Guild Wars 2 Looks To Redefine MMO Mechanics


If you’ve played any MMOs at all, you know that one of the most important things to consider when forming a group is whether or not you have the ‘Holy Trinity’ filled.

If you’ve never played MMOs, I should explain that the ‘Holy Trinity’ is DPS, Tank, and Healer. You pretty much need one (or more) of each of these to be successful, especially in higher level content.

Well, you do in most MMOs. Guild Wars 2 is looking to break that paradigm. In a recent developer article on the official Guild Wars 2 site, game designer Jon Peters kicks off his discussion of the new mechanics with this provocative statement:

“Guild Wars 2 does not have a dedicated healing class. Everyone take a deep breath. It’s going to be OK.”

While this article doesn’t go into massive detail on the mechanics behind the new implementation Guild Wars 2 is using, it does give a good luck at the philosophy behind it. Says Peters,

“Frankly, we don’t like sitting around spamming “looking for healer” to global chat. That feels an awful lot like preparing to have fun instead of having fun.”


So, every class will have the ability to heal. Every class will also be able to resurrect fallen allies, and do so from level 1. There will also be buffs that every class can bestow.

They’ve given tanks a similar treatment, renaming the role to ‘Control.’ In discussing control, they mention spells, roots, knockdowns, and other forms of controlling enemy movement. Nowhere are mechanics like aggro or hate mentioned.

All of this is intended to alleviate the difficulty in forming the “perfect” group, and allow players to get into the action that much quicker. I wonder if this will lead to players deciphering the “best” build that creates the most powerful character,and then forming groups comprised of nothing but that character. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

Another design decision that follows this same intent is the removal of any type of death penalty from the game. There are no debuffs, experience loss, ghost runs, or anything else. If you are dropped in combat, you’ll remain conscious, through prone. You’ll also have access to a few skills, called ‘Downed Skills.’

These skills allow you to continue to fight for your life while you hover at the edge of death. If you kill an enemy while in this state, you’ll rally and return to your feet to continue the fight, much like the “Fight For Your Life” mechanic in Borderlands. Still, if you fail to rally, you can release to a waypoint that you have already discovered on the map.

It’s a far cry from XP loss and losing levels, but the MMO market is far more casual oriented now than it was when Everquest dominated it years ago. It remains to be seen how well this will catch on with MMO players, but one thing is certain: Guild Wars 2 will be a MMO that will be quite different from any we’ve tried before.

If you’re interested, you can read the whole discourse over at the official Guild Wars 2 site.

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2 Comments on Guild Wars 2 Looks To Redefine MMO Mechanics

Chaos Squirrel

On July 9, 2010 at 10:15 am

Actually, the trinity is kind of a myth, many games have four class archetypes, including healer, tank, support, and DPS, with the support either keeping the party fueled or dropping adds to distract the boss. The demise of the trinity has been brewing for years, but this is quite a development for mmos never the less.


On August 20, 2010 at 12:43 am

what if you suck at healing in games? most mmos ive ran ive played support role or a dps, healing is fun but thats not for me, so what if i dont want the ability to heal? can i just have all dps or tank skills or is is manditory to have these healing skills for the sake of the grp, there is a reason people lose there mmos becuase they love to just do one thing and do it well knowing the next guy is doing his thing and doing it well. if i role tank class i want to hack and slash with no regards, and then be able to blame my heals for the wipe not be held responsible, this is going to just start another age of people telling other people how to play the game correctly, and will just fall into same old same old builds on how your suppose to play instead of testing new ways to overcome.