Due to events, work, cabal duties and life in general, I was only able to run Open Beta once. I used that time to run Dark Agartha with a variety of talismans, blades, elemental focuses and ARs. I’m only going to talk about my experience with blade, since I imagine not many other people tried it out in DA.
Some disclaimers before I continue: My various attempts were all done at e17 with max talismans and weapons using the typical DPS slotting for glyphs currently. I made no purchases at the vendor inside DA; I wanted to play it straight to see how passable/doable it was without buff potions, Bottled Flame, et al.
Playing Blade: Upside; It felt SO GOOD to kill the Oni-summoned wisps in 5 hits instead of wasting 45 to 90 seconds killing one in Live. These wisps, married along with punishing ground effects timing and massive AoEs, almost made me quit the game entirely since every mechanic in DA felt like it was a deliberate attempt to make nothing BUT hammer and/or AR viable at top-tier play.
Playing Blade: Downside; Blade is still very weak DPS-wise in DA. Its sole strength is that virtually no other weapon can heal, cleanse and keep you alive through Truthtainter and Gatekeeper like blade can. Unfortunately, the trade-off of being able to survive a lot of awful things means you have to sacrifice some passives and a main power that would give you a (minimal) DPS boost. I’m not making the claim that I’m the best blade user out here; but considering there are a number of blade users I’ve watched personally that pull in much lower numbers than I do, I think it’s safe to say they would find DA completely impossible in its current state. I managed to make it to Gatekeeper once with blade… and I failed because I ran out of time. Blade either needs a high-burst ability (like hammer and AR do) or put Supreme Harmony’s damage buff up to 30% just to make it competitive with other weapons.
The fights in general: The Upside was covered above, so we’re going into the Downside immediately; The boss fights I did in Beta are just long and obnoxious. Especially if you have to fight The Second (the Oni boss) because he’s always been an awful boss. When you’re bumping up against the time-limit wall no matter WHAT weapon you choose, it feels all kinds of wrong. I would personally scale back the bosses health by 10% and only give them 4 powers and one debuff MAX that they can have in their rotation. I have had ‘The Floor IS Lava’ challenge way too often in DA to not emphasis enough that a boss does NOT need to have Pitchfork, Meteor Swarm, Mark of House AND summon wisps all at the same time on the playfield. That’s just awful pacing and makes for a frustrating experience as a player.
Something I had almost forgot to cover is how ineffective Cruel Delight is now that its maximum healing is capped at 400. 400 healing is a bit of a joke when bosses are hitting you in the quad digits. This felt bad not only on blade but was even noticeable running AR. I get it needed to come down, but I think 400 puts it on par with a gadget with healing like that. If it’s not going to have its healing raised past this, at least let it do a passive cleanse once every 20 seconds so it doesn’t turn into a completely token/worthless signet.