Meet the World Tournament Series Boston finalists

The World Tournament Series is the pinnacle of Guild Wars 2 PvP competition. The top teams from North America, Europe, and China will go head-to-head in Boston with the goal of taking home the title of World Champion and the lion’s share of the $50,000 USD prize pool.
Four teams remain, having earned the right to play at the World Tournament Series Finals in Boston by proving to the world that they deserved to represent their regions. The ultimate test of skill, tenacity, and endurance still remains as the teams must clash one final time at the ESL Arena in Boston for the right to call themselves World Tournament Series champions.
Can the North American team, the Abjured, defend the title they claimed in the last World Tournament Series event in Beijing? Will the forces of the Civilized Gentlemen and Cheese Mode, now combined in the new European powerhouse team Orange Logo, be enough to dethrone the Abjured? What surprises will underdog North American team the Dankening or Chinese team Heaven and Fire bring to the table?
Join hosts Daniel “Jebro” Littleton and James “Kaelaris” Carrol on the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel on March 7 as we discover the answers to these questions together.
North America, Europe, or China—who do you stand behind?
Heaven and Earth—China

The goal of Heaven and Earth is to positively represent the burgeoning Guild Wars 2 Chinese PvP player base with honor and dignity. A team that consists of players with varying levels of competitive experience, Heaven and Earth are unsure of how they’ll match up with the North American and European teams. However, the team feels that this circumstance—being a fresh and comparatively new team—allows them to have an even higher level of enthusiasm and passion for Guild Wars 2 PvP and for representing their homeland of China. The team has set their sights on proving to themselves and to the world that they are capable of competing in the international arena.
Loveyoumuji—Warrior (CN)

A blood-frenzied warrior with a taste for fighting, Muji gained a large following in China after his performance at the Guild Wars 2 International All-Stars Tournament in Cologne last year. During that time, he became good friends with fellow competitor ROM, and he looks forward to meeting ROM on the battlefield once again.
Jiazi—Elementalist (CN)

Jiazi is a skillful elementalist and former member of Team SALA—third place finishers in the last World Tournament Series. He practices daily and doesn’t let anyone stand in his way on his quest to becoming the very best elementalist. Jiazi is famous for his calm and collected personality, making him a formidable opponent in tense situations.
Santago—Engineer (CN)

Passionate and fiercely independent are the words that one would use to describe Santago. He has earned quite a reputation in China because of his skill with the engineer—the profession he used to help propel his team into the World Tournament Series Qualifier in Beijing last year. While Santago is extremely skilled, he’s also kind and is willing to play with and teach rookie players, and he often spends his time doing so.
Hutong—Thief (CN)

As someone who is very approachable and easygoing, Hutong’s low-profile nature allows him to go unnoticed. But as one of the most skilled thieves in Guild Wars 2, he’s a deadly assassin who has climbed the ranks on the leaderboard through his aggressive yet calm play style.
Rock—Guardian (CN)

As the most experienced player on Heaven and Earth, it makes sense that Rock would be selected as the team’s captain. Channeling both his leadership skills and game knowledge, expect Rock to serve as the foundation for his team’s success. Just because he’s a leader doesn’t mean he’s not a soldier as well; Rock has also earned high rankings on China’s PvP leaderboard with his skilled bunker guardian gameplay.
The Abjured—North America

As the reigning World Tournament Series champions, the Abjured will undoubtedly look to defend their crown in Boston, no holds barred. The Abjured are off to a great start on this front, going undefeated in tournaments for the past three months. The Abjured’s strong team dynamic and their experience playing well even when they’re out of their element will surely be boons to their performance.
Five Gauge—Engineer (Canada)

One of the main advantages that the Abjured gains by having Five Gauge on their roster is his acutely analytical mindset—a critical component in their ability to break down matches, pinpoint enemy weaknesses, and then exploit those vulnerabilities. Otherwise, in his own words, he goes “ham.”
Magic Toker—Thief (United States)

A former member of Good Fights, Magic Toker’s skirmishing skills and his ability to be in the right place at the right time are second to none. His strong map awareness and keen sense of player rotation helps him keep track of players all across the map, knowing exactly where he needs to be to help his team with maximum efficiency. A keen hunter in team fights, Magic Toker focuses on shutting down high-priority targets. Is he running a double-pistol thief, you ask? Nope, but he brings those guns wherever he goes.
Nos—Necromancer (US)

The newest addition to the Abjured, Nos—nicknamed the Dark Lord—brings a dominating presence to skirmishes across the board. Expect Nos to appear without notice, pick unsuspecting targets, and quickly dispatch them. He brings fear to all those he comes across. Having played at the highest level as a necromancer exclusively since the launch of Guild Wars 2, Nos has become one of the most respected necromancers in the PvP community.
Phantaram—Elementalist (US)

Having previously played for European powerhouses such as Team Paradigm and the Civilized Gentlemen, Phantaram is the Abjured’s inside man with the knowledge and experience needed to defeat the competition. Widely considered to be one of the best dueling elementalists in Guild Wars 2, expect Phantaram to hold his own in one-on-one situations, be a key player in skirmishes, and help dominate team fights by both supporting his allies and dishing out tons of damage.
Wakkey—Multiple Professions (US)

Wakkey is always willing to adjust his play style to meet the needs of his team. His versatility allows him to roam the field with impunity, always a strong presence in the heat of battle. A self-described “swag master,” Wakkey’s confidence and jovial personality help the Abjured stay upbeat through the trials of the World Tournament Series Finals. Wakkey also recently placed highly in the Guild Wars 2 All-Stars Karaoke Competition, earning him respect from the community.
The Dankening—North America

