Hey everybody, Jon Peters here with a look at how traits and attributes provide a deep level of customization to your Guild Wars 2 character. Put simply, attributes are characteristics that players can invest points into in order to increase their effectiveness. We have four basic attributes – power, vitality, precision, and toughness.


While playing the game, my fellow designers and I came to the conclusion that we wanted players to be able to customize the way their characters deal damage.  Two of our four primary attributes – toughness and power – were serving double duty. Toughness improved heals, while power improved damage done by conditions. This essentially left us with two offensive styles: do more damage, or get more critical hits and react to their effects.


That wasn’t quite good enough. We wanted there to be at least four offensive play styles as well as more diversity of builds overall, so we added several new player attributes to mix things up. These new attributes differ from the four base attributes in that they are only gained by investing points into trait lines and through gear. The four base attributes of power, vitality, precision, and toughness may be increased through traits and gear, but they also automatically increase as you level.



Let’s take a look at these new attributes and what they do. We’ve organized these attributes into offense, support, and profession-specific attributes.


·         Prowess: Improves the damage multiplier on critical strikes.

·         Malice: Improves the damage done by conditions like burning, poison, confusion, and bleeding.

·         Expertise: Improves the duration of all conditions inflicted by the character.


·         Concentration: Improves the duration of all boons applied by the character.

·         Compassion: Improves all outgoing heals that your character does, including self heals.


Profession-Specific Attributes

Each profession has a specific attribute that does something unique for each profession.

·         Brawn (warrior) — Improves the damage of warrior burst skills.

·         Willpower (guardian) — Decreases the recharge on all virtues.

·         Cunning (thief) — Decreases the recharge of the Steal ability.

·         Empathy (ranger) — Improves pet attributes.

·         Ingenuity (engineer) — Reduces the recharge on all tool-belt skills.

·         Guile (mesmer) — Reduces the recharge on all Shatter skills.

·         Intelligence (elementalist) — Reduces the recharge of the four elemental attunements.

·         Hunger (necromancer) — Increases the size of the necromancer’s life-force pool.



Combat Formulas

While we were looking into how comparable these new attributes were to precision and power, we found that power was far more valuable than any other attribute. The scaling was exponential, so if a player maxed out power, it would make 200 power equal to about 500 precision. We adjusted the scaling of power to be linear, and then raised base weapon damage for everyone. This gives players the ability to choose between builds that give high spike-damage critical hits, deceptively strong conditions, reactionary critical effects, or classic big-hit power,  while remaining competitive with any of them.

We also added the new Healing attribute to take some of the pressure away from toughness being the most important defensive attribute and to create an additional option for players who wanted to emphasize a support role. These new attribute are not directly improved when a character levels up, but are instead part of item and trait customization.

Speaking of traits…





When we first introduced the trait system, it was a flexible way to modify your character that helped build late-game customization and differentiation between characters. The new trait system does the same but does so in a way that makes these decisions easier to understand as well as more character defining.




Trait Points

From level 11 to 80, you receive one trait point per level. This means that every level 80 character will be assigning 70 points to help define their character.


Trait Lines

Every profession has five trait lines, and every line has 30 possible points that a player could allocate to it. Each time you place a point into a line, it improves two of your character’s attributes. The pair of attributes that get improved varies based on profession. For example, an elementalist that puts points into water magic will increase their Vitality and Healing attributes.


The trait lines for each of the professions, as well as the attributes tied to them, are as follows:




·         Strength: Power and Expertise.

·         Arms: Precision and Malice.

·         Defense: Toughness and Compassion.

·         Tactics: Vitality and Concentration.

·         Discipline: Prowess and Brawn.


·         Zeal: Power and Concentration.

·         Radiance: Precision and Expertise.

·         Valor: Toughness and Prowess.

·         Honor: Vitality and Compassion.

·         Virtues: Malice and Willpower.


·         Deadly Arts: Power and Expertise.

·         Critical Strikes: Precision and Prowess.

·         Shadow Arts: Toughness and Compassion.

·         Acrobatics: Vitality and Concentration.

·         Trickery: Malice and Cunning.


·         Marksmanship: Power and Expertise.

·         Skirmishing: Precision and Prowess.

