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GW2 Specializations Part Two: Reward Tracks and Elite Specializations

Part two of the Specializations blog touches on trait/skills unlocking and elite specializations.

In addition to our blog on specializations, we’re excited to be able to share with you how we’ll be handling trait and skill unlocks in Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns™. You’ll also learn how you can gain access to elite specializations, which will turn your profession into something truly new!

Profession Reward Tracks


Skill and trait unlocking is transitioning into a new system. Profession reward tracks are packages of skills, traits, specializations, and items that will make up the new unlock system. Rather than completing specific content for specific unlocks, everything will be unlocked by spending Hero Points on these new reward tracks.

Hero Points will be limited, and they’ll be earned strictly through what are currently called skill challenges (these will become known as hero challenges) and leveling up. A level 80 character that’s done none of the hero challenges should be able to unlock more than enough skills, specializations, and traits to make several unique full builds. A single character who’s done a fair amount of the hero challenges should be able to unlock all of the core specializations, skills, and traits. PvP players won’t have to worry about unlocking anything, as all skills and traits will be automatically unlocked upon entering the Heart of the Mists.

Old skill points in excess of those earned by leveling and skill challenges will be converted into crafting materials for the Mystic Forge. Items and activities that were previously repeatable sources of skill points will now also provide that same crafting material.
There will be three categories of profession reward tracks, covering core specializations, core skills, and elite specializations.

Core Specialization Reward Tracks

These will unlock the specialization itself and all of its minor and major traits. There will be one for each core specialization for a total of five per profession. For example, an elementalist’s Water Magic reward track will unlock the following:

  • Soothing Mist (adept minor)
  • Healing Ripple (master minor trait)
  • Aquatic Benevolence (grandmaster minor trait)
  • Soothing Ice (adept major)
  • Piercing Shards (adept major)
  • Stop, Drop, and Roll (adept major)
  • Soothing Disruption (master major trait)
  • Cleansing Wave (master major trait)
  • Aquamancer’s Training (master major trait)
  • Cleansing Water (grandmaster major trait)
  • Powerful Aura (grandmaster major trait)
  • Bountiful Power (grandmaster major trait)

    As with all things currently in development, there may be differences between the updates I’m showing here and the traits that make it to the live game.

    Core Skill Reward Tracks

    These will unlock all skills within a skill category. For example, a warrior signet track will unlock Healing Signet, Signet of Might, Signet of Fury, Signet of Stamina, Dolyak Signet, and Signet of Rage.

    Elite Specializations

    Finally, we’re here. When we talked about rangers becoming druids and necromancers with greatswords, those were examples of what we call elite specializations. These are the brand-new level-80 specializations that will begin to introduce new weapons, mechanics, skills, and traits to existing professions in Heart of Thorns.


    New Weapons

    Elite specializations will always introduce a single new weapon type for your character. The ranger’s druid specialization will allow the ranger access to the staff weapon, while some other lucky profession will finally get access to a hammer. This means players of every profession will have a new moment-to-moment combat style to master. Some professions will be getting a single main-hand or off-hand weapon, but each weapon should really open up some new playstyles for a given profession. In order to equip this new weapon, you’ll have to both unlock and equip the appropriate elite specialization.

    New Skills

    Almost every elite specialization will gain access to a complete set of new skills: a single heal, four utility skills, and one elite skill. Revenants will gain a healing skill, an elite skill, and a set of utilities of the same type. One specialization will have access to traps, while at least one profession’s elite specialization will be a full set of six shouts. In order to equip any of these new skills, you’ll have to train and equip the corresponding elite specialization. We’ll also be reusing old types of skills like shouts and traps to create more synergy with the Rune system.

    New Mechanics

    But wait, there’s more! We’re also making some core changes to each profession that are dependent on the elite specialization equipped. Have you ever wanted a different way to take advantage of all that life force? How about a new way to shatter illusions? These are some of the changes you can expect to see for your favorite profession.

    New Traits

    Last but not least, elite specializations will come with a full new set of traits, similar to what a core specialization provides. Equipping an elite specialization takes up one of your three specialization slots and grants you three minor traits and nine major traits for use. How does a trait that removes a condition every time you evade an attack sound? I’m personally excited about a grandmaster trait that has the power to grant my character a defiance bar!