“We started at the bottom, and now we’re here,” claims team captain Bob Loblaw. Considering the Dankening earned their ticket to Boston by taking the loser’s bracket finals in the North American World Tournament Series Invitational Qualifier, you certainly could label them as an underdog, but don’t count them out quite yet. Featuring a nontraditional, damage-focused team composition, the Dankening aims to blow their competition out of the water with unfathomable levels of damage. For the Dankening, the key to winning is ending fights quickly!
Bob Loblaw—Elementalist (US)

A new—and welcome—addition to the top tier, Bob entered the PvP scene thirsty for glory and hungry for victory. Making waves early on with his old team Might Makes You Right, he quickly rubbed shoulders with other top players and found his way into the inner circle. Hoping to establish a top-tier competitive team, Bob carefully formed the Dankening with other like-minded players. The next chapter of his story will be written in Boston!
Eurantien—Ranger (US)

This ranger has stuck by his pet through thick and thin, and—in his own words—has officially sniped his way to the top. Relying on positioning, an eagle eye, and pet control second to none, Eurantien can quickly down his enemies if he catches them unsuspecting.
Ozie—Multiple Professions (Canada)

A sure winner of the “Most Improved” award if there ever was one, Ozie now finds himself a core member of one of the most elite teams in Guild Wars 2. While his ability to play multiple professions may have made him a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none, you can be sure that whatever profession he decides to play in the World Tournament Series will be exactly what his team feels they need to secure the win.
Physicks—Engineer (US)

A skilled engineer in his own right, Physicks’s name belongs right up there alongside Five Gauge, Ostrich Eggs, and other well-known engineers. As one of the main protectors of his team’s mesmer and ranger, his role includes everything from healing his teammates to crowd controlling his enemies.
Supcutie—Multiple Professions (US)

The World Tournament Series in Boston marks Supcutie’s second international Guild Wars 2 tournament appearance, having been elected by the community to represent North America last year at the International All-Stars Tournament in Cologne. A gifted mesmer and talented rapper, if Supcutie isn’t dropping sick beats, you can be sure he’s busy bringing big damage. His speedy rotations, clutch portal creation, and strategic mindset help propel the Dankening to speedy victories.
Orange Logo—Europe

What happens when you combine two of the most dominant European Guild Wars 2 teams into one entity? Orange Logo, that’s what. Featuring members from the Civilized Gentlemen and Cheese Mode, Orange Logo has their sights set on first place, and they’re feeling pretty confident in their ability to dethrone the reigning champions. European and North American team compositions have never mirrored each other so closely, and this matchup might come down to which team is more flexible. Considering Orange Logo is made up of players who have mastered multiple professions, they might have the advantage.
Blackjack—Multiple Professions (Germany)

A former member of Cheese Mode, Blackjack is no stranger to dominating the competition for extended periods of time. Blackjack’s competitive drive—his fiery drive to win—will help empower and embolden his allies during the World Tournament Series Finals. Blackjack has been known to play a variety of professions, sometimes in unorthodox builds, but always to great efficacy.
Denshee—Multiple Professions (Sweden)

A former member of the Civilized Gentlemen, Denshee has tested his mettle in both North America and Europe, having played at the highest competitive levels in both regions. Perhaps Denshee’s greatest contribution to Cheese Mode is his ability to play multiple professions, allowing him to shore up weak points of his team’s composition. This flexibility will help his team adapt to the differences in play style between each region.
Frae—Multiple Professions (UK)

One of the original founders of Cheese Mode, Frae has always put his team’s needs before his own. There’s a good chance that Orange Logo is where they are today because of Frae’s deft thief play during the finals of the World Tournament Series Invitational Qualifier against rivals the Civilized Gentlemen. Frae’s ability and willingness to be the linchpin fifth man will help Orange Logo stay flexible and ready for whatever the opposition throws at them.
R O M—Multiple Professions (Sweden)

ROM is no stranger to competition, having played for multiple top teams such as Cheese Mode, Made in Meta, Chieftain Ninjas, Team Mist, the Civilized Gentlemen, and now Orange Logo. As a devout theorycrafter, ROM prides himself in having created multiple builds and play styles that are now used by players across Guild Wars 2.
Tage—Guardian (Slovakia)

Famously known for his bunker guardian play as a part of the Civilized Gentlemen, Tage has since embraced the meta and switched to a more offensive guardian. Anyone who thought Tage might fade into obscurity because of this change has since been proven dead wrong—Tage is here to stay. Using a variety of weapon sets and builds, Tage’s masterful guardian play keeps his foes constantly on their toes.

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Get Ready—Camera Changes Are Coming!

