Looking Ahead: Guild Wars 2 in 2013
In January, we talked about where we wanted Guild Wars 2 to go in 2013. We’re a little over halfway through the year, and we felt it was time to give you an update on where we stand, where we’re going, and discuss in more detail some of the systems you’ll see in the second half of 2013.
Living World and the Two-Week Release Schedule
At the start of the year, we talked about the Living World in Guild Wars 2 as a new initiative; a plan that we wanted to expand and grow, learn from, and make more frequent and larger in scale as the year progressed.
We’ve learned a lot so far this year, resulting in our recent announcement of our new cadence of bi-weekly major releases for Guild Wars 2 and our goals for the future of Tyria as a living world. We’ve also transitioned from our original single Living World team, which operated with very short turn-around time for most of the first half of the year, to four Living World teams for the second half of the year. This will allow our teams a much greater amount of time to both develop and polish the content that drives the theme of each of our releases.
Our Living World releases will expand on the promise of what it means to be a continually growing game. In the future, you’ll see a wider array of content and experiences in each release, with a greater focus on permanently expanding content. We’ll go into specifics on the variety of playable content you’ll be receiving as each update approaches, but some of our focuses will include improving our existing world bosses, continuing to update and refine our dungeons and fractals, creating world events with a larger and more permanent impact, and expanding the number of dynamic events across the world.
On top of all of this, look for the return of some of your favorite holiday festivals and super adventures mixed in among our Living World updates, though the focus for the second half of the year will be on a mix of permanent and more impactful content.
So outside of new playable content in the world to experience, what else will you be seeing?
One of the core points we addressed back in January but didn’t provide specifics on yet related to progression.
We’ve seen a lot of questions in regards to this after the release of ascended gear: What will the core reward system be for Guild Wars 2 in the future after ascended gear has all been released? We specifically said we don’t want to get caught up in the trap where every 3-6 months the game adds another tier of gear to the game; that invalidates all your hard work and the rewards you’ve earned.
So what are we going to do instead?
New Skill and Traits
We’ll begin regularly adding new skills and traits to the game for each profession to expand your characters and builds! You will be able to earn these new traits and skills by unlocking them. To go along with this, we’ll expand the content and options to earn skill points to help encourage players to experience different challenges and content throughout the world. These skills and traits will be designed to be balanced with the existing skills/traits we currently have in the game, and will simply compliment and expand the range of abilities and tactics available to each profession. Both WvW and PvE players can acquire skills and traits, and additional means of earning skill points will be addressed for both core content areas.
The regular addition of skills and traits that you can earn as you play provides us an extremely stable, easily expandable reward system that fits neatly into the pillars of progression and advancement that Guild Wars 2 are all about. Your character will be able to grow and change for years to come without invalidating everything you’ve earned so far.
One of the main areas of focus for our blog at the start of the year was rewards. We’ve already rolled out some of the core systems we discussed back then: rewards for daily/monthly achievements, the ability to choose between achievements, the account achievement reward system, the guild mission reward system, mega-event reward chests, expanded ascended gear/infusions, and progression rewards in WvW.
Despite all of these new reward systems, we still have a lot of work we want to do to help ensure playing every aspect of our game truly rewards the time and effort put in. So, what’s coming? Let’s dive into the details:
Champions in the game will be updated so each will always drop a guaranteed reward box for any player that qualifies for a reward from the boss. This chest will contain things like crafting materials, skill points, unique skins, lodestones, and more. This change will make champions more rewarding, and will make playing in Orr and Southsun Cove (where events can scale up to add champions) more exciting and fruitful for guilds and players joining together in the open world.
Dungeon Complete Bonus Rewards
In order to make playing all of our unique dungeons more rewarding, we’ll give you a bonus gold reward for each dungeon path you complete each day. Coins will be removed from the current bosses (replaced by the champion reward box listed above) to coincide with this bonus payout for completing each path. Completion rewards will be guaranteed, and we’ll vary the amount of gold earned based on difficulty and length of each dungeon path.
To encourage players to participate in a wider array of dungeon content, we’ve designed the system so if you complete the same dungeon path twice in one day, you’ll receive the normal reward for completion, but won’t receive the bonus gold reward again during that day.
New Crafting Material Rewards
We’ll also add a new set of account-bound crafting materials to the game. You’ll receive these materials as guaranteed rewards once per day per unique location for completing content within a category of gameplay in Guild Wars 2.
For example, capturing camps, towers, and keeps in WvW will earn you these crafting materials. In the Living World, you can earn them for killing giant world bosses, defeating dungeons, completing jumping puzzles, completing mini-dungeons, finishing some types of guild missions, capturing temples in Orr, and other activities.
Mix it up and try your favorite mini-dungeons one day, your favorite jumping puzzles the next day, and on an another day capture supply camps in WvW instead to earn the crafting material. Or if you want to do all three in one day, the choice is yours! Players can earn each of these guaranteed reward crafting materials from a variety of content across both PvE and WvW to give players choice in what type of content they enjoy.