·         Wilderness Survival: Toughness and Malice.

·         Nature Magic: Vitality and Concentration.

·         Beastmastery: Compassion and Empathy.


·         Explosives: Power and Expertise.

·         Firearms: Precision and Prowess.

·         Inventions: Toughness and Compassion.

·         Alchemy: Vitality and Concentration.

·         Tools: Ingenuity and Malice.


·         Domination: Power and Expertise.

·         Dueling: Precision and Prowess.

·         Chaos: Toughness and Concentration.

·         Inspiration: Vitality and Compassion.

·         Illusions: Malice and Guile.


·         Fire Magic: Power and Expertise.

·         Air Magic: Precision and Prowess.

·         Earth Magic: Toughness and Malice.

·         Water Magic: Vitality and Compassion.

·         Arcane Power: Concentration and Intelligence.




Minor Traits

Investing 5, 15, and 25 points in a single line will award the player a minor trait, which are unique bonuses that are dependent upon the number of points invested as well as the specific trait line in question. Think of these traits as a set of abilities that are designed to work well together and to help suggest a particular build or play style to the player.


For example, an engineer investing 25 points into the Tools trait line will receive one trait that will give him endurance whenever he uses a tool-belt skill, another trait that recharges all of his tool-belt skills when he reaches low health, and a third trait that gives him extra damage while at full endurance.


Major Traits

Investing 10, 20, and 30 points in a single line will unlock a major trait slot for the player. Each line has 12 different major traits that may be slotted into a major trait slot. These are major upgrades to player abilities and are designed to provide a lot of customization.


For example, a thief might slot a trait that drops a field of caltrops every time she dodges, or another trait that gives allies boons whenever she uses her Steal ability, or even another that gives her bonus damage whenever she flanks an enemy.


Training Manual

At level 11 you may obtain an adept’s training manual, then at 40 a master’s training manual, and at 60 a grandmaster’s training manual. The adept manual allows you to start spending trait points but caps the number of points in a line at 10. The master manual ups the cap to 20 points per line. The grandmaster manual allows you to completely fill a line with up to 30 points. Every time you use a training manual, you also receive a refund of all your trait points so you can experiment with your new options.



After a character has spent their trait points, they can visit a trainer to reset their traits and refund their previously spent points for a small fee.


We realized that an important part of building a character is some sense of permanence. With this new system, you are flexible enough to change if you really want to, but you should still feel like the choices you made matter while you are out adventuring or slogging your way through a dungeon. In competitive PvP, you have a separately saved trait build and can respec free of charge.



Bringing It All Together

Let’s take a closer look at a single trait line to get an idea of what pumping points into it is going to do.


Warrior Discipline — Each point put into this line will increase the warrior’s critical damage and burst-skill damage.

·         5 Points — Minor trait: gain adrenaline when swapping weapons.

·         10 points — Unlock the first major trait slot.

·         15 points —Minor trait: reduced weapon-swap cooldown.

·         20 points — Unlock the second major trait slot.

·         25 points —Minor trait: gain the Might boon when swapping weapons.

·         30 points — Unlock the final major trait slot.

Major Traits (For each of the three unlocked slots, the warrior may choose any of these):

·         Gain adrenaline whenever killing an enemy.

·         Reduced signet-recharge time.

·         Movement skills break out of the Immobilize condition.

·         Reduced burst-skill recharge time.

·         Gain adrenaline when inflicting a critical hit with an axe skill.

·         Increased movement speed while wielding a melee weapon.

·         Reduced burst-skill adrenaline cost.

·         Chance to rally whenever killing an enemy while under the effects of Vengeance.

·         Improved critical chance for each full level of adrenaline.


As a player, the new trait system has made me think harder when building a character and has made me really excited every time I hit a level over 11.


For the first time, traits don’t feel like just a great theoretical idea. They feel like the system they were meant to be—one that makes my warrior mine. Do I put 30 points in Defense, 30 in Tactics, and 10 in Discipline, to maximize survivability and major traits? Maybe a less traditional build with 26 points in Strength, 26 in Mastery, and 18 in Discipline would work better for my play style. The choices are actually staggering at times, but don’t worry, you’ll have hundreds of hours to turn the knobs to your heart’s content.











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