Friday, December 16, 2011

[GW2] The Mesmer Unveiled

So no surprises at all, and Arenanet even got in a jab at the minstrel concept.

When I was speculating before on the key concept of the class, I was working under the premise of having a class based on punishment but without hexes. I'm ambivalent on the way they solved the 'no hexes' stance, they did in fact end up with 'hexes' but they work differently to what came before, though I'm consoled by the fact that these 'pseudo-hexes' seem to work in a better manner. There was one skill revealed that fitted my desired notion of the class, a barrier that if an enemy crosses they are crippled and if an ally moves through they gain swiftness, I'm still holding out that there are more skills with dual purposes like that, but what Arenanet has come up in addition to that beats the expectations I had.

But first those 'pseudo-hexes', one is a new condition called 'confusion' that deals damage whenever an enemy uses a skill. The fact it is a condition rather than a hex is better for two reasons, most classes have a heal that removes conditions or an utility skill that removes them from allies, so condition removal is going to be quite abundant and eliminates having to dedicate a slot to hex removal. The second reason is that the condition is stackable, so one application might be tolerable, but 3 or 4 can really start to hurt, it's no longer all or nothing:

"As of right now, it can actually stack. This means that it does a small amount of damage with one application, but with many applications, it will definitely make someone think twice about attacking!"

The second solution is that they have created phantasms, which appear like a physical manifestation of a hex, so there is a phantasm called 'Backfire' that appears and does damage to the target whenever they use a skill. I like the concept of these entities that look like the caster but have a one-track mind, they seem to have one skill and only target the enemy they were cast on, and linger until they are destroyed or the target dies. The advantage of this mechanic over hexes is that they can be attacked and dispelled by anyone if they choose. I'm in two minds about their appearance, they are purple/pink, translucent shades of the caster, and don't look like clones (which are an exact duplicate of the caster) so their is no possibility of mistaking one for the other, but an appearance that is more unique with a distinct silhouette like a beautiful dream that shatters to reveal an ugly nightmare. The aesthetic of the mesmer is fine, but injecting a little bit of ugly through the phantasms to offset the butterflies and rainbows evident in other skills would be a welcome balance.

"Question: "Have you ever thought about using unique models for phantasms? Seems they aren't meant to be deceptive like clones, so you could make them look pretty vicious if you wanted to."

Answer: "yeah we started out that way, but it ended up being more confusing as it a lot of noisier to combat and made us have to find very different profiles for each creature, when we changed them to being "Duelist, and Mages" we could easily give them weapons and skills that would make what they are doing more clear when it was creatures we where a lot more limited on what each thing could do.""

The other mechanics introduced are solid, the precasting mantras, the pairs of clone skills that work in an inverse fashion, the potential requirement that mesmer players learn to act like they have poor AI routines, fun and games with portals and the shatter mechanic. Of all the classes I'd say the mesmer has the most distinct design, and I can say I'm starting to like it more and more, the 'shattering glass' effect won me over instantly.

In addition to the mesmer information quoted, a reddit AMA by the Arenanet team was a great source of other information, including previously unknown skills, reworks, discarded designs and design goals. and of course the closed beta reveal.

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