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[Bladesworn][PvE] My feedback, perceived issues and some proposals.


Wielder Of Magic.3950

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Introduction:

I hereby present my feedback on the Bladesworn elite spec for the Warrior class. I will divide my feedback into several sections and will try to look at things from mostly a PvE perspective. I think that Bladesworn is in the best spot out of all elite specs shown so far. What it does it does very well. Unfortunately the spec gets massively carried by two things: both Dragon Slash and Lush Forest are heavily overperforming in their current state, to the point that a Dragon Slash powered by Lush Forest is responsible for over 85% of your DPS in your rotation. There is pretty much zero reason to ever swap out of the gunsaber and use your normal weapon skills.

 

This means that the Bladesworn comes dangerously close to being a one-trick-pony. And even while it does this one trick extremely well, there is no way that Dragon Slash and Lush Forest won’t be hit with the nerf bat. And when that happens, what does the spec have left? Balancing this spec’s two major overperforming parts while also finding a way to make us want to use the rest of our skills will probably be Anet’s greatest challenge with the Bladesworn.

 

Possible issue with the theme:

Are you kidding? I love it! I adore the idea of this “anime weeb slash’ warrior. I think it’s hard to come up with something for warrior that truly makes sense, and I like the modern-tech samurai-like approach this spec brings to the table. It might not be for everyone, but for me it works thematically.

 

Possible issue with the mechanic(s):

 

Dragontrigger:
I get what this skill sets out to do, and it feels extremely satisfying to land (who doesn’t love big hits). But there is no way you can call a single skill being able to dish out anywhere between 500k- 2.5 million damage balanced. It completely warps the entire spec, and with this comes the danger that when this inevitably gets nerfed the spec is left with nothing.

 

The design behind the three different slashes feel fine in PvE to me, as I started using them I started to recognize what situation was the best for which of my 3 Dragon Slashes.

 

The fourth skill, Triggerguard, was..okay. It might save you from a mild tap, but mild taps aren’t the issue while charging, we have the protection trait already. It might be good versus blockable one-shots, but in other situations some additional stability might have been a better choice. Missing stability in it's core kit (so before traits or utility slots) feels like a problem for a spec that is such a sitting duck while charging it's main mechanic.

 

The fifth skill, Flicker, is in my opinion not good enough. It tries to solve a problem that is not unlike the one that DeadEye struggles with: Becoming immobile in a game where movement is key and mandatory. Standing still does not work in GW2. Make this skill a dodge that doesnt break the trigger, greatly increase the teleport range, or just think off something else and allow us to move while channeling Dragon Trigger (possibly at reduced movement speed) would probably be a better solution. Standing still for 3-5 seconds in a game that emphasis movement simply doesnt work. Don’t turn this into a melee- DeadEye of sorts Anet.

 

Dragon Slash Specific Proposal:

I understand the design of this being a burst class, but I think the damage on Dragon Slash (and especially the Force variant) is way overloaded, and it might be better to tone down the massive numbers (over 500k or even millions from a single skill? Really?) on this skill a bit in favour of some more sustained DPS or supportive options.

 

Right now Dragon slash is anywhere between 85-95% of your total damage in an optimized rotation, and that’s just too much, launching it into one-trick-pony territory. That’s even a higher percentage than Axe Power Berserker gets out of spamming Decapitate, and most of us know how much power Berserker loves to spam that one. And at least Berserker absolutely smashes that F1 skill, while Bladesworn spends a sizeable amount of its time just standing absolutely still, doing nothing except...charging up. That stuff may work in your average action anime, but there isn’t much fun to be had in doing nothing for 3-5 seconds every Dragon Trigger. Activation/charge time really should be lower (doing nothing is boring, and even in PvE you will often get ccéd out) and that damage output really needs proper balancing.

 

If not you run the risk of Dragon Slash making this spec mandatory for DPS in higher end PvE because nothing else can even come close to its burst, while at the same time providing us with extremely boring gameplay ( don’t tell me standing still for 3-5 seconds every Dragon Trigger is fun). I have zero issues with the damage on Bladesworn being very good, and high numbers are cool, but it should not become untouchable by any other DPS spec numberswise. Not to mention that when you become this reliant on this one skill for your DPS, it means we will never see any off-hand usage, means we will never leave the gunblade because we need to spam the ammo skills to recharge dragon trigger (with Lush Forest), and that it’s essentially doing the exact same as Decapitate F1 Berserker spam, just with forced charging for max Dragon Triggers, resulting in spending a big part of our combat time just...standing.

