A new day dawns in the world of Tyria, and with it, new information on specializations! Earlier today, a blog post by developer Robert Gee went up on the Guild Wars 2 website officially revealing the upcoming elite specialization for the mesmer profession: the chronomancer. While not exactly a shocking reveal, it is definitely an exciting and intriguing one.
The chronomancer’s skills and abilities will be centered around the manipulation of time. In the context of gameplay, this means slowing enemies while granting allies quickness, fiddling with the recharge rate of skills, and recall effects. While that may seem easy to wrap your head around at first, I wouldn’t be so quick to judge.
Gee starts off by mentioning the duality of the mesmer class, and how it will continue to play a strong role in the chronomancer’s arsenal of new abilities. The duality the post refers to is the way many mesmer skills empower allies while simultaneously weakening or damaging foes. The chronomancer will continue operating in this same manner, just within the realm of their specific gimmick: time manipulation. Luckily for us, ArenaNet appears to have done their homework, and the concepts detailed in the post seem both well-crafted and mechanically sound.
One of the aspects that will set the chronomancer apart from every other profession and specialization is their access to the brand new Alacrity effect. Similar to the Quickness effect, Alacrity will speed up the recharge of of skills rather than action speed, essentially functioning as a balancing counter to the Chilled condition. Through use of their abilities, chronomancers will be able to grant Alacrity to both themselves and allies. It will also affect illusions, essentially increasing their attack rate. Who knows, perhaps this will encourage players to, I don’t know, not shatter their illusions?
This is quite the powerful effect, and as such, I don’t expect it will be all that plentiful. That is not to say many of the chronomancer skills will not feature it, but merely that the duration of this effect is likely to be severely limited in most instances. Furthermore, It should be noted that Alacrity is referred to specifically as an “effect” in the blog post, and not as a “boon.” This distinction will only serve to further limit the effect’s viability, as traditional boons are affected by a plethora of useful traits and skills that will leave Alacrity by the wayside. However, if we take into account how clever the Guild Wars 2 player-base is known to be, numerous build aficionados will no doubt devise plenty of Alacrity builds through ruthless cunning and guile.
Chronomancy will also grant mesmers access to a new offhand weapon: the shield. This could be interpreted as a bit of a snub, as offhand weapons only feature two weapon skills. Compared to the ranger’s druid specialization which will be getting the two-handed staff, or the unnamed necromancer specialization that will be rocking a shiny new two-handed greatsword, each of which feature a full five weapon skills, the shield could come off as a bit underwhelming.
However, what the shield lacks in weapon skills, it makes up for in, er, clockwork. In the blog post, Gee describes how one of the shield skills, Tides of Time, will function:
“One such skill, called Tides of Time, launches a wall of compressed temporal energy from the chronomancer’s shield that travels forward a moderate distance, absorbing all projectiles that are fired into it. If the wall passes through an enemy, that enemy becomes frozen in time and stunned for a short duration, while allies touched by the wall are granted a short burst of quickness. When the wall reaches its maximum distance, it turns around and rewinds itself back toward the chronomancer, applying all its effects on targets in its path a second time. An adept chronomancer can even reposition while the wave is moving, to change the returning trajectory of the wall.”
First of all, I think it’s safe to say everyone loves a good projectile negation skill. Or, rather, they would, if half of the projectiles in Guild Wars 2 weren’t specifically coded as, well, not projectiles. I’m looking at you and your bears, Brekkabek. Even so, the rest of the skill’s effects are part of what makes this elite specialization so interesting. It functions as a mobile stun and quickness node, and can be triggered multiple times. Also, it will apparently adjust its trajectory to return to the caster, creating a dynamicness that can be incredibly useful in stressful situations where reflexes and quick thinking become paramount. This skill can be seen in action in the video below.
I have mixed feelings on the next chronomantic feature that was revealed. It would seem that mesmers will be receiving some Wells, a skill which, up to this point, has always been unique to the Necromancer profession, both in Guild Wars 2 and the original Guild Wars. Giving them to a new class, in my opinion, diminishes the identity associated with being a necromancer. Professions need to have and maintain unique features. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Despite this minor qualm, I must admit that these mesmer Wells look pretty awesome. Wells currently create an area of effect upon the ground that pulses, with each pulse delivering the Well’s effect. Chronomancer Wells will function the same way, with the added bonus of an extra, separate effect triggering upon the Well’s duration coming to a close. This ending effect could serve to drastically change the way Wells are used in game. Currently, you drop your well in the location where there it is likely to affect the most targets. Pretty straight forward. However, with the addition of an ending effect that differs from the pulse effect, players may potentially have to think more carefully about Well usage in order to properly utilize both effects most efficiently. This is a very exciting prospect, and one that perfectly exemplifies ArenaNet’s philosophy of deepening gameplay without vertical progression.
Gee ends the post with a bit of a “drop the mic” bombshell. This bombshell comes in the form of the chronomancer’s new shatter skill, Continuum Split, which the chronomancer will have access to in addition to the four shatter skills already available to mesmers.The implications of this skill can be difficult to wrap your head around, so bear with me. When activated, this skill allows the user to divert from the current space-time continuum, effectively exploring an alternate reality. For the duration this alternate reality lasts for, as far as I am aware, nothing particularly interesting will happen. However, once the skill’s duration comes to an end, or when the user activates the skill’s follow-up, Continuum Shift, the chronomancer in question will be returned to their original timeline, which will restore their health, endurance, and all skill cooldowns to their original state at the time of skill activation. Needless to say, the possibilities this skill presents are boundless. Essentially, it is a second elite skill, as its effects are certainly worthy of one. On the other hand, this skill must have been a nightmare to balance. Props to the ArenaNet developers for pulling it off!
More information will be revealed about the chronomancer on May 1st’s episode of Points of Interest on the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel!
With all of these fantastic abilities available to the chronomancer, it definitely seems like mesmers have a leg up on the other professions. However, we must keep in mind that there are seven more professions to be revealed before Heart of Thorns launches, as well as the revenant when we get our hands on it. All of these will no doubt feature their own super powerful abilities. For now, let’s content ourselves with going completely mental with build theory-crafting.