GW 2 lone wolves

July 27, 2013

GW 2 lone wolves
Races that were enemies in the first Guild Wars are now playable, including the feline Charr and intellectual Asura. You could easily draw parallels between the classes in Guild Wars 2 and most other fantasy MMOs, but the big difference here is there’s no trinity of tank, healer, DPS. Every race can be every class with no penalty, and every class is viable, so the selection critera for what you want your character to be really comes down to “What do I think is coolest?” Your class is important, your race is more or less a skin.

Grouping is also handled differently than most role-playing games. My friend asked me, “So is it a game like FFXI where you have to be grouped to get anything done?” No, I told him. “So it’s more solo stuff like The Old Republic?” No, I told him again. It’s not a contradiction; grouping has gone from a chore to my favorite feature, because Guild Wars 2 handles it organically.

Instead of thinking about grouping in terms of game design, think of it from a logical perspective: if you saw someone who was doing the same quest as you, doesn’t it make sense to team up? Share the bounty, share the experience. But other MMOs have relied on the all-powerful “/invite” command, and have decreed a group of adventurers shall number only five, and only these five can claim the experience of slaying a monster. You others will have to wait your turn.

That’s game design, not something logical that would exist in these fantasy worlds, and Guild Wars 2 dodges those stereotypical mechanics. When I run through the wilderness outside the city, I receive notifications of events nearby. Bosses, escort missions, collection quests and other things to do are peppered throughout the map, and a ring appears to highlight the area it’s taking place. See that giant ooze those adventurers are fighting? Help take it down! You’ll get credit, experience, and loot for your trouble, no /invite required.

You don’t even need to worry about threat management or playing a healer when you join up with these groups. There are no tanks, healers, or DPS specs in Guild Wars 2. Every class has a self-heal ability, every class can revive a fallen friend, and every class can deal damage. Enemy AI doesn’t accrue aggro the same as it does in most MMOs, so positioning becomes more important than threat level. It also gives a more personal feel to groups, as you’re no longer tied to staying below a threat threshold or dependent on someone else for heals. Whether that’s good or bad is debatable; I’ll admit to enjoying the MMO trinity and focus on teamwork it brings.

Earlier, I’d encountered another example of the Guild Wars 2 organic take to grouping. I bumped into a fellow Asura NPC who wanted me to check out a local laboratory. I could see plenty of other players heading in from where I was standing. “Crap,” I thought. Part of this quest meant killing bad guys, while another part involved collecting data crystals. With so many people heading in and coming out, I figured that it would be a considerable time before I could find a data crystal or enemy that hadn’t already been claimed by another player’s attack.

Turns out, I could help finish off someone else’s enemy and still get credit towards completion of the quest. As for the data crystals, they turned out to be the easiest of all. At first I thought it was a fluke or bug, but I saw it happen over and over throughout the world: people would run up to a collectible item at the same time as me and then run away, but the item would still be there. It wouldn’t disappear until I’d claimed one for myself. Yes, I was still collecting X amount of Y and slaying wandering mobs, but so far in Guild Wars 2, there’s not all that pesky “game” stuff to get in the way of the experience.