Guild Wars 2 Game Director Josh “Grouch” Davis here, and we’re back with the latest updates on Guild Wars 2 development.
In our March Studio Update, we confirmed big plans for Guild Wars 2‘s future: the return of Living World Season 1 (which includes a new Strike Mission and challenge mode), new Cantha explorable zone and story content, Steam launch, regular profession updates, and the next expansion. We also included some updates on ongoing efforts like upgrading the game to DX11 and World Restructuring.
However, we have a confession to make. While we’ve been much more transparent about our development priorities over the last year, we must admit that we’ve been keeping some secrets from you. On the bright side, you’ll learn about a few of them today. Sorry, not sorry!
Today’s update is hefty, so I’ve enlisted support from multiple members of the dev team to help relay all the details. We’ll be talking about upcoming Strike Mission reward changes, the work we’re doing to address player pain points, how we’re making raids more accessible, invisible bouncy houses and birthday parties, and our next professions update. Intrigued? Let’s dig in.
End of Dragons Strike Missions
Hi, all, it’s Cameron Rich, Lead Systems Designer for Guild Wars 2. With Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons™, we endeavored to expand on the concept of Strike Missions. One of the biggest changes was the addition of challenge modes. In terms of design intent, normal mode acts as an accessible stepping-stone toward more difficult content, whereas challenge mode pushes players to showcase their mastery over the combat system and requires a higher level of group coordination.
We’re happy to report that both the normal and challenge mode versions of strikes are fulfilling their intended purposes—we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of players playing Strike Missions for the very first time, and challenge modes are testing the skill and coordination of our more experienced players. And while life is good, it could be better.
Strike Mission rewards have been an ongoing topic of community discussion since the release of Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons, and—wouldn’t you know it—we’ve been listening. On 28 June we’ll be taking another pass on the rewards for completing both normal and challenge mode Strike Missions. To start, the amount of gold that can be earned from completing a strike each week will be doubled. Here’s the updated breakdown:
- Aetherblade Hideout: 2 Gold
- Challenge Mode: Additional 2 Gold (4 Total)
- Xunlai Jade Junkyard: 2 Gold
- Challenge Mode: Additional 2 Gold (4 Total)
- Kaineng Overlook: 4 Gold
- Challenge Mode: Additional 4 Gold (8 Total)
- Harvest Temple: 4 Gold
- Challenge Mode: Additional 4 Gold (8 Total)
Weekly challenge mode completions will also award 1 Antique Summoning Stone per Strike Mission.
Additionally, a new high-end reward is being added to challenge mode Strike Missions: the Imperial Everbloom Infusion. There will be two ways to obtain it. An account-bound version can be purchased from the Strike Mission rewards vendor, Zazzl, in Arborstone once you have completed all four End of Dragons challenge modes. Completing each challenge mode Strike Mission will provide chances to obtain an unbound version of the Imperial Everbloom Infusion that can be freely traded, for a total of four chances each week.
We’re also making improvements to how we polish these encounters. In early June, we announced that we were delaying the release of the Harvest Temple challenge mode from 7 June to 28 June to give us some additional time to test and tune the content. Bugs are inevitable in game development, but we want players to feel confident that new Strike Missions are high quality and stable. We’ve learned a lot from the last three challenge mode releases and have identified several improvements to our development and quality assurance testing processes and how we leverage our internal team of developer playtesters—all of which are being put in place for the Harvest Temple challenge mode and future releases.
We’re always looking for ways to improve the Strike Mission experience in Guild Wars 2, and we’re committed to supporting the game mode as a core element of endgame PvE. We share the excitement that we’ve seen in the community for Strike Missions and look forward to seeing players experience the Harvest Temple challenge mode on 28 June!
Now, I’d like to shift gears a bit and talk about some work we’re doing to address player pain points.
