Tiers for Fears

As anyone reading this has no doubt heard, ArenaNet made changes to the skill system in GW2 recently. Instead of being able to purchase any skill in the list as long as you had the skill points to spend, we will now have to purchase skills in a certain tier before moving on to the next. Interestingly this is also how the ability wheel works in the Secret World.

This was a commonly asked question during yesterday’s AMA Reddit with the ArenaNet team, as some are concerned they are removing player choice. I recently purchased the original Guild Wars trilogy so I could work on some of the Hall of Monuments points and I have a new perspective now.

In Guild Wars you need to buy your abilities from a vendor with skill points. Especially after you pick your secondary profession, you are presented with a lot of choices right away. It could certainly be just one of my personal quirks, but I was already feeling pretty overwhelmed. I had a new character in a new game that I was trying to get a handle on, and now I had to figure out which abilities looked like they would be the most useful to not only spend my precious points on but also equip on my hotbar. You have to make the same choices for your NPC "heroes" as well.

I don’t mind my choices being more limited earlier on in the game. Let me just play the class for a while until I feel confident, and let me switch up my build later on for various different purposes. At least with a tiered system I wouldn’t feel like I wasted my points if I found I didn’t really like an ability, because I had to buy it anyway to get to something better. My true hope is that all the abilities will be something useful, but I can’t say that any MMO I’ve played has accomplished that feat. Some abilities will always seem weak in comparison to others.

4 comments on “Tiers for Fears

  1. Psnacky says:

    It’s daunting to be confronted with so many choices as a newbie and, for me, it always leads to poor choices. I love rolling alts but I hate it when I feel like I have to reroll because of poor choices made before I knew any better.

    During the first BWE I was overwhelmed by the choices and so I just picked more-or-less random abilities. I’m happy about the tiers to ease new players into the multitude of choices.

    Sure you can search for the best options online but I’ve always been of the opinion that making players rely on out-of-game resources is bad design.

    • The fear of making a wrong choice and having to start over or pay a large penalty weighs on me. If I know my choices are easily reversible it certainly helps. In the case of GW I did look for builds online but I couldn’t understand the vernacular!

  2. Railer says:

    I’m rather sure it’s a very limited subset of all players who whole-heartedly enjoy being thrown into a vast sea of choices like that. This is all conjecture, but I think the most common motivation and argument for the single-tier system is that those people get to minmax, optimise and then get the bragging rights for discovering that build or combo. It’s a form of exploration in itself.

    The tiered system functions better overall because 1) the people who enjoy fiddling with the builds will undoubtedly have the patience to powerlevel through to the final tiers, and 2) the more common kind of exploration is limited as well, isn’t it? I’m sure people would feel overwhelmed if the game dropped you in the middle of the world -and- gave you quests and reasons to go to every corner of it at once.

    Regardless of how off-base I am here, I know this’ll be a positive change for me. Also, love the blog.

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