Musings of an Arm-Chair Mesmer: Changes Between Betas

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In the previous weekend, I finally also got to peek inside the matrix that is GW2. Many of my colleagues have published or will publish various aspects of the beta. But as a mesmer fan, I thought I would focus on one particular aspect by asking: What has changed for the mesmer between the two CBTs?

The most obvious changes probably are the skill changes. So let’s review them!

In the last Press CBT, the one-handed main-hand sword had three skills: Mind Slash, Leap and Illusionary Leap. In this CBT, Illusionary Leap got replaced with Blurred Frenzy which is a skill that strikes foes several times dealing out more damage than the standard 1-slot skill would while distorting the space around the mesmer and allowing him/her to evade attacks. Leap also got reworked. The skill now optionally allows the caster to switch his location with that of his or her clone a short while after Leap was cast. In essence, Leap and Illusionary Leap got merged into one skill.

More Winds of Chaos

Moving on to the greatsword, the #2 skill on the mesmer is now Mirror Blade. The animation for Mirror Blade is pretty cool because it looks like a the mesmer is throwing a purple phantasmal greatsword. What’s not to like about that? The effects are similar to the Winds of Chaos skill in that the skill gives a boon to allies in its path, and a condition to foes. The difference is that Mirror Blade gives only “Might” to allies and only “Vulnerability” to his/her foes. Winds of Chaos gave random conditions. The other difference is that Mirror Blade creates a clone at its final destination thereby sticking with the rule that each weapon can create at least one clone or phantasm.

Skills on the staff probably got changed the most. Winds of Chaos moved from slot #3 to slot #1. The damage got reduced but in return, the mesmer can now almost spam the skill. The old second skill, Duplicate, got replaced with a skill that was actually moved from the greatsword to the staff: It’s Feigned Escape. The difference between this version and the previous one is that here the created clone casts Winds of Chaos instead of Spatial Surge. Skill #3 is the Illusionary Warlock which was previously skill #4. The skill got moved to make place for “Chaos Armor” which applies a random boon to the mesmer, and a random condition to a foe each time a foe strikes the mesmer. Skill #5 was “Chaos Storm” which essentially remained unchanged in terms of game mechanics.

Skill Changes Promotes Movement

Auxiliary skills seemed to remain largely unchanged, but I did notice that Blink does not just teleport you back a certain distance any longer: Now it teleports you to any area you chose within a certain radius making the skill more versatile. Furthermore, Veil of Invisibility is now a wall field that triggers invisibility to any ally passing that veil similar to (previously it granted invisibility to allies within a certain radius of the area of effect. The default location is where you are currently standing. This change is significant because it also promotes movement over standing in an area.

The Mesmer is Even More Mesmery Now

Overall, these changes make the profession feel more “mesmery” and even more solid than what we have seen previously. For example, I previously had the impression that Leap and Illusionary Leap took a bit more space for what the skills were able to do. So the merging of the two skills into an optionally chaining skill gives the skill more complexity and flexibility. With the introduction of Blurred Frenzy, the mesmer truly feels like a dancing, evading-type of a duelist many mesmer fans had envisioned. If we, for example, wanted to double-wield swords, we now would have access to two defensive skills that have the “countery” feel of mesmers: Blurred Frenzy and Illusionary Riposte. Proper timing of these skills can make an opponent waste his high-damage skill while at the same time getting some sort of disadvantage. In the case of Blurred Frenzy, it is a lot of damage and in the case of Riposte another clone which can be used for a variety of different uses. The staff feels even more solid now as the theme of the staff got reenforced: add as many conditions to the foe as possible and punish him or her for each condition! The way Blink and Veil of Invisibility work work now increases the mesmer’s mobility options further. The only aspect I feel uncertain about is how the greatsword is working – not because the changes are bad, but because I made it a point not to try out a mesmer running around with big purple lasers too much this time around – admittedly a mistake in hindsight.

What is Yet to Come

It is self-understood that how the skills work by the time the game releases may further change, and that the detailed numbers (damage, recharge time etc.) are constantly in flux while the game is being fine-tuned. But I hope that these changes give little glimpses on how Arenanet’s developer team is still hard at work trying to improve on every aspect of the game so that they in the end deliver a polished game we all can enjoy.

This was a rather specific article on the changes that occurred in the Mesmer. If you want to get a more general impression on how the mesmer feels during game play, I would highly recommend Alaris’ article titled “The Mesmer Experience ™”.

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