[GW2] Traits Overview

Discussion in 'Guild Wars 2' started by Acina, Nov 25, 2010.

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    Acina Admin Officer


    by Ben Miller


    Howdy! My name is Ben Miller, Game Designer on Guild Wars 2. While Eric and Colin have been busy writing blog posts and interviews, we've been working on a little system called traits. There has been some speculation and questions about traits on the forums. What are traits? How do you collect them? Does Colin Johanson secretly run a moa ranch in eastern Washington as a front for the Order of Whispers? I'm going to answer two of those three questions right now and leave the third open for future elaboration.

    What are traits?

    At a basic level, traits make you better at what you choose to do. You slot traits in order to modify skills and attributes. Once you have mastered a handful of traits they become a key component in creating your overall build.

    Mastering Traits

    So how do you get all those traits to make a build? Good question.

    You acquire traits by completing profession challenges scattered throughout the world. For instance, you walk into an inn and persuade a shadowy stranger into telling you a rumor about a mysterious tome full of arcane knowledge. Or you challenge a legendary swordmaster to a duel while exploring Divinity's Reach.

    Each profession focuses on different activities to develop his or her traits. Warriors train physically, bash stuff, eat stuff, and drink stuff. Elementalists, on the other hand, seek ancient knowledge locked in tomes or particularly powerful elemental locations. The different trait challenges accentuate the unique feel of that profession and really bring the experience of playing that profession to life.

    Your prowess will grow as you complete challenges that develop your character's particular traits. The defeated swordmasters will teach you their age old techniques, allowing you to select the Swordmastery trait. Discovering the mysterious tome will allow you unlock the secrets of magical energy.

    Building with traits

    Builds are one of the things that make Guild Wars unique, and it is something we are carrying over into Guild Wars 2. For those not familiar with "builds," they are a combination of traits, skills, and attributes that mechanically work well together. With roughly 100 traits for each profession, there are way more traits in the game than you could possibly equip on a single character, so you have to make decisions and choose certain traits over others.


    Traits play a large part in letting you customize the way your character plays

    Each profession has its own set of trait lines. These are similar in theme to the profession specific attribute lines in the original Guild Wars. Each trait line has a number of major and minor slots. Warriors, right now, have two general lines called Power and Tactics as well as lines for each of the weapons they can wield. As you master traits, you slot them into these lines, affecting your character.

    Previously we talked about the Guild Wars 2 skill system and how you can make choices about your heal skill, elite skill, and utility skills. Now it's time to introduce traits into the mix. Here's a specific example of a high level warrior creating a build.

    To give this some context, let's pretend an event has started. A giant boar is marauding through the forest and your party decides to take it on. This build is meant to maximize the damage you and your teammates can deliver against a single target.

    Step 1: Pick a weapon. The weapon you're currently wielding is the major determining factor for how your character will play. Let's pick a sword, a versatile weapon which comes standard with a chain of three skills (Sever Artery, Gash, and Final Thrust), a rapid-fire repeating attack that hits a small area (Flurry), and a chase skill to close the distance between you and the enemy (Savage Leap). For my offhand weapon I could take warhorn for damage buffs, but I'll cover that with my utility skills. Instead, I'll dual wield swords to maximize my own damage. In practice, you'd also decide on your alternate weapon for switching in combat - perhaps a longbow for range.

    Step 2: Pick a heal skill. Let's go with a basic heal like Healing Surge, which gives you both health and adrenaline when used. Adrenaline gives you damage bonuses and allows you to use your burst skill more often, so it's perfect for our build.

    Step 3: Pick your utility skills and elite skill. You choose On My Mark (which lowers an enemy's armor and calls a target out), For Great Justice (which gives allies Fury Boon and Might Boon), and Frenzy (which increases my overall adrenaline gain). For my elite skill, I'm taking the always epic Battle Standard (which puts an array of powerful buffs on your allies).

    Step 4: Assign your traits. Here you can start focusing your play style and being clever with what you slot in each trait line.

