Here is Part 2 of my thoughts and feedback of the first Beta Weekend Event (BWE1). To read Part 1, all about Verdant Brink and everything within it, head here. This post focuses on the new and improved revenant profession. I’ll go through each of the weapons and legendary stances available, and give my general impressions of the profession.
I played around a fair amount with the revenant in Verdant Brink, trying out all the different weapons and legendary stances available. I didn’t do any PvP or WvW with him, so the following thoughts are related to my experiences in PvE (and Verdant Brink) only. I’ve written up my experiences of the revenant before (The Revenant and Lack of Choice), so have a read of that as well. Many of my issues from then have been solved, which is nice.
With the introduction of the Legendary Assassin Stance (Shiro), revenants got access to main-hand and off-hand swords. Alongside these, they can also use a main-hand mace, off-hand axe, hammer, and staff. A great improvement over the last closed beta test is the introduction of weapon swap on the revenant, which really breathed new life into the profession. I’ll go through each weapon in turn, saying what I like and dislike about each.
The hammer is the only ranged weapon for the revenant. Since the last beta test, the damage on it has been upped, and it shows. It is a lot more satisfying to use now, and you can get some big damage numbers from it, especially as it now hits multiple targets with each swing. I can see myself using hammer a lot on my revenant when HoT gets released.
I liked all the skills except skill 3, Phase Smash. I am not a fan of skills that root you in place, and although it looks cool, I find it clunky to use. I did encounter a few bugs with Phase Smash as well. When you use Phase Smash to leap over a chasm and back (which you often do in Verdant Brink), if the other side is lower than where you currently stand, when you phase back, the “Deploy Glider (Space)” tooltip appears, which only goes away by jumping or moving a short distance from the spot. In general, Phase Smash doesn’t handle verticality too well: if you’re up on a platform (like the cliffs you have to climb up to get the wyvern eggs for the hylek), and you use Phase Smash on a mob on the ground level below you, you leap forward into mid air and attack there, not on the ground, so no damage is done. You can only attack vertically downwards a short distance.
The animations for the staff are cool. I managed to launch myself off ledges a few times using skill 5 (Surge of the Mists), which was amusing. I found that unless you are specialising into a healing build and using the Legendary Centaur Stance (Ventari), there wasn’t much point in taking the staff, as if you’re going DPS, the other weapons are better. I didn’t spend too much time playing around with staff however, though the extra mobility from skill 5 is nice if you’re running to get somewhere.
Mace and Axe
I really enjoyed playing with the mace / axe weapon combo, and it was definitely my favourite set to run around with. Although it’s a condition set, with lots of torment, poison, and burning, it still felt powerful on my full zerker revenant. The mace skill 1 chain felt weighty and damaging. Using skill 2 (Searing Fissure) followed by skill 3 (Echoing Eruption) is useful to gain might whilst in combat, and again, it felt satisfying to use. The skill queue delay issue from the previous closed beta test is gone as well, which is amazing. Axe skill 4 (Frigid Blitz) is a great gap closer (though with issues; see below) and damage dealer, and skill 5 (Temporal Rift) is neat to line enemies up for Searing Fissure. A great weapon set that I really enjoyed.
I enjoyed playing around with the swords, but overall, I found them a little too weak for being the main DPS weapon set. Perhaps because you don’t get many big numbers, only a fair few small numbers. You can stack up a lot of vulnerability and might when using swords and Shiro stance, but the weapon set shouldn’t rely on you having 25 might and the enemy having 25 vulnerability for you to deal big damage to it.
My biggest issue with the swords though is Skill 3 (Unrelenting Assault). It looks awesome, phasing through the mists and stabbing foe after foe. However, you deal so little damage with it, and during the animation, you still take damage. If you actually evaded attacks during the animation (like during thief D/D skill 3, Death Blossom), this would be a lot more useful. Couple this with the fact that it seems to be totally random where you end up after the skill animation has finished (behind the foe? To the side? Near where you started?), and I found this skill to be more trouble than it’s worth.
This is one of my main gripes about the revenant: losing control of your character during certain skills. Hammer skill 3, sword skill 3, and axe skill 4 all suffer from this. You are totally vulnerable whilst using these skills, and the sword and axe skills put you out of position and facing a random way. Even adding a small evade or invulnerability effect, or a damage reduction buff, to these skills would be so useful, as after all, you’re phasing throughout the mists. If you can do it with Smokescales, you can do it with the revenant, right. Please?
