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Game Update Notes: May 11, 2021
05/11/2021—Skills and Balance Release Notes
It’s been a long while since our last major balance patch. In this update, we’re preparing for Cantha by cleaning up longstanding frustrations with boons and conditions, as well as by positioning existing builds as new potential sources of alacrity and quickness in group play.
Among these changes are new duration caps for each boon and condition, a rework of the retaliation and resistance boons, and a reversal to the bonus-damage state of the torment condition. Torment will now deal bonus damage to targets that are standing still instead of to moving targets. This change will enhance torment’s performance in most boss encounters and create better opportunities for synergy and counterplay in PvP.
The retaliation boon has long been a pain point, both in PvE and PvP. It’s not particularly impactful to use, and it’s never fun to play against. We have replaced it with a new boon, resolution, which complements the existing protection boon by reducing incoming damage from conditions (bleeding, poisoned, burning, torment, and confusion) by 33%. Many current traits and skills use retaliation in some way, or to added effect; those traits aren’t going away! Generally, they’ve been updated to use the new resolution boon. As always, the detailed patch notes below will tell you exactly what’s happening for each profession.
Similarly, we’re not quite happy with how resistance is a hard shutdown on all conditions, which creates overlapping gameplay with skills that cleanse conditions. We’re updating resistance to only affect nondamaging conditions. In other words, resolution helps reduce damage from bleeding, poisoned, burning, torment, and confusion, while resistance lets you temporarily ignore blinded, chilled, crippled, fear, immobilized, slow, taunt, vulnerability, and weakness. Since we’re reducing the overall effect of resistance, we’re also reevaluating and increasing durations in some skills where it is applied.
Boon and Condition Updates
- The Retaliation boon has been renamed Resolution.
- Incoming condition damage is decreased by 33%. Stacks duration.
- Unless otherwise specified, skills and traits that formerly granted or used retaliation now use resolution.
- Nondamaging conditions currently on the player are ineffective. Stacks duration.
- Deals damage every second. Deals additional damage to foes that are not moving. Stacks intensity.
Duration Caps for Boons and Conditions
Duration-stacking boons and conditions now behave consistently. They directly stack durations added from all sources, do not have hidden stack limits, and generally have shorter maximum durations. With most nondamaging condition durations stacking to a maximum of 10 seconds, we aim to reduce situations in which players can become stuck in combat because of a long-duration condition, preventing them from using their mount.
- Alacrity: 30
- Fury: 30
- Protection: 30
- Resolution: 30
- Quickness: 30
- Resistance: 30
- Swiftness: 30
- Vigor: 30
- Blinded: 10
- Chilled: 10
- Crippled: 10
- Immobilized: 10
- Slow: 10
- Weakness: 10
Mantras (Mesmer and Firebrand)
We acknowledge that there are significant flaws with the core gameplay innate to mantra skills, and that this problem was exacerbated in Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire™ when we switched mesmer mantras to an ammunition system, creating an incentive to not use the final charge. This is a poor user experience and something we have hoped for a long time to be able to come back and address.
Needing to prepare for combat by using a sequence of skills with a long casting time is not fun, and in most cases, using the final charge of a mantra in combat felt like a mistake. It not only denied your use of the skill for a long time, but it also required you to prepare your mantras again after the cooldown expired. Instead of being rewarding to use, mantras have been a chore; something you need to remember to do every time you change maps or respawn, or deal with after every /gg in a fractal, strike, or raid. Holding your group up while you again prepare each of your mantras never feels great either!
During the development of this balance patch, we tried several alternatives, including automatic preparation while out of combat. Ultimately, we found that the best course of action was to simplify the mantra skills and remove the preparation mechanic altogether, as this ensures that we can have consistent behavior between mesmer and firebrand mantras, as well as consistent core functionality between PvE and PvP game modes. As a result, in this balance update, we have decided to rework both mesmer and firebrand mantras into simple ammunition skills.
What this means:
- No more preparing mantras before use. They are always in the “ready” mode, storing up uses.
- Firebrand mantras are no longer stronger on final charge. All uses are the same.
- Mesmer mantras no longer do something on preparing.
Some related tuning and trait changes will happen as a result. While this results in a loss of some of the current flavor inherent to the mantra skill type, we have found that the ability to easily read, understand, and use these skills in normal gameplay is a strong improvement to the play experience.
- To better indicate which skills will deal defiance damage, icons within skill tooltips that represent applied control effects are now purple.
