Combat in Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure

by The Guild Wars 2 Team on June 27, 2023

Today we announced Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure™, a new expansion launching later this year. If you’re looking for a high-level overview of the expansion as a whole, check out the official site. We also released a massive balance update today—the full of changes that tee up expansion features. What features are those, you might ask? That’s what we’re here to cover.

Combat Philosophy

In our spring update blog, we talked about how we’re looking for ways to add meaningful combat choices besides adding new elite specializations. With core trait lines and three expansions’ worth of elite specializations, each profession already has access to tons of roles and playstyles. For Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure, we’ve focused our efforts on bolstering and refining existing combat systems and removing longstanding limitations to put even more compelling build choices in your hands.

At Launch: Weaponmaster Training

One of the best parts about an expansion release is getting to use a new weapon and weapon skills from elite specializations. Up until now, you could only equip each elite specialization’s weapon by locking yourself into that elite specialization’s trait line. But what if you could charge into the fray as a hammer-wielding holosmith or control the battlefield as a firebrand with a longbow?

This expansion will introduce Weaponmaster Training, which turns the elite specialization weapons already associated with each profession into core proficiencies. Once you’ve unlocked Weaponmaster Training in Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure, you’ll be able to use elite specialization weapons without the corresponding trait line equipped. This will be the case even if you haven’t trained an elite specialization. That means that even if you don’t own the other expansions, you’ll be able to mix and match weapons from the elite specializations associated with them. (You’ll still need to own the appropriate expansion and fully unlock each elite specialization to make use of its trait line—not to mention getting the signature weapon and armor piece!)

Here are the weapons that will become part of each profession’s core proficiencies in Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure:

  • Guardian: Axe (main hand), sword (off hand), longbow
  • Revenant: Shield (off hand), greatsword, short bow
  • Warrior: Dagger (main and off hand), pistol (off hand), torch (off hand)
  • Engineer: Mace (main hand), sword (main hand), hammer
  • Ranger: Dagger (main hand), hammer, staff
  • Thief: Scepter (main hand), rifle, staff
  • Elementalist: Sword (main hand), warhorn (off hand), hammer
  • Mesmer: Axe (main hand), dagger (main hand), shield (off hand)
  • Necromancer: Pistol (main hand), torch (off hand), greatsword

As a fun bonus, this means we’re also introducing a few new skills for edge cases like berserker’s Primal Burst while wielding a dagger, or the untamed’s Unleashed Ambush while wielding a staff.

We’re excited about the new freedom this will open up for all types of players. If you simply prefer a particular weapon, you’ll be free to equip that weapon regardless of your elite specialization. If you like experimenting and optimizing your build, you’ll have a ton of new combinations to explore.

You’ll be able to try out Weaponmaster Training and combine different weapons and elite specializations during our beta weekend, which will run from June 29 to July 2.

Weaponmaster Training

At Launch: Rune Rework

In the same spirit of opening more meaningful build choices, we’re excited to be streamlining the rune system with Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure. As they exist in the game today, runes have five tiers of relatively straightforward stat bonuses, and the sixth tier is a wild card that can offer additional bonuses or special effects. The wild card sixth tier arbitrarily linked two build components to a single choice. Keeping with the theme of our combat updates for the expansion, we’re splitting those into two separate choices to give players more meaningful control. With the first release on August 22, the sixth tier of each rune set will instead complete the stat bonuses associated with that rune set, and the additional special effects or conditional bonuses will be removed entirely.

But fear not—special bonus effects in combat aren’t just going away as a category! We’ve split them off into their own build component, so you can choose both the stats you want and which special effect is right for your build. Which brings us to…

At Launch: Introducing Relics

Starting on August 22, everyone’s build will include a relic slot that becomes usable at level 60. Many of the relics that are available to players regardless of expansion ownership will cover the functionality of popular sixth-tier rune bonuses. For example, the Relic of the Trooper’s effect is identical to the previous sixth-tier Trooper rune effect: “Remove a condition from each affected ally after using a shout skill.” Other core relics have an updated effect compared to the sixth-tier rune they used to be associated with, like the Relic of the Thief: “Upon striking an enemy with a weapon skill that has a cooldown or resource cost, gain 1% strike damage for 6 seconds, up to a maximum of 5 stacks, and refresh duration of all stacks to 6 seconds.”

Generally, you’ll be able to get relics through crafting, instanced content like Fractals of the Mists and Strike Missions, reward tracks, achievements, and more. To celebrate the new system, we’ll distribute a relic selection box to all players at launch.

Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure owners can look forward to expansion-exclusive relics as well—some of these will become available at launch, with others to follow in subsequent releases.

Expanded Weapon Proficiency

Future Update: Expanded Weapon Proficiency

To round off our combat systems updates, we’re granting each profession proficiency with an additional weapon. Like we said earlier: getting to play with a new weapon and changing out your first five skills is one of the most impactful parts of an elite specialization for many players. The weapons and weapon skills we’re introducing to each profession in Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure are meant to satisfy that same itch of a new skillset—we just focused on making these weapons fit in with the existing trait lines.

This is planned for the second major release after launch (and we’re aiming to ship those major releases quarterly). We’ll have more details about the style of play associated with these weapons as we get closer to this feature shipping, and later this year we’ll have a beta for you to preview the changes. For now, here’s the lineup of who’s getting what:

  • Guardian: Pistol (main and off hand)
  • Revenant: Scepter (main hand)
  • Warrior: Staff
  • Engineer: Short bow
  • Ranger: Mace (main and off hand)
  • Thief: Axe (main hand)
  • Elementalist: Pistol (main hand)
  • Mesmer: Rifle
  • Necromancer: Sword (main and off hand)

Try and See

This weekend (June 29–July 2), we’ll be previewing Weaponmaster Training! Anyone with a Guild Wars 2 account in good standing—including Play for Free accounts—can create a beta character and take the changes out for a spin to see how they feel. Hungry for more Guild Wars 2: Secrets of the Obscure info? Check out our blogs from today on story, systems, and rewards. And keep an eye out for more news between now and the launch on August 22!