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Skills, Traits, and Builds - An Exclusive Guild Wars 2 Combat Interview

Posted Thu, Sep 09, 2010 by Sardu

Guild Wars 2 Combat Interview

For anyone who has been following the development of Guild Wars 2, it’s been readily apparent that ArenaNet isn’t simply content to create yet another formulaic MMOG based on a decade old template. Every aspect of gameplay has been given close attention with the end goal of creating the best, and more importantly, most fun experience possible. While certain things may contain an aspect of familiarity for veteran players of the original Guild Wars such as the names of various skills, by and large the combat in Guild Wars 2 is an altogether fresh experience.

To get some more details on what sets combat apart in Guild Wars 2, Ten Ton Hammer spent some time speaking with Game Designer Isaiah “Izzy” Cartwright who is heavily involved in that aspect of the game’s development. In fact, our near hour-long interview with Izzy proved to be so packed full of great gameplay details for Guild Wars 2 that we’ll be presenting additional installments throughout the next week.

So if you’re interested in learning more about personal stories, core gameplay mechanics or even how the Hall of Monuments will be represented in Guild Wars 2, we’ll have plenty of fresh details to share with you soon including some excellent answers to many questions which were submitted by Ten Ton Hammer members right here on our Guild Wars 2 forums.

In the meantime, let’s kick things off with our combat interview that covers skills, traits, builds, and just about everything in between.



Ten Ton Hammer: How will the various forms of crowd control factor into Guild Wars 2 without being too prevalent in PvP as a general thing? Are there multiple conditions similar to fear that can take your character out of combat?

Game Designer Isaiah “Izzy” Cartwright: We definitely have more crowd control than we did in Guild Wars 1. We have fear, stuns, knockdowns, chill, cripple… so there’s more of them this time. Because there’s less healing in the game, one of the ways that you support your allies is by doing some of those things.

That stuff is just going to have to be toned and balanced for PvP and we’re setting up an infrastructure for that. On the inverse, in order for our system to work we’re going to have to have abilities that allow you to break out of conditions as well.

An example would be the warrior’s “Shake it Off!” ability. You’re going to have to be able to use that while in Fear so that you can break out of it. Or the necro’s Plague Signet that sends a condition away, you’re going to have to be able to use that while under Fear to send to someone else.

So the caveat to having more of these things is that we’re going to have to have the counters to them in place. I mean, we had a lot of things like this in Guild Wars 1, right? We had a lot of Hexes that locked you out from doing certain things, or made you miss with attacks, or controlled your movement. So those things have really just been transitioned into other places. And in order for those to work we had to have a lot of counters to them in Guild Wars 1 as well. We had shouts that would shut you down, wards that would shut you down, wells that shut you down, and spirits that would do different things to you – and we had to counter those in all sorts of different ways.

So the same thing is true in Guild Wars 2. We’re going to have to make sure that they’re balanced properly in every game type, and we’re going to have to make sure they’re used right positioning-wise in all of the aspects of our game. It’s just something that we’re very committed to doing and Fear exists in those game types, and will be balanced in each of those game types.

Not only is Fear a condition that can be removed in so many different ways, but it’s also very short in PvP. We’re not looking to add long shutdowns, and we’re not looking to take a character out of play. We’re looking for something that has a lot of interaction and has a lot of interesting mechanics. So more like, “You feared me, well I just sent it back to you” and that’s the kind of play that we’re having, that interaction. Or even, “Oh, I feared you off a cliff and you took falling damage.” So it’s about what kind of interesting interaction we can get. That kind of back and forth mind-game play – that’s what we want in the game.


Ten Ton Hammer: So with the conditions, will those mainly be applied through the weapon set skills with the various counters or removal skills being part of your utility skills that you slot for your build?

Izzy: We put conditions all over. Weapon skills have lower recharges because you use them more often. But weapon skills almost feel more like your elite skill from Guild Wars 1 in that they define your role a lot more. If you’re a longbow-wielding warrior, you’re a ranged character that has a lot of AoE. It’s almost like a Searing Flames elementalist in that you’re this type of character and so you’re going to do a lot of burning damage. So that defines a lot of who you are.

That doesn’t mean that character doesn’t have a lot of conditions that are in his utility skills and other interesting things there. But because those weapon skills define who you are a lot more it does mean a lot of conditions come from there, although it’s very possible that conditions come from all aspects of your skills.

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