This last weekend’s beta event was quite fun and relaxing compared to the last couple 2 hour sprints in Guild Wars 2. I made a revenant just to toss things around, but I did not want to learn to play without a DPS legend (believed to be this week’s Shiro) and leveling up. It is very hard for me to grasp builds when they are just given to me wholesale.
What I did enjoy was Stronghold. I have been pretty much sold on that PvP gameplay type, and Mrs. Ravious is fanatic about it. The latest changes made it all the better. I was pretty surprised at how turning a couple knobs could really get it closer to the pacing and engagement it should be.
My favorite change was the trebuchet. It now two-shots the doorbreakers and removes up to 25 stacks of stability before the damage and knockback. It became so much more important to the engagement, and I really liked that.
I usually run to defense first since as a condi-necro I can pretty much guarantee bringing down the first 5 doorbreakers even after death. Now, I’ve been going straight for the trebuchet and launching a few shots at oncoming foes. They have to engage me. There is no choice for them, and I like that. I like maneuvers in PvP that require response, similar to chess.
I can’t wait to watch the PvP tournaments where a mist node becomes active to summon a legend, and the trebuchet becomes so important because it can rain stability killing fire down on the node. I was only able to try it out in one match, but it gave considerable results. We easily won the mist node closest to the enemy base.
The other big change was that supply in the middle only has two supply per pile now available that refreshes at the slow rate of 15 seconds per supply. This I felt was one of the biggest changes since trebuchet got ignored far too often.
There was still the initial rush of mobs with the match starting with 10 players – 5 on each team – getting 1 supply each. It’s a predictable start, especially since I went to defense quite often. Then it became interesting. If a team wanted another huge rush of doorbreakers they would have to wait a bit to make sure they had enough supply. If they didn’t, they would have to seriously guard their lonely doorbreaker. Supply spamming seemed to be a thing of the past, and I felt the entire mode became more about biased engagement instead of killing an endless train of doorbreakers.
There was no a distinct tempo to the game that I felt was kind of lacking. The peaks of activity became more pronounced. The strength of coordination became more clear. This was another change I really enjoyed in my random grouping, and one I feel will be great to watch for professional teams.
Finally, the big bullet point change was the ability to slot a Mist Champion as one would a trait. There were three to choose from: defensive Turai, offensive Grymm, and the stealthy Nika.
I chose Turai which seemed like a great choice for playing on random teams. When summoned he gives everybody a long block, and then he pulses aegis for allies around him. That aegis when removed turns in to protection. Grymm is the offensive counterpart, and I feel another good choice for random teams that are more hellbent.
The bad choice, in my opinion, was Nika because she required much more coordination than I was seeing. Perhaps as the meta congeals and players get used to “what should be expected”, she will be much better. Every time I saw her used she went down very quickly.
Nika is a very interesting choice, and she excites me for what later Mist Champions could bring. She is not that great at lane running, but when she gets to the Lord Room, oh man, she becomes a monster. Game over, friends. I’d love to see the exact opposite too, a legendary doorbreaker that is amazing at getting to the Lord Room, and then sucks. That would really help teams come back too if they could defend and also send a wrecking ball towards the gates.
I am really amazed. This feels like very good game design. These small changes have really started to give Stronghold a very distinct feeling. It’s less PvE now and more about engaging at the opportune time.
I was not able to check out the overtime mechanic. The only time the game didn’t end in a lord kill was when we were so evenly matched that the inner gates to both teams never broke. It was a great, very tense game, but it was clear it needed to end on points.