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Guild Wars 2 Elite Specializations As Secondary Profession Throwback

GW2-Wings-of-Resolve-F2

Originally, I thought Elite specializations were a way to offer more trait options, a new weapon and new forms such as Druid. It was only later that I found out that Druid is the name for the Ranger Specialization but I didn’t put much thought into it. After reading the Dragonhunter article that was released recently and the Chronomancer last week, I think it’s clear now what elite specializations are all about. Elite specializations, in my opinion, are a spin on GW1’s secondary professions. Here’s why I think this is so.

What’s A Secondary Profession In Guild Wars 1?

First I should explain what the original Guild Wars offered with secondary professions. A secondary profession in GW1 would allow a player gain access to the skills of another profession except for the primary attribute of the profession. For example, a Ranger can get Monk skills from the attributes of Healing Prayers, Smiting Prayers, Protection Prayers but not from Divine Favor which is the Monk primary attribute.

Skill Types Are Profession Complimenting

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Right now, Professions are associated with certain skill types such as Necromancers with wells and Rangers with traps. With elite specializations, professions are gaining one skill type they didn’t have access to but with the profession’s touch on it. Mesmer will get Time Magic which compliments the Mesmer profession but have well skills which is a skill type from Necromancers. Guardians will get light based skills and projectiles which, again, compliments the profession but have trap skills which is a skill type mainly from Rangers. Thieves have traps too but you rarely see them.

Some people may not like having their skill types shared with other professions which is perfectly understandable. The skill types per profession makes the profession unique in some way. I still feel that professions will still be unique in some fashion much like how GW1 Secondary professions don’t allow a player to gain the primary attribute. In the case of Guild Wars 2, the Function skills (F1 to F4/F5) are a clear example of profession uniqueness.

Offers Profession-Lacking Options

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Players in the original Guild Wars would pick a secondary profession in order to gain something they couldn’t with their core profession or to get skills to compliment your primary profession. For example Monk’s Rebirth skill in GW1 was a great resurrect skill that also brought the person to your location. This skill was useful for picking up players that died in bad spots.

It’s no secret for Guardian players that Staff and Scepter are short to mid range options and that they don’t provide a good long range option. Also, Mesmers don’t really have great AoE without some Phantasms, traiting for it, or shattering illusions. Usually Memsers don’t shatter illusions (unless necessary) to keep up damage.

Elite specializations offer some of these lacking qualities. With wells, Mesmers have better, more reliable and bigger (radius-wise) AoE options. Guardians now have a better range option with the longbow. I think that the other specializations we haven’t seen yet will offer a new option that the profession wouldn’t have otherwise. Some might be less effective as others but would most likely provide something the profession lacks.

A Better Way To Expand Skill Progression

In the original Guild Wars, The Eye of the North expansion offered players more skills to obtain in each profession attribute. In other words, EotN gave players, more or less, the standard way to offer more skills in an expansion.

I’m pretty sure ArenaNet has thought of ways to expand on traits for Heart of Thorns and Guild Wars 2 as a whole.  I also think that ArenaNet realized that they couldn’t expand well with the current trait system and needed to change it into specializations. They’ve done so and it works but they’ve also given themselves a way to expand in the future. Elite Specializations will help immensely when making expansions and offering new ways to progress. They have the Mastery System for progression as well but players also like to have new skills to work with. With Elite Specializations as Secondary Professions, they can offer a skill type to a profession (where it makes sense) and provide a new way to play a profession while keeping the core and the feel of the profession.

GW2-Tides-of-Time

Overall, I like Elite Specializations as a way to expand and play a profession in new ways. Elite specializations, much like GW1 secondary professions, offers a new way to play the profession but retaining the feel of the profession. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the elite specializations have to offer!

Guardian Specialization Thoughts: Support And Dragonhunter

GW2HoT-Paragon

Dragonhunter is the elite specialization for Guardians. Who would have thought it eh? While I’m sad that it’s not Paragon, seriously those wings are misleading, the Dragonhunter is a pretty cool specialization. I’ll go over the Dragonhunter’s Virtue active changes as well as the longbow abilities. First let’s take a look at the core specialization that Guardians have.

