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First raid arrives in Guild Wars 2, off to a promising start

The first wing of the first ever raid in Guild Wars 2 has been opened. This is 10-person content designed to be the hardest in the game, and offers, as an ultimate reward, pieces for assembling legendary armour. This is not more powerful armour: it is exactly as powerful as existing top-end ascended armour, but allows you to swap stats – presumably stat templates – while out of combat.

“Endless tiers of gear grind to stay raid relevant have no place in Guild Wars 2,” reads an apt line from a raid explainer on the Guild Wars 2 website.

The raid is named Spirit Vale and is located in the Maguuma Jungle, which is a part of the Heart of Thorns expansion, so you need to buy that if you want to go there. And if you’re a level 80 (or thereabouts) player and you don’t already own Heart of Thorns then you really ought to, because it’s aimed directly at you – and it’s got an impressive amount of impressive content stuffed in.

I had a go at the Spirit Vale raid on a test server last week, accompanied by a bunch of ArenaNet developers. We didn’t play for long and only took on one boss, Gorseval the Multifarious, a weird demon tree gorilla thing.

gorseval

The fight itself involved gliding – a new ability in Heart of Thorns – on and off Gorseval’s little island platform. The first phase went a bit like this: whack Gorseval, wait for him to start pounding the ground and then pull out my breaker ability to stop him. Then drag him over to the edge of the platform near the wall he puts up, while killing a few ‘adds’ (extra insignificant enemies) on the way, before smashing a hole in said magical wall just in time to escape a raid-wiping bomb of an ability. Simple really.

There are updraft currents around the platform that boost you back up into the sky, at which point you turn around, fly back and do it over again. Phase two, which we did get to, involved him spawning some phantoms that, unless killed, contributed to another of his raid-wiping abilities. Generally, we died. We died a lot.

There was plenty going on, plenty for everyone to do, and lots of moving around and not falling asleep – rogues in old school World of Warcraft raids I’m looking at you. Gorseval was one of three boss “encounters” in this first Spirit Vale raid wing – the word “encounter” suggesting one battle may have lots of objectives rather than a hulking brute to collectively batter.

In other words: a promising start for raids in the game. You won’t need to have maxed all the new Mastery skill lines to go there, but you’ll need at least gliding and updraft use for obvious reasons.

The other side of raids coming to Guild Wars 2 was people getting frustrated with, and giving up on, Fractals, which are the endgame five-person group dungeons. In a nutshell, people believed they weren’t worth the effort any more. But a blog post on Friday by ArenaNet revealed that Fractals will be getting love. They will be better balanced (a bit easier at the top end it sounds like), ascended armour drop rates will increase, and you’ll now earn Mastery experience while there, making them much more worth your time. There’s a tweak concerning Fractals and the gold they award but I don’t understand it – sorry! The overall reaction to the Fractal changes seem to be very positive.

Guild Wars 2 is free to download and play but you’ll have to pay for the expansion. But again, no rush – it’s aimed at level 80s.


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Guild Wars 2: Enter Shiro

ArenaNet reveals the last core legend for the new Revenant profession coming in Heart of Thorns.

The Revenant is a new profession coming in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns and today ArenaNet revealed the last core legend and weapon set that the class will use. The fourth and final core legend that players will be channeling is Shiro Tagachi, the infamous assassin and main antagonist of Guild Wars: Factions. Alongside this legend, the studio announced that dual swords are the final core weapons the Revenant will be wielding.

Shiro was a quick and deadly assassin and the new sword set delivers on this theme. In today’s blog post, ArenaNet revealed three of the new sword skills.

Rift Slash — Slash foes, creating a rift on them that explodes for additional damage after a short delay.

This third skill on the auto-attack change will slash at foes in front of your character. Any foe hit will have an unstable mist rift sliced into them that will explode after a short delay and damage nearby foes.

Precision Strike — Strike nearby foes with precision, sending out blades that damage and chill them.

Another quick attack that is good for damaging your foe or just to keep them chilled and within reach of your blades.

Unrelenting Assault — Unleash a fierce attack on nearby foes, shadowstepping to foes in the vicinity and delivering strikes. Gain might each time you strike a foe.

This skill is not new to players who have seen the Heart of Thorns announcement trailer as we witnessed Rytlock himself turn to mist and unleash devastating attacks to enemies around him.

On the legend side, ArenaNet revealed three of the Shiro specific skills. First up is the heal Enchanted Daggers:

Enchanted Daggers — Enchanted daggers will strike your target as you attack, siphoning life from the damaged foe.

Designed to mimic Shiro’s aggressiveness, this heal skill will have you summon jade daggers that float above your character that attack any enemy you strike, siphoning life from that foe.

Phase Traversal — Step through the Mists to your target, and make your next few attacks unblockable.

Jade Winds — Call upon the Jade Wind to turn nearby enemies into jade, stunning them for a short duration.

Not only will you be able to cast Jade Wind, but a trait will trigger this skill when the player is downed. This way players can truly feel like Shiro as they too release the Jade Wind when defeated.

For more information, check out ArenaNet’s Points of Interest livestream tomorrow Friday, July 17th at Noon Pacific on the official Guild Wars 2 Twitch stream as Roy Cronacher joins host Rubi Bayer to go over everything Shiro.