I’m Branden Gee, one of the gameplay programmers working on Guild Wars 2, and I’m excited to announce a bunch of new changes and features for the camera system that Ryan Diedrich, Joel Helmich, and I have been working on. Now, before we get carried away talking about some of this cool new tech we’ve been developing, I’d like to answer the two questions I’m sure you are going to scour this blog post to find.
Yes, we are adding a first-person camera view.
Yes, we are adding an option to adjust the field of view.
But there is a whole lot more coming to the camera options on March 10. In addition to the first-person camera and field-of-view options, we’ll be adding better control over the camera’s positional offsets, a solution to camera snapping, and other features that you can read about below.
The Position slider—which was previously responsible for offsetting the camera to the left or right of your character as well as slightly adjusting the height of the camera—has been split off into two different options: Horizontal Position and Vertical Position.
The Horizontal Position slider will offset the camera to the left or right. You can use this to create an over-the-shoulder view that keeps the center of the screen clear.
The Vertical Position slider is a little more complicated. This option sets the maximum camera height when the camera is at maximum distance from the character. The actual camera height will adjust with the zoom level to ensure that your character is always on the screen.
A new feature we’re excited about is something we’re calling Collision Sensitivity. We’ve all been there—you’re running along, happily dispatching ambient rabbits, when suddenly a small tree comes between your camera and your character, causing the camera to snap in very close and completely ruin your immersion. Well, we fixed this! When enabled, this setting will adjust how much stuff (trees, walls, rocks, etc.) needs to be between your character and your camera before the camera snaps in. When this feature ships, it will be automatically enabled in your camera options; if you’d like to disable this new functionality, simply move the slider all the way to the left and the old functionality will be restored.
When planning out these features, we delved through your feedback on the forums for extra improvements we could add to the camera. Because of this, the Zoom Sensitivity feature was added. It adjusts how many mouse-wheel clicks it takes to zoom fully in or out. Moving this slider to the left will cause the zoom level to change in smaller increments, meaning you’ll need to roll your mouse wheel 42 clicks to fully zoom, compared to the usual 7 clicks when the slider is set to the right.
A much requested feature, the Field of View slider is a setting that will allow you to adjust how much can be seen in the game world. Moving the slider left will shrink the field of view, and moving it right will make it larger. As an example, for those of you playing the game using multiple monitors, lowering the field of view should help with the fish-eye effect you may be experiencing.
When the Enable First-Person Camera feature is enabled, zooming in all the way will put the camera in first-person view. You can use the first-person camera mode while standing in place, walking, running, jumping, playing PvP, or at any other time. There aren’t any restrictions for when and where the first-person view can be used, so enjoy it whenever you like. We’re looking forward to seeing the beautiful screenshots that you’re going to be taking!
Under the hood, we’re also changing which part of your character the camera focuses on. No matter your race or size, the camera will now focus on your character’s head. This is going to give norn players a relatively taller feeling than their asura-playing friends. We understand that for some of you this could potentially make things like jumping puzzles a bit more difficult. To counteract this, we have added the Adjust Camera to Character Height toggle. When it is unchecked, the camera will move to a consistent position above your character’s feet, regardless of how big or small your character may be.
With all of these changes coming to the camera, we realize that things could get a tad overwhelming. To ensure that you never get stuck in a camera configuration you don’t like, we’ve added a handy button called Restore Defaults that, as you might guess, resets your camera settings to defaults. The Restore Defaults button will only affect your camera settings and should help you navigate this new camera experience.
We really hope you find these new options and functionalities helpful as you enjoy the world of Tyria. We certainly know we’re excited for them!

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Preview of In-Game Camera Changes on This Friday’s Ready Up!

This week on Ready Up, Josh teams up with Gameplay Programmer Branden Gee for a first-person look at some of the new camera changes that are sure to expand your horizons in Guild Wars 2. Yes, I’m being cheeky, and no, I’m not sorry. On a more serious note, Branden has done some extensive work to improve the way that you view and experience the world of Tyria at the most basic level. We’ve got a number of new options to show you—collision detection, first-person camera, field of view, horizontal camera position, and more!
Ready Up will air live on the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel this Friday, February 27, at noon Pacific Time (UTC-8). We’ll see you then!
Did you miss last week’s Points of Interest? Rubi hung out with Jon Peters and Roy Cronacher to debut the revenant gameplay we’d been talking about all week, and they unveiled some brand-new skills.

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Meet the Wyvern in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

As we began populating the Heart of Maguuma with new creatures and new challenges, we saw an opportunity to take a system that exists in the game—the Defiance boss effect—and make it both easier to understand and more conducive to interesting combat moments. Today we’ll talk about that change and how it applies to the wyvern—a new champion creature you’ll encounter as you adventure through the jungle.
In Guild Wars 2, there are many skills that we consider control skills because they control what an enemy can do. These skills can stun an enemy, make them run in fear, knock them down, or otherwise prevent them from moving and attacking as they wish. These become problematic for boss creatures, which could be permanently controlled when fighting a coordinated group or large number of players. That’s where the Defiance system comes into play. Champions receive stacks of defiance based on the number of enemies engaged. Each stack of defiance nullifies one control effect and is removed in the process. Once all of the stacks are removed, the next control effect that a player uses is applied to the boss. This makes it possible to coordinate usage of control skills to interrupt the boss without overwhelming it.
However, defiance as it currently exists has room for improvement, so while working on Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™, we decided to revisit this issue and formulate a better solution.
While coordinated groups can use the Defiance system to interrupt enemies at key times, it is much harder to use the system intentionally when playing in the open world. A player using a control ability at a bad time could nullify the efforts of the other players present. Additionally, every control effect is treated equally. This means a 3-second stun from Skull Crack has the same effect as a 0.25-second daze from Head Shot. Blindness doesn’t fit well into the system due to its ease of application, and it has its own specific rules instead of working like other control abilities. To resolve these issues, we are making changes to the Defiance system in Heart of Thorns.
Rethinking Defiance