Guardian Core Specialization

Zeal‘s line focuses on Symbols and damage. Symbolic Power offers a chance for symbol to burn enemies. Zealous Blade offers the Greatsword bonuses. Kindled Zeal grants condition damage based on power which is great for increased burning damage. Expeditious Spirit is the spirit weapon trait that burns foes and reduces recharge. If a player doesn’t use spirit weapons, Shattered Aegis might be a better pick as it does damage to nearby foes when aegis is removed from you. There’s also the option of Symbolic Avenger that lets you do more damage to enemies standing in your symbol.

Radiance is the critical hit line. Radiant Power as a minor trait alone seem pretty useful as it grants increased crit chance when attacking foes on fire. Wrath of Justice I can see being useful as it immobilizes a target when you hit with Virtue of Justice active. Radiant Fire look so good as you gain Zealot’s Flame AoE fire around you when you crit, you gain more burning duration AND your torch skills recharge faster. So you can combo the trait with the actual Zealot’s Flame skill of constant AoE fire damage around you or your target. Combine this with the Grandmaster trait Amplifed Wrath for an increase in burning damage (and burn enemies who block you) and it’s scary to think about. Perfect Inscriptions is useful for Signet builds as it’s the signet traits rolled into one.

Valor is the defense line. Might of the Protector grant you might when you block attacks. This minor trait alone will be great for high skill cap players who know when to block in order to gain a lot of might stacks. Strength of the Fallen I can see a lot of players taking as you lose a condition at a set interval plus you degen less health while in down state. Altruistic Healing is a trait that heals you when you apply a boon to allies. This would work really well in shout builds. Monk’s Focus is really good for Meditation builds as it rolls all the meditation skills into one.

Honor seems like the boon line. Honorable Staff reduces staff skill recharge and increases boon duration. Pure of Voice is the trait to have when running a Shout build as it reduces recharge on shouts and converts conditions to boons. Pure of Voice can be contested with Writ of Persistence as it’s the symbol trait that makes symbols larger, last longer and heals.

Virtues mainly is for Virtue F1-F3 skills. The main thing that changed in this line is Master of Consecrations reduces recharge and increases the duration on Consecration skills. Consecrations are automatically ground targeted.

In summary, the Guardian core specializations feel like you know where you want to go if you want to go damage oriented or support/bunker oriented. Some lines combine really well with others. For example, Valor with Radiance alone makes for a great blocking burn build. For Support you don’t have to pour into all defense and have a bit of offense as well which is nice. I alos like that there are more “Support” options to have a balance of offense and defense rather than choosing one. DPS builds I feel will go into Zeal and Radiance for sure. Valor, Honor and Virtues are the go-to options for Support and Bunker builds.

Dragonhunter Elite Specialization

Game Designer Karl McLain who work on the Guardian, Elementalist and Thief specializations wrote the article about the Dragonhunter which is the elite specialization for Guardians. Note that this specialization will be available if you get Heart of Thorns. This specialization offers new active Combat Virtues with similar effects, access to the longbow, some trait features, and new trap skill along with their elite trap: Dragon’s Maw.

So, when Dragonhunter is chosen as a specialization, a Guardian’s virtues have more of a combat aspect when activate while retaining the same type of passive effects. Here’s how the active for Virtues will change:

  • Spear of Justice – Virtue of Justice’s active changes into a spear, that sounds like a skill shot, as it pierces through enemies in it’s path tethering them. The tethered enemies then get hit with pulses that cause burning.
  • Wings of Resolve – Virtue of Resolve’s active changes into a leap (hence the angel wings) where allies are healed wherever the Dragonhunter lands. This Virtue can be traited to additionally do damage to foes.
  • Shield of Courage – Virtue of Courage’s active changes into a shield that is placed in front of you that blocks attacks. Since this says attacks and not just projectiles, I assume any not projectiles like a Thief’s Cluster Bomb can be blocked as well.

The longbow shoots fast, light based projectiles. The longbow offers Guardians a better, viable range option but allows for support as well. For example, the longbow for Dragonhunters has the longbow skill Symbol of Energy which grants vigor to allies. There’s also Deflecting Shot which is an arrow that can block enemy projectiles.

