Berserker Feature

Winter 2016 Balance Patch Preview

ArenaNet released a blog post today revealing what they have planned for the first major balance patch of 2016. The blog post keeps the changes to a high-level look by not going into any specific details, just giving a brief overview of what each of the professions will be seeing in the balance patch.

The balance patch has its expected buffing and nerfing that comes in a typical balance patch. Included in this is the normalization to stomping and reviving which will no longer be affected by slow or quickness as well as the overall nerf to the slow condition.

There are a couple of things that are mentioned that I found interesting. First is this quote from the blog post: “We’ll be looking at slightly changing the theme of a couple of professions so that they’ll have a strong place in each game type.” I’m curious how far this theme change is going to go. Does this just mean making changes to an entire skill type to change their functionality or will we see a major shift to a profession or elite spec?

While I don’t know how I’ll feel about a theme shift until I see more details, the other thing I found interesting has me more excited. In most of the balance changes up until now in Guild Wars 2, we have seen minor changes to functionality as balancing was mostly focused on tweaking the numbers. This overview has a lot of cases where skills and entire weapons are going to see some major changes.

Elementalist

The only thing I was really expecting to see for elementalist was a nerf to the Diamond Skin trait which makes the elementalist immune to all conditions while above 90% health. While I was expecting this to change from complete immunity to reduced condition effectiveness or duration, ArenaNet is going to look at changing this to focus on condition removal.

While I have been told in recent days that Elementalist damage is really good, I have felt in my limited time playing ele that the profession was a little weak. ArenaNet seems to agree as they will be buffing their offensive power slightly through the Air grandmaster traits. And to round off ele they are getting some love to scepter and focus, the two weapons that I never use on an ele.

Engineer

I don’t play engineer much and usually wouldn’t have much to add here. But ArenaNet didn’t have much to add either saying that they are adjusting and reworking traits to make everything more equally viable. Scrapper is pretty survivable, but not to the point that it needs a reduction. Not yet, anyway.

Guardian

Again, not much was said on what they will be doing with this profession. Guardian is getting some updates to both traits and some abilities to make everything more equally viable. Dragonhunter is getting nerfed some, but will most likely be focused on the trap side for nerfs. ArenaNet said that the Dragonhunter’s burst and disruption is a bit too high, both of which traps excel in. The Dragonhunter’s F1 might also see a cooldown nerf as its pull can be a pretty powerful disruption as well as help getting that burst off with trap positioning.

Mesmer

I have been loving the chronomancer and it is awesome! Apparently so much that this balance patch won’t be doing too much to the profession. Some of the wells had already seen nerfs and the blog post doesn’t sound like the balance patch will bring any more. The alacrity buff is getting a slight nerf and the scepter is once again getting some love with updates to skills, functionality and traits.

Necromancer

Continuing the trend of the profession is awesome, the Necro won’t be seeing much change it seems. Some of the Reaper traits will see some improvement and the non-elite spec Death Shroud will be getting some much needed love.

Ranger

Rangers are getting some all around buffs, as the less used traits are getting buffed for both offensive and defensive options. The entire line of shout utility skills are getting improved to “give them more unique utility”. This is one of those places I’m really curious about. The current shouts for ranger are all about commanding the pet, whether that is to make it play defensively, revive players or go berserk on an enemy. I am interested to see if this is one of those places where the theme of the class is going to shift away from the pet a bit. I don’t know anyone who ever uses these shouts on a ranger and I don’t think that simply buffing them would make it any more likely that they would be used.

Revenant

The only thing I was expecting to see with the Revenant was a redistribution of damage off of auto-attacks, specifically on the sword. It looks like this is the main focus for this balance patch including making the sword “better at singling out and attacking enemies”. I find this a bit curious as all 3 of the main-hand sword skills have some form of AoE or multi-targeting as part of the skill.

Thief

Thief for a long time has been all about damage with little to no party support and utility which has left it out of most raid group compositions. To help alleviate this, it looks like ArenaNet is just going to up their damage, specifically in the autoattacks. This will help move them away from just burst damage and give the profession more sustained damage. The blog post even says that the autoattack improvement will be “drastically improved” to the point that sustained damage combined with initiative use will make Thief’s damage “extremely dangerous”. Will this be a bit too much? Maybe, but I’m excited to see Thief’s get back into a meta that has left them out of pretty much every game mode.

Warrior

Warrior is probably the most interesting of the blog post. Base abilities are going to see changes to cooldowns, damage and at times functionality. Something I have always liked about some of the Warrior weapons is that every skill feels useful, which is why I like the greatsword so much on it. This balance patch is looking to give the rifle the same effect with some rework to turn it into a more defensive weapon while keeping its killshot intact. Berserker is going to see more improvement including promoting active skill use in traits. To round out the changes, Warrior’s self-sustain will also see some improvement.

Back during the betas I had looked at the Berserker and commented that I wanted to see one of its traits change to make using Primal Bursts reset the cooldown on weapon swapping, so players could be firing off bursts like crazy if they constantly swap between their two weapon sets. Instead we ended up with the Smash Brawler trait that does a flat cooldown reduction to primal burst and berserk. I’m interested to see if Smash Brawler is one of the targets for implementing more active skill use in traits. Even if it is not, I like seeing traits like these get a more active part on the player and not just flat changes.

This blog post didn’t give us too much to go on, but we will get a deep dive into at least some of the changes coming during Guild Chat this Friday. I’m guessing that we are going to see this balance patch in a little over two weeks as part of the January 26 patch. I am guessing they will announce the release date of the balance patch during Friday’s stream.

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