Considering the current lack of hype for Eod, and Anet is once again intent on not wanting to generate any hype, I felt its time someone stepped forward. And that someone, might as well be me.
I have had the fortune to be one of the few people that had an invitation to a closed early test of some parts of the upcoming EoD expansion. No, we were not able to see or test everything. Yes, it is looking good, albeit some things are buggy. No, I don’t care if you don’t believe me, all I have to do is wait until the end of July to get proven right.
So why step forward then?
This game needs hype. Leaks generate hype. Anet hates leaks. Anet also fails to generate hype. If anything I hope this is doing the game a favour so we see a bigger interest in the game and in EoD, so there is a bigger chance of it getting the attention it deserves.
What content was available for testing?
We had access to some of the first story arc and areas, a few isolated parts of later maps, some early masteries, and were able to playtest the upcoming specialisations and one of two new raid wings. There was a limited amount of time so it was hard to test everything, so I am sorry if my info is at times less detailed, it means I was unable to try it out for myself and have to go with the impressions of others ( coffee breaks on a safe distance still allow for a surprising amount of interaction).
Naturally we haven’t got a single clue about the entire storyline, only the beginning was available to try. Anet also did not want to answer a lot of questions about it, and if they did the answers were very evasive. However they seemed to think that the story for EoD is the best they have written so far, if their secrecy is anything to go by.
Still, from what was available it started out pretty standard. We arrive in Cantha by airship, only to be shot out of the sky by the defensive batteries at Shing Jea Bastion. Interestingly enough, it is just the commander and her buddies ( the new commander ‘mascot’ is a lady, Devs just referred to her as ‘Mei’). Still, it did feel a bit like they rehashed the HoT opening. The next few story instances take place on the Fortress Island of Shing Jea, with the Bastion essentially towering over one half of the island, and a big mountain range over the other. You mostly try to understand why you got shot out of the sky, what the current situation is ( there is a lot of unrest and apparently Luxons and Kurzicks feel confident enough to try and secede from the empire again), trying to find your friends ( Marjory is missing, after crashing you get a cutscene of her being dragged away by an unknown faction with some sort of waves-like dragon symbol on their uniforms), and making new allies.
To be honest it was more of a tutorial than actual story, mostly serving to eventually get us to the Luxon enclave at Haiju Lagoon ( we learn that the Emperor has displaced many Luxon and Kurzick people from their homes to forcibly integrate them into the empire), where we learn how to operate and sail a ship in order to eventually be able to escape to the mainland from Seitung Harbor. Yes, Sailing was the first mastery we unlocked. We were only able to use the first few tiers ( sail faster, against the wind and sudden turn), but it was a pretty big mastery tree, it was something like 8 or 9 tiers just for sailing ( mastery points weren’t all placed yet so Anet just had it unlocked for us). Apparently there will be different ship models with different stats and abilities, with different skins available from the gemstore. You could upgrade your ship through crafting, customising its stats and abilities even further. To be honest it was a lot more interesting than I imagined, and it was pretty fun navigating my little ship through the lagoon and down dangerous streams or past whirlpools with treasure.
The movement however felt very slow, mainly because we were unable to use mounts. Apparently the use of mounts unlocks after playing through the main story, but I really hope Anet reverts this decision ( after being used to mounts since PoF it feels like a step back, even while I get why they did it, especially with bigger sailing ships being able to transport multiple people and there being a lot of water). Anet made sure that we knew this was not the only masteryline, but I haven’t seen any others, and nobody else of the people I talked to did either.
Haven’t seen much water dragon things, but I did see some weird things called the Pelagic, whatever that might be. But not all of them were hostile, some were neutral, weirdly enough. There was however one piece of artwork that showed a massive Kraken-like creature fighting what seemed like jets of water with claws. Not sure if it was related to the story or just artwork.
Other fun fact: devs said the Jade statue of Shiro will be ingame and that revenant will have some special dialogue and an achievement if they visit it while channeling Shiro.
From what I have seen, there is Shing Jea Island, Kaineng Metropolis, Pong Mei Wilderness, Boreas Shore, Sunken Archipelago , Vasburg Frontier and another Kurzick map that I have forgotten the name off. Honestly we only got to see Shing Jea Island and a part of Sunken Archipelago where they situated a raid instance.
