The next Closed Alpha test will begin this Friday, May 19th at 8 AM US Central Time, and last for 48 hours. Here's a handy countdown clock:
As we approach the test, we'll roll out the latest patch, update the Patch Notes and the Play Guide on the Wiki, and more. In the mean time, here's a quick preview at the changes that we're bringing to the Warrior class for the test.
We also previously previewed the changes coming to the Musketeer. If you missed it, check it out here.
The Warrior has proven one of the most difficult classes to design for several reasons. For one, it's a tank, which means that it has a very different play style than any other role in the game; focusing on defense rather than offense, and on controlling the battlefield more than anything else. In addition, it's the only melee class that we've currently included, and designing melee combat that plays well alongside ranged combat in VR is no easy feat.
Our latest iteration of the Warrior brings together the best expression yet of the ideas that we want the class to embody: protecting allies, high battlefield mobility, and a play style that rewards frantic, physical effort.
The key component to the Warrior's toolbox is the new ability, Sword Rush. This ability allows you to quickly (instantly) move across the battlefield to engage any enemy in range. The distance you can travel is slightly farther than that of your regular teleport movement. Sword Rush has the added advantage, though, of always placing you right in front of the enemy, within melee distance. So you no longer need to "stutter step" and teleport multiple times to find the right place to stand to begin attacking. Sword Rush replaces the previous ability to throw your sword and teleport to it.
Of course, Sword Rush does not by itself generate aggro or taunt the enemy, so if you don't generate enough aggro it may just walk right past you. But when paired with your other abilities such as Taunt and Stun, you should be able to get to an enemy, and quickly pin it down to aid your party members.
Sword Rush has a fairly short cooldown -- it's intended that you'll use it often throughout a fight to zip across the battlefield to your allies in need, pick up adds during group fights, and generally serve as your best way of controlling the fight. The flavor that we want for the Warrior class is a stalwart defender that always seems to be in the right place at the right time, defending their allies with their shield and sword. Sword Rush is the core around which that flavor is expressed in the game.
Of course, getting to the right place at the right time is only one part of effectively playing a tank. Your primary job is defend your allies, and the best way to do that is to make sure that things are busy attacking you instead of them.
While playing the Warrior, you can just swing the sword however you'd like. We reward large, arcing motions instead of small, "waggle to win" wrist movement. For Warriors ready to take their play to the next level, you can now work combo moves into your attacks. These are abilities which have additional effects, and are triggered when the right sequence of moves is executed on the target.
The possible moves are Right-to-Left slash (called "Left" below, as you swing toward the left), Left-to-Right slash (called "Right" below), and Bottom-to-Top slash (called "Up" below).
Provoke: This is the most basic combo, and it provides you with a way to generate additional threat on the target. You should ideally be executing this move frequently on your group's primary target, especially at the beginning of the fight. The move is Left, Right, Up. You can see me doing the move repeatedly in the above video.
Cleave: This is a combo that allows you to do damage on multiple targets at once. The targets must be in front of you (think of a "cone" shape). The move is Right, Up, Up, Left.
Wound: This is a combo that does an additional burst of damage to the target. It's a great default move when you don't need to generate more aggro, or when soloing. The sequence is Left, Up, Left, Right.
Hamstring: This is a combo that's useful for slowing down targets which may be peeling off of you to attack another target. It's also great for PvP. It's actually the largest slow in the game right now, balanced by the fact that you must be in melee range to execute it. The combo is Up, Right, Left, Up.
The combo attack system is very flexible and allows you to develop your own rhythm and patterns that you will find yourself falling back on while attacking targets and surveying the battlefield. Note that while we won't change the specific combos so you can begin practicing them now, we may modify some of the specific effects (e.g. causing Wound's damage to be more of a damage over time effect, or increasing the range of Cleave) as we fine-tune the class balance.
In addition to your combo moves, you have an ability that you can use to do an area-of-effect taunt, as well as shielding your allies. Taunt causes you to jump to the top of all affected creature's aggro lists, so you are, for the moment at least, the thing they will want to attack the most. The shield component works the same as the Musketeer shield orb, providing a temporary shield that will absorb a certain amount of damage during a short period of time before expiring. To use your Battle Cry, you simply grab the horn on your belt and bring it your lips to blow. This ability is on a fairly long cooldown, so you'll want to save it for key moments during the fight to aid your allies. This replaces the taunt which previously happened when teleporting to your sword.
You can pair this with the Sword Rush ability to quickly get to a group of enemies and taunt them, taking control of a bad situation. You can also use your Battle Cry during moments when you have control over the fight to aid your allies by shielding them, without needing to move as you did previously by throwing your sword.
A Note on Your Shield
In addition to your sword, which allows you to get to enemies quickly, pull off combo maneuvers, and deal damage, your shield is the other key part of your toolkit.
In previous tests, there was some confusion about how the shield worked and what the difference was between the shield in your hand and the one that could be "planted" onto the ground. Although we liked the previous idea in theory, we've come to feel that it needlessly complicated things for both the Warrior and their allies during combat.
Here's how the shield system will work from now on:
- Your shield is capable of blocking all non-area-of-effect attacks. That means it can block basic melee attacks from monsters, as well as attacks from Players such as Runemage missiles, arrows, etc. Red area monster attacks can not be blocked by your shield.
- As before, your shield has its own pool of hitpoints equal to your own. That effectively doubles your hitpoints. When the shield's hitpoints are depleted, it will "break", turning red and becoming ineffective until it has regenerated. Player attacks blocked by your shield will now correctly decrease your shield's hitpoints as well.
- The combat mechanics for all fights have been re-designed such that red area of effect attacks from monsters now always mean "get out of here!" There are no longer any large-scale unavoidable AoE attacks, such as the previous Rock Golem Boss's attack. The Warrior cannot save party members who don't get out of the way of these attacks.
- You can block melee attacks and projectiles if you are in front of your party members while they are getting attacked. For example, there may be boss fights with mechanics where arrows are raining down on your party from above and you need to get your shield up to protect a certain party member from the attack. This applies to both PvE and PvP content. However, your shield is only so large, so it's not easy to block things from affecting the whole party at once.
- The shield's position has been changed so that it is now located alongside your forearm, and you still have a "free hand" available to (for example) grab your horn and blow your Battle Cry even while your shield is out.
- You can continue to stun monsters by hitting them with your shield, but the new position makes it less likely that you'll do this by accident.
The Warrior Super Ability: Fortify
We're also introducing the Warrior's Super Ability, Fortify. When triggered, this ability hardens the Warrior against attacks, greatly increasing their armor for a short period of time. It also fully regenerates your shield immediately (including if it was broken).
This ability is very handy for navigating tough encounters when you might need an extra boost of toughness to take on a fight that you don't fully know yet, or just helping out your healer when they don't have the best orb for a situation ready to go.
In addition to the above, a few random notes:
- The sword hit detection has been reworked, and it is now based around detecting hits when your sword reaches a certain velocity. The velocity threshold is pretty low so you don't have to swing super fast, but this enables us to detect hits during situations when you are (for example) fully inside the collider for a boss (which often happens on very large bosses). Basically, you should hit large targets much more consistently now.
- We also took a look at the hit detection when attacking other Players, and feel that this should work much better as well.
- The Warrior generates super by striking targets, and also gets a bonus to their Super when they execute successful combo moves onto targets.
We hope that you enjoy the preview of the new changes coming to the Warrior class -- we'll see you in-game this Friday so you can try them out for yourself!