There are two game mechanics that really came to light at gamescom that seem to be hitting a nerve with the Guild Wars 2 communities. I already gave my thoughts on the cooldowns for elite skills, and now I want to talk about Guild Wars 2 energy.
Before I do, one of ArenaNet’s programmers discovered a karma reward for completing an event chain in charr territory while playing with the gamescom demoers. (
I have an unfounded feeling that it might be part of the “kill ten rats”-type quest with the asura. See Pat Cavit’s comment below.) The reward was donning a golem armor with new skills, and the programmer decided to stay in the golem for quite a long period of play. That’s a pretty cool reward for sticking out an event chain.
Energy in Guild Wars is an encounter-based resource especially for higher end PvE. Each character gets her own pool of energy, and when most skills are used the skill depletes an amount of this pool. If there is not enough energy in the pool to pay the skill’s energy cost the skill cannot be used. Players can easily burn through their energy in a matter of seconds by using expensive skills or spamming skills over-aggressively, and so with energy-replenishing skills and, more importantly, the healing/energy web created in a synergistic party of 8, maintaining energy in Guild Wars is a resource mini-game. Energy ultimately sets a tempo for a single encounter.
In Guild Wars 2, energy is now a long term resource for paying off a skill’s energy cost. Instead of setting a tempo for a single encounter like in Guild Wars, energy will set a duration of active play. Tempo is still important because a more frenetic encounter will shorten the duration of active play more than a calm, surgical strike on a mob, but it’s possible that a player’s energy could handle multiple spamfests of skills before expiring.
When I first heard of the new energy mechanic in Guild Wars 2, DOTA-style games like League of Legends mana popped in my head. In that game mana (energy) is used to set the duration a player can defend a lane. If the player is unopposed and just killing minions, he can push a lane for a long time because the calm rate allows him to spend mana equal to the mana regeneration rate. If the player is constantly harassed by enemy players, he will lose energy much faster as they use more mana than they regenerate, and he will have to retreat from active play to regenerate.
I think this changeover makes perfect sense for Guild Wars 2. First off, players won’t have their “8-headed hydra” of heroes and henchmen to create a web of healing and energy. A single player can no longer constantly go full throttle in attack because the support of dedicated healers and energy providers is gone. Players are now mainly in charge of their own health and energy. So instead of wasting another one of the 10 skill bar slots with an energy replenishment skill, ArenaNet changed the energy mechanic.
Secondly, I believe that plenty of events and event chains will have a long duration of sustained activity. For example, ArenaNet does not want a group to be required in The Shatterer event (that video is epic). I believe they want LoneWolfJoe to join in without needing a group of people watching his back. With the old energy system, LoneWolfJoe’s energy would go belly up in a couple seconds, and so would his activity and fun. A long term energy resource would allow LoneWolfJoe to have a long period of active play without relying on others.
When energy runs out a player will have to replenish enough energy to sustain another period of activity. Energy regenerates slowly on its own. I don’t have any solid numbers to the period of activity or period of rest, but of all the videos I’ve seen from the gamescom demos, energy never seemed to be an issue. I would guess that a player would have to be having a pretty continuous amount of sustained activity to hit bottom.
Now, here is the rub. I said they didn’t add another energy replenishment skill to everybody’s bar, but they did add a mechanism for on-the-fly energy replacement in the form of potions, which are cheap to buy, drop from mobs, and refill a “significant portion” of the player’s energy. Once used there is a recharge time to use another potion. This same mechanic is found, once again, in League of Legends, with the Clarity spell (3 minute recharge) to give the player just a little bit more active time in a lane (yes, I know they have mana potions too).
Many in the Guild Wars 2 community were outraged at the use of a direct resource potion in a Guild Wars game. Most were worried that Aion Online’s pay-gold-for-everything design was creeping in to the Guild Wars game, and now it would cost gold (in the form of potions) to do anything. Others were worried that PvP would become a potion spamfest. Whatever the reason, it seemed potions carried a stigma that caused great prejudice before most people knew how they worked. The most interesting response I saw came from a gamescom attendee that talked to a top ArenaNet developer directly:
“Later on I got the change to talk with Izzy about the reasons for and against potions which did ease my fears a bit. Izzy’s personal opinion is “I hate potions and want to bring them down with fire” but so far they haven’t found a better replacement for a long-term resource yet and until that happens they (including Izzy) will stick to them and try to convince people that energy potions will improve and not worsen gameplay.”
League of Legends has the Clarity spell, Kingdom of Loathing has food, and Guild Wars 2, at this moment, has potions to replenish the long term activity-metering resource in each game. If you have a better idea or see a better way to replenish a long term resource from another game, ArenaNet is listening.
is a burning thing