The Healing & Death of Guild Wars 2

July 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 6 Comments
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After reading a thread at Guild Wars 2 Guru about how angry people were that Arenanet wasn’t releasing any new information this week (as if they ever promised they would release information every week) I happened to glance at a title of a new thread and immediately hopped over to the official page

Is that 'Grasping Earth' in concept art form?

Sure enough a fancy new splash page was up with a link to an article by designer Jon Peters on A New Way of Looking at Healing and Death.

I’ll start with death first, as its the shortest part of the article. Essentially, they’re not going to have traditional forms of death penalty.

Rather than being presented with immediate failure, when a player loses all of their health in Guild Wars 2, they are put into “downed mode.” In this mode, the player has a number of downed skills they can use to target enemies and fight for a chance to survive. A downed player can still be attacked, which will send them into a defeated state, leaving them to either wait for an ally to resurrect them or to resurrect at a waypoint.

I read a lot of blogs that focus on MMOs, and fairly often I see people writing that they long for the days of harsh death penalties. That death should sting and failure should mean something. Arenanet seems to disagree.

In Anets defense I think their audience is a casual audience. The hardcore types who want the Ultima Online experience all over again (come on people, stop living in the past) are not necessarily the same people playing Guild Wars or want that in their game in Guild Wars 2. I doubt they’re even considering playing GW2 but I’m sure we’ll still hear from opinionated bloggers about how they’ll never try the game ever, just because there is no significant death penalty other than defeat.

Why should we debuff you, take away experience, or make you run around for five minutes as a ghost instead of letting you actually play the game? We couldn’t think of a reason. Well, we did actually think of a reason–it just wasn’t a good one. Death penalties make death in-game a more tense experience. It just isn’t fun. We want to get you back into the action (fun) as quickly as possible. Defeat is the penalty; we don’t have to penalize you a second time.

The downed mode, and then defeated mode are interesting. Its certainly a new take, being able to attack and even kill enemies after you’re ‘dead’. Not needing one particular skill or class to be revived is also something I’ve never seen before. It sounds extremely convenient. I can see people going out of their way to stand around in particularly dangerous areas offering to revive people for money.

This charr appears to be ressing this human. Am I incredibly observant or is this image titled player-res? I vote incredibly observant

If thats not enough to make forum trolls whine, the discovery that you’ll have to pay to resurrect on your own to a waypoint will be. I’ve noticed lately that any potential loss of gold that players haven’t even earned yet is enough to set people off.

I’m not sure where I stand on death. I’ve always thought defeat should mean something too, but on the other hand I can’t recall a single instance where I wasn’t annoyed or frustrated that I had to work off whatever punishment was handed out to me. Those emotions in general are not why I play games. I might also recall several times where defeat caused bad blood between myself and members of my party, particularly in pick-up groups. I do appreciate that they are trying something new.

Things appear to go grey scale when you die, I thought we were supposed to see the light of Dwayna?

As for the healing, well, there isn’t any.

We’ve known for a while through interviews, hints, etc, there would be no straight up healing class. I’ve got my own theories on a new cleric style monk which could probably use some updating, and plenty of other people have speculated on how they’ll handle the trinity of dps/heal/tank that occurs in most games. Here they just dive in and answer that directly.

Instead of the traditional trinity, every Guild Wars 2 profession is self reliant–not only can they all help each other by reviving in combat, but all professions have ways to build their characters differently to make them more versatile for group play.

They go on to describe the DPS in GW2 and it honestly doesn’t sound like they’re changing anything here, at least not monumentally. Damage over time, area of effect, and other typical types of damage. The one thing of note is that they mention each profession will be able to use multiple weapons, and thats not something you find in most games.

I’d also point out cross profession combinations (how is combinations not a word wordpress proofreader!? I’m tired of you telling me armour and honour and favourite is spelled wrong! FU) seem to be different from most games, but not from Guild Wars thanks to secondary professions.

What they say about healing may as well be taken out of a Guild Wars argument for protection monks over healing monks.

Healing is the least dynamic kind of support there is. It is reactive instead of proactive. Healing is for when you are already losing. In Guild Wars 2 we prefer that you support your allies before they take a beating.

They go on to give a few examples but the general idea is buffing over healing. Nothing too surprising since most speculators have been on to this for a while.

We use our cross-profession combos to fill in the rest of our support. An elementalist can create a Firewall or Static Field to improve the ranged attacks of his allies. A warrior can carry a Banner of Wisdom around the battlefield to increase the power of his allies’ magical attacks. An elementalist might cast an ice spell to freeze enemies, but that same spell might give his allies Frost Armor to protect them from incoming attacks. When you boil it down, support is just the friendly way for players to work together to accomplish a shared goal.