In the expansion, we are adjusting defiance to display as a bar beneath the creature’s health bar. Using a control ability against a creature with defiance will remove a portion of the bar, and the bar will regenerate over time. When multiple control abilities are used together, the defiance bar can be fully depleted and the creature becomes broken.
When broken, some champions may simply be stunned for a time while others may have specific mechanics like a defensive shell that can be shattered. With the new system, we can adjust how much of the bar is removed so that a skill that stuns the enemy for several seconds does much more than an ability that briefly dazes the target, and blindness can remove an appropriate amount of the bar instead of having its own special rules. With the regenerating bar, we’re able to reduce the amount of control required to trigger defiance while still requiring coordinated effort to control the boss. Badly timed control abilities can no longer ruin the efforts of other players, and the bar’s visibility makes it easier to see when other players are attempting to control the boss and help out.
With the greater flexibility of the new Defiance system, we’re able to better incorporate specific encounter mechanics. For instance, in the Heart of Thorns announcement trailer, we showed off glimpses of a new champion creature that has custom defiance behavior as part of its encounter design—the wyvern. Wyverns are flying, fire-breathing creatures that inhabit the jungle canopy and rule the skies above. They can be found harassing their enemies from the skies as players traverse the jungle below, and players can journey into the upper reaches of the canopy in order to try their hands at killing them.
A wyvern fight is composed of two stages: a ground phase where the wyvern is on the ground and fighting players directly, and an air phase during which it flies through the air and ignites large swaths of the battlefield. While the wyvern is not normally affected by control abilities, it gains a defiance bar when it attempts to take off and transition into its air phase. If the wyvern completes its takeoff skill without being broken, it cannot be attacked while flying and players must avoid its aerial attacks. However, if the defiance bar is depleted before it finishes taking flight, it is knocked out of the air and is vulnerable on the ground for several seconds, giving players the opportunity to attack.
Most of the wyvern’s attacks are with its deadly fire breath, which coats the ground with napalm-like flames. This fire burns for a long time, cutting off large portions of the battlefield while the wyvern uses its tail and wings to knock players back. The ignited ground is very dangerous, so players must be careful to position themselves well and avoid the wyvern’s attacks, as getting knocked back either onto the ignited ground or off of the platform’s edge will likely be fatal. The fight is designed so that players must dodge and move quickly in order to stay alive.
Bringing the Wyvern to Life: Visual Effects

The wyvern’s heavy use of fire attacks presented the visual effects team with some challenges. The first is that the wyvern can create multiple areas of fire, and those areas then remain in the world for a long while. This results in dozens of fire effects on the screen during a battle.
Too many heavily detailed fire-area effects will cause frame rate performance to drop to unacceptable levels because of overdraw. Overdraw refers to the number of particles on the screen in a given area. The more particles, the more overdraw, and the more performance and frame rate become an issue. To make realistic fire, you may want lots of particles for flames, fire licks, smoke, heat distortion, and scrolling flame geometry. We knew early on that we wanted the wyvern to breathe believable fire. To keep our particle and geometry counts down so that performance remained high, we developed several new fire material types.
The first new fire material we developed was a lavalike ground decal that would become the main visual element of the wyvern’s fire areas; the incinerated ground becomes a liquefied pool of molten material. The decal is supported by a few well-placed particles and fire geometry effects. We also developed a flow material for the flame-breath effects so that we could rely more on geometry effects rather than having to use hundreds of flame particles.
The biggest challenge we overcame with the wyvern’s visual effects was how to indicate to players that the wyvern is about to breathe fire. We wanted a molten glow to travel up from the wyvern’s belly to its throat before it released the flames.
Effects  like this may be easy to show in a movie, where particle count and shader complexity aren’t issues, but for an MMO game where performance is key, we had to get creative. For this, we pushed the limits of a little-used system called material replacement. This is a pretty basic creature system that players may be familiar with. For example, when a player is poisoned, you’ll notice that your player model texture is changed to a sickly, yucky green. This is material replacement.
The visual effects team worked hard to leverage the material replacement system in ways we never had before. Working with our programming team, we added new features to material replacement, expanding its capabilities and giving us the ability to animate the materials’ shader values and texture sets over fixed durations of time. The material replacement system is not a friendly system for an artist to work with—being all text field entries and no instant visual feedback—but in the right hands, it’s become a powerful visual tell for the new creatures in Heart of Thorns.
To leverage this system for the wyvern, we created another custom glow material that allows us to control regions or areas of glow on its body, enabling us to fade different glowing areas on and off. We knew we wanted the glow to build up in its belly, moving to the chest and neck, and finally to the throat and out the mouth, and we wanted these areas to glow consecutively, supporting the napalm-like fire effects. Using material replacement, we then animate by adjusting text values for the different glow areas to match the animation of the wyvern breathing fire, resulting in a wyvern that—through the buildup of molten lava inside itself—shows fire is coming, giving you ample time to evade the impending inferno.
If you’re attending either PAX East or EGX Rezzed, you can look forward to playing our PvE demo and facing off against the wyvern yourself. Stop by booth #5116 at PAX East, or East Mall 3 at EGX Rezzed, to get your hands on the first-ever playable demo of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns!

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Introducing the Overwolf Guild Wars 2 App Challenge

Last year we worked with Overwolf, the company behind the Overwolf overlay software, to organize the Guild Wars 2 WvW App Challenge, the Overwolf WvW Streaming Contest, and the Overwolf WvW War Reporter Contest. They generated a lot of interesting applications, such as Rush Box, Markers, and GW2 Monster Hunter.
[Insert App Challenge logo]
Today we’re partnering again with Overwolf to launch the Guild Wars 2 App Challenge. This time, application developers will have three months to work on their overlay, and they can make any Guild Wars 2 application they can imagine! It’s also another opportunity to use the Guild Wars 2 API  to create more interactive and dynamic applications.
We have an exciting pool of prizes, with $15,000 USD to share in three categories: General, Competitive, and Player Experience. The Content Marketing team will be judging applications with the help of a few other employees at the studio.
Head over to the Guild Wars 2 App Challenge contest page to learn more and sign up now! Also make sure to engage with the Overwolf team and other developers on the Guild Wars 2 and Overwolf forums.

