Feature patch, day one: Traits

So, today information on the upcoming feature patch for Guild Wars 2 has finally started to be released. Yay! Over the next two and a half weeks, we’ll be getting a number of blog posts going over each of the new features or major changes, culminating with the patch going live on April 15th. They have listed the titles and dates of all of the upcoming blog posts, hinting at what’ll be coming, and a lot of it looks like it’ll be really neat.

Today they started off by talking about changes that are being made to traits, and I have to admit, a lot of it looks really good. There’s a few parts that I’m not 100% set on, but for the most part…good stuff. Here’s a highlight of the big changes:

  • Tier unlocks will be automatic and free at a certain level
  • Trait points will be condensed and earned at different levels (including when you start learning them)
  • Trait refunds will be free and available at any point not in combat
  • Major traits need to be unlocked via “trait guides”
  • Each profession will be getting a new grandmaster trait in each line (forty new traits!)
This window will be looking a bit different after April 15th.

This window will be looking a bit different after April 15th.

So what do I think of all of this? For starters, free tier unlocks (and them being automatic) is a great thing. I hate having to go back to buy trait books, especially as they reset your traits when you use them. On top of that, I hate having to spend so much money on them. Yeah, at this point, 3.1g is nothing for me. But when the game first launched? Saving up that single gold for the level 40 book was an accomplishment. So was the 2g for the level 60 book. I remember feeling rich in the BWEs if I had 10s for the level 11 book. If you just started out playing, you’re not going to have money for those things at the appropriate level, more likely than not. And that’s assuming you even realize you have to go buy them! So doing away with that is great.

My quibble on it is the level changes that come in to this – you start getting trait points at level 30, with master unlocking at level 60 and grandmaster at level 80. This…I’m not so cool with. There are certain professions where playing them without any traits at low levels can be very difficult – thief and elementalist in particular come to mind, and mesmer may also be very tricky. But we’ll see. Perhaps other changes being brought in will balance that out. I also don’t like master and grandmaster unlocking so late. I feel that around levels 60-70 I have a good idea of how my level 80 build will play out, but now that will no longer be possible.

GOOD RIDDANCE.

GOOD RIDDANCE.

Trait condensing. Again, a thing I like. Right now, you gain 70 trait points by the time you’re level 80. With this, they’re going to make it so that you’ll gain a total of 14 trait points – each point will be worth five points with how they are now. This makes it so that trait points have more effect and will be noticed more readily; in the post they also mention that this will make it easier for newer players to figure out the system – they give the example of someone who may not know better putting 11 points in one line, 14 in another, and unintentionally giving themselves a far less effective build than they could have. Starting at level 30, you’ll gain a point each six levels; at level 66 it’ll then be 2 points per six levels. I do like the extra points in your last stretch of leveling; they recognize that at this point you’ll be settling on what you want to play at level 80 and giving you more to play with. I just wish that grandmaster wasn’t at level 80.

Free trait refunds. Oh man, this was the best part of it, I think. WE NO LONGER HAVE TO GO INTO A CITY AND PAY TO REFUND OUR TRAITS. The fee was paltry (3.5s at level 80 with all traits used), but it was an unnecessary inconvenience. Now, at any point you’re not in combat, you can refund and change your traits from the hero panel. I’m so excited for this – stuff like this will make things like high level fractals and certain dungeons much easier, as well as swapping builds for World vs. World. It also promotes experimenting more since you can change things whenever you want. The only issue that will arise from this is gear – most people pick their gear based on their build. Trait resets are great, but there’ll be issues with people either feeling they need to carry around a half dozen sets of armor, or complaining their builds are now sub-optimal because their gear doesn’t match. Personally, I’m not too fussed on that, but I can see why it’d be a concern. I also would kill for a way to save build templates, like in GW1, but we’ll live for now. That’d be a great quality of life change, though, hint hint!

Major traits will need to be unlocked. Okay, so this is actually really, really cool, I think. If you played Guild Wars 1, you’ll remember capturing elite skills from bosses, or using skill tomes to learn skills you’d already unlocked on your account. This is similar. Major traits will be learned from trait guides that can be found from completing specific content – anything from personal story to WvW to dungeons to meta-event bosses in the open world. And if you don’t feel like going out and finding that specific trait guide? You can buy it from your profession trainer. I really like this, myself; it gives a bit more of a sense of accomplishment in your build, but if you’re looking for one that you simply cannot get, you can still get it.

The example image used in the blog post, showing a trait unlocked by taking the Gates of Arah.

The example image used in the blog post, showing a trait unlocked by taking the Gates of Arah.

And last but far from being least, each profession will be getting new traits – a new grandmaster trait for each tier, which is a total of forty new traits in total. New traits are always a good thing, as they mix things up and give more chances for build diversity, a thing I’m always a fan of. They gave an example of a new trait for each profession, and I do have to say I’m impressed and excited to see what all of the new ones are going to be. The elementalist one listed, for example, will be a must-have for my ele, and as a longbow user I’m also really liking the ranger one. The thief one is a great way to give thieves more survivability when attacking. The engineer trait makes turrets not entirely useless. And so on. The mesmer one is the only example given that I’m not 100% sold on, but that’s simply because of other game mechanics (I’m looking at you, defiant) and enemy AI getting in the way, but I can easily see how it’d be very powerful in WvW and sPvP. And personally I’m hoping that the new Inspiration grandmaster will be another phantasm trait, as I’d take that in an instant ;)

So far? This is good stuff. There’s a lot more to come, though – tomorrow will be posts about combat and critical damage, which I’m certainly interested to see, as well as the Ready Up livestream where ArenaNet will talk about some of the feature changes. It’s good to see how openly they’re communicating these new changes with us – it reminds me a lot of the pre-release blog posts, and I’m glad to see that format return. I hope to see more things discussed with us like this, as the more communication, the better.

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3 thoughts on “Feature patch, day one: Traits

  1. I agree with everything you’ve said! It’s very exciting to have such huge changes taking place–and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Now, the most difficult thing to embrace is the Lv. 30, 60, 80 unlocks for each tier. Any Mesmer I’ve played (I’ve played a few now up to about 67), I’ve found that you’re stuck wrestling in the early levels until you hit about 40, which was a game-changer for me. Eles were similar, as are Thieves. Maybe they’ll have a way to compensate this? I’m waiting to see.

    The thing I love is accessing your new major traits based upon engaging other parts of the game that you may not necessarily have played. LOTRO did this for its Legendary traits and I honestly enjoyed it. Sure, there was often one trait I couldn’t get and I wished I had another work-around (which ArenaNet has clearly though about), but the experience of putting the work in to be rewarded was great. Then again, I’ve never wanted to click a button and get everything, so I doubt I’ll spend much–if any–gold on the trait unlocks.

    These are exciting times for GW2, and I’m hoping they’re continuing to learn from their past experiences!

    • I am especially happy about not paying for respeccing and being able to earn traits. As someone who always struggled with builds I constantly feel penalized for tweaking or changing my build. Also when doing wvw and pve I tended to look for a universal build or wing it just because I didn’t want to have to go through the whole process of remembering what I had and moving points around. Now I will be able to tweak on the fly for what I am doing which I believe will make me a better player.

  2. Pingback: This week in Guild Wars 2, 22-28 March | GuildMag

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