Account Magic Find
We want to remove the choice players are currently being forced to make on their gear: “Do I go with better stats, or better loot?” This isn’t in the spirit of cooperation that Guild Wars 2 is all about. As such, we’ll be removing magic find entirely as an item stat and turning it into account stat that improved the odds of rare drops for all your characters.
You can improve your account magic find through the account achievement reward system and from consumable items found in game. As your magic find increases, it will require more consumables to keep raising it higher. In the near future, we’ll detail the system we’ll use to replace the existing magic find items. Our goal will be to have as little disruption as possible to those who currently own items with a magic find stat on them.
Salvaging Fine and Masterwork Items
Otherwise known as blues and greens, we want to give more reason to care about these item types when they drop. When the account magic find system is implemented, there will be a chance you can acquire account magic find consumables from salvaging both fine and masterwork items.
Crafting Taken to 500!
We’ll expand all crafting professions to allow them to reach a new milestone: 500 points!
At 500, crafters will be able to craft ascended weapons and armor. Once you reach 500, a new tier of crafting materials will be available to you; this new tier of materials will be made by combining lower tier materials. This tier is time-constrained, so each item can only be made once per day in order to help give high-level crafters their own economy of items to build and sell that retain their value and rarity.
This new tier of crafting material, along with the new guaranteed material rewards mentioned earlier and some other materials we’ll introduce will be used to craft ascended weapons, armor, and more. These weapons and armor will also be able to be found as rare drops from locations in the world. Ascended weapons and armor will remain account-bound like other ascended gear.
Legendary Gear and Precursors
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.
What About World vs. World?
So far this year WvW has seen some major updates: from the removal of culling to the new progression, reward and ability system, our WvW population has been rapidly on the rise since January.
Our WvW team coordinator Devon Carver did a fantastic job summarizing where we want to take WvW in the future in his blog here. One additional exciting release you’ll see on top of the high-level notes Devon called out in his blog post is the replacement for the original WvW orb mechanic in our borderlands maps. This change should provide more diversity in the gameplay of WvW and make our borderlands more exciting. Of course, everything I’ve talked about in terms of progression and rewards in this post so far will be available in WvW as well!
Wow This Got Long—What About PvP?
The addition of custom arenas, rated play, leaderboards, and spectator mode have already been big steps for Guild Wars 2 PvP in 2013. Going forward, we’ll continue to work with and support the rapidly growing competitive PvP community with our eyes towards an extremely exciting future as we work towards solidifying the base. We know we have a lot of work to do to continue that momentum and ensure our PvP experience is everything we ever wanted it to be, so what are some of the things we have coming to get there?
The major focus of the PvP team for the second half of the year will be tied to improving the sense of reward in PvP. In the spirit of the high-level strategy listed above for PvE/WvW rewards that ensure players feel rewarded for their time, we’ll need to build systems that achieve the same goals in PvP. Our PvP team will go into more details on these systems once they are further along.
The addition of new skills and traits on a regular basis will of course mean expanded variety of abilities, builds, and tactics in PvP as well. As these additional skills and traits are added, they’ll be automatically unlocked and available for competitive PvP just like all existing skills/traits work today.
We’ll also expand the competitive options for game play: providing a queue and leaderboards for solo rated play separate from team rated play, adding new map types, adding the ability to gain legendary weapon skins in PvP, providing additional rewards and growth to our major competitive PvP tournaments, hosting our own Year One PvP Championship at PAX, and more!
What Else is the Game Doing to Grow?
At well over 3 million copies sold in the US, Europe and Australia combined, Guild Wars 2 has had an amazing first year, but we have a long ways still to grow.
Many of the core regions for online gaming are on deck to join the Guild Wars 2 community in the years ahead and grow our base to new heights.
We’ve already done our first limited beta test in China, with future tests planned to help prepare the game for release with our incredible partner there, Kong Zhong. To prepare the game for its eastern release, we’re building a new comprehensive “level zero” optional tutorial that teaches the core basics of the game. We’re also adding new story steps at levels 5 and 10 to help better teach core mechanics as players grow. We will also be adding a much better hints system, and a new level-up messaging system all to better teach the game.
All of these systems will be added to the game not just in the east, but to help future new players in the west as well.
And So Much More to Come…
From the upcoming release of our brand spanking new Looking for Group (LFG) tool, to investigating ways to limit culling in PvE, to the two-week content schedule our Living World teams have in store, the second half of 2013 has countless more exciting new things in store for our players than I can possibly cover here. As always, the content above is subject to change as we test and iterate on these systems.
We hope you’re excited as we are about where Guild Wars 2 is going in the second half of 2013. The world of Tyria is in for one hell of a ride in the months ahead and we hope you join us to experience it—you’re not going to want to miss it!