Shiro is the new DPS legendary stance for the revenant, playable for the first time during this BWE1. It provides the revenant with some much needed mobility, and has some nice skills associated with it. First up we have the heal, Enchanted Daggers. This heal is just pitiful. It barely heals you, and then you have to wade into combat to get some more healing through lifesteal. However, because you’re taking cleave damage, you suffer more damage than you can steal, making it utterly pointless. Not a fan of it.
Phase Traversal is a great shadowstep and might giving skill, with a 1200 range, and allows the revenant to quickly get into combat. The unblockable effect is nice too, but hardly noticeable. I found myself using this skill to phase to ambient creatures, to run around the map faster. Reposting Shadows is an evade skill and stun break, that doesn’t work. Despite being a stun break, when you get stunned, this skill goes on cooldown, defying the point of it. Hopefully just a beta issue. Impossible Odds is the upkeep skill, and gives you superspeed and quickness, which is great just to move about, or to deal a lot of damage very quickly to an enemy. It’s pretty useful, though I found I didn’t use it much in PvE, and the high energy upkeep cost is a big deterrent to it. The elite skill, Jade Winds, I really liked. It’s a powerful stun, and can be used both offensively (great at breaking breakbars) and defensively (to stun your foes so you can escape).
The specialisation line associated with the Shiro stance, Devastation, focuses on damage and lifestealing. For DPS revenants, it’s a requirement to go down this line. It gives more vulnerability, life siphon, and rapid attacks, and has the all important Swift Termination trait.
Ventari is the healing legendary stance of the revenant. It… heals you. I didn’t spend a lot of time using the Ventari stance or the associated trait line (Salvation). When I did, I felt like the healing skills weren’t doing that much. Bear in mind, I was on a full zerk geared revenant, so undoubtedly the healing would be more if I specced into healing power, but as it was, I felt I wasn’t doing anything whilst in this stance. Summoning and moving the tablet was cool though, especially the way it passes through all objects to go where you want it to. I found that you really need to be traited in the Salvation specialisation line if you’re going to use the Ventari stance, as without the traits from there, the utility skills seem very lacklustre. Same with the staff; if you’re going down the healing route, you definitely want to take the staff.
It would be nice to have one of the utility skills provide a big, clutch heal, and be on a longer cooldown, rather than the little heals they currently provide. It’s a lot more satisfying seeing a bit heal succeed, rather than lots of little heals. As it currently stands, I doubt I’ll spend much time at all in the Ventari stance when I play on my revenant.
Jalis is the support stance of the revenant, focused on defence and holding the line. It’s… boring to play. The heal is solid, and is probably the most useful skill 6 heal of all the legendary stances. Inspiring Reinforcement looks great, paving a road in front of you, and is useful for getting swiftness and stability (use blast finishers on it, like hammer skills 3 and 5, or mace skill 3). The taunt I barely used (not that useful in PvE, and it has a massively high energy cost), and the Vengeful Hammers upkeep skill seems a bit pointless for a tank. I guess it’s to deter enemies from staying close to you, and you can taunt them into your hammers, but they do so little damage it’s not worth the upkeep cost. The elite is a cool idea in theory, but the high cast time coupled with short duration again makes it too energy intensive to use. If it made you completely invulnerable, that would be useful, but just a short duration 50% damage reduction, whilst still being susceptible to conditions and CC, makes me not want to ever use it.
The associated trait line, Retribution, makes you more tanky, and provides lots of options to gain retaliation and damage reduction. Again though, it’s rather boring. One big thing missing from the Jalis stance is the protection boon. Although having some damage reduction via traits is nice, the only way to generate protection is by taking the Redeeming Protection trait. I think Jalis would be more appealing as a tank with greater access to protection. That, plus access to some blocks or invulnerabilities.
The final core legendary stance of the revenant is Mallyx. This stance is focused on condition damage, resistance, and boon removal. It’s a tricky stance to use, as it revolves around managing your conditions and the resistance boon. I’ve still not fully got the hang of it. Because conditions aren’t (currently) too much of an issue in PvE, I believe this stance is much more useful and powerful in PvP and WvW. The heal is OK, healing you for a base amount plus more for each condition currently on you. It’s like a poor man’s Consume Conditions though, as it doesn’t actually remove the conditions, just heals you a bit extra.
