[GW2] What’s Your Style? Jon Peters Talks About Combat

Discussion in 'Guild Wars 2' started by Aspira, Feb 2, 2011.

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    Aspira Admin Officer

    By Jon Peters February 1st , 2011

    We here at ArenaNet just went through a round of interviews telling people about this exciting new Guild Wars 2profession, the guardian. Not many of those conversations go by without someone wondering aloud if the guardian breaks the paradigm we set to create—a game without the Holy Trinity.
    “So much for no Holy Trinity,” we’d hear. “Guardian is a paladin, dedicated healer, monk, tank…”
    These folks are followers of the MMORPG genre who don’t get their hands on Guild Wars 2 every day, so I can’t say that I blame them. After all, what do they have to go on? Some things we said five months ago? A few anecdotes? The insistence of a few dedicated fans who defend us in forum threads?
    In each interview we try to sprinkle in as much stuff as we can to support our ideas, but when this information isn’t all in one place it loses its weight and impact a bit. So I thought, why not collect all this information in one place?
    It’s been a while since I wrote the GW2 healing and death article and frankly that article was a lot harder to write when the only profession examples I could use were the warrior and the elementalist.
    I said something to Isaiah Cartwright the other day that has stuck in my mind since then. I think it explains how no trinity is possible more than anything else, so I’ll relay it here: “Our professions aren’t dedicated healers, DPS, or tanks because frankly, we built a combat system that just doesn’t allow it.”
    Many interviewers wonder if we are worried about making such a radical change, but to me the whole thing is just common sense for what we are trying to accomplish. I’d be a lot more worried about building GW2 combat with trinity professions than without them. I don’t want to speak for other games or other combat systems, but this system is just better for our game.

    So what features of the combat system encourage this profession design? The answer to that is, “lot of things,” so let’s talk about them one at a time.

    Healing Skill slot

    Everyone has a dedicated slot on their skill bar where they must place a healing skill. These vary greatly and are an intimate part of the Guild Wars 2 build-making process, but ultimately they are your most efficient and reliable way to sustain yourself in battle. Why did we do this? Because we think it is a more interesting way to create sustained encounters for solo players AND groups while keeping players focused on themselves and their surroundings.
    Downed, defeated, and revival

    The downed system creates combat situations where fallen allies (and enemies in PvP) are actual strategic locations in a battle. It means that situations can change quickly and players must react to them. From level 1, every profession has the ability to revive everyone else. This means that players don’t have to rely on one profession in case someone is defeated both during and after combat. I said that the healing skill was the most effective way to keep you going in a fight, which it is. However, in a party, what is more awesome than being able to revive someone who was defeated and doing nothing back to being a contributing member of the group again? We did this because it makes combat more dynamic and social—two of the main goals of Guild Wars 2.
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    Aspira Admin Officer


    Shared boon system

    The basic buff system in Guild Wars 2 is a set of ally-friendly buffs that we call boons. There are seven boons: Regeneration, Might, Fury, Swiftness, Protection, Vigor, and Aegis. With the exception of the Aegis boon, these are available to different professions on different weapons and skills. Their duration stacks but their effectiveness does not stack, so two players using Regeneration boon are equally effective putting health regeneration on allies. This system allows us to simplify the buff system while also making everyone similarly effective when trying to do something that the system handles. The duration stacking also means that you can’t overdo something, but you also aren't ever wasting a boon when stacking it.
    For example, if you put 10 seconds of regeneration on an ally and they already has 5 seconds of regeneration remaining, they will now have a total of 15 seconds of regeneration. More overall health, but not any more efficient.
    No allied targeting

    This is one of the big ones. There are no skills that specifically target allies. Everything must be done using positioning, ground targeting or other unconventional methods. This keeps every profession focused on their allies in the world, which adds a tactical complexity to the combat. Instead of watching red bars, we want you to watch your allies in the world. Making sure you are dropping ground-targeted spells effectively and moving into position to block attacks on allies is how we want players to defend each other.

    Being able to adapt to situations is something that we feel makes combat more exciting. In Guild Wars 2, the combination of weapon swapping and skill versatility give each profession the ability to adapt to combat situations and change their role. Taking too much damage as a warrior? Swap to mace and shield. A bunch of adds as an elementalist? Attune to fire. Even within single skills we try and maintain versatility. A guardian that brings Wall of Deflection or an elementalist with Swirling Aura can use them to defend allies when retreating. They can also use it to push into enemy lines, or they can cast it in a timely manner to counter a particularly dangerous enemy projectile and send the effects of that projectile back to the attacker. Being able to rotate roles and cover for other players is another piece in the puzzle to removing dependencies.

    Another important part of Guild Wars 2 combat is mobility. We felt that in order to get the dynamic and visceral feel that we wanted combat to have, players needed to be more mobile. A lot of work went into this from animation systems to animations themselves allowing skills while moving. It takes a lot of pressure off of the skill system and puts in back into movement, tactical play, and ground control—the areas where we wanted the game to be focused. Couple that with dodging arrows and double tap dodge rolling and you create a combat system that is more like a first person shooter where finding real cover, flanking and other more realistic fighting techniques find a lot more use. This again de-emphasizes the importance of roles and focuses players on what we intend, which is how their profession plays.
    Pullquote Text
    We’ve said this a few times in a few places but I can’t reiterate it enough: We built this game so that they professions act as play styles, not as roles. Each profession can support, control, and do damage. We believe that this creates more dynamic combat and more distinct professions because there are more play styles than roles.
    One of the best ways to explain this is with an 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?
    That is why we want to eliminate things that we felt were burdens on the game such as:

    • Group LF Healer/Tank…
    • Party wipes when you lose the wrong person.
    • Watching the interface instead of the world.
    • Playing with people because you have to, not because you want to.
    • Being stuck in the same combat patterns over and over again.
    Anyway, I hope this gives everyone a little bit of insight into the combat of Guild Wars 2, the removal of the Holy Trinity, and profession roles.
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    Aspira Admin Officer

    We BOONs are not always ally friendly, depends on if they are noobs or not.

    There is definitely more than seven of us.
    Stacking BOONs is never wasting them. We perform better in groups.

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    Specter Veteran BOON

    love your analysis, aspira <3
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    Mizou Community Member

    hahah :) awesome !

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