While I did take the time to try out some of the new specialisations, most of my time during the second Beta Weekend Event was focused on putting the revenant through its paces, trying out nearly all of the combinations of the legends that are now available.
Since the last event, there have been three changes that have a significant impact on the way the revenant plays. The first is that skills that involve passing through the Mists, such as Phase Smash, Unrelenting Assault, and Surge of the Mists, now provide evasion when in use. This was done because it was too easy to end up being mauled at a time when the player had no control over their character and no ability to dodge. Now, these skills can serve instead as a means of dodging an attack if timed correctly.
The New Jalis: Less Damage, More Damage Mitigation.
The second is the overhaul of Jalis’ skills. Inspiring Reinforcement has been substantially nerfed, while the activation time of Rite of the Great Dwarf has been cut in half. Perhaps most significantly, Vengeful Hammers has been rebalanced as a defensive rather than an offensive option. The radius and damage done were both substantially reduced, in exchange for providing 20% damage reduction and returning a small amount of healing with every impact of a hammer.
After some experimentation, I remain ambivalent about this change. Under the right circumstances, Vengeful Hammers can be a quite potent survival tool, allowing you to out-heal incoming damage when surrounded by a multitude of foes. On the other hand, Vengeful Hammers was essentially Jalis’ damage option, without which Jalis can feel a little one-dimensional, with two essentially defensive skills (Vengeful Hammers and Rite of the Great Dwarf) competing for the same energy.
So, now that we’ve discussed how the changes have affected the Jalis legend in general, here are my impressions regarding the specific combinations:
Jalis/Shiro: This proved to be a surprisingly powerful combination, possibly even more so than it was in the last BWE. The reason was a synergy between Vengeful Hammers and Assassin’s Annihilation. While the damage and healing on Vengeful Hammers alone is low, they also trigger Assassin’s Annihilation while striking from a different angle from the revenant, substantially increasing DPS and healing. This makes the Legendary Dwarf Stance even tankier than normal, further enhancing the previous synergy of the two stances, with Shiro providing mobility, offense, and control while Jalis keeps you alive.
Jalis/Ventari: The combination of dwarf and centaur stances is an interesting one, possibly the combination that has the most access to outright condition removal across the revenant. However, I found there was little direct synergy between them. Possibly the best approach was to remain in Ventari form unless you come under pressure yourself and need Jalis’s durability, or extra damage or stability that Ventari cannot provide. (Putting the tablet on a Sniper and activating Protective Solace is hilarious).A Coztic archer’s second-worst nightmare.
Jalis/Mallyx: Perhaps it’s because I was mostly testing in regions of Verdant Brink where high direct damage is more prevalent than conditions, but to me this played similar to Jalis/Shiro while not being as good. When the enemy isn’t using a lot of conditions or boons, Mallyx’s options are similar to Shiro’s (using Unyielding Anguish in place of Jade Winds and Embrace the Darkness in place of Impossible Odds), but not as effective under the circumstances. With the relatively few conditions in much of Verdant Brink, Jalis’ condition removal felt sufficient, while resistance and Pain Absorption did not seem worthwhile. It’s possible that this combination will shine more in circumstances with more conditions.
Note: The revamp to Mallyx planned for the final BWE has completely changed the behaviour of Unyielding Anguish, turning it from an area denial control tool into a condition-generating field. This breaks the previous symmetry between Mallyx and Shiro when combined with Jalis, as the new Mallyx would no longer have a control option, while being more reliant on having a high condition damage statistic. The old Mallyx could get away with a low condition damage stat since it could copy its enemies’ conditions back on them at their coefficients, while having a high condition damage yourself was a double-edged sword due to self-application of Torment – neither of these factors will apply to the new Mallyx. With Jalis being less power-oriented due to the change to Vengeful Hammers, a Mallyx/Jalis combination based on condition damage would probably work, using Mallyx to pile on conditions and Jalis as a refuge to withstand pressure while still having some conditions through weapon skills. I will probably put the various combinations of the new Mallyx through their paces for the final Beta Weekend Event.
Jalis/Glint: While I will go into more detail regarding the herald later, suffice it to say that, for me, the Jalis/Glint combination felt a little redundant. If a large amount of stability is something that you and your team needs, this is the combination that will provide it, between Inspiring Reinforcement, Facet of Nature, and the Enhanced Bulwark trait. Otherwise, though, it feels that if the ability to absorb damage is what the team needs, Facet of Chaos might be the better bet than switching to Jalis, unless the pressure is so extreme that you need sources of damage reduction on both legends.