    Will There Be More?

    When Heart of Thorns goes live, each profession will receive one elite specialization to supplement its five core specializations. We like to describe builds using the new system in two ways:

    1. I am a(n) {profession name} specializing in {Spec #1}, {Spec #2}, and {Spec #3}. i.e., I am a ranger specializing in Marksmanship, Wilderness Survival, and Beastmastery.
    2. I am a(n) {elite spec} specializing in {Spec #2}, and {Spec #3}. i.e., I am a druid specializing in Nature Magic and Skirmishing.

    For now, characters will only be able to equip a single elite specialization. Doing so will be as easy as it currently is to swap trait points; simply exit combat and select your new elite specialization, or do it in Heart of the Mists for PvP. We made this system to build upon it, so let the speculation about future specializations begin before we’ve even revealed the first full set!

    Elite Specialization Reward Tracks

    Finally, these reward tracks unlock everything for an elite specialization: weapon, unique mechanics, skills, and traits. They’ll also reward items, including new runes and sigils, a fancy weapon skin for your new weapon type, and an armor skin for a single matching piece of armor (usually headgear or shoulders). As long as you’ve purchased Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, you’ll automatically unlock access to all elite specializations in PvP.

    It’s a Wrap!

    That’s reward tracks and elite specializations in a nutshell. We’ll look forward to giving you a chance to ask any questions in a live Q&A session, which will be hosted on our Twitch channelthis Friday, April 24, starting at noon Pacific Time (UTC-7). We’ll gather your questions on our forums ahead of the session, and we’ll see you there!

By Dulfy

MMO guide writer and blogger. Currently playing and covering SWTOR, GW2, and TSW.

71 replies on “GW2 Specializations Part Two: Reward Tracks and Elite Specializations”

Nice how they evaded mentioning level 80 characters with full map completion when talking about earning Hero Points from the previous skill challenges…

Actually it seems that it will be grandfather’d in.. like how when they changed the value of achievements, people suddenly gained more than they had previously. likely any map completed 80 will immediately have the maximum number of hero points, and be able to purchase absolutely everything. if they cant, then it’s definitely a problem, and stupid.

Very stupid. Have a dozen characters, most with world map completions. Spending hours running around to do these skill challenges again is not going to happen.

And at odds with what they’re doing with mastery points as they’ve explicitly said they were going to be grandfathered in

there might be more hero points hidden in the HoT areas, so there might be a chance that you would need to get some more points there to unlock everything, as the vanilla points should cover enough points for everything BUT the specialisation. i just wanted to mention this as noone seems to have thought of this.

but yeah, with 80 and vanilla map completion you still should be on the save side.

Actually it is not really a problem for me. I have only 2 lvl 80s with full map completion and 16 other characters in various states ranging from level 10 to level 80 and I really like running around the maps pointlessly and doing map completion stuff. So as long as I can unlock them on any character I’ll be totally fine 🙂

They’ve said previously that they’d rather make sure all the content is good and working, than give a release date and have a chance of not having it ready in time

“How does a trait that removes a condition every time you evade an attack sound?”
It’s exactly what I need to replace Shadow’s Embrace so I can forget about stealth. :<

I reckon that Scrolls of Knowledge will be turned into crafting materials automatically. Currently got over 900 stockpiled (for no reason). I would like to know what this change means for Bloodstone Shards and Augur’s Stones as well.

I still find it weird that some elite specializations get a two-hander while another pressumable only gets an offhand.

That’s not what I meant. I mean that it sounds like instead of being able to pair a weapon and its associated skills with any of your three specializations, you have to commit one of your specializations to being able to equip the new weapon for your class. I guess it makes sense if the new weapon is intrinsically tied to the “advanced class” specialization, but I’d prefer it if you could (for example) choose to be a ranger/druid without being required to use a staff.

My understanding was that if you want to use a staff you have to be a druid, but that a druid does not necessarily have to use a staff. That being said, I’m sure that the specialization will have benefits to using a staff that would make using a different weapon ineffective. I just hope that the elite specialization will not be so superior to the other specializations that all rangers become druids (and so on with the other professions).

