Facets of Ages Past: The Herald

It was probably no surprise when ArenaNet released the teaser showing that Glint was going to be the legend for the elite specialisation of the Revenant. It had, after all, been indicated both through ArenaNet-sanctioned channels and through datamining of the client, and the main controversy was whether Glint’s skills would be based on a set of signets. If anything, the surprise may have been the timing – many assumed that, as the new profession, the revenant’s elite specialisation would be the last to be announced.

However, while the fact of Glint carried few surprises, the implementation was something different. While the shield carries the descendent of one of Glint’s more infamous skills, Crystal Hibernation, the skills associated with the Glint legend have taken their inspiration less from the experience of fighting Glint in person, but in the facets: magical constructs which, in the Dragon’s Lair mission, shielded Glint’s meditations from the undesired interruptions of the unworthy.

The more they try to hurt you, the more you heal… unless they break your Defiance bar, of course.

As a quick aside, the use of these facets does raise some interesting lore questions. Dragon’s Lair is not the only place where facets could be found – a questline in the Eye of the North (given by the asura Kerrsh) has the player hunt down facets of the Six Gods: and apart from the facet of the new goddess Kormir, these facets have most of their skills in common with those guarding Glint’s lair. Which raises the question of whether there is some link between the facets and the Six, and therefore, by channeling the facets of Glint, heroes of all races may be unwittingly drawing on power that ultimately came from the gods.

Certainly, there is another connection with power that came from the gods. Some time ago, I looked at chain skills like the Zealot’s Flame/Fire combination on the guardian and raised the possibility that something similar, with a longer uptime of the initial skill if not consumed, could be used to translate some of the dervish enchantment-sacrificing playstyle into Guild Wars 2 mechanics. Of course, I didn’t predict that maintained enchantments would ever return, but otherwise, this seems to be pretty much what ArenaNet has done with the facets: each facet initially grants buffs to the herald and their allies, but can be consumed (and put on recharge) for a powerful immediate effect.

Like Dervishes, the Herald consumes power invested in enchantments for powerful effects.

Interestingly, the upkeep stage of the facets seem to require significantly less energy than those we have been shown before. Upkeep skills for other legends all have upkeeps well beyond the natural regen, ensuring that even if no other energy-based skills are used, they cannot be used indefinitely. The facets, on the other hand, have much lower upkeep – the highest upkeep, the Facet of Chaos, has a ‘high’ upkeep of 5 pips (low enough to be maintained indefinitely if that’s all you do) and other facets show upkeeps as low as 1. This means that it is possible to run multiple facets at once, and as long as you’re conservative with other energy skills, you might be able to do so with two or three of the lesser facets indefinitely: making for a real sacrifice should you choose to consume them, rather than an inevitable response to running low on energy. As a result, there are a number of possible ways that a herald could be played – you could focus on supporting with the facets, on using the facets simply as a step along the way to unleashing powerful dragon-themed attacks, or anywhere in between as the situation requires. In order to track which facets are active, a draconic symbol will appear at your feet as long as at least one facet is active, with additional symbols revealing exactly which facets are running.

Facet of Darkness in particular is worthy of note, as its activated ability continues a trend that has been increasing of providing skills that provide a counter to stealth, in this case invoking the gaze of Glint to Reveal any stealthed enemies in the area. Nothing, it appears, remains hidden from the eyes of the dragon prophet.

And after Glint sees you, she’ll sneeze on you. Which is even less pleasant than it sounds.

When combined with other legends, the shield appears to offer the tradeoff that shield skills often do: decreased offensive skills in exchange for increased defensive capability. Interestingly, the shield seems well suited to being used as a standoff weapon – Crystal Hibernation being a defensive skill for yourself, while Envoy of Exuberance has a ranged capability – while as yet the revenant has no one-handed ranged weapon to combine it with (and, if all new weapons for the profession come through elite specialisations, never will, since you cannot run multiple elite specialisations at a time).

Otherwise, Glint appears to offer some good synergies with the existing legends. Combining with Shiro offers additional crowd-control, through the potential use of both Jade Winds and the active form of the Facet of Chaos, as well as continuing the crystalline theme. While it is worth noting that it’s not possible to combine Impossible Odds with the Facet of Nature directly for extra quickness due to the maximum upkeep of ten pips, it is possible to use One With Nature to give yourself a pile of buffs before a spike. Using Ventari instead would create a revenant that can conveniently switch between close-range support through the auras of the facets, and standoff support capability through the tablet. Alternatively, a revenant could double down on close-in support capability with Jalis: relying on facets to provide sustained boon stacking, but able to switch to Jalis to lay down stability and the potent protection of the Rite of the Great Dwarf when needed.

Between jade winds and crystalline wings, enemies of a Shiro/Glint Herald will need to watch for wide area control effects whichever way the wind is blowing.

The other news is, of course, the introduction of underwater skills. How the skills of the legends have been adapted for underwater use has not been revealed, except that Shiro and Mallyx are the first to be available. From the livestream, each seems to be using the same skills it uses on land, except that underwater Unyielding Anguish generates a sphere field on the player’s location rather than leaping to a location and placing a field there. We have, however, been given a brief rundown of the spear… which seems as if it may be the only underwater weapon of the revenant (possibly as a residual of when the revenant was to be a non-weaponswapping profession, with there not having been time to develop a second underwater weapon). In order to deal with the issue of lack of versatility, the spear has two features that make it unique: First, the spear has two autoattack-type skills, in the first and second slot – one for ranged use, the other for melee. This could potentially be a pain when it comes to setting which skill is actually the auto – I can see this requiring a lot of shift-clicking or whatever equivalent a player may have set up – but does make for an interesting means of making a single weapon suitable for both ranged and melee. On the other hand, it is worth noting that the second skill is a flurry-type skill, which should keep the number of button-presses needed to keep it running to a sane limit.

Other skills on the bar continue this theme of versatility, but between condition and direct damage. While Rift Containment is a control effect, the third and fourth skills on the bar are chain effects – the initial effect is condition-based, while the second activation converts it to direct damage. I’d have to say, however, I’m a bit concerned about how playable the detonation of Venemous Sphere will be for power revenants – skills involving detonating a projectile do already exist in the game, but are often difficult to manage to trigger where you want them to, especially on connections with higher latency.

You too could feel the power of Dragon! Just… make sure it’s the RIGHT dragon.

Overall, in many ways, the revenant feels like it’s a combination of many profession concepts that could not be formed into a whole profession in Guild Wars 2, sharing a single set of weapons. For instance, Ventari gets a bit of the healing/protection playstyle of monks and ritualists, while Shiro gives a bit of the stealth-less assassin feel. While the reaper arguably folds the offensive dervish playstyle into the necromancer, the herald could be seen as a transferrance of the more support-oriented dervish playstyle into the Revenant. As an additional benefit, it also incorporates some of the draconic theme that some players have been looking for, without the issues of corruption that could come from accepting power from one of the Elder Dragons.

While ArenaNet is continuing to be coy about the timing of the next BWE (smart money seems to be on PAX), the Herald, along with new specialisations to be announced between now and then, is to be made available for testing then. I for one will be looking forward to to putting the legend of the foreteller of the Flameseeker Prophecies through its paces.

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