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More on PAX East and EGX Rezzed

As you know, we’re bringing Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ to PAX East in Boston, MA, USA, and EGX Rezzed, London, UK. We’ve updated our website to give you an overview of our activities in addition to the Heart of Thorns demo at PAX East and EGX Rezzed. Click the banners below to go to our event pages.
We’ll be hosting a fan gathering during PAX East, so stay tuned to our website for details on how you can get into this limited event.
At Rezzed, we’re pleased to announce that we’ll be presenting a panel on Saturday, March 14, 8:00 a.m. Pacific Time (15:00 UTC) that will walk through the core features of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns and exclusively reveal the future of World vs. World, including an in-depth, never-before-seen tour of the new desert Borderlands map. This panel will be streamed live on Twitch.

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Points of Interest: The Revenant in Heart of Thorns

Points of Interest continues its look into the features of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ with episode 17. Game Designer Roy Cronacher and Game Design Lead Jon Peters are going to join me to discuss their roles in creating the revenant, the new class coming in the Guild Wars 2 expansion. We’ll talk about revenant lore and design, and we’ll show some never-before-seen skills from legends of the past.
As always, Points of Interest begins at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time (UTC-8). Those of you joining chat early can enjoy Richie “BogOtter” Procopio’s live preshow starting at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time (UTC-8), and stay tuned afterward for Aurora Peachy’s postshow livestream. We’ll see you tomorrow on!
Did you miss last week’s Ready Up? Josh was joined by Game Designer Hugh Norfolk for an in-depth look at Stronghold, our freshly announced PvP game mode. You can view it here on the Guild Wars 2 YouTube channel.

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Revenant: The Master of the Mists

Hello, Tyrians! I’m Roy Cronacher, and alongside my team, I’ve been working on bringing the revenant—the new profession introduced in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™—to life. We know you’re excited to learn about the revenant, and it’s my privilege to finally start sharing some of the juicy details.
So, It All Begins

The revenant is the ninth profession, added into Guild Wars 2 as a unique archetype not seen in other games. Revenants are heavily armored masters of the Mists with abilities that allow them to harness and manipulate energy in order to perform immense attacks. They invoke powers from legends of the past to dominate foes and unleash chaos on the field of battle. Those familiar with lore from the original Guild Wars will see many familiar faces reappearing as legends, which you can invoke through this profession.
Here are some quick overview specifics:

  • Unique profession mechanic
  • Unique resource system
  • Heavy armor
  • Medium health pool
  • Color scheme: red, black, and misty white
Between now and the launch of the expansion, you’ll learn a lot about the revenant’s skills and abilities. We’ll start that process today by talking about the following:
  • Hammer
  • Mace
  • Axe
  • Legendary Demon Stance: Mallyx the Unyielding
  • Legendary Dwarf Stance: Jalis Ironhammer
Connection to the Mists

As mentioned, this profession’s unique theme is its constant tie to the Mists, but how does that affect its gameplay?
Let’s start with the basics. A revenant can select from a pool of legends—epic characters from the past that you can invoke power from—and slot two different legends at a time. With this constant connection to the Mists, you’ll always have one active legend and one inactive legend. The current active legend will determine the skills on the right half of your skill bar. It’s similar to weapon swapping, but instead it affects your healing, utility, and elite skills. Not only will the legend you select determine your skills, but you’ll have an energy bar tied to your currently invoked legend.
This energy bar is a new resource that the revenant relies on in order to use skills. Some skills will have a low energy cost, allowing you to use them more often, while others have a large cost with a very large payoff. When you invoke a new legend, you’ll begin at half energy and generate more energy over time. This creates a push-and-pull feel with the energy that you manage as you use your skills.
Revenants also have upkeep skills, which you may remember from the original Guild Wars. Certain legends have skills available that will cause you to lose the ability to regenerate energy or even put you into a degeneration state while they remain active. These skills will last until you run out of energy or toggle them off. As you can see in the screenshot, there are pips that represent your current state of upkeep. This allows us to have another skill type in Guild Wars 2 with unique functionality and reinforce the revenant’s focus on energy management.
A New Twist

A revenant’s weapons are not tied to their legend choice; instead, we incorporate the core feel of using the Mists, and your connection to them, into the skills. This is a key part of the class that enhances the look and feel of gameplay as a revenant; you won’t feel like a guardian with its flames or a warrior with its physical attacks. We want to push the feel of imbuing attacks with energy from the Mists to wreak havoc on the battlefield. This profession doesn’t have access to weapon swap, but its legends more than make up for that, which you’ll read about below.
I know by now you must be thinking, “Come on, tell me what some of the skills are!” I’ll indulge you with a few. Of course, in the expansion, we’ve picked up some new skills and acquired awesome new tech from our programmers. Here goes…

We’ve given new and interesting purposes to current weapons. One of these weapons is the hammer, which you may think of as slow and physical. That’s not how the revenant uses it! Revenants use their powers to enhance the hammer in order to use it as a ranged weapon. That’s right—you’ll use these unique powers from the Mists to throw a magical hammer at foes, create massive zones of destruction, and preemptively control your foe.
Coalescence of Ruin

“Slam the ground with your hammer, creating a cascading eruption of energy.”
  • This skill uses new tech that you’ll start seeing in many areas of our new specializations as well. It creates a cascading attack that starts at your character and extends forward over time. This specific skill’s damage increases with distance. This allows us to create very impactful attacks that have a lot more play to them for both yourself and the foes you use it against.
Field of the Mists

“Create a field from the Mists that blocks incoming projectiles in front of you.”
  • Again, this is brand-new, shiny tech. This skill creates a directional wall in front of your character, blocking incoming projectiles. Even better, it follows your character! While it’s active, the wall will always be in front of your character, moving around with you to protect you from those pesky rangers (unless they flank you).