- The Exposed effect that is placed on many boss enemies when their defiance bar is broken has been adjusted. It now increases power damage taken by 30% and condition damage taken by 100%.
- Text on many damage-increasing profession traits, runes, and sigils has been clarified to indicate whether they increase outgoing strike damage, condition damage, or all damage, as appropriate.
- The Superior Sigil of the Stars now also increases concentration and expertise.
- The Celestial stat combination on gear now also increases concentration and expertise. The per-stat values have not been decreased.
- Griffon: Swoop now deals additional damage based on your velocity.
We feel that the elementalist has been in a very good place since the July 2020 balance update. Both Tempests and Weavers have effective high damage power and condition damage builds available, while the Tempest is also powerful in a support role.
We weren’t completely happy that the top-end power and condition damage elementalist builds have had approximately the same sustained damage, so we’re making some minor, targeted reductions to the power builds and increases to condition damage sources to help condition-damage builds really shine on bosses and other hard targets, and to ensure that they aren’t left behind by the effect that the torment condition change has for other professions.
- Wildfire: Burning duration increased from 2.5 seconds to 3 seconds.
- Lightning Orb: Reduced power coefficient per strike from 0.45 to 0.36 in PvE. This matches the existing power coefficient in PvP and WvW.
While the Scrapper can be played as an effective healer, it hasn’t had access to the offensive boons it needs to be truly valuable as a support role in group PvE content. As a result, we’ve seen the Scrapper get very little play outside of WvW. With this update, we’re reworking the Scrapper trait Kinetic Stabilizers so that Scrappers can apply the quickness boon on up to five targets, opening up a powerful boon support role for the specialization. We’re also taking some potential damage out of the Holosmith’s heat management in Laser’s Edge, and we’re instead adding more power to the core explosives trait Glass Cannon, making that damage accessible to more builds.
- Kinetic Stabilizers has been reworked and renamed. It is now Kinetic Accelerators.
- Kinetic Accelerators: When you grant superspeed to a target, also grant quickness (2 seconds).
- Applied Force has been reworked to grant stability instead of quickness and to grant extra power from might. Players now gain stability when they gain might above the threshold. Might grants bonus power (10 per stack).
Guardian has always been a very flexible and powerful profession. While we are happy with the current build diversity available to guardians—and we are working to extend that same diversity to other professions—we’ve observed that all guardian damage builds, both condition and power, utilize the same combination of the Zeal and Radiance specializations, as they have optimal trait choices for each. We are making a few changes to Zeal, virtues, and underperforming consecration utility skills to better differentiate the two specializations and allow virtues to be a viable option for condition-damage builds.
- Symbol of Punishment: Increased cooldown from 6 seconds to 10 seconds in PvE and from 8 seconds to 10 seconds in WvW.
- Chains of Light: This skill now requires a target to activate.
- Symbol of Wrath: This skill has been renamed Symbol of Resolution.
- Symbol of Resolution: Reduced cooldown from 20 seconds to 12 seconds. Damage per strike reduced by 10%.
- Wall of Reflection: Reduced base duration from 10 seconds to 8 seconds. Reduced cooldown from 30 seconds to 25 seconds.
- Purging Flames: Reduced radius from 240 to 180. This skill no longer burns foes that cross the outside of the field. Instead, it now applies one stack of burning with a 4-second duration on foes inside the radius when cast and again on each pulse for the duration of the effect. Cooldown reduced from 35 seconds to 25 seconds in PvE only.
- Sanctuary: Reduced cooldown from 60 seconds to 50 seconds.
- Inspired Virtue: This trait now additionally increases strike damage for each boon on the guardian. This effect was formerly on Power of the Virtuous.
- Absolute Resolution: This trait has been renamed Absolute Resolve.
- Power of the Virtuous has been reworked. Guardians now gain condition damage based on vitality (10%). Virtues gain reduced recharge (15%).
- Zealot’s Speed: This trait has been renamed Zealot’s Resolution.
- Lesser Symbol of Wrath: This skill has been renamed Lesser Symbol of Resolution.
- Symbolic Power: Symbol strikes no longer charge the virtue skill-1 passive effect more quickly.
- Eternal Armory: Spirit weapons now only apply burning on their first strike per cast. Increased burn duration from 4 seconds to 8 seconds in PvE, from 2.5 seconds to 5 seconds in WvW, and from 2 seconds to 4 seconds in PvP. This is a reduction to total burning from Sword of Justice and an increase in total burning to Hammer of Wisdom and Shield of the Avenger when used with this trait.
