Guild Wars 2’s new Siege Turtle could be the best MMO mount yet
No other MMO offers mounts like Guild Wars 2. Its creatures are more than just a player movement speed buff, a way to make traversing large maps slightly less boring. Instead, they’re traversal tools, puzzle solutions, and combat initiators, each designed for a specific task that’s fun to accomplish. The strength of a Raptor’s long jump; the twirling grace of a Skyscale’s dashboard in the air; the power of a Springer’s hopping attack as it knocks down enemies caught within its blast radius. There is joy in the way they move and in the way they allow you to move around the world.
With next year’s End of Dragons expansion, a new mount is added to the roster: the Siege Turtle. As a feature point, that sounds good: a two-player mount, designed to let a friend go with you. But I have to admit that when it was announced I was worried the big beast would to feel as good to use as his stable mates.
My fears were unfounded: the Siege Turtle feels great, as I discovered when my co-pilot Fraser and I got a chance to try it out for a test drive.
You don’t drive the siege turtle so much as you drive it. Rightly so, for such a large animal, it behaves like a truck, starting out slowly but increasing its speed as you move. It even has a speedometer, which lives above the stamina bar, similar to the Skyscale’s flight meter. As you approach top speed, entering the speedometer red zone, the siege turtle becomes more difficult to handle, drifting around corners as it struggles to control its own momentum. This ever-changing sense of speed gives the Siege Turtle its own unique personality among the growing roster of mounts and helps it achieve the basic goal of being fun to interact with.
There has been a lot of thought to how the Siege Turtle fits into the current stable. It does a bit of everything, but not as well as the frame custom-designed for that particular role. When sprinting it is faster than the standard speed of a Skyscale, but slower than a Raptor using regular dashes. He has jump jets that allow him to rise into the air, but he cannot reach the height of a Springer jump. It can travel in water, but unlike the sleek floating skimmer, it simply sinks to the bottom and walks along the surface.
This means it’s a great all-around mount that rarely feels at a disadvantage as it moves through a space, although there are other better tools available to you. Really, however, the main reason for using the Siege Turtle is its combat utility. Unlike other mounts, which disappear after performing their Engage skill, you can stay on the Siege Turtle throughout combat. For the driver, that means a Slam attack that sees the turtle crashing down to deal heavy damage against groups of enemies, albeit on a long cooldown. However, to unleash its true combat potential, you will need a co-pilot.
The player who spawns the siege turtle is the driver, but it can be boarded by another player in his party or squad. The second player’s job is the Gunner, who spams out targeted siege explosions on the ground. The numbers may change as the Siege Turtle goes into beta, but we were doing around 7,000 damage per target with an attack that could hit up to ten enemies within its radius, which also inflicts burns. It hits hard, but is balanced by the ammo meter. Currently, you can hold up to five shots that recharge over time, faster when the Siege Turtle is moving at full speed.
The idea is that the Siege Turtle should provide good burst damage, but its DPS drops quickly. This is great for taking out smaller groups of enemies, but in sustained single target combat it should always be more effective to descend after the initial burst and use your weapons.
As a combat mount, the Siege Turtle can take a beating: at 40,000, it has a fat health pool. To balance that out, it also has a defiance bar that knocks you down when it breaks, making it vulnerable to crowd control effects. You feel tanky, but not invulnerable. In our test, being taken apart caused a long cooldown before I could re-summon the Siege Turtle, although ArenaNet says this will be reviewed in a future beta.
Naturally, the Siege Turtle also inherits mechanics and upgrades from the larger mount system. If you have obtained the Living World Season 4 Crystal Champion Masteries, you will have access to various bonding skills that will allow you to share your health, recharge your stamina, and cast the back of the siege turtle. You’ll also gain each mount’s passive shared mastery bonuses, and when you’ve maxed out the Siege Turtle’s own masteries, you’ll give all other mounts a 50% health bonus.
The co-pilot’s second option is a speed boost, which can be used to collaboratively mitigate the deceleration effect of the turn, as well as to ensure faster ammo reloading. The key for ArenaNet is that the partnership must allow for real collaboration, allowing players to work together rather than just carrying out their assigned tasks. The Siege Turtle’s line of proficiency also helps reinforce this aspect, with an option for the driver to help regenerate more ammo using the default hit attack.
Even drifting around an existing map, intimidating groups of open-world enemies, we had fun – I can’t wait to see massive convoys patrolling around the world. In End of Dragons’ own maps, however, it looks like the Siege Turtle will, at times, be more integrated into the action. The Siege Turtle’s damage type is unique, meaning there will be enemies that are particularly weak against or resistant to its attacks. There are some interesting applications to this: it opens up the possibility, for example, of a world boss with a specific phase that requires players to jump on their siege turtles to break its shields.
Still, ArenaNet says it won’t abuse specific content that is only accessible with a siege turtle. Part of that is because players will have to do a bit of homework to acquire it. ArenaNet says the quest to unlock the Siege Turtle will be longer than the Raptor or the Springer, but (thankfully) shorter than the Griffin or the Skyscale, instead of designating the Roller Beetle from Season 4 as a comparable quest.
One place you won’t see the Siege Turtle is in World vs. World, at least not yet. I mentioned the possibility as a throwaway comment, expecting it to be shot, but ArenaNet designer Ben Kirsch said that in fact the team was thinking about how they could get them. Implemented in Guild Wars 2‘s massive PvP wars from the start. With the restructuring of the world to come – the change of servers for Alliances – and the expansion’s new set of Elite specializations, the feeling is that that would be too unsettling for now. Instead, ArenaNet wants to speak to the World vs.World community and determine if and how they want such a feature, for example, perhaps as a new siege option that could work the same as existing siege golems. .
Even though they’re limited to PvE, Siege Turtles will be a big part of Guild Wars 2 next year. It’s a solid crossing option, and its combat utility sets it apart from the pack, ensuring there are plenty of reasons to hop aboard with a friend. For me, however, the most crucial thing is that it passes the base test: it’s fun to ride, continuing the Guild Wars 2 tradition of having the best mounts in MMOs.
You’ll be able to try out the Siege Turtle for yourself, along with all of End of Dragons’ elite specializations, during the next beta event starting on November 30.