Gendarran Fields Preview

June 2, 2012 at 6:15 am | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 27 Comments
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PCGamer had the luxury of playing around in a press preview of Gendarran Fields, the zone north of Lion’s Arch in Guild Wars 2. Apparently it will be available for the Beta Weekend Event. You can check out the recording of their live stream here. It’s 2 hours long I believe and I’m still working my own way through it.

I’d be a bit more excited about this if video of Gendarran hadn’t been available since last year during the various convention demos.

That said there is a ton of cool stuff to take note of.

The new PvP panel.

    UI Changes

    There is a new PvP panel in the hero menu. It is above. I couldn’t make out most of the details but there seemed to be a drop down menu which I think may have some statistical information or something.

    The boons and conditions have been moved to the right, above the heal and utility skills. They have a new white border around their icons that unwinds in a clockwise direction to indicate duration.

    The dodge bar has been moved above the health orb. I use double tap to dodge but I’m curious as to whether you can still click on it. The old UI had a skill icon for this purpose.

    There is a new WvW icon in the upper left. I’m curious as to whether the Mists bonus icon that previously showed off your worlds bonuses in the boons area has been removed entirely in favour of this.

    There are also some other new icons. I don’t think the guild icon was in the upper left previously, but I recognize it from the guild panel.

    The gem icon which used to indicate the combined gem store/auction house seems to have been altered. Not sure what that represents.

    There is now a square map, not a circular one. This is something I only picked up on from other people commenting, the streaming host had his own mug plastered over half the map area for most of the stream.

    There is also a new hint icon in the upper left.

    Skill and Trait Tiering

    This one was leaked last week when someone took the update notes from the Arenanet testing forums and plastered them all over reddit. Or at least the trait tiering was, not sure about skills.

    In any case I’m not a fan.

    Traits are now tiered so that at 10, 20 and 30 points in a trait line you gain access to ever more powerful traits. At 10, you’ll have access to 6 traits, at 20 another 4, and at 30 all 12.

    There is also skill tiering. Seemingly you’ll gain access to any skills that cost 1 skill point upon unlocking your first utility slot. You’ll need to buy 5. This will grant you access to the 2nd tier of skills which cost 3 skill points. You’ll need to buy another 5 before unlocking the final tier. Elite skills Unlock as they did before but you’ll need to buy 2 before gaining access to 2nd tier elites.

Brief look at skill tiering.

So quite a few UI changes and skill and trait tiering, but nothing else I noticed after watching 3/4ths of the video. Going to finish it soon so if I notice anything else I’ll add it.

As I said I’m not a fan of tiering but I’ll have to write a more detailed post about it later.



  1. I’m hoping trait tiers will be a good thing, and help guide us toward making better builds with good synergy. The traits were a bit overwhelming in their prior state. I did feel they were leaning toward the problem they had in the original where you had too many choices, and only a few were actually good ones.

    The most important thing for me is being able to play how I want, and the purpose of traits is to enhance rather than determine play styles. As long as different play styles/weapon selections are still viable, that’s my only concern as far as traits go, and I’m sure that’s precisely what they are trying to promote. If anything some weapon selections and play styles were less viable with the previous system so maybe this will help to correct that.

    I’m more concerned about utility skills as those choices mostly come down to personal preference. They promised not to delay our fun or punish us for our personal preferences. Obviously there needs to be a trade of with balance, but if a higher tiered skill isn’t stronger, just different, that’s an unnecessary restriction.

    I’m reserving judgement, though, until I see more specifics.

    • Certainly the trait tiering could be a good thing. It’s hard to say without playing. Instinctually I react bad to anything that looks like it’s restraining me from choosing what I want. Utility skills (without seeing enough of the system obviously) look kind of arbitrary at first glance, and I’m less happy with that than with the traits.

  2. The “new” tier structure of skills and traits represents ArenaNet’s first major misstep.
    The crux of the problem lies in the fact that they’ve already given full freedom of choice to the folks who have played in the 1st BWE… moving now to a more restrictive system will inevitably result players expressing outrage and discontent. (The fact that access to all traits was likely given due to level restrictions of characters in the 1st BWE, and wanting to receive feedback from players on traits in the PvE part of the game won’t matter one iota to the folks complaining about the new restrictions. “Its Beta” isn’t going to placate the folks upset by this.)
    It’s simple human nature… once a person has experienced freedom, they respond very negatively if you try to take it away from them.
    Talk about a “tough sell”… I’d like to see how they try to explain how all that freedom of choice players have already tasted was actually “bad” for both them and the game, and these new restrictions are much, much better for everyone…
    I’m f***ing glad I’m not one of the folks who are going to have to deal with the PR sh**storm that will inevitably result, and all of the numerous folks throwing ANet’s own words back in their face… again… (“I swung a sword” was a favorite quote when the weapon skill system was revealed… now we’ll hear all the quotes from ANet DEVs about how they don’t want players to have to grind, and it’s not a race to max level… except, with this new restrictive system it ABSOLUTELY IS a race to max level, nevermind the fact that you’ve just significantly reduced the amount of character diversity possible in the game.
    I would just like to express my sympathy (in advance) for the ArenaNet community managers and marketing teams that will have to negotiate the fallout from this.

