Game Designer Andrew McLeod wrote up the crafting system preview for Guild Wars 2 on the ArenaNet blog. The system starts with the vanilla MMO crafting system premise, but ArenaNet has given it a few twists both good and bad.
First off, anybody can gather. There is no miner profession, herbalist profession, etc. If a player sees a mining node, the player can get at it. These nodes are “phased” for each player. So I might see a rare node spawn in the distance, but believably a nearby player won’t, or it might be his own version of that node. In other words, no more node racing and ganking. The node gathering is further supplemented by the Guild Wars gathering mechanics, such as normal loot drop, and my favorite salvaging. I love going through a bag of loot after a run in Guild Wars and deciding which items to salvage. I am glad that mechanic jumped the sequel gap.
The second key difference is in the personal crafting profession decisions. There will be 8 crafting professions, and each player can have two active crafting professions. Three are dedicated to the various weaponry, three are dedicated to the different armors, one for jewelry, and one for cooking. I am slightly unhappy with their crafting profession choices because like in a vanilla MMO, there is little beneficial reason for a light-armor wearing necromancer to learn to be an armorsmith, capable of only making heavy armor, or a warrior to learn to be an artificer, in order to create staves and scepters she can’t even use. Then of course, jewelcrafting and cooking are beneficial to all. Personally, I almost always lean towards the “beneficial to all” crafting professions, but I always have a longing to selfishly craft stuff only I need.
ArenaNet thankfully applies a much needed change to the vanilla MMO exclusive crafting professions. While players can only have two active crafting professions, any crafting professions “unlearned” will have experience level and recipes retained. The penalty is built in to the cost of changing back to a known crafting profession because the more experienced a player is, the more it will cost to change back. I think this is a fine compromise. I want the Crafted Sword of Awesome, which I used to be able to make, but it will cost a tidy sum to switch back and make it. Perhaps it might be better to just check out the Auction Hall instead. The penalty and tradeoff is much more reasonable than unlearn and retrain everything.
The part of the reveal I didn’t like deals with the recipes. Some recipes are automatically learned, some are trained, and some are found as drops, yet it appears that most of the recipes will be “discovered.” The premise is that crafters can distinguish themselves from one another because there is no static list of recipes. The details of this discovery system were lacking, but it appears that a player will fill the four material slots and pull the lever to see if the combination is an actual recipe. The player then can craft the item, and the newly found recipe and item are retained forever.
In the times of walk-throughs and wikis, I think this “distinguishing” feature is superfluous unless the discovery system is personal for each player. It’s pretty cool for the small amount of players that want to try the millions of combinations to be the first to discover an item, but I think that this discovery system is going to give way to the wiki recipe list for the majority. Ultimately, all the crafters are going to roughly be the same, as the distinguishing recipes are likely going to be disregarded. The “good” recipes are going to be known by all the dedicated crafters anyway.
I really like two of the big changes they made to a vanilla-MMO crafting system, and while I think the “discovery” system is superfluous, at least it really won’t have much impact on the system as a whole. I would like to learn more about this discovery system though, and why they are adding it in lieu of the wiki recipe lists. It will be available for play during the PAX East demo, so hopefully we’ll learn a lot more when tha news starts filtering through.
EDIT: ArenaNet answers some of the community concerns and mis-assumptions.