[GW2] Dragonhunter-y

Last week ArenaNet revealed the second of the Heart of Thorns elite specializations. This time it was the guardian’s specialization, which turned out to be a longbow wielding “dragonhunter”. The theme of the specialization appeared to be attaching more range and physicality to the light-wielding profession. Most fans appeared positive with the mesmer’s chronomancer, but the guardian received a lot more skepticism.

What Do You Mean By “Witch”?

Jon Peters attempted a community interface to explain over the weekend that the name “dragonhunter” was a high concept title. It came with the lore of a guardian believing that justice is the eradication of dragons and their minions. He compared it to a medieval “witch hunter”.

Comparatively, Warhammer Online had the class “Witch Hunter” on the side of light fighting against Destruction having actual witches (Witch Elf). All those allied with the Witch Hunter would want to kill Witch Elves and their Destruction brethren, but I don’t recall any uproar over the name. Oi, aren’t we all “witch” hunters? So what’s the matter, Guild Wars 2 peoples?

All heroes (players) are aimed at dragons. It was the goal in the core game to kill Zhaitan. Now believably it is our goal in Heart of Thorns to kill Mordremoth. In Warhammer Online, everybody on the good side was aimed at killing Destruction and their Witch Elves, but things falling into the “witch” category were a subset of Destruction.

Now a “minion hunter”, I can see. Trapping a minion, roughly the size of the guardian seems like a fine prospect. Using the traps on an Elder Dragon seems laughable. Heck, even using the traps on a wyvern seems about as effective. Minion has that subset quality similar to Witch Hunter.

Plus, it seems most people are against the Elder Dragons, but there is lore that minions are not necessarily all bad. We have Sons of Svanir in Hoelbraek. I’m sure there are people who believe that “minions that keep to themselves should be left alone”. Anyway, it seems “dragonhunter” is here to stay so add the implicit dragons-and-their-minions-must-face-the-justice-of-my-bow to the name, and we should all be fine.

Physicality and the Guardian Design Document

The thing I really like about dragonhunter is the feeling of a square-peg to a round hole. Guardian has always been that magic-melee class as compared to it’s ultra-physical warrior brother. Revenant is going to take away the guardian’s uncontested title since it appears highly magical as well.

The dragonhunter appears to push the guardian towards the physical. This is most evident in the virtues where each its active has turned from a pseudo-shout to something more physical. The dragonhunter now gets a piercing spear, a healing leap, and a shield wall. The longbow still seems mostly magically, light-aspected, which keeps it away from the coming machine-gun Age of rangers. The traps too still keep much of that magical concept, but the tripping of them keeps some of that physicality.

I get the feeling that the guardian here is “trying to be physical”. Needing to be physical. It tried to emulate ranger, but it took the ranger from a guardian perspective. This makes me really excited for the way ArenaNet is treating elite specializations. They aren’t just blurring lines by giving the guardian a ranger mechanic. They are making it the guardian’s own. The same went for chronomancer wells where the mesmer gained a necromancer power, but it was through the mesmer’s time-tainted worldview.

Now, I want to see all the future specializations. I am excited about say an engineer-kit guardian (tomes) or a turret necromancer (ritualist) because I feel ArenaNet is going to do them justice and keep the profession with its own niche. Yes, the guardian gets physical and ranger-y, but it just doesn’t get slotted with “ranger”.

 “Watch for traps?”

Another thing I really like is that the dragonhunters traps feel like traps. They are magical zone-control. I feel sorry for rangers and thieves who have more tricksy and nature-based traps that are mostly just speedbumps.

What gets me more excited is that in sPvP, there is going to be a degree of wariness that just isn’t present in the current meta. If I see a guardian with a longbow, I am going to start wondering whether there are traps about. If I see a ranger or thief right now in sPvP, traps are one of the farthest things in my mind. Hopefully in Stronghold the water level of ranger and thief traps will increase, but from what I’m seeing in the dragonhunter, they owned the traps mechanic.

Staying Grounded

I am glad that dragonhunter was the second reveal because it feels more “vanilla”. It felt like the design was let’s give a guardian a longbow, and then this was the result. It is not some crazy time-wielding trickster mage that the chronomancer became. The dragonhunter has more guardian zone control, more guardian protection, and a bit of a physical degree shift with virtues. In other words, it’s more guardian instead of crazy mirror-world guardian.

Not all specializations will change the class to a ridiculous degree. This is the main point of the dragonhunter. Some specializations will feel like the same class, now with a bit more pie to its name. Some specializations will feel like whole new professions. I think it’s good to realize this the second week in to specializations.