Finally, Dragonhunters will have the “hunter” part of their name have meaning (exclusing the longbow) with light based trap skills. Traps offer a small heal when placed and can be traited to cripple and bleed. One trap described in the article is the elite skill: Dragon’s Maw. This trap does damage and blinds enemies when triggered by an enemy. Allies in the area get healed by a large amount.

This elite specialization is great for Guardians. First off it grants them a really good long range option for Guardians (Scepter and Staff weren’t cutting it). It also combines well with a Damage oriented Guardian or a Support oriented Guardian. The longbow and Virtues also offers a low and high skill cap where a more well placed Spear of Justice or Deflecting Shot will offers better results.

The Dragonhunter can be seen in action on Ready Up tomorrow on May 8th at noon Pacific. As usual, it will be on the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel!

Mesmer Specialization Thoughts: Illusions & Chronomancer

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Time to show off my thoughts on the Mesmer specializations along with their Elite specialization: Chronomancer! Just a heads up to everyone, rather than having a huge post on core specialization or 16 posts covering each profession and their elite specializations afterwards, I decided to do 8 posts: each post will cover a profession and their elite specialization once announced. If Revenant specializations show up down the road, then there will be a post on that as well. So, let’s get started!

Mesmer Core Specialization

Domination has some vulnerability and interrupt changes which I like. There’s also the Mental Torment trait that promotes shattering phantasms instead of keeping them out. Overall, I feel the line is a decent one to choose.

Dueling is going to be very interesting. Mesmers now have to actually shattering clones/phantasms for confusion from Confusing Combatants rather than pulling out new clones and the older ones shatter automatically or let enemies kill your illusions for confusion. Evasive Mirror looks like a really good trait to get to reflect projectiles after successfully dodging (those pesky Rapid Fire rangers). Harmonious Mantras promotes actually using Mantras by giving you an activation damage boost that stacks. What I really like in this line is Mistrust; this allows you to apply confusion in an area when you interrupt someone. Combining this with the Domination line could be quite fun.

Chaos is more defensive in nature. Master of Manipulation allows you to reflect projectiles for a short period when you use a Manipulation skill and can work well with Evasive Mirror. Chaos Dampening will be really good for getting frequent Chaos armor. Prismatic Understanding is the key trait in this line as it increases the duration of stealth. This trait brings Mass Invisibility elite skill on par with a Thief’s Shadow Refuge skill.

Inspiration bring about buffs to Phantasms. I like Phantasmal Healing as it promotes having the max amount of illusions out and not just Phantasms. There are some traits for speed buffs by using shatters and glamour skills as well.

Illusions helps promote shattering Phantasms with the Persistance of Memory trait. Sum of All Fears seems like a decent trait to have as it applies Torment when you apply 5 stacks of confusion. The Grandmasters in this line helps with shatters and Blinding Befuddlement helps apply longer durations of confusion.

To summarize the core specialization for Mesmer, I feel Mesmers have a bit of a higher skill cap with some trait changes and removal of a lot of Retaliation traits. However, there are quite a few options for Mantra and Phantasm builds. Confusion and Interrupt builds seem to be really potent for a majority of play. I also like the speed traits in the Inspriation line. Domination, Dueling and Illusions will probably be the lines mostly chosen with Chaos and Inspiration being good line choices for WvW.

Chronomancer Elite Specialization

Game Designer Robert Gee who work on the Mesmer and Necromancer specializations wrote the article about the Chronomancer which is the elite specialization for Mesmers. Note that this specialization will be available if you get Heart of Thorns. So what does this specialization offer? Well there are three core things I want to cover about this specialization: Offhand Shield, the Alacrity effect and the skills, specifically the F5 skill called “Continuum Split/Shift”.

For those who don’t know, Chronomancer is essentially a Time Mage and the Mesmer can do just that: time magic! In fact, Memsers are the only profession that can access the new alacrity effect which speeds up the recharge of skills (aka opposite of chill). In some situations, Memsers can share alacrity with allies!

Now, onto the shield. The shield has “time skills” that allows players to use them frequently if used correctly. One such skill is Tides of Time that sends a wave of energy forward and back to the caster. This wave can block projectiles and grants quickness to allies and stuns foes if it hits them. This effect can be applied again to allies and foes when the wave returns to the caster. If the caster gets hit with the wave, they gain some reduced recharge on the skill so it can be used again sooner!