Strengthening the Core
Shortly after the release of Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons, we restructured our dev team to support the new initiatives we’ve been discussing with all of you—efforts like Living World Season 1, Steam, etc. However, one of our new initiatives wasn’t scheduled to start right away, leaving us with a small group of developers that needed something to do. We knew that this would be a great opportunity to address some smaller projects that have been sitting on our backlog—things that would benefit veterans and new players alike. Now that the cat is out of the bag, we can also give this team the credit for the Special Forces Training Area and dungeon reward changes that were released on June 7. Here’s a preview of the next set of improvements they’re releasing on 28 June.
Dude, Where’s My Mouse Cursor?
We’re adding a new option to the General Options tab that allows you to choose from three cursor contrast modes: Off, Low, and High. These contrast settings are intended to improve the visibility of your mouse cursor, making it harder to lose track of and easier to find if you do. This should come in handy for areas of the game with a lot of on-screen action like raids, meta-events, world bosses, and World vs. World.
Prior to 2014, there was a small fee to repair broken armor after players were defeated in battle. We ultimately decided we didn’t want to punish players this way, so we removed the costs. However, the chore of repairing broken armor remained and has been a mild inconvenience throughout the years. We’re happy to report that after 28 June you’ll no longer need to repair your armor after being defeated—the mechanic is kaput. But we didn’t want to melt down Tyria’s anvils for scrap—there’s something about hammering on one that gets us pumped for adventuring, you know? After the update, repair canisters and anvils will grant a small bonus to your health and defense, with a twelve-hour duration. The enhancement will work in PvE and WvW, but not PvP.
To anvil, or not to anvil? That’s totally up to you to decide now.
Improving Raid Accessibility
While raids are exciting endgame content, they have a high barrier to entry and can be difficult to break into. But that doesn’t mean that players aren’t interested in trying them. In fact, in our regular player surveys, raids are often the top content that players say they would like to experience but for one reason or another haven’t been able to. We want to break down some of those barriers and experiment with a systemic approach to making raid content more accessible.
Our answer is the Emboldened system: an optional mode that progressively ramps up a player’s damage, health, and healing output each time they fail an encounter. Here’s how it works:
Each week, one of the seven existing raid wings will be set to Emboldened mode. Upon entry, raid members will gain their first stack of the Emboldened enhancement, which grants additional health, damage output, and improved healing to aid in their battle against each boss. Each time the raid wipes against that boss, they’ll receive another stack of Emboldened, granting up to 100% additional health, 50% increased damage, and 50% increased healing output. Upon defeating the boss, the Emboldened stack will reset to one. Emboldened mode is entirely optional, and for those who prefer the challenge, it can be turned off by visiting the Emboldened mote inside that raid.
Deadly encounter mechanics will still be deadly—and players will still need to respect them—but this system will give new raiders a chance to ease into learning them.
Note that there are some restrictions to this feature. For one, the Emboldened system will be disabled when any challenge mode is activated. Additionally, certain prestigious achievements are not obtainable when under the effects of the Emboldened enhancement:
- Seimur Was Wrong
- Slippery Slubling
- Down, Down, Downed
We’re also making a few small changes to the existing Looking for Group categories to create separate spaces for new and experienced players: Looking for Group (Training) and Looking for Group (Experienced).
We hope these changes encourage players to take their first step into Guild Wars 2 endgame PvE content and join the tight-knit raiding community. If you’re new to raids and ready to get started, there are some great guides and resources on the web from our friends over at SnowCrows, MetaBattle, HardStuck, and MuklukLabs.
Know Your Boundaries
Hey, everyone, it’s your friendly neighborhood Senior Game Designer, Nick Hernandez, and I’m here to talk about an update we’re making to story instance boundaries!
Instance boundaries are the red outlines around the playable space in story instances. If you’ve played through the personal story or Living World content, I expect you’ve probably been unceremoniously kicked from an instance for having the audacity to walk just an inch over the boundary. Unfortunately, this means you lose your progress in the instance and have to start over. Frustrating.
