Specializations are one of the most keenly awaited features in ArenaNet's upcoming Guild Wars 2 expansion, Heart of Thorns. In light of today's big blog post on Specializations, we managed to wrangle Jon Peters for a chat about the new changes to professions and what they mean for the overall game.
We were only able to get five questions (plus one bonus!) in, due to Jon needing to answer interviews from other outlets as well, but we think you'll agree we got some good ones in there. Read on!
MMORPG: One of the issues people had with the changes to player progression was that it took too long at early levels to unlock abilities that made characters interesting to play. You talk about how much a level 80 character should have unlocked, but at (approximately) what point do you think a new character will have enough Hero Points to unlock a core specialization or set of skills?
Jon Peters: This new unlocking system is a replacement for the old skill unlocking as well as the current trait unlocking system. It is designed to allow you to spend hero points where you want to spend them and also intended to give you more of those points via leveling up so that there should be more choices available to you earlier on than as it currently stands. For example, now you can more easily make a shout warrior by collecting all the shouts directly and picking the trait line that ties to them.
MMORPG: “Almost every elite specialization will gain access to a complete set of new skills: a single heal, four utility skills, and one elite skill.” Are those new skills all that elite specializations can use, or can they still use skills from the base class?
Jon Peters: Players will be able to use all of the skills from the base class plus all of the skills from that elite specialization. But they can only use the skills from the elite specialization if they have that elite specialization equipped.
MMORPG: Specializations seem like a way for roles to be further defined in party situations. Will we be seeing support, crowd control, healing, and all those traditional roles with each different specialization?
Jon Peters: Yes, specializations tend to fill a specific role. However, part of us realigning the skill and trait system is that we’re trying to make sure the normal professions—not just with specs—have more specific roles for players to play, and more distinct playstyles to fulfill those roles. Part of our combat system is all about having the ability to change roles during combat if you need to by weapon swapping. That way, everybody can make parties and you don’t have to wait for a specific profession. Anyone can pick a specific role and try to play that way. Specializations are a way for characters to still do this, but to go a bit deeper into the control and support roles in particular to reinforce more of that kind of gameplay with this system, and with the types of new creatures and content that we’re building into the game. How these work and play out will become even more apparent when we introduce more challenging group content coming to the expansion.
MMORPG: How will new mechanics for elite specializations be implemented? Will they be implemented through the new traits, skills, or another method? A combination of all of the above? An example would be great.
Jon Peters: The new mechanics for each profession will come in a variety of forms. The bulk of the first set of specializations modifies profession skills but there are other things we are doing as well. As one example, the warrior profession will have a new way to spend adrenaline, and a new way to interact with their adrenaline bar.
Your new traits UI.
MMORPG: After reaching level 80, and gaining the maximum amount of Hero Points, will players start to gain Mystic Forge crafting materials for each level up? Is there even a real “maximum”? Or will they accrue them forever, to be used in other progression methods later?
Jon Peters: To answer the first question, no, all XP after level 80 will become only for training masteries. And there really is a real maximum level. Players will still get Mystic Forge materials from the traditional places where they used to get skill point items. In addition we will have to supplement the lost materials from level ups in some way, but we’ll be better able to elaborate on that later on.
MMORPG: Bonus: The Profession that gets a Hammer… is it the Engineer? You can tell us, we won’t share.
Jon Peters: Engineer with a hammer? That sounds interesting. By the way, an engineer is one of the nine professions in Guild Wars 2. :D