This is, from what I’ve heard, the last week of contiguous specialization week reveals. After that I’m hoping we get another beta thingy (come on newsletter lottery!) since it seems like we’ll be taking a break from spec reveals. Anyway, come on necro for some mid-May madness!


5 thoughts on “[GW2] Dragonhunter-y”

  1. What gets me isn’t the name as so many have complained about (there are three posts in the forums about the name alone) what gets me is the fact that they are bringing back CC and made it a new “feature” instead of fixing the CC they already had in the game in an effort to force people to buy the expansion to even use CC in the first place.

    Next we’ll see them add “healing” but most likely they’ll call it support masteries and make it seem like this was the plan all along.

    1. The defiance break bar changes will be implemented to the whole game, regardless of whether you own the expansion. Your point is?

      Re: the dragonhunter, the name does make me cringe a lil bit, but I’m mostly waiting to see how it feels in play. Folks have not been quiet that they wanted better/more ranged options for the guardian (personally, I’m still a scepter fan, but something that functions reliably at long range in PvP might be a nice change of pace.)

  2. My problem is that it’s called Dragonhunter as opposed to Dragon Hunter. Neither name is great. But the latter is acceptable while the former is ridiculous.

  3. I think there’s a couple of subtleties you’re missing with the dragonhunter:witch-hunter analogy.

    The first is that Witch Hunters, ironically enough, aren’t all that concerned about Witch Elves. The Witch Hunter classifies ‘witches’ as practitioners of dark and unsanctioned magic – they’d be more concerned about the magical classes of the Chaos and Dark Elf factions than the Witch Elves, which despite the implications of the name, are basically just drug-addicted she-elf psychopaths, usually with no magic at all.

    I didn’t pay that close attention to the game itself, but mechanically speaking the WHO witchhunter should have good skills for fighting enemy spellcasters, so their name reflects their capabilities. Dragonhunter doesn’t do this – there isn’t really anything about traps or the bow attacks that screams ‘this profession is about fighting dragons’. The only link is Dragon’s Maw, but that could easily have been an effect deriving from Glint’s residual magic coming from the Zephyrites, to give one example.

    The second subtlety you’ve missed is that WHO was a game where each of the classes explicitly had a specific role of where they fit in the setting. Choosing your class in WHO dictated your race, your position in society, and often your goals, and generally your overall place in the Warhammer mythos. WHO’s players appreciated that – being intimately linked with the lore of the world was part of the attraction.

    Guild Wars 2, on the other hand, has gone completely in the opposite direction. Up to now, members of any profession can come from any race and all walks of life, and a GW2 character’s profession really doesn’t say much about what that character’s place in the world is apart from what naturally flows from what their abilities are (so a mesmer is more likely to be involved in covert ops than a warrior, say, but not every mesmer is a spy, while every WHO Swordmaster is a High Elf who trained at the Tower of Hoeth and who owes his or her allegiance to the Tower and its Loremasters). The dragonhunter has become a glaring exception to that rule: to be a dragonhunter, it is implied, you must have fighting the dragons as your primary motivation. While the dragons are the primary antagonists, there is still room for a player to consider their character to have some other primary goal which requires the dragons to be defeated to be achieved, but the dragonhunter becomes limited in ways existing professions aren’t.

    Short form:

    1. The name “Witch Hunter” brings certain expectations as to what they’ll be good at to people familiar with the Warhammer mythos. The name “dragonhunter” has little direct connection to a bow-wielding guardian with traps.

    2. Warhammer was a setting where it is expected that a character’s history and background will be largely determined by their class. You can’t claim to be a Knight of the Blazing Sun without being human, a Knight, and a member of the Order of the Blazing Sun. Guild Wars 2 had carefully been made on the philosophy that any profession fits with any background and that you can be an Ash Legion Guardian that joins the Durmand Priory if you so chose… but now the dragonhunter has a personality and background that has been set from on high by ArenaNet. It still leaves a lot more wiggle-room than the WHO classes, but the two settings had very different assumptions and expectations in the first place.

    1. Thanks for the explanation. I had forgotten how un-witch-like Witch Elves were. I guess my main point was that Witch Hunters were focused on a subset. They did have focus, and presence of the lore. They weren’t Destruction Hunters. Anyway, someone brought up how the community hated the change to “Thief”, and how “Thief” remained… probably going to be the same for Dragonhunter.

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