Dive beneath the Guild Wars 2 seas and your hero switches automatically to underwater weapons, underwater skills and underwater breathing apparatus.
In Guild Wars 2, there's plenty to do under the sea.
Breathing apparatus comes as default, explained systems designer Jonathan Sharp on the Guild Wars 2 blog.
You'll only worry about breathing when your hero's health falls to zero. When that happens you'll start to drown, which is a bit like being 'downed' above water. Your life-force will slowly ebb away, but you can come back to life by either managing to kill someone, by being revived by an ally or by reaching the surface of the water. If you opt for the latter, you'll only be revived once your health bar refills entirely.
To submerge in Guild Wars 2 you simply look down and move forwards. Underwater weapon families are spears (close-quarters melee), tridents (long-range magical) and harpoons (long-range mechanical). Each family of weapons will be available to select professions/classes.
Not all of your land-lubber skills work under the sea, but you'll have specific underwater abilities to fill their place on your hotbar. These are "really cool", reckons Sharp, but no examples of them were given.
Floating under water allows ArenaNet use of a 3D playing field. On land, combat happens on the same level; below, an enemy can be higher or lower. Therefore, area of effect spells or skills under water fill a full 3D circle-space, rather than a 2D diameter around a hero. You'll be able to force enemies up to the surface or drag them below, we're told.
Dragging enemies down will be useful for ensnaring surface swimmers, who won't have access to underwater abilities while their heads bob above the water.
Underwater weapons and skills will be frequently put to the test, as Guild Wars 2 aims to send you beneath the waves many times, including on your personal story quest. An evil race called the Krait live under the sea, and there are sharks and "equally fearsome underwater dwellers, ill-tempered fish, and fantastic sea monsters" to contend with. A Kraken-inspired boss fight, perhaps?
"Weíre not kidding when we say that the underwater experience in Guild Wars 2 is going to be a vital, important part of the game," concluded Sharp. "You canít experience everything the game has to offer without getting wet, so grab a breathing device and a trident and hit the beach! Life is much better, down where itís wetter, under the sea."
NCsoft and ArenaNet haven't committed to a Guild Wars 2 release date. A guideline offered to investors has a beta pinned for this year with a full release next year.