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Tackling The Little Things (No, Not Asura)

Jason Winter Posted:
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We've only begun to scratch at the surface of what Heart of Thorns will being to Guild Wars 2. New areas! Masteries! Class specializations! Quagganburgers!

All right, maybe we won't get that last one. But apart from the big stuff, there are a lot of little things I hope get addressed with the expansion. Some of them are quality-of-life fixes, but a few have the potential to alter gameplay dramatically, which is why they might be better fits for the “additional features” part of an expansion instead of a patch or update. Maybe we'll see them “tacked on” to a blog post about a new HoT feature or given the spotlight by themselves.

(By the way, at PAX South, Colin Johanson and Mike O'Brien told me they read my columns, so I'm sure that means they'll see and implement all of this. Also, that probably means they read the comments, too, so be nice!)

A cure for condition capping

I love my necromancer. He's a charr, too, so that makes him 87% more of a badass. (He's also my chef, and I've always wondered where he gets some of his ingredients from...) I still love him despite my knowing how limited he is in large groups, when so many of his bleed and vulnerability stacks are effectively meaningless. And I don't even pretend that his poison attacks, or burning attacks from any of my other characters, are in any way worthwhile when 50 or more players are hitting Tequatl, the Shatterer, or any other giant monster.

That's been the bane of condition-based characters from day one. Soloing or in small/dungeon groups, it's not too bad, but even then, much of your usefulness can be wasted if too many other characters stack the same conditions. It's nice that we now have husks to make us feel useful – and I love playing my necro in the Silverwastes – but that's just a tiny fraction of the encounters in Tyria, most of which are not condition-friendly.

I don't think the solution is simply to increase the caps or make them infinite, or in the case of burning or poison to stack intensity instead of duration; that would probably scale damage to a ridiculous point. Truthfully, this is one I can't see an easy fix for, but seeing as how it's most problematic in the kind of huge group encounters Guild Wars 2 is famous for, I also have to believe that it's something the dev team is aware of and wants to fix. Here's hoping they figure it out for HoT.

Fixing Edge of the Mists

Actual PvP in EotM – wouldn't that be something? It breaks out occasionally, but the zone is still largely a PvE karma farm. With the new focus on WvW and a new borderlands in the expansion, I'd like to think EotM could be “fixed” or at the very least, admitted that it doesn't work as a PvP zone and tweak it to provide a more interesting PvE-with-occasional-PvP experience.

Granted, the “grab a keep, then move on” mentality in EotM sometimes manifests itself in the main WvW maps, so maybe the new emphasis on defense will carry over to EotM. I like the idea of giving a reward bonus, to magic find or karma gain, or whatever, for each structure held by your team, but have that bonus be greater for the players in the main WvW maps. That way, you'll want to hold locations but you'd also prefer to be on the main maps and view EotM as an overflow, rather than the destination it's become. EotM will also still provide something for the main-map players, but not unbalance the matches in any way.

Collection improvements

If collections are going to be a really big deal now, I'd like to see the UI for them be a little cleaner and more easily searchable. Every time I want to see what parts I need for a luminescent armor piece, I have to click on basic, then find it in the list. I know that's a minor thing, and it only costs me a few seconds, but if they're going to rely so much on collections, navigating through them should be easier.

Speaking of expanding on collections... I don't know if “collections” is the place for it, but for a long time I've wanted to see certain achievement categories be clearer when you need to complete specific tasks to complete them. The best example I can think of is dungeon paths. If you're at 3/4 for Sorrow's Embrace completion, you might remember that you've done Story Mode, but which explorable paths have you done? Similar lists for which diving locations you've found or armors you've unlocked would also be helpful.

It seems like it wouldn't be too much of a stretch from the current collections UI – or maybe it'll be more like how mastery tracking and advancement is currently described – to have a few boxes that get checked off each time you complete part of an achievement so you know exactly what you still need to do for completion.

First-person view

Oh yeah, I'm going there. It's available on the test server, I'm told, but one of the reasons I've heard why first-person view isn't in the game proper is due to height issues. Do you keep the same viewpoint on your asura character when he drinks a tonic to turn him into a humongous Candy Corn Elemental? Let's hope that's the actual problem, and not that we'd all get confused and never know how to get out of that viewpoint.

I don't know what the technical hurdles are that need to be overcome to deal with that – or even if they need to be, I think most of us could live with height shifts or non-shifts – but for all that we're hearing and seeing about how beautiful Heart of Thorns will be, I for one would love the opportunity to properly view it.

That's my list of some of the things, little and not-so-little, that I hope get addressed in Heart of Thorns. What would you add to the list?


Jason Winter