When ArenaNet said they were going to make underwater combat fun and unique, I was excited. Not even just in MMOs, but in video games in general, going underwater just isn’t that interesting. You’re almost always more vulnerable, less mobile, and have fewer ways to attack than when you’re on land. The blog post directly addresses these concerns, so I couldn’t wait to try out underwater combat for myself.
My first time taking the plunge is what you see above–when I realized I was standing by the sunken ruins of Temple of the Ages I jumped right in to get my nostalgia on. I had a small host of minions with me, and was delighted when they jumped in too and swam after me! Of course, I immediately aggroed a giant drake and assumed the worst, but my character had already pulled out her ranged trident and started casting away. The basic trident attack, Crimson Tide, damages the target and causes bleeding in a small area around it. It makes a rapid, eerie sound effect–like a strange cross between a hiss and a slice–with each attack. By holding down right-click to make my character turn with the mouse, I was able to keep the pressure on the drake and evade it with surprising agility until it went down. You might be fixated on the fact I said the skill causes bleeding “in an area,” but keep in mind that enemies don’t ball up underwater the same way they do on land. It’s a new stack of bleeding on your target every couple of seconds, which is really powerful, but don’t realistically plan on hitting multiple targets with it.
Later I found myself in a large lake to the west of Beetletun and I decided to grind up and unlock all of my underwater weapon skills. The trident is certainly a weapon primarily meant to spam conditions–three more of its skills cause control-oriented conditions. Feast, essentially an underwater Unholy Feast, damages and Weakens foes around you in an AoE. If you’d prefer a chance to get away, Frozen Abyss Chills enemies near you. If you want to get closer to a group of foes, Foul Current will make you dart toward them, leaving a poison cloud in your wake.
Last but certainly not least for the Trident–I’m really mad at myself for not getting a screenshot of Sinking Tomb. This skill literally chains your target to a large tombstone and causes them to sink straight down for a couple of seconds. It’s an extremely visible effect and I found it quite funny to see. Sinking Tomb in PvP will be essential for preventing drowning foes from rallying by keeping them from the surface.
The necro’s other underwater weapon is the spear, a melee weapon. When it came time to get up close and start stabbing drakes and piranhas, I found that the trident’s ranged auto attack had spoiled me a bit in terms of aiming. It was a little difficult to judge when I was close enough to connect with a melee attack underwater compared to an axe or dagger attack on land. It may have been that holding right-click and keeping the camera dead-on creates a weird camera angle, or I was just being an inexperienced player. I think it was the latter, because eventually I got my bearings and the spear really showed me its stuff.
The spear’s main attack is a skill chain where on every third attack you swipe your spear and gain life force from each hit. (Speaking of Life Force, I totally forgot to use Death Shroud underwater except for like once. It has its own skills but I did not unlock them.) The second skill Wicked Spiral is rather impressive–you spin around and apply up to six stacks of vulnerability to foes around you. If you need to get an enemy under control the spear gives you several options for wrangling it: Deadly Feast surrounds you with a swarm of life-stealing zombie shrimp (that’s a new one) and grants Swiftness, much like Locust Swarm; Deadly Catch impales your foe on a thrown spear and pulls them to you, Crippling them; and finally Dark Spear thrusts you toward your enemy, causing 5 stacks of bleeding on hit.
Simply put, the spear turns lets the necromancer get up close and deal front-line DPS with the best of ‘em. Snag your foe with Deadly Catch, hit them with Wicked Spiral, and blow up your Bone Minions. If they’re not dead after that they will certainly be hurting.
That’s it for underwater combat–I’ll finally talk briefly about healing skills. The necromancer’s blood fiend is the healing skill you start the game with–it gives you some health each time it attacks, and can be sacrificed at any time to grant a big spike heal. This is great for easy fights and exploring but often in drawn-out fights such as those in dynamic events, the thing would be dead before I needed the heal. With that in mind, I switched to Well of Blood, which grants a big heal when you cast it in addition to a Light combo field and healing over time for all allies standing inside it for 10 seconds. Minions do not regenerate health between battles and there is no Blood of the Master analog, so this does a rudimentary job of healing your minions between fights–if you can get them to stand in it. Perhaps the real answer to getting my minions healed is to play in a group, but it seems like the necro should have some efficient way of healing minions on its own. Finally, Consume Conditions was available, which removes your conditions and heals you for each one consumed. I did not try this one out because I was not finding myself suffering from many conditions in PvE, but with the way I was dishing out conditions this will definitely be a relevant self-heal at high levels and in PvP. There are several utility skills that self-inflict conditions too, but I was focused on trying out all the minion skills this time around.
Well, after five posts and as many thousands of words, I’m ready to wrap this up. The fact I was able to say so much about how one class can kill things based on ~3 days of beta play is nothing short of amazing–it speaks very well of GW2′s depth. You will definitely hear more strategy notes about the necromancer in the future, and this series lays a lot of groundwork I can refer back to later. I’m an altaholic when it comes to MMO’s so I’m sure I’ll write about fun strategies I discover for other classes too. That said, I really enjoyed writing this series and I hope you got something out of it!