    • I doubt it was an intentional bait and switch. I think we were given more freedom because the new system hadn’t actually been devised yet and came about as part of their iterative process. The beta events seem to be more about getting our feedback on things like difficulty and enjoyability. As far as things they’ve said in the past, they’ve also made statements regarding quantity vs. quality of choices, and I suspect this decision was likely made in favor of quality as the inevitable blog post will probably explain.

      I’m just surprised they allowed the info to be released before addressing the changes themselves. Otherwise I’m sure they knew there would be complaints because there’s always complaints, be it the backlash over engineers or the far more controversial cash shop leak and region locks. It’s also likely a small but vocal minority. We just take for granted it’s the greater part of the whole in the forum/blog bubble. The average player isn’t that rabid, even many of the ones who were fan enough to pre-purchase.

      I also think balance issues do more to limit diversity than these new restrictions will.

      • I don’t think archer is saying it was intentional, just really hard to put a positive spin on. As for their reasoning, I’m sure they have some, I’m just not sure I agree.

    • I think it to harsh to state it like that. If ArenaNet should not change something because they have already given a freedom in a bwe. Then they shoudlnt have BWE’s for testing at all. It BETA – changes is part of it. Its fair not to like it, but to argue that they should change something because there where more freedom in BWE1 is missing what beta is about imho.

      Second lets look at what Tiers possible could accomplish. What the reason could be that ArenaNet think they are needed.

      My answer is that he only good reason to put in tiers is to add varaity. The only problem the old system had was balance. Not all traits was equal, some was pretty lame, and some so strong that it was a no brainer to go with them. That could lead to cockie-cutter trait choises, and everyone doing the same traits choices while leveling

      At the end of the day the new system (if true) has to support more viable combination than the old.

      From a balance point of view it is with the tiered new system possible to have big differense in trait stregth and still make a lot of builds viable. A tiered system might be more easy to balance. It better be, because else there really is no good reason to put tiers it in.

      The quality of having a lot of options loose value if everyone’s choice is the same. If tiers make less options overall , but more thats actual is good to play with. Is then having less option or more ?

      • I’m positive that this new system will spur variety but the problem is that it isn’t the kind of variety that people want. It’s forced arbitrary variety that people will move away from the moment they have choice. It’s as though arenanet wants people to use skills they’ve created just because they created them and they would not be used otherwise.

        Tiered traits will be absolutely easier to balance, I agree, but I don’t see the point of tiered skills.

    • Could not agree more, people will just not react well to this, and I think there is a thread over on guru with 40 some pages already. I’m going to try to address some of the positive and neutral aspects of the changes in my next post, but I don’t doubt some will not recognize that there are any positive points.

  3. Really not a fan of this decision. It creates an artificial need to level instead of having the freedom to pursue ones own adventure path.

    • That would be my #1 complaint about it… I was looking forward to being able to relax, and take my time leveling in the PvE… focusing more on exploring and such. Unfortunately I see these new restrictions encouraging the same old “race to max” mentality present in other MMOs.

      I already have “hung back” in earlier areas in the 1st BWE basically “grind killing” lower level mobs to get the faster kills needed to unlock all weapon skills for characters so that I have the full repretoire available in more challenging fights… not a facet of their skill system I have ever expressed enthusiasm for, and now it looks like they are intent on making it a chore to deal with the utility skills and traits as well.

      I wish they didn’t feel like they have to make it “work” to get access to the choices that allow you to creatively customize the play style of your character in PvE.

      Their answer will be, “but we make it relatively quick and painless.” And my response is still, “Just like with the weapon skills, I still find it f***ing annoying, and it still leaves a lingering bad feeling when that didn’t have to be the case at all if you stuck to what you promised in the manifesto video.”

