Tyria Talking: The future of Underwater Combat

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“Tyria Talking” is our new column here at Dragon Season where we will pick up an interesting topic that has been talked about among the Guild Wars 2 community recently and link you to all the interesting posts.

The first topic is underwater combat and its seemingly uncertain future which I saw written about by our friends over at Guildnews.

Since not everybody knows German, I will give a short summary of what this post contains: Epi starts by looking back at the teaser trailer from 2009 and the underwater scenes shown there. In hindsight, he says that underwater combat was fine after release with exploring underwater caves and having some variety between land and underwater combat. Over the years, however, satisfaction with underwater combat has dropped. This is partly due to players not being able to orientate themselves that well when underwater (because of the 3D nature of the environment) as opposed to only fighting on land. At the same time, he says, it is well known that ArenaNet is not too satisfied with underwater combat either, as can be seen by them taking it out of sPvP and no underwater weapon skins being released with the black lion weapon skin sets. Epi ends his article stating that we will likely not see a focus on underwater combat with Heart of Thorns as we will be in the jungle with this expansion. But he also reminds us of the unnamed Elder Dragon residing under water and he hopes that ArenaNet won’t drop this feature, but will instead expand on it with the specialization system in the future.

If you ask me, the question whether underwater combat will be expanded or forgotten about (until we get to the appropriate Elder Dragon) is a very interesting one. I looked around and saw that Epi isn’t the only one wondering about the future significance of underwater combat and where it could be on the developers’ list of priorities. The topic has come up in the official forums and on Reddit as well. Aidan Eigththrain asks whether underwater combat will be “a thing again” in PvE, PvP and WvW. The answers there are pretty similar to what Epi wrote: It does not seem to be a priority now, but it may be the focus again when we get to the Deep Sea dragon and that it needs to be reworked to make it more “strategic” and interesting.

The topic about underwater combat on Reddit is a bit older already, having been posted almost a month ago. There is a bit more controversial debate going on with some players not liking underwater combat at all. The result seems to have been the same: Underwater combat needs some love to get it on par with the regular combat on land. Legendary underwater weapons seem a bit pointless. But there definitely is interest in underwater combat from some players.

Last but not least, underwater combat questions related to Heart of Thorns content are emerging as well. Dr_Celestia wonders if there will be elite specs for underwater combat – or which skills the Revenant will have for underwater combat. So far, we have not heard anything about those skills, so we can all just guess. Once again, the Deep Sea dragon is mentioned. And we also don’t know yet if the Reaper shroud will work underwater. We don’t know about this either yet, as ArenaNet hasn’t told us anything about underwater combat in Heart of Thorns.

ArenaNet has unfortunately been rather quiet about this topic in general, not only related to HoT. I guess this does mean that it’s not high on their list of priorities for features to work on currently. But I do hope that it will not just be forgotten, or worse, taken out of the game. I guess with new legendary weapons arriving in Heart of Thorns, we will be able to predict which route ArenaNet goes: If there are no new legendary underwater weapons, then this feature has certainly lost its importance to them.

Looking at the various posts about underwater combat, it is pretty clear that there is a certain amount of interest for this type of combat, but the community also seems to agree that underwater combat needs an overhaul or some changes, at least.

So what do you think? Will ArenaNet focus on and improve underwater combat in the future? Do you want them to or would you prefer they took out the underwater combat?

11 thoughts on “Tyria Talking: The future of Underwater Combat

  1. Well, I absolutely love underwater exploration and underwater combat. I just think there need to be more choices. No one – not even the Engineer – has access to only two weapons on land, so there needs to be more of those. And there needs to be more underwater specific utility skills, healing skills, and elites. The ones that we have are pretty cool, but most of the rest just seem like an afterthought. You can’t put serious development of a whole area of the game on the back burner and not expect most of your players to put it in the same place.

    1. Yeah, there aren’t many elite skills to begin with and then some are not allowed underwater. I don’t really like those restrictions. I also quite often dislike one of the underwater weapons and then I’m left with only one other one that I have to use. It feels a bit like being forced into a certain playstyle and that contradicts how the combat on land works and feels.

  2. I agree with your points Nadine, all of them! Except your fear of being submerged :p
    I love love love underwater exploration, as I love being underwater in real life 🙂
    But underwater combat isn’t very… comfortable? or satisfying as it stands now. My hopes are that Anet will show some affection in that aspect of the game because it truly has great potential.

    P.S. I would like to see fishing make it in the game too ^^

    1. Fishing! <3 Guess what I'm doing right now? In Rift, sadly, as there's no such thing in GW2 – or anything close to fishing. I mean, it doesn't have to be "killing fish". I just really like doing something useful that doesn't require my full attention and concentration. :p

    2. I love how fishing works in Torchlight! Simple, but not brain-dead. A tiny mini-game with (RNG) rewards. That’s how I picture it in GW2 too. There are so many tasty dishes based on seafood! (Chef talking ^^)

  3. I really hope Anet find a way to revitalise underwater combat, it’s underwhelming at the moment but at the same time also _quite_ unique in its inclusion in an MMO and while I love the freedom of movement and orientation in water, it also feels very secondary and low priority, so it becomes more like the transport stage of anything you do.

    Oh, underwater bit, let’s just hurry through this and get back to the real content above ground. Oh, I have to fight a boss underwater? Press 111111111111111111111111… *snore*

    1. Oh yes, I quite often fight by hitting “1” only. Most of all, because I tend to avoid underwater combat as much as possible, so I can never remember my underwater skills. 😉

    2. I can boast then about how I know ALL the skills of BOTH weapons on TWO of my toons (Guardian and Ranger) ^^
      And I’m using all of them too 🙂

      Not on my mesmer though. Or my thief. Or my (mule-ified) warrior :p

  4. The general loss of power you feel when entering underwater combat is what is most frustrating about it. You can be awesomely powerful on land, then as soon as you go underwater, your skills hit like a damp squib.

    Personally, I’m not a huge fan of underwater combat, but that’s mainly because I have a teeny tiny bit of a phobia of being underwater and of the things living there. I definitely don’t want Anet to remove underwater combat completely, but they do need to overhaul it in some way. As to what that way is, I don’t know yet.

    Perhaps an elite specialisation specific for underwater combat? It would only be viable for an area that is purely underwater, as it would reduce the effectiveness of builds on land. You would also have to constantly swap your traits / build when going from land to water (and vice versa) to be effective. Or, you know, have build templates ><

    1. Oh finally! Finally I have found somebody who shares my fear. Exactly this! Being underwater and the things living there.

      Still, I think I would even enjoy it for the most part (the area of Orr is too dark for me, others are okay). But with every single profession, there is at least one weapon I cannot stand using and the other is… mostly meh. It does feel like being severely underpowered if you ask me.

      Build templates… good one. :p

  5. I agree with that most people think.

    Can’t see Underwater Combat being expanded with Heart of Thorns and it will probably be the pivot for designing an underwater expansion.

    No, I don’t want to see it dropped. I like it as an idea and I want to see more strategic gameplay taking place under the sea.

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