Yesterday I had the chance to catch up with Guild Wars 2’s Game Director Colin Johanson to talk about the metric buttload of an update he put out via the official Guild Wars 2 site today. In short, there is a whole lot of new stuff coming to Tyria before the end of 2013 and I’m fairly certain you’ll have a hard time arguing with any of the additions. Unless of course you don't like free features and content... then I guess you’ll hate this little article. Before we dive into the bits of Colin’s blog that we talked about on our call, let me give you a handy-dandy bullet point list detailing the many new things coming to GW2 in the latter half of the year.
THE BOOTY OF GW2’S 2013
- Ever more Living World content, with much more permanent effects on the world.
- Return of holiday events, but the focus will be on more permanent and impactful content.
- New skills and traits for EVERY PROFESSION, as a form of endgame progress.
- Retooled Champion Rewards Chest to make these bosses more exciting.
- Dungeon Complete Bonus Rewards to encourage actually completing dungeons for gold.
- New Crafting Material Rewards for WvW or PVE for all types of content in these areas.
- Account Magic Find will replace current gear-based Magic Find via consumables and food.
- Fine and Masterwork Salvages = chance to acquire magic find consumables to raise this.
- Crafting Professions boosted to 500!
- With crafting boost comes... Ascended Weapons and Armor to be crafted (or very rarely dropped).
- Precursors and Legendary Gear Changes + New Weapons and even new legendary gear types.
- Select the stat combo type you want on your legendary at will, no more transmutations!
- The WvW Orb Mechanics is going to see its replacement, with more details to come.
- More rewarding sPVP to line rewards up with PVE and WvW.
- Queue and Leaderboards for Solo Play, separate from ranked team play.
- New PVP map types.
- PVP Legendary Weapon Skins
- And of course the $10,000 ArenaNet PAX Tournament!
- Eastern release will usher in new tutorials to explain the game’s functions better in all regions.
- And last but definitely not least: the brand New LFG Tool is finally coming!
THE FUTURE OF LIVING WORLD
Okay... I’ve gotten all that off my chest. Now let’s talk about the specifics Colin and I chatted about during our call. Firstly, Colin wanted to mention just how much they’ve learned since May’s unofficial beginning of the 2-week cadence for new Living World content. In short, he wants all GW2 players to know they hear you loud and clear when it comes to making this content a permanent fixture in the world, and not just something that’s here and gone in a two week period (with special regard to the recent temporary dungeons). Around the end of the year, the upcoming in-game election of either Ellen Kiel or Evon Gnashblade will bring back both the Molten Weapons Facility dungeon and the Aetherblade Retreat as permanent additions to the Fractals of the Mists rotation. When they arrive, our vote for Evon or Ellen will also determine which of two brand new fractals will be added to the game.
That’s right, the election will not only direct and guide the actual narrative of the game and Lion’s Arch for years to come (Colin’s words, not mine), but it will also determine what kind of content we get when three new fractals are added by the end of 2013. Voting for Evon will get us the Fall of Abaddon (pre-GW1 lore) or voting for Kiel will get us the Thaumanova Reactor Explosion fractal (from current Metrica Province content). Whichever one gets voted in, the other will very likely never be added to the game. Not only will this content be permanently added and chosen by us, but we’ll also be deciding which one is banished to the potential ether.
The votes in this coming election will also determine which mini-games are put on a permanent rotation and advertised through the Daily Achievement panel and via Lion’s Arch NPCs. As an example, Evon would have Keg Brawl, Crab Battle, and Southsun on a rotation and each day they’re the highlighted mini-game you’ll be able to teleport directly to them from an NPC and partake in the event (which will also help your daily achievement and so on and so forth). It’s nice to hear that the goofy little events in Tyria will have a more organized and directed experience soon.
Oh, and lest we forget: Colin also hinted that there are plenty of areas on the Tyrian map that are currently inaccessible and they just might have people working on these lands behind the scenes for the long-term content additions of Guild Wars 2. Whether they’ll come in these bi-weekly content updates or as a part of a larger expansion, time will tell. But he was sure to say that yes, the rest of the map is coming.
PROGRESSION AT LEVEL 80 EXPANDS
I whined on Reddit not long ago that while I like the new achievements, and while I appreciate the hunt for 100% map completion and my legendary weapon... I really wish there was more to work on in terms of actual character growth at level 80. If you’re into WvW, there’s plenty of progression to be had via that system. But the PVE folks are left with either legendaries and map completion, or starting a new character. Well, all those people who downvoted me on Reddit can eat it: brand new skills and traits are coming to GW2 before the year’s end and they’ll all be profession specific. Keeping with ArenaNet’s goal to avoid gear inflation, this system is intended to act as a sort of horizontal progression for your character.
