One of the biggest concerns that Guild Wars and other MMO players have about Guild Wars 2 is whether it will deliver an interesting system where builds and strategy really matter. At this time last weekend, the first ever public beta weekend event was nearing its end yet many players had not quite seen the potential that the game had for interesting and strategic combat.
Two things inspired me to write this post. Firstly, I think a significant number of fans were discouraged by builds and combat in the beta (whether they played in it or not) and I want to show them some of the game's potential that they may have missed. Secondly, I've been itching to put Guru's new database tooltip feature to use.
Did you know you can just drag the skill icons off the database into your post and the tooltips automatically work?
Anyway, I want to let everyone know how my experience with the beta actually encouraged me about builds and combat, but there are a few things I need to establish first.
- The build I'm about to show you is a very basic "glass cannon" high DPS, high crit chance and big finishing move build
- We were restricted to the two easiest zone level ranges, hard battles and more skillful play are to be expected in higher level zones
- The game's balancing is not finished, and that greatly affects the amount of strategy required to survive
- Its hard for players to come up with advanced builds in just three days time
- I played as a Warrior which is generally supposed to have the smallest learning curve
However, take a look at my build and strategy and see for yourself how one of the simplest builds can actually get quite complex:
Deep Strike and Warrior's Sprint
Versatile Rage and Precise Strikes (Database currently missing these)
Why?: Precision grants me a higher critical hit chance which increases my DPS. Gaining adrenaline from weapon swaps complements the fact that I swap from my DPS weapon to my finishing move weapon which uses adrenaline.
Why?: Thanks to my traits, each one grants me +40 precision.
Greatsword and Rifle
Why?: Because the greatsword is great for DPS and taking on multiple targets, and the rifle is good for evasion and its high damage one-shot adrenaline skill.
Lower level or easy enemies:
This is where it make sense that people think PvE lacks strategy, again however, we were limited to the starter zones in the beta. Even then I ran into far more challenging situations than this.
To finish an easy enemy just hit: Veteran or challenging enemies:
Some enemies can get a little difficult to solo, but I found a way to take a chunk out of their health bar at the start of the battle without taking many hits:
- to cripple and lure the enemy
- spin straight through the enemy
- to get back to the enemy
- It's kind of an assassin tactic, do a little damage, get out of range then rush back.
- After you rush back get ready to throw your hardest hits on the enemy.
- (Can be extended by starting with the rifle)
- to inflict vulnerability and lower the enemy's defense
- to try to get as much damage in as possible
- Dodge when appropriate
- Heal if necessary
- Watch the adrenaline bar
- If possible, again as I can weapon swap while my sword is still airborne
- Weapon swap (Versatile Rage trait kicks in and finishes my adrenaline bar, or very near)
- to knock the enemy away
- to inflict vulnerability for the next attack
- hoping for a critical (my crit chance is very high thanks to my traits and signets)
- If the enemy is not dead, check my health and determine if I should switch back to the greatsword or strafe away and shoot.
- Enemy HP too high and uses ranged attacks - Turn around and run
- Enemy HP too high but only uses melee - Strafe away and shoot with the rifle until my healing skill recharges
- Enemy HP low and uses ranged attacks - Allow myself to get downed so I can rally after finishing the last bit of the enemy's health
- Enemy HP low but only uses melee - Strafe away and shoot with the rifle
- Enemy HP nearly non existent, another enemy lured - Run, do not risk getting downed a split second after the enemy dies
OR if the low HP enemy is running away
toward it, finishing that enemy off and getting a quick headstart on my run away from the new lured enemy
The great thing about using a greatsword is it combines high DPS with AoE. For safety reasons, I rarely intentionally tried to lure more than one enemy, but it happened a lot unintentionally.
- Whenever possible use
- and Auto Attack
- watch carefully for unlured enemies
- watch lured enemies' health and my own
- away from that enemy to get away and also deal damage to the enemies I am fighting
- if my enemies are lined up or close to each other I can throw my sword at them to hit all of them from a distance
If my health gets low I can use several downed strategies again:
- If I have one enemy almost dead, don't finish it off, I need to rally from it
- If my death penalty is high from rallying multiple times, throw the sword at them and run, don't risk downed
- If both enemies are almost dead, stop using AoE skills and focus on one, don't want to go down just after they die and risk new spawners taking me out
- My high critical chance is the result of filling my bar with signets and focusing my traits and gear toward precision gives Kill Shot a very high chance of dealing serious damage
- Since I have increased run speed while wielding melee weapons I can choose between staying and strafing with my rifle or switching to my greatsword and escaping when my health is low.
- I gain adrenaline on weapon swap so I can switch to my rifle and do my Kill Shot combo more frequently
- I am also granted adrenaline from my elite signet, which I might not have chosen if i did not gain +40 precision from having signets equipped.
- Thanks to Precise Strikes, my enemy is usually bleeding since I'm hitting criticals all the time. I do higher DPS but I also have to be mindful of using downed as a strategy as I can fall just after the enemy dies and lose my chance of rallying in a dangerous place.
There was a lot of room for mistakes in the starter areas, but who knows what we have in store for us when the rest of the game is unlocked?
I used more skills on my bar than I did in Guild Wars
If I don't count the auto-attack I still used four skills off each weapon which already makes eight. Add the two adrenaline or "burst" skills and that's ten right there. Finally, add the heal skill and I've got 11. In Guild Wars 1 it usually did not work out very well when players filled all eight skill slots with attack skills and such, so in general you would use 3-5 skills on a bar actively.
11 vs 3-5 - or - 11 vs 8 if you want to be generous to the prequel.
I did not spam skills mindlessly
Whenever I did screw up my skill sequence it prolonged combat or even got me killed. The better I got at the game, the better the game got. I could fight more enemies, level faster and survive longer once I figured out how to strategically use my skills instead of just mashing everything that wasn't recharging.
My build did affect my playstyle and strategy
You may be concerned that my weapons are the real playstyle changers and not the traits, but let me assure you that traits do a lot. For example, there is a trait that allows the rifle to shoot multiple enemies. If I had chosen that, my strategy and skill use would have been different.
There were enough challenges in the beta to require me to refine my strategy
Every now and then a group dynamic event would spawn near me while I was alone, but I would still try to beat it. There won't always be a huge crowd of players around (especially when they spread out after release) but this should not discourage you from attempting events.
There were many that I was unable to solo, but it was fun to try them anyway.
I barely scratched the surface
Well I got to level 32, I played for 41 hours and I nearly completed all of the area tasks, but that doesn't mean I experienced the whole game. It doesn't mean I've seen all of the builds and challenges that the game has to offer.
There are still 48 levels worth of traits and skillpoints to obtain and dozens of new zones to explore. Not to mention the fact that I did not get very far in only ONE part of ONE of the game's dungeons and never even touched personal story.
How did build and strategy affect YOU in the beta?