An Introduction to Traits in Guild Wars 2


the first combat details revealed for upcoming href="">Guild
Wars 2
the revamped
system has sparked a lot of
interest among fans. However, the
ways in which profession, race and weapon selection would directly
impact which skills a character could use in combat also raised many
questions. With certain limitations in place such as the dedicated
elite, healing or weapon skill slots, one such question was whether or
not players would still enjoy the same depth to creating various builds
as they currently do in the original href="">Guild

This week, ArenaNet gave us the
answer to that question which can
ultimately be summed up with a single word: Traits.

But what are Traits, and how
will they factor into creating meaningful
builds? Will they be something similar to other alternative advancement
systems found in current MMOGs, or something wholly unique to the

Read on to find out what Traits
are all about, and why I believe
they have the potential to add a much needed layer of depth to
development that goes far beyond what other titles in the massively
multiplayer world have had to offer over the years.

Traits Defined

In Game Designer Ben Miller's href="">Traits
he explains
“At a basic level, traits make you better at what you choose
to do. You slot traits in order to modify skills and attributes. Once
you have mastered a handful of traits they become a key component in
creating your overall build.”

So at their core, traits will
indeed be a form of alternate advancement
for your characters, at least in the sense that they will augment
current skills or attributes. But rather than utilizing a point
purchase system to obtain new traits ala the original href="">EverQuest
or the
more streamlined versions found in titles such as href="">EverQuest

or World
of Warcraft
traits in Guild Wars 2
will be something that players will need to
actively seek out and master during the course of gameplay. This
concept should sound familiar to fans of the original Guild

titles, in which things like elite skills are primarily obtained in PvE
by seeking out specific boss mobs and then using a Signet of
Capture to add them to your list of unlocked skills.

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Obtaining Traits

Unlike the elite skills from Guild
mentioned above, traits in
Guild Wars 2
will be obtained through a series of challenges which are
said to be “scattered throughout the world.” In
other words, while certain profession challenges will likely be easier
to access early on, in all likelihood the bulk of them will be found in
harder to reach areas which will no doubt also encourage players to go
out and explore the world.

As previously mentioned in our
analysis of href="">dynamic
events and href="">personal
storylines, a lot of emphasis
has also been placed on creating an MMOG
experience with a high degree of replayability. While most titles could
certainly claim a certain amount of interesting new content to consume
through playing multiple class and race combinations, ArenaNet has
taken that one step further with the way traits will factor into
character advancement.

Not only will each profession
have a unique set of traits to eventually
master and use in builds, but the ways in which they're
obtained will differ between professions as well. According to the
official Traits Overview:

Each profession
focuses on different activities to develop his or her
traits. Warriors train physically, bash stuff, eat stuff, and drink
stuff. Elementalists, on the other hand, seek ancient knowledge locked
in tomes or particularly powerful elemental locations. The different
trait challenges accentuate the unique feel of that profession and
really bring the experience of playing that profession to life.

So for those of you keeping
score at home, so far we know that each of
the following items will play a role in not only helping you shape a
highly individualized character, but will no doubt up the ante for the
genre in terms of replay value:

  • Race
    - The choice between the five races - asura,
    charr, human, norn and sylvari - will help influence other
    aspects of gameplay, such as certain race-specific skills.

  • Profession
    - While only two professions have been officially
    announced so far, the Elementalist and this week's other
    major reveal of the Warrior, there will be a total of eight for players
    to choose from when GW2 first ships.

  • Weapon
    - In the Warrior profession
    reveal, we gained
    some further insights into how weapon sets will work, not to mention
    that there will be a much more diverse variety of weapons to choose
    from this time around.

  • Biography
    - As discussed in the personal storyline overview,
    players will be given the option to answer a series of questions during
    character creation, some of which will be based on other choices
    you've made such as your character's race. By
    establishing a rich background for your characters up front, it helps
    give them an actual place in the world straight out of
    the gates rather than simply being one generic, carbon copy Warrior
    among thousands.

  • Dynamic
    - Each character you take
    through a specific
    area in the game may have the opportunity to experience completely
    different versions of events which will unfold based on decisions you
    make along the way.

  • Traits
    - Last but not least are the main topic of discussion
    here, the newly revealed traits. While every player will have the
    ability to master the traits for their chosen profession, traits will
    play a large role in distinguishing individual play styles.

You'll notice that one core
gameplay component absent from
the above list are the bread and butter of Guild
combat: builds.
So how will traits influence builds in Guild
Wars 2
? Read on and find

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Traits and Builds

Much like how the combination
of skills from your primary and secondary
profession in Guild Wars
helps define your overall build, or what your role
will ultimately be in combat, the combination of profession specific
skills and traits will help determine your build in Guild
Wars 2
. However
unlike skills which are primarily used to interact with different
combat scenarios, traits will help augment how effectively you will be
able to use those skills in combat.

Some of this will be achieved
through trait lines which are unique to
each profession. These trait lines are described as being similar to
the "primary attribute" of each profession in Guild
. For those of you who may
not be familiar with the way primary
attributes factor into builds in GW, here are brief descriptions of the
primaries for the
Elementalist and Warrior profession in GW:

  • Energy
    - This primary
    Elementalist attribute
    increases the maximum amount of energy your character has which is
    extremely important when creating builds using numerous skills with a
    high energy cost or those which cause exhaustion which temporarily
    decreases your maximum energy.

  • Strength
    - The primary attribute of Warriors, Strength adds
    armor penetration to all attack skills. As a melee class, armor
    penetration is extremely important when attempting to maximize the
    damage potential of skills in combat.

Wars 2
will have trait lines
which are
associated with each profession in much the same ways as the primary
attributes are in the original Guild
as described above. For
example, href="">Warriors
will have two general lines called Power and Tactics
as well
as individual lines for each of the weapons they can wield. As
you master new traits, they can be slotted into each of these lines
which will have a direct impact on how you perform in combat.

So using the Warrior as our
example here again, you may have a build
centered around sword attack chains, in which case you'll
likely want to slot traits into the Swordmastery trait line to help
maximize the damage and crit chance of your sword-based attacks.

Traits In a Tyrian Nutshell

Overall, the trait system in Guild
Wars 2
sounds as though it will
greatly increase your options in terms of how you personally choose to
approach a given profession in combat. Builds will no longer be wholly
dependent on a combination of equipped skills, assigned attribute
points, and weapon or armor augmentations. Now we'll also get
to play around with weapon sets and traits as well which should make
for some very interesting gameplay options.

While there are bound to be
those players who attempt to min-max the
system to come up with the optimal mathematical calculations for each
profession (this was a huge thing in Guild
even before the game
officially launched) we've also seen
just how flexible the
combat systems ArenaNet has designed can be. What may seem like the
holy grail of warrior builds today will likely be countered or outright
replaced by a wholly separate build tomorrow. Thanks to the
introduction of traits into the mix, I have no doubts that they will
help insure the same holds true in Guild
Wars 2
combat. Personally, I
couldn't be more pleased at the notion that cookie cutter
builds might be as rare as black moas when the game launches.

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