Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Guild Wars 2: Guild Halls Interview

We talked to ArenaNet to get more information about Guild Halls in Guild Wars 2.

Guild Halls are one of the major features coming with Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns and they going to be big! Colin Johanson took to the stage at E3 during the PC Gaming Show to show off the basic features coming with Guild Halls. Earlier today I got to talk with Crystin Cox, Lead Designer at ArenaNet, and Link Hughes, Game Designer at ArenaNet to get more information about the Guild Hall system coming inHeart of Thorns.

There is a lot going on with Guild Halls, so let's start at the beginning. In Lion's Arch, players have noticed there is a new building being built alongside the city's reconstruction that will house guild-related items. This building is the Guild Initiative Headquarters, a new organization trying to rally the guilds of Tyria as the world's new hope in the wake of the Pact's defeat. The organization has sent scouts into the jungle who have found areas with unusually high concentrations of Mordrem. With a little gold to turn the wheels, the organization will give contracts to guilds to clear these areas of the jungle and, in return, will be able to own these areas as long – as they hold off further Mordrem threats.

Clearing these areas will be tied to the maps they are adjacent to—as the guild halls are physical places that exist on the world map—and the meta-events in those maps. Once a guild gets to the guild hall, they will enter an instance full of Mordrem, which they will need to clear. Once cleared, players will find a large crystal in the heart of the instance that, when interacted with, will essentially cut off Mordremoth's influence. From that point the hall is theirs, and the guild can start rebuilding it.

In Heart of Thorns there will be two different guild halls for guilds to claim. The first is the Guilded Hollow, a monolithic cavern beneath the jungle that connects to the Forgotten City (which can be seen in a few of the previously released trailers). The other guild is the Lost Precipice, which lies in the Northwest on the border between the jungle and the Northern Maguuma Wastes, and is a refuge within a hidden canyon; complete with a river at the bottom that features a giant vertical space perfect for jumping and gliding. Link commented that both of these guild halls are huge and feature tons of little nooks & caves that will take some exploring to discover.

With Guild Halls comes a bunch of new progression. The four upgrade lines that are currently available to guilds are being moved into the halls as the new system focuses on buildings that guilds will actually build and upgrade within the guild halls. Each building is focused around a certain area of the game such as the War Room which focuses on WvW, the Arena which is a combat sandbox and touches on buffs for PvP, the Tavern which includes other buffs and social features, and the Market which gives access to a new set of mini-pets and a new tier of guild armor and weapons.

All guilds will be able to get access to everything given enough time. The only decisions guilds will have to make is which building they want to build or upgrade next. While guilds will only be able to claim one of the two guild halls at a time, switching will possible in much the same way as the guild originally claimed their current guild hall. Once the guild hall has been switched, all of the unlocked buildings and upgrades will transfer over to the new guild hall location.

Another building is the Workshop, which will feature the new crafting discipline: the Scribe. The Scribe will be able to make guild tools, such as the banners that are currently available in-game, new tools usable in WvW to unlock new offensive &defensive gameplay, and decorations for the guild halls.

The War Room is a building that allows the building of different WvW tools. Some of the examples we can see in the trailer are Airships assaulting Stonemist and players controlling Charr vehicles in the new borderlands. Most of these are set to their own things, such as airships only attacking Stonemist, the charr vehicles only available at specific locations in the new borderlands, and a stealth-revealing buff around towers.

The Arena building is an area for players to go in and PvP, and can be upgraded to allow the creation of teams that players can switch to while in the arena. Also, tiers of decorations that can be used as obstacles including walls, traps and turrets, and can be placed in real time during fights. Link drove home that the Arena is not meant to be a new game mode, but a sandbox for guilds to set up their own fights and exercise their creativity. ArenaNet is interested to see what players make of it. It might even be the new home of player run Guild vs Guild battles. Since it is part of the building's upgrade system, the obstacle decorations will be completely different than the decorations that players can place out in the guild hall. Unlike the normal decorations, the obstacles are unlocked and will immediately allow players to place multiples of the same item.

Decorations are items that guilds will be able to place in their Guild Halls in order to truly customize them. There will be many ways of getting decorations including the new Scribe discipline, the Deluxe edition of Heart of Thorns and through various game rewards, especially content that focuses on group play. Players will be able to place, move and rotate (but not scale) these decorations anywhere within the hall. I asked if the items would have collision so that I could rotate a wall around and turn it into a ramp or platform and the answer is that some will and some won't. Decorations such as walls will have collision, stopping player movement or allowing them to stand on them, but others such as bushes will allow players to freely walk through them. To help keep from random guild members from messing anything up, a new Architect permission will be added that will only let members of the ranks with that permission move and place decorations.

Decorations once used will become part of the guild they are given to. Once property of the guild, it will appear in a new Guild Items tab of the guild panel. This tab is broken into three different categories: Decorations, Consumables and the War Chest. Each decoration is an item that is essentially used up once given to a guild, which means that players in multiple guilds will have to pick one to give their Deluxe edition decoration to. While the buildings and upgrades will transfer to the new guild hall during switching, all decorations will be deposited back into the Guild Items tab as the two maps are laid out very differently.

The last major feature of the Guild Halls is the getting to and from them. Once claimed, players will find a button in the guild panel that will allow them to fast travel to the guild hall. Inside the hall is the guild portal, which players will be able to use to travel to various maps. A feature that players have long wanted is a way for guilds to all go out together to a new map, and the guild portal will allow guilds to do just that. After selecting a destination (such as a location near an active guild mission) all guild members that walk through the Fractals of the Mist-like portal will be zipped to that location. The portal will give a high preference to keeping all members of the guild together and on the same map at their location, and in internal tests have apparently always kept the guild together.

Speaking of guild missions, there are lots of changes coming to guild. Guild Merits are going away completely. Influence will no longer be earned after HoT launches, but will stick around for a while so that guilds can sink the influence they currently have into the new system. There is a new currency being introduced call Favor that will be rewarded from guild missions, but they didn't go into what exactly Favor was going to be used for. These currency changes were brought along in a big part because of the disparity between large and small guilds. It was hard for small guilds to keep up while large guilds would have so much influence they wouldn't know what to do with it. Also, ArenaNet didn't like the wide range of ways to get influence and the wide range of things that influence could be spent on.

Guild missions are being overhauled. Currently they are the end-game that is focused more toward larger guilds. Instead of being the end-game, ArenaNet wants guild missions to be the backbone of the system. Guild missions will no longer require consumables and can be run for free. Additionally, the missions will be set for each week as a new bounty system from the pool of missions to give more variance instead of guilds grinding through each missions type each week. All guilds will get the same missions for the week.

Additionally, there are a handful of other changes coming to guilds including an update to guild claiming in WvW, guild teams in PvP and the ability for players to talk across multiple guilds without having to change which guild they are currently repping.

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