[GW2] Guardian Sanctuary

Post release of the new guardian profession there have been so many really cool tidbits floating through various interviews and discussions. Some help players understand the guardian a bit more, and some even help players understand the game as a whole. There was one huge bomb that I think many people overlooked. We’ll start there.

In an aggressive interview with Jon Peters, one of the Guild Wars 2 game designers, OnlineWelten asked about the use of guardian skills targeting allies. Peters said that there are no ally targeted skills in Guild Wars 2. No ally targeted skills. That bears repeating. That may be the “flash of genius” that changes the MMO industry. They are making systems so people play together more seamlessly and simultaneously taking away the mortar that has held together all other groups in prior conventional MMOs. There should be no reasonable doubt that the holy trinity is dead in Guild Wars 2. Another big effect is that almost all of the attention by players will be on the battlefield instead of party UI.

We also got a pretty strong hint about the unrevealed underwater combat in the GuildWars2Guru hosted IRC dev chat. Host Kvinna chose one of my questions regarding the use of ground targeted skills in the 3d underwater environment. I was curious as to how they would translate, especially the newly announced guardian wards, because every released profession had some kind of ground targeted skill. Peters answered this question as well, and he said that underwater combat was very different in nature and they aren’t going to just translate those skills into 3d space.

A lot of people took this answer to believe that a whole new skill bar will become available in underwater combat. I tend to agree, but I can’t imagine the extra development time required to give every profession a unique underwater combat bar. Giving every profession the same underwater combat bar on the other hand doesn’t seem as fun. Perhaps some of the underwater combat skills will be shared and some will be unique, similar to Guild Wars snowball skill bar.

Finally, in a big GuildWars2Guru thread discussing the benefits of having a warrior or guardian in a “tank”-like role, community manager Martin Kerstein tried to keep fans’ frames of mind on to the unique Guild Wars 2 combat. Kerstein said that a player trying to play a guardian like a conventional tank will “eat dirt a lot.” The guardian simply cannot survive for long when it is standing there being pounded upon by mobs. Regarding a key difference between the guardian and warrior, Kerstein said that the warrior has significantly more hit points than a guardian, but the guardian has much faster health regeneration, especially with its Resolve virtue ability. A lot of people think that the guardian’s popularity will initially outclass a warriors, but I don’t agree. The warrior’s distilled purpose of being very aggressive and standing up to a lot of punishment is much easier to grasp than the complex guardian requiring significantly more battlefield awareness and risk/reward awareness of its core abilities.

There were a lot of other cool things to happen like Ree Soesbee’s explanation of some of the sylvari background and the crush of guardian interviews, each with their own gems. This week ArenaNet will likely be following up a lot of other community questions on their blog, but I imagine other small gems might pop up here and there around the community.

–Ravious

25 thoughts on “[GW2] Guardian Sanctuary”

  1. “There should be no reasonable doubt that the holy trinity is dead in Guild Wars 2.”

    I’ll believe it when I see it in practice. This has nothing to do with the game mechanics and everything to do with the players.

    1. the key word is “HOLY”. The holy trinity translate into the tank/healer/dps paradigm. I think its fair to call that dead in GW2, and no friendly targeting most be just another nail in that coffin.
      The question that is being discussed is if GW2’s changes translate into a new (static) trinity of Control/Support/damage, or if the design is strong enough to even break that up into a dynamic gameplay aswell.

      As the quote that concludes the healing and death artickle from GW2 homepage says.

      “You could say instead of DPS/heal/tank, we have our own trinity of damage, support, and control, but we prefer to think of them as the variety of elements that create a diverse and dynamic combat system that gives each player a toolbox to work with to solve any encounter we might throw their way.”

      i think its a matter if the design is strong enough to force players into new ways to play.

      1. I do think there will be “roles” and it may be that new trinity, but it’s going to be too fluid to say “hey we need a tank” or “we need a healer, then ready to go.”

      2. It’s an interesting tight-rope to walk – if the design *is* “strong enough to force players into new ways to play” it runs a real risk of chasing them away; if it isn’t, people will shoehorn it into the trinity, however little sense that might make in terms of actual gameplay (see City of Heroes for a perfect example of this in action).

    2. Players won’t really have the abilities to perform one and only one role. Your skills themselves perform multiple roles with many combining damage with ally healing or enemy control. There won’t be a “trinity” anymore because each of us is a self-contained trinity. You can’t focus on being a healer of others… you can’t even target others to heal. You can’t focus on only controlling the enemy… you’ll need to be dealing damage as well, or providing other various effects. Look at our guardian, so far the profession that appears to be most focused on control. Ultimately, the control abilities are all setting up other aspects, be they damaging moves, reviving allies, etc. Each aspect of damage, control and support is intertwined now, not separate things. An water ele may fire off a trident, knocking back and damaging the enemy (and I think providing a healing boon to allies). The guardian puts up a shield of absorption which eats incoming damage, then attacks back out of it while the enemy is on cooldown.

