Guild Wars 2 Build and Equipment Templates Press Preview

Last week I got an early peek at the new Build and Equipment Templates that are now available in Guild Wars 2. If you’re looking for a quick and dirty opinion from someone who has been playing since launch and has 30 characters at level 80…well..it’s not that simple. I have some mixed feelings on them but, to put it simply, I don’t think they’re for everyone. Keep reading if you’d like to know more.

 

How They Work

By now you’ve likely seen a build swap in action thanks to the video ArenaNet released on their social media accounts. With the click of 4 buttons, you can completely swap out everything. It really is that simple if you’ve done the work ahead of time. These builds allow you to have completely different armor, different stats, different everything. And, if you set up your key bindings swapping is actually as simple as pushing two buttons. The pictures throughout this article show the whole thing in action.

Your build templates can be shared in chat and become a clickable link you can inspect. So expect chat to be filled with build links when you log in. If you see a build you like you can save and you’ll be able to access it account-wide. It’s like having Meta Battle at your fingertips.

Your build template and your equipment template are two separate things that have to be changed independently of each other. Or you can keep one the same, though I’m not sure why you would when you can do so much more.

 

Templates for the Average Player

One of the big things that we’ve seen a lot of in the community since the details of the templates were announced was that it wouldn’t be enough. Some people are saying they have 25 builds for every character they have and that is something I just do not understand. For most of my 30 characters, I have 1 maybe 2 builds. I dabble a bit in WvW but mostly I’m a PvE player who avoids raids. It seems that these people are a very vocal minority. But they aren’t totally SOL either. If you have more builds than you can store then simply keep a notepad on your desktop with the codes for your other builds. Yes, you’ll still have to swap out your equipment manually but it’s not like they’re taking that away from you. That’s just continuing with the way things have always been.

For the average player, there are more than enough slots. Without a doubt, the biggest benefit most players will get is the ability to use both elite specs on the same character with ease. In fact, I made my 30th character last night just to do that very thing. Anyone who uses different builds for WvW, PvP, Fractals, or Raids will also find them handy. It makes me wish we had these back when Magic Find armor was still around.

As someone who mains an Elementalist who is played exclusively with an Engineer I’m excited about this function because it finally gives us the ability to weapon swap. Though with 30 characters my version of weapon swapping is changing characters and that is by design. For others, though this gives those two classes more versatility. Equally, Revenants will finally be able to use all of the stances on one character.

One thing I’m glad they didn’t do is make Equipment Templates sharable. This would create a toxic situation where people would demand to see what equipment you’re in before they start a fractal with you and other situations like that. Though that can be faked as easily as a faked build template that isn’t a direction I want to see the Guild Wars 2 community go in.

For most people, I don’t think templates will change the way they play unless they go out of their way to change their characters. Which is very possible. Until the idea of using both elites on the same character came to mind I honestly didn’t see any benefit for myself beyond having alternatives for my WvW Elementalist. Even then, because I have so many characters I really don’t think I will ever use them very much except to swap looks. Which is something I’ll talk about more below.

 

How They Can Be Expanded in The Future

As a roleplayer, the biggest omission from these new templates is a wardrobe template. This is Fashion Wars is it not? You give me those and I promise you I will pay for more. I’m the sort of person who has bags of armor just to swap looks. Now, I know this isn’t for everyone, but neither are build templates.

Another way they could be expanded in the future is the ability to link an equipment template and a build template together so that you just push one button and it swaps both at the same time. It’s just one little step further that would be a big quality of life improvement.

In the end, I don’t think build templates are going to be that big of a deal, except maybe on the sale of character slots. For most people, the number of template slots that you start with will be more than enough. For others…I still question why you have so many builds…but it isn’t a total loss either. It may not be exactly what you hoped for but nothing is being taken away and it will make things a little bit easier for you. If nothing else it will free up a bit of bag space. These are just my opinions though, and I know that my experience in the game is not the same as anyone else’s. Your views may be completely different. But before you make any final decision on templates give them a try and let the dust settle. Also, keep in mind that not everything has to be for everyone and maybe this just isn’t for you. Build and Equipment Templates are available in-game right now if you want to give them a try all you have to do is log in.

