Guild Wars 2 Updated Q&A - First Details on Guardian Class

Arena Net designers Jon Peters and Isaiah Cartwright unveil the new guardian profession in Guild Wars 2, as well as discuss more details on the game and how it will differ from the original Guild Wars.

The original Guild Wars was a hack-and-slash action role-playing game that was notable for a lot of reasons, like its beautiful artwork, unique network technology that quickly streamed the game onto your computer from a tiny installer file, and kind-of-but-not-really massively multiplayer gameplay. It was also notable for its unusual profession system, which let you choose two different professions for your character, so that you could be an assassin with monastic healing powers or a bow-and-arrow-wielding ranger with an assassin's teleportation powers. It's already a matter of public record that Guild Wars 2 is removing the dual profession system in favor of one character, one profession. But as Arena Net game designer Jon Peters and systems design lead Isaiah Cartwright explain, this change in focus isn't a bad thing. It's a good thing that will let players take advantage of each profession's unique powers while being able to do a little bit of everything.

In fact, according to the two designers, the newly revealed guardian profession is a perfect example of how Guild Wars 2 will let players focus on a single profession while being able to take on multiple roles in battle. Guardians are intended to be among the most powerful support characters in the game, thanks to their wide array of magical powers that buff (strengthen) teammates and change the playing field with AOE abilities (area-of-effect abilities that change the properties of the surrounding area). These powers and abilities take the form of symbols--magical icons that appear on the ground beneath their feet to buff allies or hamper enemies, as well as wards, which are also placed on the ground but act as walls that prevent movement. The profession can also use an aegis ability to block an incoming attack, along with spirit weapons--ghostly weapons that, when summoned, deal a powerful blow in battle before disappearing. But despite these skills, guardians can also take the frontline and occupy their enemies' attention (also known as tanking in online game parlance) while less-armored allies cast magic spells or sling arrows from the back, wielding two-handed weapons, such as hammers, greatswords, and staves or one-handed weapons, such as maces, swords, or scepters. Guardians also possess three different virtue abilities, which can be toggled on or off to grant powerful bonuses either to the guardians themselves or to teammates. These include justice, which causes your weapons to deal additional burning damage; courage, which activates the aegis blocking ability; and resolve, which triggers health regeneration. For even more information, we sat down with Arena Net's designers.

GameSpot: Give us an overview of the guardian class. What are the profession's main features? What kind of player will find this class appealing?

Jon Peters: The guardian is one of our soldier professions--a heavy-armor profession. Some of his main features include going back and forth between magic and melee attacks. He's built to appeal to players who want to help other players, basically. He's a more support-oriented profession. His profession mechanic is virtues, a personal buff, which he can sacrifice to help his allies. We've boiled down what we think is the core of the healer profession in other games. We don't think it's really all about clicking on health bars and then clicking on "heal" buttons. We think it's more about being able to give something of yourself to help your allies.

The mighty Guild Wars 2 guardian, reporting for duty.

Isaiah Cartwright: Some of the basics that we tried to root into this class, like with all of our classes, is versatility within the profession; being able to do different things. One thing that the guardian does is provide support, as John said, and help allies in a lot of different ways. Virtue is his core mechanic, but it's also built into a lot of his skills. He can build force fields and protect allies from projectiles and other types of protection. We really tried to mix in, throughout the guardian's entire list of skills, ways that he can affect his allies. A good example is the protector strike skill, which lets him perform a blocking move, similar to the warrior's block. But this one blocks for everyone in the area, so as soon as [any allies] in the area get hit, the guardian will perform a huge counterattack in the area that knocks back enemies. So this lets him run up to allies and block for them and knock a bunch of enemies back.

JP:And just to add some other examples…everyone has abilities along these lines. If you take a warrior and a guardian, and you need to defend a teammate who's being attacked, a guardian can place a ward on the ground, which is basically a line on the ground that prevents enemies from crossing. A warrior, on the other hand, might just walk up to the enemy, pull out his hammer and send the enemy flying or knock it down. So, the warrior's a much more brute-force class, while the guardian is more about tactically controlling the battlefield.

GS: Please explain the guardian's ward abilities. They're clearly positional, for instance. How can they be used with other characters' abilities? How can they be used with Guild Wars 2's interactive environments?