While we don’t throw any maces at foes, this weapon does offer a unique play style that is themed to work with the axe. Both the mace and axe use a style that requires you to pay attention to your position in relation to your foes, as the attacks are all directional.
Manifest Toxin

“Deliver a crushing blow that sends toxic energy chaining to enemies behind each target.”
  • This skill is the third part of the autoattack chain. We’re making autoattacks more interesting, with more play involved in using them. In this case, the attack is a melee blow that hits an initial foe but then looks for additional foes behind that one. If there are additional foes, it will chain the attack to them as well. You’ll want to make sure to line up enemies in order to maximize your efficiency.

As mentioned above, the axe is very directionally focused. It’s also a hybrid weapon, but it’s much more about utility than damage. Have you ever wanted to slice through the air, creating an epic rift in the world? The axe will allow you to do just that!
Temporal Rift

“Slice into the Mists, creating an unstable rift. After a short duration, this rift will collapse in on itself, pulling in enemies.”
  • Sounds intense, right? This skill is one of my personal favorites as there is a lot of play and counterplay around it. Again, it’s a directional line attack. It will always create a rift directly in front of your character, so be aware of where you’re facing. It also has a slight delay with a unique visual tell that allows enemies a chance to escape. Temporal Rift is a great complimentary skill for the other skills on your bar.
It’s Legendary

I suppose it’s time to dive a bit more into the legends themselves. Again, legends are a core part of the revenant, as they determine the skills in the right half of your skill bar. More than that, each legend includes a package of skills themed to that legend and a specific play style. In that sense, each legend will feel very distinct; you will choose each one with a set purpose in mind. Each legend’s skills are designed to be very visual. From a glance at the skills used, one should be able to tell which legend is being invoked. Each legend has its own color, style, and theme.
Legendary Demon Stance

“Invoke the power of the legendary demon Mallyx the Unyielding.”
Demon stance focuses on conditions, with a twist. Let’s call it condition manipulation. Instead of dealing with conditions in the traditional sense—mostly by removing them—your approach to conditions as a revenant is all about accumulating them in order to empower your attacks. The more conditions you have, the stronger and more impactful your demon legend skills will become. Let’s look at an example.
Embrace the Darkness

“Summon the power of the legendary demon to transform into a powerful avatar. Increase all attributes, and copy conditions to nearby foes every few seconds.”
  • This is an example of an upkeep skill. You can activate (and deactivate) this mode at any time as long as you have the energy necessary to keep paying the upkeep cost of the skill. All Legendary Demon Stance skills apply a condition to the revenant, similar to a necromancer’s corruption utility skills. In this case, you’ll apply torment to yourself so that, at a minimum, you will be pulsing out torment to nearby foes while this skill is active.
Legendary Dwarf Stance

“Invoke the power of the legendary dwarf king, Jalis Ironhammer.”
I don’t know about you folks, but when I think of a dwarf, I think of a tanky, brawling play style. And that is exactly what you’ll get if you choose this legend. When you use the Legendary Dwarf Stance, it’s all about sustaining yourself while maintaining a frightening presence on the battlefield that your foes will not soon forget. Let’s check out another example of an upkeep skill with exciting new tech.
Vengeful Hammers

“Invoke hammers to circle around you, damaging foes.”
  • I said there’d be frightening battle presence, and what does that better than hammers flying around your character? This is another upkeep skill. While it’s active, you have dwarven hammers spinning around your character and following your movements. They’re great for when you need to impose that extra pressure on your enemies.
New and Shiny!

New boons, conditions, and status effects have been added to the revenant as well as spread across other professions’ specializations. These are cool ways we’ll allow players to interact with new types of skills in our combat system.
Resistance (Boon)

“Conditions currently on you have no effect; stacks duration.”
  • Currently, we have skills that provide a similar effect, such as the warrior’s Berserker Stance (condition immunity with no counterplay). When placed on a character, this boon will temporarily relieve them of all the negative effects that conditions have on the character. For example, if a character is running in fear with the fear condition, they’ll stop running in fear when resistance is placed on them. When resistance ends, they’ll resume running in fear. Having this type of effect on a boon makes it so the boon can be removed by other players, adding in more counterplay.
Slow (Condition)

“Skills and actions are slower.”
  • We have the positive version of this already as quickness, which increases the speed of skills and actions. This will slow down animations and casts, allowing more time to dodge or interrupt the incoming massive attack. We’ve also improved both quickness and slow. Currently, quickness will cause your cast bar to cut out early. With the improvement, your skill cast bar will smoothly update when you gain quickness or slow, even during the middle of using a skill.
Taunt (Status Effect)

“Involuntarily attack foes.”
  • We have many different status effects in Guild Wars 2 that accomplish a variety of goals, such as knockdown, knockback, and daze. In this expansion, we wanted to open up gameplay options using taunt. Taunt will be used to both reposition foes and change your foes’ targets. For example, when used on players, it will force the taunted player to run at their target with their skill bar locked—minus stun breakers—and only use their autoattack skill to attack. This gives us the opportunity to use taunt in multiple ways, not just as a player skill, but also as a tool to create interesting creature encounters that utilize this taunt effect against players.
Just the Beginning…

This was just the tip of the iceberg. There are more weapons and legends coming with the revenant, but you’ll have to wait to find out more. It’s no fun to spoil everything at once.
All of the features that I detailed today in this blog will be available in our first playable demo at PAX East in Boston, March 6–8, and at Rezzed in London, March 12–14. I’ll personally be at PAX East on the showroom floor, and I hope to see some of you there trying out the expansion for the first time.
See you all on the battlefield!
Roy Cronacher

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Take a Deeper Look at Stronghold on This Friday’s Ready Up

This week on Ready Up, Josh is joined by Game Designer Hugh Norfolk for an in-depth look at Stronghold, our freshly announced PvP game mode where the main objective is to breach the enemy keep and defeat the lord. We’re sure you have a lot of burning questions regarding the mechanics of the map, so jump onto the forums between now and the livestream tomorrow afternoon and let us know what you’re interested in learning about!
Ready Up will air live on the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel this Friday, February 13, at 12:00 p.m. PST (20:00 UTC). We’ll see you then!
Did you miss last week’s Points of Interest? Rubi gathered some of our expansion developers to show live Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ gameplay in the regular Friday episode, and then a surprise bonus episode was shown on February 11. You can view them both on the Guild Wars 2 YouTube channel.