    Power: Let's choose to stack traits that increase your strength attribute so your individual melee attacks do more damage.


    Tactics: While kiting the giant boar, switching weapons faster sure would be awesome, so you slot the Weapon Master trait that lowers the cool down on switching weapons. You also slot traits that increase the number of targets your shouts affect, and increase the duration of your banners.

    Sword: You choose to slot Swordmastery to further increase the damage you do, as well as the trait that increases the chance you will score a critical strike with Final Thrust.

    Longbow: Out of what is available let's keep things simple, more damage.

    We want experimentation with traits to be fun and engaging, so we've made the rules for changing traits extremely flexible. With no in-game cost, you can respec at will, outside of combat. This means you are open to experiment with what works and what doesn't work on the fly, without having to go back to town or worry about if you have enough gold.

    Whether it's adventuring around Tyria trying to stop dragons or fighting other players in World PvP - the trait system is there to experiment with, to have fun with, and to allow you to feel like you are actively mastering the profession you have chosen. Like Guild Wars, there are countless unique and clever combinations to be found.

    To all you would-be heroes out there: go forth and adventure, and use the power of traits not for good or evil, but for awesome.

    Stay tuned - in the coming weeks we'll be covering things like achievements, armor and equipment... and maybe even get Colin to talk about his secret moa ranch.
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    Katiechops Guild Master

    Why do I think theorycrafters are gonna love this? Either way sounds cool you have to go earn your traits.
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    Acina Admin Officer

    Yeh, I definitely think this will be a theory crafters wet dream.
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    Specter Veteran BOON

    Yep, this will be good, but traits are masteries for the skills you have on the weapons and ultimately traits are tied to weapon types...
    Seems to me that the game is much more simple than gw1 since the skills are tied to the weapon types.
    I would like to be able to modify skills on weapons :) That would bring back some of the nice build complexity guildwars1 had ;)
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    Blackspear "The Random"

    @up i was thinking about thIs and ye would be awesome to see more than 5 active skills per weapon like:

    You have 10 skills for each weapon but u can pick only 5 of them. If you want to change them u can do it in town or talk to class npc.
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    Divinitas Community Member

    Loving that idea, otherwise it may be a bit to similar

    Then again, every MMO is like that, sure there are different specs but 90% of people spec the same or very similar to get the best build possible.
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    Allstar Just A "Member"

    Seems like a cross between WoW talents and WAR tactics, which can't really be a bad thing.

    I'm hoping there won't be "best" builds around and that a lot of traits are situational, which would be great seeing as you can swap things around on the go.

    Unfortunately there will always be FOTM builds, this is unavoidable, but wether or not certain builds will be better than others remains to be seen.

    Here's hoping.
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    ComradeFish Community Member

    That being said, as far as weapon determined skills are concerned, we have 2 hands, and you can have 2 active weapon sets to change between, while in a fight; effectively 10 skills you choose by choosing your weapon slots.

    Given (for a warrior) as weapon choices we have 3 one-handed weapons: Swords, Axes and Maces.
    5 potential offhands: Shield, Warhorn, Sword, Axe, Mace.
    As two-handed weapons: Hammers, Greatswords, Longbows and Rifles.

    Given each weapon combination gives a different skillset, this means we have 19 different arrangements of the first 5 skills, per weapon set.
    It follows as we have 2 weapon sets, the amount of unique skill combinations (ignoring duplicate sets, and ignoring order) will be the sum from 1 to (the number of combinations - 1) - in the case of 19 different unique arrangements, there are 171 possible combinations

    So, essentially, a warrior has, from simply selecting their weapons, 171 unique permutations - add to this that the fact that 5 remaining skills are freely chosen from skill lists, and the way that all of this has been designed (skill slots dedicated to certain purposes) means there's likely to be far more freedom for *workable* builds than in GW1, at least on a single-character level. Furthermore, while you're right that the potential amount of combinations of skills are probably lower, the amount of combinations of roles you can take within a single fight are *far* greater - you can be a much more adaptable player.

