Daily Tip: Weapon selection will determine 5 of your active skills

Updated Guild Wars 2 Hands-On Impressions - Page 2

Updated Mon, Jun 06, 2011 by Sardu

An Updated Look at GW2 Combat

There is something infinitely satisfying about the combat in Guild Wars 2 that I couldn’t quite put a finger on in my previous demo experiences. I kept that thought tucked neatly in my brain pocket this time around, and came to some initial conclusions as to why the combat in GW2 has so far proven to be more engaging than the dozens of MMOGs I’ve played over the years.


Having logged countless hours into the original EverQuest and Guild Wars, I think ArenaNet made the right decision to stick with a set number of active skill slots. While the scope of what ultimately constitutes a build in GW2 is staggering and offers more depth than any game in recent memory, the streamlined active skill set keeps you focused on how to use a given build to achieve victory without necessarily having to have mastered hundreds of skills and mentally prioritizing them in case they might be useful in random situations.

Another benefit of the skill bar is that the dedicated slots give you a base understanding of how or when to use your 10 active skills. For example, without ever looking at tooltip descriptions I know that my 1-5 skills are based on weapon attacks, and that skill 6 is going to be my main healing skill. This is a huge leap forward for MMOG combat accessibility, and all without gimping the min/maxer fun of theorycrafting the zaniest builds you can dream up. I consider that a major checkmark in the “win” column for GW2.

Truly Active Combat

Ever since the idea of “active combat” first crept into MMO gameplay, it has been taken in so many different directions that the concept no longer carries the same meaning it once might have. We’ve seen everything from Age of Conan’s whack-a-mole melee button mashing, to upcoming TERA’s more FPS targeting style approach, and everything in between at this point.

But what does “active combat” mean in Guild Wars 2? It means that positioning matters. It means that the better you are at communicating with teammates to take advantage of cross-profession combos, the more interesting combat becomes. It means that, while you have the option to set a weapon skill as your “auto attack” there is nothing about GW2 combat that leaves you feeling like you’re triggering the phases of a wholly scripted encounter while you go make a sandwich.

Pacing that Makes Sense for the Profession

To go a step further, ArenaNet has done an excellent job of making combat animations fit not only the base concept of each profession, but those animations also create a deeper connection to the actions you’re making your character preform on-screen.

For example, while my guardian was wielding a hammer and shield, his attacks felt powerful and direct, and the combat animations suitably showed my character swinging his weapon in wide, slow arcs. In contrast, the thief was quick footed and agile, making lots of fast strikes that could fell an opponent by filling them with lots of small holes instead of bashing their heads in with brute force.

Likewise, switching the guardian’s main hand weapon to a scepter immediately gave me a tangible sense that my overall combat style had changed, while still being unique when compared to scholar professions like the necro or elementalist.

All of the above said, there were a few aspects of combat that didn't quite hit their mark for me this time around...

Guild Wars 2 Separator

Call me crazy, but your idea for initiative sounds to me much more like WoW's combo point system than the way I understand initiative to currently function. The more small things you do, the more powerful the large move is at the end. The way initiative works now, you can unload the big moves right from the start more easily because initiative exists. I do not see that way it is now to be anything like combo points.

Perhaps I am misunderstanding your point?

yes you're right. In guild wars 2 we don't have to do the A > B > C described in this article at all, in fact we can do A > A > A, B > B > B, or C > C > C. Whatever we want

While playing the thief, as I was learning the various weapon skills, unless I had the 5 Initiative built up to use the skill in slot 3 I got repeated on-screen and chat box messages alerting me, "Not Enough Profession Specific Resources". I do have video of this but the audio quality isn't that great so I opted to not embed it in the article.

At any rate, unless I completely misunderstood where the on-screen / chat spam was coming from, it was because I had to use my small attacks (slots 1,2,4,5) to build enough initiative to use the big attack (slot 3) which is where the A>B thing comes from. This is also consistent across different weapon sets I tried.

You freaking assmaggot, Initiative works like energy not like combo points, you have full initiative at the start of the battle and then you can unload whatever spell you want which consumes initiative. Initiative fills up on its own, there are no skills that provide it, they only consume it. Therefore, there is no set rotation, it's like playing a normal rogue but with NO combo points, what you say just makes no sense rly.

@Paterah: You are a dirty little nerd. Getting all worked up about a random article about a video game? Your mother would be ashamed...since you probably live with her you should probably go say you're sorry. Or, I'll just tell on you next time I'm inside her.

You were trying to play it like a WoW Rogue, which has to build up combo points for the stronger attacks. In fact, you were DEPLETING your initiative by using the smaller attacks, not building it up, so you kept running out. It's called initiative for a reason: you start with it. It recharges automatically over time, at one point per second.

No idea what this fool is talking about really, I played thief at PAX and it plays nothing like an WoW rogue, mainly because they kept the somewhat similar energy mechanic (albeit as initiative) but got rid of the combo mechanic, in other words you are not forced to do the same rotation on each enemy over and over, you simply do what ability you want to do from the get go, therefore not limiting your gameplay at all.

Great Read thank you

For what it's worth I was basing my "impressions" here on what I experienced in a very small window of time with the thief. I obviously mistook the constant stream of "Not Enough Profession Specific Resources" popping up on screen to mean I needed to build resources, not wait for them to replenish on their own.

It's unfortunate that people on GW2-guru chose to call me out for "bad journalism" when I'd even gone on those forums to express that I had clearly made a mistake here. But rather than anyone bothering to accept that I was left with the wrong "impression" of the profession, I'm called an assmaggot here, and claimed to be hurting the game even though I've been a very, very vocally positive supporter of Anet and everything I've seen for GW2 so far.

Oh well.

I'm cutting the "offending" portion out of the article completely so it will no longer get everyone's panties all bunched up.

I've updated the article to chop out the offending mention of the initiative system. Even though I have clearly stated in the comments here and on the Guru forums that I based my impressions on a very brief hands-on session with the thief and misunderstood the way the resource system for the profession works, that's clearly not enough.

Since I don't appreciate being called an assmaggot or being cited for "bad journalism" all mention of my hands-on with the thief profession has been removed from the article.

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