Next week some changes to Guild Wars 2‘s underwater skills are going to be introduced. We don’t know anything about them yet, just that the skills and utilities are being enhanced in some way. I’ve not been given a preview of them so on the 8th I’ll be finding out about them right alongside you. But while people have always complained about underwater combat I don’t think the skills are the main issue. That’s not to say it isn’t an issue, it just isn’t the big one that makes underwater combat difficult to enjoy.
The main problem with underwater combat is distance. Underwater it is much harder to judge how far away an object, in this case, something you want to kill, is from you. This issue is even worse when you must be in melee range. How many times have you been underwater with your spear stabbing away at nothing because you aren’t in range and you only realize this after the attack starts?
Now maybe, one of the changes they make will make it so these skills don’t fire until you can actually hit your target. That would be nice! But, it would still lead to frustration unless there’s some sort of prompt. Yes, there is a tiny prompt under each skill but considering it took me about 3 years to learn about it I would not be surprised if there are veteran players since launch who still don’t know about it.
That still wouldn’t address the fundamental issue though, and having big red text pop up in the middle of the screen that screams “MOVE CLOSER” would just be ugly design.
I’m not going to tear apart possible solutions without offering a couple of suggestions of my own, which everyone is more than welcome to tear apart.
Since Guild Wars 2 launched I’ve longed for the ability to follow allies and foes. This was a popular feature in City of Heroes that made it very easy for you to make sure you’re in melee range or keeping up with the team while you AFK quickly. Simply select your target then hit whatever key is mapped to the follow command and you’re swimming towards your target.
This is an… ok solution to the problem. It’s great for any of those who have to be in close combat with the foe, but for those with longer range it does nothing but put them in danger. If there is a way to have follow put you exactly in the range you need to be in then it would work perfectly. But, that sounds incredibly complex. I’m not a game developer, despite my articles about designing MMORPGs, but to me, it seems like a lot of calculations would need to be made. It’s even worse when you’re on a character who can have two different underwater weapons with different ranges.
A much more practical solution is to have a range meter that updates as you move. This range meter would appear over/on the creature you’re fighting, put in a spot that you can swim directly to for combat. The very middle of the creature makes the most sense for this.
The only thing this really requires of players is to know what range they should be in for combat with the weapon they’re using. This shouldn’t be a big thing to ask of them as ideally, this is something everyone already has at least a rough idea of. This way they just have to correlate the number with the distance they’re seeing. These calculations are already being done as well but behind the scenes. So, in theory, as an armchair developer, it seems like this should be easy(ish) to do.
Despite the fact that I’ve always had a problem with underwater combat and I suspect that will continue I am excited about this update. I’m also excited about the possibilities it opens up.
Legendary Price Increase
The price of the underwater legendary weapons has always been laughably low. In fact, despite the incredibly low price of them, almost no one has them. They hold very little value. I could easily log in right now and buy them all without even blinking. But I haven’t before and I won’t now because it just isn’t worth it.
If this change goes well though and underwater combat suddenly is well liked…that might change things. The price of the legendary weapons will certainly go up. In fact, we’ve already seen a MASSIVE spike in the cost of the precursors. They are still relatively cheap compared to other precursors but it’s impossible to know if that will last. Especially if they’re bringing out new underwater encounters.
New Underwater Content
ArenaNet rarely goes back to fix things that have been broken for a long time if they don’t have something planned for it in the future. So, it isn’t completely unreasonable to assume that we’re about to get some underwater content in our future. Everyone, myself included is hoping that this means we’re going to meet Steve, aka Bubbles…the dragon who has been chilling out underwater this whole time. I have it on good authority he looks like this.
Finally, I’m hoping for a kickass underwater mount. A dolphin would be fun, so would a whale. It doesn’t really fit with how development has been going so far, so I’m not very confident that we’ll see this anytime soon. But, what we will have for sure is more reason to use our Skimmers who are severely underused at the moment.
It will be interesting to see what changes ArenaNet introduces next week and see how they change the direction the game is going. Right now I’m hopeful about the changes, but the concerns I have are still there. I do hope that underwater combat stops being the redheaded stepchild and we get new underwater content, including an underwater WvW map, which hardcore WvW players have been dreaming about for years now. Either way, we will find out more next week on May 8th.
The post The Tyrian Chronicle: Guild Wars 2 Underwater Combat Revamp appeared first on MMOGames.com.