EoD will ship with at least one raid, with a second one being worked on that is supposedly going to be accessable from a place called Zu Heltzer Ruins. We were only able to try the first raid wing ( it was in a place called Cavalon Diggings), but it kicked our asses pretty hard ( sorry, we aren’t season raiders). It had five bosses in total, and two events. One event was that your party gets stalked by some weird demon-like beings that pop out of stealth, heavily damage people, and disappear again. Apparently there is a tell for this attack, but we never found out what it was, and simply got OHKO’D whenever it popped out of hiding. Eventually a dev felt pity and just teleported us past that particular event.
The first boss was some sort of mad cultist, called the Reaver. It rotated being between resisting physical damage and condition damage and constantly summoned small raiding parties of sorts.
Sorry to say but I never got past it, if only because nobody understood how its aggro worked, it switched so many times it was hard to keep track off. Never got past 90%.
I heard from others that there is also something called a Leviathan and something called a Swarm, but anet ported us past it to show the last boss.
Last boss is called Kanaxai of the Deep, and is a massive horned demon with some weird watery corruption around him ( hard to explain). This boss also constantly popped adds that converted boons on the party into healing for the boss, and as the fight progressed there were all sorts of environmental effects ( it felt a bit like how fractal instabilities worked) that got placed on the party, like losing health, stability not working anymore, when you dodge you deplete the endurance bar of people near you, etc. If you did not break the boss its breakbar ( that appeared every 10-15%) in time ( we didnt, despite everyone throwing every cc we had on it. I am still not sure if it was bugged or if the breakbar was simply that big), it would not simply add 1 new environmental effect, but it added all possible effects at once ( there are like 8 or 9 different effects, and every previous boss/event/area had one of these effects to make your squad familiar with them), which at that point was pretty much gg. As I said, we never got past that first breakbar, but it did seem like a very cool bossfight. One disappointment: It did not seem like there were any Challenge Motes.
I haven’t seen any hints of new fractals, so I cannot tell you a thing other than that it is probably on the table.
Simply put: I thought most were pretty good, and some of them are possibly the best specs Anet has created. Elite specs being underwhelming was a big fear of mine, but after playtesting some things and talking to others that fear is pretty much gone. I cannot wait to play them on release ( the intended releasedate is closer than most people expect!) Considering how a part of the storyline had to do with unrest in the Empire and the Kurzicks and Luxons trying to secede, the elite specs are themed around these factions, with 3 being Imperial, 3 Luxon, and 3 Kurzick from what I have played/seen/heard. A lot of support and control specs this time, with control often being in the form of what they called ‘wave’. It’s a new type of control effect that cannot be dodged or evaded through but requires you to jump at the right time to avoid it.
Enforcer. Imperial inspired. It got a 2h staff and focused on healing and control. It got a third weaponset and weaponswapping got a 3 second cooldown overall ( 2 seconds with fast hands). It had 4 bars of adrenaline, but every burst skill only used a single bar, allowing you to quickly cycle between different weapons and bursts. Certain actions changed your bursts between supportive and control, but I never really understood how it worked. I mainly used the trait that allowed you to use all adrenaline like a normal warrior if you spent 4 full bars for additional effects. It looked cool, but overly complicated to me.
Redemptor. Apparently it is a Kurzick inspired spec. It focused on a crowd control and boon removal using offhand sword. It also got a unique effect that changed aegis to something known as ‘reversal of damage’ which returned 100% of the damage from the next hit you took instead of blocking. It got something called ‘Vows’ as utility skills and the virtues appeared to become ground targetable effects that made me think off scourge pillars. They disabled this spec pretty early because the reversal of damage effect was bugged, causing people to one-shot the boss from the Shing Jea meta event with it.
This spec was very weird. It was a Naga legend ( I guess Luxon inspired), but I never heard of it ( and was unable to find anything about on the wiki afterwards either). The legend showed up as ‘Legendary Raider’. It used dual daggers, but I am not sure ( Nobody really wanted to try it out and by the time I got to it we only had 10 minutes left, so it was mostly some quick running around). It was however a power dps based legend that got access to so much stealth that I was surprised this wasn’t a thief spec. Numbers seemed good, but the gameplay felt a bit off still ( plenty of evading and float if I remember it right).
