Cithryth’s Post-Play Report: BWE1 (Part 1)

We are inching steadily towards Heart of Thorns, and this Beta Weekend Event #1 was one more step on that long march. I got my hands on the newly-improved revenant, part of the Verdant Brink map and story, as well as the elite specializations: chronomancer, dragonhunter, reaper, and tempest. Being that I love necromancers oh so very much, I was extremely excited to give the reaper a try. And since I regularly play a mesmer, guardian, and elementalist as well, I knew I had a lot of stuff to test this weekend. Oh, and did I mention my favourite PvP map, Stronghold, was available, too?

Because there is just so much to talk about, I’m going to break this up into two posts. The next part will come out tomorrow. Also, keep in mind that I only PvP’d with these characters (unless otherwise mentioned) so that is the gameplay I am basing my thoughts on. Gameplay might be completely different in PvE or WvW but since I mostly just PvP it made sense to… just PvP.

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Chronomancer

Since Mesmer was my first character to 80 and used to be my main, it will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ve really been looking forward to trying chronomancer because it felt like it would give me something different to try to get back to using the class a bit more again. And that is definitely the case I can now say! Chronomancer in PvP is crazy awesome. You think fighting a vanilla mesmer’s clones now is tough? Wait until you go up against a chronomancer. There’s a certain trait in the chronomancer line that makes it so that upon first shattering, illusions will actually come back immediately. If you’re already playing a shatter mesmer (like I was in PvP) then the chronomancer is going to be awesome for you. It’s not just the clones though – the Continuum Split skill (F5) can really shake up a fight.

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After you hit the skill, you can go and use up your longer-cooldown skills and then after a bit of time you, your health, and your cooldowns revert to how you were before you hit the skill. I found this particularly useful when I needed to charge in and try to rez someone or try to do a ton of damage quickly. I could run in without worrying too much about consequences and if it didn’t work out? Well in a few seconds I just popped back where I was. Combined with portals I could imagine this being a very powerful, mobile fighter.

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As for the utility skills, some were better than I expected while others were a bit lackluster. I wasn’t too jazzed about Well of Precognition, which provides evade, or Well of Eternity, the heal. They require you to stand still a bit too long than I find useful in PvP, especially on a mesmer. Since I use the trait that creates a clone when I dodge, I’m dodging and darting all over the place while I fight, making these wells less than useful. The other wells are quite nice though, the alacrity one especially when combined with one of the shield skills. Speaking of the shield, it’s great! I know some (including me) were slightly underwhelmed at the idea of a shield at first but they’ve definitely made these skills exciting. The #4 skills creates a blocking bubble and a phantasm that slows enemies. I really love the new Slow condition in PvP – it even slows down finishing moves. The #5 skill is also awesome as it sends out a powerful wave that stuns and damages foes.

Dragonhunter

Technically, the first character I ever made was a guardian. However it was my fourth character to get to level 80. Obviously I don’t play the profession as much as others. It’s still one of my favorite professions though and being able to take it to range is definitely as fun as I had hoped it would. The longbow skills are a bit on the slower end however being at range means that you can still accomplish a lot for your team. I tried both a condition-focused build and a full-out power/damage build and both seemed perfectly capable, though I did wind up enjoying the power build with traits from Zeal and Valor more. The new dragonhunter specific virtues allow you to continue giving key support like reflects and heals while doing a bit more damage with your bow.

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The traps were much more enjoyable than I expected. To be honest, I’m never a fan of trap-type skills for ranged characters but these seem to be the exception. Procession of Blades is especially great because in my power-focused build it did a ton of damage. I could lure enemies into the elite trap skill, locking them in place, and stand back and unleash barrages of burning arrows upon them. It’s a great way to use some CC that doesn’t involve whacking things with a hammer, which is usually what you have to do as a guardian.

One thing I wasn’t a fan of was that some of the longbow skills lock you in place. While channeling them you can’t move, not even to cancel the induction. In PvE this probably isn’t as big of a deal but in PvP I’m always moving so getting locked down like that is jarring.

Tempest

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This was the only elite specialization I only played in PvE. I played it through the brief story intro to the Verdant Brink map. Since I have two elementalists, I expected to be more excited about this specialization but it personally just felt like an extension of the normal class and not like anything extremely different. The overloading of attunements and the warhorn skills are quite nice. I wish my character didn’t have to shout the skill catchphrases every time I used one of the shout utility skills though. I get it, salad man, you are going to wash the pain away and make them feel the burn. You don’t have to tell me every time you do it, though.

Overall since I only had 4 beta character slots and wasn’t that into this specialization, I wound up not playing past the story. Fighting against them in PvP though I noticed two things: if played right they can do immense damage very quickly and if they aren’t careful they can go ‘squish’ like a bug hitting a windshield.

If you’re impatient or would rather see some gameplay, you can check out the recordings of the stream Ethelros and I did showing off the elite specializations and revenant in Stronghold PvP.

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