Guild Wars 2 breaks the shackles of life, death, and the holy trinity

I feel increasingly that big upcoming MMOs are now marketing to the post-WoW player base. Instead of “If you like WoW, try this too; it’s like WoW with new content/ free,” we’re getting more targeted messages which can be interpreted as, “If you liked WoW but are tired of it, try this; it’s like WoW with a new twist.”

So we have Final Fantasy 14 with the ability to switch classes any time you like. We have SWTOR with the long class specific storylines and smart companions. And then there is Guild Wars 2.

Of all the new AAA MMO devs, Arenanet seem most inclined to pry apart and rebuild their MMO from the ground up. Maybe once we all get to play it, the reaction will be, “Huh, it really is just like WoW with a couple of minor twists. Psych!”  Or maybe they’ll be forced to make the game more WoW-like after taking player feedback.

But the current dev blog slips some intriguing details about their plans.

Always look on the bright side of death

In GW2, there will be a two stage death process. After your character has lost all their health, they are downed. They will still have some special last ditch abilities that can be used in a downed state, so they can still contribute to the fight while hoping someone else will come heal them. If you actually manage to kill an enemy when you are downed, then you recover!

Then if a downed player is attacked some more, they can be defeated – which sounds more like a classic MMO death. You can either be ressed by another player or return via a waypoint/ graveyard (and they will let you pick any waypoint which you have already discovered on the world map which opens up some possibly unintentional opportunities for death travel.)

This has similarities with the current D&D rules, in which a player isn’t actually dead until they are on –10 health. At 0 health, you’re down and bleeding but not yet out.

I find this concept very appealing. I like the idea of having a last ditch chance to throw a rock at an enemy, get in a lucky shot from prone position, or something similar. I do think it will make near death experiences a lot more exciting in the game.

Also, does any warrior not wish they had this ability (given as an example of how some character abilities will interact with the fallen/ defeated state). Res/ rally someone by killing a monster nearby? Yes please!

… when a warrior uses “I Will Avenge You,” and then kills an enemy nearby his fallen allies, his allies will rally.

It’s always people who hate healing who want to destroy the tank/heal/dps trinity

Every time I’ve read an article by a player or developer who wanted to destroy the holy gaming role trinity, it’s always been someone who hated healing. Is it really only healers and support classes who benefit from the trinity setup? I always rather liked having such different roles available.

Anyhow, the GW2 devs want to go a different route.

We keep hearing other MMO developers espousing the “holy trinity” of DPS/ heal/tank with such reverence, as if this is the most entertaining combat they have ever played. Frankly, we don’t like sitting around spamming “looking for healer” to global chat.

It might be truer to say that they aim to redefine the trinity and share the responsibility across all classes. So instead of dps/heal/tank, they discuss dps/support/control. I think it’s a great idea to identify tanking with control and share the responsibility around the group.

But their definition of support is focussed on short term buffs and situational abilities rather than healing. I think it sounds fun and fast paced, but not entirely sure how much dedicated support players are going to like it.

Healing is for when you are already losing. In Guild Wars 2 we prefer that you support your allies before they take a beating. Sure, there are some healing spells in Guild Wars 2, but they make up a small portion of the support lines that are spread throughout the professions.

Having said that, the idea of someone at the back of the group casting heal spells while you take damage has never been particularly immersive.

Maybe it’s because I could use a break from the WoW-type formula that I’m intrigued to try this myself. I wonder though whether this new scheme will tend to encourage an ‘each for himself’ mentality in groups as opposed to deep roles for players to learn. It will be interesting to find out.

Does the notion of a more PvP style of PvE appeal to you?

(Hm, I wonder if it’s really a good idea to tag this post with ‘holy trinity’ …)

5 ways to kill your sister

I have recently been playing Alliance casually with my sisters (and some friends). They’re both excited at the prospect of playing Worgen and wanted to get some Alliance naturalisation in, and it’s a fun break for me – which is one of the reasons I’m not playing an alt in SAN right now.

One of them is (sensibly) levelling solo, and it’s fun to be able to all chat on the guild channel even when we aren’t hanging out in game. Hopefully we’ll later make up for that too.

We have also discovered that I am a dreadful tour guide. I could probably charge for thrill seeking tours of Azeroth, because even with the best of all possible intentions, many of my guided tours are punctuated with sudden, inevitable death.


Here’s some examples:

  1. A friend offers you both a portal to Shattrath while you both are low level. You take her up to the Scryer tier, forgetting that she is playing a draenei shaman. She gets teleported out into Terrokar forest, where lots of nasties lie in wait.
  2. You apologise and take her up to the Aldor tier to bind instead. As you head back down, you remember to say, “Be careful not to fall off the lift here,” just as she goes plummeting past you to become a draenei shaped splat on the floor below.
  3. You decide it would be a great idea to quest in Tanaris, and foolishly take the quest that requires exploring insect hives. This does not actually kill her, except possibly with boredom as you then get horribly lost. (Someone kill me if I ever suggest going to to silithus later on.)
  4. You are chatting lazing about stuff while both separately catching up on mining. There is a long pause, after which she reports that she accidentally rode off a cliff while typing.
  5. You forget to warn her that there is a horde camp right in the middle of the road through Feralas. The results are not pretty.

Good job she’s a shaman and has a self-res, huh?

Anyone have any other classic death scenarios to suggest if we want to make sure she gets the full Azeroth levelling experience? Particularly classic Alliance death scenarios.

ps. Happy Birthday for last Tuesday, Arbitrary. We celebrated with a special ‘falling off a cliff’ death.