To address this, we’ve applied “soft instance boundary” tech to existing story instances. If you’ve played through Guild Wars 2: End of Dragons, you’ve probably seen it in action. With this change, all instances will now push the player back into the acceptable bounds of the instance instead of rudely booting them. Imagine if every story instance took place inside of an invisible bouncy house…only without the associated birthday party, clowns, or birthday cake.
That about does it for the core updates coming on 28 June but don’t worry—you’ll be hearing from us again soon.
June Professions Update Preview
Hello, this is Solar, Lead Skills and Balance Designer. I’m here on behalf of the Skills and Balance team with a preview of our upcoming summer profession update on 28 June.
Banners, Spotter, and Fury
One major goal for this update is for the same build and equipment to work both in and out of organized play. Unique stacking bonuses to attributes, especially precision, have been a problem here—their existence means that when playing in coordinated groups with Spotter and Banner of Discipline, your critical-hit chance is almost 10% higher than when playing alone.
We saw an opportunity here to make progress on one of our other long-standing goals: raising the floor on player effectiveness and damage output without further raising the ceiling.
In this update, these unique stacking attribute bonuses are being changed to provide boons instead. We’re making the critical-hit chance from them much more accessible by increasing the critical-hit chance bonus from the fury boon from 20% to 25% in PvE and by adding an additional 5% critical-hit chance to many professions’ traits, in locations easily accessible to power builds.
More Access to Key Boons
Having high uptime on critical boons is the strongest indicator of success when playing in group content. Might, fury, quickness, and alacrity all strongly define your ability to successfully tackle challenges in the game. With this update, we’re continuing to expand options for several professions and elite specs, creating more alacrity and quickness support builds.
We’ve also looked at fury and might access across professions and have introduced or increased sources of might, and we’ve changed several traits from self-only sources of fury to now share fury with allies. This means that damage builds will help maintain uptime on these boons and reduce the burden on support roles.
A Present for Each Profession
This update is focused on adding or improving skills, traits, or weapons in each profession, in a way that introduces new builds to try. It was important to us that there was something to be excited about in this update for every profession. Here’s a small selection of what to expect on 28 June:
- Elementalist: Tempest will now be able to provide party alacrity, with a rework to their grandmaster trait Lucid Singularity.
- Engineer: We’ve updated multiple rifle weapon skills to better support engineer power damage builds, and we’ve adjusted minimum and maximum ranges on several range-limited traits (such as Aim-Assisted Rocket, High Caliber, and No Scope) so that there’s an effective range in which all of them can function together.
- Guardian: We’ve updated guardian’s signet skills, including a significant improvement to Signet of Resolve.
- Mesmer: Chronomancers will be able to effectively choose to provide either quickness or alacrity based on their grandmaster trait selection and do so more easily, with increased radius and application methods that are easier to keep up with moving groups.
- Necromancer: Updates to warhorn and the related trait Banshee’s Wail will improve the necromancer’s ability to provide healing to allies.
- Ranger: Spirit skills have been overhauled to provide boons and allow rangers to opt in to providing alacrity with the trait Nature’s Vengeance.
- Revenant: Legendary Centaur Stance skills and Salvation traits have been updated to better support healing roles, while herald will now be able to provide quickness to allies with the trait Draconic Echo.
- Thief: The Shadow Arts trait line has been updated to provide better support options to synergize with specter, as well as updated options for stealth and defensive gameplay.
- Warrior: Banner skills have been overhauled to provide boons. Through deploying banners, an update to warhorn’s Charge skill, and the Tactics trait Martial Cadence, warriors can provide quickness to allies.
We’ll be releasing the full profession update notes on Friday, 24 June to give you time to comb through them in detail and plan ahead for the new update. Stay tuned for updates on WvW development later this week!
Until Next Time
That’s it for this edition! We’ll be back in early to mid-July to share our development roadmap through the end of summer. To those that made it all the way to the end, we salute you, and we look forward to seeing you in the game on 28 June.
Thank you for your continued support,
—Josh, Cam, Nick, Solar, and the Guild Wars 2 Team