After a long weekend of playing, I just sat down and read the ArenaNet team's latest blog about changes that will be showing up in later stages of Guild Wars 2's beta process. What I gathered, is that these changes are coming, or are mostly in already. In either case, let's talk about each a little bit in a quick blog-like fashion, shall we?
THE DOWNED AND DEFEATED STATE
Eric Flannum starts off by talking a bit on changes to the down and defeated state. Namely, the most important thing is that the fourth skill you have when "downed" and near death is changing to a self-heal that's interrupted by damage. There was one time during the game this past weekend where I killed an enemy right as it killed me. There was no one around, no one to heal me, and no way to rally myself via the downed system. With the change Eric mentions, this situation won't happen again, as I'll be able to rally myself via this fourth healing skill. A very nice and convenient change indeed.
I also like that they're tweaking the death penalty to reflect how many times you've been down and how it affects your time to rally when downed. Not only that but the armor penalty won't start affecting you until one piece breaks. When your armor is damaged, it'll serve as a warning that you should get it fixed before you start feeling the lack of mitigation granted by that piece of armor. Now, ANet, just make it so that the dungeons each have one repair point, or allow players to buy repair kits and we'll be set.
This is such a little change, but a helpful one. Basically, they've made it so you can drag around the map on the compass display, draw lines on it for group coordination, and zoom in and out with the mousewheel. I don't know if this was in during the weekend, but I'm excited to use it next time without always having to bring up my map.
I was under the impression these were already in! But maybe this is just a notice that more are coming. There was one series of Norn events that started with protecting some people from crazed Grawl, then moved into a scholar searching the frozen lake for reasons why the Grawl are attacking, and culminated in one of the most epic battles I've seen in an open world. As I started the event, it was just a few of us. As it ended, there were dozens, all working together, reviving each other, and trying to down this insanely powerful Svanir Shaman who'd been negatively affecting the area. If this is just a sign of the events we're in for with the rest of the game, the content in GW2 is going to be nuts.
I mentioned one of this in my preview about the Shaman Rookery in the Norn starting zone. In short, they're little areas that are off the beaten path, may not have an event tied to them, but provide you with potentially awesome rewards and bragging rights... if you've got the patience and will to make it through. Shaman Rookery... remember that. And be ready to hunt for more in future beta events and launch.
BOONS AND CONDITIONS
This is also good news, that Boons and Conditions (buffs and debuffs) will be getting increased visibility and more straightforward math applied to them. Basically, you see in your skill descriptions that buffs are applied, but it takes some time for the average player to realize what they do. With these changes, those effects will be more apparent from the start and it should make players realize what they can do to help themselves and others more quickly. Namely: regeneration and defense boons, and stacking poisons and bleeds to down enemies quicker. In all, these are the things that replace straight up support and healing classes in the game, as every profession has access to the boons and conditions of their own and needs to use them wisely.
GW2 has a learning curve, even for seasoned MMO veterans. And these changes will make that curve less steep for sure.