State of the Game Update —Q1 2016

by Colin Johanson on January 12, 2016

Hello, Tyrians,

Welcome back from the holiday break! We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, and for all of you who celebrated in game as well, a very merry Wintersday. We’ve made it to 2016, and I want to give you an overview of what to expect from the next three months of live development for Guild Wars 2 as well a look ahead into where we’ll be going this year.

2016 marks a turning point for the developmental focus of the Guild Wars 2 franchise. From 2012 to 2014, we were focused on developing regular updates through our Living World and feature pack releases. In 2015 our focus predominantly shifted away from live updates and toward our first expansion. In 2016 we aim to provide a more balanced focus, which will see efforts divided equally between providing regular updates and working toward the next expansion.

While we balance our development, 2016 will also be a turning point in the type of development we do for Guild Wars 2. Over the last three years, ArenaNet has focused on “breadth” of development: new content types, releasing in new territories, new game systems, different release cycles, system overhauls, and experiments into what is possible with an online world. One of our goals for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™ was for it to be the last time we would focus on this type of broad development and experimentation and to reach a point where we could focus more on depth.

Over the years, Guild Wars 2 has built up a wide variety of content and feature types. 2016 is the year where we’ll be focusing on the parts of Guild Wars 2 that have been most successful and giving our full attention to those areas by adding depth to them. This means a focus on new content and polish for our existing, successful parts of the game. Though our big overhaul for World vs. World is still not ready for prime time, all other parts of the game are at a point where we can focus entirely on polishing the systems we have and continuing to add new content via live updates and our next expansion.

So as we transition into a future where we’ll be balancing development between the next expansion and regular updates, what will these updates look like for Guild Wars 2?

Major Seasonal Game Updates

In 2016, we’ll begin rolling out major seasonal updates, and you can expect one of these big updates every three months or so. A few weeks before the launch of each seasonal game update, we’ll announce all the major additions that we’ll be delivering in the update. Over the course of the following weeks, we’ll reveal more specific details leading up to launch.

So when does this new major release schedule begin? Good news—today I’m going to tell you all the big additions in our first major seasonal update: the Guild Wars 2 Winter 2016 update, which will be arriving on January 26! Over the next two weeks, we’ll be sharing more specific details on these new additions via blogs and videos, and we’ll show you some of these features live in action on our Guild Chat show as well.

So what will you see in the Winter 2016 update?

Gliding in Central Tyria

We’re adding expanded functionality to the Gliding Mastery line! If you’ve trained the Glider Basics Mastery in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, your glider will let you glide a bit further…all the way back to Central Tyria. Your glider will work in any open-world map or city in Central Tyria once you’ve earned this Mastery ability.

The Shatterer Unleashed

Ominous winds are blowing across Blazeridge Steppes. Scouts are reporting hints of the Shatterer mustering a new Branded army, and the Sentinel and Vigil defenders are hunkering down and preparing to meet this new threat. Get ready for an improved and more challenging Shatterer fight! With greater challenge comes greater reward: we’ve added a new Shatterer achievement category, upgraded the Shatterer’s reward chest, increased the experience earned, and added a unique back-slot item for completing the new Shatterer meta-achievement.

Fractal of the Mists Updates

We’re making a few quality of life changes to the Fractals of the Mists. Using the looking for group tool for Fractals will become a bit easier by expanding the range you can queue into higher scales. For ease of gameplay, we’ll be updating the fractal hub so players will be able to adjust the fractal scale by interacting with the control panel near the entrance, rather than having to leave the hub and reenter to adjust difficulty. Finally, we’ll also be changing the achievement UI so daily fractal achievements will be displayed by default when inside of the Fractal of the Mists.

Recognition of Your Support

Participation for events is getting an update! Supporting your allies will contribute toward event participation in most events across Guild Wars 2. You must still actively attack a target to receive rewards from them, but as long as you land a few attacks you’ll also get additional contribution from applying boons, removing conditions, reviving allies, and healing allies. These will all generate bonus contribution on top of your attacks, so players who mostly heal/support can earn the same credit as players who do large amounts of DPS.

Squad Markers and Lieutenants

We’re adding squad markers and the ability to promote lieutenants to our Enhanced Squad UI experience. Commanders will be able to appoint lieutenants to take care of administrative tasks like organizing subgroups, inviting or removing players, and broadcasting messages. Additionally, squad leaders will be able to mark locations, players, and enemies with symbols which will appear both in the game world and on your compass.

World vs. World Upgrade and Points per Kill

The Secured, Reinforced and Fortified objective upgrade levels of locations in WvW will be changed to occur after having delivered or received a certain number of dolyak caravans, rather than being timer driven. This change was made to increase the importance of both maintaining allied supply lines and denying enemy supply lines.

We’ll also be changing scoring so that each enemy player killed in WvW will grant 1 point of War Score to your team. This change was made in order to allow players who focus primarily on killing enemy players to contribute more to the team’s overall success.

Rallying and Reviving in World vs. World

The number of players than can rally off a single kill in WvW will be reduced from 5 to 1. This change was made to give smaller groups more of a fighting chance against larger groups and to make WvW combat have less sudden power swings in general.

Along with rallying, we’ll also be making changes to reviving in WvW. Players will no longer be able to revive defeated players while in combat. They will still be able to revive downed players. This change was made to lower the staying power of large groups. If a player is eliminated from the fight, they stay eliminated until either the fight concludes or the player uses a waypoint and runs back.

New Mist Champion Tybalt Leftpaw

Tybalt will be joining the other Mist Champions on the field of Champion’s Dusk as our apple-bearing defensive Mist Champion. Unlock Tybalt by completing his reward track in PvP, and then unleash him in the Stronghold game mode to help you defeat your enemies and slay their lord.