Warden. A kurzick inspired spec with a hammer that focused on power damage and control while coming with a lot of personal barrier and stability. I loved this spec ( it played like a non-shitty scrapper with functional pets and more hammer time), I just loved it. It felt like a loveletter to the GW1 bunnythumper build, and now you actually had three active pets instead of just one! It was focused around making attack combinations with your pet, and stuff like applying succesful crowd control, weaponswapping or dodging gave access to different type of combo attacks. Each pet was balanced so it did only 75% damage from the damage of a core ranger pet, but with 3 pets out that still meant a 225% damage petforce. They actually had to rework both the pet UI and its AI for this spec to work, but it was 100% worth it. I especially loved using hammer 5 to create a knockback inducing shockwave that gave myself stability and barrier, and comboíng that with the elite skill ( it was an ammo skill that was a thrown smokefield. It would then flip-over in a skill, where a Siege Turtle shot a massive cannonball at the target for heavy damage and even more knockdown, it was insane). Easily the most fun I had out of all the specs.
Constructor. I didn’t play this one so I can only tell you about what I heard from others during smoke/coffee breaks. It was a condition damage based spec with offhand mace ( apparently lots of confusion) and it got a lifeforce-like mechanic that allowed it to build minion-like artificial things that were called Constructs. Apparently these Constructs and the Constructor had a lot of synergy with each other, differing from giving it orders with something that looked like the Wardens pet interface, to switching places with one of the constructs or combining them into new constructs all together. I have some reservations concerning how a minion spec could be fun, but the people I talked to seemed very enthusiastic about it with one girl saying it would be her main spec when EoD comes out.
Bonemender, Imperial inspired, came with offhand mace. It was a healing spec that was able to heal allies by attacking them. It had a trait that made it so conditions on your weapons would provide boons if the attack hit an ally, it was actually very fun! I didn’t really understand the new steal mechanic, it seemed to also have a dual purpose where it could either take conditions from allies and put them to foes, or give/take boons to allies/from foes. I do remember it getting alacrity, which is pretty big! It could make great use of the new Gaki gear stats which was + healing power, + precision, + ferocity.
Celestial-Envoy, Imperial Inspired with a longbow and a mechanic called Celestial Storm. Every attack you made added a charge to your Celestial Affinity, to a maximum of 15 base charges. At any point you could press the F5 skill for some sort of shadowy clones to appear that would shoot nearby targets with the amount of shots tied to your charges, and the effects based on the attunement the charge came from. So if I used 8 fire attacks and 3 earth, I would get 8 fire shots and 3 earth ones. There were ways to change what these charged did, but I didn’t get around to testing that, but it was able to provide a lot of control and offensive boons.
Afflictor, luxon inspired condi damage spec with mainhand sword. It seemed to borrow from how early revenant Mallyx felt during HoT, where it juggles conditions from others to itself and spreading them around. They got the old resistance back baked in a new effect called ‘tainted flesh’. The spec also naturally spread conditions on foes to foes near them on death or when above certain thresholds, and had an elite skill that transferred conditions from nearby foes to a single foe. It was fun but needed a lot of balance, people were hitting 80k dps + with it in some of the big meta events.
Songstress, Kurzick inspired, used a Warhorn. Borrows from GW1 early chronomancer designs, where F1 to F4 become big channeled songs, and weapon swaps/dodges/utility skills add new effects to the channeled songs as they channel. Your own dodges or swaps did not break the channel, but enemy crowd control did like usual. It used shouts, but more in a way of lyrics, where every shout was an ammo based short tale, and every ammo charge a sentence with certain effects. It was a very neat system. Clones/Phantasms seemed to trigger at set intervals in the F skill songs.
Didn’t test this. There was talk of some sort of seashore map with one half being an inland sea with islands, and the other half being land with both kurzick and imperial parts. Mostly rumour.
Didn’t test. They did talk about how they wanted to find a middle ground between 5v5 and the big WvW battles, supposedly a 20v20 map with 4 teams of 5 on each side. Looking back to what they talked about and showed us I don’t think it will be ready when EoD releases. PvP as a whole seemed to cause them troubles. There was some early design work done for a map with one party attacking a fort from the sea and another party defending it, but it got scrapped apparently, no idea why.
That’s all I can tell you guys. I cannot say who I am, where I am from, when we tested or where ( only that it wasn’t at Anet’s main office). If you don’t believe me that’s fine, I wouldn’t either if I saw a random reddit post. All I can say is: Wait until the end of July, you will see.