It sometimes seems like we’ve been waiting decades for the release of Guild Wars 2, so much so that I’ve been trying not to get too excited about it because I can’t sustain that level of excitement for that long. With the potential release date now firmly within our lifetimes, I’ve allowing myself a teensy treat, and have taken a look at the available Guild Wars 2 classes.
Classes in Guild Wars 2 are actually referred to as “professions”, which is quite confusing for those of us more used to playing World of Warcraft, but which makes sense within the context of the game. There will be eight professions available, each of which brings with it unique abilities, mechanics and playstyles. Let’s take a look at what we know so far.
Warrior classes are not normally all that appealing to me in RPGs. A warrior’s core ability is usually “hit things”, with their specialist skills usually boiling down to “hit things harder”. The Guild Wars 2 warrior, though, seems a bit different. Guild Wars 2 places a lot of emphasis on the exact type of weapon you’re currently using, and the warrior profession takes this to the extreme, allowing very different abilities for each weapon. Crucially, the warrior can equip two weapon sets, and switch between them during combat, allowing the warrior to be extremely versatile.
It’s all about the tool belt. Like Batman, Mario, and the guy who turns up to fix your sink, the engineer relies heavily on his tool belt, which can be used for a myriad of different purposes from explosions to healing.
Engineers also have the ability to deploy ‘turrets’ – static devices which can be used to defend and control an area. This feels to me rather similar to the playstyle of a Shaman in World of Warcraft, so it’s probably not the class for me. I could never get the hang of playing a Shaman.
Pets! And bows! And traps! Of all the Guild Wars 2 professions, the ranger seems to be the one that has the most directly-corresponding World of Warcraft equivalent – the hunter.
Guild Wars 2 rangers are the only profession with access to animal companions. They can also set traps, use either a shortbow or a longbow, and slip into stealth to avoid (or sneak up on) enemies.
Now, this I like. The Guardian is a protection class, with the key mechanic being her ability to temporarily disable some of her powers in order to ‘transfer’ them to her allys. So, for example, Guardians regenerate health passively, but can stop their own health regeneration to provide a regeneration effect to all nearby allies.
The whole idea of this profession seems to be based around the idea of placing the group above yourself. That’ll go against the grain for some traditional MMORPG players, for whom personal performance is the only viable metric, but that’s why I think it’s such a great idea. Encouraging players to value the achievements of the entire group, rather than their own personal achievements, will make for a really interesting game.
There’s a cast-iron rule with any vaguely-Fantasy setting: there’s always a Thief. It might be called a rogue, or an assassin, but it’s always there: a dagger-wielding, shadow-dwelling, be-cloaked figure of dubious morality.
Guild Wars 2 is no exception to this rule, but the GW2 thief comes with a couple of unique selling points. First of all, some of the thief’s skills will be determined by the precise combination of main hand and off-hand weapons she wields, which is pretty cool. That means you can choose whether to fight like Drizzt Do’Urden with blades of equal length, or like his nemesis Artemis Entreri with one long blade and one short (If you haven’t read any of RA Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms novels then that reference will be lost on you, but take it from me – it’s cool).
The other great “twist” on the thief class is the way a thief can steal from her opponent. “Big deal,” I hear you cry, “nothing new there.” Ah, but there is. You see, the thief steals from her opponent in the midst of combat, and can then use what she’s stolen as an improvised weapon.
For example, when stealing from a moa bird, a thief might get a handful of feathers that they can throw to blind enemies around them.
It sounds like tremendous fun, but I don’t think it’s the profession for me. Somehow it just feels a bit too gimmicky, and I suspect a lot of players will roll thieves. Call me contrary, but I’d rather go for something that won’t be as popular.
The closest thing that Guild Wars 2 has to a mage class, the elementalist profession relies on an affinity with the four elements: Earth, Air, Water and Fire. The elementalist can attune herself to one specific element, giving access to unique powers and abilities. Interestingly, the elementalist can change her attunement in the midst of combat, which suggests that this will be one of the most flexible professions.
The Necromancer apparently gains power whenever an ally or enemy dies, which is an interesting mechanic. It’ll be useful during PvP battles, or for a long run of trash mobs, but I can’t see how the necromancer will be able to accrue any power during a standard single-target boss fight (except once the fight is over, obviously). I’m sure there’ll be a solution provided, so I’m looking forward to seeing what it is.
The unique ability of the necromancer is to enter the death shroud. Once this happens, the necromancer leaves her body and becomes a sort of spirit presence, immune to stuns and knockdowns. The necromancer’s Life force (the power accrued when an opponent or ally dies) becomes an effective health bar. Once the life force runs out, the necromancer is returned to her body.
It’s quite an interesting idea. It remains to be seen how well it will work in practice, but it will certainly make the necromancer a complicated and challenging profession to play.
Which to choose?
It really does look like Guild Wars 2 will have something for everyone, with professions suiting all manner of playstyles. It also seems that each profession has quite a lot of capacity for variation, so you’ll be able to tailor your character to favor the aspects of your profession which most appeal.
I loved playing my hunter in World of Warcraft, and it looks likely that the GW2 Ranger profession will be just as much fun. I hope we’ll be able to take some really weird and exotic creatures as companions, as well as the traditional cat/wolf/bear trilogy.
The necromancer also looks quite good fun, if only because the playstyle feels like it will be vastly different to the other professions. It also provides the opportunity for some great roleplaying conflicts (I still remember one of my first party quests in WoW, where another player refused to group with me because I played a warlock and her character “didn’t hold with that sort of thing”).
At the moment, though, I think my favorite of the Guild Wars 2 professions has got to be the Guardian. The idea of a character entirely built around the idea of weakening herself to aid her companions is too good to resist. From what we’ve seen in the Guild Wars 2 teaser and trailer videos, guardians get stuck in right in the middle of the combat, too – so no standing at the back and quietly healing for us! We’re going to be right there kickin’ ass and chewing gum … and we’re all out of gum.
One more still to go
Seven professions have been revealed so far, but Guild Wars 2 will have eight professions in total. The final profession is yet to be revealed, but it looks likely that it will be another Scholar class, like the elementalist and the necromancer. Beyond that, we’ll just have to wait and see … but I reserve the right to change my choice if the final profession is really cool.
Quote taken from the list of professions on the official Guild Wars 2 website.
Have you decided what Guild Wars 2 profession you’re going to choose yet? Do you have any more details, sneak-peeks or speculation? Are you about as ready to explode with excitement about Guild Wars 2 as I am? Let us know in the comments!Read more →