First Impressions: Beta Weekend Event One

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This past weekend was the first Beta Weekend Event for Heart of Thorns in Guild Wars 2. People who had pre-purchased the expansion got to try the Revenant with all four of the base legends, as well as the four revealed elite specializations: Tempest, Reaper, Chronomancer, and Dragonhunter. I was looking forward to trying those out, so here are my impressions.

First off, the Revenant. I’ve tried the class before with the Jalis, Mallyx, and Ventari legends, but there were two major changes since then. First off, they finally enabled a second weapon set for Revenants, and that was a wonderful decision. I chose to use hammer for my ranged set and dual swords as a melee set. Sword main-hand and off-hand are a great weapon set, by the way. It’s very damage focused, and has a couple of gap closers to keep in melee range of your enemies. It’s a good contrast to the support-oriented staff or the condition-focused mace/axe set. I particularly enjoyed using sword skill 3, Unrelenting Assault, to shadowstep around attacking foes. It never got old.

Also available for the Revenant was the new legend, Shiro Tagachi. Much like dual-wielding swords, this legend is well-suited for damage. One skill lets you shadowstep to a foe and deliver a few unblockable attacks. Another skill cleanses immobilize, cripple and chill and evade backward, breaking stuns. I feel like that skill would be better if you evaded forward. Retreating doesn’t seem to fit well with the Shiro legend. The healing skill, Enchanted Daggers, conjures six daggers that let you steal life from foes you hit. For some reason the skill only lets the life steal trigger once every second, so faster skills like Unrelenting Assault don’t steal life with every hit. I wish they’d change that, I don’t see a reason for the delay. My favorite of Shiro’s skills was Impossible Odds, which drained energy but granted quickness and super speed, letting you attack and move faster. It combined really well with the sword skills for damaging foes rapidly. And finally, the elite skill Jade Winds is a great AoE stun. Overall, I love the Shiro revenant. I plan on using it once Heart of Thorns goes live.

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Next up were the elite specializations. First off is the mesmer elite specialization, the Chronomancer. Chronomancers gained the shield as an off-hand weapon and wells as utility skills. I liked using the shield a lot, especially shield skill 5 which sent out a wave that goes out and returns to the caster, stunning enemies and buffing allies both ways. I used shield with scepter which seemed to work pretty well, but I think it could work with sword as well.

The well utility skills were a mixed bag. The heal skill worked pretty well, and I liked the well that was just direct damage. The wells that slowed enemies and sped up allies didn’t seem as useful in PvE, but I could see them being more useful in PvP. The elite well, which drew enemies in towards the center, then made them float for a second, was pretty entertaining. My main impression of Chronomancer is fairly positive, but I don’t think it’ll make me play my mesmer more than I do.

The next elite specialization I tried was the Tempest, which I was pretty excited about because one of my mains is an elementalist. Tempests gain shouts as elite skills, the warhorn offhand, and the ability to overload their attunements for bonus effects. I really liked the overload mechanic, since it was a great way to deal some extra damage or healing for your allies. One thing to note is that the effects are based around the caster, so you have to get up close to your enemies for the overload to be most effective. I also quite liked the shouts; “Feel the Burn!” did some good damage and was a good way to apply fire aura. “Eye of the Storm” was a nice new stun breaking skill, and “Flash-Freeze” applied area chill and granted frost aura to allies. I wasn’t sold on “Shock and Aftershock” which cripples and immoblizes enemies in range, but it is nice that it grants magnetic aura, which reflects projectiles.

The only thing I wasn’t sold on for Tempest was the warhorn skills. They were a good mix of support and damage type skills, but they all felt a bit lackluster, especially the damage skills. I felt like they were lacking in damage compared to dagger, but not as strong in support compared to focus. Maybe with a little more time I would have warmed up to the skills more. Overall I like the Tempest, but I’m not sure I’ll use warhorn on mine.

