New Weapon Proficiencies Beta Feedback Update

Hey, everyone!

My name is Taylor Brooks, and I am a combat designer here at ArenaNet. Today I’ll be discussing the Guild Wars 2®: Secrets of the Obscure™ new weapon proficiencies, which will allow each profession to use a new weapon type. Specifically, I’ll be talking about the feedback we got from the beta we did in November, as well as the changes we’ll be making to the weapons when they launch in a couple of weeks. I’ll be going over high-level details in this blog, but we will be sure to give the full details in our livestream this Friday, February 16 at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time (UTC-8). Now, let’s talk about the new weapon proficiency beta!

Overall, we were happy to see people use the new weapons in all areas of our game! Some weapons were big hits, but it was also clear there were a few that could use some tweaking or just didn’t hit the mark altogether.

Ranger

Maces were a smash over the beta weekend, being utilized by every ranger elite specialization in different ways. It was clear that maces had a strong kit, but we also knew there were ways it could be improved. They were missing an interaction with your pet like most ranger weapons, and so the first change we made was to have Oaken Cudgel apply a heal-over-time effect to your pet. This will help them stay in the action with you!

Next, the untamed ambush Rampant Growth lacked a supportive element that other skills on main-hand mace have. It will now heal nearby allies when used, so you can continue to hit things hard with your friends.

Lastly, much of the feedback we got about maces was on the Force of Nature mechanic. It didn’t flow quite right, and it was hard to achieve in natural gameplay. We are lowering the stack threshold to trigger it from 6 to 5, increasing the duration of Nature’s Strength, and reducing the time you are tapped out. You’ll be growing large faster and more frequently; what’s not to love?

Thief

Thief gaining access to axes spun up a revitalized version of condition-based deadeye builds in PvE along with seeing use on power-based thief builds in competitive modes. Unfortunately, axe projectiles were a lot of things—”consistent” was not one of them. They had a bad habit of following terrain in weird ways, often completely missing your target. We’ll be updating the logic of all axe missiles to work more similarly to normal projectiles as well as increasing their velocity.

Additionally, the combination of shadowstepping to a target and then pulling the axes to yourself made using the axe-dagger dual skill unnecessarily harder to use. We’ll update its functionality to be like the axe-pistol dual skill, so the axes will go toward your target. We’ll be keeping an eye on axe after these functionality improvements to ensure it stays a competitive option with other thief weapons.

The nine professions of Guild Wars 2 in a monochrome shot with red highlights. Each character holds the new weapon they will get access to in the next major update.

Warrior

The staff is breaking ground as warrior’s support weapon, and while it landed strong, it had its own pain points. The largest piece of feedback we received was about the unwieldiness of Line Breaker. Sometimes ally targeting is not a good match for a skill, and this is one of those cases. Line Breaker will no longer be a targeted skill and will now be ground targeted. This will help warriors use this skill on the fly at a moment’s notice.

Support warriors also noticed that their adrenaline gain was substantially lower than a traditional warrior’s. We’ll be adding additional adrenaline gain to Valiant Leap and Defiant Roar to help warriors use burst skills when they want to. We know support warrior is still a budding archetype, and we plan to add more trait support for it in future updates.

Revenant

Scepter gives support revenants the sustain-focused main-hand weapon they have been waiting for. This weapon was well received, but there are some big ways in which its usability could be improved. The concept of charging the skills with your autoattack chain proved to be a mechanic that didn’t add much to the weapon’s gameplay. It was too easy in PvE, and it was too unrealistic in competitive modes. We’ve removed this mechanic and adjusted the skills accordingly.

Unlike warrior’s Line Breaker, we felt ally targeting could improve revenant’s Blossoming Aura skill. You’ll now be able to place it on an ally, sacrificing the damage for guaranteed support. Additionally, instead of gaining strength when you land your autoattack chain, it will build up strength over time. You’ll now be able to reactivate this skill to detonate it early, with the effect scaling based on how long it’s been cooking!

Otherworldly Bond has also had some big adjustments. We felt like the play pattern of an upkeep weapon skill did not pan out the way we liked, so the skill now has a fixed duration and a fixed energy cost. Like Blossoming Aura, its effects will now scale over its duration instead of being charged with the autoattack chain.

A sylvari shoots a rifle at a flying kryptis and the blast engulfs it in flames.

Mesmer

Rifle gives builds like support chronomancer the tools to be a potent healer in addition to their unique tools. We were happy to see positive feedback around the weapon, but—as with everything—there were tweaks we could do to make the weapon feel better to use.