 

 

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Pokemon Let’s Go: Hands On At EGLX!

The Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo opened its doors once more in Toronto, Canada last weekend and with it Nintendo of Canada booted up its consoles for eager players looking to get hands on with their upcoming major releases. Ahead of its launch on November 16th, I got an opportunity at EGLX to get hands on with Pokemon Let’s Go: Pikachu, one of two versions of the upcoming Nintendo Switch game. While it’s sister-game, Let’s Go Eevee, features the titular evolutionary fox, Let’s Go Pikachu prominently features the series defacto mascot as the player’s companion in their journey through familiar fields.

Returning to the Kanto region, Pokemon Let’s Go will feature a similar journey to the one found in the original duology of games, Red and Blue. In my hands-on time with the demo, players were restricted to the Viridian Forest, one of the game’s first gauntlets prior to the major Gym circuit. While the layout and skeleton did feel the same, Viridian has long since seen not just a graphical face lift, but a smoother transition into a wide field of Pokemon diversity. In my brief playtime I encountered not only the familiar Caterpie and Weedle enemies, but also found Rattata, Nidoran and Jigglypuff sprinkled throughout the area.

These Pokemon practically leap off of the screen with the Swtich’s small yet powerful hardware. As with most games I’ve played before on the system, no matter how bright the background or powerful the color palette, each Pokemon I encountered took center stage as they darted through the wild underbrush. That’s right, wild Pokemon are now present on the overworld in lieu of Final Fantasy Mystic Quest’s visible enemy encounters, allowing you to target specific pocket monsters or avoid ones you’d rather not face. That’s not to say that they’re simply passive creatures; if necessary they will engage and charge you if you’re not careful. Fighting the wilderness and trainers simply doesn’t feel as exhausting as it has in past entries.

Pokemon Let's Go

Here I found is where the direction that Nintendo has taken the franchise has met seamlessly with the traditional pacing of what Game Freak has laid before. The Battle System will be instantly familiar to veterans of the franchise, featuring the same 4-move turn-based combat the series is known for. New moves have been injected, however, as alongside Thunder Shock, Tail Whip and Growl my Pika-partner took flight with balloons and dive-bombed its enemy with gusto. It’s impossibly difficult to utterly revamp such a celebrated and fundamental game mechanic, so instead Let’s Go has taken a distinctly different route in invigorating the series.

Unlike past iterations, PLG has taken queues from Niantic’s hit mobile release, Pokemon Go, and has dynamically changed encountering and capturing Wild Pokemon. Whereas installments have repeated the Trainer Battle System players are familiar with, Pokemon Let’s Go instead pits you against Wild Pokemon alone with nothing but a Poke Ball and your sharp reflexes. Capturing Pokemon now requires you to track their movement across the screen and time your movements to avoid their deflecting techniques. Timing your throws with the shrinking targeting reticle will also increase the efficacy of your capture; the smaller the circle, the greater chance your wild target will stay in that little ball.

Capturing Pokemon has also been gamified to a greater extent than it has in the past. Much like Pokemon Go, capturing repeated species of the same creature rewards a multi-capture bonus. Wild Pokemon now also come in a variety of sizes, visually alerting you if one is smaller or much larger than average. Noticing these at the booth, I inquired with the Nintendo staff if these had any particular importance, but I was told that these were purely cosmetic and did not directly affect statistics or gameplay. To quote the attendant at the Nintendo Booth, “Some people just like to have a large Rattata!”

