Feature Filled Part 1: April 2014 feature patch
On April 15th ANet will release a large feature patch to the game. Unlike the previous bi-weekly Living Story patches, this one will have a focus on game features and fixes. They announced the upcoming patch on March 20th with a blog post in which they described the feature pack as “a release that focuses primarily on game systems, the April 2014 Feature Pack will include a sweeping range of new features—everything from new systems that change and upgrade the way you experience Guild Wars 2 to quality of life and balance updates that improve existing gameplay systems.”
I was originally going to wait until all the relevant developer blogs had been releaed, but covering them all in one article would have made a wall of text to rival Hadrian’s so I will do it in parts. I won’t go in to the exact details of each post, you can read the blogs for yourself on the Guild Wars 2 official site, but I will highlight the changes that I think have people the most excited.
The update will bring with it, a major revision to the trait system as well as 40 new Grandmaster traits (5 for each class, 1 for each trait line). The changes are intended to make the trait system easier to understand as well as make character progression between levels 30-80 more meaningful.
- Trait tiers now unlock automatically (no longer requires the use of training manuals).
- Trait points are now awarded at the rate of 1 point every 6 levels between levels 30-65, 2 points from levels 66-80 . Formally every level from level 11.
- Adept Tier unlocks at level 30
- Master Tier unlocks at level 60
- Grandmaster Tier unlocks at level 80
- Total trait points reduced from 70 to 14. Each trait point in the new system is worth 5 of the original and unlocks a Minor or Major trait.
- Major traits are now locked behind Trait Guides which can be bought from the profession trainer or earned by completing specific content.
The new traits were previewed in a developer video which you can find here, use the menu at the start of the video to find what you want to know. The most exciting thing for me, aside from he new traits, are the new Trait Guides that you need in order to unlock traits. This will make character progression more gratifying and enjoyable as you can set your goals to get what you want. Before you got everything as you levelled and it didn’t matter what you did in the game (e.g. crafting to level) so character progression was more of a passive benefit rather than something to actively pursue. Also, as a PvE player, anything that has me out in the world is a bonus.
The new trait panel
Rune/Sigil and Balance Changes
In the update, we will log in to find that every Rune set (item upgrades that you add to armour) has been revised. This is to encourage players to use complete sets more often, as it stands just now players often mix/match sets for optimal results. Meanwhile, Sigils (item upgrades for weapons) have also had changes made to how they work. currently all sigils of a certain type (i.e. On critical hit, on kill) shared an internal cooldown even if their effects differed. This has been changed and should now allow for much greater diversity when choosing Sigils and experimenting. Finally, every class has had a passover and will see numerous balance changes and bug fixes.
Critical Damage Changes
The critical damage multiplier will also be seeing some changes, currently it is a flat percentage increase attainable through traits and equipment making it possible to stack very high damage output. AreneNet will introduce a new stat with this patch called Ferocity, this will replace the percentage based gains offered through traits and equipment. Ferocity will be used in a new calculation that determines your critical damage modifier and it has been revealed that, at level 80, 15 points of Ferocity will equal 1% increase in critical damage. This should decrease the maximum attainable damage by about 10% which is part of an effort by the developers to encourage build diversity in the game.
I, personally, welcome this change. Although I don’t think it’s enough to solve the current DPS meta (known as the ‘zerker meta’) it is hopefully a step along the road to making more varied playstyles as effective as the current meta. I’ve always been a support player and find straight up damage quite boring to play so if my Mesmer’s boon sharing build will be acknowledged someday as useful, I’ll be quite happy.
I think I’ll wrap it up for part one of my April 2014 Feature Pack summary, watch this space for the next one where I’ll cover the new Wardrobe system and changes to soulbound/account bound game aspects.