Guild Wars 2 introduces a lot of new mechanics to online gamers, ranging from changes to normal auction house transactions to the Thief's ability to steal useful items. One of the most intriguing new systems is the bundle system. What's the bundle system, you ask? Well, it has nothing to do with raising political campaign donations. A bundle is an item that you can pick up or is given to you by an NPC that will replace the normal skills of your character.
How the Bundle System Works
The range of items that are bundles in Guild Wars 2 is quite large. They can range from planks of wood to boulders to diving goggles. Some of the bundle items you pick up can be used for harmless fun while others can be used for completing various tasks, or even grant you temporary weapons to use in combat. For example: an early Renown Heart task for human characters is to aid one of the local farmers. One thing that you can do to complete the task is to water their crops. In order to water the crop, you'll need to pick up a bucket, and once you have the bucket, you'll be able to water the various shriveled crops around the farm.
Bundle items have a sparkly glow around them as they lie on the ground. Once you click on them or interact with them using the [F] key to pick them up, you'll notice that your character's weapon skills (the 1-5 slots on your hotbar) have been temporarily replaced with one or more new skills. You can drop the item you've picked up by clicking on the green arrow to the left of the hotbar, or using the default weapon swap key [`]. Once you've done that, your normal weapon skills will return. Most bundle items have a limited duration and will disappear on their own after some usage.
Some dynamic events or personal story missions in Guild Wars 2 will require you to use the bundle system. One example that sticks out in my memory took place during the first beta weekend. My personal storyline had me trying to infiltrate a circus. One of the tasks given to me in order to worm my way into the confidence of the circus was to follow the directions of the mime. I had to replicate his movements in order to further the quest, and, initially, I was confused. After a minute, I realized that all my weapon skills had been replaced by mime actions, which I then used to complete the quest. I was bummed afterwards because I no longer had the mime actions available to me and I desperately wanted to hang about Divinity's Reach performing as a mime to drive people crazy.
Why the Bundle System Rocks
I love the bundle system in Guild Wars 2 for several reasons. The first reason that it allows you to interact with the environment. While such interaction isn't earth-shattering, it adds another dimension to the gameplay. The second reason is that allows you to have more options available for doing various event tasks. Instead of the normal "go kill 10 boars" option in most MMOs, you now have more choices in completing Renown Hearts or dynamic events in that you can kill creatures, but you can also tend crops or feed cattle. One Renown Heart had me practicing with the local militia of the Township of Claypool by using various weapons and shields. The more choices you have for completing tasks, the better.
The bundle system also leverages the ability to change your active weapon skills on the fly to add interesting new elements to combat, or even solve various puzzles and disarm traps while exploring one of the game's many dungeons. A great example here would be in the Ascalonian Catacombs where picking up boulders not only allowed our group utilize pressure pads to progress further into the dungeon, but later on they proved to be a vital part of defeating a particularly difficult pair of bosses.
My final reason for enjoying the bundle system is that it's fun. The circus example above illustrates this point. Another example that I stumbled across was a pair of swimming goggles. I had worked my way up to the top of a mountain in Kessex Hills that overlooked the sea. Laying on the ground at the edge of the cliff was a pair of diving goggles. When I put them on, my character's appearance changed to where she was wearing a swimsuit. I decided to dive off the cliff to see what would happen. As I cliff-dived towards the ocean, two options became available: spin and flip. Did this alter the game in a significant way? No, but it was a heck of a lot of fun to do. Another fun bundle item was a bomb that you can pick up and once you use it, it'll explode in 10 seconds. Who doesn't love walking around with a giant keg bomb?
Picking up the diving goggles puts you in a swimsuit.
The amount if bundle items seems to be quite large and there is a variety of uses for them, ranging from hitting other people or consuming the item in question. Below is a partial list of bundle items discovered so far.
|Bundle Item Examples|
|Keg of Ale||Garden Hoe||Shovel|
|Champagne Glass||Branch||Mug of Ale|
|Empty Bottle||Bottle of Rum||Ice Bow|
|Tree Branch||Rusty Scrap||Splintered Rack Piece|
|Boulder||Wooden Plank||Metal Bar|
|Broken Plank||Diving Goggles||Water Bucket|
|Poison Pod||Bomb||Wooden Sword|
|Egg||Splintered Gate Piece||Meat on a Stick|
|Cow Pie||Training Rifle||Shield|
|Pile of Snowballs||"The Fixer" Wrench||Bag of Feed|
The bundle system in Guild Wars 2 is an interesting mechanic that not only allows for more options for combat and events, but also adds interaction with the environment as well as some fun. From throwing cow pies to whacking enemies with a plank of wood, the bundle system is one of those quiet, under-the-radar game mechanics that adds a refreshing air to the game.