Another elite specialization I test drove was the Dragonhunter for guardian. My other main is a guardian, so I was looking forward to trying it out. Dragonhunter gives guardians the longbow, trap utility skills, and modified virtues. I like the longbow; it’s a good ranged weapon with decent control and damage options. I usually use scepter and shield for range, but I think I’ll be switching to longbow. The revamped virtues are a mixed bag, though. Spear of Justice replaces the active form of Virtue of Justice, and it sends out a spear that tethers enemies and burns them periodically. Unfortunately, the “tethering” is only a visual effect and doesn’t seem to have any gameplay effect. Wings of Resolve is the new active effect of Virtue of Resolve, and it lets you leap to an area and heal allies there. The leap is fun, but I don’t like that you can’t heal a spread-out party with it. Virtue of Courage’s replacement, Shield of Courage, is pretty nice. It creates a shield in front of you that blocks all attacks for a few seconds, which is very valuable when positioned correctly.

The part of Dragonhunter I disliked most, however, was the traps. For one, melee-range traps don’t pair that well with a longbow. I’ve never really been much of a fan of traps in the first place, and the Dragonhunter traps seem mainly focused on soft enemy control (crippling and revealing enemies instead of completely preventing passage) and damage. I just didn’t like the feel of them. Once Heart of Thorns is live, I’m sure I’ll promote my guardian to a Dragonhunter and give him a longbow, but I won’t be using traps.

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The final elite specialization I tried was the Reaper, the necromancer’s new form, and it was my favorite. Reapers gain shouts for their utility skills, greatsword as a new weapon, and an enhanced form of death shroud called Reaper’s Shroud. I liked most of the shouts; “Your soul is mine!” is an effective heal and life force builder while fighting a group, and utilities like “Suffer!”, “Nothing can save you!” and “You are all weaklings!” are good at stripping boons and transferring or applying conditions in an area. The elite, “Chilled to the bone!” does a good job of freezing enemies and giving stability to the caster. One note about chill; there’s a grandmaster Reaper trait called Deathly Chill that makes the chill condition deal damage, with extra damage dealt to foes below 50% health. Unfortunately, the damage on chill feels pretty weak, especially since you have to use a grandmaster trait for it and the condition doesn’t stack intensity.

The greatsword is a great melee weapon for Reaper, with skills focused on killing and disabling enemies and building life force. The 2 skill, Gravedigger, is particularly fun: while it normally recharges in 5 seconds, if you hit a foe below 50% health it only takes a second to recharge. Grasping Darkness, the 5 skill, sends out claws to pull enemies in front of you closer. I feel like the range on the skill could stand to be more robust, since you have to get pretty close in the first place. Overall the greatsword skills are pretty solid, but they are on the slow side. I didn’t have any problems in PvE, but I heard in PvP it was pretty easy to interrupt Reaper greatsword skills. Finally, we come to the Reaper’s Shroud. Most of the attacks are melee range, instead of the ranged attacks available in death shroud, but in exchange the attacks are a lot more powerful. I loved switching to Reaper’s Shroud as often as I could, not just because of the powerful attacks – you also get to wield a massive wicked-looking scythe!

I had a lot of fun trying out the new elite specializations, and I look forward to seeing how they may change in the future. Hopefully by the next Beta Weekend Event, we’ll be able to try the remaining elite specializations!

One thought on “First Impressions: Beta Weekend Event One

  1. An excellent presentation of the new content around skills! Particularly as I didn’t have enough time to truly dig my teeth to it, your article showed me what I missed and what I should focus on next time 😉

    As my main is a Guardian, I spent most of my little time with her. My opinion however, which is completely subjective of course!, is the opposite of yours 🙂
    I did love the traps and disliked the longbow! How about that? It’s not that I’m a fan of traps either (I do not use them on my Ranger, for example) but I can see the Guardian’s traps playing a vital role in sPvP and possibly WvW too. As for the longbow skills… well, what can I say? A Guardian’s place in the battlefield is nowhere but the front line ^.^

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