Interview with the Live Team – Part 2, The Elementalist update

Here is the second and final part of the interview we had with the Guild Wars Live Team. Robert Gee talks about the changes we will see  to the Elementalist profession in Guild Wars in the near future. This update was originally scheduled to be released before Wintersday, but it got pushed back, so it might not interfere with the festivities. There also has been a “leak” about the changes, so we already know what to expect. We anticipated the update and handed in the questions before the leak, so keep that in mind when reading. Enjoy.

Robert  Some say a long overdue – update to the Elementalist is rumored to be out soon. Energy Storage is the Elementalist’s exclusive attribute. What changes are you making to this attribute to give the profession an extra punch versus high armor foes in the upcoming update or will it be completely untouched?

Robert Gee: We’ve seen this suggestion pop up several times before and during the elementalist update, however this isn’t something we really considered from a balance standpoint.  Buffing Energy Storage directly would have a direct effect on monsters which could affect the difficulty of the entire game.  Instead we chose to adjust the armor and health values of high armor foes in hard mode.  Doing this addresses the low damage that Elementalists do in this mode without affecting the difficulty of normal mode or their power in PvP.  Exhaustion – a few people call it the Ele’s exclusive stacking energy deep wound – is a mechanic that prevented the player to cast spells of certain power too often, when Prophecies came out almost seven years ago. At the current state of the game fast recharging, armor ignoring skills of other classes dominate damage dealing. How will exhaustion be iconic Cynnchanged in the update?

Robert Gee: As far as it functions as a balancing mechanic we actually like exhaustion a lot. Since it’s one of the only resources in the game that can’t be manipulated by other skills (with a few exceptions), its balance can remain mostly consistent.  With that said however we felt that for many skills the exhaustion penalty did not accurately reflect the effectiveness of the skill.  In order to address this problem, we’ve introduced exhaustion amounts of 5 in addition to the standard 10.  We feel that this will make it less of a burden to take more exhaustion skills and will allow us to expand the number of viable exhaustion skills. What precautions will you take to make PvE “Hard Mode” Elementalists & bosses not too powerful after the update, as they deal high damage (doubled for bosses) at increased attribute levels anyway, against “low armor” player characters?

Robert Gee: As mentioned before, one of the reasons we didn’t buff Energy Storage is because it would make bosses much more powerful in Hard Mode.  One thing we are limiting with this update to prevent too much power creep from elementalist bosses is that this update mostly only contains changes to elite skills.  This means that most of the time, only one skill on the enemy bar will be changed to be more powerful than usual.  Additionally in many cases rather than try to simply make a skill deal more damage than staples like Searing Flames, we changed skills too powerful in different ways, such as providing utility or functionality not previously available to the Elementalist.  As a result, bosses won’t necessarily have increased damage so much as they will have increased utility.

iconic How will the update affect PvP, as the Elementalist’s weakness comes from its lack of power against high base?

Robert Gee: The goal of this update as far as PvP is concerned was to address certain powerful skills, like Mirror of Ice and Invoke Lightning, while also providing new gameplay options through skills like Mist Form and Thunderclap.  We don’t expect that every changed skill will be used in PvP, and if anything we feel that elementalists are already quite powerful in PvP, so we’ve been careful to make buffs to some skills that won’t affect PvP at all.  As an example, we’ve added adjacent range to several skills in order to increase their power rather than increasing their damage directly.  This is done because adjacent range skills are much weaker in PvP where players are smart enough to spread out.  We’re planning to carefully monitor PvP after this update goes out in order to address any skills that end up being too powerful.