In traditional MMOs, items are the reason for playing the game, for griding through dungeon after dungeon to obtain the highest-level gear possible.
Given the fact that Guild Wars 2 challenges this by essentially removing that gear grind, the role that all items play in the game, armor and weapons, takes on a different meaning.
In traditional MMOs, items are the reason for playing the game, for griding through dungeon after dungeon to obtain the highest-level gear possible. Given the fact that Guild Wars 2 challenges this by essentially removing that gear grind, the role that all items play in the game, armor and weapons, takes on a different meaning.
Even in contrast to the original Guild Wars, the way items are used in-game has changed. You are no longer just handing over materials and plat to be handed something that you can throw into an equipment slot. Your weapons give you a unique set of skills, and your armor can be made to look like any comperable piece available in the game.
There are four primary ways of obtaining items in Guild Wars II – transactions with other players, drops from creatures, event rewards and through crafting. Throughout the game, you will receive a number of different weapons and pieces of armor through world drops, which can either be sold to vendors or other players, or salvaged.
Salvaging makes its return from the original Guild Wars, where salvaging kits could be purchased to pull weapon mods or runes out of items and to break an item down to its component parts, like iron, wood, shells, etc. The same is the case with salvage kits in Guild Wars 2, which are available in a number of flavors that each offer different chances at recovering upgrades and netting rare materials.
The salvaging process has been somewhat redesigned from the original Guild Wars to allow players to mass-salvage items without having to re-click their salvage kit every time.
Salvaging produces materials, and it isn’t the only way to get materials. Another method for getting regeants is through gathering. This is a new mechanic to the Guild Wars universe, as the original game didn’t offer any sort of gathering whatsoever beyond collecting Red Iris flowers, which didn’t serve any sort of crafting purpose whatsoever.
In many other MMOs, in fact in most MMOs, there is some sort of gathering in play, whether it be mining earth metals, gathering plants and herbs or harvesting wood from trees. All of these have been included in Guild Wars II, and they generally allow for the base level of crafting in the game.
Though, like everything else, ArenaNet has offered not the mechanic that everybody uses, but its own version of the mechanic that everybody uses. In Guild Wars II, experience is gained from gathering, giving players an added bonus, however minor, to whacking that ore vein with a pickaxe. Additionally, every gatherable node is instanced and gatherable for everybody. If a party of four players come across a single set of herbs to pick, they can all gather it separately without having to decide who gets it and who doesn’t.
All of these items – the materials obtained through salvaging and the stuff picked up through gathering – are used in the game’s crafting system. But, again, Guild Wars offers a totally different take on how to create items compared to its own history and traditional MMOs.
In the beginning, the player chooses specific disciplines to craft items for, including armor crafting, artificing, cooking and several others. When they pick up a discipline, they are given a number of basic recipes and the ability to see the regeants necessary to craft that recipe.
In other games, there is generally a couple ways of learning how to craft new things – training to learn new recipes or finding recipes, blueprints, schematics, and more as drops from characters. In the case of Guild Wars II, crafting is a guessing game. When standing at the appropriate crafting section, a player with various materials is tasked with putting random materials on the table and seeing how many combinations for those items exist. Then, if a matching recipe is on the table unbeknownst to the player, the game alerts them. “Hey, you have something here. Try it!” You build it, and a new recipe for a previously unknown item is added to your list. You also get positive affirmation on screen of this discovery, instilling a sense of accomplishment akin to solving a puzzle.
One other key difference in the crafting system here is the speed at which you can craft items. In most games, you craft items at a specific rate of speed. Say you have 150 ore to smelt into bars. You might as well just start smelting and walk away, because your character will be busy for a while. In the case of Guild Wars II, the speed at which each successive item is created is cut in half every time. Say you are creating 20 bronze bars. The first one might take a second to create. The second one will take half a second. The third one a quarter of a second, and so forth until the remaining bars fly by your window in an instant.
In one way, however, crafting is also more extensive as well. In cases like armor and weapons, you can only craft the items after crafting their individual parts. To craft a boot, first you need an inner sole and then the upper part of the boot, as well as an additional item. You have to provide these things blindly in order to get the recipe. Sure, that sword blade and hilt probably make a vital sword if you use a vital green inscription when you make it for the first time, but you won’t know that until you actually do it.
The last part of the item system worth highlighting is the transmutation system. Guild Wars, for many players, was known for its unique weapon and armor skins that provided a sort of vanity on top of the gear itself. In many cases, rare weapon skins weren’t available on maximum-damage weapons, so players were forced to settle for either doing less damage or not using the interesting-looking skin.
With transmutation, players are able to take the appearance of one item and pair it up with the functionality of another to create a new item. Do you have a low-damage sword that is covered in flames, and a really powerful sword that just has a regular blade? Through a transmutation stone, you can combine them to make your dream sword.
The system does have its limitations, however few that they are. Only like items can be combined, so you can’t give a greatsword the appearance of a sword, nor can you make your heavy boots look like medium-weight boots. Heavy goes with heavy, greatsword goes with greatsword, etc.
Transmutation stones are available in a variety of ways, the most common being through in-game vendors offering them in exchange for karma. There are a number of tiers of transmutaion stones available, each tier corresponding to items of a specific level or lower.
In a nutshell, that’s how the item system works in Guild Wars II. Crafting is a puzzle game, which is going to provide an exciting road for anybody aiming to secure every crafting recipe within a particular discipline. Meanwhile, transmutation will allow a player to take the appearance of a weapon they got at level five all the way through the game with them if they so choose.
It has also been said that there will be a special transmutation process available for the few dozen weapons and armor available through the Hall of Monuments. This will allow players to take any sword in the game and make it look like a fiery dragon sword, but only if you have the Hall of Monuments achievements to get you the dragon sword.