Journey is seeing a reduction in its casting time and its time from casting to impact, and it can now properly be re-aimed with the instant casting setting. Additionally, the delay in the explosion on Abstraction is being removed. These two changes together will help your support be snappier and more responsive.

We also saw common feedback that Phantasmal Sharpshooter felt like a weak point in the kit. We’ll be enhancing them by having the phantasm fire faster and strike in an area on impact. We’ll also give this skill two charges in PvE to allow more liberal use. Lastly, we realize that the portal functionality of Singularity Shot can be harder to utilize in non-organized play. We added a flash effect when the portal is opened to catch other players’ attention and hopefully alert them to take it!

Elementalist

Pistol came loaded with an arsenal of skills to give condition-based elementalist builds new toys and enhance weaver combinations even further. The strongest feedback was that a lot of the animations felt too similar. We’ve substituted some of the simple shooting animations with other spellcasting animations to help vary what the weapon feels like. We’ve also sped up some casting time and missile velocities to help keep the weapon feeling fluid.

Another note was that it became hard to tell which bullets you had active when your screen was busy. Elemental bullets will now display an icon on your active effects bar to help in those moments when you can’t see your character clearly.

And to finish off elementalist, we have the most important changes: Piercing Pebble will now pierce!

A member of the Astral Ward wearing green robes and a pointy wizard hat fights a spidery kryptis.

Guardian

Dual pistols came out guns blazing, performing well in all game modes as a new option for condition-based guardians. Last month, we updated the Radiant Fire trait to promote a healthier play pattern for the archetype as well as give off-hand pistol more space to be featured in those builds. We’ll continue to monitor how it all shakes out to make sure both off-hand pistol and torch have uses. As for weapon adjustments, Jurisdiction will charge faster and can be detonated sooner. This should help the skill feel smoother and help to hit enemies in melee range.

Necromancer

Swords have a strong theme and interesting concept, but unfortunately—due to some clunky animation timings and low numbers—they left players hungry for more damage. We’ll be increasing the power coefficients on the weapon across the board in PvE, with similar adjustments for PvP.

Additionally, we’ll speed up some casting times and reduce the aftercasts on some skills so that the weapon can better match the flow of the game. Like the change to thief’s axe, the autoattack chain projectiles will have their logic updated so they can hit targets on terrain more consistently.

The other major change to the weapon is a rework to Devouring Visage and Consume. The design of the skill proved hard to pull off. If the projectile goes too slow, it will struggle to hit moving targets, but if it goes too fast, players will struggle to recall it when they want to. Devouring Visage will now throw the orb at your target, exploding on impact to damage and fear enemies. Consume can be used after that to drain the strength of targets hit by the explosion, inflicting damaging and weakness while granting you might.

A hero wielding a mace and shield does battle with a spidery kryptis

Engineer

Short bow aimed to be a support weapon that could let your creativity flow as you designed your future master plans. This weapon was not a fan favorite to say the least, and we knew that it needed a large makeover to get it to a spot where it matched the caliber of our other new weapons. We looked over all the feedback, and common themes arose.

Engineer’s short bow was commonly criticized for being very slow; between casting times, delays, explosions, and pulses, it was too hard to support your allies in a timely fashion. Additionally, the radii for short bow skills had to be small due to performance concerns. The small area made the skills more difficult to use, especially when you wanted your allies to stand in the area for the best effect.

We also received feedback that the short bow did not offer the right tools to make it more appealing over the other weapon options for an engineer. All these issues culminated in a poor showing over the beta weekend, leaving us with many ideas on how it could be improved.

To start, we agreed that short bow skills could be sped up on multiple fronts. The casting time and delay on impact were reduced, and now short bow skills do not have to be detonated. When an arrow lands, it will immediately explode.

We have also lowered the amount of pulsing components on the weapon so that you do not have to stand in an area for a prolonged amount of time to get the best value. We were happy with the concept of chain reactions and augmenting your abilities, and we have reworked this mechanic to better fit the new short bow. When you use a short bow skill now, it will mark an area for a brief duration. The next short bow skill in this area will consume the mark and be augmented based on the first skill. With all these changes, it allowed us to expand the radii of short bow skills and play with the shapes of the skills. Finally, we added some shiny new toys to short bow, such as ways to apply protection and aegis.

As I mentioned before, these are the high-level changes coming to the new weapons when they arrive in the next release for Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure. For the exact numbers, smaller changes, and a preview of our March balance update, be sure to catch our Twitch livestream this Friday, February 16 at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time (UTC-8).

Until next time, I’ll see you in the Mists!


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