 

A damage reduction ( and/or partial redistribution of the damage to other parts of the Bladesworn) and some changes to the time it takes to charge-up might be the way to go without completely gutting the spec’s main way to deal damage.

Talking about charge-up times, in essence the Bladesworn has to charge its burst skills twice when compared to other warrior specs: First they have to fill their Flow bar, and next they have drain said Flow bar again to unleash their skill. That feels counter-intuitive, why do I fill something first, and then before I can use the thing I just charged for,  I have to drain what I just charged?

 

A QoL proposal:

 Allow access to Dragon Trigger even when outside of the gunsaber. Having no ordinary bursts but also having to go into the gunsaber to access the only burst we have feels overly punishing. So allow us direct access to Dragon Trigger or give us our core bursts back when not in gunsaber.


As for PvP, the skill needs better damage (compared to PvE it’s almost not worth using, you can spend the full duration to charge and still only hit for 5-7k), but also an update to its hitbox and tracking, jumping and sidestepping can completely negate all three types of slashes, and there is no way that is intentional.

 

Flow:
Flow is a *potentially* interesting take on the adrenaline mechanic that requires a different way of managing it. Maintaining flow will be key for this spec, and getting more positive flow will be the main thing utility skills get selected for. The current implementation however isn’t quite there yet.

 

The challenge will be for the amount/speed of flow build-up to feel just...right. Currently however you will either find yourself preparing extensively and build up flow extremely fast, or you don’t and flow will simply..flow a lot slower. Right now I feel there is rarely a middleground between these two. If the idea was that you can generate flow with the same speed that you could normally generate adrenaline the idea failed. Because generally building flow takes a lot longer. Adjusting the speed with which we generate flow (so we can generate it faster) should probably be considered.

 

Another thing I noticed is how the way you can generate flow from skills isn’t a single system. Some skills add certain durations of the ’Positive Flow’ buff, while others like Berserker Stance add a flat value. You see the same thing happening in core traits where some traits give the Positive Flow effect, and others simply give a flat value. To me that was at times confusing. Not to mention there are also many traits that interact with adrenaline but do not interact with flow. Either make all core adrenaline-trait-options interact with flow or none, but no ‘case by case’ decisions please.

 

And then we get cartridges. Why are these even a thing? Are they just there to show us how powerful our Dragon Slash is going to be? Because if so, that’s a very modest role while having a very prominent spot in our UI. Often I was wondering if I had to pay attention to draining flow, to how many cartridges I had, or maybe both... It’s possible that this is simply a ‘learn to play’ issue, but I wanted to mention it anyway.


Put complexity and intricacy in the gameplay, don’t put complexity in the UI please.


Gunsaber:
So I trade my second weaponset for this, but the cooldowns...they hurt. They even hurt when investing in cooldown reductions and ammo restocks. This could use a shave on the cooldowns in my opinion, including a buff to its damage (perhaps an idea for when the inevitable nerf to Dragon Slash hits).

 

Gunsaber-Skill specific:

 

Auto-attacks:
Nothing special. Like everything else in the kit, lacks damage.

Blooming Fire:

 It’s fine, I like how it counts each hit as a seperate explosion (just like pistol), that’s a nice touch. But the range on this thing is extremely short, and if you move while using it the explosions can actually happen BEHIND you. I would appreciate a fix for that. And like everything else in the kit, damage is lacking.

Artillery Slash: 
Suppose it’s nice for when stuff runs out of melee range or as an opener, I don’t feel the short cripple is going to do a lot for you, not even with the net utility skill (which seems like it was meant to combo with this to a certain degree).

Cyclone Trigger: 
This is mainly a defensive skill, I wonder if the block (that currently only works versus projectiles) could also be changed into working against melee attacks?

Break Step: 
Fury is always appreciated, but the movement part on this skill feels hard to control, it is very easy to overshoot your target. It couldn’t hurt to make this move towards your target and stop when you reach it, just to stop the awkward overshooting situations. Something else I noticed is how the damage of the skill happens at your starting position, and not at your ending position. It might be better to shift the damage component towards the ending/landing.

 

It’s obvious that gunsaber right now is less there for damage, and more for keeping the Guns and Glory bonus and spamming all charges so you can combo it with cooldown reduction from Lush Forest (The reason I feel gunsaber could use better damage and lower cooldowns is because I don’t think Lush Forest and Dragon Slash are going to stay like they currently are, they extremely overperforming in a spec where most other things underperform, especially in comparison).

