Dak here again, to provide my not-a-longtime-player-of-GW1 perspective on a big explodey thing that’s popped up.
It seems that Jon Peters’ blog post on how the new system of traits and attributes work has caused quite a stir among the… shall we say, powergamers? Complaints about everything from the fee for respeccing to the fact you require Trainers to the trait lines themselves, and how mathematically speaking this system will make GW2 RUINED FOREVER.
Now… it seems like a lot of these complaints come from the view of having played the first game for a while, so can I just ask all the angry people to breathe calmly for a second while I explain my thoughts on it?
First, why the complaints about a respec fee, and going to Trainers? From a game design perspective, small fees like this serve a two-fold purpose: Helping the game economy, and instilling a sense of worth to your build. The first part is self-explanatory, but the second: If you can switch your traits at any time, with no repercussions, then do your trait selections really matter? Who needs to think about it; just drop ‘em in wherever and don’t worry about it until you come up against something too strong. Then you might as well just pump all those freely “respecc-able” points into whatever trait will maximize your usefulness against that particular mob, and then do it all over again on the next one. But… we’ve kind of lost the “RP” part of the RPG there, and instead have adopted a ruthless “numbers killing numbers” game which happens to have pretty graphics.
Instead, the fee adds weight to your trait choices. Is your Mesmer’s playstyle better suited to Dueling, with its high-spike criticals, or should you perhaps add that next point to Illusions, the better for Shattering effectively? When you know that these choices are relevant, you’ll most likely end up playing smarter, and since you’ll have to live with those choices (unless they’re really not working for you, in which case that small fee probably won’t look so bad to rework it, eh?), you’ll learn how to use them more effectively and you’ll end up playing better, too.
Going to Trainers is, speaking design, another way of controlling respeccing so that there’s further weight to your choices, but I look at it more from a story perspective. GW2 is a very heavily story-oriented game, so from a plot perspective what makes more sense: Magically getting better at something right when it’s convenient, or going to a master to learn a new fighting style in a time of extreme need? Since GW2 is by all evidence a well-written story, I think we all know the answer to that.
And the traitorous trait lines themselves? Clearly there won’t be one particular trait that makes the most effective Guardian across the board; if there is, it’s a balance issue that will need fixing. The traits are so that, like your well-adjusted face and build, your personal backstory, your highly customized armor, even how you fight can be uniquely tuned to how you want to play the game. Don’t believe that impression? Play around with the trait calculator for a bit and see how you feel about the system.
So just… don’t freak out over something you haven’t had a chance to play yet. If you get into the beta, then you can freak out (you just can’t tell anyone). Until we’ve gotten to play, let’s just not assume the worst yet.
Gah, “trait” no longer looks like a real word…