Monday, June 11, 2012

Trapped! : GW2

I didn't quite stick it out until the bitter end, which came at seven in the morning our time, and I missed a big chunk of Saturday due to the small matter of having to go to work but I still managed to spend more than twenty-four hours in Tyria across the weekend. That's a huge endorsement right there but I've got an even bigger one: the only time I tabbed out was to do a search after a crafting hiccup. For three nights and two days there was no blogging, no browsing, no commenting, posting or reading. I just played. And made notes.

No question then that I really like Guild Wars 2 a lot. I had a great time and if the servers were still up I'd be playing now rather than typing this. Just wanted to make that clear because when I read my notes back it turns out they're mostly complaints. Well, I shouldn't be surprised. If there's one thing nearly all MMO betas I've played have in common it's that the longer they go on, the more the bits I like get watered down or removed. Viz and to wit:

The New Skill/Trait System
Bet you ten silver I can limbo under that bear
We used to have complete freedom to choose any skill or trait for which we had acquired sufficient points. Now we have tiers, meaning we have to spend a certain number of points in each row before the next row opens up. This adds clarity and structure but removes flexibility and freedom. In the case of the class I'm concentrating on, the Ranger, it poses a particular problem.

I have a strong aversion to game mechanics that require me to place traps. In the first beta weekend I didn't put a single point into any trap skills. This time I was compelled to spend several points on skills I will probably never even slot into my hot-bar let alone use regularly, just to open up the third tier of Slot Skills where I can get my greedy leather-gloved paws on the essential, game-changing Signet of the Wild.

Yes, but you can always smell honey
SotW gives passive regen to you and your pet that hugely increases survivability. Last beta I acquired SotW somewhere in the low-mid-teens. This time not only did I have no option but to respend some of my returned points in trap skills I didn't want but at level 21 I still didn't have enough points to get SotW, even after foregoing the third healing skill. I had to go out and find a further three skill challenges to gain the points to get back to where I had been five or six levels ago, minus a healing option.

If that wasn't bad enough, the three "Utility Slots" into which you place these skills are level-locked at 5, 10 and 20. Signet of the Wild is in the third tier so you now have to wait twenty levels before you can get it. Edit: No you don't as Winged Nazgul points out in the comments!

In short, tidying up the presentation of Slot Skills may have been a good idea but cutting back on our freedom to build our characters how we'd like wasn't. If there really is a problem with players not understanding the choices available there are better ways to handle it. Highlight suggested options, for example or offer pre-made builds as Rift now does.

The changes to the Trait system didn't bother me as much. Or at all. I can't actually remember how they worked before, come to think of it. It doesn't do to become attached to any of these systems anyway. Next time they lift the velvet rope things may have changed again and you can guarantee all systems will change many more times after the game goes Live. Rarely for the better.

Deep breath. Carry on.


  1. Actually, just because a skill is in the third tier does not mean you have to wait until the third utility slot opens up at 20. You can still slot it in one of your 2 slots.

  2. I wondered about that. Being over 20 when the changed happened I couldn't tell for sure. Thanks for clarifying! It just dictates how many slots you get at each those levels, then, not what you can put in them.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide