ArenaNet made no secret of the fact that a lot of new things were on the way when they announced Guild Wars 2’s first expansion, ‘Heart of Thorns.’ Last week the developer detailed the new endgame progression of the Masteries system. But today, with multiple hefty posts on the game’s website, the total under-the-hood revamp that is the Specialization system finally saw the light of day.

Simply put, specializations are a complete reimagining of the trait system already present in-game, including skills, traits (passive abilities or small mechanical changes), stats, and even reward paths and unlocks. So, diving right in, your character stats are no longer attached to the traits you choose, the boosts they used to give now reworked into a general stats boost for all characters throughout the game. This allows for a greater freedom of choice when it comes to selecting the different traits for your character, also allowing for the traits themselves to be more diverse and impactful.

The next major change comes in the introduction of core specializations. Replacing the trait paths currently in the game, core specializations operate as essentially skill trees, each individual specialization comprised of three automatic minor traits and then the ability for the player to choose one of three adept traits, one of three master traits, and one of three grandmaster traits. Each profession will have a total five specializations available, from which the player chooses three to equip.

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Along with all of this comes a brand new unlock system. As of now, players unlock skills through the use of skill points, which are collected through leveling up and completing skill challenges. These points are being redone as ‘hero points’ (skill challenges now called ‘hero challenges’), and it is through spending these points on different reward tracks that packages of associated skills and traits are unlocked. Want better signets? Put points in the signet track to unlock the later ones.

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Unlike the skill points however, hero points are not rewarded endlessly for ‘leveling up’ past 80. Instead, doing so will reward players with mystic forge crafting materials, their current stockpiles of skill points being automatically converted into similar materials when the expansion launches.

And finally, ArenaNet ended by detailing elite specializations. A level-80 only specialization, elite specializations are meant to give longtime players something radically new in the professions they already know so well. Equipped as a core specialization, each elite specialization opens up the ability for a profession to use a new weapon previously locked to them, and adds new mechanics, traits, and skills to that profession. While each character profession will receive a single elite specialization with the launch of ‘Heart of Thorns,’ ArenaNet teased there may well be more on the way in the future, each one offering an entirely new way to play an established class.

A live Q&A session about specializations is planned on the Guild Wars 2 Twitch channel for Friday, April 24th at noon Pacific Time. Until then, what do you think of the new system? Let us know in the comments.