My necromancer in Guild Wars 2 is everything. I have stuck by and loved my necromancer despite all it’s problems and inefficiencies. It gets even worse, I have often played a condition-based necromancer in dungeons and open world events. I’ve always hoped that being at the bottom, the only way to go is up, or in a twist, possibly to something more necro-y, the revenant.
The reaper elite specialization gives the feeling that it was designed with a serious amount of attention. It is a kit that feels cohesive to turn the necromancer into a cleaving, controlling powerhouse. The greatsword weapon skills seem like they have zero fat. The new offensive shouts are going to be a blast to use in many of the game modes since each shout grows in power the more enemies there are to hear it. I feel, there are going to be a lot of reapers running around.
Yet, all this would have that sickly death pall if it weren’t for one change. Death Shroud. This mechanic that has been the white paper bane of the necromancer. Thankfully, the reaper’s first trait is getting the new Reaper Shroud.
I want to put a little perspective on this first. Necromancers only melee option is dagger. Dagger #1 is the highest DPS a necromancer can get, and it can cleave two enemies. In PvE, where melee cleave reigns, necros basically use one skill, the dagger auto-attack. Compare this to warriors and rangers that have to at least press #2. The dagger necro isn’t horribly bad if one looks at the off-hand skills, the wells, or minions that usually accompany a dagger necro. Then there’s Death Shroud, which becomes a minor toolkit instead of a “mode”.
It feels bad when I want to exit Death Shroud and go back to pressing #1 because I don’t feel a reason to remain in Death Shroud. I just want Death Shroud for a momentary “shield”, or a fear, or a gap closer. Or, perhaps it’s traited for me to open and close Death Shroud to get a few boons or condition cleanses. It’s never been something I’ve been excited to stay in.
With Reaper Shroud, I feel that has all changed. It seems like Reaper Shroud is a “mode” more like Lich Form than an engineer’s throwaway skill hidden in a toolkit.
The first skill, the Reaper Shroud auto-attack gives life force on a third hit. It allows the necromancer to stay in Reaper Shroud longer. The third skill, Infusing Terror, pulses stability for 8 seconds, as long as the necromancer stays in Reaper Shroud. Without traits or weird synergies, right off the bat ArenaNet has designed Reaper Shroud to be something that necromancers want to stay in.
Soul Spiral might be the skill that finally gets greatsword warriors envious. And to top it all off the capstone skill freezes, stuns, deals high executioner damage, and then to make sure, creates an ice field. Targets aren’t going anywhere.
The only one I am slightly uncertain about is the gap closer, Death’s Charge. I don’t have any qualms, or anything, but that’s one I feel I would have to play around with to understand. On paper it seems good, I’ll say that. It could also be an underused skill, or one that sends players in directions they don’t want.
Does the reaper fix all the necromancers problems? Definitely not, but it strongly answers one problem in a manner that makes it cohesive with the entire melee-oriented reaper kit. Reaper Shroud is going to become something necromancers want to stay in. It’s going to become a mode that adds to the base melee build.
It also makes me wonder, what could possibly be done to the core Death Shroud to make it similar across all the core specialization builds? That is not an easy answer. Still, I am grateful ArenaNet appears to be moving upwards with necromancer through it’s elite specialization and apparently also further reworking the core traits, such as making the blood line more group supportive.
These make me glad I stuck with my favorite class, in spite of all it’s problems. I am still looking at revenant with great interest, but at least it’s going to be a tough decision if I want to change my main class.