It seems a majority of the Chronomancer skills will be wells with clock-like themes. The clock on the well actually has a tick animation which signals when the well will activate a burst effect. These wells do the regular pulse damage/effect and are either defensive or offensive in nature. Now for the Chronomancer’s F5 skill. This is called Continuum Split and the followup skill is called Continuum Shift. Basically, the Split activation shatters all illusions giving the Chronomancer a window to perform actions. The window time is increased depending on the number of illusions shattered. When the time ends or if Shift is activated, the Chronomancer returns to their starting position with the health, endurance and cooldowns they had when they activated Continuum Split. In other words, Continuum Split/Shift acts as a reset button.

These abilities alone can really make Mesmers amazing. Combining the time skills and alacrity with illusions promotes shatter skills and Mantra use. This in turn increases damage output and for one-on-one scenarios, Memsers could probably burst their opponents down fairly well.

We’ll find out more about the Chronomancer on Points of Interest tomorrow on May 1st at noon Pacific. As usual, it will be on the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel!

Guild Wars 2: Heart Of Thorns – Specializations In A Nutshell

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Well well. It seems this week’s Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns news is on Specializations! Game Designer Jon Peters drops the news in two posts (Part 1 and Part 2 here). So in a nutshell I’ll explain how specializations work and how will it be incorporated with the skill system we have now. I’ll also cover how we’ll be earning utilities and traits in the future!

Core & Elite Specializations

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Specializations will be separated into two variations. The first is the Core Specialization which is basically a newer version of the trait system we have in place now. With Core Specializations there are no more trait points but instead players will be able to choose 3 out of 5 profession trait, now specialization, lines. For example, for elementalist I can choose Water Magic, Fire Magic and Arcana as my 3 core specialization lines. This will in turn unlock everything in the line. That’s right: the adept, master and grandmaster tier traits along with the 3 minor traits will be unlocked for each line chosen. The trade off to this is that there will be less trait options to choose from. As you can see in the picture above, Each core specialization line will have 9 major traits in total, 3 for each tier (adept, master and grandmaster). Some traits are being added to a professions kit such as ground targeting for necromancer wells which was a trait.

Elite Specialization is the other variation of Specializations. These specializations will be coming with Heart of Thorns such as the Ranger “Druid” specialization.

Profession Reward Track

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This the new system for unlocking specializations and utility skills. Progression in these tracks will be done via Hero Points. These points are earned through leveling a character and Hero Challenges in the world (aka new name for Skill Challenges). So what happens to the skill points you have now? They’ll all be converted into a “new crafting material“. If you have a level 80 that has 13% map completion should be able to unlock enough utility skills, specialization lines and traits for some decent builds.

In this system there will be a reward track for each core specialization as well as utility types. For example, the Water Magic track is a specialization in which you first have to unlock the minor trait, then all the adept traits, then the next minor trait, then all the master traits… you get the idea. For utilities, elementalists have a set of utility skills called Cantrips which they would have to unlock one at a time. For the Utility tracks, it seems the healing skill will be the first to be unlocked (if any), the elite skill last (again, if any). All the other utilities that fit in the track will fall in between those two.

Reward tracks for Elite specializations will feature a bit more. An Elite Specialization track will unlock a new weapon, mechanics, skills and traits. These tracks also offer rewards such as new runes, sigils, the weapon skin linked to the elite specialization and an armor piece that is themed after the weapon skin.

Specializations For PvP

PvP players don’t fret. All core specializations will be unlocked and the Elite Specialization will be unlocked if you own Heart of Thorns.

Thoughts?

I really like this new Profession Reward system. Buying traits felt really unrewarding and going out to get traits could prove to be annoying depending on the content needed to be done. Earning my skills and traits by means I can control is a much better and more rewarding solution. The trait-to-specialization changes also help with balancing professions. Needless to say, some professions are better than others in PvP so maybe this will help even things out.

This does bring up a ton of questions. What happens to items that can be bought with skill points; will we need to use gold now? Will racial skills be part of the Profession Reward system? Well there will be a Q&A on the official Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel Friday, April 24th 2015 at noon Pacific. Be sure to tune in or check out the video later to find out more!