 

General thoughts concerning the Gunsaber as a weapon:

Overall, the gunsaber is supposed to replace a warrior weapon, but it currently does not bring the utility a warrior weapon normally brings, nor the damage. Damage should go up, and utility should be added.

 

Your mobility is unreliable (so inferior to gs), you don’t apply conditions (inferior to longbow and s/s), your damage is abysmal (inferior to axe/axe), you have no melee blocks or cc’s on it (so inferior to mace and shield variants) and outside of an occasional Artillery Slash you have no real reliable ranged option on it either (so inferior to longbow again and...even...rifle)and it lacks any form of cleansing (making it also inferior to the warhorn in that department).

 

I understand that the gunsaber should not excel at every possible role in the universe, but right now it is undertuned for all of them aside from being Lush Forest bait. Consider what roles you want the gunsaber to have, and balance/change accordingly.

Another thing I noticed is that the Gunblade sits on your F1, where usually your burst skill is situated. Considering across all warrior specs the burst was on F1, is there any chance for the Gunblade to go into the F2 slot with Dragon Trigger going into F1? And while we are at it, it feels really strange to be locked out of bursts if I am not actively using the Gunblade. Would it break things if we could press F1/F2 to access Dragon Trigger directly, so we don’t have to go into the Gunblade first?

 

A last small QoL request:

We can use weaponswap to swap OUT of the Gunsaber, but we cannot use it to swap INTO the gunsaber. Either allow both or neither, this is a bit confusing.


Possible issue with the Pistol skills:

No big issues. I like how pistol 4+5 have synergy with not just each other, but also with the elite skill and several traits. It’s pretty clear the weapon's purpose is all to help you do cool stuff with pistol 5. I also like how the separate hits from pistol 5 each trigger the Guns and Glory trait, meaning it’s instantly at its max duration of 10s after using it.  But you might want to consider changing how the movement works. Pistol 5 is meant to be used in short-range, and then it moves us out of the way as if we are ice-skating? Consider if moving us out of melee range with the skill is justified (and if so, give it a proper 'jump back' animation).

 

Another problem is that you are probably never going to use the pistol due to the nature of Dragon Slash, where everything that is not a gunsaber ammo skill to trigger Lush Forest becomes a DPS loss. So, this fits the main theme of my worries perfectly: Good design in a vacuum, but won’t be used due to the heavy overperforming of Dragon Slash and Lush Forest.

Something I would have loved to see was a mainhand pistol as well, but I suppose you can’t have everything.

 

Possible issue with the artwork of skills and traits:  

Like most of the EoD icons so far, I feel they are missing details and polish. There is a very clear difference between EoD skill/trait icons, and the basegame/HoT/PoF ones. I do think Bladesworn suffers a bit less from this issue than other elite specs so far, but there are still a few icons where the difference is very noticable, making them feel out of place to me.

Proposal:
Do another pass over the icons so they won’t look as out of place as they currently do when compared to their basegame/HoT/PoF counterparts.


Possible issues with Utility skills:


Combat Stimulant:  
This is an amazing heal. It gives you a clear choice: Do you save the 2nd charge for later, or use it right away to take a risk for boons? Combined with the elite skill this has the potential to become completely bonkers. Why? Because you can now chain this skill up to 3 times should you so choose. That comes down to 3x 3299 heals + 1x delayed 7238 heal for a total of 17.1k healing (spread over 5-7 seconds, so no insane instant burst heal to balance it out a bit), in addition to 17-21 seconds of vigor,fury, and 7-10 seconds of quickness. Meanwhile you can also opt to either get barrier or cooldown reduction through traits when you spend the last charge (traits which effects will activate twice, if you use the elite to get 1 charge of Combat Stimulant back and use it again). Excellent in my opinion.

 

Flow Stabiliser:   
Strong effect, even stronger if someone else gives you stability so you don’t have to use your second charge for the bonus flow (or do and get double bonus flow). This skill might become mandatory in DPS builds (due to how flow currently works). Good skill, albeit a bit simple and straight forward.

 

Bulletproof Barrier:  
Some damage, but more importantly warrior gets a placeable projectile block with this, a form of utility we did not yet have, and you get 3 charges of it each worth 6 seconds. Perhaps not for every situation, but good to have when the situation calls for it. Fine skill imo, additional utility is rarely wrong.

 

Electric Fence:  
I think you are usually better off with throw bola’s in comparison. And why does an electric fence not give a lightning field or a daze?

