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Guild Wars 2 Column: Heals for Everyone!

By William Murphy on August 16, 2010

A couple of weeks back Garrett talked a bit about the “Downed Abilities” Guild Wars 2 will be using to allow players to save themselves from death when they’re on the verge of defeat. The whole thing reminds me a lot of being able to still use your pistols in Left 4 Dead while downed, in hopes that your teammates will come to the rescue when able. But that’s only one half of the equation when it comes to how GW2 is dealing with death and healing. Also mentioned in Jon Peters’ recent blog on the official site is the fact that there will be no strict reliance on dedicated healers in Ascalon. In fact, there’s simply no dedicated healing class whatsoever.

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Wrapped into the recent design manifesto video released by ArenaNet, the team talks about how they really just want to make sure their players spend their time having fun. And one surefire way to do this is to take away the need to spend two out of three hours online looking for a healer when your group needs one. Their solution to this age old problem is so simple yet terrifying to the stalwart players among us (myself included): let’s just ditch the notion that every MMORPG needs a dedicated healer. What could go wrong, right? And really, the more I think about it, the more I start to realize that ArenaNet might be right. Maybe you don’t really need a healer in your game to hold everything together. Maybe each class can contribute to the support of the party, with some classes being capable of a bit more certainly, but mostly the idea is to spread the wealth in terms of supporting the group and keeping each other alive.


Look, we’ve all been there. We’ve all been a part of a group that finds itself too reliant on a poor healer who may be more than equipped enough for the job but simply can’t click buttons fast enough to keep us all alive. Likewise we’ve all been a part of a group where we think we’re golden because we have our healing messiah only to find out that he or she is not as seasoned as we were led to believe… a discovery that results in our repeated deaths. Some time ago it was decided that classes should pretty much fall into the holy trinity of tank, damage, and heal. Jon Peters and the rest of the folks at ArenaNet seem to think it’s best to mix that up and give us a different take on the traditional tripod of MMO class roles: damage, support, and control.


But rather than just let all classes then have healing abilities, the beauty of GW2’s proposed system (and I emphasize that word because we don’t know if they can pull it off just yet) is that it allows players to mix classes as they did in the original. One example the aforementioned developer blog gives is of an elementalist using an AOE healing rain that will rejuvenate all allies in a specific area. It’s not that there won’t be healing abilities, it’s just that the entire game is being designed from the outset with the notion that a singular class doesn’t need to be centered on the healing mechanic.


So instead each class will be given different ways in which to support their groups. Whether it be with an onslaught of pure damage to the enemies, or with some defensive and offensive boosts, or with controlling the foes with knockdowns, interrupts, blinds, and knockdowns everyone will have something to offer the party. And what’s probably more important is that combined with the downed abilities, every class will be able to revive team members on the battlefield. No more waiting around a town or city looking for someone who can keep you from running back to the battle from the nearest graveyard, and no more waiting or in some cases even paying someone for their ability to heal. Guild Wars 2 is aiming to take away a lot of the reasons we MMO gamers get annoyed with whatever game we play. And while it remains to be seen if they can pull it off, there’s certainly reason to be hopeful.

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