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Flameseeker Chronicles: Hands-on with Guild Wars 2’s new Harbinger, Virtuoso, and Willbender elite specs

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One of the anticipated options of any Guild Wars 2 growth is definitely the addition of recent elite specializations. We received our first peek on the first elite spec for End of Dragons, the Mesmer’s Virtuoso, less than a month ago, with teases and particulars for Harbinger and Willbender within the intervening weeks. ArenaNet likes to take advantage of these reveals for the entire hype they’re value, so this week, all gamers have been given the chance to check the primary three specs, the Necromancer’s Harbinger, the Mesmer’s Virtuoso, and the Guardian’s Willbender, and can be given the chance to check the opposite two teams of three in September and October.

For in the present day’s Flameseeker Chronicles, I can be giving some broad strokes impressions on the gameplay and really feel of the lessons. In case you’re a minmaxing theorycrafter and desire a very detailed breakdown of each one of many new lessons’ expertise, passives, and different mechanics, in addition to an ArenaNet dev hoarding an inordinate variety of water bottles, remember to watch the official Guild Chat stream from final Friday.

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Harbinger

In case you’ve ever discovered your self unable to choose your favourite class between the Engineer and Necromancer, you’re in luck as a result of it seems to be just like the Harbinger goes to try to carry you the very best of each worlds, with its necromantic spin on the alchemy parts of the Engineer’s toolkit.

In a variety of methods, Harbinger is like Blood is Energy: The Elite Spec. Similar to the Blood is Energy ability necromancers have been utilizing because the unique Guild Wars, the Harbinger’s new shroud and slot ability talents are centered round placing destructive results on the person whereas granting boons to themselves (and if speced, close by allies) and dealing a lot of injury. Nonetheless, the destructive results Harbinger generates aren’t easy situations that may be cleansed or transferred away as you may anticipate, they take the type of a brand new standing impact referred to as blight which reduces your max HP by 2% per stack and stacks depth as much as 25 occasions. Consider it like destructive barrier. It’s fascinating having the historically extra tanky (for a light-weight armor class) Necromancer must sacrifice its personal sturdiness for extra injury and buffs. To mitigate this a bit, the Harbinger’s life power pool will deplete over time whereas not in shroud to heal them.

As for the Harbinger’s shroud, on condition that blight ticks up the longer your are in it, you may suppose that it could be optimum to leap into shroud, fireplace off all your expertise, and leap out as quickly as doable to reduce the quantity of well being discount positioned on you, and that may be a legitimate technique, nevertheless, the entire Harbinger’s grandmaster traits are designed round rewarding you for staying in shroud longer. The highest trait pulses injury and cripple to enemies, the center pulses quickness to allies, and the underside pulses torment and weak point.

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I like how corruption’s visible impact begins round your character’s toes, then spreads upward to cowl the entire physique because it ticks up in depth!

I additionally suppose it’s fascinating that every one three grasp traits grant some sort of stat increase primarily based in your vitality stat. The designers actually wish to ensure that you might be constructing your Harbinger with as huge a well being pool as doable.

The three trait strains for Harbinger are clearly constructed round direct injury within the high line, assist within the heart line, and situation injury within the backside line. ArenaNet’s Cal Cohen defined within the Guild Chat stream that the Harbinger’s pistol expertise have been designed to lend themselves to each situation and energy builds, and traits are supposed to assist both play model. Guild Wars 2 DPS meta builds are inclined to lean exhausting into both direct injury or situation injury, and I’ve at all times thought an influence/condi hybrid class may very well be an fascinating change of tempo in content material like fractals, offering a number of the excessive injury potential of situations, however shortening its sluggish ramp up with good direct injury. ArenaNet must actually design a category round one thing like this, and that may appear to be simpler stated than executed. Will Harbinger lastly be it? Possibly, we’ll must see how the meta shakes out over time.

If you’re all in favour of enjoying Harbinger as a assist, you’ll undoubtedly wish to take the Twisted Medication trait, which shares elixir buffs in an space. That is particularly good when mixed with Harbinger’s elite ability, which grants a bit of of each boon within the recreation to these affected. Truthfully, I can’t see the purpose of operating elixir expertise with out this trait slotted, except you’re enjoying fully solo.

I’ll be trustworthy, I went into this class anticipating to be underwhelmed. I used to be, nevertheless, pleasantly shocked to seek out it to be my favourite of the three showcased right here. At first, I timidly tried to attend for my corruption to tick down earlier than every struggle and earlier than popping every elixir. Then I noticed simply how a lot additional energy that stacks of corruption, and the elixirs that put them on me, have been giving, and I began utilizing them extra freely. Issues died so quick that I ended up not needing that additional max well being; the therapeutic coming from my life power drain was sufficient to maintain me going. Corruption may find yourself being an even bigger drawback in group content material, the place you may be extra more likely to take huge hits that would one-shot a Harbinger with their max HP halved, however then additionally, you will have a healer round to assist out. I’m guessing this class will see a variety of steadiness tweaks each earlier than the launch of Finish of Dragons and after, however I actually just like the high-risk, high-reward mechanics.

My solely criticism is that I want that corruption confirmed up visually on the well being circle the way in which barrier does, fairly than simply being a destructive quantity under my well being quantity. However that is, admittedly, a minor quibble.