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Stronghold: The Battle of Champion’s Dusk

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ is introducing a feature we’re very excited to share with our sPvP community, a brand-new game mode: Stronghold. The team has been eager to share with you what they’ve been working on, and it’s our honor to give you an overview of some of the high-level concepts of Stronghold and its inaugural map, the Battle of Champion’s Dusk.

In Stronghold, you and your allies will attempt to infiltrate enemy lines, break their gates, and kill the opposing lord. If you succeed in defeating the lord, the game ends. Champion’s Dusk features NPCs you can hire for supply to help your team tear down the enemy’s gates and take down their defenses. You can battle for control of powerful heroes that become available through channeling mist essence at timed intervals. These heroes support the players as they push through the enemy base and—if they survive the battle to the lord’s room—trigger a devastating attack.
While Stronghold does have NPCs, we were very cognizant of keeping the focus heavily on player-vs.-player combat. The hired NPCs have specific purposes, engage in limited combat, and their abilities aren’t as powerful as a player’s abilities. The heroes are more powerful NPCs, but their abilities are centered on helping a team push rather than replacing a player. The NPCs in Stronghold provide new tactical and strategic opportunities and create new roles and a greater diversity of builds for players. The focus remains very solidly on player skill and teamwork to be successful at Stronghold.
One of the goals for Stronghold was to put more gameplay in the map. There is always something exciting to do in a Stronghold match. Whether you’re fighting over supply, pushing or defending a lane, getting your doorbreakers to your front line, or blasting your enemies to smithereens with a trebuchet, you’ll never find a time where you’re not actively engaged.

Some of our favorite moments in Guild Wars 2 PvP are huge shifts in momentum…

The team also set out to make Stronghold fun to watch. With the objectives in the map, it’s easier from a spectator’s point of view to understand how the game progresses and when the big moments happen. Some of our favorite moments in Guild Wars 2 PvP are huge shifts in momentum—moments when the entire battle shifts based on the strategic decisions made by teams and individual players. Stronghold is rife with opportunity for such moments: a supply runner being downed and his supply stolen; a player shepherding NPCs and being wrecked by a player on the trebuchet; players desperately fighting over which team will spawn their hero; a crucial trebuchet being wiped out; a desperate rush on the lord’s room; and the lord being downed and stomped in a game-winning assault. These are just a few of the big moments players and spectators can look forward to.

The primary objective of every Stronghold map is to defeat the enemy’s lord. Storm the enemy base, break through their defense, and kill the lord to win the game!
Lords have above-average health and a potent set of skills. The enemy lord is protected by their elite guards. When an elite guard is defeated, they won’t respawn, so even if your team’s first push into the lord’s room doesn’t end in success, any guards you take down in the process will make it easier to achieve victory on your next attempt.

Although the primary objective of every Stronghold map is to defeat the opposing team’s lord, getting to the lord won’t be easy. You must break through the outer gates and fight your way through the base to break down the doors of their inner sanctum, the lord’s room.
In order to keep players focused on tactical combat and strategic decisions rather than beating down a door, gates in Stronghold are reinforced against player attacks; as a player, you cannot damage an enemy gate. Fortunately, there are some soldiers at your disposal to do the dirty work for you while you complete more important objectives, such as operating a trebuchet or engaging in glorious combat.

To break through enemy gates, the attacking team can gather supply from a central supply depot and spend it on two types of NPCs: doorbreakers and archers.
Gathering supply involves a two-second channel that can only be interrupted by downing the channeler or by crowd-control effects such as fear, knockback, stun, pull, and immobilize. A player can carry a maximum of two supply. If they’re defeated by an enemy while carrying supply, they drop one supply that anyone can pick up.
Once supply is gathered, a player can return it to their barracks and choose either a doorbreaker or an archer to aid in their offensive push. Your attacking forces are summoned by another short channel that can be interrupted in the same way as gathering supply.
Attacking Forces: Doorbreakers and Archers

The two basic units that will aid you in your team’s assault of the enemy stronghold are doorbreakers and archers.
Doorbreakers are highly trained skritt bomb carriers. In fact, they are so highly trained that they’ll ignore all combat and focus exclusively on destroying gates. The damage they deal to doors is massive, and defending players must always be wary of a doorbreaker slipping through their ranks. Attackers need to protect their doorbreakers; doorbreakers don’t defend themselves.
Archers stop to attack opponents in their path. They do a small amount of damage to gates and a small amount of damage to players, but they do a large amount of damage to defending NPCs. While they’re only slightly effective at taking down gates, they are handy at helping the push through your enemy’s defending NPCs and elite guards.
Defenses: Guards and Trebuchets

To help repel the onslaught of the opposing team, each stronghold on Champion’s Dusk has a small number of guards and a powerful trebuchet.
Defending guards will stop doorbreakers in their tracks. They instantly kill any doorbreaker they attack. Sending a wave of doorbreakers at your enemy’s stronghold while guards are still alive is pure folly. If you’re on offense, take the guards down first or draw their attention to give your doorbreakers a chance to deal their massive damage to enemy gates. If you’re on defense, defend your guards and keep them healed. Like the elite guards in the lord’s room, when a guard goes down, they’re out for good. They don’t respawn.
In addition to guards, each team on Champion’s Dusk has a powerful trebuchet to aid in the defense of their stronghold. The trebuchet rotates left and right and can charge a shot to lob across the map. Use it to annihilate an offensive push from the other team, gain area control of the supply depot, or support team fights around the map. If a trebuchet is destroyed, it can be rebuilt instantly with supply from the supply depot. If the other team has the supply depot locked down, the trebuchet will respawn after a few minutes.

