The Dragon’s Herald

The revenant’s elite specialization has been officially revealed. In a way, it was almost anticlimactic as the community has been fairly certain that the elite would be the prophet Glint. In addition to the Heart of Thorns trailer, which clearly showed a dragon being summoned by the first known revenant, Rytlock Brimstone, her position in Guild Wars history is undeniably central enough to warrant the honor. Like with the tempest and other elites, the herald’s abilities feel like a continuation of the main profession, rather than the addition of novel new ways to play. However, the mechanics introduced by them may provide an amazing plethora of options to players.

Put your paws together for the one, the only...Glint!

Put your paws together for the one, the only…Glint!

A Crystal Shieldman

For other professions, taking on an elite specialization requires a trade off. One set of traits must be sacrificed to learn the specialization, leaving only two lines. For revenants, and bearing in mind what little hands-on experience I have with the profession, it seems that the trait lines are specifically tied to a certain stance. Because of this, giving up one trait line to equip the Legendary Dragon Stance may not feel like a great sacrifice. Players will instead have three trait lines that compliment three stances, and one of those will happen to be Glint. Some questions remain regarding this, for example, will it still be possible to equip any legendary stance, regardless of trait lines, or will a player who becomes a herald be required to equip Glint?

The herald brings with it a new offhand, the shield, and it is this addition that seems likely to give the herald a new mechanic in the form of group support and potential self-sacrifice. The herald’s shield adds survivability to the profession and plays off of Glint’s legendary protection of Tyria. But it also blends well with the fact that Glint was once hidden and protected herself. The first shield skill, Envoy of Exuberance, will support allies in close combat. With a number of the new professions and specializations, ArenaNet seems to be pressing players to adopt melee tactics. Of course, once we are able to experiment with the specialization, we will be able to see how well the profession does in close quarters. As this skill is ground targeted and appears to be a wave in nature, the revenant can continue to run at mid-distances in battle and still support the bulky frontline warriors and guardians.

The protective power of crystals

The second skill, Crystal Hibernation introduces a new mechanic to the player’s build, although it is something we have seen applied to enemies in PvE Maguuma – the Defiance breakbar. When the herald uses Crystal Hibernation, the skill will shield the revenant making them immune to damage and quickly regenerating health. In exchange, however, the character will gain a defiance bar, which can be broken and leave the player stunned and vulnerable, according to Roy Cronacher’s Massively OP interview. Other new mechanics can be found in the herald’s utility bar.

Faceted Crystals

The Legendary Dragon Stance utility skills also call upon the lore surrounding Glint, resurrecting the six facets that guarded the way to Glint’s crystalline shard dimension. These are, in no particular order, Light, Darkness, Strength, Chaos, Nature, and Elements. Previously, there had been some speculation – based on datamined artwork – that Glint’s skills would all be signets and although the herald’s utilities do have a double effect similar to a signet, since their use is intimately tied to energy management and upkeep, the facets should be approached from a different angle. The skills themselves, the facets, instead hearken back to two distinct skills found in the first game, maintained enchantments that required upkeep and the dervish flash enchantments.

The Facet of Light – Dragon’s Lair

When equipped, the herald’s utilities can be triggered to create an upkeep effect. This mechanic is already seen in the revenant’s Dwarf Stance’s Vengeful Hammers and Ventari’s tablet. Once in upkeep mode, Glint’s facets can either be left in that mode, draining the revenant’s energy, or they can be triggered a second time, providing a burst of effects. Afterward, the facet goes into cooldown for an as yet unspecified amount of time and neither phase is available for use. This mechanic reminds me most of maintained enchantments from Guild Wars. In the original game, these spells could be cast and then maintained at the cost of energy regeneration. So long as the player had energy to spend, the spell was maintained. While overwhelmingly used by monks for protection and support, assassins could also cast this type of enchantment. At the same time, the ability to end the spell and cause a larger effect reminds me of the dervish flash enchantments, which had two different effects, one that occurred when the skill was triggered and one that occurred as the skill ended. This then leads me to see the herald’s utilities as maintained flash enchantments.

Revenants need not fear the Depths

The reveal also included some information on the revenant’s long-lost underwater combat skills and weaponry and we should see a bit more of this on today’s Points of Interest. Continuing the theme of unique mechanics found in the revenant, this profession’s underwater weapon skills will include two auto-attacks. The first, Spear of Anguish, will provide long-range attacks while the second, Rapid Assault, can be used for melee combat. Although I do find two auto-attacks intriguing, I wonder if it could … herald… the coming of all weapon skills being set to auto attack, which I would consider detrimental. Other underwater skills mentioned in the reveals earlier this week were described as having dual phases, providing opportunities to vary underwater combat.

Quaggans need protection too!

The mastery of the herald’s energy intensive utilities will, I suspect, challenge some players who choose to play the revenant. In keeping with the profession’s theme of bridging the gap between the current game and the original, energy management and upkeep tie directly to Guild Wars and, as we have discussed previously, adds a subtle layer of strategy to the profession. Those who master these mechanics will likely prove invaluable in the Heart of Maguuma and other challenging content areas. The official reveal by Roy Cronacher and the sneak peek on Massively OP have fleshed out the herald and clarified much of what was already suspected. I’m looking forward to seeing how the elite specialization handles in the developer’s controlled tests on today’s Points of Interest. But even today’s show pales in comparison to my excitement for the next beta weekend event when we will be able to test the specialization in a chaotic, open world, and decide for ourselves which facet deserves to be maintained and which should be flashed through as quickly as possible.

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