We at Massively -- just like the rest of the Guild Wars 2 community -- were thrilled at the news and had plenty of questions about the new information. Lead Designer Eric Flannum generously spent some time answering those questions (and evading our sneaky attempts to wrangle a third class reveal.)
He had some very interesting things to say, so follow along after the jump for our exclusive interview!
Eric Flannum: Traits are not available immediately. We have a lot of new concepts in the game and we didn't want to overload new players with too many systems at once. Because of this we tend to introduce different systems gradually over the first few levels. Traits are actually the last major system to be introduced and come into play at about level 15. This of course is subject to change as we test the game and see how people are adapting to and learning our various game systems.
Ben mentioned that you can "respec at will outside of combat," but also referred to an "alternate weapon for switching in combat." Can you elaborate on when weapons, skills, attributes, and traits can and can't be changed?
I believe Ben was referring to the second weapon set that most professions have access to in combat. A character may have as many as two weapon sets if their profession allows and switch between them with a simple hotkey/button press. To change things such as which weapons are equipped in your weapon sets, armor, skills, and traits a player must be out of combat. A player is out of combat if they haven't used a skill or been attacked for a short period of time.
Eric: For our competitive PvP we'll have different versions of both skills and traits as needed for balance. We may even disallow certain skills and traits if that proves necessary as well.
The warrior's warhorn offhand is a new item, but seems similar to the Shining Blade War Horn, a new item from Royal Gifts in Guild Wars. Do they have a similar function?
A warhorn is simply an offhand weapon so what it does is different in the hands of different professions. Some professions use the horn solely to buff allies while others have found more aggressive uses for it. I know some players have been curious about torches which are also simply offhand weapons that certain professions can utilize.
I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a ranger profession in Guild Wars 2 at this time (nice try). I can say a few things about warriors and ranged weapons. We want every weapon that a profession can equip to be a valid choice for that profession. That means that if I choose to, I could make a warrior that does nothing but stand back and rain fiery arrows or rifle shot upon my enemies. It would take an unusual build of traits, attributes, and skills to maximize the effectiveness of such a tactic but is definitely possible (Longbow warriors are very popular in the office PvP meta game at the moment).
The combat chatter that you hear triggers based off of certain criteria such as stunning a foe, lifting a heavy object, leveling up, entering combat, etc... There are limits put on it to make certain it doesn't happen too often and players always have the option to disable it if they want.
Thanks for you time, Eric!