Exclusive: Guild Wars 2’s Revenant elite spec is the Herald
The Revenant is shaping up to be a unique profession on a Guild Wars 2 roster, with fresh ideas in regards to combat abilities and its place on the battlefield. I was given a sneak peek at the upcoming announcement of the Revenant’s elite specialization that has been teased for a few days now as part of the Heart of Thorns expansion hype.
As many of you have already guessed, Glint is the elite specialization legend. I have plenty of information about what to expect below, and I also conducted a quick Q&A session with Game Designer Roy Cronacher to discuss the profession’s elite specialization, called the Herald, in more detail. I’m also throwing in a whole raft of information on how the profession will fare underwater too!
Of course, sometimes word just aren’t enough and you need to see a build with your own eyes to appraise it fully. Never fear: You can watch the Revenant elite specialization in action this Friday, August 14 on Points of Interest, airing at 3 p.m. EDT (noon PDT) on the official Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel. Game Designer Roy Cronacher will be the special guest with POI host Rubi Bayer as they give fans an in-depth look at the Herald’s skills, weapon, and traits.
The Herald: Glint in action
Let me begin with a little history lesson to refresh your memory: Glint was an ancient dragon prophet who compiled the Flameseeker Prophecies and was eerily accurate in her predictions in the original Guild Wars. She was a protective force that is hypothesised to have been the first creature in Tyria, gods-sent to guard the land and see the prophecies to fruition.
I was delighted to see that ArenaNet decided to use her as a legend, especially since I was hoping for a protective frontline option for the Revenant. As you can imagine by the brief description of Glint above, the profession’s elite specialization, the Legendary Dragon Stance, is full of abilities that bolster your allies in tough situations, encouraging you to remain close to them at all times to reap the benefits of the stance.
Like the other specializations, the Herald will give players access to a new weapon, a new trait specialization line, and new mechanics. In the case of Glint, we’ll gain access to the shield, and she’ll channel her supportive nature through the player character using a host of boons and defensive abilities. I’ll give you a good run-down of the shield and utility skills you can expect, but the short version is that you become much more effective when you stand with your comrades in battle and offer them the protection of your stance.
The Crystalline Bulwark skills
The shield’s main purpose is to keep you safe while you’re in the thick of the action using the Legendary Dragon Stance, so its associated skills enhance survivability by providing group healing and protective boons. Let’s look at each ability individually.
Envoy of Exuberance: I really like this skill because it has both a personal benefit and a group effect. Dragon energy cascades from the shield to protect and heal your allies, then comes back to you. As it’s a ground-targeted skill, you can position this one strategically to maximise its usefulness.
Crystal Hibernation: This one is all about personal defence and is a great save-me button for those sticky near-death situations. A crystal energy shield prevents damage after this skill has been channelled, and it also quickly tops up your health pool. Your character gains a defiance bar when this skill is used, and the risk of using it will need to be considered carefully.
The many facets of Glint
If you played Guild Wars, you’ll remember that you had to face the six facets of Glint in Guild Wars: Prophecies before you could reach her. This six-facet approach inspired the ANet team since they just happened to have six skills to fill for the Legendary Dragon Stance. Each of the six facets has been incorporated, and it seems that players will have quite a balancing act to keep their energy levels in check while using this skillset.
Each skill is an upkeep skill, and you’ll find five of these on the right side of your bar (more on the sixth one later). The facets each emit a beneficial wave, but their use depletes your energy bar. You trade off potential energy regeneration, and in turn the ability to use other skills, for the group benefit of these auras. Whenever cast, each skill flips to a new skill that will consume that aura’s energy and set off a more impressive skill, but the catch is that both the aura skill and its more potent cousin will go on cooldown. To clarify, look at these examples:
Facet of Elements and Elemental Blast: This combination is great for quickening up your allies and then softly controlling the foes on the field. Facet of Elements grants swiftness to nearby allies while you upkeep it, and Elemental Blast breaks it in a ground-targeted burst of Glint’s breath that applies a handful of negative conditions to enemies such as weakness and burning.
Facet of Chaos and Chaotic Release: This is an interesting duo includes the elite skill for the Revenant, and as such it requires a higher energy cost to upkeep but has a much stronger effect than other skills that is best saved for critical moments in combat. Facet of Chaos grants a strong protection boon to you and your close allies, while Chaotic Release uses the immense power of Glint’s wings to control enemies while granting speed buffs to friends. Remember the really cool scene in the HoT trailer where a dragon’s wings flap majestically? Yep, that’s Chaotic Release!
The sixth facet: Facet of Nature
I held the sixth facet back because it’s very special indeed: It can be used no matter which stance you are currently using. This profession mechanic skill is another upkeep skill that enhances the other five facets and ties in well with other skills. The Facet of Nature increases outgoing boon duration by 50%, thereby extending the effects of the other skills even if you switch legends straight after casting it. It doesn’t just pair well with the boons applied by the casting Revenant, though, and will marry up very well with other boon-heavy ally professions. The Facet of Nature is paired with One with Nature, and this cancels the former in order to synchronise all the other facets, applying all of their boons in one burst.