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Virtuoso

The Mesmer has at all times had an odd relationship with a few of its weapons. Everybody is aware of that greatswords are clearly a melee weapon, proper? Not for Mesmers! What a Warrior sees as a giant, sharp hunk of metallic to bash baddies with, the Mesmer sees as a conduit for taking pictures magical laser beams at individuals. It seems the Virtuoso’s dagger is a ranged weapon as nicely, not as a throwing weapon however as a magical casting weapon. Sometime Mesmers are going to get longbow, however as an alternative of utilizing it to shoot arrows, they may use it to smack individuals over the pinnacle.

The Virtuoso has given up the Mesmer’s iconic clone mechanic. As a substitute, any motion that may usually create a clone will now create a floating psionic dagger, as much as a most of 5. Anybody else getting flashbacks to their WildStar Esper? The good factor is that your daggers don’t disappear whenever you exit of fight like clones do. Due to this, you may truly cost up your daggers out of fight, utilizing a ability like Blade Recharge, then swap that ability out for one thing else if that’s not truly what you need in your bar whereas in fight. It’s sort of ironic, Mesmers lastly removed the necessity to bear in mind to cost up their mantras out of fight, however now Virtuosos could have functionally the identical factor with their daggers.

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Relying on their construct, Virtuosos have a lot of choices for tactics to generate blades quick. My favourite was a synergy between the underside adept trait, which causes bleeds on important hits, and a grandmster trait that generates a blade each 5 stacks of bleeding. With murderer gear and AoEs hitting huge packs of mobs, I used to be producing blades quicker than I may use them. I can see the grandmaster trait that shares a blade for each assault dodged or blocked being very fashionable too, given the Mesmer’s already unimaginable injury blocking/avoiding potential, solely made higher by the block on Bladeturn Requiem on the F4 slot. I truly ended up having extra hassle with operating into the cooldowns of my bladesongs (Virtuoso’s model of shatters) than I did producing blades. This can be a disgrace, too, as a result of opposite to clones, there’s not even a bit of little bit of profit from having blades up. I want there was a passive that granted me a small quantity of additional energy per blade or one thing.

Truthfully, I discovered the Virtuoso a bit of lackluster. It’s received some good AoEs and burst potential, however general it simply doesn’t really feel that completely different from the core Mesmer. Definitely not in the way in which that the Chronomancer and Mirage did. Plus, why is it referred to as Virtuoso? That title made me suppose it could be a bard class, however there’s completely no musical theming right here, besides that shatters are referred to as bladesongs, and it provides little to no assist. If something, it’s themed extra like a knife-throwing circus performer. I don’t get it.

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Willbender

When the silhouette of what we’d come to know because the Willbender was debuted, there was a variety of debate over whether or not this could be a Shiro Tagachi/Imperial Guard-themed Guardian spec or an Murderer-like Thief spec. The talk even prompted an official GW2 Twitter poll, through which 1 / 4 of respondents thought Thief was extra probably, whereas 68% accurately guessed Guardian. In a approach each have been proper, as this new Guardian elite spec has a definite Thief taste to it.

Maybe the largest change that Guardians who comply with the trail of the Willbender will discover is that virtues not have a passive whereas off cooldown, however have grow to be lively talents which have shorter cooldowns, achieve distinctive motion results, and grant short-term advantage buffs which can be utilized on use. Nonetheless, just one advantage buff may be up at a time. Virtues additionally put Willbender flames on the bottom, every advantage with its personal AoE form, that injury enemies and heal allies.

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The comparability was shortly drawn between the Willbender and the Daredevil, and I agree that comparability is inescapable. Virtually each device the Willbender provides to the Guardian’s package provides some quantity of mobility. They even have physical-type expertise (a ability kind beforehand utilized by the Daredevil in addition to the Warrior) which can, graphically, look very acquainted to Daredevil gamers.

I wasn’t tremendous impressed by the offhand sword. It has some first rate injury and a spot nearer, however the mainhand sword already had these coated, and it offers much less injury than the main focus. Possibly it’s helpful in conditions I’m not pondering of. I’ll depart that as much as the idea crafters. It’s unlucky that a number of the uniqueness of the Daredevil is being taken away, however the Willbender is a extremely enjoyable class.

The three elite specs demoed this week are a stable showcase of what ArenaNet has deliberate for Finish of Dragons. As at all times, they’re well-polished, splendidly animated, and positive to offer an fascinating likelihood of tempo. I can’t wait to see how they match into the ever-changing panorama of distinctive builds for these lessons. Be sure you examine them out for your self earlier than the beta ends August twenty first. I’m much more excited than earlier than to see what’s in retailer for the opposite six lessons, so stay up for extra evaluation as these betas arrive!

And keep tuned for our Fight or Kite column subsequent week as our resident PvP knowledgeable, Sam Kash, will analyze how these new elite specs will shake up Guild Wars 2’s PvP modes.

blankFlameseeker Chronicles is considered one of Massively OP’s longest-running columns, masking the Guild Wars franchise since earlier than there was a Guild Wars 2. Now penned by Tina Lauro and Colin Henry, it arrives on Tuesdays to report all the pieces from GW2 guides and information to opinion items and dev diary breakdowns. If there’s a GW2 matter you’d like to see explored, drop ’em a remark!

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