In Champion’s Dusk, each stronghold has a barracks, and opposite your barracks is the opposing team’s outer gate. Spawning attacking forces with supply at your barracks will send them from your barracks to the enemy’s outer gate. This creates two lanes in Champion’s Dusk. One lane is where your team attacks, and the other lane is where your team defends. To switch from offense to aiding a defending teammate, all you need to do is move into the other lane. Once the threat has been neutralized, you can transition back to the offense lane to rejoin your push forward with your other attacking teammates.

Heroes in Stronghold are the superweapons. They’re the keys to breaking through a tough defense and giving an attacking team the edge they need to take down the enemy lord.
At key intervals, a mist essence will begin to form at one or both of two locations in Champion’s Dusk. Mist essence takes 30 seconds to take shape, and once it’s active, players can channel it to summon their team’s hero. Channeling to summon a hero takes 10 seconds to complete and can be interrupted by stuns and interrupts in the same way as channeling supply. Taking down an enemy player is, of course, always an effective way to end their channeling.
Heroes are singularly focused on your next objective. They will avoid combat until they reach the farthest point to which you have progressed, whether that be the outer gate, the inner gate, or the enemy lord. Even though heroes avoid combat until they’ve pushed a lane as far as they can, they always provide nearby players powerful bonuses. Join a hero who’s storming your offense lane to gain the upper hand against your opponent’s defenders.
Once at that next objective, the hero will start their assault, using their skills on any enemies or gates in the area. Heroes are especially dangerous in the lord’s room. If the defending team allows a hero to get into the lord’s room, the hero will use their ultimate attack. This ability will damage the lord and all defenders in the room for a percentage of their maximum health and knock them all down. A hero’s ultimate attack has a long casting time, giving defenders a chance to stop the attack by killing or interrupting the hero.
Heroes are a force to be reckoned with. While they can’t replace a player on a team, they’re effective at supporting players, and they can turn the tide of a battle if the defending team doesn’t deal with them effectively. Get them into the enemy lord’s room for that final push. If you’re a defender, don’t let a hero get near your lord, or be prepared to quickly deal with them if they do.
Player Roles

The mechanics found in Stronghold and Champion’s Dusk support a number of different play styles. This provides opportunities for players to tailor their builds to specialize in one of numerous roles or use a more general build to shift between roles more readily. Here are some examples of roles that have developed in testing.
Assaulter—This player clears the way of enemy players, trebuchets, and NPC guards, giving doorbreakers a clear shot at the gate. A high-damage build for bursting down NPCs being healed by defending players and the ability to go one-on-one are a must.
Smuggler—Smugglers gather supply and spend it at the barracks. They keep an eye on which unit best suits the current situation and then send that unit down the offense lane. Swiftness, stability, and evasion are a big help when gathering and running supply, but be prepared for a team fight at the supply depot when being quick and sneaky isn’t enough. Smugglers will also be well positioned to compete against enemy players to channel mist essence and call forth a hero, thus possibly turning the tide of a battle.
Shepherd—The shepherd meets up with units spawned by the smuggler and shepherds them up the lane to where the assaulters are keeping the lane clear. This is a role perfectly suited for players who love to play support. They keep their doorbreakers moving, buffed, and—most importantly—alive as they protect them in face-to-face confrontations against enemy defenses.
Defender—The defender’s job is to stop the enemy and their doorbreakers from breaking down their gate and advancing. You can play a high-damage dueling build to kill the enemy assaulters and shepherds in order to pick off doorbreakers as they come through, or you can take a more defensive approach and focus on keeping your guards alive so they can stop doorbreakers in their tracks.
Trebuchet Master—The trebuchet master operates their team’s trebuchet in order to rain fiery death on assaulters, shepherds, troops, and anyone else who dares approach their stronghold. They also exert control on distant parts of the map, such as the strategically important supply depot. An effective trebuchet master must be prepared to fight duels to maintain area control and prevent opposing players from summoning a hero to gain the upper hand.
Roamer—The roamer is a jack-of-all-trades. This role is for the generalist who fills in wherever needed, in any number of situations, by bouncing constantly between lanes, the supply depot, and hero channels to fight enemy players all over the map.
Slayer—This player tries to break apart and destroy other player roles. They hunt down players who are smuggling, shepherding, defending, or manning trebuchets to wipe them out while mostly ignoring NPCs.
These are just a few examples of some of the roles we’ve seen emerge as we’ve tested Stronghold, but we’re looking forward to players creating new ways to play the game once they get their hands on it.
A New Take on PvP

Champion’s Dusk, our first Stronghold map, is a new take on PvP in Guild Wars 2. We’ve added more ways for people to play, created more reasons to try different builds, and kept the focus on PvP.
Be sure to join Josh Davis and Hugh Norfolk on Ready Up, our biweekly competitive Twitch livestream, this Friday at 1:00 p.m. PST (21:00 UTC), as they take us through a Stronghold match. For those of you who are joining us at PAX East, stop by our booth to play a match or two!

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