Guild Wars 2 uses a heavily modified version of the proprietary game engine developed for Guild Wars by ArenaNet. The modifications to the engine include real-time 3D environments, enhanced graphics and animations and the use of the Havok physics system. The developers say the engine now does justice to the game’s critically acclaimed concept art, and that concept art will be integrated into the way the story is told to the player.
Guild Wars 2 will allow a player to create a character from a combination of five races and eight professions, the five races being the humans and charr, introduced in Prophecies, the asura and norn, introduced in Eye of the North, and the sylvari, a race exclusive to guild wars 2 gold. The professions, three of which do not appear in Guild Wars, are divided into armor classes: “scholars” with light armor, “adventurers” with medium armor, and “soldiers” with heavy armor. There is no dedicated healing class as the developers felt that making it necessary for every party to have a healer was restrictive.
The race and profession of the player will determine the skills they can access. Guild Wars 2, like Guild Wars, uses a skill-based combat system, whereby players must select only 10 skills from a much larger pool, introducing an element of strategy. However, unlike Guild Wars, skill slots have predefined roles: the first five are determined by player’s weapon and profession, the sixth is for healing, the seventh through ninth will be skills with no defined roles that are unlocked as the game progresses, and the tenth slot will be for an “elite” skill, which is also initially locked. In a departure from the high number of skills present in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2 will focus on quality of skills over quantity and will also reduce the overall number of game modes to reduce balancing complexity — one of the most common issues present in MMORPGs.
The low level cap of Guild Wars has been replaced with one at 80, which the developers state strikes the correct balance between allowing for character development and avoiding forcing players into the grind-based gameplay that too often accompanies a high level cap, the elimination of which was a core design principle of the original Guild Wars. Player versus environment features a scaling system that lowers the players level and stats to reflect the levels of monsters, thereby maintaining a global level of difficulty. In player versus player, entry to e-sport will grant access to all skills, items and provide a fixed level,] so that all players will be on a level playing field.
In addition to the small-scale, tactical combat described above, the game features “World versus World”, large scale combat taking place in a persistent world independent of the main world. Players are able to drop in and out “on the fly” and possess the ability to construct siege weapons, with rewards commensurate with their success. Guild Wars 2 offers eight crafting disciplines, allowing the player to practice two at a time, with a fee for switching. While there are basic recipes to follow, the player can experiment with different combinations of ingredients to discover new recipes.As the game is set 250 years after its predecessor, players are unable to carry over their characters. However, the achievements and honors accumulated by all the characters on players’ Guild Wars accounts. Each achievement earns points which allow confer certain bonuses in Guild Wars 2. The accounts of both games must be linked in order to acquire these bonuses.