Even reading this a few times over… I’m still quite confuse with the intentions. Right now, it looks to me that they are rewriting the whole trait and build systems… with possible way of saving templates? I am also a little worried about the use of excess skill points being made into craft material? Did I understand that right? I think I currently have around 800ish skill points on my main after just recently crafting ascended gear…

I too fear loosing my hundreds of skill points for some thick leather.
Precursor collections don’t go to the legend stage right? Wont we still need them?

It says they’re converted to mystic forge materials, so presumably Eldritch scrolls et all. the stuff Myani currently sells, but by the sounds of this will now be harvestable in the world.

Now the question remains… how difficult will it be to harvest these things? Already a pain in the arse to farm lodestones already…

Not too mention it was more convenient the mystic forge items were by the npc and not piling up in my bank, taking away space. Unless they plan to expand the material storage and have those items in there?

From comments I’ve seen one the streams may have indicates that the skill point scrolls will still exist, just instead on giving skillpoints they’ll give you some form of currency, which for arguments sake(and because it’s funny) we will call “sexual favours”. Basically scrolls give you “sexual favours” and then when you want a forge materials, you go to Myani and give her sufficient “sexual favours” to get what you want.

Well more than likely skill points will be autoconverted into stuff you already
buy for skill points, like crystals or philosopher stones, which would
totally blow. How about instead some black lion keys or gold? =)

For those who need a TL,DR:

An A4 page of bullshit with 0 concrete information about anything new, just a billionth time rehashing of the old skill system which nobody cared much about a year ago, even less so now.

Err, no. This is a pretty big deal, I mean yes it doesn’t tell us how our actual traits will be affected but this is a major change to how traits work, much bigger than the last one

I’m also leaving. And so are many other people. So you can act like a smug little arenanet drone who wants to drink the koolaid all you want, but it’s going to be pretty lonely for you.

Not acting smug, just saying. They are not gonna give two shits whether or not a person who hasn’t played in a year is going to pick the game up again. Just like I’m sure they don’t care about me not logging in a year and a half (still haven’t). I’m not going against the person either, it’s their business on why they’re not playing the game, just like it’s your reason to quite. Now I will admit, I did word my comment completely off of what I mean’t (which is the first thing I said here), and I should of worded it better.

People throw around “smug” a lot in this community, and as far as I can tell it means “nobody gives a crap that I’m/we’re throwing a fit and leaving, so I’m going to get defensive and accuse you of being a shill because you’re not likewise throwing a fit.”

I don’t like the changes either, and I’m annoyed about them; but what I really can’t stand is people who act like the rest of us are supposed to celebrate/mourn/panic about their appearance in or disappearance from a fricking video game. Get over yourself.

In the screenshot above the first five are core specialization tracks while the second five are core skill reward tracks. Presumably the last one is the elite, which implies that the elementalist equivalent of the ranger’s druid will be called Tempest.

1. Skill points and trait challanges are gona be shipped out. The new resource for profession progression will be trivial to acquire.
2. They are switching trait lines to a slot system. You will only be able to use 3 at a time, only two of the old ones if you want a elite specialization like Druid. If you use more then two trait lines in your current build (which accounts for 100% of lv80 peoples), consider your current build dead.
3. Elementalist elite spec is going to be called ‘Tempest’

Not sure if trolling, or serious.
Doesn’t matter, not buying either way.

also forgot earlier, they’re also throwing out half of the existing minor traits. There will only be 9 major traits of each line to choose from after HoT, 3 2 point traits, 3 6 point traits, 3 9 point traits. For each line. All others, gone.

Perhaps you should have taken the time to read everything. Some major traits will be merged and others will become base functionality. And yes trait builds will be quite different compared to now. You lose some, you gain some.

What annoys about this is that it looks like I’ll have to invest in a whole track just to get Signet of rage, when it and Signet of healing are the only two skills in the group I want

What, are you fucking telling me, that my character, that has ALL OF THIS SHIT unlocked already, is going to have half of it LOCKED again and I have to go to stupid fucking “hero challenges” to get it back??????

Probably not, if you’re level 80 and have done most of the skill challenges already they should give you credit. At worst you’ll have to go through click through all the trees again. Anet judgement may seem less than sound…most of the time actually…but not even they are that insane. Gibbering starspawn from the cthonic depths wouldn’t do that.
If the mastery point are going to retroactive I’m pretty sure hero points will be too.

