The devs were familiar with the run so I was being brought along on the “smack the boss in the face” team. A task that the Reaper is quite well equipped for.
We jumped into the boss room and I immediately plunged to my death by hitting space three times instead of two, closing my glider before I could reach the updraft. Laughs were abundant while we reset the fight. The raid update comes along with a new party interface and Ready tool that allowed me to watch the team check in. Once everyone was good, it was time to jump in again.
I didn’t smash into the ground this time and the fight was on. It felt like total chaos at first. Sure, the leader was calling out commands, but I didn’t have the background knowledge to understand what exactly was going on, or why things were important. So I focused on what I knew how to do: slamming my weapon directly into the face of Gorseval!
The reliance on positioning quickly became apparent as Gorseval leapt to the center of the area and started smashing the ground. The leader called for the group to break bar and stuns were spammed. I found a small sliver of “safe” area next to Gorseval’s foot and set to smashing buttons. The bar broke and I got a few seconds to wail on him before he got up and the real danger started.
One of the group split off in order to start damaging one of the walls that blocked us in on the main fight area. As he did this, the group had to pull in a bunch of small adds and slowly walk back towards the wall, pulling Gorseval and the adds with us so that we could kill the them (if any of them survived, Gorseval would gobble them up for a permanent stat boost) and damage Gorseval all at the same time. If you couldn’t manage to stand in the right spot or when the wall went down, Gorseval could knock you off the ledge to your doom.
That's when the room nuke started to channel. We had a bit more time to wail on the boss again before turning and leaping off the platform to glide into an updraft and back around to drop in again. I couldn’t help but hum “Flight of the Valkyrie” to myself as 10 characters swooped around in unison. Needless to say, I crashed here once and we had to restart.
This process was repeated several times before we triggered the next phase of the fight when the group had to split up to take down four slow adds that approached Gorseval. If they reached him, we would die. The four Reaper DPS saved us here and we moved on to stage 3, where we quickly went down in a blaze of glory! At this point, we had to call the raid as there wasn’t enough time. Gorseval hadn’t even reached half HP yet and he is only a part of the raid.
As a whole, I had a ton of fun. I was able to contribute without knowing what was going on, but it was obvious that I was helping more as I noticed what it was that each person was doing. I had to pay attention to the split and even the orientation of the map (one time we went to the wrong wall early in the fight, broke it down, and leapt off to escape the room nuke only to realize we were in the wrong spot and there was no updraft here).
Other than the use of gliding, I didn’t see any mechanic that I haven’t encountered before (break bars not being unique to the fight). We had a room nuke, DPS timers with the walking doom mobs and a limited number of updrafts to use to get to stage 2, adds that would buff the main boss if they weren’t destroyed in time and adds that would kill you if they weren’t destroyed in time. I know that stage 3 involves avoiding black spheres and running to the gold spheres if you end up getting a debuff on you from the black ones, but we died before I could really interact with it.
I did have to pay attention to my positioning the entire fight more so than I did in previous encounters. I know that the group had a good deal more focus on support than I have seen in typical groups; we had a Chronomancer, a Dragonhunter and a Druid all working to keep the group alive and smashing away. Control was hugely important both for downing the break bar attack as well as slowing the constant advance of the doom mobs. We also had four Reapers, so DPS was in abundance along with a good degree of control from them.
I don’t know how much team build prep the developers did before entering the raid. They did ask ahead of time what class I would be playing, and the default build I was set up with was a DPS build (which I tossed away in favor of my own DPS build). I can only assume that they did do some prep ahead of time based upon the fact that each of them had a role to play in the fights themselves, and several of those seemed like they would need some specialized builds (soloing the wall and pulling in the adds).
With only the small segment of the raid under my belt, I can't say how players will react to the content. I look forward to seeing if players work together before raids to come up with a cohesive group build and plan. I have always loved the planning stages of group content in games, and anything that encourages preparing ahead of time is a good thing in my book.
One thing that I hope does carry over is the attitude of the raid group. The primary sound in the comm channel was laughter. Joking about mistakes was the primary method of recognizing them, owning up to the mistake, and letting the group know it was your bad. ArenaNet has talked several times about how Guild Wars 2 has an incredibly welcoming and friendly community; raids are stereotypically known for not having this though. I think it would be great if the new raids managed to keep the attitude that I experienced while playing through the raid. I have played both ways and trust me when I say that having people joke with you is more fun than an angry tirade.
But seriously, play "Flight of the Valkyries" in your head during this fight.