Eldvin Monastery Brew of the Month Club

Master Brewer Desch Metz at the Eldvin Monastery in Queensdale is inviting everyone to join the Eldvin Monastery Brew of the Month Club. Once a month, when visiting a major city, club members will receive a package in the mail containing that month’s finely crafted brew. After collecting all twelve brews, club members will receive a title, a brewer’s backpack skin, and a guild decoration in recognition of their devotion to the craft.

New World and Raid Boss Guild Decorations

A new category of Guild Decoration trophies will be available for your guild halls! When you kill certain world bosses and raid bosses, you’ll earn a token that will allow you to buy brand-new decorations from the decoration vendor inside your guild hall. Once you collect enough of these decorations, you’ll be able to upgrade them into a larger trophy. The trophy may look familiar, as it’s also the custom chest that drops when you defeat the boss.

More Controls

We’ll be adding some new optional key bindings for action camera, snap ground targeting, and autotargeting so that players can use any of these features in either push-to-toggle or hold-to-toggle mode. Also, a new check box will be added to always show the names of objects you can interact with in the world, similar to the existing check boxes for player, NPC, and enemy names.

Major Balance Update

We’ve got a very large balance update coming with changes to professions, specializations, traits, skills, and more! We’ll be go over each profession and their updates specifically as we count down to the launch of the big release, so stay tuned for lots more details here. You can check out Karl’s preview of this balance update here.

Other Big Events for Early 2016

That covers all the big details of what’s coming in our first big seasonal release on January 26, but what else can you expect to see over the course of the next few months? Let’s take a look at other releases and events already planned out and firmly scheduled between now and the end of March in 2016.

Lunar New Year Event

Along with our seasonal update on January 26, we’ll also be launching the Lunar New Year event, which will run for two weeks in Divinity’s Reach until February 9. The event will return with all-new rewards, as well as Dragon Ball PvP, fireworks, and decorations.

New Raid Wing: Salvation Pass

Raiders can look forward to the next raid wing: Salvation Pass. You’ll continue to investigate the fate of the missing Pact squad and the mysterious forces north of the Maguuma jungle. Face off against new challenging bosses, earn new rewards, train new masteries, and continue your journey toward building your legendary armor. We haven’t finalized the release date for this wing yet, and we’ll give you more information as it gets closer.

PvP League Launch

On February 23, we’ll launch a brand-new in-game PvP League season. We’ll be making some changes to the rules and scoring for PvP Leagues, which you can read about here. This season will also include new rewards to earn, a reset of your league badge, a reset of the guild leaderboard, and new guild leaderboard rewards. You’ll be able to continue to earn items you need to start—or continue to build—your own legendary backpack, the Ascension.

ESL Guild Wars 2 Pro League Season One Finals + Relegation Tournament

Every Monday throughout January, you’ll be able to watch the final weeks of the first season of our ESL PvP Pro League play out live on Twitch between the best PvP teams in the world. February brings the Pro League Season One Championship, where teams will compete live for their share of $200,000 USD in prizes! You can check out all the action live on the official Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel.

Looking Longer Term

There are plenty of other things in the works that will come later on in the year. We’ll be sharing more details about all of these projects in the future, but I do want to give you some idea of what we’re working on outside of our next expansion. This isn’t everything we’re working on, just some of the highlights!

Living World Season 3

You can look forward to the return of our Living World updates and the story picking back up in the world of Tyria. Warning: There are story spoilers ahead if you haven’t yet finished
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

With the recent death of Mordremoth, the Pact and its armies are in disarray with the vast majority of its troops dead or missing. Survivors have begun to regroup or gone home to mourn the dead while the heroes of the great invasion into the jungle investigate a strange disturbance to the north. Within the golden city of Tarir, the last known dragon egg rests protected by the Exalted—but the egg begins to crack. What creature lies within the egg? An enemy or an ally? In other corners of Tyria, the remaining powerful elder dragons continue to expand their control—but what impact will the death of the two of the elder dragons have on them and on Tyria itself? What impact will being held by Mordremoth have on Zojja and Logan? What research will Taimi uncover at Rata Novus? What plans do Anise and the Shining Blade have for Canach? How will the Black Citadel react when they learn of the return of Rytlock? These questions and more await you in season three of Living World! We’ll give you more details as we get closer to its launch.

Even More Fractals of the Mist Updates

Our Fractals team is hard at work on a lot of updates for Fractals of the Mists in 2016. Some highlights to look forward to in 2016 include the completion of outstanding projects like the Fractal legendary backpack and our new take on fractal leaderboards. You’ll also see lots of additional polish, balance to existing fractals and rewards, changes and polish to instabilities, additional reasons to play all the different fractals, and most importantly, new fractals (yes, you read that right: new fractals!).

WvW’s Big Update

As our competitive game director John Corpening discussed, we’re currently working on a large-scale overhaul to WvW that helps deal with core issues like population balance, scoring, rewards, and the need for 24-hour coverage.

We’ve focused a heavy amount of developer resources on this overhaul for WvW, and the team has been working hard for over a year now to solve these complicated issues. We may not be ready to reveal more in early 2016, but you’ll have an opportunity to get all the details and give feedback when we go into the beta phase of this massive project later this year. And as a brief reminder: WvW tournaments are currently on hold, but they’ll return once we’ve released this new format for WvW.

See You in the Game!

As with all things in development, details are subject to change as features get closer to release. I’ll be back at the start of April with the next state of the game blog to let you in on all the details of our next big seasonal update and what comes after it. We hope you’re as excited as we are for the upcoming updates, and we can’t wait to see you all in the game!