[GW2] Book of Style

There is a great post over at the ArenaNet blog about Guild Wars 2 professions (i.e., classes) as playstyles rather than roles. Peters writes that they designed the profession and combat system so that each player can fluidly adapt to the battlefield in order to support allies, control enemies and the flow of combat, and simply damage enemies. He presents a great analogy:

In a first person shooter there can be a variety of weapons, from sniper rifles to rocket launchers to machine guns and shotguns. No one looks at these weapons and says, “They’re all the same, they all just do DPS.” Why should an MMO be any different?

I was playing Team Fortress 2 last night, and I thought nearly the same thing. We were playing Hightower, and two enemy engineers decided to really shake up the battlefield by planting mini-sentry guns all over the map and then attacking aggressively with the crit-laden Frontier Justice shotgun. In a role system, the engineer is supposed to be on defense sitting behind whacking his sentry and shooting at anything looking like a spy. Yet, the loadout system in Team Fortress 2 lets each class respond to the battlefield. For the engineers last night they wanted to own the battlefield until the opposing team responded. As we were on a public server, those two engineers used that tactic for quite some time successfully before we slowly and stupidly responded.

Anyway, I feel the skill and trait system of Guild Wars 2 is going to do nearly the same thing. A guardian is going to be a “master of defense.” Yet, a player that writes off a team of 5 guardians as too defensive is going to be pretty surprised when he gets cut off from his team by wards and then pummeled and burned to the ground by 5 guardians with their spirit weapons chaining the Justice virtue. Players are not going to simply be able to respond to the opposing profession. They are going to have to see how the player is using that profession.

Add Guild Wars, Vindictus, Dragon Age, and a pinch of Left 4 Dead 2, and I think the result is going to look a lot more like Guild Wars 2 than starting with a base of any conventional MMO. The whole article is well worth the read as Peters discusses other mechanics that shape the combat system such as the heal slot or the shared boon system.


10 thoughts on “[GW2] Book of Style”

  1. Its refreshing to be receiving some real hard info on how they are doing away with the Holy Trinity of Tank, Heal, DPS. Before the guardian we’ve only really had vague promises and rhetoric about changing the MMO scene; now you can actually see how the change is going to be made.

    Nice analogy with TF2, by the way. Its a good way to explain it.

  2. No allied targeting. Wow. That pretty much says it all of how GW2 will be markedly different from all the rest. Also, I like how stacking buffs will stack with time, but not effectiveness. This will be a very interesting game when it finally drops. (Also side note… they need to drop the class reveals… just give us all the classes now and instead focus on more information like this)

  3. I’ve seen some of this in DCUO and Rift recently. Healing in DCUO isn’t targeted (or my character’s isn’t, at least). It affects group mates in range automatically. Without logging in I’m not sure (haven’t played that much as a healer) but I seem to remember that, while some of these are AE heals even with single-target heals the game decides who in the group needs healing most and sends it their way without you having to select them.

    DCUO gives every character both a separate healing and a dps role that can be selected on the fly. You don’t always need to select different abilities per role as most abilities have different functions depending whether you are healing or DPS.

    Rift, of course, allows you to mix and match souls and have a number of stored combinations that allow a single character to operate in multiple roles, which again can be switched on the fly. Much Rift healing seems to be non-player-targeted also, with ground-targeting or targeting through the enemy being prevalent.

    It’s certainly true that in both games I look less at the UI and more at the action center-screen, something I haven’t done often in MMOs before. It seems to be a growing trend and as I see and experience it more I am getting more comfortable with it. I do actually like targetting players and healing off name-bars, though, so I didn’t particularly feel that was a problem that needed to be fixed.

    GW2 looks as though it may have the most complete and well-integrated iteration of this round of MMO refinements and I’m largely looking forward to it. I think that by the time GW2 arrives we might be quite used to playing this way already.

    1. GW2 is definitely on my radar and has been for a while. But I am happy to have found Rift along the way.

  4. Monking in GW1 for me was really hard because of the dualism of battlefield and interface. And for that reason alone, i like to belive, I never became a decent monk. I just could’nt get my eyes off the fucking red bars. So, GW2 is moving into the right direction imo. And the switch from roles to playstyles makes perfectly sense for the new openworld/singleplayer design.

  5. I really like how GW2 is designed from the ground up with this playstyle in mind. The professions aren’t going to feel pigeon-holed into a role and the combat will be much more fluid and dynamic where you react to the situation instead of every situation being designed around the roles of the holy trinity.

  6. I do have one concern: lag. The more “action” oriented a game is, the greater its sensitivity to lag. As long as you’re not focusing on interrupts, I find GW1 plays well at 0.4s and decently up to about 1.2s – my connection averages about 0.6s. I’m a little worried that it will be too slow (latency, not bandwidth) for GW2.

    1. Luckily the devs said they are doing away with 0.25 sec interrupts and other “twitch” mechanics for exactly that reason.

  7. I’ll take the naysayer role (again). Let us not forget that although we abbreviate MMO for almost everything online nowadays, games like GW have their roots in the much longer acronym “MMORPG” and the venerable “CRPG” The “role playing” part of the game is interpreted in widely different fashions (i.e Diablo vs. KOTR vs. DDO vs. GW vs WoW), but giving everyone a whiffle ball bat that does the same damage no matter what official “class” you’re a part of doesn’t provide a whole lot of variety. This is why people scream bloody murder when they finally figure out a combo that gives them a relative advantage and the devs nerf it thereby forcing them back into the crowd. Should it truly be a case of “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down”???

    One of the greatest joys of a CRPG is the ability to use your mind, to think about details and nuance to craft unique, or at least highly customized, gamestyles that suit your RL persona and differentiate your character from the teeming masses. If everyone is a jack- or jill-of-all-trades, then who cares? If I wanted to play Final Fantasy, I’d go load up Cloud Strife again and have my persona and path completely pre-defined.

    Put differently, if it doesn’t matter which five characters you take into a dungeon, they will be able to beat it if they are remotely competent, then do you really need guilds at all? What’s the point?

    1. You raise some valid concerns but I think you’re misinterpreting the developer’s intentions. My opinion on this game:

      ‘Viable’ is not the same as ‘Excel’. A dps specc’ed guardian would probably not be able to match a ranger’s pure dps output but he’ll bring some control/buffs to the battlefield. Similarly a warrior with a shield would probably survive longer but he’ll be sacrificing some/lot of dps compared to a dual wield warrior.

      It seems more about the style of play that suits you and serves decently in a variety of situations. I don’t expect every class/spec combination to zoom through every situation with ease, in fact I’ll be pretty disappointed if that happens.

      In short my guess is everyone gets a wiffle bat but some bats are made of wood, some of steel and some of a solid block of platinum :)

      Regarding group makeup, we don’t know what level of competence is required to clear a dungeon. Maybe you do need certain classes like guardian/warrior to make encounters relatively smooth. e.g. taking 5 rangers to a dungeon might require each ranger to pull his/her maximum potential (no mistakes allowed) to clear or have some rangers go into a more supportive role e.g. one ranger uses a horn, another switches to pure melee.

      Moreover the game seems focused on open world events and I’m guessing viability with those is what arenanet is gunning for primarily.

      Let’s wait for more information from arenanet before passing a verdict :)

Comments are closed.