JP: One really great example is one of the guardian's ring-shaped wards, which lets you encircle a teammate to keep your ally safe. But this skill also has an offensive use; you can ring an enemy in with this ward and your allies can use their AOE spells to a much greater effect since this enemy is stuck and he can't move out of the ward as easily. So, the target of the ward is going to be forced to rely more on blocking than on dodging out of the way. It totally changes the dynamics of combat in a situation like that.

Guardians will come in all shapes and sizes.

IC: And if you're trying to run away, especially from enemies shooting projectiles at you, the guardian can use a wall of deflection ability to make those projectiles bounce right back at the shooters. You can use this to shield yourself from enemy fire, or you can use it to press into your enemies offensively. There's a real duality to the guardian's skills that lets him focus either on defense or on offense, depending on what the situation calls for.

JP: Another example is a focus skill called ray of judgment. You can target a group of enemies with this skill, which works a bit like a chain lightning type of effect that bounces between different targets. But this spell can also grant protective bonuses to any allies in the area, so you might even want to toss this skill into a fight where there are some allies in there too. Also, skills that are used with one single weapon are versatile for the guardian. While some other professions may have to swap out entire weapon sets to get the most out of their skills, the guardian can operate pretty smoothly without as much swapping.

GS: Can you comment on the abilities of the guardian as a solo class for players who either don't have time to meet up with friends or just happen to be logging in at odd hours? Is this one of the better soloing professions, or is there even such a thing in Guild Wars 2? Is the idea in the sequel to encourage players to group or to let them run solo with any profession?

This profession's wards and symbols can be used to control the area.

JP: Because of the character's profession mechanics, he works really well in groups, but he can also summon weapons for battle and use virtues in combat. So, that gives him options to do battle even if no other group members are around. Also, there are a lot of other non-player characters to interact with throughout the game, so even outside of a group, the guardian can interact with a lot of characters. I'd say whether he's going solo or grouped really just changes what he fights. Specifically, the guardian is really good at fighting slow-hitting, powerful bad guys since his aegis ability periodically absorbs an incoming hit; this lets him do really well when he takes on an enemy with a slower rate of attack. If he's by himself, he can take on these more-powerful, slower foes, like Guild Wars 2's ettins. So in a solo situation, that's more what you'd do. But in a group, you can take on some bigger enemies and support your party instead. So, as is the case with a lot of Guild Wars 2's classes, you can solo and you can group--you'd just be changing up exactly what kind of enemies you'd be fighting at any given time. For example, with a more-fragile elementalist, you probably won't want to take on an ettin since he can survive some of your magical powers and strike back. With that class, you'd probably want to take on groups of smaller enemies that you can blow up with your area-based spells. But when it comes to that kind of thing, it really just comes down to changing your tactics.

Guardians are, like pretty much all of Guild Wars 2's professions, balanced to be good when played solo and good to have in a group but not needed in a group. We're trying to remove the traditional tank, healer, damage-per-second roles you see in most massively multiplayer online games and let players have more versatility in what they can do…differentiating themselves not by their profession's roles but by their own personal playing styles. As a result, no individual profession in Guild Wars 2 is "necessary." Everyone has their own way of doing things, but every profession can resurrect fallen comrades. Every profession has healing skills, and those healing skills are the most efficient way to keep them alive. Every profession has the ability to swap between different sets of abilities.

IC: And I think what really differentiates the classes from each other is the way characters have certain specialties in the types of enemies they're most effective against. Again, the guardian specializes in taking on slow, powerful enemies, while other classes can deal better with other types of enemies. Warriors are a bit more versatile and can equip bows to start dealing ranged damage or use a melee weapon to damage a single target, whereas a guardian may have trouble with a horde of small enemies. That's really one of the things this class brings to the table, though if you don't have one in the party, that'll still be OK since there are other ways to deal with big, slow enemies.

GS: What does the profession mean for Guild Wars 2's grouping in general? The basis of group play in Guild Wars 2 no longer seems built around the traditional roles of tanking, healing, and damage per second. Instead, the game is going to be more about individual playing style and preference?