 

Proposal: 
Make it worth using, right now the only thing it has on throw bola’s is range. Perhaps a small daze/stun in tandem with a lightning field?
 

Dragonspike Mine:  
Not overly amazing, but calling it bad would go a bit far. A stunbreak, an evade, cripple (this does make electric fence better, but needing this skill to work properly says a lot about electric fence imo) and also recharges dragon trigger? Could be pretty good, but getting the mine to reliably trigger is an issue at times, and it could do with a lower recharge time ( let’s say 20 seconds).

 

Tactical Reload:
Amazingly strong elite skill, completely broken. The synergy this has with your entire kit is INSANE! It helps pistol skills, gunblade skills, throw bolas, throw axe if using an axe,  it helps support builds with ammo based shouts, this does more than people may realise. Great design, great skill, and any nerfs to Bladesworn recharges should be aimed at Lush Forest, and not at this. This is NOT the culprit, despite being able to feel that way when it gives everything 1 charge back, followed by ‘everything’ to reduce recharges due to counting as a ‘last charge’ again.

 

Possible issues with Bladesworn traits:


River's Flow:
Can potentially be very good when combined with Combat Stimulant and Tactical Reload, which together would be good for up to 15 seconds of flow..if the Flow this trait generated was more than just 5 seconds. Perhaps this has a higher value in WvW or PvP settings, because in PvE you are just going to grab ‘To The Limit’ for its 15 seconds of Flow Boost or Mending for the buff from Peak Performance.

 

With the 5 seconds from this trait you get less value out of it than out of simply using To The Limit in PvE (because you can’t effectively stack it for a ‘flow burst’). This trait suffers more from how Flow and the Positive Flow buff are currently implemented (and how Positive Flow’s duration is distributed among skills extremely unequally) than suffering from its own design.

 

Swift As The Wind:
Looks nice on paper, especially with swiftness giving you uptime on Warrior’s Sprint, but how many movement skills are you realistically going to have? Maybe bull’s charge in situations where throw bola’s (if you even have room for it) somehow isn’t enough? Or supportive builds running sword/warhorn so you benefit from sword 2? Maybe skill 5 in gunblade?

 

Perhaps this makes greatsword (because of GS 3 and GS 5) a better option as your DPS weapon over Axe mainhand (if, once again...you had ANY REASON to use anything not gunsaber)? I think your other two traits may turn out to be better for flow management, but this one really isn’t half bad either. But unlike the other two this one needs to be more actively built around. And once again, this suffers from the current implementation of the Flow mechanic and the unequal distribution of the Positive Flow buff.

 

Unseen Sword:
Probably will be picked for 100% DPS builds (because it seems that swapping from gunsaber to dragon trigger counts as a weapon swap which triggers both the damage AND flow bonus). Something I noticed: Why do the other two adept traits that deal with flow each have a 5s recharge but this one has 4? Furthermore, it feels a bit like an insult to injury that we get a trait involving weaponswapping on a spec that takes our secondary weapon slot away from us.

 

Dragonscale Defense:
Only 4 seconds on a 15s cooldown. This is honestly a trait I am not very excited about. Perhaps it is key in getting a Dragon Trigger off in PvP, I don’t know.  If it’s indeed PvP oriented, perhaps this could also give some stacks of stability when entering Dragon Trigger, because else the Bladesworn is likely to get consistently cc’ed out of it, rarely if ever getting the Dragon Slash off.

 

Proposal:
Consider adding stability to this trait.

 

Fierce as Fire:
The burning is largely irrelevant, considering it is the only condi in your Bladesworn-specific arsenal, and only 2s of it at that. The power damage on this also isn’t extremely high. Why would anyone take this when Lush Forest exists, the extreme value on that one will make it better in every possible situation.

 

Proposal:
Buff/change/redesign this skill so it gets its own niche, right now it is outperformed in every possible situation I can think off. Probably needs to go together with a nerf to Lush Forest. Maybe this skill could make explosions inflict burning as well? Because Bladesworn has no real condition damage options it seems to me that you either make the burning work, or just scrap it for something different (perhaps a trait dealing with armaments?

 

Lush Forest:  
Without a doubt the best trait in the entire spec. Your goal on ammo skills is to spend the charges. You have plenty of ammo skills. This recharges ALL of your skills by 1 second when you spend all ammo on a skill, and it has NO downtime. This is not just high value on your DPS skills, but also massive value on support shouthealer builds, with the ammo shouts and ammo on warhorn. The potential this has is insane! Frankly this is potentially so extremely strong I feel it’s a candidate for the nerf-bat. It’s 50% of the reason this spec is such a one-trick-pony.

