Since I had the unfair advantage of tempering my opinions on the two–part Guild Wars 2 interview for 1.5 weeks while I was on the road, I asked frequent KTR commentator and Guild Wars 2 community celeb, Vulturion (or Vorsakan depending on where you stand), to write a follow-up guest piece. He graciously accepted. Enjoy! –Ravious
It’s been a big week for Guild Wars 2 here at Kill Ten Rats, with two huge servings of information and insight. Hang-up your hang-ups, and enjoy some musings on the role of energy and potions in Guild Wars 2.
If the energy bar loves offense and hates defense, will we be spamming attacks 24/7?
No, quite the opposite.
Firstly, ArenaNet has not strayed too far from the bold position they began development with – no resources, only cooldown to constrain skill use. In the convention build, the cooldown times we saw on skills were predominantly higher than we are used to in Guild Wars 1 – disturbingly higher in some cases. Consequently even absolute beginners (traditionally one of the most spam-happy demographics) were taking control of level 47 charr and working their whole skillbars for 40 minutes, because (by and large) there simply isn’t the option to spam anything besides the autoattack surrogate in the first skill slot.
Secondly, using skills mindlessly in Guild Wars 2 won’t be an effective tactic. Significant cooldowns only compound the challenge presented by the removal of autofacing, the ability to launch attacks/projectiles when your intended target is outside of range and the all-encompassing phenemenon of targets actually being able to evade harm by moving out of the way. These may not feel revolutionary individually, but together they offer tremendous opportunities to waste attacks performed heedlessly.
In the face of these dynamics, the days of having the course of our actions dictated by the movements of a blue bar should feel positively quaint. Combat won’t be about performing the most powerful action you can afford as often as you can, but rather about choosing the best action for the demands of the moment – and using it at the right time in the right way, so as not to waste it!
So if energy is no longer the bright blue boss of us, why do we need it at all?
A big part of the need for an energy resource is undoubtedly the dodge mechanic; players can roll swiftly in any direction they choose by double-tapping a movement key. This is a huge element in both making combat more dynamic and placing responsibility for each player’s health in their own hands; unlike the Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots combat model, in Guild Wars 2 all damage will be avoidable. With this formidable new capability comes an equally formidable need to limit its use, else rolling becomes the most attractive combat option for all modes of play – binding skill usage to a resource that is depleted by 5% every time you roll is one sound way to accomplish this goal.
Obviously the good folks at ArenaNet aren’t going to add a resource and leave it outside of player’s hands though, when they can implement tools to let us tinker with it too. The fixed section of our skill bar – those skill dictated by armaments – is a finely tuned affair: a very cheap skill that we can use without cooldown (as the aforementioned autoattack surrogate), then four more skills with progressively higher costs and cooldowns. In essence you can plot a fairly flat line through the energy impact of most of these fixed skills – using the cheapest skill as often as you can (that being all the time) is about level with using the most expensive skill as often as you can (that being once every 30-40 seconds) – with the consequence that you’ll be unlikely to run out of energy just utilizing them with any degree of discretion.
Now the healing and utility skills we select offer comparably energy efficient options that can be used in addition to – or interchangeably with – our fixed skills without threatening our reserves. But if we want to skew our energy usage one way or the other, we have options to do that also. Yearning for a heal that you can use to heal any amount you want, and you’d like to waive the cooldown? Done; but it might cost you 5% of your energy per second to use. Added one too many costly skills to your repertoire and cannot afford to dole out any more energy? Slot a signet and enjoy a passive effect at no cost – but if you need to trigger the active effect be warned it’ll have lower power or higher cooldown than the skills you could have taken.
There’s a lot of middle ground between eliminating energy as a resource and allowing it to dominate gameplay, and it appears that ArenaNet is pitching to stand us slap-bang in the center of it while furnishing us with the tools to choose our own direction. You can be a model soldier and build a signet warrior whose energy bar is a deep reserve of tactical rolls. You can be a heedless necromancer who burns through energy with the costliest utility skills around, and simply resolves never to roll to compensate – if you fall it only unleashes your Death Shroud form, after all. Choice can be a fine thing.
Drink Of The Gods?
But if I swig energy potions, can’t I do it all?
Yes and no. But mainly no.
For the duration of your potion cooldown, you are the most vulnerable you will ever be. Seriously. You’re flying a kite in a thunderstorm. You’re running with garden shears. Because in Guild Wars 2 you are responsible for your own health, and if you run out of energy you have no means to restore that health or safeguard it with escape maneuvers. Other players can certainly support you, but with placed effects, splash effects and proximity effects – all of which require you to be in the thick of the action, which is probably the last place you’ll want to be in a fight when you’ve no energy and diminishing health.
While you’re not in potion cooldown, you’ve always got a good number rolls or potential healing and control measures in reserve; while you are in potion cooldown, that blue bar and your ingenuity are your only resources. The real kicker when it comes to potions in PvP? Potions have a subtle visible effect (a brief blue aura), so any opponent who notices yours is going to know you’ve playing without a safety net for the duration of your cooldown – and if it comes down to a chase, anyone not on cooldown likely has more rolls available than you and more energy to spend on mischief… As is so often the case in life: drink responsibly.