My fellow revenants and I, armed with Legendary Centaur Stances and melee staves, descended upon Tyria this past beta weekend and had a first look at the new revenant weaponry. The beta event was open to all pre-purchasers of the Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns expansion. With this new stance and additional weapon, two more interesting options opened for what I believe could become an interestingly nuanced, technical profession. Together with our content manager, Miko Riel, and fellow writers, Kent Benson and Draxynnic, I took this opportunity to wreak havoc across Tyria and explore the new profession.
Having only limited experience with the revenant, I began with Jalis and Mallyx stances and the hammer weapon, which we saw in the closed beta stress test on May 26 and previous. However, it did not take long before I had sorted through all the possible combinations and tried each one out in combat.Mallyx, Jalis, Ventari…Staff, Hammer, Axe/Mace … Decisions, Decisions
Impossible to Choose Just One
I found Ventari’s healing support incredibly useful and instantly fell in love with the staff as a melee weapon, despite feeling that it was underpowered. The second staff attack, for example, Punishing Sweep, and its follow through, Debilitating Slam, left something to be desired. Knockdown or Stun would have been interesting additions to this set of attacks. Ventari’s Tablet quickly became a central part of my strategy in battle. The Ventari utility skills all rely on the tablet artifact and cause it to perform various actions. Once it is summoned, the tablet can erect a barrier, draw conditions, and heal allies. By moving the tablet through allies, it can also provide healing. The elite skill, Energy Expulsion, shatters the tablet, knocking back enemies and providing healing shards to allies. The main shortcoming I found regarding the tablet was its lack of wheels and a pull string. Having to ground target it to move it along felt unwieldy. One suggestion for improving the functionality of the tablet would be that the heal skill, Ventari’s Will, summon the tablet to its caster instead of a ground targeted location, which would simplify repositioning it in the heat of battle.
The most useful pairing with these, I found, was the Legendary Dwarf Stance, Jalis Ironhammer. Being able to heal and shield with the tablet, along with removing conditions, aided survivability while at close range. But, when the pressure increased, flipping to Jalis and hitting “whirring hammer of death,” Vengeful Hammers, allowed a moment’s reprieve.Without energy, there is no death
Energy Management 101
It was when exchanging legends that the mechanics of energy management and how it dictates the use of the utility skills felt most important. Otherwise, the amount of energy in my bar was a non-issue during normal play. I found while playing that it was impossible to flip directly from Ventari’s tablet to most other utility skills because once you trade stances, the energy bar returns to 50%. This can be of benefit if you are out of energy on the first stance but if you are expecting to use a utility skill after the exchange, it may be necessary to continue weapon attacks while the energy increases enough to trigger the necessary utility. Because of this delay, I found the second heal very important. In my build, Jalis’ straightforward heal, Soothing Stone, often provided much-needed sustainability. Additionally, the Jalis elite, Rite of the Great Dwarf, which boosts your and your allies’ defense, also proved important in tight situations. Given these skills – the straightforward heal, the stone defense, and Vengeful Hammers – Jalis may prove to be one of the more popular stances – either as a main or as a solid secondary.
It is important to note that in its current form, the revenant does not feel very versatile. There is no weapon swap to speak of. Yet, in battle, it is often important to be able to swap weapons. This shortcoming can be offset slightly by being aware of developing battles and swapping weapons from the inventory screen before joining combat. But it is less than ideal. I found that as combat situations changed, it was necessary to take several precious moments to rework not only weapons, but stances, changing the utility skills. The trait lines are intimately tied to specific stances meaning that if legendaries are changed, it may be necessary to rebuild the trait lines in order to complement the new stance. This is a disadvantage worth noting when compared to the other professions, which feel reworkable “on the fly.”
A Work In Progress
To counter this disadvantage, it would be logical to assume that the revenant will provide some reward to the player who chooses to play this profession. However, in its current state, the revenant often felt under-powered. Fellow players expressed concern over DPS. The current stances, Mallyx with its interesting use of conditions, Jalis’ protection abilities, and Ventari’s healing – all lend themselves to group support roles, in my opinion, rather than berserker play. Of course, these roles may provide interesting combinations in the open world battles we will find in the Heart of the Maguuma Jungle. While the concern over DPS may stem from a desire to use the profession against the grain, higher damage output would be a logical trade-off for the lack of versatility. And of course, the revenant is incomplete. Its next stance, Shiro Tagachi, may provide the class with the DPS players crave.
In his day, Shiro was quite the damage-dealer. His double-dagger attacks in the final battle of Guild Wars Factions ended a number of parties. If Rytlock’s shadow-stepping sword attacks are Shiro, as has been speculated, the stance may also provide revenants with a second long-range option as they shadow-step between enemies. If so, pairing the legendary assassin with one of the three revealed support classes will create a well-rounded, deadly profession. I’m sure many of my fellow players are looking forward to the upcoming reveal and adding sword to the list of revenant weaponry.