The Warclaw mount that was recently added to MMORPG Guild Wars 2 can be considered the best addition its competitive World versus World game mode in years. The mount was introduced to the game this week with its Tame the Warclaw update.
The Warclaw has to be unlocked with World versus World ability points. A week-long bonus event is currently available to give players faster access. The mount is also available in PvE after unlocking it in the competitive mode.
Three mount skills are available: Battle Maul, Sniff and Chain Pull. In other game modes only Battle Maul is available. In addition, the mount features a Leap Forward movement ability, making it very similar to the Raptor mount. This ability is limited to a total of three endurance bars in WvW and two in PvE.
Battle Maul is a mount engage skill like any other and seems nothing more than a neat way to end your ride to start a fight. However, you can also use this skill to instantly finish downed enemies. Sniff can detect the scent of nearby enemies and temporarily marks them on your minimap, but it seems rather ineffective because enemies in stealth won't magically appear. Chain Pull allows three players to hook chains up to objective gates to deal damage, but this skill is also nothing to write home about, given its low damage and usage cap.
I hear you thinking: why then, do I consider the mount to be a great addition to World versus World? It is rather simple: joy of movement. Just like any other mount in Guild Wars 2, the focus has never been on combat, but rather on providing new, better ways to get around. This is no different in the competitive game mode.
The mount received a substantial amount of negative feedback before it was even released. Players expected its skills to be overpowered, its speed too great and its addition to shake up the meta game in ways inconceivable. While some of this feedback turned out to be on point, the majority was baseless speculation from a vocal minority.
Development studio ArenaNet has released two updates since its release, nerfing both Battle Maul and the Leap Forward movement ability. Battle Maul it changed because it dealt too much damage to too many enemies, so both numbers were tweaked. Why it nerfed Leap Forward is still unknown, but it may have been related to players finding ways to jump over objective gates and walls without taking them down first.
During my time with the mount this past week I realized just how much I enjoyed it being available. It is a piece of content I didn't even knew I wanted. It truly makes a huge difference, despite it not providing any significant skills.
Roaming maps is now far more enjoyable just because of the mount's increased movement speed. No longer do I have to specifically tailor my build to include Swiftness just to make sure I don't waste time or fall behind the rest of the group. This helps build diversity, which is what makes this game mode tick.
The added bonus is that I now no longer have to worry about stealth thiefs killing me on my way back to the group. This has always been an incredibly unfair fight considering these players use specific builds that never stack up against those used in group play, so I am very grateful to see this play style being diminished.
The time it takes for players to get to objectives to either attack or defend has, of course, been influenced somewhat given the increased movement speed. However, I found that influence to be insignificant thus far. This is in part because not every player has unlocked the mount yet, but also because players still tend to stay in groups instead of getting to places as fast as possible.
The most exciting aspect of having mounts in the game mode is that it in some ways redefines what it is all about. Playing World versus World now means having access to all Guild Wars 2 features to turn them to your advantage more than ever before. It is no longer just about the original build versus build gameplay that became stale over the years.
I could have said the same about gliders when they were introduced, but gliders didn't make it as apparent as mounts do now. Some will find this design philosophy frighting and start complaining, but I believe it are changes like these that could help the competitive mode flourish again.