Guild Wars 2 - Two Weeks In
Guild Wars 2 - Two Weeks In
Last week we talked about how Guild Wars 2's changes to quest systems and the world of Tyria made it more addictive, but the questing is only the icing on the cake. The flour of this cake then, is the combat. PVP are the eggs probably and crafting is the milk. Those flowers on top, the ones that you can eat but I personally find disgusting, are Black Lion Chests. We might have gotten a little side-tracked here. Combat is my point folks. Combat.
It was astonishing, back when Guild Wars 2 first launched, to see the plethora of games journalists who were having trouble with the game - particularly the combat. Whether because I am super-smart (probably) or because of my relative inexperience with the standard way of doing things, I found the game to be fairly intuitive - but others were not so lucky.
People tended to have particular trouble grasping the way weapons alter skills. In basic terms, the weapons you have equipped change what skills you have available in combat. As a necromancer for example, equipping a Dagger in my main hand gives me the skills Necrotic Slash, Life Siphon and Dark Pact. Equipping a Scepter in my main hand gives me the skills Blood Curse, Grasping Dead and Feast of Corruption.
All professions can equip up to two weapons at once - one in your main hand and one in your off-hand - the weapons equipped in your off-hand decide your fourth and fifth skills available. As a necromancer, equipping a Focus in my off-hand gives me the abilities Reaper's Touch and Spinal Shivers. Equipping a Warhorn would instead give me Wail of Doom and Locust Swarm.
Tying skills to particular weapons does limit choice compared to the 'whatever skills you have' method, but by doing so it also increases the strategy required - making combat against generic enemies more interesting. For example, the Focus skill Reaper's Touch causes vulnerability on enemies while regenerating any allies it passes through on the way - making it a prime skill to go along with a ranged weapon like the Scepter.
I spend roughly 10 minutes a day playing with dyes.
My Dagger is significantly more powerful than my Scepter however - and once an enemy is afflicted with vulnerability I can tear through their health like a kid opening a present. I also have a Staff - a two handed weapon filling all five skill slots, which primarily focuses on Mark attacks - magical traps, excellent for large groups of enemies.
Tapping ~ in game allows you (once you reach the necessary level) to switch between two weapon sets - in effect giving you ten abilities to choose from. I can now equip the Dagger and the Focus in one set to quickly take care of single targets, with the Scepter and Warhorn in my alternate set for groups (Wail of Doom stuns enemies, which I can then drop with the Targeted AOE Grasping Dead.) Or I can go with the Dagger and Focus, with the Staff for groups - or any combination of the above.
Along with your five weapon skills, you also get to choose slot skills - into which you put skill points acquired through levelling up and doing challenges about the world. These are primarily where you choose your characters role - a Minion Master Necromancer will build slot skills around summoning - from the lowly Bone Fiends all the way up to the Hounds of Balthazar. A Conditional Necromancer (like myself) will focus on slapping enemies with malignant effects, crippling, bleeding and poisoning their way to victory.
Currently, my favourite tactic for a difficult group of opponents is to use Grasping Dead on them, followed by Wail of Doom to hold them in place. Signet of Spite inflicts bleeding, blindness, cripple, poison and vulnerability on my target and if they have any boons, I convert them to conditions with Corrupt Boon, followed by Epidemic - which transfers all of my targets conditions to enemies near them. I finish it off with Feast of Corruption - which does additional damage and grants Life Force for every condition suffered by my target. The Life Force is particularly important, due to the Necromancerís Profession mechanic - the Death Shroud.
Each Class gets Profession mechanics - some, like the Elementalist and the Engineer get several, while others - like the Necromancer - get just the one. When I played as an Elementalist and an Engineer I regularly used the Profession mechanics - they are a vital part of playing those characters. With the Necromancer however, I have mostly ignored my Death Shroud - or more correctly, forgotten it. As I have learned fighting monsters above my pay grade in the past week however, that was a mistake.
Death Shroud is powerful, but not as powerful as that incoming hammer blow.
Death Shroud replaces all currently equipped skills with four new ones and changes the Necromancer to a shadowy version of their former self. A Necromancer in Death Shroud doesnít have a health pool - instead they lose Life Force when attacked... and it also decreases over time.
Fortunately the new skills packaged with Death Shroud help make up for it. All of them are significantly more powerful than the standard weapon skills - Life Blast deals damage based on how much Life Force you currently have, Dark Path teleports you to an enemy and afflicts surrounding enemies with Chill - dropping their speed significantly, Doom makes your enemy flee in the opposite direction and Life Transfer steals health from all surrounding enemies, giving you Life Force in return. In short, a Necromancer not using Death Shroud is a Necromancer not living up to their potential.
While setting up your skills correctly is definitely an important part of a good build, your gear also plays an important role - especially because of Sigils and Runes. Early on in the game, assuming you are mining and chopping down wood, you will find gems - pebbles of Amber, Garnet and Pearls - which give a slight increase to your stats and can be equipped to weapons, armour and accessories.
As the game progresses and you reach higher levels, you start finding Nuggets instead of Pebbles, giving you a higher bonus to attributes - and before too long the Nuggets are replaced by Lumps and so on. While the attribute bonuses you can get from gems are handy (and can be improved upon by a Jewelerís crafting) you soon start to find upgrades which are better - for weapons Sigils and for armour Runes.
If I can just reach...
Sigils primarily focus on giving you bonuses when you do something - when you inflict an enemy with vulnerability Sigils of Peril increase the time that vulnerability lasts, Sigils of Blood give you a percentage chance to inflict Life Steal on an enemy when you do critical damage and Sigils of Bloodlust give you a bonus to your Power with every enemy you hit.
Runes on the other hand, apply passive bonuses to your armour - with additional effects depending on how many of the rune you have equipped. So if you have one Major Rune of the Citadel equipped, you gain a +15 bonus to Power and if you have two you also get an increase to burning duration. If you have Major Runes of the Citadel equipped to three different piece of armour, you gain the Power and burning duration bonuses - and an extra +35 Power (making for +50 Power total) and four runes equipped gives you a 3% chance to gain fury any time you are hit - making it quite worthwhile.
Of course, while you might be fortunate enough to find some Sigils and Runes (most often affixed to weapons you canít use) early on in the game, itís difficult to build a character around them until you get towards the end game - particularly as, unlike jewels, they canít be crafted - or at least not in the conventional sense of the word. But that, friends and enemies, will have to wait until next week - when we take a look at the mind-boggling crafting system!
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