Build-A-Hero: How the Specialization System Could Bring Your Ideas to Life

You may be thinking, “But Kent, each profession will only get one specialization in the new expansion!” and you would be right. The most important thing to take away from the new Specialization System’s arrival in Heart of Thorns is its potential beyond this first expansion. Specializations are meant to help fill the gaps in the profession system, that is, some professions simply fill certain combat roles better than others do. With the new system, specializations will help fill in those gaps in the soon-to-be-nine professions. Not only are they readily swappable with your core profession when not in combat, but they also have access to many of the same weapons and healing, utility, and elite skills. In an interview with PC Gamer, Game Director, Colin Johanson, shared that the Specialization system, in addition to a number of other new systems, is “laying a permanent groundwork for us that we can use to expand and build on in the future, and that’s a common theme with everything you’re going to find in this expansion.”

The implication of Colin’s quote is that this first round of specializations is just the beginning, which leaves us to dream about every possible class role or sub-profession imaginable, but for the sake of time, I’ll only dream up eight. These specialization concepts, minus the Druid, are all personal or shared ideas and opinions, and are not to be mistaken as fact. Mind that I am not a build- or theory-crafter, which means my descriptions will be very basic (or in some cases, complete lunacy).

At the very least, I'm sure they make great gardeners.

At the very least, I’m sure they make great gardeners.

Druid (Ranger Specialization)

Because the Druid is currently the only revealed specialization, I figured I would start my conversation with this Lord of the Forest. From what we know, when a ranger switches specialization, it gains access to a host of new skills, the staff weapon, and new profession mechanics. My guess is that the staff is a long-range weapon that lets a druid call forth plant life to attack its enemies. From one of the Heart of Thorns trailers, it appears that the Druid still has access to its pet. So how have pets changed? My hope is that they have greater autonomy, or maybe that the Druid could call out both pets at once to perform attack combinations together. There are so many kinds of pets; it’s a shame we can’t use them in concert.

Today, archery practice. Tomorrow, Mordremoth.

Today, archery practice. Tomorrow, Mordremoth.

“Rune Warden” (Guardian Specialization)

Now that I’m traveling into uncharted waters, one of the first ideas that a friend and I had was a guardian that would finally pick up some long-range AoE power (no, Smite, you don’t count). The guardian scepter is primarily single target; its Smite skill only covering a small radius as opposed to other symbols and consecration skills. Like the necromancer staff, the longbow would have a series of symbol skills that could be placed from far away, allowing the guardian to take up a multi-target ranged support and DPS role. Lastly, I feel like the guardian is in need of some new or reworked elites. The tome skills are powerful, but slow and often leave the user vulnerable to various interrupts and crowd control. They also remove access to utility skills, which if they didn’t, would make them a more appealing choice. Don’t think I forgot that Sanctuary used to be an elite. I’m still sore over that pre-beta change.

Mesmers sure have a thing for illusionary butterflies.

Mesmers sure have a thing for illusionary butterflies.

“Chronomancer” (Mesmer Specialization)

This one is a bit of fan favorite, especially for those privy to some of the details of the canceled Guild Wars: Utopia from the original series of games. The “Chronomancer” was meant to be a new profession, but was sadly stashed away before it could see light. Since Guild Wars 2’s release, the mesmer has made a claim to a number of space-time altering skills like Portal, Temporal Curtain, and the most famous, Time Warp, making it the natural successor to this dead profession’s skillset. The “Chronomancer” would likely gain access to the shield, as seen in the Heart of Thorns trailer. I also suspect that some of the mesmer’s new skills would provide more defensive AoE crowd control and other, more defensive moves. With the shield, it’s quite possible we would see the “Chronomancer” on the front lines more frequently than its mesmer counterpart.

“Gadgeteer” (Engineer Specialization)

Also included in the Heart of Thorns trailer was a segment that displayed an engineer wielding a hammer, surrounded by tiny helicopter gadgets. While the engineer is capable of filling all kinds of roles due to its sheer number of toolkits and gadgets, it lacks any real melee combat capacity. Engineers seen at close range are often using the bomb kit, flamethrower, or simply ducking in and out with dual pistols. I believe that the addition of the hammer would finally fill that role. As for the minicopters, they could be anything from a new skill to mobile turrets (a guy can dream, right?). The engineer can occasionally become a micromanaging nightmare, so with any luck, the “Gadgeteer” would streamline a little of the core profession’s chaotic nature, by providing more autonomous gadget pets.