What’s interesting here is that it sounds like, for one, you may have to carry around skills that are of absolutely no use to yourself. That banner of wisdom probably doesn’t help the warrior. Another thing is that that elementalist can cast the same skill that damages enemies on an ally and it will protect them. That’s pretty cool.

I bet this dying charr wishes he had a healing monk. Check out that background, very ascalonian.

Tanking in Guild Wars has always been different. There is no taunt or aggro control. Warriors have some of the highest DPS in the game. They can take a beating better than any other class but aren’t as invulnerable as in other games.

In Guild Wars 2 it seems to rely even more heavily on elements like cripple, knockdown, and something they refer to as immobilize. I actually think they don’t get into enough of what exactly the warrior is doing.

Control is the only thing versatile enough to get away from the rock-paper-scissors gameplay of other MMOs. It’s healing when you need it, its damage when you need it. It is the glue that holds together our system. From controlling movement to controlling damage, there are tons of exciting dynamic scenarios that control can set up. You can use a stun to save an ally or to finish off a fleeing enemy. Immobilize that warrior to get away from them, or use it on an elementalist to close in on them.

I’ve said in the past I suspect the 2nd soldier class is a heavily armoured monk, with spells and skill that mostly come from protection, smiting, perhaps some dervish skills, and (I suppose its looking more and more likely) paragon skills. Since protection spells were specifically all about controlling damage, and to an extent paragons, I think part of the above paragraph (and other paragraphs) is targeted directly at the new monk. Or if I’m wrong, the new paragon.

While warriors in GW can serve numerous roles they often end up just being straight up behemoth damage dealers. In GW2 it sounds like they’ll have a more specific role. They’ve mentioned a warrior wielding a sword deals a lot of conditions particularly bleeding, I hope that sort of direction continues with other weapons.

In summary, I think this is going to cause a lot of talk. Sometimes it seems like Arenanet is changing things drastically from the norm because they want controversy. Other times it kind of makes logical sense. In any case I think they’re making a unique game here which is one of the big things that will make their game successful, aside from the loyal fanbase. Is death penalty important to gamers? Is the trinity important? I guess we’ll find out.



  1. “Things appear to go grey scale when you die, I thought we were supposed to see the light of Dwayna?”

    Dwayna’s gone. She left us!

    “What’s interesting here is that it sounds like, for one, you may have to carry around skills that are of absolutely no use to yourself. That banner of wisdom probably doesn’t help the warrior.”

    Don’t forget, when you’re holding a banner you’ll get different skills. Maybe there’s a way to build a warrior that would benefit from it? And everyone’s revival skill does not take up a skill slot 🙂

    • This is FANTASTIC!!!! I can’t wait for this game 🙂

      I’m so glad they don’t have a dedicated healing class. It makes players more resposible for themselves, and actually frees players up to take on a variety of roles, regardless of wich profession they chose. I love the new direction ANET is taking with this game, and am very tired of people complaing about all the new stuff. Its all great, and new, and differant! Games evolve, people, get used to it 🙂

      • I’m left wondering whether or not people will get stuck in traditional mindsets and end up tanking healing and dpsing anyway, but i do agree with you.

        its certainly a more open approach and i’m looking forwoard to it.

        couldn’t agree more with people complaining. wait until the game is out at least.

    • ahhh true. but what could a banner of wisdom possibly grant to a warrior that would be useful and make sense? Also you can drop those banners so most of the time i’m assuming you would purposefully leave the banner on its own and use your sword etc.

    • I think there will be some skills that won’t be directly applicable to the professions that use them. This by nature promotes cooperative play. Also remember that you can change any/all skills outside of combat, so a warrior won’t have to carry around a banner of wisdom until he meets up with a caster who might request it.

      I’m thoroughly satisfied with everything presented in today’s update. Including the “as yet unnamed ranged profession” (i.e., Ranger) and the other information about the “new monk:”

      “Guild Wars 2 aims to propagate a new type of healer: a sort of armoured maniac who hefts his shield to intercept projectiles, strengthens his allies, and who isn’t useless when he’s caught in a quest area by himself.”

      Sounds like the second soldier Monk/Paragon/Dervish/Ritualist everyone has been speculating about (including me).

      • thats what I meant about the banner of wisdom.

        my thoughts on that paragraph are that I doubt arenanet would give them any solid information on the new monk or even if they did the writer would be mistaken enough to break any holds anet put on that information.

        he could have been referring to the fact that all classes have some kind of support role to play.

        but then again I had the same thoughts as you about the paragraph so i don’t know.

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