The Revenant’s underwater combat abilities
The Revenant uses a spear in water combat, and ANet has been working hard to make it appeal to both the physical damage and condi crowds. Distance matters, and the spear features two different auto-attacks that work well in different situations depending on the range you have between you and your target. The first of these autoattacks, Spear of Anguish, is a condition damage ranged attack that works well whenever an enemy is approaching from the edge of its range. The second autoattack is called Rapid Assault and is a short-range melee attack that hits quickly and builds stacks of vulnerability.
Underwater combat gets even more exciting with the addition of skills that utilise the same cast-then-cancel format we’ve seen throughout the Revenant’s design. In this case, underwater abilities usually present the player with condition damage first, and then can be cancelled with a burst of physical damage. For instance, Venomous Sphere is an orb of condensed Mists energy that poisons foes as it passes, and as soon as you have it in the right area, you can opt to pop it with the flip-skill Frigid Discharge to deal some physical damage.
Underwater combat usually feels more challenging to me because of the 3-D space in which the action happens, so I’m glad to see a clever little control skill make the Revenant’s underwater line-up. Rift Containment seeks to trap an enemy between two rifts from the Mists, which should com in handy when players are setting up skills such as Venomous Sphere.
Q&A session with Roy Cronacher
Massively Overpowered: We haven’t had our hands on Glint for testing just yet. What kind of playstyles have came up in your internal testing? I’m imagining front line combat support is the most obvious use, but what other applications have you came up with?
Roy Cronacher, Guild Wars 2 game designer: You imagine correctly! Glint can be very good as a front line support and as a utility legend. While it’s good front line, it can also be equally good for back line support by using hammer and buffing up the damage of your ranged damage dealers while having the utility to control the area if enemies happen to come near. For example, you can be providing allies with protection from the skill Facet of Chaos, dampening ranged attacks made against your allies, then when foes get close you can activate the skill Chaotic Release to knock back enemies, creating more distance for your team. It’s designed to mix very well with many of the other available legends for the Revenant. It has some options to support both a condition playstyle as well as physical on top of the support aspects.
The Crystal Hibernation ability seems exceptionally powerful, and you mentioned that there’d be a high risk involved. Can you elaborate on that and perhaps give us an idea of the proposed usage, duration, and cooldown of the ability?
Cronacher: The Crystal Hibernation ability does indeed have trade-offs. It is a defiance bar skill for the player, similar to what you’ve seen monsters have (such as the Wyvern). Once the break bar is depleted with control skills, the protective shell will burst, which will stun the player for two seconds and leave him or her with 25 stacks of vulnerability for those two seconds, so you risk being left in this super vulnerable state. The ability doesn’t remove conditions, so if you wait too long to use it, it’s possible to be downed while it is active for ticking conditions. While it can be used to immune key attacks, recover some health, or give yourself enough time for some skills to recharge it definitely can be punishing if used incorrectly. You cannot move while the skill is active, either, so you are kind of a sitting duck for when it ends.
I’m delighted to see you refer back to the facets of Glint from the original Guild Wars. Do these abilities synergize well in specific pairings or combinations if so can you give us an example of that?
Cronacher: Yes, we have brought all six facets into this elite specialization. It just happened to line up to the number of skills we needed, and we thought it was an interesting tie in to Glint from Guild Wars for the Dragon’s Lair mission. On the right half of your bar we have all facets, except nature. These all pulse out boons to nearby allies at the cost of upkeep, then they have an active skill which can be used to consume the facet for a burst effect setting it on recharge. Facet of Nature ties in all the other facets as its pulsing effect provides players with increased boon duration which helps bolster the boons provided from the other facets. The active part of Facet of Nature is One with Nature, which grants a burst of all the boons from every other facet to nearby allies.
The Revenant will have some very interesting underwater attacks, and I’m excited for the physical and condition damage flipping and the inclusion of both a long and short range auto attack. Will we see further improvements to underwater combat across the board?
Cronacher: For the harpoon on the Revenant, we’re trying something a bit different, as you can see that there are two auto-attack skills with no recharge. This means that you can choose to fight at range or melee or mix them up depending on the situation. The aim was to appeal to both physical- and condition-damage playstyles and allow for interesting hybrid builds. As for other professions underwater, the elite specs profession mechanic changes will be made useable underwater. Just like we’ve done since launch, we’ll continue to release balance and bug fixing updates to the game to improve combat, including underwater.
With so many upkeep abilities that drain energy and cooldowns, Glint’s playstyle sounds as if it might have specific phases of higher damage and then energy conservation. Is this the case?
Cronacher: Somewhat; there definitely will be windows of downtime for different skills as this legend is setup differently from the others in the profession. The facets will cost upkeep to keep active; this will be the primary support from the legend. The active skills that consume the facets are much more offensive and control-based. The active portions of the skills do not cost energy currently, but they do set it and its corresponding facet on a longer recharge. Generally we have kept recharge low, but these skills are a bit longer, closer to what you’d see on a normal profession. This is because they create a tradeoff of getting this powerful effect but shutting out your ability to use that facet. It creates different decision points for a player such as whether to keep the support going or trade that support for a skill to help in the immediate moment. Another example would be how many facets the player wants to keep active at the cost of limiting other skill use and whether to use the active skill to gain back some of that upkeep or just reaching zero energy to reset all the facets.
Many thanks to ArenaNet, and especially to Roy Cronacher, for taking time for this interview.