruption

Mesmer

  • Alacrity being brought more in line
  • Scepter improvements (through skills, functionality and traits)

Necromancer

  • Improving a few elite specialization traits
  • Working with baseline shroud to give it more functionality
  • Leeching Bolts now heals through shroud form

Ranger

  • Update less used traits for more allure; increase both defensive and offensive options
  • Improvements to Ranger shout utility to make it more unique
  • Looking to improve Ranger’s ties with pet and nature
  • Monitoring at Druid’s viability in group scenarios and overall effectiveness

Revenant

  • Revenant sword damage getting toned down in some areas
  • Adjusting sword abilities so auto attacks aren’t the focus and is better at singling out and attacking enemies
  • Monitoring defensive capabilities

Thief

  • Drastic improvement to thief melee auto attacks until overall sustained damage when used with initiative is dangerous
  • Improvements to acrobatics specialization line

Warrior

  • Adjusted baseline abilities, cooldowns, damage and functionality in some cases
  • Rifle gaining a more defensive nature while retaining overall purpose of kill-shotting
  • Another pass into Berserker elite specialization to improve usability in other game modes and promote more active skill use in trait design
  • Improvements to sustain in combat

So overall it seems this is a pretty decent start for the balance update. As  many know, I’m a thief main so I’m curious about the changes to Acrobatics. I’m personally hoping it will offer thieves the survivability we need for PvP fights. Elementalist Diamond skin is going to be completely new but it won’t be impossible to fight 1v1 as a condition based build. Revenant sword balance was definitely coming as the auto attacks were on the strong side. Also RIP quickness stomps.

That’s all the high level stuff. Be sure to tune into Guild Chat on Friday January 15th for a more in depth look!

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 Shiro Legend

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Hi everyone, I’m going to go over the Revenant profession in terms of Shiro and how it affects the Revenant as a whole. This will be judged by the iteration of the Revenant from the first beta weekend event for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns. Shiro is to embody the damage aspect of the Revenant; to burst opponents and to be really slippery. Let’s start with the weapons introduced with this legend: main hand and offhand swords. I’m sure a lot of feedback has been looked at or is being addressed but I’ll still go over them for the sake of consistency.

Dual Swords

The main and offhand swords overall are good but still need a bit of work. The shadowstepping related skills are buggy and the swords need to dish out a bit more damage. Here’s a break down of the skills:

Preparation Thrust (Skill 1) – the basic skill that chains into Brutal Blade then Rift Slash. The first two apply vulnerability. The attacks are okay, but the damage on Brutal Blade needs to go up.

Precision Strike (Skill 2) – strike 3 nearby foes with blades that chill. Pretty decent mid range damage skill, and it does some nice damage too.

Unrelenting Assault (Skill 3) – Shadowstep and deal damage to a target and nearby foes. Strikes 7 times and gain might for each successful hit. This skill is cool to watch but it has a few issues. One bug is that you’re suppose to be evading while performing the skill. I heard that’s getting fixed so no need to talk about that any further. Another thing is that the damage is too low. Sometimes this skill didn’t perform all 7 strikes and ended early. Finally, the shadowstepping sometimes put me into objects in the world and I had to waypoint or relog to get out

Duelist’s Preparation (Skill 4) – a block skill that, when used successfully, turns into Shacking Wave which damages and immobilizes enemies in a wide cone. Pretty decent skill, not much to say here.

Grasping Shadow (Skill 5) – Stab your foe and shadowstep back (600 range) pulling your foe with you. This skill is a bit buggy. Sometimes enemies would not be pulled back as you shadowstep back. Using this skill into Unrelenting Strikes is pretty fun.

Legendary Assassin Stance

Time to cover the Legendary Assassin Stance. The idea of this stance is to provide kiting and maxing your damage output:

Enchanted Daggers (Skill 6 | Heal) – You summon 6 daggers that steal heath from enemies you hit. 6 daggers = 6 hits. You also get a base heal. I like the idea of this skill in line with the legend, you need to keep fighting to heal up. I did have trouble using it at first but I’ll get into that later. I would  like the initial heal to be a bit stronger.

Riposting Shadows (Skill 7) – You evade back (1200 range) and remove any movement conditions (chill, immobilize, cripple). It breaks stun and grants you 50 endurance. Pretty amazing stun breaker if you ask me. If there’s not a wall or a cliff behind you, you can pretty much break out of a fight quite cleanly.

Phase Traversal (Skill 8) – You use the Mists to jump to a target (1200 range). Your next 2 attacks can not be blocked. Pretty good to use with Riposting Shadows to gain a reprieve then to quickly get back into a fight.

Impossible Odds (Skill 9) – An upkeep skill that grants you quickness and super speed every second. Using the skill again to deactivates Impossible Odds. This skill vamps so much energy that I used it very sparingly. The skill itself is awesome but the upkeep saps all of your energy in a few seconds leaving you with less combat options. You need to be at max energy when using it in order to manage it properly.

Jade Winds (Skill 0 | Elite) – Channel for a few seconds to turn any enemies around you to jade which damages and stuns them. It takes a few seconds to cast but the effect is very worth it. If you really stick to targets and retain a high amount of energy you can trigger this skill quite frequently if you wanted to.

Regarding Enchanting Daggers, at first I found myself having a problem when in a fight and popping the heal like I’m on a Warrior or Guardian which left me in bad situations at times since the initial heal is low and I’m still taking damage. It took a while for me to learn that you need to get out of the fight, use the heal, then pop back in. Riposting Shadows and Phase Traversal aids in accomplishing this task. Something that the Shiro legend lacks is condition cleanse from bleeds, poison and so on. Switching to another legend and using that legend’s healing skill is the only real good way to survive condition burst.

