The Tyrian Chronicle: Guild Wars 2 Underwater Combat Revamp

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.

Guild Wars 2 Underwater Combat Revamp

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.


Range Meter

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.

Guild Wars 2 - Shashoo changes to Guild Wars 2's underwater skills

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.

changes to Guild Wars 2's underwater skills

Underwater Mounts

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.

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Update 17 Looks to Bring Tactics to ESO’s Combat

Combat is the sauce of the Elder Scrolls Online chili, but it could do with a bit more spice. Or at least more cohesive flavor. Update 17 combat changes coming with the release of the Dragon Bones DLC will look to do just that with changes intended to improve teamwork, spacing, and the effectiveness and cost of blocking.

update 17 combat changes

One of the first targets of Update 17’s combat revamp will revolve around Ability Synergies. Abilities that have Synergy will now offer a clear visual indicator. This indicator will also communicate the ability’s cooldown time, and abilities that synergize will fire off immediately upon activation.

Spacing is also going to become more important as the damage cap for AoE abilities will be removed. The intention of this change is to prevent large groups from stacking up and forcing them to consider different tactics in large-scale combat while also granting smaller groups a chance to succeed with strategic placement of their own AoE attacks.

In the interest of consistency, blocking attacks will see some adjustment; base Stamina cost of blocking will be lowered while the effectiveness of Block Cost enhancements will be reduced.

Ability interrupts will also apply differently in PvP, with cast-time abilities now showing opponents a red telegraph indicating a chance to interrupt the first cast. However, the next cast of that same ability will be unstoppable. Cast-time abilities will also be seeing a reduction in the movement speed penalty.

Finally, heavy attacks will see some changes – particularly in regards to bosses in the game – as the Off-Balance debuff will no longer be removed once a heavy attack lands. Heavy attacks will also get the same reduced speed penalty that cast-time attacks do and will increase the amount of resources earned from landing on an Off-Balance enemy. That said, bosses will be immune to being Off-Balance for a period of time afterwards.

Our Thoughts

A lot of these adjustments sound reasonable on paper. We particularly like the ideas behind improving Ability Synergy and heavy attacks, but we also figure that people will have…feelings…about the PvP interrupt mechanics and the way block-centric builds work.

Source: official site

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