Revved Up - Our First Look At The Revenant
Like many Guild Wars 2 players, I took the new revenant class out for a spin in the recent beta event for Heart of Thorns. How did it go? Well, I died rather infrequently... that's something, right?
It's been a while since I made a new character, so it's possible that any issues I have with the revenant – which is not a simple class to play – stem from basic unfamiliarity rather than any actual issues with the class. So any negatives I have shouldn't be “this is crap” as much as they should be “this is difficult for me to grasp in a few short hours; maybe it's crap or maybe I just need more time.” Stay classy, Internet.
Now that that disclaimer's out of the way, here's my breakdown of the various parts of revenantiness:
Energy. When I first played a thief, it kinda bugged me that I had, essentially, “mana.” I was used to just having to manage cooldowns on powers, but now here was this other resource I had to keep track of. Without it, I couldn't do much, and I foolishly depleted it time and again in my early hours.
The revenant feels the same with with its energy bar – and, unlike the thief, many (but not all) of its skills have cooldowns. I found myself hitting skills that required energy when I had none and wasn't mindful of how upkeep skills sucked up my energy. Legend-swapping does refill your energy to 50%, and I eventually learned to do that when I ran low, but it's a foreign concept that's hard to wrap your head around at first. I was also probably less-than-efficient at using my high-energy skills when my bar was full, which, again, I'd get better at with practice. In short, expect to fumble around quite a bit while you're mastering the revenant's basic class mechanic.
Hammer. I know the hammer is a ranged weapon. Most of its skills have a 1200 range, and all but the defensive skill, Field of the Mists, damage multiple targets. I know I should treat it more like a longbow than a melee weapon, but... but... it's a hammer! And I wear heavy armor! I'm supposed to jump in there and swing it around, right?
Nope! The hammer is meant to be used at long range and to wear enemies down without exposing yourself to too much danger. It's nice in big events where you can keep your distance and have lots of enemies to strike, but your impact on singular boss monsters, like champions, will seem rather minimal.
Mace/Axe: The other weapon set available was the mace (main hand)/axe (off hand) combo. This set is much more condition-focused, with the mace auto-attack dishing out torment and poison and the #2 skill producing a fire field. It's a more melee-focused set, with close-range attacks and a gap-closer, the #4 skill, Frigid Blitz, which shadowsteps you to an enemy, chills it, and damages a bunch of foes in the area. Fun times. I liked the mace/axe combo better, just because it seemed more impactful and quicker than hammer.
Legendary Dwarf Stance: Jalis Ironhammer. Your legendary stance determines your healing, utility, and elite skills. In the beta, there was only one selection for each slot, Jalis Ironhammer and Mallyx the Unyielding.
Jalis Ironhammer comes across as a pretty handy support-type, with AoE stability (on a five-second cooldown!), a taunt/slow power, and an elite skill that costs 50 energy and turns your allies to stone and reduces their incoming damage for five seconds. The one purely offensive skill in the mix was the upkeep skill Vengeful Hammers, which swirls hammers around your character, damaging all who come near.
Jalis was still fun and easy to play while also being visually pleasing. He's probably not the best at dishing out damage, but if you're more interested in survival and helping your allies, he's a good choice.
Legendary Demon Stance: Mallyx the Unyielding. Then there's Mallyx, who was much more difficult to play well. Many of his skills put conditions on the revenant, who then can ignore those conditions (with the resistance boon) and hand them out to enemies via the elite upkeep skill Embrace the Darkness, which copies conditions to foes every three seconds and his elite form, which...
Yeah, it's a lot to handle. By the later parts of the beta, I thought I was improving with my limited set of skills, but it was tough to tell if I was being remotely effective or if it was even worth the mental effort of keeping everything balanced. In time, I'd wager that good Mallyx players will devastate their enemies in PvE or PvP, but it's got a steep learning curve.
Both forms had a healing skill that operated similarly to the necromancer's Consume Conditions, in that they were more effective the more conditions you had on you. And, as I learned, you can hit one heal skill, switch to your other form, and then hit the other – a useful “double dip” when you're in dire straits.
Hit and Mists
My first impressions of the revenant? It has the potential to be a lot of fun, but it does require a slight rewiring of your brain, from how you switch your heal/utility/elite skills (instead of weapons) to hammer-as-a-ranged-weapon to how complex legends like Mallyx work. Even with a limited set of tools available, I can already see the potential for different builds, even though I didn't take too much time to digest the traits – I had my hands full getting accustomed to my skills.
If you're like me, you've got a bunch of leveling scrolls you're just waiting to dump onto a revenant once they become available, but I'd suggest taking it a little slower and taking on some of the lower-level content before jumping straight into level 80 stuff. The whole “you have to level for 12 billion hours to learn your class” justification for long leveling grinds in MMOs is a tad overblown – and GW2 isn't exactly the most punishing game, granted – but I think you'll want to take some time to learn everything the revenant has to offer.
Even once I was fairly comfortable using skills, I thought the damage was a bit on the low side. Granted, I was wearing the beta-provided celestial gear and not full zerker, but I have live characters without full zerker and even they feel much more capable of solid DPS in PvE. The class could probably use a few more visual or audio cues to facilitate gameplay (Suggestion: Dim or make transparent condition icons when they're “nullified” by Resistance? I can't count the number of times I looked at my status bar, saw a bunch of conditions, and panicked.), but given time, the revenant has the potential to develop into one of the most intricate and unpredictable classes in the game.