I’ve made it no secret that i’m excited about raids coming to GW2. One of the main reasons i stopped playing the game a few years ago was due to their absence. What actually got me interested in GW2 from the start was the actual absence of said raids ironically. The more i played the game, the more i missed not only the larger group pve environments that raids bring but also the combat mechanics involved with them – the trinity. I moved over to a game that gave me that experience.
I also understand why so many are hesitant and downright hostile towards raids coming to GW2. After all, this game was billed as different and lots of players, myself included, came to it to get away from raids and everything that usually entails. I personally know people that will probably stop playing the game once the expansion hits. While i believe this to be a huge overreaction i do understand their concerns. No one likes change, but in this case, change is good in my opinion. As long as it’s handled better than my previous experience.
The group pve in GW2 was stale and rather dull from the start. Once players figured out how to game the system by bringing nothing but pure dps built characters, the content became trivial. I mean why deal with mechanics when you can just burn through the bosses and never encounter them? This turned dungeon runs from “explorable” to time trials. It became all about getting though the content as quickly as possible as opposed to actually clearing difficult content. This was the time i decided to depart. My favorite aspect of MMORPG’s , the group content, was trivialized. I was bummed because i loved everything else about the game.
Enter Heart of Thorns and the arrival of 10-man raids. I unfortunately was unable to do any testing during this last beta weekend due to raids being down during the time i was able to actually play. I’ve read enough threads and watched enough kill videos to form an early opinion. There’s certainly some good to be gathered from the initial raid testing, but as with anything new, there’s some bad as well. I’m linking a kill video of the first boss kill from a healing Druid’s point of view for anyone interested on how healing will work in the expansion.
It looks like threat is a real thing finally. Well it always was but now it’s more controllable and less random. This first boss appears to attack and stay on the player with the most toughness and possibly highest armor value. I’ve been asking for this forever and it’s nice to see in action. Whether this stays true for further bosses or how threat may change is unknown.
Another obvious one is the existence of an actual healer. This is made mandatory by a mechanic that pulses out steady raid wide unavoidable damage. Without an actual healer, i don’t believe the raid could sustain themselves for more than a few seconds. Nor should they be able to in all honesty. This is basic raid stuff here and it’s nice to see finally implemented.
Despite not showing up in this video due to a beta bug is the existence of new raid frames. Oh how i begged for something like this at launch so we could get the guild together under one group frame instead of multiple separate groups unable to stick together in large world PVP encounters. Group buffs will still be broken down by 5-man sub groups, like they used to in old school MMO’s, but now we can keep track of everyone’s health. This is a huge quality of life addition that will trickle down to other game modes.
Having actual mechanics to worry about rather than just stacking up and going full dps mode is also nice. Soaking lightning orbs and using knockbacks on red orbs as well as having to split the groups up for other phases will be a welcome addition for sure.
Lastly, having the group raid size set to ten is also a plus for me. I’ve dealt enough with the logistics of having to not only field but maintain a 20-man roster that i don’t want to do it again. While i personally prefer the larger raid size, it’s been nothing but a headache for me so i welcome the smaller format. It’s more intimate and that’s the way i like it. I’m not a fan of anything smaller so this hits the sweet spot for me.
The zerker meta is not dead. As much as i hoped the introduction of more difficult content would deter guilds from running nothing but dps gear, it seems that raids might just encourage it more. Tight enrage timers will do that of course. I expect this to possibly change for other bosses so it’s not all a loss just yet.
Group diversity as far as classes go is also a concern after this first boss. Some classes are just flat out better than others for certain scenarios. In this case it seems stacking condition damage Engineers makes the fight much easier to deal with. Not only is the boss immune to physical damage at one point but bringing condition Engineers also allows for more ranged and mobile damage when dealing with other mechanics. Again, this is just one encounter and i expect this to change boss by boss.
Piling on the diversity train here, i also have to mention the role breakdown. This group used one healer and nine dps with one dps having a bit more armor to tank the boss. This to me is a horrible ratio. I’d have liked to see something more traditional such as two tanks and two healers with the rest being dps. The balance for this first boss as far as role diversity goes is terrible. I’m hoping this is just to introduce players to how fights will work and the later bosses will encourage many more roles. I can’t possibly imagine Anet is happy with more dps stacking.
Finally, ground and spell particles are off the charts. This was to be expected of course since they’re a jumbled mess in open world content as well. Unfortunately in raids, being able to see the ground and whether or not you’re standing in something bad is way more crucial. A slider has been needed to turn down other players spells for quite some time. Hopefully the feedback Anet has been getting about this finally gets addressed and we get this much needed option.
All in all i thing this is a good beginning to raiding in GW2. How the future bosses in this first raid expand mechanically from the first boss will determine how successful this new form of endgame can be moving forward. Can Anet make interesting bosses within their combat system? Only they know for now but this is a good start. It’s certainly much better group PVE content than what we’ve had for the last 3 years. I’m remaining positive for now with some concerns of course.
Wooden Potatoes always does a fabulous job with his GW2 videos and his raiding feedback one is no exception. He goes into much more detail having had the chance to actually test. It’s definitely a good watch for anyone interested. I share many of his concerns as well has likes.