      Basically, everyone is a more complete player now. You’re not forced to a role, you need to handle all roles to be effective.

  2. I totally missed the “no ally targetted skills” info – must read that interview!

    I have to say, thats good news. The Guardian, to me, will be all about positioning – knowing where to stand to be the most benefit to your team. When to retreat and poop out a shield and when to charge forward, release your burning virtue and gouge great holes out of your enemy with your hammer.

  3. I like the idea of the virtues, they help the guardian while soloing but can be given to allies in groups. It’s a nice way to balance, and it appears even from that mechanic alone that guardians should try to avoid being the focus of mob hate if they want to support their allies when in groups.

    I thought you were going to mention the elite ‘Sanctuary’:

    “It creates a bubble around the guardian that keeps enemies from entering it. While it exists allies can enter the bubble to regenerate health, but cannot use skills inside of it.”

    It does seem like a really interesting and fun skill to play around with. I wonder if it moves with the guardian or is stationary, and if it is possible to knock or fear people out of it.

  4. So it WASN’T just me who found the OnlineWelten interview aggressive!
    I felt they were outright rude at times, but then the questions also seemed to vary wildly in tone & cover the same ground a few times; maybe they gathered the questions off a forum?

    I’d heard about the absence of ally targetting, but it’s always nice to hear them restate it – and in ever more high profile places. ^_^

    Everytime I try to plot out underwater combat across all professions, I fall short – definitely a wait & see mechanic for me.

    I also don’t see guardian’s out-numbering warriors, at least for long & especially after any public test opportunities; their potential for failure seems far higher than the other professions, so I anticipate word of mouth counting against them up to release.
    For all the armor, they remind me of GW1 mesmers most of all; with no vanilla interrupts returning, deflection & reflection are the new denial. ^_^

  5. Vulturion makes some great points.

    Most interestingly, the comparison of the guardian with the GW1 mesmer; I think it’s a really insightful conclusion, and just reinforces the idea that the guardian will be difficult to learn, and likely unpopular as a result. That said, I still think the guardian feels most like a prot/smiting monk in plate armor. Another role that was – for the prot aspect, at least – notorious for being hard to pick up.

    In short, despite the ease of comparing the guardian to a wammo on steroids, I just don’t think it holds up. The key to the wammo’s popularity was not just the paladin archetype, but also the fact that it was incredibly resilient and self sufficient. I’m just not certain that’s the case with the guardian.

    Vult also points out that the lack of ally targeting had been mentioned before, which is correct – Izzy tweeted about it in response to a question by JR, but it was sort of a roundabout statement: “@Dan_JR no real good way to friendly target in gw2”. As usual, the juiciest information is the most hidden and obscure. :)

    Anyway, I’m excited to read the guardian followup this week, but I’m afraid we won’t get a really solid sense of how the profession plays until we actually get some ingame video and skill descriptions. And who knows when that will be – I’m uncertain how practical it is for ANet to add new professions to the demo at this point…

    1. Yeah spending more dev time on the demo is not very productive, but I wonder if it will get graphical/UI/skill balance updates any further or whether it is a snapshot in time.

  6. Thanks for putting all this need to know info in one spot! Of course, I have been lurking nonstop since last Thursday but the more everyone knows about the guardian, the more everyone can start understanding it. Your insights are expertly elocuted as always.

  7. I think it’s worth mentioning that ground based targeting can still target allies, it’s a big shift away from targeting a UI box, but could suggest there is more of the trinity left than suggested.

    Not that i necessarily believe that.

    But as an example, i was discussing with someone in some of my comments an interview from a few months ago where flannum, i think, said that a freezing spell might damage an enemy or add an ice armour buff to an ally. since there is no ally targeting that would mean someone just targets the ground an ally is standing on to buff, heal, or otherwise help them.

    I don’t believe thats the direction arenanet is really going in, but I thought i’d bring up the point at least.

    Even so it is a big change.

    1. One other thing about ground targeting, is that it moves away from rigid character interactions and towards more fluid, open ended play.

      For example, guardian (the spell from GW1) is very similar to the guardian profession’s circular ward spell in some ways – i.e. you watch the field, and when you see a number of enemy melee converge on your ally, you protect them by casting the spell. As you correctly point out, the targeting mechanism isn’t all that important – clicking the character and pressing “4” isn’t that different than clicking “4” and placing a circle on the ground around the character.

