Impressions on last week's betas including the new WvW map and updated Stronghold PvP and Revenant profession.
The Scrying Pool is a Guild Wars 2 column where I simply ask what if? Nothing is off the table as I dive into possible features and future content, looking at what currently exists in Guild Wars 2 before I answer my own what if question with how I think the feature and content could be implemented.
This week however, we will be looking back at the past weekend that included the Revenant and Stronghold weekend tests as well as the World vs World (WvW) Desert Borderlands stress test. I was fortunate enough to take part in each of these tests, so for this edition of the Scrying Pool wanted to share my thoughts on each test’s content.
The first of the test was the WvW Desert Borderlands stress test. I want to first admit that I am not a big WvW player, only having a WvW rank of about 560. What I was hearing from some of the more hardcore players during the test however, was close to what I was thinking myself. This map is an entirely different experience than the currently available WvW maps, something that I think is good in a really refreshing way. It would have been easy to remake the existing maps with a new theme attached to it and call it a day.
Something that I thought was really interesting—and I hope plays out once more players are in the maps—is how anti-zerg the map feels. Breaking up the zerg has long been a point of discussion for WvW play. A lot of discussion was in changing or adding different gameplay mechanics into the system, but I think this new map shows that the answer lies in the map itself. There are a lot of different pathways to get from one area to the next, which can lead to groups entirely missing each other. During the short time that I was able to participate in the test, I think I only ever saw one of the two opposing servers. This combined with all of the little objectives that are either new or improved such as camps, sentries and shrines gives a lot of desire to split a server up into smaller units instead of one large zerg. There were around 30+ players per server in the test and instead of having a zerg three times that size on fuller maps, I think it would be more beneficial to have three different groups at 30+ roaming around and taking objectives.
As to the map itself, it is gorgeous. Everything I came across looked and felt amazing. There are a few kinks they have to work out, such as doors that become invincible instead of breaking open and spots where players can get stuck between the stairs and a hard place, but overall the map felt amazing. I can’t wait to play it more and explore even more of the map, as the short time I had with it was too brief to see and experience everything it had to offer.
Moving on to Stronghold, not much had changed from the previous beta of the new game mode. The big addition was the ability to select which Hero you want to summon when channeling the mist essence on the map. I really like this customization, and the new abilities felt pretty awesome and balanced. It didn’t seem like any one hero was better than another. Nika felt a little powerful, but that was more because I was on a thief which meant every couple seconds I would get a backstab that also blinded my target. Even here though, I don’t think that it is too powerful as there will be similar synergy with other classes, such as a Guardian benefiting from all the aegis Turai Ossa puts out. Also, the trebuchet is powerful and now really useful to control/destroy which is good for bringing it into the play of the map.
The thing that I was most looking forward to, however, is the ability to play with Staff and the Ventari stance on Revenant. In other MMOs I will always be rocking the healer, so the healing support nature of these two additions really had me interested. The Revenant never really gelled with me in the previous play tests, being more of a tanky class with a bit of condition flavor. After the previous tests I thought that Revenant was going to be a class that I would have but never really play.
That changed however after the last weekend. Everything about Ventari and the staff felt amazing. Damage is low on the staff, but this is also a problem with everything the Revenant was doing. It is actually a little funny how well the Revenant class feels balanced, just at a way lower damage level compared to all of the other classes in the game.
The Ventari stance is unique in that everything the stance does is based off of Ventari’s Tablet, which players must summon before being able to use any of the other Ventari skills. I really like the tablet and what it is doing. It has a lot of nice support abilities and can add a lot of sustain to the class if used with a bit of skill and planning.
There are a few things I don’t like about it, however. The first is that summoning the tablet has a cast time. This feels a little clunky, slows down the rate of switching over to the Ventari stance and breaks up a fight that is already going on. Combine this with the ability to interrupt the tablet, putting it on a major cooldown and locking the player out of the entire stance sucks. There is minor trait that makes swapping legends instantaneous. I would like this trait to also summon the tablet when switching to Ventari, as well as removing the cast time on the tablet.
The skill I like the most on the tablet is Natural Harmony. This is a delayed heal, meaning that after using the skill it waits a couple of seconds before the heal is activated. It feels cool to trigger this skill and then move the tablet into place just in time for the heal. What I like most is that the skill has no cast time for the player. It has this feel that you are commanding the tablet and the tablet is casting the skill. I would really like for all of the skills to follow this trend of having no cast time with the tablet delaying the effect. To add to this, if there was a way to put a global cooldown on the other skills (except moving the tablet) so that you really get the sense of the tablet unable to use a skill as it is busy casting another skill. Having a shorter cast time on moving the tablet would also be nice, but it doesn’t feel too off with its current half second cast time.
Moving the cast time off of the player also makes some of its skills more useful, namely the elite. With its two second cast time and the need to have another cast time to resummon the tablet if not switching legends made the elite not ever feel worth casting. Having both the tablet summoning and elite be instant casts for the player and the elite be delayed by two or three seconds would make it more worthwhile to cast. Plus, with it having no cast time and the delay, it opens up the ability to move the tablet into prime position like can currently be done with Natural Harmony.