- Stoic Demeanor: Fixed a bug that caused a 3-second interval rather than the correct 1-second interval.
- Mantras: Mantras no longer need to be charged before use. They now hold three charges by default, and the final charge is no longer stronger. They regenerate ammunition normally.
- Defender’s Dogma: This trait now uses the correct icon. Reduced internal cooldown to 1 second in PvE only. This matches the current cooldown in PvP and WvW.
- Pure of Sight: This trait now uses the correct icon. The description has been clarified to communicate that strike damage dealt increases with distance from the struck enemy.
- Puncture Shot: Removed the bouncing aspect of this skill. This skill now pierces enemies and inflicts the crippled condition on all enemies if it hits more than one, with a cap of 5 targets.
- Symbol of Energy: Cooldown reduced from 15 seconds to 12 seconds. Casting time reduced by 0.3 seconds.
- Hunter’s Ward: This skill’s cast has been reworked. The dragonhunter will now channel the skill for 1 second and then release the barrage, allowing movement while the attacks occur and traps are formed.
Chronomancer has been steeply overperforming in a damage role in all content, leading to an environment in which the best way to tackle almost any challenge is to throw more Chronomancers at it. On the other hand, Mirage hasn’t been performing at the level we’d like it to; it’s been relegated to a damage role in only a few specific boss encounters in which confusion is particularly potent. With this update, Mirage will see general improved performance from the change to the torment condition, with the option of using a reworked chaos specialization that will now better synergize for condition damage and support builds. We’re also creating a new possible boon support role for Mirages using the staff by changing Chaos Vortex (the staff’s ambush skill) to grant might and alacrity to up to 10 allied targets.
- Deception (Downed Skill 2): This skill is now ground targeted while on land and no longer displaces the player when summoning a clone while underwater.
- Arcane Thievery: This skill now requires a target to activate.
- Time Warp: Reduced cooldown from 180 seconds to 120 seconds. Reduced duration from 10 seconds to 5 seconds. This skill now applies 1 second of quickness and slow per pulse, for a total of six pulses over a 5-second duration.
- Mantras: Mantras no longer need to be prepared before use. They regenerate ammunition normally.
- Illusionary Riposte: This skill no longer displaces the player when summoning a clone.
- Illusionary Counter: This skill no longer displaces the player when summoning a clone.
- Winds of Chaos: Increased projectile speed by 25%. Increased casting speed by 0.1 second. Lowered aftercast animation lock by 0.2 seconds. Fixed an inconsistency with projectile behavior after bouncing. This skill now applies torment for 5 seconds to the first target struck and confusion for 5 seconds on subsequent hits to enemies. Allies hit gain might for 5 seconds and fury for 3 seconds.
- Chaos Armor: Reduced recharge to 25 seconds. This skill no longer applies a random condition to nearby foes when cast. Instead, it now applies blindness and confusion to nearby foes when cast.
- Chaos Storm: Reduced recharge to 25 seconds in PvE only.
- Chaos Vortex (Staff Ambush): The projectile now only strikes enemies. Up to 10 nearby allies gain boons. The boons gained are now might (8 stacks, 15-second duration in PvE; 4 stacks, 6-second duration in PvP and WvW) and alacrity (3-second duration). (Note: Boons are applied near the mesmer only, not near clones.)
- Danger Time: Removed the critical-damage bonus.
- Chronophantasma: Resummoned phantasm damage is now 75% in PvE only.
- Seize the Moment: Quickness duration per clone shattered has been reduced from 1.5 seconds to 1 second in PvE only.
- Illusionary Membrane: This trait has been reworked. While regenerating, condition damage dealt is increased, and condition damage taken is reduced by 10%.
- Chaotic Persistence: This trait has been reworked. Gain concentration and expertise while regenerating.
- Chaotic Dampening: This trait has been reworked and renamed Chaotic Potency.
- Chaotic Potency: Gain condition damage. Gain additional condition damage while wielding a staff. Recharge of staff skills is reduced.
- Chaotic Transference: This trait has been reworked. Chaos Armor grants 3 seconds of protection. Gain regeneration for 5 seconds with a 15-second cooldown when gaining protection.
Necromancer is a flexible and durable profession. It’s not currently in need of any major changes, but alongside general improvements to the performance of other condition-damage specializations, we’re improving the necromancer’s access to condition damage in Curses with improved condition application. We’re also making improvements in Soul Reaping with Soul Barbs to increase condition damage, and we’re making small improvements to the usability of several traits in the Blood Magic specialization.
