The Verdant Brink

Today is a Heart of Thorns beta day, and the first play session of the day just ended. This was my first time trying anything from HoT, and I do have to say I enjoyed what I played.

My beta Revenant, since only humans are available.

My beta Revenant, since only humans are available.

Revenant is very clearly unfinished, but I did like what is available a lot. The first half hour or so I mostly stuck with hammer and Jalis, though I actually like mace/axe and Mallyx better. I do have to say I miss weapon swapping, and I feel like changing the utilities when you change your legendary stance isn’t quite enough. I did fiddle around with traits some, but as the whole current trait system is going out the window, I didn’t really look into what’s available too hard.
The map, Verdant Brink, is actually quite an appreciably-sized map. The verticality of it can be frustrating when you’re trying to get around, but it is very, very pretty. I especially liked the Itzel area.
That would be Dak running right into my screenshot.

That would be Dak running right into my screenshot.

The events on the map are definitely in the same style of Dry Top and Silverwastes, with a meta that cycles through, events to defend or take areas, and wanting a group for most of them. Dak and I tackled a rally point defense event with just the two of us, and while we succeeded, it was definitely a narrow victory (I was defeated and he was running in circles with next to no HP as it ended). Solo exploring is rather hazardous.

The Masteries UI looks very nice – unfortunately I didn’t think to get a screenshot of it.

An Itzel shrine for Ameyalli

An Itzel shrine for Ameyalli

Speaking of masteries, I do feel like activating them needs to be explained better. You need to have a mastery track activated in order to level it and spend points on it. At the top of each mastery category is a checkmark next to the name. Clicking that activates that mastery. This isn’t explained well and I only figured it out when someone mentioned it in map chat. I hope that they look into adjusting that to make it more intuitive.


I also feel like much of the map felt pretty empty, however that’s not surprising considering that it’s currently far from completion. It isn’t even a lack of events, really; rather, there’s a serious lack of NPCs in most of the areas. This could be due to it being unfinished, or due to the fact that it was nighttime when I did most of my exploring, but either way. There’s a lot of room for them to work with there.

I would have liked to play with masteries more, but I didn’t get gliding unlocked until towards the end of the test and didn’t have mushrooms unlocked at all. I did not come across anything noticeably broken (just minor things for the most part), and didn’t run into any performance problems while running around, which are both good things.

I did come across quite a few things like this, however.

I did come across quite a few things like this, however.

It was just a short beta, so there wasn’t time to do a whole lot, and I decided to primarily explore. The next session I plan on diving more into the events, and want to try some of the ones to unlock outposts. There was also a few adventures I saw but didn’t activate, so I’ll have to give those a try, too. I did like what I played, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the map is when it’s more filled out and polished…and obviously, how the rest of the expansion will be!


Time and Light

Last week I started writing a post about the newly revealed mesmer specialization, the Chronomancer. Note that I said tried – the post went nowhere; I spent an hour to only get down about eight sentences before I junked it. To be fair, I was also quite ill at the time. I’ve been meaning to go back to it and get something together again, but there’s been nothing. Which isn’t to say that I don’t find chronomancer interesting – the opposite is true. I think it looks pretty damn neat, in fact. I just have had no ideas as to what to write about other than rehashing the info we already have.

In the meantime, the guardian specialization, Dragonhunter, was revealed. Dragonhunter has gotten a much more mixed reception than chronomancer did (which was overwhelmingly positive) – while I’ve seen a lot of people pleased with the info we were given on it, I’ve also seen a lot of “meh”.

Personally, I actually think I’m more excited about the potential that dragonhunter has than I am about chronomancer.

Hurray for lazy collages.

Hurray for lazy collages.

Above we have my collection of mesmers and guardians. Liusaidh and Rosheen, the sylvari mesmer and guardian, are two of my most-played characters – Liusaidh is my main and was my first to level 80, and Rosheen was my second character I leveled. The humans are Haneul Nae (mesmer, descended from my GW1 ritualist) and Astrid Cheval (guardian, descended from my GW1 mesmer). They are more recent additions to my level 80 lineup, Astrid being the last character I leveled to complete my goal of having two of each profession at level 80. Liusaidh uses a phantasm build, whereas Haneul makes use of mantras. Rosheen makes use of shouts and boons to support, while Astrid whacks things with her greatsword.

