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Blow me Away: Discussing the Tempest

This morning, the tempest elite specialization for elementalists was revealed on the official Guild Wars 2 website in a blog post by Karl McLain. The specialization will grant elementalists the ability to wield a warhorn in their offhand slot, effectively providing them with eight new weapon skills due to their attunement swappery. Additionally, one of the specialization’s minor traits will allow the tempest to “overcharge” their attunements, a feat which will result in the unleashing of more big booms and pretty colors than ever before. Overcharging one’s attunements results in that particular attunement becoming exhausted, which locks that attunement for an increased amount of time after switching to another attunement. This mechanic harkens back to the original Guild Wars, which featured the original incarnation of exhaustion (later rebranded as “Overcast”) via a temporary penalty to the character’s magic energy. Tempests will also receive several shout utility skills, which… yeah.

Let’s kick off the discussion with an analysis of the overload abilities. So far, each elite specialization has featured a sort of twist on that profession’s unique mechanic, and the tempest is no different. With attunement overloading, elementalists will be able to reactivate their active attunement after spending a certain amount of time in that attunement, overloading it. The resulting abilities will strike fear and wonder into your opponents, and cause them to wish they had never created a character at all. Ok, probably not, but they’ll probably be pretty powerful abilities.

  • Overload Fire: This skill is described in McLain’s post as a fiery tornado that builds overtime and damages and burns foes while granting might to allies, remaining at the casting location for a duration after successfully casting the skill. The usefulness of this skill will likely depend on however many pulses it will emit, as players will probably use it mainly for the might stacking. Because, you know, elementalists definitely didn’t have enough of that.

  • Overload Water: This ability will envelope the player in a bubble that will heal the caster and cleanse conditions from the caster and nearby allies, presumably while the ability charges. Upon completion, it will heal nearby allies. The trouble here is that terminology in the blog post is a bit unclear: “Pull water into an aquatic bubble around you as you regenerate and cleanse conditions from yourself and nearby allies. At the end of the ability, your water bubble pops to give a larger heal to nearby allies.” Will only the caster regenerate while the bubble is active, or will nearby allies regenerate as well? How large will the bubble be? Will allies need to be inside the bubble to receive its benefits? It will be interesting to see how viable this ability turns out to be. This largely depends on how quickly overloads will be able to be triggered, since most players will be looking for a quick heal before getting back to the DPS.
  • Overload Air: This is probably the most straightforward of all the attunement overloads. Essentially, you create a big ol’ lightning storm, which zaps everything in sight and, if we take some interpretive liberties with the phrase “rending their armor,” presumably inflicts vulnerability on foes. Keeping with the theme of having a charge up effect and a finish effect, upon completion of casting, this ability will create another lightning field which will yet again zap all ne’er-do-wells in the immediate vicinity.

  • Overload Earth: This one is… a bit confusing. When describing the skill’s effects in his post, McLain says, “Rend the earth, bend it to your will, and take a ride on it.” Huh? I’m honestly not entirely sure what that entails. My guess is that this skill will provide mobility in some capacity. We can get a smidge more insight from a passage a bit further along, which reads: “When you return to earth, deliver a tremendous immobilizing blast.” Does this mean we will be up in the air, and when we hit the ground, it will create a large blast? Or is McLain referring to the actual attunement? But if we’re already in the earth attunement to overload the ability, how would we return to it without first swapping? I are confused.

Overall, the attunement overloads are solid, if a little unimaginative. They all accomplish what their attunement is known for in an amplified capacity, but they certainly don’t bring anything new to the elementalist table aside from how they’ve been implemented.

Moving forward, let’s discuss what can be gleaned about the tempest’s new toy: the warhorn. There really isn’t much said about it in the post. The weapon skills mentioned for it sound moderately interesting, the most interesting of which is probably the air attunement’s “cyclone,” which functions as an AoE crowd-control, pulling enemies to a central point. Determining whether or not this weapon will see much action will have to wait until all of its skills are revealed, as the only other two skill reveals in the blog post are the “lightning orb” and an unnamed water attunement skill that will create a moving water field that heals allies. Suffice it to say that players are likely still a bit miffed about the addition of the warhorn, if anything because of the lackluster wardrobe options.

Like all other elite specializations, the tempest will receive a full set of new utility skills of a skill type previously unused by the elementalist profession. Like the previously revealed reaper, the tempest’s set of utilities will come in the form of shouts. Personally, I think the concept works well. The warhorn is a very vocal and sound-centric item, and the idea of shouts complements it well. However…

These shouts simply don’t work. Traditionally, shout skills feature phrases that your character utters out loud in battle. These phrases generally tend to be things that make sense as something you would shout to an opponent or an ally, such as “Fear Me!” or “Hold the Line!” Of the tempest shouts, only two amount to anything more articulate than simply announcing one’s actions like it’s an episode of Inuyasha. “Wash the Pain Away!” and “Feel the Burn!,” the healing shout and the fire shout respectively, make sense as uttered phrases. However, “Wash the Pain Away!” is simply too silly for anyone to take seriously, so the only one we’re going to give legitimate credit to as a decent shout is “Feel the Burn!.” The rest, “Eye of the Storm!,” “After Shock!,” “Flash Freeze!,” and “Rebound!,” don’t really work as shouts. It makes the player come across as a character in a martial arts anime. They might as well have made the elite “Final Form Secret Technique!”

Finally, there will, of course, be some traits with the elite specialization, and McLain has given us a little sneak preview of them in his post with a layout of the minor traits:

The first minor trait, Singularity, will allow the tempest to overload their attunements. McLain goes on to state that there will be numerous traits players can choose from to improve their overloading abilities. One of these traits, Unstable Conduit, will grant the tempest an attunement specific aura upon completion of an overload.

The second minor trait, Speedy Conduit, will grant the tempest swiftness upon successfully casting an attunement overload. This can be further capitalized upon by equipping the Lucid Singularity trait, which “cleanses and then reduces the duration of incoming inhibiting conditions by 100%.” I find it odd that McLain has described a duration reduction of 100%, for wouldn’t that simply entail removal of the condition? However, I’m not exactly a build savvy fellow, so I’ll leave that one to my theorycrafting superiors to figure out.

Lastly, we have Hard Conduit, which provides the protection boon upon casting an overload. Since overloading is time-gated and can’t be done at will, this trait is unlikely to have an internal cooldown. However, the protection duration is likely to be relatively short, as with most other instances of protection in Guild Wars 2. This trait is complemented by the Earthen Proxy trait, which will boost the damage reduction granted by protection from 33% to 40%.

At the end of the day, the tempest achieves one thing very well: elementalist. That’s also its problem, though. The tempest offers very little in terms of new gameplay for elementalists. All it really does is give them four more buttons to press, which then do the same things as pretty much every other ability in the elementalist arsenal. It’s not a bad specialization by any means, it simply fails to innovate.

Be sure to tune in to Points of Interest on the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel Friday, July 24th, at noon Pacific Time to witness the tempest in all of its… er… tempestness!

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