GUILD WARS Lead Designer James Phinney Exclusive Q&A

June 28, 2013

Q: Are there any Hero features that we haven’t seen previewed yet?

Phinney: Yes. We were really happy with the response we saw to Heroes in the Nightfall World Preview Event, but the event, and our own testing since then, gave us some ideas for improvements. And, of course, there were a few things that weren’t quite ready to show during the event. For one thing, each Hero comes with three different armor looks that you can unlock, so players will have a chance to choose a look that they like best.

We’ve also worked a lot on improving Hero AI and refining the controls for Heroes. Heroes are much better now at intelligently managing their Energy to make them better for everyone, and for you control-freaks out there (you know who you are), we’ve added the ability to disable AI for an individual skill. Once you disable the AI for a skill, a Hero won’t use it unless specifically told to do so by you. This can be especially handy for skills like Traps and Spirits, which can require a little extra foresight for determining where and when to use them. You can turn the AI for each skill on and off independently during missions.
Another big addition will be “Hero Skills” NPCs, who can teach skills to you and your Heroes without requiring a skill point or any gold. You will be able to earn these Hero skills by gaining ranks in the Sunspear title and the Lightbringer title, and once learned, these skills are unlocked for your entire account. Unlike normal skill trainers, who only offer you skills that match your profession, Hero skill trainers will offer skills for every profession. We are hoping this feature will be especially helpful for new players who want to change the skills their Heroes use. (Since Heroes can use any skills that are unlocked for your account, people who’ve been playing Guild Wars for a while should already find that they have a lot of freedom to set up their Heroes any way they like.)
Another really big aspect of Heroes is the ability to use them in PvP. Heroes can be unlocked for use by PvP characters either by recruiting them during the roleplaying campaign (just like skills are unlocked when you learn them by playing through the roleplaying content) or by spending faction at a Priest of Balthazar. Once a Hero is unlocked for PvP, a level 20 version of that Hero becomes available for all of your PvP-only characters to use.

Q: Heroes are a big addition to the cooperative game. Are there major PvP features in Guild Wars Nightfall?

Phinney: We mean for Heroes to be a big addition to PvP as well, and are currently working on a new type of PvP called Hero Battles. We’ve tried to design a game type that’s fast and furious, has tactical and strategic depth, and is fun to watch. We’re extremely happy with what we’ve seen so far.

Part of our goal was to make it so players didn’t have to delete and remake PvP characters so often, so we’re also adding a “PvP Equipment Builder.” You can use this Equipment Builder whenever you’re in an outpost with a PvP-only character and make any item you could make during PvP character creation. Unlocked a new rune at the Priest of Balthazar? You can immediately make yourself some armor with that rune in it. Want four full weapon sets? No problem.
But Hero Battles aren’t the only new feature that Nightfall is bringing to Guild Wars PvP. Character templates will be a really big improvement. You’ll be able to quickly save and load whole skill/attribute/profession set-ups for you and your Heroes with this feature. As everyone who played the preview event knows, you’ll be able to change your secondary profession quickly any time you’re in an outpost.

And for everyone out there who likes to play a little GvG, we’ve upgraded Observer Mode to include recent GvG battles by your guild. We’re hoping this will really help players develop their skills in GvG…plus it’s cool to be able to watch a replay of yourself.