With the expansion, ArenaNet is redoing all the trait lines, and more. The Twitter pitch is that each trait line is being collapsed to 3 minor traits and 3 tiers of 3 selectable traits, where players pick one from each tier. Stats are being divorced from the trait lines, and instead of putting points in to trait lines, players just choose three trait lines getting all trait levels from that trait line. Specializations are essentially a trait line that opens up the ability to use specialization aspects.
This update will come before the expansion. After the expansion, the elite specializations will be available, and it must be slotted into one of the three specialization slots to use the elite specialization’s skills, weapons, and of course traits.
Bhagpuss puts the changes into the fiddling that seems to occur with many MMOs. In his mind it won’t be a substantial improvement.
Here’s how I view it. ArenaNet designed the master class, prestige class, etc. as a mechanic that could be added on forever. In every future expansion, it is conceivable that each profession could get a new elite specialization. I feel this might be more true since probably there won’t be new professions after the Revenant balances everything.
With the old point-buy trait system, how would you do elite specializations complete with traits? I mean, you could.
Anyway, I view this as less of fiddling and more of a design change to incorporate elite specializations. The stimuli is not just from “let’s change traits, again”.
To be honest, I dislike making builds. The more variables there are for builds, the more likely I will dislike it. Currently, I run off metas and then fiddle with small changes I like. The same went for, tangentially, me making 100 card Commander decks in Magic: the Gathering. My first deck was from the pre-con Ghave, and my second deck built from the ground up was a failure.
I’ve made three more decks, and they’ve all worked really well. I built it off a template called “7 by 9” deckbuilding. There I would have 9 slots each with 7 cards. In my Nin deck I have a slot for indestructible creatures, and in my Thrun-tron deck I have a slot for equipment. This made deck building so much simpler, and I excelled.
I think that I will benefit from this “slotting” in Guild Wars 2. I really dislike the builds that don’t focus on getting 6 points in each line. There’s one necromancer build that uses 5 points in spite, just 1 point shy of the grandmaster. Why? Because it is more efficient to put that 1 point elsewhere instead of going to the pinnacle. Gah! That enrages me from both ends of efficiency and the fact that it is better not to get to the peak.
I like this pick 3. I like the division of traits from stats so that I am not adding a stat I want when I really don’t want that trait line. Or, if I really don’t like that stat combination, like having Precision and Condition Damage in the same line when I want to make a power (berserker) necromancer.
The other thing that changes is each tier of traits only gets to choose traits from that tier. This is another pretty big deal since players can’t have a line and choose two “adept” traits. Coming from Guild Wars 1 with “infinite” combinations, this is so much better. The more time that can be spent balancing fewer combinations, the better each combination can be.
I am sold, and even more-so since we get this change before the expansion. I think this is a much better system for future specialization creation and balancing. When this “feature” will be shipped is anybody’s guess, but right now is the time for constructive feedback. I’m looking at you, necromancers.