Earlier in the week, Jon Peters was able to answer a few of the GW2 trait and game design questions that have been haunting us for some time. Be sure to follow through after the break, discuss, or give our yesterday’s PvP/Balancing interview with Jonathan “Chap” Sharp a read.
ArenaNet has been hard at work tweaking skills and traits since the last Beta Weekend Event. Given the changes made, which profession do you feel players will be the most surprised/happy about and why?
Jon: We tried to make improvements to every profession between each Beta Weekend. Here are a handful of happy skill surprises that I was glad we were able to make. These changes were made to help improve mobility on particular weapon sets. I would say as well that a lot of the changes went into traits so I can talk about them more in the next question.
- Warrior Axe: Cyclone Axe – Now hits 2x. .75m->2x.35m. Can be used while moving.
- Guardian Greatsword: Whirling Wrath – Slows you down while using it, but can be used on the move.
- Thief Pistol: Shadow Strike – No longer needs to strike in order to teleport.
- Ranger Downed: Lick Wounds and Call Companion were combined into a single skill called Thunderclap which damages your target and dazes foes around that target. This is actually part of a larger set of changes to downed skills that was intended to make all downed players have more play to them like the warrior did. Personally, I think thieves are still a little bit too hard to kill while downed, but there are still tweaks coming to that balance that should sort itself out by release.
- Elementalist Staff Earth: Updated casting animation of eruption to allow chaining skills behind it to be quicker. It is amazing how much more play there is to this skill now that you can fire things off quickly after it ends. This is a Blast Finisher for the elementalist, but the explosion has a pretty long delay, so now players are more easily able to throw down an eruption and then follow it with a field of their choice to trigger the Blast.
- Mesmer Shatter: We updated how the Shatter Delusions skill works; now the damage scale based on the number of illusions is no longer linear. This has no effect on shattering 3 illusions, but gave shattering a single illusion a lot more play, which was really nice for quick PvE fights, or big PvP fights where maintaining 3 illusions can be difficult.
- Engineer: Well I already spilled the beans about my favorite engineer change which is the new Mine gadget replacing the Mine Kit. However here is one more nugget: Now every skill on Grenade Kit actually throws 2 grenades without requiring the trait. We also upped the range of this throw as well as the speed at which grenades travel so that engineers would have a more formidable long-range weapon. Having that option is important for our professions, which is why we also upped the range of Guardian Scepter as well.
- Necromancer: You can now move while using Life Transfer. This is another one of those mobility changes that has really helped Death Shroud thrive.
In previous BWEs some players felt they were too easily killed or “two-shotted,” and perhaps the trait/skill system seemed to lean a little too much towards offensive or utility abilities. Have any adjustments been made to provide players with a little more “survivability”?
Jon: Like I said previously, a number of changes went into trait design. The biggest one of these is that we started building a number of traits that we call “anti-spike” traits. They come in several categories.
- Anti-crowd control traits like the mesmer’s Mirror of Anguish: When disabled (Stun, Daze, Knockback, Knockdown, Sink, Float, Fear, Launch), you mirror the disable back to the source. This effect can only trigger once every 90 seconds.
- Anti “big hit” traits like the thief’s Instinctual Response: Use Feathers to Blind and Stealth when you take more than 20%% of your health in a single strike. This effect can only trigger once every 60 seconds.
- Anti-condition traits like the Oakheart Salve: Gain Regeneration for 5s when you suffer from Bleeding, Poison or Burning. This can only trigger once every 20 seconds.
Traits like this help players use their trait build to counter different types of attacks in interesting ways to help compliment the more active counters to these effects.
Mesmers felt that their trait lines didn’t allow for a lot of condition removal when compared to other classes… is there anything in the works to balance this?
Jon: There are a number of professions that need help vs. conditions in their trait lines. As you can see from the last answer, rangers and other professions have had some of these weaknesses shored up. However, we only got about halfway through a mesmer trait cleanup so his anti-condition stuff is still lagging behind by a bit.
Some feel that GW2’s proximity system of aggro seems to favor those attacking at range due to them simply being the furthest from the target. Are there any plans to adjust how mob aggro is generated or dealt with server side, or to maybe better cushion those closer to the action?
Jon: We’ve actually made some fairly significant strides in how creature hate is determined. I won’t reveal any secrets, because I think discovering this is one of the important aspects of mastering the game, but I will say that this system relies on fewer factors and will be easier to stabilize on our end and has thus far been a lot more fun to game. Good luck figuring it out!
From a game design standpoint, will we see any changes to available camera modes such as first person or the ability to increase camera distance? How about viewing from a first person perspective?
Jon: We know that first-person camera is a really important feature, and it’s on the list of things in active development, but it will likely not make it in for release. We want to make sure it is fully functional before deploying it. That being said, we’ve made some significant camera changes since last beta weekend.
- We added a new option that allows players to offset their camera over their shoulder when zooming in.
- We added a new option that make the left-click free camera lock after using so that you can face behind you and not have the camera reset as soon as you let go of the button. Right-clicking will reset it in this mode. This was a highly requested on our beta forums, and it’s a nice way to easily look behind you while running.
- We did a lot of research on performance, art, and design and decided to increase the maximum camera zoom distance. A lot of work went into the initial camera distance, but we recognized that some people were having trouble with disorientation with the old number so we bumped it up as much as we felt we could given some of the goals of the game.