I think that Guild Wars 2 fans are going to be on a self-propelled roller coaster of excitement and energy until the guardian profession drops. It’s fun to speculate on upcoming Guild Wars 2 news with such focus, rather than trying to have a meaningful conversation about all the things we don’t know about Guild Wars 2. I am very happy that the guardian is the next profession of the four. I am much more likely to play a “mesmer,” but I think the guardian is more important in telling the story of combat and group dynamics.
With the few hints we know from concept art and the Edge of Destiny novel, the guardian is support melee. I’ll link the Edge of Destiny guardian breakdown over at Hunter’s Insight again because the article is so good. The guardian, as written, seems to minimize the effect of enemy’s attacks and control their movements. The profession also appears to have some sort of direct healing capabilities and may have assimilated a bit of ye ol’ ritualist profession by taking the weapon spells piece of the pie. Whereas the warrior profession has an offense-is-the-best-defense feel, the guardian well… guards.
The other four professions all have a very proactive feeling that seems to come with the conventional MMO’s DPS (damage-per-second) classes. Sure, the elementalist can switch to a very support-based water attunement, and the necromancer has some forms of crowd control support such as the necromancer exclusive fear condition. However, all of the profession released so far have a very forward feel to them. I can’t imagine a warrior or ranger playing a non-aggressive, reactive role like a conventional MMO’s tank or healer classes. Yet, the guardian is the first profession that feels like it could be a primary supporting role rather than the other proactive warrior, ranger, elementalist, or necromancer professions.
The thing that worries me the most is the monk paradigm from Guild Wars. In Guild Wars, every profession at launch had ways to change builds to perform different roles from attack to support to control. The monk profession steps in and completely blows away every other profession in regards to support. The group balance became so skewed with one or two monks in support role that there was no reason for anybody else to bring support skills. This just further skewed group balance. For example, instead of a warrior being a balanced, survivable body on the field that could deal damage, help support, and heal control enemies, the warrior became a rabid, frothing blood god of melee damage that knew the monk in the back would take care of that pesky support thing.
Yet, I have a lot of hope that ArenaNet did the right thing this time with the guardian. Even if the guardian is a so-called “support class,” there are plenty of ways to support a group rather than pressing the heal button. Locking down enemies with crowd control is much more proactive than locking down damage. Body-blocking projectiles and enemies by having great battlefield awareness can be very proactive. Weapon spells from Guild Wars, like Wailing Weapon or Vengeful Weapon, require skillful use at just the right time. These are the design strategies I believe ArenaNet took to heart in creating the guardian.
Still, this doesn’t necessarily relieve all the danger of the guardian following it’s monk predecessor to the point of being required in a group setting. In a perfect world, a guardian could easily be replaced by a mace and board warrior with a DPS elementalist ready to switch to water when necessary, or a necromancer that uses her minions and spells to harass a multitude of enemies. I pray that I will never hear “group looking for guardian then ready to go” when there are so many other non-guardian players waiting in the wings.
So far each of the revealed professions have shown great utility, and I think that the guardian class will not be any different. It will be very interesting to see how ArenaNet presents the next class with the dangerous prejudices in mind.
the rest, you’ve got to let go