- Barbed Precision: Increased duration of bleeding inflicted from 2 seconds to 3 seconds in PvE only.
- Insidious Disruption: Increased duration of torment from 3 seconds to 5 seconds.
- Mark of Evasion: This trait no longer has an internal cooldown.
- Blood Bond: Reduced internal cooldown from 20 seconds to 16 seconds.
- Blood Bank: In addition to its previous effects, this trait now grants barrier for health gained while below full health at a 15% rate.
The ranger is a potent damage dealer. We’ve seen that Soulbeast has extreme burst damage potential, and unfortunately in this case, this has helped create some very homogenous group compositions. In this patch, we’re weakening “Sic ‘Em!” when used by a Soulbeast by lowering the damage bonus to 25%, matching the current balancing for this skill in PvP and WvW. We’re also increasing the cooldown of One Wolf Pack. However, while we do want to slightly lower the extreme burst damage moments from Soulbeast, we don’t want to significantly lower its overall damage per second on longer encounters. To this end, we’re also increasing the damage bonus granted by Furious Strength, providing an overall increase to sustained damage per second.
- “Sic ‘Em!”: When used by a merged soulbeast, the damage bonus granted is now 25%. When used by any other ranger specialization, or an unmerged soulbeast, the damage bonus granted to the pet is 40%.
Renegade condition builds will be positively impacted by the general change to torment in this patch. While they will be finding that they maintain and even improve their already strong performance, we are preemptively making slight decreases to the duration of applied torment from several skills, as condition Renegade builds were already one of the most potent condition damage builds. We’d like to improve other possible variations to the current favorite Invocation build, and as such, we’re allowing specific traits in both Retribution and Devastation to increase all damage dealt instead of strike damage only. Alongside these changes, we’re updating the Retribution specialization to match the removal of the Retaliation boon (and its replacement with Resolution).
We’re improving the strike damage of the Renegade’s Kalla’s Fervor effect by changing it from a ferocity bonus to a bonus to all damage dealt. This change will allow Renegade power builds to be more viable for general play in open-world and mission contexts, although it is unlikely to create a Renegade power build for high-end PvE content.
Soulcleave’s Summit was a skill we had been watching; its ability to grant uncapped healing per second limited only by how many times someone can hit while under its effect resulted in unintuitive gameplay—when Soulcleave’s Summit was active, players were incentivized to use the skills that could hit the highest number of times. This unpredictable rate of healing is not something that can be balanced. As a result, it created situations where it would allow groups to ignore intended fight mechanics. We’re now limiting Soulcleave’s Summit to trigger once per second per player, similar to Razorclaw’s Rage. We’ll still keep an eye on this skill; now that it’s rate limited, we can safely improve it in future patches if needed.
- Spiritual Reckoning: This trait has been renamed Spiritual Resolution. Increased duration of granted boon from 3 seconds to 6 seconds in PvE only.
- Determined Resolution: Damage reduction is now gained while the revenant has resolution rather than vigor.
- Retaliatory Evasion: This trait has been renamed Resolute Evasion.
- Vicious Reprisal: This trait now increases all damage dealt rather than strike damage only.
- Soulcleave’s Summit: Life stealing can now trigger a maximum of once per second for each affected target.
- Kalla’s Fervor: This effect no longer increases ferocity. It now increases all damage dealt by 2% per stack in PvE. This increases to 3% per stack with Lasting Legacy.
Legendary Demon Stance
- Embrace the Darkness: Reduced torment duration from 6 seconds to 5.5 seconds in PvE only.
- Pain Absorption: Increased base resistance duration from 2 seconds to 3 seconds.
Thief has had some of the least build diversity in PvE gameplay for a while now, and it’s overdue for some improvement. While we’re happy with the power damage roles currently available for thief players, we’d like to bring back thief condition builds as another option. In this update, we’re improving the conditions applied by daggers and short bows, and we’re adding more condition-related power to the Trickery specialization by giving it a source of expertise and a multiplier to bleed damage.
Notably, we’re also reducing the maximum targets of the stolen skill Detonate Plasma, which affects thief boon-build compositions in a few specific raid encounters. Now that we’ve added additional sources of quickness to the Scrapper specialization, we believe it is the appropriate time to also bring the thief boon-build role in these encounters down to match, providing boons including quickness for half of the raid squad. This will allow for less squad role shuffling in these encounters—if a squad still chooses to utilize a thief boon build, they will only replace one quickness provider.