    Simply looking at the warrior again, you can group the classes based on weapons - dual wielding sets are likely to be fast, aggressive dps, if the set contains a mace or a hammer, it's likely to have skills that stun/knockback, if the set contains a shield, likely to be a tank. In this way, you can specialise *far* more than in GW1 - and specialise in 2 types, instead of like in GW1, with it's very single purpose builds. Imagine someone trying to fill the role of a strong offtank : they could take the 2h Hammer for what's likely to be AoE stuns / interrupts, and if they start taking too much dmg / stealing aggro from someone who's trying to play as a main tank, swap to something + shield to soak up the damage.

    Ohh, and, for the warrior at least, within those first 5 skills, you have some skill chains - Sever Artery becomes Gash becomes Final Thrust - so each individual "skill" is potentially far more complex, in GW2.

    It'll be like swapping to a 40/40 set and having your WoH/Infuse bar up, then swapping back to 20%ench and suddenly becoming Boon Prot, except while you're maintaining Boon it becomes another skill you can use, and you don't need to think about res skills, and etc etc etc ;)

    And let's not even get started on how much traits could possibly come into play xD

    tl;dr : fish prefers talking about GW2 to doing work >_<
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    Acina Admin Officer

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    Aspira Admin Officer

    Oh you never met Fish before Acina...... he has a natural talent for confusion, lol. :p
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    Kamasutrah Classic Guild Member

    can I join that club too? >.<
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    ComradeFish Community Member

    but, I thought I was being good, I didn't even mention combinatorics :(
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    Specter Veteran BOON

    And still that is nothing compared to the 5000 skills you have in guildwars 1 and the amount of permutations is ridiculously high for me to calculate ;)

    I understand that we will have room to be creative, but i fear that after a while everyone will eventually use very similar builds :S
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    Alaisy Veteran BOON

    I know its fairly early to say but I think that'll happen too, not that I reaaaaly mind as GW1 is confusing enough :p
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    Acina Admin Officer

    Aye, but the same is true of GW1.
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    ComradeFish Community Member

    I'm afraid you may have misinterpreted what I wrote ;) Plus, there's 1319 player skills in GW1, including PvE skills, and the number of combinations is limited by class restrictions, max of 3 PvE skills, yadda yadda yadda. The key thing is the number of *viable* builds, which is <<< the number of permutations - if GW2 works like ANet intend it to, every single permutation of weapons will work well generally, and excel for a certain job... in GW1 many skill combinations simply... don't work, or alternately, are completely outclassed by another combination in terms of useful functionality.

    Honestly, in GW1, the creativeness was lost in finding new builds that exploited how skills had been adjusted or reworked in patches, and except for a couple of areas, the same formulae *always* worked (TripDiscord/Saabway == a winrar is you). For everything else, you could just 600 / permaSF it... though they nerfed those.... The way that skills and the world acts in GW2, you can't just go and grab a build of PvX and then rape NPC face; it's putting more stress on the skill of the player, than on the skills of the player xD
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    Aspira Admin Officer

    Lets hope so Fish.
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    ComradeFish Community Member

    Actually, a good game to play to get a feel for kinda how I think they might implement the combat is Vindictus - currently released in NA only, but it is free (cash shop for the addicted), and only the login server checks your IP is from NA - so proxy up to login, then disable the proxy to play the game.

    It's pretty fun, choose a melee class and give it a go to get a feel for what's probably best described as a MMORPG meets Devil May Cry at the moment - there are some fundamental differences between what I think GW2 will be like, but it's the first proper, I guess, next-gen, MMO I've played so far, and it was pretty fun... for a day or so xD
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    Alaisy Veteran BOON

    *gasp* im understanding what Fish is trying to say I think :eek:
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    Specter Veteran BOON

    Well i just think ill be missing the thrill of making builds, thats all... But then again, maybe i'm wrong and there will be a lot to do ;) Guess its wait and see...

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