In the ACE Q&A for July, Creative Director J. Todd Coleman and Design Lead Thomas Blair spoke a bit on the topic of character advancement and how the trend for the last decade has been akin to having “training wheels” so that players can’t make any mistakes that might adversely affect their character. The unfortunate side effect of this is that it takes away any real sense of choice. One of our team’s goals is to deliver a skill system that is robust, flexible, customizable and still allows for player choice.
What is a skill tree?
A skill tree is a container for a specific themed set of skills. For example, the Weapon Basics tree only contains skills that are related to Weapon Basics. Generally speaking, you wouldn’t find a Stealth Skill inside of the Weapon Basics skill tree.
What kinds of skill trees are there?
Skill trees are divided into two main categories, Universal and Archetype Skills.
Universal skills are further subdivided into three major gameplay styles: Combat, Crafting and Exploration. Skill trees in these styles contain the skills you would expect; weapons and armor skills are in the Combat trees, crafting skills are in the Crafting trees, and gameplay actions such as stealth, harvesting, and animal husbandry are all located in the Exploration trees.
Archetype skill trees contain skills related to archetypes and promotion classes. Each archetype has a dedicated skill tree and three promotion class trees.
How do skills work?
Every skill maps to one or many statistics (Attack Power, Critical Hit Chance, etc.) Multiple skills can map to the same statistic additively.
For example, raising the One-Handed Sword Proficiency raises your Attack Power statistic. Raising Knight Proficiency also raises your Attack Power statistic (as well as a few other stats).
Each skill raises them in a different ratio, however. One-Handed Sword Proficiency has a coefficient value of 0.15, and Knight Proficiency has a coefficient value of 0.25.
This means if your One-Handed Sword skill is 100, you gain 15 Attack Power, and if your Knight Proficiency is 100 you gain 25 Attack Power for it. These numbers are summed together and you are gaining 40 Attack Power from these two skills.
What is passive training?
A player may set a skill to “train” and this skill earns skill experience points (XP) in real world time. Every few seconds, skill XP points trickle into skills that are set to passive train. This increase happens whether you are online or offline so your characters keep advancing while you do things like sleep or go to work.
Can you pause a skill and move to another?
Yes. Each skill remembers how far you have progressed, and you can jump between them. In some cases it may be more efficient to learn the first 50% of lots of skills rather than taking one or two skills to 100%.
Can I train any skill on the skill tree?
You can only train in a skill if you meet the prerequisite requirements for that skill. We have a few kinds of skill prerequisites.
The first is a traditional prerequisite: the previous skill in the chain has to be of a certain value. (For example, in order to train Plate Expertise in the Knight tree, you must first train the Armory skill to at least 50%.)
The second is a branch prerequisite: you must have trained X amount of points in the entire tree to unlock a skill. (For example, to train Crusader Proficiency Skill you need to have trained at least 1,000 points of skills in the Knight tree). Each of these is determined on a case-by-case basis.
The third type is based on training tomes, which can be found (or crafted) in the game and must be consumed in order to unlock new skills. Skills you have not yet found are shown on the skill tree as ‘empty slots’.
Skills may require one or all of the prerequisite types in order to learn!
How do the promotion classes work?
Once you have trained far enough in the base archetype tree, you can unlock the ability to begin training promotion class skills.
Each of these promotion classes will offer a unique additional skill tree (not pictured above).
Note that when you are playing a promotion class, you also get all of the statistic benefits from the base archetype, as well. The results are cumulative, so you will likely want to eventually max out all the skills on the base archetype tree!