Maybe you’ve unlocked every skill and know every trait, and have your legendary... what’s left? Well these new skills will keep you progressing without constantly inflating your power and making it impossible for others to catch up. Along with the new system, new ways and activities to earn skill points will be added and there won’t be some insane grind to obtain them. It’ll be much like the current system of unlocking skills. What’s more is that the team is also working very hard on finding a way to make it so that every profession has access to every weapon and their own weapon skills for those previously locked weapons. Engineer plus Hammer? Check. Again, there’s no specific timeline for this, but a new progression system is coming. Finally those level 80s you’ve been hoarding will get some use, as they'll be adding more and more skills and traits to the game for years to come and on a regular basis for players to obtain.
MORE REWARDS FOR EVERYONE
Firstly, even Crafters are getting some love before the end of the year by way of the level cap for crafting being boosted to 500 from 400, complete with tons of new recipes and even the ability for crafters to make Ascended Weapons and Armor. Man was that great to type. I’ll never get my legendary, but hopefully I can deck myself out in Legendaries. And while every crafting profession’s boost won’t happen at once (one patch it might be weaponsmith, another cooking, etc.), all of them are getting the increase. Ascended armor and weapons can only be made once per day by the crafter, and each item will be made from combining existing materials into new materials or by obtaining new materials from completing content in the world (dungeons, jumping puzzles, WvW towers, etc.). Colin said they’re even looking into giving out crafting materials for PVP rewards to keep the rewards across all areas of play. And speaking of PVP, there’ll be Legendary Skins coming to PVP, so you can make your character wield a Dusk-looking Greatsword, even if you don’t have it in real life.
On top of this, Champion Rewards are being improved even more. This will apply to bosses, open world Champions, and every other Champion in the game. If you partake in enough of any champion fight, you’ll get a chest which will contain things like crafting materials, skill points, unique skins, lodestones, karma, and even more. This will make fighting any Champion more enticing, but also should make Orr and Southsun (where events scale based on number of players to add champions) more exciting and fruitful for guilds and socializing players in the open world.
And one more big change? The Magic Find system, where players currently have to choose or switch between gear with stats or gear with magic find, will be getting overhauled completely. Only one or two item types will keep the MF stat, while the rest of it will go an account wide stat that you can sort of “level up” over time with achievements and rare found consumables (they're kind of like karma jugs). They’ll put a cap on it of some sort, but you’ll be able to go well over 100% MF, just maybe not 1,000,000%. The food temporary buffs will still be in the game too, which will add even more MF to your dungeon runs. Overall the goal of this new system is to take away the need to choose between more power or more loot.
And oh yes... more Legendary gear is coming too, as well as a way to get precursors that’s more reliable, even craftable. I’ll just copy and paste from the blog for that part, as I couldn’t weasel more out of Colin:
We aren't quite ready to go into all the details here, but what I can say is you will see a specific way to build precursor items on your way to a legendary. On top of this, you’ll also see new legendary weapons and new types of legendary gear in 2013. Building your precursor will require a large amount of the new crafting material rewards listed above, 500 in crafting, and likely a combination of other items earned for completing more specific content in the game.
In addition, we’ll also improve the functionality of legendaries, allowing you to set their stats when out of combat to any stat combo available, so you don’t need to transmute stat changes for legendaries. Legendary gear will remain with the same tier of stats as ascended gear and will not be made more powerful than other gear,it will simply be slightly more convenient since it will no longer need transmutations to change stats.
THE MYTHICAL LOOKING FOR GROUP TOOL
Last, but definitely not least, it seems that the mythical LFG tool is coming before the year’s end. It’s in playtesting at the office now, and has a whole bunch of slick functionality to find groups for all kinds of content... without taking away the need to socialize. It won’t just toss you into a group and portal you into content. You’ll join a group, sure enough, but you’ll still have to meet up at Ascalonian Catacombs or whathaveyou. The goal is to expand socialization, and help you find people who want to do what you want to do, and then when you combine this will all the rewards you’ll be able to obtain you should never have a reason to run solo again... unless you want to, which is totally fine by Colin.
Well, that about does it for the year ahead for Guild Wars 2. Colin says there’s even more stuff that they can’t talk about yet, including just how the game will truly “expand” beyond the living world updates. But I think they’ve given enough for us to chew on for now. Let me hear your thoughts. Anything specific you’re looking forward to toying around with as it enters the game?
Want to know more? Head to the Guild Wars 2 site to check out Colin’s blog.
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.
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