Following up from the official announcement of the Guild Wars 2 necromancer, Eric Flannum, the lead developer for Guild Wars 2 was able to answer a few questions about this dark profession.
The role of the necromancer in Guild Wars was not easily defined, as it straddled the line between hexer, minion master, and even melee. The necromancer profession in Guild Wars 2 seems to be a streamlined version of the necromancer of old. In re-defining the necromancer profession, what role do you intend for the necromancer to play in groups?
Like all of our professions, we intend that the necromancer be extremely versatile. That being said, the necromancer really shines when absorbing damage and providing support to allies. The necromancer has very high health and the ability to extend that health through the use of the Death Shroud ability. Combine those things with the ability to heal themselves through lifestealing skills and you have a profession that is very hard to put down. For support, the necromancer is great at inflicting debilitating conditions on enemies as well as removing conditions from allies. All these things, plus the ability to heal and cause fear, make them great at supporting teammates.
One notable difference in the new Guild Wars 2 necromancer is the apparent lack of true hexes or sustained hex-like abilities, like the always favorite Spiteful Spirit from Guild Wars. Does the Guild Wars 2 necromancer have any sustained hex-like abilities, and what was the design goal in getting away from the hex mechanic of Guild Wars?
We wanted to streamline things for Guild Wars 2, so we rolled all of our negative and positive buffs into our condition and boon systems. We did this to make combat easier for players to learn. Instead of having to learn what a potentially unlimited pool of hexes do, players only have to learn about a much smaller set of conditions. We wanted to introduce some different types of complexity into combat (positioning, weapon and skill swapping, etc…) and therefore had to streamline other things so that we didn’t overwhelm players. It should be noted that many of the things that necromancers were able to do with hexes in the first game can be accomplished through other means in Guild Wars 2.
Marks, one of the necromancer’s unique type of skills, are ground targeted skills. How are they different from the necromancer’s Wells and the ranger’s Traps?
Marks differ from traps and wells in several key ways. First, traps and wells are placed wherever the caster is standing, while marks are placed at a ground-targeted location. Wells have a constant effect in an area, unlike traps and marks, which activate only once when triggered. Traps are triggered automatically when an enemy enters the trap radius but marks must be activated by the necromancer manually.
Will Fear, the necromancer’s unique condition, work any differently in PvP? Can you compare Fear to a knockdown?
We will have different balance for skills in PvE and PvP, so it is very likely that skills that cause fear will function slightly differently in the two game types. That being said, fear is very comparable to a knockdown or a stun in that it disables your character for a short period of time. In many ways it is actually less powerful than a knockdown since it is a condition and can be affected by anything that affects conditions, whereas a knockdown is only affected by things that specifically affect knockdowns.
Lorewise, is the necromancer’s power tied to the Elder Dragon Zhaitan in any way? Will the Guild Wars 2 necromancer replace or assimilate the Guild Wars ritualist’s spiritual powers?
The power of necromancers is not tied in any way to Zhaitan in the same way that ice elementalists have nothing to do with the ice dragon Jormag. Necromancers manipulate and harness the power of death, whereas Zhaitan actually corrupts death itself. The necromancer does not replace or assimilate the ritualist’s spiritual powers.
Thanks for stopping by, Eric!