Specializations, Part Two: Reward Tracks and Elite Specializations

by Jon Peters on April 23, 2015


In addition to our blog on specializations, we’re excited to be able to share with you how we’ll be handling trait and skill unlocks in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™. You’ll also learn how you can gain access to elite specializations, which will turn your profession into something truly new!

Profession Reward Tracks


Skill and trait unlocking is transitioning into a new system. Profession reward tracks are packages of skills, traits, specializations, and items that will make up the new unlock system. Rather than completing specific content for specific unlocks, everything will be unlocked by spending Hero Points on these new reward tracks.

Hero Points will be limited, and they’ll be earned strictly through what are currently called skill challenges (these will become known as hero challenges) and leveling up. A level 80 character that’s done none of the hero challenges should be able to unlock more than enough skills, specializations, and traits to make several unique full builds. A single character who’s done a fair amount of the hero challenges should be able to unlock all of the core specializations, skills, and traits. PvP players won’t have to worry about unlocking anything, as all skills and traits will be automatically unlocked upon entering the Heart of the Mists.

Old skill points in excess of those earned by leveling and skill challenges will be converted into crafting materials for the Mystic Forge. Items and activities that were previously repeatable sources of skill points will now also provide that same crafting material.
There will be three categories of profession reward tracks, covering core specializations, core skills, and elite specializations.

Core Specialization Reward Tracks

These will unlock the specialization itself and all of its minor and major traits. There will be one for each core specialization for a total of five per profession. For example, an elementalist’s Water Magic reward track will unlock the following:

  • Soothing Mist (adept minor)
  • Healing Ripple (master minor trait)
  • Aquatic Benevolence (grandmaster minor trait)
  • Soothing Ice (adept major)
  • Piercing Shards (adept major)
  • Stop, Drop, and Roll (adept major)
  • Soothing Disruption (master major trait)
  • Cleansing Wave (master major trait)
  • Aquamancer’s Training (master major trait)
  • Cleansing Water (grandmaster major trait)
  • Powerful Aura (grandmaster major trait)
  • Bountiful Power (grandmaster major trait)
Core Skill Reward Tracks

These will unlock all skills within a skill category. For example, a warrior signet track will unlock Healing Signet, Signet of Might, Signet of Fury, Signet of Stamina, Dolyak Signet, and Signet of Rage.

Elite Specializations

Finally, we’re here. When we talked about rangers becoming druids and necromancers with greatswords, those were examples of what we call elite specializations. These are the brand-new level-80 specializations that will begin to introduce new weapons, mechanics, skills, and traits to existing professions in Heart of Thorns.


New Weapons

Elite specializations will always introduce a single new weapon type for your character. The ranger’s druid specialization will allow the ranger access to the staff weapon, while some other lucky profession will finally get access to a hammer. This means players of every profession will have a new moment-to-moment combat style to master. Some professions will be getting a single main-hand or off-hand weapon, but each weapon should really open up some new playstyles for a given profession. In order to equip this new weapon, you’ll have to both unlock and equip the appropriate elite specialization.

New Skills

Almost every elite specialization will gain access to a complete set of new skills: a single heal, four utility skills, and one elite skill. Revenants will gain a healing skill, an elite skill, and a set of utilities of the same type. One specialization will have access to traps, while at least one profession’s elite specialization will be a full set of six shouts. In order to equip any of these new skills, you’ll have to train and equip the corresponding elite specialization. We’ll also be reusing old types of skills like shouts and traps to create more synergy with the Rune system.

New Mechanics

But wait, there’s more! We’re also making some core changes to each profession that are dependent on the elite specialization equipped. Have you ever wanted a different way to take advantage of all that life force? How about a new way to shatter illusions? These are some of the changes you can expect to see for your favorite profession.

New Traits

Last but not least, elite specializations will come with a full new set of traits, similar to what a core specialization provides. Equipping an elite specialization takes up one of your three specialization slots and grants you three minor traits and nine major traits for use. How does a trait that removes a condition every time you evade an attack sound? I’m personally excited about a grandmaster trait that has the power to grant my character a defiance bar!

Will There Be More?

When Heart of Thorns goes live, each profession will receive one elite specialization to supplement its five core specializations. We like to describe builds using the new system in two ways:

  1. I am a(n) {profession name} specializing in {Spec #1}, {Spec #2}, and {Spec #3}. i.e., I am a ranger specializing in Marksmanship, Wilderness Survival, and Beastmastery.
  2. I am a(n) {elite spec} specializing in {Spec #2}, and {Spec #3}. i.e., I am a druid specializing in Nature Magic and Skirmishing.

For now, characters will only be able to equip a single elite specialization. Doing so will be as easy as it currently is to swap trait points; simply exit combat and select your new elite specialization, or do it in Heart of the Mists for PvP. We made this system to build upon it, so let the speculation about future specializations begin before we’ve even revealed the first full set!

Elite Specialization Reward Tracks

Finally, these reward tracks unlock everything for an elite specialization: weapon, unique mechanics, skills, and traits. They’ll also reward items, including new runes and sigils, a fancy weapon skin for your new weapon type, and an armor skin for a single matching piece of armor (usually headgear or shoulders). As long as you’ve purchased Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, you’ll automatically unlock access to all elite specializations in PvP.

It’s a Wrap!

That’s reward tracks and elite specializations in a nutshell. We’ll look forward to giving you a chance to ask any questions in a live Q&A session, which will be hosted on our Twitch channel this Friday, April 24, starting at noon Pacific Time (UTC-7). We’ll gather your questions on our forums ahead of the session, and we’ll see you there!