Profession Balance Goals for the Winter 2016 Update

by Karl McLain on January 11, 2016



Hello, and welcome to the first quarterly balance update of 2016! I’m Karl McLain, and we’re here today to talk about some high-level changes that’ll be coming to each profession this month.

With the release of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ and the unlocking of elite specializations, we’ve seen a decent shift in play styles and power throughout the game. While we’ll still make minor adjustments in between as needed, each of our quarterly seasonal releases will include a major balance update to adjust how professions are performing and rein in outliers.

In this first quarterly update, we’ve got a few goals we’re pushing toward. Our main goal will be to reduce some of the highest-level effectiveness in both defense and offense that have occurred since the release of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, while also increasing the effectiveness of less used options. Secondarily, we’ll be looking at slightly changing the theme of a couple of professions so that they’ll have a strong place in each game type.

In an effort to normalize gameplay around downstate, we’ll be making death and resurrection more absolute; while resurrecting allies or stomping enemies, the effects of quickness and slow will no longer have an effect. We’ll also be making a change to slow to bring it more in line with its quickness counterpart, slightly reducing its overall effectiveness. With that said, let’s talk about the professions.


This profession has seen a lot of defensive additions through recent updates and the addition of the tempest. In this iteration, we’ll be fine-tuning the defensive nature of the elementalist a little more and improving its offensive side a bit. To that end, Diamond Skin will see its first change in a long while, moving to condition removal (as is more thematic with the elementalist) rather than condition avoidance. In the effort to improve offense, Air grandmaster traits will be getting usability and damage improvements, while the scepter and focus will be receiving some positive quality-of-life modifications.


We’ve been enjoying watching all of the scrapper gyros buzzing around in the jungle, helping allies and clearing the way for Pact forces. Our focus for the engineer has been to improve less used traits and to rework some functionality for scrapper traits. For the core specializations, trait improvement efforts have been made toward creating impactful choices and making each build choice more distinctive. With that said, we’re still monitoring the defensive nature of the scrapper and may look to implement a reduction in survivability.


In keeping with the general theme of improving less used options, we’ve been updating both traits and abilities to be more useful and to have a meaningful impact when you equip them. The dragonhunter elite specialization has proven to have a very solid impact in many areas of the game, but they’ve been a tad too effective in the areas of burst and disruption, and we’ll be looking to make slight adjustments in those areas.


Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns has seen many a chronomancer survive a killing blow and seize victory. Alacrity has improved the mesmer’s party support game-wide, but we’ll be bringing alacrity a bit more in line and making it easier to balance while keeping it a staple of the chronomancer elite specialization. Additionally, we’ll be improving upon the scepter, which will be receiving updates through skills, functionality, and traits.


The necromancer and its reaper elite specialization have been trundling (slow-moving, nefarious) through the battlefield, cleaving foes down in style. During this quarterly update, we’ll be looking at improving a couple of elite specialization traits and working with the baseline shroud to give it a bit more functionality. Leeching Bolts (comboing a projectile in a dark field) will now also heal through your shroud form.


We’ll be looking into some of the ranger’s less used traits and increasing both defensive and offensive options while giving a few specialized traits a bit more allure. In the first quarterly update, we’ll also be improving the ranger’s shout utility category, giving them more unique utility. In the future, we’ll continue to explore ways to improve on the ranger’s ties to both their pets and nature. We’re still looking at the druid’s viability in group scenarios and will continue to monitor its overall effectiveness, making changes where necessary.


Now that the revenant is out in the wild, we’ve been taking a hard look at it. The general goal for this profession is focused specialization through a variety of trait and legend choices. We’ll be continuing this in the future by assuring that each legend and core/elite specialization fulfills their respective roles. In this iteration, we’ll be looking to tone down the revenant’s sword damage in some areas and adjust the weapon’s abilities so that it’s less focused on autoattacking and better at singling out and attacking enemies. We’re also keeping a close eye on the revenant’s defensive capabilities.


In the recent history of thieves, their damage roles have been largely burst-based due to initiative, while their autoattacks do little to sustain their DPS. In addition, initiative often needs to be used defensively, which can take a toll on overall damage output. Our design for this profession tends to lean toward damage, mobility, and evasiveness. In the first quarter of this year, we’ll be looking to drastically improve thief melee autoattacks until their overall sustained damage when coupled with initiative use is extremely dangerous. In addition to the damage improvements, we’ve done a bit of reworking and improvements to the Acrobatics specialization line.


We’ve taken a look at the warrior’s baseline abilities, adjusting cooldowns, damage, and in some cases even functionality. Our goal for this iteration is to give you a bit more to play with in a single weapon set so that the cooldowns feel more active and fun to play around with. Rifle has also seen a bit of a rework, gaining a more defensive nature while retaining its overall purpose of kill-shotting every enemy of Tyria. We’ll also be taking another pass at improving the berserker elite specialization, focusing on increasing its usability in various game modes and promoting more active skill use in trait design. Lastly, we’ll improve the warrior’s ability to sustain themselves in combat.

Thanks for joining us today for this high-level look at what’s coming in the balance update this quarter. Make sure to tune in for the January 15 episode of Guild Chat over on the official Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel for more in-depth discussion on the upcoming balance changes. If you’ve got feedback or ideas you’d like to give, feel free to post your thoughts, ideas, and constructive feedback on the official Guild Wars 2 forums. Until next time!