As a company, we like to say that we iterate on our game—a lot. There are three different ways that we can make changes: we can remove things, we can change things, and we can add things. Luckily for anyone playing the demo a second, third or twentieth time, we have done all three of these things to many aspects of the game.
For me, the best part of these demos is how they let players see the iterative process. From PAX East and the introduction of thief, to Comic-Con where we tried an initiative system with cheaper costs and slower regeneration, and to gamescom where the thief will use the original numbers once again. I’m sure that people are theory-crafting on which is better. Thankfully we don’t have to theorize; we can play it and see for ourselves. The slower-regen idea seemed so good on paper, but in practice the original design was just more fun. As we roll into this next demo season, there are a few major changes that we thought we should tell you about, and without further ado, here they are.
Skills no longer cost energy. This means energy potions are also gone. (Sorry to everyone who so vehemently helped us defend their existence.) In place of the energy-potion button is a new dodge button. This allows players to use the mouse to dodge and lets players bind dodge to a single keystroke. If you are moving in a direction, the dodge will take that into account and dodge in that direction. If you are not moving, you will dodge backward. Dodging now also evades attacks, making it a more effective and understandable way to avoid big creature attacks or to get out of AoE spells. Dodging is limited by energy, which regenerates over time.
We have a new long-term replacement for the other benefits that energy potions provided to our system, but since it is not in the game yet, we aren’t talking about it.
The acquisition of skills is changing. Why? Because it wasn’t helping teach people the game, it didn’t fit with how skills actually worked, and it didn’t carry over the fun collection element that made the original Guild Wars unique.
A weapon’s skills are now learned by fighting with that weapon. Because weapon skills are tied to weapon use, there is no reason to visit a trainer and make choices about which ones to unlock. Instead, it makes more sense to learn how to use the weapon by, you know, actually using it.
Non-weapon skills are learned in a different way. The second half of the bar will be unlocked using a collection mechanic similar to Guild Wars. We want players to make fun choices about how they build their character, so the new systems will help promote this. Along with this, the player progression of traits, attribute-point spending, and skill tiers have been updated as well, but the final implementation is not a part of this build either. For this demo, the trait panel is disabled, and when the new system is ready, we will explain how it works.
Humans, Charr, Norn, Asura, and Sylvari, Oh My!
All of these races are now playable, and the demo content features the human, norn, and charr starting area, as well as a high-level zone where players can experience playing as an asura or sylvari. Here’s a bit of perspective from some of the content designers who worked on these areas.
Charr Personal Story
“This is the first time you’ll be seeing the story from the charr perspective. Given the charr’s antagonist role in the past, we took great care to craft a starter experience that will showcase the role of the charr in modern Tyria, focusing on what charr do best: war.
Depending on the legion you join, you’ll end up leading an elite squad of charr warriors, stalking traitors through the alleys of the Black Citadel or manning a gigantic ghost-busting cannon. Expect plenty of battlefield heroics. Folks that are already fans of the charr have nothing to worry about. We hope that through the story, you’ll see what drives the charr. But this isn’t about humanizing them; they’re still every bit as fearsome and bloodthirsty as you remember.” –Theo Nguyen, Game Designer
Plains of Ashford
“We are excited to show off the charr starter area, the Plains of Ashford, for the first time. You’ll get to experience the fight against the Flame Legion firsthand, and if you are really skilled, you may even get to fight against the ancient Ascalonians. The Plains of Ashford is a dangerous place, which suits the charr just fine, and it’s a great testing ground for the changes we’ve made to all the classes, and for the feel of the game in general. If you get some time with the game, you’ll also get to try out our newly prolific karma vendors. You can find them scattered throughout the starter area of the charr, and it’s our hope that they’ll add some depth to the dynamic event system, providing tangible rewards for playing through as many events as you can. Most importantly, you’ll get to experience our game from a new perspective, that of the ferocious and sometimes savage charr.” –Devon Carver, Game Designer
“Blazeridge Steppes set a high bar for our high-level demo content last year, giving players a completely fleshed out map to explore, and ending with an epic battle against the dragon lieutenant, the Shatterer. This year, we aim to bring even more to the table by allowing both asura and sylvari the chance to explore the high-level area of Sparkfly Fen. Without giving away too much, let’s just say that players who experienced our previous demos will not be disappointed. Be sure to keep your eyes open for a special demo opportunity.” –Justin Biller, Game Designer
Big, Giant Bosses
All of the big, giant bosses have improved; from better cameras to view them to new things we can do with their skills, we have tried to make fighting them a more epic and spectacular experience. Even if you’ve already tried the starter bosses, you will want to give them a second look. There are also some surprise giant events that take place in the high-level area to look out for.
You can now try out our character customization. We have technology to adjust body types, allowing for stocky, skinny, and muscular characters. Each race has its own unique set of options, including charr horns, norn tattoos, and asura ears. There is a large variety of faces and hairstyles, and you can even customize facial features, including five sliders just for your human character’s nose!
Although not every option in every category is available in the demo yet, you should be able to get a good idea of what will be possible by playing around with it.
Almost every weapon for every profession has changed in some way or another. If you think you knew what a warrior did with a mace, think again. Rest assured, there is a good chance they will change again before the next time players try the game. Here are some new “weapons” that you might not have seen before:
- Ranger greatsword – The ranger’s AoE melee weapon full of chopping, leaping, kicking, evading, and bashing.
- Warrior hammer – Get ready to knock some folks around with this heavy hitter.
- Guardian hammer – A hybrid damage-and-support weapon that helps to control an area.
- Guardian greatsword – Unleash a combination of magic and melee with a massive two-handed blade.
- Elementalist earth attunement – The heavy-duty elementalist attunement with Earthquake, Sandstorm, and a host of good defensive abilities.
Structured PvP is here, and it’s ready for players to try out on the show floor. We’re introducing our first map, the Battle of Kyhlo, a conquest map with siege weapons and destructible environments.
- Ranger lovers, I apologize, but you will have to wait a little bit longer to get your pet love. I assure you it is coming, though.
- Underwater thieves, we didn’t forget about you, either. You will be able to steal underwater, just not in this current demo.
So why do we do all of this? We do it to improve upon all aspects of the game that we feel need it. We’re always focusing on making our combat more visceral, our events more dynamic, and our stories more personal. How long will we keep doing this? Until it is ready—and then some.