We’re halfway through the elite specializations for the launch classes of Guild Wars 2. The reaper (necromancer), chronomancer (mesmer), and dragonhunter (guardian) were announced in a 3-week block a bit ago. This week owes hype to the tempest, the elementalist elite specialization for the Heart of Thorns expansion.
There seem to be two design documents for creating the elite specializations. If the class gets a two-handed weapon along with the 5 new skills that brings, then the core mechanic of the class gets replaced. Reaper gets the new reaper shroud, and dragonhunter gets 3 new virtues. If the class gets an off-hand weapon with only 2 skills, then the core mechanic gains an additive effect. Chronomancer gets a fifth shatter ability. I am really interested to see what happens with a main hand replacement.
The new tempest, which has an off-hand warhorn, follows this design. They can swap attunements like normal, and in doing so actually gain 8 new weapon skills from the warhorn. Additively, they can also overload their attunements by channeling the attunement for about 3-5 seconds. While the overload is occurring things are happening, and then there is a payoff.
For example, Overload Fire has the tempest making an “infernal tornado” that continuously damages and burns enemies while granting allies might. Completing the channel leaves the tornado at the tempest’s current location for a time. Overload Water provides regeneration and condition cleansing, and then provides a big heal.
The minor traits grant protection and swiftness when overloading an attunement. Minor traits are default for the elite specialization. If the elementalist gets interrupted from overloading, the attunement goes on complete cooldown.
Why Wouldn’t I?
The big question for both mesmers and elementalists at this time seem to be “why wouldn’t I just want this seemingly additive elite specialization?” One commentator I saw said something to the effect that the most well-rounded class (elementalist) was now even more well rounded. Wouldn’t every mesmer want a fifth shatter?
In the case of the tempest’s minor traits, I feel the case is slightly better for not slotting the elite specialization. The minor traits all deal with the new tempest core mechanic of overloading an attunement. This is different from the chronomancer’s two top minor traits which just add straight on to the core mechanic of shatter and movement.
In the case of the tempest, a player is using a whole specialization line to say “I am going to overload”. If they don’t, it’s a wasted specialization line. I have a feeling given the current state of PvE, elementalists are going to become the AoE overlords. I would be so pleasantly surprised if the AI in Guild Wars 2 was able to watch for these extreme channels and respond accordingly. More than likely I feel the “risk” of an elementalist overloading in PvE is going to be minimal. PvP will be a whole different ballgame with people saving interrupts for the overload, and WvW will be somewhere in the middle with the more chaotic frays.
The Dark Salt
The most surprising community response to the tempest was from the necromancer community. The necromancers are the scholar profession that gets the most spite and the least amount of groupability. An easy comparison to make is that elementalists are the well-rounded golden children while necromancers live in that shadow.
I am hugely excited about the reaper, but it already appeared to receive some nerfs when its main condition, chill, was adjusted last big patch. That diminished a lot of the hope that necromancers had in the reaper becoming something people wanted to group with.
Then one of the easily top-three professions, the elementalist, a very well-rounded, enjoyable to group with in any gamemode profession, basically just gets more. Nothing crazy. Maybe a bit more risky in some instances, but mostly on paper it just seems better.
Then the Points of Interest stream occurred, and every necromancer was just watching through salty tears. Want a Well of Darkness that moves with you and damages enemies? Want to shout and harm enemies with no cast time? Tempest, yo. Well that’s okay, reapers are masters of chill right? Nope, tempest can “cheese freeze” with aplomb with, again, a shout with no cast time.
I am actually getting sick of the necro salt that’s been going on in the community. I sign on my necro main, and I have great fun playing it. I wish that was all that was needed. Why is there such a divide between how ArenaNet apparently sees necro’s power and viability and the community’s?
Back to the Front Line
Tempest is clearly going to be a front line monster. It has to get in there, and I’ve found playing against elementalists, they are very good at getting in and out. They feel way better at creating that frontline havoc than say a thief since elementalists are running by with 8+ boons on it. The “celestial” feel of their shouts being offensive and defensive, and their jack-of-all-trades mastery really surges upward with the tempest. If every ele in Heart of Thorns wasn’t running around as a tempest standing toe-to-toe with the Heart of Maguuma denizens I would be really surprised.