Devastation Line & Legend Pairing 

The Shiro legend line Devastation basically provides life siphon and damage increase in one way or another. I find Rapid Lacerations is useful for casting skills like Jade Winds and Enchanted Daggers successfully. Pairing Shiro with other legends, I found the most useful pairing with Shiro is Jalis for the extra retaliation and stability followed by Mallyx for dealing with conditions. I’d pick Mallyx over Jalis if I were more condition based. Glint was recently announced and the skill set her legend provides might be something I like. It will depend if I like her utility skills but the shield makes it very enticing. The shield might help with the lack of Shiro condition cleanse too.

Overall, the main non-bug issues are with energy consumption, condi cleanse and lack of damage are the main issues to look at. Looking over these will make Shiro a more viable legend to use. I feel like I still need to play more Shiro in order to get a more firm grasp on how the legend is suppose to be used. I will say though that the Shiro legend is really fun to play and you should definitely try it out if you get the chance.

TL;DR

Revenant Elite Specialization Thoughts: The Herald

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We’ve seen each of the Legends that make up the baseline of the Revenant so far:

  • Jalis/Legendary Dwarf Stance: Tanky
  • Mallyx/Legendary Demon Stance: Conditions
  • Ventari/Legendary Centaur Stance: Support
  • Shiro/Legendary Assassin Stance: Burst Damage

Now, we get to know the final specialization that will be added to the Revenant for Heart of Thorns: the Herald!

Revenant Elite Specialization

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Game Designer Roy Cronacher gives us the details about the Herald where Glint is the Legend for this elite specialization. This specialization is designed to make Revenants as frontline party utility. The skills provided by this legend encourages players to stand near a Revenant that’s using the Legendary Dragon stance for defense aid and boons.

Elite Weapon: Shield

I think the weapon is a good place to start. Since Glint embodies party utility, the weapon that Revenants will have access to is offhand shield. The two skills are the following:

  • Envoy of Exuberance: Dragon energy comes forth as a wave from your shield granting protection to allies in the target path, healing at the target location then finally returns back to the Revenant. I assume the animation is similar to the Chronomancer’s Tides of Time shield skill.
  • Crystal Hibernation: A crystal energy shield blocks damage and conditions while regenerating your health. You also gain a defiance bar on use. Once broken, you’ll  be stunned for 2 seconds and have 25 stacks of vulnerability. You cannot move while channeling this skill.

Legendary Dragon Stance

The Legendary Dragon stance skills embody the Six Facets that you had to face to meet Glint in GW1. Each Facet skill is an upkeep aura skill and can be casted again at no energy cost for an empowered ability but will make the skill go on cooldown.

Facet of Elements (Utility): grants AoE swiftness and turns into Elemental Blast. When you cast Elemental Blast at a target location, the area is seared in Glint’s Dragon breath that causes condition like chill, weakness, and burning.

Facet of Chaos (Elite): grants AoE protection and turns into Chaotic Release. When you cast Chaotic Release, you grant super speed to allies and control (taunt?) enemies.

Facet of Nature: If you notice I said that there are Six Facets but only 5 skills can be placed on the utility bar. So where does this Facet of Nature, as the 6th facet, fit in? Well, it’s available for every Legend stance. Most likely to be an F2 skill, this Facet increases outgoing boon duration by 50% and turns into One With Nature. When you cast One With Nature, it cancels Facet of Nature to apply the boons of all the other facets at once!

Underwater Combat

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So up till the last beta weekend event, there was no word on the Revenant’s underwater combat. Well we’ve finally got the answer to that as well. Revenants will be able to use a spear underwater. The spear will supply physical and condition damage.

What’s interesting about spear is that it will have two different types of auto attacks based on the range of your target. The ranged auto attack (which is condition based) is called Spear of Anguish. The melee auto attack is called Rapid Assault that is a flurry of multiple hits that stack vulnerability.

Some of the other underwater skills are Venomous Sphere that is a orb of Mist energy that poisons any enemies on it’s path. The secondary skill called Frigid Discharge detonates the sphere for a burst of damage. There’s also Rift Containment that traps enemies between two rifts from the Mists.

My Thoughts?

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I think the Revenant has finally come full circle now. It’s a very interesting decision to make the shield have a heal as I noticed that Shiro stance lacked a reliable strong initial heal so this will help. The protection and blocks help as well. Removal of conditions such as bleed and poison looks like will still be rather difficult with Shiro as it required you to swap Legends and using said Legend’s healing skill which takes you out of an assaulting role for quite a few vital seconds. Revenant is the first profession we know of that will use a defiance bar. Players will definitely have to use this skill sparingly or be able to cancel the cast before the bar breaks.

The Facet skills sound good in theory but in combat will be the real test. Energy upkeep skills are sometimes not worth it and drain too much energy (Shiro’s Impossible Odds). I really hope the energy upkeeps are reasonable because it seems that each facet will be worth upkeeping for a few seconds then activating to retain a decent amount of energy. Then again, we’re in beta stage so all these kinks are getting worked out.

I think I’ll personally will be going with Sword/Shield and Hammer with the Legend options of Shiro and Glint (if I like the skills; Jalis otherwise).

The underwater skills I think will be alright. I’m really interested to see if we’ll get Legend based underwater utility skills (I can’t see myself using Jalis’ brick road skill underwater). Maybe some legends won’t be usable underwater. Perhaps we’ll get Mist-like utility underwater skills not tied to any Legend. I made the legendary spear Kamohoali’i Kotaki a while back so in any case it works out for me.

MassivelyOP’s Tina Lauro got the exclusive on this elite specialization. Be sure to check the post out if you want a few more details including her interview with Roy. We’ll find everything out on Points of Interest tomorrow per usual on August 14th at noon Pacific.

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!