      But a ground-targeted spell inherently has more flexibility, and lends itself to much more dynamic play. When a monk brings guardian, she’s saying “I’m protecting my allies” – but when a guardian brings their unnamed circular ward, they’re just saying “I have a tool for controlling movement” – they can use it to protect an ally, they can use it to trap an enemy flag carrier, or to lock an enemy in place where they’re vulnerable to AoE, etc.

      I think the same is true of many of the elementalist and necromancer’s “support” skills, too.

  8. No ally targeting worries me.

    I’m not a fan of indirect buffs and positioning. As a corsair in FFXI, we had indirect buffs. Buff yourself, and the dice roll would also reach all players in its range. You could extend or decrease the range as needed, and move yourself to “target” specific players by placing the center of the buff so the edges only hit a few.

    Even then it often was a nightmare. The party can screw up your positioning, the enemies can knockback or disrupt you or your party, you often had to get in aoe range, etc. Ask yourself how many people here have had to do a “sneak attack” mechanic to backstab the opponent for double damage consistently.

    Plus, there’s some serious worries about compartmentalizing players into their own little box. Direct targeting forces players to interact with each other. The problem is not taking it away but requiring every class to. DDs should be forced to use direct target abilities as well, and when they do the class becomes much more interesting to play. It’s not about the trinity, really.

  9. The key thing to me is the shift for healers. Healing in MMOs typically means you are playing a very different game than the DPS or tanks. “Health bar whack-a-mole” or “filling green bars” is a different experience. How many healers have gone through entire raids in other games with no actual knowledge of what a boss looks like? I know my wife has.

    1. Changing the healing mechanic to “paint area on ground, and have the tank stand over it or move in it” might fix it, but it would make less of an engaged experience. Playing “whack-a-mole” has its charms too.

  10. 2 questions:

    (1) Is there an English translation for the OnlineWelten article? The ArenaNet links page said “in German or English”, but I couldn’t figure out how to get the English version. (And my German vocab is only around 200 words, so that’s a bit limited :) )

    (2) If there are no “ally targeted” skills, how do res skills work? Proximity? What if there’s more than one potential res within range? Or is there a subtlety here that I’m missing?

    1. For question 1:

      The article is around 12 pages long. The first half being German. The last half being english. So on about page 7 the english article starts. For the second question I have no idea… maybe the res skills are the only exception. I am not sure really. I think that would be the case.

      1. Yeah, if you click the link “aggressive interview” above it should take you right to the English portion.

        As to Question 2, there are no ally targeted res skills. The “f” key is more of an action key to res allies, pick up objects, and loot. It’s not a skill in the 10-skills on a skill bar skill. :)

        1. i hope you can map res to its own button. Champions Online uses Z to interact with objects, pickup and throw items, and gather loot. You can select an item out of a stack with the mouse, but man, id hate to run to a downed person, overshoot slightly, and pick up loot or a rock instead.

  11. Mmm, players will adapt. CoH AoE buffers used to bind alert messages like “Gather for recovery aura… Buffing in 3 2 1…” Now they can just go “RA” and everyone who wants it gets in the huddle.

    More focus on positional combat will make GW2 feel very different from other games.

    I’m a little disappointed that the Guardian won’t be a tanky invulnerable tank, but it’s okay, I’ll play that playstyle in Rift and adapt to weaving in and out of front and mid-lines in GW2 as appropriate.

  12. We should face the facts: GW2 is being designed for consoles. No targeting allies. No complex hexes or de-hexes. No interrupts. No healing class. No strict party structure. All action, all the time. You can target enemies or cast AOE, that’s it. Any class can succeed without any teamwork.

    This is going to be console-based twitch-gaming at its’ worst.

    Launching (and the inevitable air-juggle) have been action / arcade staples for a decade. What are we getting in GW2 that *isn’t* in an arcade game?

    1. A persistent world?
      5 races to choose from, each with their own starting zone?
      8 professions with a wide variety of skills?
      Need i go on?

      Is targeting an ally harder than ensuring that an AoE is positioned properly? No

      Hexes and de-hexes were never complex. they were simply situational. Some more severely so than others.

      No interrupts? What do you call your knockdowns? I guess you prefer staring at your enemy’s cast bar instead of actually playing to catch that 1/4 second spell of theirs? Which is impossible to do if you have >300 ping to begin with.

      No healing class. Your whining about this?

      No strict party structure? There is a party structure, especially for dungeon content etc. Your just allied to everyone else in the persistent world. Get your facts straight will ya.

      Your taking every improvement that GW2 is making and complaining about it. I suggest you find a korean MMO to play.

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