Pain Absorption transfers conditions from allies to you, and gives you resistance for each one. Useful for taking the odd condition here and there, but not so good to acquire multiple stacks of burning, and only gain a couple of seconds of resistance to it. Perhaps the amount of resistance needs to change based on whether you acquire a duration-stacking condition versus an intensity-stacking condition. Banish Enchantment is the damage dealing skill, applying confusion and stripping boons, and dealing extra confusion if you are suffering from three or more conditions. It combos well with Pain Absorption, and allows you to put out a lot of confusion.
Then we come onto Unyielding Anguish. This skill is pretty much useless, even detrimental, in PvE, whilst being overpowered in PvP. You leap forward and torment foes in the area (with extra torment if you’re suffering from 3+ conditions, so again combos well with Pain Absorption), and create a displacement field. This skill moves foes to a random place outside the field, meaning it will become the new ranger longbow 4 skill, and infuriate everyone in PvE as it moves mobs out of carefully placed aoe and cleave damage. However, in PvP, it’s great. Cast on a point, and not even stability can keep the enemy there, which is something that should probably be addressed.
The elite skill, Embrace the Darkness, looks awesome. It’s an upkeep skill in which you transform into the legendary demon Mallyx (just looks-wise; you keep your skill bar). Your attributes get increased, and you copy all your conditions to nearby foes. The synergy between the Mallyx skills is good (pull conditions onto you, use skills to deal bonus confusion and torment, and then copy all your conditions to foes around you, all the while maintaining the resistance boon to stay alive), though hard to pull off. I like that there is no cooldown on the utility and elite skills, which allows you, if you want, to blast through your energy in one spike.
Concerning the trait line, Corruption, it’s obviously useful for a condition build, but can also find its way onto a pure zerk DPS build. With it, you can inflict lots of lovely torment, and just like the skills, the traits revolve around managing your conditions and resistance. I like this trait line, and all the traits are potentially useful in different situations.
A few general points about the revenant. I like that you can adjust the position of the utility skills on your bar, and it also gives me hope that new skills for each legendary stance could be added in the future, giving greater choice in how you build your character.
Over the course of playing my revenant in Verdant Brink, I found him incredibly squishy. I was on a zerk build, but I consider myself a good enough player to survive with professions whilst playing as a zerker. It could perhaps just be the unfamiliarity of the profession coupled with the increased challenge of mobs in Verdant Brink, or it could be that despite wearing heavy armour, a melee orientated revenant is still too squishy. I don’t want to be forced to specialise into Retribution (the Jalis trait line) to gain some damage reduction and a bit more survivability, but I feel many players will have to.
Weapon swapping has been a big boon to the profession, greatly enhancing how effective the revenant can be. Taking the ranged hammer almost seems like a requirement in open world events, to deal with mobs from afar that are too dangerous to get up close and personal with. You’re still likely to only take staff when using the Ventari stance, but the other weapons can be mixed and matched no matter which legendary stances you decide to use.
Concerning which specialisation lines to take, I still maintain that the vast majority of revenant players will take the generic Invocation trait line, and the two other specialisation lines associated with which legendary stances they are using. However, improvements to the trait lines, and the change that swapping legends is an instant cast now and not locked behind the Invocation line, means that it is feasible to take three specialisation lines associated with three different legends.
Controlling your energy is a big part of the revenant. I feel some skills cost too much energy for what they’re worth, and the upkeep cost skills are available for too short a time to be too effective. I didn’t really have much of an issue with energy management in PvE, but it would be nice to have some skills replenish your energy when you land them.
Overall, I really, really like the look, theme, and feel of the revenant. The Legendary Assassin Stance adds some much needed mobility, and if they up the damage on swords, and fix the issues with the phasing skills and losing control of your character, then the revenant would be awesome. I’m looking forward to what improvements come next, and to trying out the revenant again in the next beta!
End of Part 2
Part 2 of my thoughts and feedback of the BWE1 and the revenant ends here. Part 3, concerning the reaper and Stronghold, is coming soon!
What are your thoughts on the revenant? Do you like the improvements made to it? What do you think of each of the weapon sets and legendary stances? Let me know in the comments below!