The Scrying Pool: "Special"izations

This week the Scrying Pool looks back at last week's Specializations announcement.


The Scrying Pool is a Guild Wars 2 column where I simply ask what if? Nothing is off the table as I dive into possible features and future content, looking at what currently exists in Guild Wars 2 before I answer my own what if question with how I think the feature and content could be implemented.

Normally that intro holds true, but for the next few weeks I will be flipping the tables. Instead of looking forward, the Scrying Pool will be looking back as we continue the Specialization series from a different viewpoint. Instead of speculation, I will focus on my impressions of each of the Elite Specializations after they get revealed while throwing in some of my previous articles and speculation for flavor.

Earlier this week, ArenaNet revealed the Chronomancer, the Elite Specialization for the Mesmer profession. While I already have some thoughts on how awesome the spec sounds, the Chronomancer article won’t be until next week. This gives time to soak in everything that is awesome about each spec, but also because this column is written before the weekly ArenaNet livestream that I imagine is going to go even more in-depth into the skills and traits that the specialization is bringing to the profession.

As such, this week I will be looking back at last week’s big reveal of the entire specialization system including the core specialization trait overhaul.

In a Scrying Pool long, long ago (in a galaxy far, far away?) I wrote about how terrible the current skill unlocking system was for expanding it in the future. There was no easy way to keep the skill unlocking interface from looking bloated even with just a few additional skills added and there was no good way to differentiate between the core abilities available since release and those newly added.

I eventually had settled on the idea of new skills being level-locked to higher levels. This helps alleviate the differentiation problem, as these new skills would be entirely separate from the original skills, but would still leave the current skill interface becoming bloated after a few more additions. Plus, eventually we would be looking at the case of every additional skill tier would just be adding to the max-level 80 tier.

What I love most about the specialization system that ArenaNet has created is that it seems to elegantly solve both of these problems. Instead of free-floating skills, skills are now grouped by their type and unlocked in a progression separate from any of the other skill types. These Skill Reward Tracks also have their counterpart with the Specialization Reward Tracks that unlock all the traits within each individual line.

Having a reward track for each skill type and trait line doesn’t quite solve either of the problems, as adding additional skill and trait lines could still become bloated and not differentiate the old from the new. Here is where we get introduced to the Elite Specialization Reward Tracks.

New skills and traits are going to be added through these Elite Reward Tracks which are immediately distinguishable by a few factors. First, they are level 80, bringing in the higher level-locked tier as I was previously thinking. After this level-lock, there is what the reward track offers. While the core skills types and trait lines each have their own tracks, everything that is the Elite Specialization is getting mushed into this single track. Skills, traits and even additional goodies such as unique weapon and armor skins are all available through a single Elite Specialization Track.

The differentiation doesn’t stop there, as the Elite Specializations are focused thematically. We can see this in the recently announced Chronomancer that is all about controlling time. This, along with the inability to equip more than one Elite Specialization at a time, will keep each of these feeling unique. We might be able to look and say “That’s a Mesmer” and “That’s a Time Mesmer” and “That’s a Subterfuge Mesmer”. ArenaNet has commented that these specializations will be changing the way we see the class and that a Druid was something noticeably different from a Ranger; if the Chronomancer is anything to go by, these specs really will be changing professions.

The Traits -->

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