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Guild Wars 2 Previews: Traits and Skills Preview

By David North on March 26, 2012

Boy am I lucky!  I got to play another Guild Wars 2 beta, and let me tell you, it was the same game with a new experience.  Last time I talked about some of the professions and how their skills fit certain play styles.  The skills looked and operated in a way that fit the type of character you played.  To give an example, a Necromancer’s skill set will offer spells that do harm to a target's spirit, while a Warrior’s skills focus on damaging the physical body of the target.  This time I thought it might be a great idea to go ahead and really go over how skills and traits actually work and are unlocked.

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First thing I would like to talk about is how basic skills work.  We have known the weapon skill set is based on your weapon choice.  Makes sense.  When you start out with a weapon class, you just have one skill.  As you fight with the weapon you unlock each skill one by one.  The utility skills are a bit different.  To unlock them you actually use skill points which are obtained by leveling up and completing skill point challenges.  Each skill has a different cost to unlock.  Some will cost 1, while others will cost 4 or 7.  What’s nice is that you don’t have to unlock every skill.  You can pick and choose which skill you want to fit your strategy. 

Now let’s talk elite skills.  In the original games we had to hunt bosses to learn the skills one by one.  Things have changed a lot, as it’s setup up to work just like normal skills.  They all have a price, and you pick and choose which one’s you wish to unlock.  The only current prerequisite they have is that you have to be level 30 before you unlock any of them.

So where do traits fit into all of this?  Well they help fine tune your character and the skills you choose to use.  The traits are split into different branches.  Their names should sound familiar.  For the Warrior we have Strength, Arms, Defense, Tactics, and Discipline.  Each of these branches changes the effectiveness of your character by increasing a base stat such as health or strength, and also giving a bonus, such as increasing the duration of conditions.  To give an example, let’s say you’re a Warrior and you want to focus on being a supportive character.  You’ll likely look into placing points into the tactics branch.  Each point gives you an increase in your Vitality, and increases boon duration. 

Another thing to mention is that each branch is split into 3 parts.  Those are Adept, Master, and Grandmaster.  Each part of the branch has a basic and major skill.  To unlock each part of the branch you must first reach a certain level, and speak with a trainer to purchase each part.  This ends up being that small price you pay to gain more power, but it’s worth it.

As you put points into a trait, these skills become unlocked.  So let’s say you spend 5 trait points into the Strength branch.   The first skill you unlock has you do damage at the end of a dodge roll.  It really changes how you play the game.  It takes a defensive move, and turns it into an offensive tool for the warrior to use.  To show how this is different for other professions, the Necromancer has a trait skill that summons a minion after completing a dodge roll.  This makes the roll even more defensive for the Necromancer, as it allows them to escape and use the minion to get the enemies attention.  This really shows how the traits can fit any play type.  The best part is these things are passive, meaning they just take effect.

So there we go.  ArenaNet has set up it up to where we have direct control over how our characters become stronger.  Skills are all unlockable, but don’t require other skills to be unlocked.  They just need the required skill points.  Traits take things to the next level, by making your skill choices event stronger, allowing your play style to evolve.  The best part is, it’s easy to use, and for fans of the first game it’s recognizable.  On top of it all, these skill choices and trait choices really make for some serious character customization. To the special snowflakes of the world!

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