Brink of Beta

March 30, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | Comments Off on Brink of Beta
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As one of the few, the proud, the loyal few, I was invited to the recent Heart of Thorns beta stress test. It wasn’t exactly a huge event, we were confined to two small areas. You also get to do the very first story instance of the expansion.

I created a revenant without thinking about it too much. We could only choose human, there is no new race with the expansion, so it’s not like I could customize my feather colours or beak length. So I didn’t really take any time with adjusting my human and just jumped right in.

Very quickly I was exposed to one of the features coming up in Heart of Thorns, player dialogue. My character actually speaks! To be honest it was actually quite confusing. My first thoughts were, “who’s speaking, why do they sound so familiar? That sounds like a human. Oh shit, that’s me! They’re adding player character dialogue, I forgot.” It felt so unconnected, other worldly, because it had been so long since I had identified with the human male voice. But I’m sure it won’t be long before I get used to it again.

The story showcases the new distrust of sylvari, and a rescue mission to find captured pact troops. I liked the voice acting and the setup of the story instance, but what they really wanted to show off was that boss fight. Few of the original personal story boss fights were engaging. Usually made up of a lot of straight forward circle strafing (I now love the phrase ‘straight forward circle strafing”) combined with larger health pools and numerous mobs. This boss had mechanics, a bit of strategy, the newish Area of Effect circles. It was all tuned down so you could get by it without too much trouble, but I’m hoping each personal story instance has that sort of attention paid to it.

After the boss fight you’re deposited onto a plateau looking down upon the bulk of the area you have access to, a vantage point from which you can snipe at the mobs from events below. I really like the visuals of the sniper rifles but I was a bit more eager to get down to the action and start using revenant skills.

So I participated in various events, mostly just the Arenanet brand “Kill stuff!” motif. One event did have a very slight change in that it had you collect bombs and run over to the base of a large mordremoth vine to plant it, it didn’t require me to give it to an npc or hit any buttons just move to the general vicinity. It surprises me that even small changes can alleviate the wear of familiar event types.

Unsurprisingly the hammer on revenant feels a lot like hammer on guardian or warrior, at least to me. Where things really got interesting in my opinion were the utility skills, the profession mechanic, the elite. They were useful and even integral in some situations in the demo, and they were what made the revenant fun. I’m not a big fan of ground based targeting or the slow feeling of swinging a hammer around so I was definitely concentrating on changing legends around and spamming my elite dwarf skill that apparently has no cooldown.

I liked the wyvern fight, it was a touch easy and too long but Arenanet have acknowledged that it was adjusted to be easier for the demo and basically unfailable, if that’s a word. I would like to see it with a bit more challenge, slightly less health.

Ultimately the demo is tiny and not a good example of what the expansion will be like, but as this was a stress test and the instances were jam packed I think it served it’s purpose.

A few bonus thoughts.

– I noticed that both sessions I was put into an instance entirely made up of people from Northern Shiverpeaks and nobody from other servers. Probably the result of the nature of the demo/instance but I wonder if any changes to megaservers are in order for the expansion.

– I noticed a lot of Plated behemoths in the inaccessible areas of the instance. Like a lot. I think I wrote about something like this.

– I noticed a new type of gatherable mushroom, so, new cooking recipes. Which is no surprise, I mean, obviously.

– Pocket raptors are so cute!

– Ran into some ancient sapling nodes, elder wood, mithril as well.

– I extensively tried out axe and mace as well for revenant but hammer definitely felt, to me, more put together. Certainly hammer as a ranged weapon was pretty much my only option during the wyvern fight. Not particularly viable to melee that thing.

– Definitely enjoyed the Jalis more than Mallyx for my legend. At least in the context of the tiny demo Jalis felt way more useful. Maybe just my personal style.

– I had extra mastery points but I couldn’t spend them, even though I heard other people having no trouble investing in mastery lines. I don’t know what the deal was.

– I did not participate in the Lethal Vantage adventure. Probably should have. I did run through the area and it’s much smaller than I thought it was going to be.

– Looked through the fractal mastery line and while I did not find any details, the hints/descriptions of what they entailed were intriguing at the time, however I’ve completely forgotten what they were.

– Arenanet sure were trying to jam large numbers of people into closed off instanced boss fights. *cough*

– The revenant themed armour and weapons look pretty wicked.

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