JP: That's absolutely true. One of the things that bugs us a lot about games like this is, for instance, if Isaiah, three of our friends, and I all like playing warriors, we shouldn't have to stop and have one of us create a different character because we needed that role in the party. I want to play--and I think other players want to play--with other people not because they chose the monk or priest or whatever profession I need, but because those people happen to be fun to interact with. So, combat is built around that idea.

IC: We designed an entire combat system around the idea that you can just grab your friends and go out and play. You get together, and yes, you're going to need someone dealing with the monsters beating on you, and you're going to need someone to deal damage, and you can have someone supporting you, but the idea is that every single profession can do any of those things. There are going to be professions that are better at support; some that are better at doing damage, some at taking beatings from monsters. And the guardian is pretty good at taking the beating or providing support for the group. Those are the two areas where he can really contribute, though he's not necessarily the best damage dealer. He is, however, one of our top-tier support characters. He's very good at taking or mitigating damage using his aegis abilities. But the idea with Guild Wars 2 is that players should be able to change up their roles. If a party's frontline fighter dies, someone else can come in and take on that role. We're trying to change combat and make it more dynamic than what you may have seen in other games.

The guardian can shield his allies from damage or wade into the fray himself.

JP: Let's say we actually all do have different professions, and I happen to be playing a guardian and I'm using my defensive abilities. In a way, this situation dictates that if other party members want to stay alive, they need to stay near me. But when I go down, the warrior might have to take over, or the elementalist, or whoever. And what ends up happening with is that that other profession might provide a very different kind of support, and that changes how other party members will have to carry themselves in battle. This is where the combat becomes more dynamic.

GS: Even though Guild Wars 2 is dropping the first game's secondary profession system, we can see that the guardian has a ton of different skills and assume that the other classes will also have a good variety of different abilities.

While Guild Wars 2 will have single-profession characters, every character class can heal, revive, and do battle.

JP: Well, we have done some compartmentalization [of character development] with our weapon system, but we do still have a lot of that whole "Let's work on a character build" approach in Guild Wars 2. It's true, we don't have the secondary profession system anymore, but you can still have millions and millions of different combinations of different characters. More importantly, we've made it really hard for you to have a bad build. In the first game, for instance, you could create a warrior with eight shout abilities on your hotkey bar and not actually have the ability to kill anything. So you'd just die in a really bad way. But there are still tons of combinations you can make, a la Magic: The Gathering, especially considering all the different weapon types and healing skills and utility skills you use. Admittedly, yes, there are fewer combinations this time around since there's no secondary profession anymore or the breadth of skills we had in the first game, but there are two levels of depth in Guild Wars 2. First, what kind of characters are in your party; then, there's what type of character you yourself are. A guardian wielding a staff is vastly different from a guardian wielding a hammer. The idea was to really change up the way professions play based on the weapons they're holding. The way that elite skills in the first game--the way they changed up their entire characters--is the way weapons will change things for characters in Guild Wars 2. A sword-wielding warrior is a totally different character from an axe-wielding warrior, to say nothing of which skills you've decided to equip. They're going to be fundamentally different characters. A staff-wielding guardian is going to be more of a support character who hangs out in the back, while a hammer-wielding guardian is going to be in the front, dealing damage.

JP: I'll say that taking out secondary professions made everything a little more sane. In the first game, if you have a profession like the assassin that can teleport and a profession like the mesmer that can manage its energy levels, all of a sudden, everyone can do those things since you can just pick one as a secondary profession. So, by taking that away, we're able to focus on these single professions and ask ourselves what the playing style for this character is really going to be. What's going to differentiate this playing style so we can still give this character options in battle without taking away from its ability to feel like a unique profession? We know people like to feel like they're doing something unique when they choose their profession--it's a big choice to make. We don't want to take away that choice. We just want to make it a different choice. How do I want to play, rather than what do I want to play.

GS: Tell us about how you're designing the game's adventure areas and battles so that players using totally different parties with totally different classes (and possibly different specializations?) experience encounters, quests, and exploration that are equally rewarding.