- Trick Shot: Reduced animation length by 0.2 seconds. This skill no longer deals increased strike damage to poisoned enemies. Instead, it applies 1 stack of bleeding for 4 seconds when striking poisoned enemies.
- Surprise Shot and Malicious Surprise Shot: These skills now additionally apply 3 stacks of bleeding for 5 seconds in PvE and 1 stack in PvP and WvW.
- Choking Gas: Increased poison duration from 2 seconds to 3 seconds in PvE and WvW only. This now matches the duration in structured PvP modes.
- Preparedness: This trait now increases expertise by 150.
- Bewildering Ambush: This has been reworked and renamed Deadly Ambush.
- Deadly Ambush: Stealing also applies 3 stacks of bleeding for 10 seconds in PvE and 3 stacks for 6 seconds in PvP and WvW. Bleeding inflicted on foes deals 25% more damage.
- Binding Shadow: This skill now reveals the caster if they are using stealth when the skill begins. Reduced the aftercast animation from 0.25 seconds to 0.08 seconds.
Berserker has been in a great place with strong support, power, and condition builds that are successful in all content. However, Spellbreaker lacks the damage it needs to keep up, and the line between banner support and damage-oriented builds is very blurry, showing that possible alternatives to the Discipline specialization were underperforming. With this update, we’re making improvements to Tactics to make it a more viable alternative to Discipline, and we’re improving Spellbreaker’s damage capability. We’re also lowering the base target cap of banners to 5 players, with the choice for support builds to utilize the Doubled Standards trait to raise the target cap to 10. All banners are now gaining light combo fields, giving all warrior specializations some access to condition cleanse combos.
Rifle is also receiving an improvement pass, improving its ability to combat multiple targets and giving it more utility as a ranged power weapon in general mission and open-world play.
- Fierce Shot: This attack now pierces but no longer grants bonus adrenaline against vulnerable targets. Instead, it grants 1 stack of might for 5 seconds to the warrior when hitting a vulnerable target.
- Crack Shot: Instead of granting bonus adrenaline when Fierce Shot hits, this trait now causes Fierce Shot to deal 10% bonus damage in addition to its previous effects.
- Aimed Shot: This skill has been removed.
- Volley: This skill has moved to slot 2 on the weapon.
- Explosive Shell: This new skill takes slot 3 on rifle, previously occupied by Volley. This attack shoots a large shell at the target that explodes on contact with an enemy. The explosion creates a cone-shaped blast that fires through the target, striking foes behind them and inflicting the crippled condition and vulnerability.
- Reduced the number of allied targets affected from 10 to 5. The Discipline trait Doubled Standards now increases the number of allied targets from 5 to 10.
- Banners no longer cause blast finishers. They now create a light combo field that persists for 5 seconds after the banner is summoned.
- Peak Performance: Reduced the additional strike damage applied for a period of time after using a physical skill from 15% to 10% in PvE only.
- Great Fortitude: This trait now increases ferocity by 10% of vitality.
- Cull the Weak: Increased damage bonus from 7% to 10% in PvE only.
- Spiked Armor has been renamed Hardened Armor.
- Marching Orders: Reduced internal cooldown to gain Soldier’s Focus from 15 seconds to 10 seconds.
- Leg Specialist: Increased damage bonus from 7% to 10% in PvE only.
- Roaring Reveille: Increased duration of the resistance boon granted to the warhorn skill Call of Valor from 2 seconds to 3 seconds.
- Warrior’s Cunning: Reduced health threshold for bonus damage from 90% to 80%.
- Warrior’s Sprint: Increased damage bonus from 7% to 10% in PvE only.
- Doubled Standards: Reduced bonus effect from banners from 100% to 50%. This trait now additionally increases the maximum number of allied targets on banners from 5 to 10.
- Axe Mastery: This trait no longer grants additional ferocity for a second equipped axe.
- Sun and Moon Style:
- Fixed a bug that could cause trait bonuses to be temporarily lost after recovering from the downed state.
- The main-hand dagger bonus has been reworked to deal an additional 10% strike damage to foes with no boons.
- Attacker’s Insight: Each stack of the Insight effect now grants an additional 50 power, precision, and ferocity at level 80 in PvE. Each stack now grants an additional 35 power, precision, and ferocity in PvP and WvW. Previously each stack granted 45 power and ferocity.
- Full Counter: The attack portion of this skill now correctly triggers if the spellbreaker is in midair, allowing the skill to end correctly.