Upcoming Skill and Trait Changes

by Jonathan Sharp on June 20, 2013

Hey folks, it’s Chap again! There are a lot of changes coming in this release, and I wanted to explain the thought processes behind some of them. Today I’ll be joined by Karl and Roy, two members of our skill and balance team!

Build diversity

One of the things we’ve focused on is making sure that each class has more build diversity. To do this, we revised some traits, combined others, and in some cases, removed certain traits completely and added new ones in their place.

We also looked at small skill revisions and number balances to boost the power of specific skills, weapons, and traits. When possible, we try very hard not to take away too much potency from popular builds because we know that a lot of people enjoy them – but occasionally we do need to bring some abilities down in power. Why don’t we just increase the power of weaker skills to match the most popular ones? Well, the problem is that then we get into something called power creep; the power of all builds and classes keeps rising as we keep making improvements, which causes instability in game balance.

And now I’ll leave it to Karl and Roy to get into more detail about some specific changes you’ll be seeing in the world of Tyria after this release!

Hello fellow Tyrians! I’m Karl McLain, a game designer involved in skill development and balance, and I’m here to tell you about some of the cool stuff that we’ve been working on for this release.

Trait Changes

First off, we’ve got a ton of trait changes coming up. Many traits that were less than desirable have been brought up in effectiveness, while others have been shuffled around and merged together to make room for new traits to be introduced. In doing this, we’ve created several new grandmaster traits for quite a few trait lines. For example: elementalists have a new grandmaster Air trait that allows them to recharge their air attunement, necromancers now have access to the burning condition, and warriors will have an option to remove conditions when using burst abilities.

With these changes in mind, we are going to be making a few builds a little harder to achieve due to their extreme effectiveness. Some traits will go up in tier while increasing in potency to promote build variation.

Necromancer Death Shroud 5

As the professions in Guild Wars 2 continue to grow, we will continue to find ways to augment them and add potency to their arsenal of abilities. With the next balance update, necromancers will be unlocking their fifth ability within Death Shroud: Tainted Shackles. This skill will cause nearby enemies to be inflicted with conditions and controlled if they don’t take very quick action.

New condition

With the introduction of Tainted Shackles, we’ll also be adding a new condition to the game: Torment. This condition is designed to play around with movement, one of our fundamental combat mechanics. Enemies under Torment will take damage periodically; as they move, they’ll take even more damage. In looking to expand the condition diversity of thieves and mesmers, we decided to include Torment skills for those two professions as well.

Hey everyone, I’m Roy Cronacher, and I’m a Game Designer on the balance team. I’ll be discussing the upcoming changes to the Weakness condition as well as some of our larger skill changes.

Weakness condition change

We have a very interesting change coming to Weakness condition. Currently, Weakness decreases endurance regeneration and causes non-critical hits to have a chance to become glancing blows. We wanted this condition to punish spike damage, but it was a bit underwhelming because critical hits, which are essential to spike damage, have previously bypassed Weakness’s effect. Weakness will now cause all hits, both critical and non-critical, to have a chance to become a glancing blow. We went through and rebalanced a lot of the weakness durations for this change. We think this change will make the condition more meaningful and give it much more play.

Stun Breakers

As mentioned above, a lot of our skill changes were made to promote more build diversity in each profession. One key area we looked at was the accessibility of stun breakers. Many professions have been limited to playing one or two certain builds because stun breakers were limited to certain types of utility skills. In some utility skill types, stun breakers were over-abundant; in others, they were non-existent. We removed some and spread them out across more utility types. For example, the elementalist’s stun breakers have always been loaded up on cantrips, so we spread some out to the other categories like glyphs and signets. This way most builds have at least one viable stun breaker.


So that’s it! Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out the patch notes for the details on all of the incoming changes! We tried to give all the classes in Guild Wars 2 some great changes to less-used skills, traits, and weapons!

See you in game!