Perhaps one of the most interesting innovations in Guild Wars 2 is the implementation of weapon skills. Each of the eight professions in GW2 will be able to equip more than one weapon class. Swapping one weapon class for another will result in a player having access to completely different weapon skills. Thus, Elementalists wielding a staff will possess different skills than one brandishing a scepter in their main hand and a focus in their off hand. Knowing the strength of your Guild Wars 2 Professions is a big help too
Weapon skills account for the first five skills on a player’s skill bar. If a player wields a two-handed weapon, all five skills will be determined by the weapon. However, main hand weapons only determine the first three weapon skill slots, while off hand weapons account for slots four and five. There are a few exceptions. For instance, the Thief’s third weapon skill is calculated via the mixture of his or her two weapons. Engineers can modify their current weapon skills through device and weapon kits.
All weapon skills, outside of the very first one, must be earned. The only way to earn subsequent skills is by using known ones in combat. Once a weapon skill is unlocked it can never be unlearned. Better skills will require more time to learn. However, better skills are also subject to increasingly longer cooldown times.
At times, players will swap out their regular weapons for environmental weapons that they stumble upon while adventuring. These weapons will grant players a subset of skills. Once they are dropped, they are destroyed, and players regain access to their regular weapon skills.
This system will afford players a significant degree of choice. Instead of being pigeon holed into the same set of skills for the duration of the game, players will be encouraged to carry multiple weapons in their backpacks for use in different situations. They are also encouraged to unlock every single weapon skill for each weapon class. Otherwise they will be hindered at higher levels.
Weapon skills also allow for a great deal of variation among players. A Warrior affixed with a one-handed mace and shield will function differently from one equipped with two axes. These differences will reflect during combat.
Weapon skills in Guild Wars 2 add an extra layer of depth to an already extraordinarily deep and sophisticated combat system.