The past month I’ve been writing about the story of Heart of Thorns, as well as the maps–two of the biggest things that HoT brought to the table. It was rather critical, because there are definitely a lot of areas that ArenaNet could work on that would help me enjoy their expansion better.
With that being said, I’m excited to finally share with you my thoughts of what I’ve been loving about Heart of Thorns!
One of the biggest changes that Heart of Thorns brought is the elite specializations. Every single one of them brought new things to the table (don’t shoot me yet for that statement). By now, many of you have played most of the elite specializations and have started to see how they change the base professions to at least some extent, so I’ll give some of my (very) brief thoughts on them all!
As someone who mained a Guardian for quite a long time, I was rather disappointed with Dragonhunter. Traps feel more like symbols all over in the sense that they’re stationary rings. I’m not convinced Guard needed this. The longbow? People have been asking for it since launch, and it can be quite powerful. I just find it doesn’t synergize as someone who was a straight up Hammer Guard. The more I played Dragonhunter, the more it seemed like DPS was the focus. Not a bad thing, but it just didn’t click. Since then, I’ve pretty much abandoned my Guardian.
Oh. My. Goodness. I adore this profession, but this brought something radically new to the table with Rangers. I know a lot of people would’ve loved to be able to get rid of their pet for bonuses, but I think ANet took a very interesting route. The Druid is quite possibly the best healer in a game where healing was pretty much useless as a whole. Since raids (which I won’t be touching on), a healing Druid is pretty much meta, and they offer a whole lot more group support than Rangers originally did. It brings something new to the table, for sure, but I also wonder if it makes Druid feel too much like its own new profession all together? Maybe this is a good thing?
Whatever way you lean, I personally find my Druid to be a blast, and the glyphs really give some extra flexibility in playstyle, even if you go DPS.
Ok, I know that I’ve complained on Twitter time and time again about how much I can’t click with Ele, in spite of maining it for an entire year, but let me say this… I FREAKING LOVE TEMPEST. I don’t know why. Those overloads, the Warhorn, and shouts, all give me a great sense that I’m more in control of my toon instead of mindlessly doing a rotation between elements. Right now I’m running a Fresh Air Tempest build, and I’m having way too much fun. The burst is amazing, the support/utility is somewhere between staff and focus, and it’s a fresh take on the Elementalist to me (see what I did there?).
I’m still figuring Reaper out, but I’m getting the picture more and more. I think the Necro needed this a lot. There’s some stability in there, there’s some great melee outside of dagger, and as someone who ran a Power Necro (Wells), I’ve finally put together a build that jumps off of that and makes me more of a beast in melee. I’ve duo’d champions with random players in Auric Basin, so that’s a great start with a profession that I always struggle to be good at, but still love.
I’ve enjoyed most of the elite specs. Heck, I actually really love playing the Daredevil. Dodging and dealing damage, the extra dodge, and the staff as a whole, all really click with how I play the game. The down side? It still doesn’t bring great utility to a group, and it’s still horribly selfish. It makes me wonder how Daredevils do in raids? I don’t really know many that main it.
The biggest issue people have (and I do as well), is that it feels like they took away things from the Acrobatics line that made us great at dodging, and then put it into the Daredevil. There were recently some changes to the Acrobatics line, but I haven’t delved into it much to see if it really helps.
Regardless of that little chip on my shoulder, I actually love how the Daredevil feels. It doesn’t seem to bring great team support still, but it’s a blast to play!
I’ve been looking forward to Scrapper. I played a Power Engi for quite a while there, and suddenly I find I’m not really figuring Scrapper out at all. Gyros seems underwhelming and while the hammer is fun to play, I find my Rifle is much more powerful and useful. To me, that’s an indication that I need more time spent into Scrapper. Does anyone have any advice or ideas on how to use their new weapon and utilities?
Alright, I’m not a Mesmer genius. I’m actually a Mesmer moron, but I try. My wife’s the one that adores Mesmer as well as Chronomancer. Alacrity radically changes a lot of things and gives greater group support to this profession. The wells are well-needed AoEs (look! I did it again!) that were sorely lacking outside of Shatters and Chaos Storm. I personally love the shield, although my wife barely uses it. As a whole, I find it adds on to what already existed for Mesmers and filled in the gap.
Fun. Chop chop. Slicey dicey. I don’t really play Warrior, but I’ve heard a few people say that conditions are now a little more viable with the Berserker, and Berserk adds another fun layer on to how Adrenaline is used. I don’t play Warrior enough to actually give any thoughts on what it does as a whole.
Alright, this is where I really want to get a bit more in-depth, other than a few opinions. Why? Because I main the new profession, the Revenant now. My Guardian has taken the back-seat and become a crafter, and I’ve been able to put some serious effort into building him up. I rolled him, and haven’t been happier. The Revenant has a unique set of weapons:
The Sword is my main go-to weapon. It used to simply be used for auto-attack which wasn’t very engaging and didn’t force you to use your profession mechanic (managing energy–sort of like the Rune Keeper of LOTRO’s class mechanic). The changes now force you to use 2 (Precision Strike) and to use 3 (Unrelenting Assault) very carefully. This is a positive thing.