JP: In the first game, something I felt was a limitation in certain ways was that enemy creatures all used player skills. That's not the case anymore at all. In fact, every creature in Guild Wars 2 has been redesigned from the ground up to answer the question: What does this creature really do? How can we make this creature interesting on its own? Again, going back to ettins--they have this big, overhead smashing attack that knocks down everyone in the area. Other monsters will have their own unique abilities, so as a player, you're tasked with figuring out which tools you have to deal with this next enemy's specific powers. That's how the encounters are set up…to be different and interesting challenges on their own. We give you the tools. You don't have to go back to town or anything. As long as you're not currently in combat, you can open up your inventory and try some other utility skill or some other healing skill. While you're out in the world, you have the opportunity to change what you're using. So really, are areas being built for specific professions? No. We're really just trying to build different, interesting challenges, and every profession will have different ways of dealing with them.

IC: And because of the way our content is set up, you might find some crazy challenge when you're out playing the game, and this will totally change the way you play. You might be out beating on some ettins, and the next thing you know, some event starts up and you have to deal with a completely unexpected new threat. So, we're really trying to push players to the limits of what they might be used to and encourage players to explore all the aspects of their characters.

GS: Could you give us a general update on the game's development? What part (or parts) of the game is the team focusing on now?

JP: We're working on professions, and everyone else is working on finishing the game. That's basically all we can say. We're working on everything and trying to make it all as good as it can be.

GS: Finally, is there anything else you'd like to add about Guild Wars 2?

Guild Wars 2 will launch later this year.

IC: I'd say that the guardian is one of the professions we've really tried to focus on as a support profession. I know a lot of people are concerned that we've made a character that's going to be required for a successful adventuring party, but from the ground up, we've been making sure that isn't the case. You don't need to have this character in every group, but it's still an amazing, fun character. And there are plenty of people here at the office who love playing it.

JP: Yeah. You look at this character with heavy armor and glowing blue light around him, and you might think that Arena Net just completely went back on what it said about no specific healer roles, no specific tank roles, and so on. But it's just not true. The combat system is where that assumption breaks down since the way the guardian plays is really going to come down to player preference. This character, like all of Guild Wars 2's other characters, can do a little bit of everything. He may appeal to a certain type of player, but ultimately, the game is all about finding the players you want to play with--not the professions you want to play with.

Written By

Want the latest news about Guild Wars 2?

Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2

Follow

Discussion

80 comments
dr_jashugan
dr_jashugan

Now we will have to wait for the other 3 professions to be revealed. 8)

libyanstyle
libyanstyle

2011 is the year of mmo , and since gw is not a monthly fee`s game i hope it be as good as the other`s .

janrabbit
janrabbit

Guild wars had my favourite ranger class out of any game and now they are releasing a gunner too :O the choices!

stev69
stev69

That looks about as exciting as watching paint dry.

johncollins80
johncollins80

@Kooken58 It's all a matter of personal preference. For example: 1. I like the 1st one's controls, so if they change them in GW2 I think I'll really consider reversing them to match the original game's. 2. I hate seeing red letters on my screen saying "The target is too far" or "Out of range" that is present in some other MMO's, and I have always liked GW's automatic turning of my character to the target and automatic running to the edge of range. And regarding instancing - they've already explained that. Several times. It's all on the official website.

Kooken58
Kooken58

If they change the controls from the first one and your character doesnt do stupid stuff like automatically run in range of the target if they are out of range...then this game might be good. Just some of the stupid stuff from the first one I hated....like the instancing.

Dandyslayer13
Dandyslayer13

@simon1812; I'll I have to say is now you'll really have to keep an eye on the action and watch where your going especially when fighting near an edge:)

johncollins80
johncollins80

@sircyrus Well I'm glad that you have edited your post so it's clearer now. And I apologize for misunderstanding. Yes, it is from the last expansion, Eye of the North, just like the character from the first page's last screenshot - Asura guardian, which is why they are unknown to you.

simon1812
simon1812

I have a question, I just saw in the video how the guardian hits the monster with his hammer and sends him flying away... how is that going to work with edges? I mean will my character be able to kick enemies out of the edge of stuff like bridges or the roof of a building? will my char be able be thrown himself out of a bridge if Im not careful? and how would that work? will my char die without a chance or can he be revived either way? just curious.

simon1812
simon1812

sircyrus that little thing is an Asura, dude u have to know your games lore, and in part u r right their are totally out of place because their civilization happens to be underground, they were driven to the surface because of the threat posed by the destroyer (GW:EotN's villain) and its army. you should check the official website of GuildWars2 (or at least Guildwiki) for more information.

