It’s time again for another End of Dragons elite specialization beta! It’s an exciting time for Guild Wars 2 players, who are learning what elite specs they will be playing as and alongside in this highly anticipated expansion. This time around we have the Revenant’s damage-support hybrid Vindicator spec, the Warrior’s totally-not-a-Final-Fantasy-XIV-Gunbreaker Bladesworn spec, and the Elementalist’s in-your-face Catalyst spec.
The Revenant’s previous two elite specs have each introduced a new legend, but the Vindicator introduces two! Well, two that function as one. The new Legendary Alliance stance grants slot skills that, when used, flip between damage-focused versions in Archemorus side and support-focused versions in the Saint Viktor side.
If you have fond memories of Guild Wars: Factions’ Ritualist class, you might want to check out the Vindicator’s elite skill. On the Archemorus side, it summons the spirit of Archemorus himself to throw a spear at your target, dealing a bunch of damage and torment to anything in his path. On the Saint Viktor side, you will summon an urn of Saint Viktor’s ashes that floats along in front of you, healing nearby allies. While the urn is up, you take less damage from enemies, but you will slowly take damage and can’t receive any healing yourself. Pressing zero again smashes the urn, and, depending on how low you let your health get, applies healing and a variety of boons to allies within range.
I’m sure some min/maxing type players will do some amazing things with this spec, but as for me, I feel it’s overcomplicated for what it does. Yes, one of the things that I like about Revenant is that it’s a little more involved than most of the other classes, and I have always felt that it rewarded that complexity appropriately, but having to manage which of my skills need to be red and which need to be blue at the right time so they’re off cooldown when I need them, on top of managing my energy bar, just seems like too much.
Besides, revenant already has great DPS and support options in the Renegade, and it feels like Vindicator is trying to do a lot of the same things but with more complexity. The removal of the second dodge, with skills and traits that make your endurance refill faster, adds another layer of complexity. It’s too bad, because I like the greatsword, just not the spec it’s attached to. Maybe once those min/maxers figure out an optimal rotation I’ll revisit it, but for now, I’m planning on sticking with my ghost cats.
The Bladesworn was perhaps the most confounding from this set of three class teasers from ArenaNet, with the character drawing what looked like a greatsword with a gun barrel from his hip. The color scheme and outline matched that of the Warrior concept art, but Warrior has had access to greatsword — and sword, for that matter — since launch. Additionally, datamining showed the Warrior getting pistol, but that monstrosity is far too big to be a pistol, right?
It turns out it’s a bit of both a pistol and a greatsword. Taking the Bladesworn elite spec removes the Warrior’s ability to swap weapons in combat, much like the Engineer and Elementalist, and replaces it with the gunsaber, which is drawn with F1. There is a surprising amount of ranged damage mixed in there — three of the five skills have a ranged component, with the fifth being a gap closer — but interestingly, even the ranged skills all find a way to reward being in melee range.
Also gone is the Warrior’s signature adrenaline resource, replaced with the very similar resource, flow. Whereas adrenaline builds per hit, flow builds slowly over time, with certain skills and traits that increase the flow build rate.
The Bladesworn can then spend flow and root themselves to charge up their dragon trigger, which is unleashed in one of three devastating attacks, called Dragon Slashes. Force is melee, Boost is a dash, and Reach is a ranged projectile. Of course, the melee version is the most powerful and the projectile is the weakest, in accordance with the amount of risk involved in their use.
The Bladesworn is pretty vulnerable while charging dragon slash, so skills four and five are about mitigating that vulnerability a little. Skill four grants aegis, blocking the next attack against you, while five lets you blink a short distance away, allowing you to get out of small AoEs or reposition for an optimal attack. It kind of reminds me of the Deadeye: You are rooted in place so you can deal extra damage, but you can make short hops (blinking instead of dodging) and protect yourself (by blocking a single attack rather than stealthing).
The offhand pistol is perhaps less interesting than the gunsaber, but it deserves a look nonetheless. First, a bit of trivia: Pistol is the only one-handed weapon that the Warrior can wield that other classes can wield in either hand that the Warrior can’t wield in both hands. I’m not sure why it has been a rule that Warriors should be able to dual wield every one-handed weapon, but that streak is finally broken. I guess now you could say that anything Warrior can wield in its main hand, it can also wield in its off hand.
At first glance, the fifth skill on the Bladesworn’s pistol is a fairly straightforward “shoot at stuff in front of you” attack that pushes the Bladesworn back a bit. It is an ammo skill, with up to six ammo, but unlike most ammo skills, all of your ammo is spent at once. You can wait for all six ammo to regenerate before firing again for maximum damage, or you can fire with only partial charges if need be. The fourth skill is a gap closer that restores three charges of ammo to skill five.
Ammo management is a big thing with the Bladesworn, and its elite skill reloads one ammo to all skills, be they slot skills, weapon skills, or gunsaber skills. I’ve always wanted a viable rifle warrior. Could this be it? We’ll have to see how the meta shakes out!
Elementalists have traditionally been a heavily ranged class, which makes sense for the game’s squishiest profession, but then Path of Fire’s weaver spec gave Elems a melee sword and taught them to dance in and out of combat to mitigate the amount of damage taken. Interestingly, End of Dragons’ Catalyst’s hammer is also a melee weapon, but only when in water and earth attunements, which are decently tanky, while skills in the more aggressive fire and air attunements are mid-ranged.
The coolest thing about the Catalyst’s hammer is its third skill, which functions similarly across all four elements, summoning a projectile of their current element to orbit them for five seconds and granting elementally appropriate buffs. Shifting to another element and pressing three again adds an orbiting projectile of the new element and refreshes the timer on the previous one. This way, the Catalyst can get projectiles from all four elements orbiting them. Then, by pressing three again in any element the Catalyst already has circling, you can launch all four elemental projectiles at their foe for a big burst of damage.
I actually had a bit of trouble getting all four of these going during my time with this class. Five seconds is a lot shorter than it sounds when you’re in the heat of battle, especially if you want to sneak in an extra skill in each attunement. Get knocked down once — or go down, because, you know, Elementalist — and you’re likely to break your chain.
The main mechanic of the Catalyst is the jade sphere, which can be summoned to an area to grant boons and create a combo field that changes based on your current attunement. Think Scrapper’s gyros, except with an energy system similar to the Warrior’s adrenaline instead of a traditional cooldown. The jade sphere also projects a hologram of one of the four Canthan Celestials, phoenix (fire), kirin (water), salt spray (air), and turtle (earth). All of the Catalyst’s slot skills are themed around different elements, and gain extra effects if used in a jade sphere field of that element. For instance, Fortified Earth grants extra barrier when used within an Earth sphere, and using Relentless Fire while standing in a fire sphere makes your attacks unblockable for a short time.
So there you have it. The Vindicator is a damage/support hybrid spec with high potential and even higher complexity, the Bladesworn is a fun and powerful burst DPS with some cool new ideas, and the Catalyst is a more durable melee mage with some decent AoE support options. If you are interested in trying any of these specs, be sure to get in before Saturday and make one for yourself!