You will have mroe then enough points to unlock everything needed for your previous build, and then some, if you’re lv80. but i get ur point. This is borderline unacceptable.

What I’m also worried about is where do racial skills fit in here? I actually use some of them so if they disappear I will not be pleased. Also this seems at odds with how the Revenant is supposed to work.

Chances are Racial skills will be altered by legends as well. Engineer has toolbelt skills for every non elite racial skill, but who knows?

I’m kinda exited of this and the trait changes. Because if this works, It will give new debt to the game, and these all together might give me solutions how to fix builds of some of the characters I got and which have been problematic for me. Of course, there is room for this thing failing, buuuut I’ll keep a open mind. I too are interested how we buy skillpoint stuff from Miyani from this day onward, as I didn’t find it addressed directly or then my english just fails me and I missed it.

If this makes my engi’s explosives as bigger fireworks show than they already are, I’ll be one happy bunny. And if it doesn’t, maybe there is some other cool things that will make up the loss of my dreams. :DDD

Those points are just used to unlock them, you still have to set them separately, and that will be reversible.
You should get enough to unlock everything

“Hero Points will be limited, and they’ll be earned strictly through what
are currently called skill challenges (these will become known as hero
challenges) and leveling up. A level 80 character that’s done none of
the hero challenges should be able to unlock more than enough skills,
specializations, and traits to make several unique full builds.”

They make it sound like you won’t be able to unlock everything. They make it sound like you will be able to unlock “enough”. That’s why i asked.

You won’t able to unlock everything if you don’t do the hero challenges(the skill point challenges of the current game), however in the very next sentence it states you’ll be able to unlock everything even if you don’t do all the challenges.

It’s not really. 😛 It just says that if you ONLY have hero points via levelling 1-80 and done NO Hero Challenges, you’ll have “enough” to make a couple of builds; whereas if you’ve levelled 1-80 and have done a “fair amount” of the Hero Challenges you will be able to unlock everything. As in, you don’t *have* to do any hero challenges to make a full build, but for choice and flexibility you will need to at least do some of the hero challenges… and that you won’t need to do ALL the hero challenges to unlock everything.

sure not “everything”, you cannot have enough points to be tank and zerk at the same time.
may be should say your maxium point limit.

As i understand by doing all the skill challenges and become lvl 80 you will give you hero points to unlock everything, however this is not clearly stated.
Probably current players will be given an amount of hero points based on what they achieved when this goes live, so no you don’t have to do anything to unlock it rather than just press unlock button, cause you will already have hero points

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I vary much dislike how this is forcing us to pick and choose our trait lines. All the build types i currently use require deep (15+) investment into 3 or 4 trait lines, but from what i see it will eventually be a unspoken necessary to sacrifice one of those precious slots to take a elite specialization. Take my elementalist, in all of my time playing my favorite profession, i have never once made a build without 10 arcana for final shielding. So now i’m penned into arcana, tempest and one of fire magic OR earth magic OR water magic OR air magic… x.x

I have unlocked all traits already, some I have paid gold for. It would be very disapointing to find that I have access to less than I currently do on relese of the expansion. While I understand that Anet want people to play it is not acceptable to take away what you have already earned IMO and if I find that Anet have done this I for one shall consider finding another game. I have more than one char and I see no reason to repeat skill challenges simply so Anet can make me play more – this will drive people away as much as it will encorage people to play unless you get to keep what you have already earned.

i dont think theyre gonna make you repeat it. when they implemented skill challenges, my lvl80 characters already had most stuff unlocked, the only locked ones being the new traits they added with that system.
so im sure the skills you already have will remain unlocked.

have you ever played pvp? they have reward tracks in there already. this is basically the same thing, but with new skills and abilities instead of loot.

they are changing a lot of shit, and its awesome. most game devs are scared to do anything radical, lest they incur the wrath of their hardcore fans. but i think arenanet is doing a good job with it.

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New weapons! New skills! New mechanics! New traits! -they say. they type.

yet all I see is

More weapons! More skills! More mechanics! More traits!

They’re just changing things. It’s change but it’s revamping the old. It’s not new. This doesn’t look like anything new to me. It just looks more of the same old stuff with a different mask on it.

I want new stuff, I don’t want old re-wrapped stuff…

Sooo…how do you unlock elite specializations for non-pvp content? Article did not clarify this.

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