Guild Wars 2: A closer look at the weapon bar

Weapon bar for the Guardian

Weapon bar for the Guardian

I’ve been looking at the Guardian skills… And I’ve been seeing some patterns in the weapon skills. A quick look at the Elementalist supports these patterns, and I suspect the same patterns are also present in the other professions.

These patterns help understand not only how the gameplay will be like, but also what kind of design decisions went behind these decisions and why.

Skills 1-3

The first skill is as far as I know always a damage skill with instant recharge… it’s your main attack, and it generally has no other use than damage.

The next two skills have relatively short recharge times, sometimes work as damage, and usually also have some neat effect. They may let you leap, blind, chill, etc. The short recharge means that you can use it often, but not spam it. The third skill in particular tends to be utilitary in purpose, and so gives the weapon a more-or-less spammable utilitary use.

Skills 4-5

The last two skills usually have longer recharge, and are more utilitary in purpose… often they don’t even do damage directly. Even if they do, these skills are meant to be used strategically.

There is a near absence of DoT skills (there are some, but not nearly as much as you’d think). Rather, the skills differentiate themselves in the effects that they give: buffs, ground-targeted buffs, movement, knock-downs, jumps… So weapon usage isn’t about doing a “rotation” (a common term in games for using attack skills in a predetermined optimal sequence), but rather about using the right skills in response to the situation. If enemies clump, use your AoE. If enemies charge you, use a defensive skill. And so on.

Am I right to be excited about this?!? It sounds like combat is viceral not only because of the larger emphasis on movement, but also because it matters how you use your skills.

Exciting times…

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  • I don’t see this as a surprise, as it seems to be the goal to break the “Holy Trinity” with GW2. You just can not stack defensive skills and “tank”, e.g. It will make a difference if you use a mace & shield or a greatsword, but you won’t be able to ignore a certain aspect of the skill bar.

  • I guess for me it’s more a surprise in that this is a deviation from rotation gameplay. You can have a rotation dps, a rotation healer, a rotation blindbot, a rotation imbagon, etc. Even outside the trinity, 5 skills would be easy to setup so that you use them in a specific order for maximum efficiency… but that’s not what they seem to be going for.

    Even if your role is more flexible (a bit of self-defense, dps, and support), this could be accomplished by a rotation. And yet, they didn’t do it this way. If you dps, you’ll skip some skills. If you want to protect as a guardian, then the skill you use will depend on the situation. And so on.

    In other words, I see a shift from execution skill to situational skill. Am I making sense?

  • “Am I right to be excited about this?!?” – Alaris


    Just the thought of having to pay attention to what’s going on around you instead of the GUI (red bars) and making tactical decisions on the fly after analysing the situation… awesome… simply awesome, and YES, you are right to be excited about it.

    Obviously we can’t know for certain until the complete game is released, however, it certainly seems like truly “tactical and strategic” combat in a MMO is yet another of the mind-boggling innovations the ArenaNet design team has come up with.

    Honestly, it’s everything I’ve been waiting for, but it actually makes me a teansy bit concerned for the game itself…

    Not to be too much of a buzzkill here but, consider this;
    The vast majority of the likely customers for GW2 come from gamers who enjoyed GW1 and/or veterans of previous MMOs. Now, there are quite a few from that gene pool (like you and myself) who see this fast paced, mobile style of tactical combat as the godsend it truly is, but you know that there are an awfully large number of MMO players who couldn’t find their butt with both hands, a map, and a freakin compass, and moreover, they definitely couldn’t do so at anything even remotely resembling a “fast pace.”

    Those players that come to GW2 fresh, without preconceived notions brought with them from other games, are likely going to take to it more readily… the “veterans” from previous games (including original GW) are the ones who are going to have some adjustments to make… many of them simply won’t be able to do it.

    Personally, I can’t wait to be wrenched out of my comfortable norms that were learned over many years of playing MMOs, and I’m supremely confident that players I considered “competent” in previous games will likewise relish the new challenge… sadly, that does not include the majority of MMOs players that I’ve interacted with.

  • You do make a good point… but I think that GW2 won’t just draw from the MMO crowd, and that’s where it’ll be a blast. Some players will be drawn from more action-oriented games.

    And those who look for a challenge will be satisfied in GW2, because it’s skill-based… meaning that better players will achieve more faster. Elites do like that, even if it means learning.

    Of course, it’s not for everyone… but that’s fine…