Feel the Power of Dragon! (Errr, a DIFFERENT dragon!)
The third and most significant addition is, of course, the herald, which offers a very different set of tactics to the revenant. Most revenant stances encourage switching when your energy is drained, in order to reset your energy through the next legend. With Glint, this is possible, but it may be just as likely to switch when you have a lot of energy, but all of your facets are on cooldown. Alternatively, you might feel it is best to stay in dragon stance indefinitely to grant boons to your allies, keeping your upkeep at a level that can be maintained indefinitely. In a way, this makes Glint feel more resource-intensive than the other legends: Do you maintain a facet or put it on cooldown for an effect? How many facets do you maintain? When is it worth holding off on using weapon skills to keep facets running longer, or to release your facets by legend-swapping to avoid putting them on a longer cooldown?
However you use them, the facets represent a significant expansion to the revenant’s toolbox. Both the Facets of Light and Darkness can be activated and released instantaneously – making for useful means of avoiding or absorbing a potential spike when stunned. Infuse Light in particular allows for the interesting tactic of running into the fire (ideally wyvern-fire for maximum irony) as the energy that would normally harm you serves to heal you instead. Facet of Elements provides mobility for you and your team and a convenient offensive spell when you arrive at where you want to be. Finally, while often considered not worth the upkeep when you could be granting fury and might, Facet of Chaos can substantially enhance the durability of a group under heavy fire, and is easier to maintain both in terms of energy and casting time (namely: none) than Rite of the Great Dwarf.
Largely, in terms of combining with other legends apart from Jalis, Glint felt like she had similar synergies to Jalis with the option to take a more offensive focus. Like Jalis, she provides the emergency self-heal that Shiro and Ventari lack, as well as a party-wide damage reduction effect. While I’ve discussed the Glint/Jalis combination above, here are my experiences with Glint combined with the other legends:
Glint/Shiro: While fairly lacking in options to deal with conditions, this felt like one of the stronger combinations, at least in Verdant Brink. Similar to the Jalis/Shiro combination, Glint provides a defensive and rapid self-healing capability that Shiro lacks. However, she also provides more offensive options, including providing additional area control should it be needed at a time when swapping back to Shiro for Jade Winds is not practical (although it is worth noting that Jade Winds is better in most circumstances than Chaotic Release, and will continue to be even with the imposition of a short cooldown planned for BWE3). Additionally, while not quite as strong as deploying Inspiring Reinforcement, the combination of Riposting Shadows and Gaze of Darkness, possibly along with the Empty Vessel trait, allows multiple options to break out of a stun.If you spike me down, I will heal more than you can possibly imagine!
Glint/Ventari: Again, this combination felt similar to the combination where Glint is replaced with Jalis. However, it is even more support-oriented, allowing for the provision of offensive support as well as defensive.
Glint/Mallyx: Despite my uncertainty about this combination in my previous article on the herald, this also feels like a strong combination. Glint lacks the condition removal provided by Jalis, so the ability of Mallyx to simply ignore conditions through resistance remains valuable even when a smaller number of conditions are present. A canny herald can combine this with Facet of Nature to extend the duration of the resistance provided to themselves and their allies. When the energy can be spared, Embrace the Darkness can be used for a little extra damage, and to
throw those conditions back at the enemy apply multiple stacks of Torment. Most amusingly, Embrace the Darkness also increases healing power – while typically this is only useful for Mallyx’s own heal, with the herald this could be combined with Envoy of Exuberance or One With Nature to increase the healing granted to allies.
Overall, I think the herald represents a strong addition to the revenant. Adding the Legendary Dragon Stance to a build probably does represent a bigger change to your playstyle than the other legends – however, it’s a playstyle that meshes well with that of the “core” revenant playstyle. As a result, I think it makes for a good elite specialisation: it will change how you play more than the other legends and is probably something where preventing it from being combined with future elite specialisations is well justified, but it doesn’t feel so powerful as to be a required part of any build. Except, of course, for players who simply find that the herald playstyle just fits better with their own preferences than other combinations.Granted, it is hard to look past the power of ghostly dragon sneezes.