Guild Wars 2's September Features Pack
Last week, I wrote about upcoming UI changes to Guild Wars 2 and how they're adding in Collections, which expands the Achievements. Today, these changes and more are now available in game as a free update for all players. ArenaNet has been working on not only cramming tons of features into this update, but they have been putting together extensive blog posts to detail these features as well. Rather than just giving their community release notes, ArenaNet has been upfront letting players know exactly what to expect, along with plenty of images to back up what they're saying. Or, you know, for people who prefer picture books to lengthy novels.
Since I've already covered the new Trading Post and Collections, let's have a look at what else is in this feature pack. Let's take a look first at the Wardrobe update. A large part of the September Feature Pack is creating a better user experience as far as space management is concerned. First up, the way you can look for, equip and manage your outfits has been vastly improved. Skins have been moved out of this area, so players don't have to worry about mistaking one for the other. Search for outfits has also improved, and searching for a name as you move between slot types does not remove the search parameters to make finding what you're looking for better.
Also in the Wardrobe area of the Hero Pane are Finishers and Miniatures. Both are now arranged so the ones you have unlocked are at the top and locked ones follow. The new views also allow for unlimited previews, whether you have the Finishers and Miniatures unlocked or not. This will let you see exactly what you'll be getting into working on unlocks, instead of a possible misadventure of disappointment. Unlike Finishers, Miniatures come with a little more detail.
You will be able to find Miniatures under the Wardrobe pane and unlocks, especially sets, will now grant achievements. When you unlock them, the inventory item will disappear, but now the Mini is available across all characters on your account. If you have Minis that you're not sure about can be double-clicked to use to see if you want to unlock them first. Once unlocked, any of your characters will be able to equip them from the Miniatures pane. Any you have in your bank collections will lose their spot once removed, since that UI is changing to no longer hold these items in the bank. You'll have access to them there in the meantime.
World vs. World Updates: From Commander tag updates to the Siege Golem ability line and the new Siege Disabler Trick, there are many exciting additions in the feature pack affecting strategy and tactics in Guild Wars 2’s popular competitive mode, World vs. World. Furthermore players from across the globe will have the chance to put their abilities to the test in the forthcoming World vs. Wold Fall Tournament 2014 which commences on Friday September 12.
Part of most of what's going on in this feature pack leads up to the last point of the update: creating a New Player Experience. Not only will the UI and useability changes factor into this heavily, but the leveling process has been improved. ArenaNet wants to create an experience that's rewarding, as well as meaningful for both new and returning players. A new directional cue has been added to the UI, but if a more advanced player wants to dismiss this, they can do so in the game's settings. These cues will not lead to the hidden parts of the world (such as some hidden puzzles), so players can continue to find value in exploration.
New players will find a layered and streamlined UI. At first, not everything will be visible upfront, to allow new players to be eased into mechanics. This can also be turned off, if desired. Current players will see no changes, and new players who have already “unlocked” a part of the UI will have that for future characters. This is to not overwhelm new players with a ton of information that won't necessarily pertain to them. As they level up, a layer becomes visible, which will allow them to master earlier parts of the game without distractions, while being able to focus on areas when they begin to matter. For example, rallying from the downed state has been moved to level 5, so players can get a grasp on combat mechanics before getting distracted or discouraged by another mechanic.
Stat gains have been changed to be upgraded in chunks at milestones to feel more powerful, rather than receiving tiny gains constantly. Leveling up rewards have been redesigned to be more useful and meaningful to characters. Anyone who is currently level 80 will not experience this new system, but anyone under 80 will, as they level. Of course, any new characters will also experience the new system. The Story Journal and Personal Story have also been streamlined, including how they unlock and what rewards are given through the process.
Have you had a chance to check out the changes in Guild Wars 2 yet? What are your thoughts on them?