Pokemon Let’s Go

The biggest addition to the Let’s Go line is of course your companion Pokemon. Displaying and promoting the bond between critter and Trainer is the focus of these games, making their intent known every step of the way. Returning from it’s celebrated inclusion in HeartGold and SoulSilver, Pokemon will now follow you in the overworld. While the titular duo will ride on your avatar’s shoulders, other Poke-members of your party can follow behind your character as you adventure throughout the world. While only the basic Kanto starter Pokemon were available to demo in such a regard, the present Nintendo Employees did confirm that every Pocket Monster will be available to follow your character on your journey.

Customization and interaction has also been reinforced with distinct importance. You can, at any time, play with your Pikachu! During my demo time I got up close and personal with my shocking murine in the interaction system originally released with Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. Picking up Razz Berries and other items found throughout the world, Pikachu and Eevee can be fed and played with, responding to player interactions and feedback intelligently. In scratching Pikachu I discovered he loved head pats and ear-scritches, but nose boops were enough to threaten me with an electric shock.

In my demo my little partner was wearing a costume very similar to my trainer avatar, sporting a smart baseball cap and jacket. Across from me a young couple playing their game remarked and gushed over a similar outfit that their Eevee was dolled up in and the group of us appreciated these light touches. In talking to my Nintendo Rep she eagerly confirmed that this was a feature of the game, and that more costumes could be unlocked as players delved deeper and deeper into Kanto. Part of the charm, she remarked, was that Nintendo wanted characters to develop a special bond with their chosen partner as the game progressed. Costuming is intended to be wide and dynamic, letting players dress up their partner however they wish, whenever they wish.

Pokemon Let’s Go

As a long time player of the franchise, there was one question on my mind throughout. My first venture in the series was Pokemon Yellow, a special expanded edition of the original releases that saw Pikachu as your starter Pokemon whom followed you in a manner similar to that of Pokemon Let’s Go. However, much to my chagrin even in my adult years, Pikachu could never be evolved meaning that you either had a constantly underpowered member of your team or your companion was banished to Bill’s PC forever. I did ask if Pikachu and Eevee could evolve in Pokemon Let’s Go, but my representative simply didn’t have an answer for me. At the first opportunity we both jumped on the Booth Manager who deflected the question initially, but later admitted it was an answer he didn’t have either.

Controlling the game admittedly felt incredibly satisfying. While demoing Pokemon Let’s Go, the Nintendo booth was equipped with the Poke Ball Plus controllers, a three buttoned motion controller included with the deluxe edition of the games. Movement and menu selection was controlled with the central depressable control stick, while a button was located on the top red section of the ball to act as a cancel button. Controlling the game in this manner felt like a leap from the anime into reality, even with the twitchy weightlessness the control stick possessed. Motion controls felt just as responsive, either slinging Poke Balls with a flick of the wrist or hurling them with a hat-backwards-Ash-Ketchum-toss. Both were exceptionally responsive in the capturing segments, and the Plus controller possesses just enough to work for Trainer Combat.

Let’s Go plays just as well with a standard Switch Joy-Con, fully capable of the same motion controls and still feeling as solid in your hand as the Plus. I did ask about portability during my time, wondering how players were expected to go about this when the Switch was undocked. My representative confirmed for me that motion controls were indeed optional, even when docked, allowing players to be as interactive with the game as they want.

I also asked what the depth of the game was: would the Kanto region be the only realm to explore with our new partners? While my representative did confirm that Kanto was the main focus, I received multiple contradictory answers on if it was the only limit to the game. Despite being told that Kanto was all that was intended to be included, she later recanted and said that future expansions were possible depending on sales figures for the sister games.

Pokemon Let’s Go

With time under my belt, I’m fully confident that Pokemon Let’s Go will be a wonderful addition to an already incredibly strong franchise. Everything completely flows together to fulfill the ideal Trainer fantasy, from the bond of your partner to the feeling of encountering Pokemon in the wild. It injects just enough life to make the slog that is the Viridian Forest a welcome place to return to and re-experience on brand new hardware. I for one am deeply anticipating the rest of the game, to live in the Pokemon World with a better appreciated player fantasy. For now, I wait with bated breath for its release on November 16th.

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