I’ve been learning a lot about Guild Wars 2 skills from all the footage of the Guild Wars 2 demos coming in from gamescom. The skills are fairly similar to the ones in Guild Wars with a few twists and differences.
We’ve known for awhile that the first 5 skills are based on the weapons in the character’s hands. Two single-handed weapons gets 3+2 skills, and a double-handed weapon gets all 5 skills. Then the remaining 5 other skills can be chosen from a pool, similar to Guild Wars, with the exception that out of those 5 there is one elite skill slot and one heal skill slot. One thing we learned from gamescom is there seems to be no conventional auto-attack. Instead a player right clicks a skill for the auto-attack “slot” so when an enemy is attacked that skill will be repeated.
Although click-to-move may come back since the time ArenaNet said Guild Wars 2 would not have click-to-move, using a skill no longer seem to automatically put the character in range of the enemy. Instead, I saw in a video, the spell will cast as normal, fly towards the enemy as normal, and then fall short. As it falls short it then tells the player “out of range.” I think this feature is going to be amazing in PvP, but I hope it is not frustrating to the more PvE-oriented players. Of course, this feature may be subject to change.
The one change I don’t like is mostly regarding the elite skill. The ones that have been noticed in the video footage so far are very powerful: become a tornado, become a plague cloud, rampage with your pet doing 100% crits, +100% move speed, and ignoring damage. Except the recharge time is 720 seconds.
I hate skills like this in any game. Skills with long recharges (over a minute) have long recharges because they are too powerful to be constantly active. Using a recharge variable to balance the power of a skill is a tried and true method. Yet, creating a skill that is an “I Win” button, and then letting the player only use the skill 5 times in an hour is poor design, in my opinion. The power vs. recharge time does not scale in a linear fashion. I would much rather have a less powerful skill that can be used more.
But, I’m sure that developers (and of course players) want to break out the nuke sometimes. It’s kind of rebellious to the system. Regular skills might have a very tight formation on, say, the availability of critical hits per minute, but a skill that could only be used a few times an hour could “safely” ignore the conventions because becoming a tornado for 20 seconds every 720 seconds won’t really destroy the overall tempo. It just creates a loud symphonic spike with the persistent question of use. A player will be constantly be wondering if and when to use the skill because 12 minutes is a long punishment for improper use.
My suggestion is to tier the elite skills in Guild Wars 2 if there is absolutely a need for nuke power skills. Give each one three tiers at, for example, 120 seconds of recharge, 360 seconds of recharge, and the full 720 seconds of recharge. The skill would become usable after 2 minutes, but at significantly reduced power. At 720 seconds, it could get its full nuke power. The critical point is that it is still available to use after a relatively short period of time. It takes the elite skill away from that button we ignore 90% of our playtime, and puts it back into something that could be used nearly every event.
I hope ArenaNet reconsiders their stance on these nuke-button skills. I loved that Guild Wars had only active skills. Each skill in a Guild Wars toolbar was a constantly available tool. I feel that this was the Guild Wars way, and once every 10+ minute skills are the old, busted, conventional way I thought ArenaNet got away from last game.