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Stronghold Beta Impressions

by Pocket on Apr 15, 2015 at 07:13 AM}
So yesterday we saw the Stronghold public beta event. I played a few matches and wanted to share my thoughts. I played 2 games solo and about 8-10 games with a party. I won't cover the mechanics which you can read about here: https://www.guildwars2.com/en/news/stronghold-the-battle-of-champions-dusk/

First things first; I had fun and the map looks great. At this stage I think I would compare it to Conquest by saying it requires more strategy but less technical ability. I'll try to explain that in the rest of this post.

Objectives are spread out making the map feel larger than those used for Conquest. This splits teams further apart and there are simultaneous objectives that require you to split often. Having high mobility and map awareness is really important. Good examples of this are when both Heroes spawn and you need to direct resources to contest them, or if you die in the enemy Lords room and have to run all the way back across the map.

I settled into a Defender role harassing enemies trying to shepherd the doorbreakers and archers to our gate. AoE was useful as most teams were mass spawning doorbreakers in one go meaning I could AoE, CC and cleave them down pretty quickly. I think there’s something to be said for spreading out doorbreakers a little so they don’t get bombed in one go and it takes longer to kill them. In most matches I could harass long enough for us to get both of their gates down first at which point we just pushed into the Lord room.

The NPCs that support the Lord are pretty easy to take out and the Lord does one big attack but it's pretty telegraphed and easy to avoid. I feel that if you have their inner gate down and they don't have yours down you should just commit to a push with 4-5 people and get the job done. Especially if you are in a party and communicating. The opposition won't be able to ignore it and will have to counter with equal numbers. Getting that inner gate down felt like a 'point of no return'.

At the start of the match you need to think more about how to spread your resources and worry less about fights. For example in Conquest we usually see team fights at the start and then at various times throughout the match. Because in Stronghold everyone starts out with supply (a great design decision) you don’t necessarily have to engage in a team fight over supply at the start. In the lanes themselves you can get away with harassing or focusing on doorbreakers/archers and success isn’t strictly tied to engaging the enemy directly like it is in Conquest.

I think my favourite part of the match are the Heroes. The channelling mechanic is much better implemented than in the Temple Conquest map. In Temple all you need to do to interrupt an enemy channel is damage and enemy. In Stronghold you need to actually CC the enemy. This makes contesting over Heroes such interesting encounters! I really love it. It becomes a battle of builds, knowledge, cool downs and CC Vs Stability. Because you want to interrupt them using CC but need to be careful not to waste it because if they have another stability in hand and you are down to your last CC.... GG. This gets even more interesting when there are more people around because you don't want to waste a CC if your ally just used theirs. (I read today that Immobilise also cancels the channel but I never tried this yesterday and am not sure that is intended). The Heroes themselves don’t feel too overpowered to me, the buff they give to allies sounds really strong but if you focus them down you can kill them relatively quickly.

Match length felt slightly on the short side and maybe 20 mins would be better. About 50% of matches did finish with a Lord kill but in those matches where it didn’t it felt very close to a finish but the timer ran out. The more matches that finish with a Lord kill, the better. It would be great to see an overtime mechanic where the Lords come rushing out of their keeps after 15 minutes and fight each other or something.

At this stage I do have one major concern however. I think that Stronghold needs more than one map. Players will form solid strategies much quicker for just one map than they did with multiple Conquest maps. We are much better equipped now than we were at launch and while specialisations will make things interesting we expect them to be balanced with existing professions so I don't see them changing things fundamentally. Sadly I’m not sure we will see a new map for a while which is a shame and I fear it could get stale within a few months.

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Did anyone else try out Stronghold? What did you think? How to people think the new conditions and Revenant may also affect some of the mechanics?
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