Although I’ll be having some hands-on time with the Revenant in the next few weeks, I have to say that what I’ve seen so far is pretty impressive. I think it’s fair to say that ArenaNet have learnt a great deal of lessons in class design from Guild Wars 2 and although the Revenant is clearly in its early stages of balance and design, there’s an impression that ArenaNet are using this class as a poster child for many of the new systems and designs that will be shipped with Heart Of Thorns.
Before anyone begins to scream that the Revenant is overpowered (people have already) I think there needs to be some perspective on the fact that it’s new and that the new things it brings to the table will be added to other classes. As well as that, we haven’t yet seen a single Specialization for the existing classes and what they’ll eventually bring.
As far as the Revenant is concerned, I have to say I’m impressed with its overall approach. After getting over the initial flashiness, I think there’s some clever skill design here and some fun mechanics. The Legends actually seem meaningful and resource management should and with some balancing, take both thought and timing. If there’s anything I dislike at the moment it’s actually the sheer quantity of skills available to the Revenant - it’s a wider issue that also affects the Engineer and Elementalist and in some ways, it’s a shame the Revenant is being given the same treatment.
To address this complaint first before I get onto the issue of what I love about the Revenant, this layering of skills that certain classes in Guild Wars 2 have is inherently unfair. If we take the Engineer for example, it usually comes equipped with 2 Kits providing it with a total of 15 weapon skills (including your main hand weapons) and 2 Tool Belt skills. Where the Elementalist is concerned, they have access to 20. A Ranger or any other class that can’t multi-skill in this fashion only has access to 10. You might think that with the right cooldown balancing neither class would benefit but I’d disagree strongly. The more skills you have, the more opportunity you have to deal damage or benefit from your arsenal of utility. I can honestly say at no point when playing an Engineer or Elementalist do I ever really worry about cooldowns because more often than not, whatever I usually need will be available again once I’ve cycled through my rotations. The same cannot be said for other classes that carefully have to monitor their skill use: switch weapons too soon, you can’t switch back and are vulnerable. Cycle through your weapon skills quickly and you’re reliant on just your auto attack for at least 6 seconds.
I suspect the Revenant will fall into a similar place as the Engineer but will likely be stronger for a variety of reasons. The first is that when the Revenant swaps Legends, he changes every single utility skill (including Healing and Elite). Utility skills are known to be incredibly powerful and as evidenced by those on display in the Points Of Interest Episode, that’s clearly the case here. The fact that your skill use is also linked to Energy saw some utility skills being used multiple times - that’s very potent and will take significant balancing.
So besides my complaint about skill layering (which every class should have) what do I love about the Revenant? Firstly, it has to be the fact that ArenaNet have clearly designed the class to factor in multiple playstyles. Whether it’s a Power build or Conditions, they both appear entirely viable. In many ways, some of the Condition options on the Revenant appear how the Necromancer should have always been. As for Power, there also seems a lot of synergy here between skills and finishers. I think it’s fair to say that there are certain classes in Guild Wars 2 that lack certain boons or utility because their skills simply don’t provide the right combinations of fields: it looks like the Revenant won’t suffer this fate.
As for the skills themselves and the classes functionality, I think it’ll offer a great deal of depth and from the looks of things, it’ll actually take some thought to get the most out of. Inspiring Reinforcement combined with Drop the Hammer is an early combination that works well. Where its weapons are concerned, the Hammer as a ranged weapon doesn’t particularly excite me but I can certainly see the appeal for players. The visual effects on offer really are exceptional and if nothing else they leave me excited as to how the other classes will be updated. With Stability now stacking and slow providing an interest counter to Haste, it feels as though the playfield for class design is well and truly wide open.
If I’ve any else to say about the Revenant it has to be the curiosity surrounding the remaining Legends and their functionality. It needs a high DPS Legend and a Legend that offers support outside a tanking ruleset. If however players choose to be just Power or just Conditions (which they always will) I’m not entirely sure Legends at offering vastly different utility will gel together well. A Power based Revenant wouldn’t take Mallyx, so there must be something else waiting in the wings to compliment the playstyle.
Oh and before I forget, isn’t it about time every class had the same downed skills or better yet, a fifth downed skill? (/set kill_self1 would be most welcome!) I was really hoping the Revenant would have it.
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