“Spellbinder” (Elementalist Specialization)

With nothing to go on for the elementalist, it’s tricky to find a new role for profession with an already enormous skill pool. The elementalist is already made to fight at different combat ranges and, like the engineer, can fill the three main combat roles well enough. What remains in this instance, I believe, is to take the specialization in a fun new direction. Initially, I thought it would be cool if they could become “Aspect Masters” (I still do) and fight like the Zephyrites, but then I thought that might be something that could be used in the Mastery system in the future rather than a specific profession.

A friend suggested a specialization where the attunements, in addition to changing elements, would also now represent a change in combat style. For example, an elementalist wielding a sword in the Water Attunement would fight like a fencer, where an Air Attunement might take on characteristics of Japanese “kenjutsu.” The “Spellbinder” binds certain spells to their weapon so the magic attack is really an extension of the chosen weapon. This would apply to other weapons such as the dagger and staff. It would require a significant number of new skills and animations (and balancing… oh that sweet sweet balancing!), but it would look visually impressive, I have no doubt.


You get a greatsword! You get a greatsword! Everybody gets a greatsword!

“Reaver” (Necromancer Specialization)

There had been little doubt in my mind that the weapon given to the necromancer specialization would be the greatsword after Trahearne and Marjory Delaqua had both inherited the weapon. My hope is that the greatsword would provide the “Reaver” (I thought about “Reaper” too, I could go for either) with some multiple target, close to mid-range melee/projectile DPS. We already know the necromancer has some good survivability for a scholar class, so to push them into close combat feels only natural. It’s difficult to think of what other mechanic changes would be in store. Death Shroud has often proven to be a huge asset in terms of a necromancer’s survivability, as I mentioned earlier. Would Death Shroud be removed? Or would it stick around but with a new skill set? Your guess is as good as mine.

“Enforcer” (Thief Specialization)

I would be lying if I said the concept of a sharpshooting thief wasn’t my first specialization idea (I actually call it the “The Marksman” so that the name isn’t so rifle-centric), so I figured I’d think of something else. The “Enforcer” would be a bit sturdier than a thief. It could take a few more hits. It would also use “brass knuckles” or “hand-to-hand” weapons. Rather than using the Steal mechanic, the “Enforcer” would have a number (probably two or three) of combat stances. These stances would partially control the speed of initiative gained, the amount of damage dealt, and the amount of damage taken. I also considered that these stances could also increase the duration of certain buffs or conditions while in use. In the end, the idea would be to push the thief into becoming a true master of martial combat.

“The YOLO” (Joke Warrior Specialization)

Warriors, like engineers, have a lot of role diversity, and it is because of that diversity that I was unable to think of a specialization for the profession. Thanks to a guild friend, I was inspired. Why not take what the warrior excels at and multiply it times, oh what’s a good number? Ten billion? The “YOLO” warrior would not only receive the daggers as a weapon, but when its adrenaline is fully charged, it would enter its “YOLO” state. In this form, the “YOLO” would do several times the damage of a fully spec-ed Berzerker warrior, but, as a trade-off would have less health than a thief. In addition, when a “YOLO” dies, it would shout some obscenity and explode, doing major damage to nearby enemies. Glass cannon? More like Glass Death Star, am I right?

The first Revenant. I suppose our characters were always doomed to play second fiddle.

The first Revenant. I suppose our characters were always doomed to play second fiddle.

“Glory Grabber” (Joke Revenant Specialization)

Look. We know next to nothing about the Revenant class, so I thought: go bold or go home. The “Glory Grabbers” mechanics and elite skill all revolve around picking up the slack of your lazy teammates and claiming their rewards for yourself. That’s right, their experience, their karma, their gold, and their loot. You might be thinking, “That’s ridiculous!” and you’d be very right! It is ridiculous for talented players to have to carry their groups without getting an extra reward. So here’s how it works. The “Glory Grabber” would get access to only one skill, but it’s an elite skill called “Burdened was Kormir.” While gifted with Kormir’s unique abilities, you would be perma-blinded, but invulnerable. In addition, while in this form, all the loot drops, chests, and other rewards that your teammates receive would be transferred straight to your own inventory. Amazing, no? Sure, you wouldn’t make too many friends, but think of the riches! Not a bad idea, right? Right? *crickets*

While my ideas lack the level of detail (and seriousness) that goes into profession and specialization design, I’m even more interested in any ideas that you all have. They can be fleshed out or just passing thoughts and concepts that may have wandered into your imagination (especially funny ones). Dare to dream in the comments below.

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