The Mace is a condition-based weapon that deals Torment and Burning. Although it’s fun, it’s definitely underwhelmed by the Revenant’s sheer ability to tear through things with its Power and Ferocity stats.
The Staff is a support weapon. People have to get this through their heads very quickly. A lot of complaint at the beginning was how little damage it did (which they may have buffed at one point). It’s honestly my favourite weapon of all, considering it has a condition cleanse, CC control (they totally nerfed it though… at launch, you could tear through a Legendary Wyvern’s CC bar and break it with one attack), and a few other CC abilities. It also drops healing orbs with its auto-attack. Frankly, staff is my favourite weapon in the entire game and is a lot of fun!
A hammer as a ranged weapon is one of the most amazing ideas ever. It feels hilariously awesome. They’ve recently attempted to fix 2 (Coalescence of Ruin) since it was critting for way too much and hitting way too many people, especially in PvP. It was over the top and needed a nerf. I do believe it still needs a few more tweaks though.
Axe is also condition-focused and pairs well with Mace or Sword, depending on your build. Its 4 (Frigid Blitz) is amazing for shadowstepping and is very satisfying to use. Axe 5 (Temporal Rift) is fun to use, causes some Torment, and pulls foes into it (giving a CC side to it). I haven’t used Axe in a while for Shield (coming in a bit here) , but it’s definitely a fun go-to.
Sword off-hand is ok, I suppose. The block on 4 doesn’t seem all that significant, and 5 (Grasping Shadow) is rather clunky and strange since it’s so single-targeted. I may play around with it again soon since I’ve been getting bored of my Shield.
Along with this, the Revenant also brings four Legendary “stances”:
- Ventari – A healing tablet you can move around, cleanse conditions, and destroy projectiles. It’s a little awkward because you have to constantly be moving your tablet around for healing and positioning, which is challenging in big boss fights. Regardless of that, it’s my favourite legend to run (even though I don’t ever use it since there are better options).
- Shiro – An assassin stance that is focused on quick attacks and movement, as well as a powerful CC with its elite (costing 50 out of your 100 max energy) called Jade Winds. I run this legend constantly, and for good reason.
- Mallyx – A strange condition-based legend that needs some tweaking, especially since some of its traits are still based on what it was before HoT’s release–taking lots of conditions on itself and creating conditions so you could spread them to others. Not much to say here. Resistance is a great boon, but Mallyx needs some Dev love still.
- Jalis – Supposedly the tanking legend, Jalis has a few elements of healing, some condition removal, a taunt, damage mitigation, and
The Herald – Revenant’s Elite
The Herald brings in another level of power to the Revenant. Given that the Revenant was built with the Elite Spec in mind (compared to the other professions), I find that Herald is almost needed, and you feel gimped if you don’t run Herald. It brings a few things:
- Glint Legend – Facets that you activate like a signet but create new skills to use. Facets take energy to maintain and share boons to people around you. Using the next skill will cancel the boon-sharing ability of said facet and create an effect, such an AoE that burns and chills, or healing you for all damage done to you for a few seconds.
- Shield – The shield brings some interesting skills, but given the recent nerf to Crystal Hibernation (which blocks all damage and heals you periodically while you’re rooted and blocking), I’m finding it not as good anymore. I don’t really use the 4 on shield and honestly, I find myself using it more because I have the Flameseeker Prophecies (which, thematically, works so amazingly well together with Glint).
- Traits – The traits are pretty useful to any build, like increased damage per boon on you, gaining toughness for each point of upkeep you have (be careful if you’re in a raid), stun breaking nearby allies if you stun break, etc. I find as a whole, it’s a no-brainer and radically improves the Revenant.
HoT has brought quite a bit of content, but most of it has been gated in time or massive amounts of grinding. Thankfully, the Elite Specs are built in a way that are fairly accessible if you just start getting some hero challenges done in the HoT areas (which most aren’t as daunting as you’d think, and people have an incentive to help since they get rewarded daily for helping with a hero challenge). I would say that of all things, the elite specializations are the best thing Heart of Thorns has brought to Guild Wars 2. The problem? There is a sense of a power creep here, where those who are F2P or haven’t yet purchased HoT are going to notice that they’re underpowered in WvW and PvP.
I’d say as a whole that from these three blog posts that Heart of Thorns is both a success, and a struggle. They brought some amazing content with some serious blaring flaws. There are some great things that have been offered, but some areas that myself, as a gamer and consumer, am left longing for something more. Because of my time zone and work life, I’m not able to play how and when they want me to play.
I think overall, they’ve created a good base with the mastery system on where they can go. Hopefully, Heart of Thorns is a bold step in a direction they can tweak to work for the masses, and deliver us bigger and more engaging content than what HoT offered.
For now, I’ll play my Herald, finish my dailies, and cross my fingers for what Living Story 3 will do for the game as a whole.