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Guild Wars 2 Build Templates Impressions

Ed Orr Posted:
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Today, Guild Wars 2 gets Build and Equipment Templates. A long-awaited addition, the latest function addition to ArenaNet’s MMORPG gives Tyrians more options in the battle. We took a delve into these to give you a rundown on what to expect.

As one of the most requested features to make it into the game, this is possibly even more anticipated than news of another expansion. Live now, this functionality comes to Guild Wars 2 as a free update and adds a huge amount of flexibility to characters in combat. If you’ve missed the hype around templates then you’ll be glad to learn that build templates are designed to all of Tyria’s Commanders to save and switch between pre-configured character configurations quickly and easily. They sidestep inventory clutter and avoid the effort of dragging out every individual piece of equipment in favor of a simple setup and swap system that front-loads all the effort of preparing your WvW or PvP character build. Players logging in to check out the new template function will find that characters now have access to two distinct types of preloaded templates, Equipment Templates and Build Templates. Let’s take a look at these in turn:

Build Templates

Build Templates do exactly what you might expect. Guild Wars 2 has exploded in complexity since its initial vision of an accessible MMO for everyone. Build templates aim to reduce the amount of time that players will spend configuring their character skills and supporting traits into one menu system. Hiden in amongst the Hero panel, hitting H will get you into the relevant menu systems where you can click into the usual Build option on the right. Upon logging into the build interface, it is obvious that there are more than a few changes. At a glance, a selection of tabs and sidebar slots are now aligned across and along the sides of the build menu. Each of these numbered slots along the top of the screen holds an active build template. Players get three active build templates completely free of charge, aping the game’s three primary modes of play, and can utilize these independently to build a particular style of play. Each active build can be modified and each change is active as soon as you make it. There is no undo. Active templates can also be renamed by right-clicking on the numbered tabs atop a particular character's traits, an option that is ideal for identifying each setup when you store it away.

Build Storage

Assuming you want to save a build for later, the slots stacked along the left-hand side of the Build menu allow players to store Build Templates for future use. Right-clicking on the template tab, at the top, opens up a menu option to store a selected build in one of the three free storage slots available. This allows players to select a stored build at any time and apply it to the active build tab, overwriting whatever build is currently on show. In addition to meddling with your own Build menu, the new enhancements allow players to copy and share their creations.

Copy and Paste

Copying Build templates is one of the more useful functions of this update, providing players the opportunity to show off or transmit their builds in a simple two-click operation. You’ll even be able to past builds into chat, vastly cutting down the time taken to communicate raid builds or optimal PvP attributes before getting into battle.

Equipment Templates

Implemented as a separate part of the build update, Equipment Templates are also foisted into the Hero panel and are located in the Equipment sub-menu. Like Build Templates, the Equipment Template changes are subtle enough that they do not feel intrusive to the existing UI and are made up of a cluster of tabs along the top of the Equipment page. Once again, players get some slots gratis, two for starters with a total of six available on every character. Equipment management works slightly differently to Build Templates. While character traits and skills do not have any physical weight, equipment carries a bit more baggage with it. Assigning equipment to these templates is easy enough and clicking on any armor, weapon, trinket, or sigil works exactly as you might expect it and removes the item from standard character inventory. Once an item is equipped,  that same item can be equipped on any active Equipment Template. Equip once and use many times essentially. This can make management a little complex but it is far more favorable to an inventory full of fluctuating gear. Unequiping gear is as simple as right-clicking an item and selecting to unequip or unequip from all Equipment Templates.

Several UI enhancements allow players to see which tabs a particular piece of equipment is attached to and even give a break down of the resulting stats that a particular break Equipment Template will apply. Unlike Build Templates, these cannot be stored, most likely because you may or may not have equipment on hand at any given time. You also do not seem to be able to paste Equipment Templates into Chat which feels a little inconsistent with the design of Build Templates. Players can, however, copy and paste equipment templates to new tabs by right-clicking the tabs along the top of the Equipment Template screen.

Legendary Items

In a nice extra piece of added value, customizable stats can be changed per Equipment Template, allowing for players to really leverage the flexibility of this feature.

The Cost Of Progress

While we’re generally in favor of this update, players with a multitude of characters are going to feel the pinch if they want to utilize this feature to the fullest. Build Template storage slots, active Build templates, and Equipment Templates may all come with unlocked spaces but these expand further. Active Build Templates provide a total of six slots unlocking at 300 gems apiece.

Equipment templates, similarly, total six slots which unlock at 500 gems per piece. Twenty-one additional build storage locations are up for grabs at an undisclosed price (at the time of this preview).  You'll also notice our careful use of the term "character" throughout this piece. It appears, based on our time with these additions, that each template unlock is character-specific. Thankfully, Build storage slots are account wide but the thought of dropping tens of thousands of gems and hundreds of dollars across an account doesn't seem that far fetched and it is concerning.

Our Impressions

Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to go all-in on Spirit Vale or test out a major WvW engagement when we tested the utility here but the build templates are a fantastic addition to Guild Wars 2. While they do take a bit of getting used to and don’t come as easy as some of the one-click macro workarounds I’ve seen, they allow for easy switching with minimal impact on inventory space and provide good flexibility between battles to allow layers to adapt to changing tactics and situations. They even have a set of keybinds available to hotkey change between templates.

Templates can be swapped out and changed as long as a player is not in combat across PvE and WvW, we haven't had a chance to test this in PvP but can only assume it will be the same.  It's my hope that these templates will allow WvW engagements to flow and ebb more readily as teams adapt to their opponents, provide new options for raids as they stop between bosses, and generally make the life of every player that much easier. Build and Equipment templates are in Guild Wars 2 now. Check out this free update by logging into Tyria now, or read more over at the official Guild Wars 2 website.


Ed Orr