My original reasoning behind having two of each profession at level 80 was because of specializations. This was decided on long before we knew anything of how they were going to work, of course – I was most of the way to having 16 80s when Heart of Thorns was announced, and proceeded to level up another 3-4 characters in the months since it was announced. Now that we know that specializations are trait lines, I guess I didn’t really need to have doubled up like I did, but ah well. I enjoy leveling and making characters anyway.
At any rate, I find myself not sure which of my two mesmers is going to become a chronomancer. Liusaidh is the obvious choice, as I play her the most – it makes sense to take my most-played character and give her the new skills and traits. There was also a trait mentioned on the livestream last week that will resummon phantasms when they’ve been shattered (so you essentially get a free shatter), which definitely caught my attention – that’d actually give me a reason to shatter my illusions.
On the other hand, there’s the new weapon. Shield is cool and all, but I really love my focus. I had the idea of Liusaidh wielding a sword and focus as her main weapon set ages ago – long before GW2 was released. I made the Minstrel for her, and I can’t imagine replacing it. Haneul, then, may be better suited to become a chronomancer. There are plenty of shields that go with her look – and I’d even consider making the Flameseeker Prophecies for her. It then comes down to, which do I like better? Mantras or wells?
Whereas with dragonhunter…well. The choice was obvious.
When the first teaser image was released on Monday, I had the thought that if I made Astrid into the specialization, I could give her Wings of Dwayna, which would perfectly match her look as a battle priestess of Dwayna. But when we actually got information about dragonhunter yesterday, there was no question at all in my mind – Rosheen was going to become a dragonhunter. No doubts about it.
Soon, my darling. Soon...

Soon, my darling. Soon…

Not just because I NEED to give her Kudzu along with her Bifrost, but the new stuff that dragonhunter is giving us just fits her perfectly. I have, since launch, played Rosheen as a support guardian. Despite having never liked support roles in any other game before, I love support guardian. It’s just so much fun to play. Since stats are being disconnected from traits, her current boon duration build is going to be destroyed anyway, so I need to find something new to do with her. Dragonhunter will allow me to continue to play a support guardian, just in a different manner.

And yes, I get it. Support’s not part of the current meta. I don’t care. I don’t care about what’s meta, what’s the most absolute efficient, whatever. I don’t find that fun, and that is what I find to be far more important when I’m playing. As such, what we’ve seen about dragonhunter actually appeals to my sense of enjoyment and fun, and changes up guardian, more than chronomancer does, for all that chronomancer looks flashier and more effective.


I really like the idea of being able to support from the backline. To be able to use a well-aimed shot to deflect projectiles instead of being a Wall of Reflection bot. To have more range to play with. I like the more active virtues – the new Virtue of Resolve just plain sounds fun. And you know what? I even like the sound of traps.

Traps aren’t perfect. They need a lot of work. I get it. But I’ve always loved traps. My ranger started out with a trapper build. My other ranger runs traps in PvP (it is hilarious to watch how a few well-placed traps can shut down an enemy team on certain maps). They’re just plain fun and that matters far more to me than the fact that they aren’t at peak efficiency in terms of usefulness. Am I hoping that, as guardians get traps, traps themselves get some upgrades to make them more useful as well as more likely to work? Of course. But considering that they’re looking at things like raising or removing the condition cap, as well as changing certain conditions (poison and burning) to stack intensity instead of duration, I’m pretty sure they’ll polish traps in the process.

gw2hot_04-2015_Well_of_Precognition_(Utility)Two of the other common complaints about dragonhunter include the name and the fear that it’s a bit too close to ranger in how it works. The name…okay, I can understand that. It’s a silly, generic name. A lot of people were expecting paragon, which would have been neat, but realistically wasn’t going to happen. Paragon is already used synonymously with guardian in GW2 – it’s the name of the PvP achievement track for guardian wins. It also has a more angelic connotation to it, which the specialization, other than the wings in the concept art, does not have. In the long run, the name’s not going to be a huge deal.

As far as the second…again, I can see it. Guardian is getting both a weapon and skill type that, while not unique to rangers, are best-known on them. There are differences in how the weapons work, though – on ranger, longbow is a high-power weapon that hits hard. I get the impression that the main use of longbow on a guardian is going to be to give a number of different supportive effects – we likely won’t be spiking enemies with a Rapid Fire analog. Right now it looks like traps do have a fair amount of overlap, but I imagine that dragonhunter traps will have more supportive utility to them than ranger traps do. It’s similar to how mesmer is gaining wells through chronomancer – necromancer also has wells, but chronomancer wells will pulse three times with an end effect, as opposed to the five pulses that necromancer wells deal. The difference is slight, but it’s there.

The Ready Up livestream today will, of course, give us more information about how dragonhunter will work, so it’s possible that some of the quibbles about it will be answered in about a half hour from now. But from a personal standpoint, I feel like dragonhunter is going to be more to my style than chronomancer, as it doesn’t require me to give up a build or playstyle I already enjoy. It instead caters to a playstyle I like.

I wonder what we’ll get next?