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Ten Things We Learned about Guild Wars 2 at PAX East 2011

Posted Tue, Mar 15, 2011 by Sardu

The leaked thief profession and guardian gameplay presentation during GDC 2011 may have taken some of the wind out of the developer’s marketing sails, but it certainly didn’t stop ArenaNet from being the big buzz in Boston this past weekend. Even without a dedicated booth to call its own, Guild Wars 2 made a massive splash this year at PAX East 2011.

Between the live show floor demo, ever-accessible development team members, the Friday night NCSoft community event, and a series of discussion panel appearances, there was a lot to take in during the short three day event. Throughout the week this week we’ll be bringing you some new gameplay videos, updated hands-on impressions, details from the “Guild Wars 2 – Fantasy MMO Redefined” panel, and more.

First, however, we wanted to share some of the more interesting details learned throughout the weekend. The following list of Ten Things We Learned about Guild Wars 2 at PAX East 2011 provides some fresh insights into various aspects of the game for diehard fans, as well as a primer for those of you just starting out on your journey towards obsession over all things GW2 related.

Guild Wars 2 Separator

Guild Wars 2 Guardian Skill Bar

Skill Bar Visual Feedback Enhancements

As seen in the newest demo build, the Guild Wars 2 skill bar gives you some interesting visual feedback to let you know when certain abilities are ready to activate. A perfect example here is the Norn Guardian featured in the demo at GDC and PAX East 2011. On the left side of the skill bar (as shown in the image above) you can see blue flames slowly rise up behind the weapon skill slots (1-5) alerting you to when your next attack will cause burning damage if you have your Virtue of Justice active.

This can take a lot of the guesswork out of knowing when certain combat abilities are triggered, provides much better visual feedback than if that skill slot simply blinked or turned red as it might in other MMOGs, and otherwise just looks pretty badass.

This will naturally be different for each profession, based on their particular combat style and abilities. This same area directly above the first five skill slots is where you'll be able to keep track of how much initiative you've built up as a Thief, for example.

Be sure to watch our videos of the Guardian and Thief in action!

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Guild Wars 2 Thief Combat

Weapon Sets Don't Limit You to Exclusive Use of Melee or Ranged Abilities

The recently revealed Thief profession is an excellent example of how players won’t necessarily be forced to create weapon sets that favor either melee or ranged attacks exclusively. For the thief, this means you can do things like have a dagger in your main hand and a pistol in the offhand for one set, and then swap to a set that uses a main hand pistol and offhand dagger.

Depending on how you slot those weapons, you’ll not only get a unique set of 5 skills to use in combat, but it will also directly influence the thief’s third skill based on your active set.

According to ArenaNet developer Jon Peters, for the thief this third skill slot works somewhat as a replacement for the GW1 assassin’s attack chains. Only instead of being locked into using an opener, secondary strike, and finisher, the third slot in the case of a mixed pistol / dagger weapon set can either allow you to follow up a ranged attack by flipping forward to unleash a powerful dagger attack, or in the case of a dagger / pistol set you can do the exact opposite with that third skill by leaping back out of melee range if you’re taking too much damage.

While the thief may be a more extreme example of how important movement is to GW2 combat, the above examples should give you some indication of how the game is changing our understanding of what "active combat" can mean in an MMOG.

For more detail on weapon sets, be sure to read our overview of Weapons in Guild Wars 2.

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