      Most folks don’t play as many alts as I tend to, so they don’t feel the problem as sharply as I do… trust me, when you’re going thru the process more than once, it gets old… really fast…

      I don’t know if they realize this is a consequence of the acquisition systems they are using or not… but they disincentivize players from creating new characters. At least, that’s the effect they have on me. Combined with the fact that my “main character” at high level can still go back to early parts of the PvE game it makes me want to just stick with them to avoid the “chore” of experimenting with any other professions. I made it through 4 in the 1st BWE, but I doubt I will even bother to try the ranger or engi at this point, and it’s going to take force of will to satisfy my curiosity about guardian and mesmer.

      Should you have to “force” yourself to experiment with classes you’re genuinely interested in? What does that say about the experience you’re creating for your players with the skill systems you’re using?

      As someone who routinely has characters of every class in each MMO I’ve played, often well into double digits (even if that means purchasing additional copies of the game) I find it shocking that I’m seriously contemplating just going with a top 2 or 3 favorites to AVOID the skill acquisition systems in GW2.
      Surely that can’t be the type of response ArenaNet are actually trying for… can it?
      If nothing else, perhaps this game will cure me of my altaholicism…

      • I don’t know if I’d not start a new character based on the tiering aspect exactly but it is a disappointment. The thing is I’m so used to tiered skills/trait equivalents in other games that it’s more just a feeling of “oh, that” than any sort of painful realization. I actually think paying to respec is a way worse decision than tiered traits.

    • That’s pretty much the crux of it. Nobody wants artificial restrictions but I’m sure Arenanet would say there is a need for them.

  4. Reckon the utility skills are tiered, because otherwise players would just save up for the skills they wanted and ignore the rest. That would affect progression in the later stages of PvE, because skill challenges would no longer be interesting after you got all the skills you wanted. For that reason it seems like a sensible decision, but it does have the effect that it will take longer to be effective in WvW if your best utility skills are in the top tier.

    • The problem is, now they have to pay for skills that they still ignore.

      • You will have to use them until you get the higher tiered skills, since you will have nothing else to put in the utility slots. At least it means that everyone will have skills in their utility slots from an early stage, whereas the old way you would have nothing until you’d saved up all the skill points, which may take some time.

        • You’ll have 5 utility skills before you have 2 utility slots which means you won’t necessarily be using all your utility skills despite having to buy them.

  5. […] În acest BWE, față de cel anterior, vom avea acces la o nouă zonă, Gendaraan Fields căreia i s-a făcut un preview. […]

  6. I agree with Roqoco – tiering utility skills is a good thing. The only way that the non-holy-trinity system works is if everyone can do the roles that they need to – and if each person only has utility skills for their primary build, people ware going to be locked in to roles a lot. I would still try and get all my utility skills unlocked eventually, but I think that a lot of players need to be forced to get some breadth in their skills so as not to join a PUG and say “sorry guys, I only have 4 melee spike DPS skills, hope you can accommodate me”. Trait changes could be good or bad – I’ll wait and see, although it strikes me a little like Call of Duty perks – if they weren’t separated by color everyone would run around with the 3-4 best ones – but we’ll see.

    • I think everyone would have their skills unlocked eventually, but I think the lack of a trinity means that this isn’t necessary. people just don’t need skills that they don’t want to use.

      • I hope you’re right, but I’m working on experiences in WoW where even with easily-swappable dual-specs, I’d have people running (e.g.) DPS and healing… and have no healing gear. In any case, We’ll get to see for ourselves how this actually plays out soon enough.

  7. I almost get the impression they’ve realized there isn’t much point to levels 40-80 and are stretching out the content to try to cover it. 75 hours to rack up skill points and stretch out traits. Bah. Should have just halved the level cap. Oh well, I’ll still play it.

    • The best way to play games like GW2 is to ignore the little man in your head that says “I must get to max level as quickly as possible so that I own” and just enjoy the ride. Then the 75 hours is 75 hours of gameplay, not a hindrance put there to stop you reaching a goal.

      • From what I saw and experienced gw2 has become a lot about gear progression, which I like. It was fun finding new gear all the time. Didn’t think about leveling much except in regards to putting on new armour.

    • By my estimations it doesn’t stretch out progression that much but its an interesting point, i’ll mention it.

      • It very much does. Previously if you were buying the most expensive skills you’d be using 40 or so skill points at most. Now you have to use more than 80.

        • I don’t know where you’re getting your numbers but they don’t add up in my opinion.

  8. […] Hunter’s Insight — Gendarran Fields Preview. “PCGamer had the luxury of playing around in a press preview of Gendarran Fields, the zone north of Lion’s Arch in Guild Wars 2. Apparently it will be available for the Beta Weekend Event. You can check out the recording of their live stream here. It’s 2 hours long I believe and I’m still working my own way through it.” […]

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