 

Proposal:
This and Dragon Slash are massively overperforming and on top of that have massive synergy with each other. Before anything else can be done to get BladeSworn into a nice spot with interesting gameplay, this trait is one of the things that needs a nerf somehow. Perhaps lower recharge bonuses or an internal cooldown/cannot trigger more than X times every X seconds? Or when you spend all charges of a skill, X happens along with a cooldown. Right now it does not really encourage intricate plays, instead you are encouraged to blindly spam everything with ammo to get recharge times down (and this is why you will pretty much never leave your gunsaber).

 

Unshakable Mountain:  
Spend all ammo, get 1300 base barrier. Not sure how this is going to compete against Lush Forest. Lush Forest will probably need a max amount of triggers within a certain timeframe before people even start to think about considering this one. I can see you spamming some ammo skills to quickly build up the barrier, that is for sure. Would adding some stability to this trait make it OP? Not bad, but overshadowed.

 

Proposal: 
I feel this could give some stability ( on a cooldown if no CD stab breaks PvP). Can’t say much about the amount of barrier, will largely depend on how easy it will be upon release to stack it in PvP.

 

Guns And Glory:
Fine with me. If anything it will change up the normal warrior rotation by giving you an incentive to weave in explosion-typed skills on the regular. Extending duration instead of stacking intensity is a nice touch, and I love the synergy with skills with multiple explosions like pistol 5 or gunsaber 2. Now just find a way to balance it so triggering this doesnt involve simply camping the gunsaber...

 

Daring Dragon:

I am going to guess that this trait is meant to give up short-term burst power for some higher sustained damage in the long run. That’s fine if it would actually work. But it doesnt.

The culprit being how Dragon Trigger scales (exponentially) with your amount of charges, making this trait such a massive DPS loss nobody should EVER use this trait in its current form.
Has potential, but needs careful balancing of Dragon Trigger’s scaling formula to end up in just the right spot.

 

Proposal:
Rebalance this together with Dragon Trigger/Dragon Slash so grandmasters become a choice between healing, burst, and this (more sustained DPS for the long run).

 

Immortal Dragon:
Consider Dragon Trigger has a base 8s cooldown and does anywhere between 100k to 2 million damage in PvE.  Thats possibly a full heal every 8 seconds. For hitting one target. Who needs their heal skill when each Dragon Slash potentially heals you back to full? Potentially broken and in need of the nerf bat, at least for PvE, but all depends on how Dragon Slash will eventually be balanced.

 

Proposal:
Make sure this trait does not turn into effectively a full heal every 8 seconds on glass cannon build, possibly compensate the reduced healing with a different bonus. I know it’s just PvE, but this would make things...overly trivial. Balance together with Dragon Trigger/Dragon Slash.

 

Unyielding Dragon:
Partially solves the issue of Bladesworn having low cc in the base kit. This might become the go-to PvE trait in more organised groups. The blind immunity and unblockable part feels very busted for PvP mostly ( but it will be fun in certain fractals!) At the same time, I wonder if this shouldn’t be baseline behaviour for a burst skill getting charged this long.

 

Proposal: 
Make sure this trait does not break PvP by completely ignoring 2 out of 3 major melee counterplays ( blocks and blinds, leaving only dodge for the most part). I am not saying that it will break it (you are still an immobile sitting duck for 3-5 seconds), just keep an eye on it in case that it does. In case it underperforms (also likely), consider making this effect baseline and think off something else for this slot.

 

Closing statement

PvE Bladesworn is on the right track, but because of how massively Dragon Trigger/Dragon Slash and Lush Forest overperform (in a spec that without them probably underperforms) it comes close to a one-trick pony which results in a very one-dimensional rotation with an inactive playstyle.

 

Before anything else is done, these 2 outliers need to be brought in line (nerfs in PvE, possibly buffs in PvP) in a way that does not completely destroy the spec or the feel that Dragon Trigger is supposed to give. When that is done they can tweak numbers and recharges on the gunsaber, the charge-rate of flow, and the pistol to encourage us using it, hopefully providing us with a rotation consisting of more than just ‘Stand still, use Dragon Slash and spam ammo skills and the occasional flow skill between Slashes’.

Make us want to use the entire kit, and not just a single thing. Get rid of the one-trick-pony, transform it into a multi-trick-one.

 

Thanks for reading!

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