Cithryth’s Post-Play Report: BWE1 (Part 2)

 

Hey everyone, here is the second part of my post-play report on this past weekend’s beta event! Get ready because I uh… have a lot of feelings about reapers.

 

Revenant

Last beta was not great for the revenant. I’m pleased to say though that the changes brought about in this round of beta testing have really boosted the revenant to be a real, playable profession. I even had fun playing it in both PvE and PvP! I did a second playthrough of the Verdant Brink intro story on a revenant and quite a few PvP matches as well – both Stronghold and Conquest. I wound up using an interesting combination of Ventari and Shiro for my legends, using the Devastation, Salvation, and Invocation trait lines.

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One of my core complains last time around was that because the weapons and their effects were so intimately tied to specific legends, it felt clunky to switch legends in-combat while you couldn’t switch weapons as well. This was one of the big changes they made to revenant prior to this weekend’s beta event and it is definitely a change for the better. The introduction of the Shiro trait line and legend also helped to round things out. I was able to use my dual sword and Shiro when I needed to do some burst damage and I could switch to my staff and Ventari when I needed to heal myself or my teammates back up. As a mid-ground I usually used the staff while invoking Shiro to provide some nice damage and mobility utility while also healing myself overtime using the little energy orbs that drop while using staff skills.

Best of all, I was able to actually survive AND do some decent damage on my revenant! The additions and changes made to the profession since last time are a huge step in the right direction. I’m definitely looking forward to using this profession come Heart of Thorns.

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Verdant Brink + Story

I don’t have quite as much to say about this aspect of the beta as I am purposefully staying out of it. I participated in every beta program I could get my hands on in previous MMOs and while I relish being a part of the constructive feedback system, I now understand the importance of not burning yourself out too much. So I’m mostly leaving the new maps and PvE content for others in the beta to test. That said, I did do the intro story twice through to get a taste of it. Having seen tons of screenshots and videos from ArenaNet themselves and from other beta testers I thought I knew what to expect in Verdant Brink however those screenshots and videos don’t really do the area justice. Like most of Tyria, there’s the matter of both scale and small details that make the map a truly interesting and beautiful place to explore.

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There’s also some great sylvari-specific stuff that is great if you play a sylvari but small enough that you’re not missing swaths of content if you don’t. While in the story instance as a sylvari you can hear a deep booming voice talking to the Mordrem minions that you can’t hear if you are not on a sylvari. Presumably that deep booming voice is Mordremoth. That is super cool! However I kind of expected my sylvari (and surrounding sylvari) to react to the voice, like when Harry Potter gets visions or flashes of Voldemort’s thoughts and emotions. Because I mean, if you suddenly heard a deep booming voice in your head you would kind of freak out too, right?

Reaper

I love necromancers. In fact I have two of them – one purpose-built to grow up to become a beautifully terrifying reaper when the day comes. So I clearly have a lot invested in this profession specialization being workable. I’ll also note that as a champion of the necromancer, I have often said that there is really no wrong way to play a necromancer and that with enough practice and application any build can be ‘viable’. That re-hashing out of the way…

I was disappointed in the reaper.

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First I tried my usual necromancer build (Soul Reaping, Death Magic, Blood Magic) with the Reaper trait line replacing Blood Magic. It didn’t feel quite right. I was still kind of tanky like I normally am however with the extra slow speed of greatsword attacks and lack of mobility it didn’t feel right. Then, keeping in mind the emphasis on the Chill condition, I tried a full-on chill/fear build that really made those conditions matter. Instead I just became very squishy while still not accomplishing much. I talked to some other necros in-game and tried changing around some utilities and traits again. Still nothing. Finally I went back to Soul Reaping and Death Magic and tweaked it a bit to be nothing but tanky-ness. At least now I was surviving as much as I usually do, however I still was ineffectual. It wasn’t until I was able to play with Ethelros and his guardian (boons as far as the eye can see, and being on Skype to coordinate was handy too) that I felt like I was accomplishing anything.

I understand the goal of the reaper is to be a slow, terrifying killer. However it seems in pursuit of the horror movie theme they have gone too slow. The greatsword (and reaper shroud) animations and inductions take so long that most opponents have time to dodge roll or even simply run out of the way of your attacks. Or if they are really on their toes they interrupt you. The animations for the skills, while truly amazing looking, provide crystal clear telegraphs with plenty of time for opponents to hit their skills that interrupt.

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When you’re not getting interrupted, your enemies are always running just out of reach. And a reaper has precious few skills to force them back. Yes, the emphasis of the profession is on the Chill condition. However with condition damage being so powerful now, many people have condition cleanses handy or as passives meaning that your chill just gets wiped off. Greatsword skill #5 can pull enemies to you however it doesn’t lock on to your target – it simply grabs whatever is in front of you when you begin casting so even if you move while casting (which in PvP I am always moving), the spectral claws will still grab at whatever was in front of you previously. And again, the skill has such a long, clear animation most people just run out of the way.

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So I have some proposed solutions to the issues I’ve outlined above. First, make the Greatsword skill #5 lock to the target you have selected. Sure, dodge rolls could still avoid the claws. However this will definitely help out in PvP where most opponents are constantly moving. Additionally, lowering the casting times and recharge on skills – even just a little – could really improve the elite specialization. If the animations and casting times are shorter there is a much lower chance that enemies will just walk away from your attacks. And finally giving the reaper some abilities that deal the new Slow condition would not only help out with the problems above, it would also fit the theme of the profession quite well.

With these adjustments I can see the reaper being more usable in PvP settings. In PvE where enemies dodge and run from you less I’m sure the reaper performs quite well. As it stood during this beta however it is not a specialization I would be interested in using (the hundreds of gold and crafting materials I’ve saved up for making Twilight for my reaper-to-be are crying in my bank).

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And that is about it for my BWE1 post-play report. Did you play this beta weekend? Do you agree with my assessments or am I totally off-base? Do you want Mini Pocket Raptor pets too?

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