On the most recent episode of the Ready Up live-stream, host Joshua Davis was joined by Design Lead Jon Peters and game designers Karl McLain, Matt Pennebaker, Matt Lotharius, Robert Gee, and Roy Chronacher for a massive four-hour live-stream where they discussed the upcoming specializations and gave a full overview of how traits have changed in every core specialization. Although the revamped traits are still very much in development and subject to change, they were shown to give players an in-depth look at how the system works and the purpose behind many of the trait changes.
The new system will come to the live game before the launch of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™, allowing players to experience the changes to core specializations and stockpile Hero Points for their elite specializations. While elite specializations will be available to everyone who purchases the expansion, the upcoming core specialization changes will affect the base game.
Most skill and trait unlocks will cost five Hero Points. While the numbers should not be considered final or absolute, Jon estimated that it will require roughly 465 Hero Points to unlock every trait and skill available to a character. The process of leveling to 80 will award about 400 Hero Points, so players will only need to complete a fraction of the available hero challenges to have enough points to unlock everything. The system is designed to give players access to skills and traits much faster than in the current system, with the number of Hero Points gained from leveling set to increase at higher levels. Excess Hero Points beyond the number required for unlocks will be converted into a currency, which will be stored in the account-wide wallet. More information on the currency will come at a later date, so keep an eye out!
The goal of specializations is to allow for greater flexibility by consolidating or removing traits that weren’t powerful or interesting enough to stand alone. This means that the functionality of some traits will become part of the mechanics of the class they belong to, with no trait allotment necessary. Other traits will now do what was previously the work of two or three similar traits. For example, traits that provide greater effectiveness while downed or while reviving other players have generally been rolled into other traits or given additional effects. While this means fewer traits to choose from overall, the points players would have had to spend to gain those traits are now free to use elsewhere. Players will have the power to choose three full core specializations or two core and one elite specialization, opening up many builds that simply aren’t currently possible. In addition, every skill is being placed into a category so that traits that improve that category will affect those skills.
The changes coming to professions include making the necromancer’s wells and the guardian’s consecrations ground-targeted by default. The ranger’s spirits will no longer be able to move, but their effects will be improved in order to make them a more unique and fun part of the profession. The effectiveness of the warrior’s physical skills will improve with higher endurance. Many of the mesmer’s skills are being balanced to reward more skillful play, such as interrupting spells and abilities. The thief’s Deadly Arts trait line will be much more focused around poisoning and debilitating enemies, while the elementalist’s Blasting Staff trait will become the weapon’s base functionality. And engineers who love the backpack skins they’ve earned or bought have reason to rejoice—kits will now create a bundle for the character to hold to identify the kit they’re using, rather than appearing in the form of a backpack. This includes the elite Mortar skill, which will become a handheld long-range weapon kit.
For more information on the specific trait changes coming to every profession, you can watch a recording of the livestream below (although we recommend taking frequent breaks). Keep in mind that all numbers are preliminary, are in place to allow the traits and skills to function, and will be balanced before the system goes live. Check it out, and feel free to leave feedback for your favorite professions on the official Guild Wars 2 forums!