Jawad2007
Jawad2007

lol peniii loved this Game how can i not playing it :)

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

Looking great and well worth my money.If it can stay unique without any problems im happy.Well looking at this it will do fine.No true definition of role is fine. The comment about 5 people soloing in the same vicinity made me laugh though.Didnt he read that you switch your own role and forfill what you can?If you want to dps then go for it, if you want to heal go for it, if you want to tank then go for it.Just tell your party what your doing at the time then your fine.Communication solves most problems and will make sure its not a solofest or a requirement fest like a certain game we all know.Gearscores,item lvls, whats your spec??? Ya no im so glad i let that game expire on my account.

george43
george43

A brand new class not seen in the first title. I like it.

sircyrus
sircyrus

@johncollins80 Like Dandyslayer13 mentioned, I was speaking about the purple-eyed big head small body thing in the last screenshot of the first page of the article, not the last screenshot of the article. I only ever bought Guild Wars CE when it came out. None of the expansions. So if they're from one of those, I wouldn't have seen it. Right away it reminded me of the Gamecube Crystal Chronicles, Which given what was in vanilla GW, it seemed out of place.

sircyrus
sircyrus

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Dandyslayer13
Dandyslayer13

@johncollins80; I think he meant the Guardian Asura not the Norn village lol.

johncollins80
johncollins80

@sircyrus The last screenshot is of one of the Norn outposts/towns. I can't say which one exactly but to me it looks like Sifhalla. And I think you would know that if you have really played Eye of the North expansion, but if you haven't - how can you say it doesn't look like Guild Wars when you yourself don't know how does it look?

KarronX
KarronX

ooo man anyone knows anything about a release date? really like it.

TheDragonManiac
TheDragonManiac

thy the game cant release yet. this one going to be awesome

Dandyslayer13
Dandyslayer13

@Shinkada; Theres plenty of specific roles all ArenaNet is doing is allowing you to define your role not the other way around as it's always been. So if you want be a tank warrior then be a tank but if you want to do more than just tank with your warrior now you can! ArenaNet is just giving you the tools to build what you want. There not giving you the building or the plans for the building just the tools nothing more. On another note, I WANT THIS NOW lol.

sircyrus
sircyrus

What the heck is that last screenshot on page 1 of? It looks like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, not Guild Wars.

slapstik89
slapstik89

Can't wait, that's for sure. Been waiting for a decent MMO to come out, something that's a little different. Guild Wars always was a little different, and that's what made it great. Looking forward to some good ol' PvP.

Josh-Fu
Josh-Fu

I am hardcore GW fan, best MMO of its time and F2P cant beat that. I would like to see more diverse loot and more of an endgame to acquire great loots, versus just better looking costumes. If they fix this I am in all the way.

crusaderno1
crusaderno1

I love the game, no question! But I do like the part of the interview, where it says below the picture, that "Guild Wars 2 will launch later this year.". Simply love it, and hope they'll finish it really soon!!

Lellz
Lellz

This is really cool! Can't wait for the other classes! GO GW2

danyjr
danyjr

@Shinkada What you said about 5 people soloing in the same vicinity is completely wrong. Not having specific tank/healer/DPS classes doesn't mean these roles don't exist. The difference between GW2 and your typical MMO is that roles in GW2 are much more dynamic. This is really the true meaning of hybrid classes. Often in games, you have classes that, while they are known as hybrid, their role remains either tanking, DPS or healing in a scenario, but not all of them at the same time. In Guild Wars however, your roles varies from fight to fight, and even within a fight. You may have to tank at the start, heal at the same time, and switch to DPS when necessary. That brings a lot of depth and creativity to gameplay. It rewards dynamic players who can switch roles when needed. If ArenaNet make this work, and I'm optimistic about this knowing they are quality developers, Guild Wars 2 is going to be a massive hit. No monthley fees? How are others going to compete with them?

okumuyesui
okumuyesui

guildwars gameplay videos (not actual gameplay) always came sucks to me, why dont you use actual game play videos with interface which is probably awesome :) . guildwars 1 also introduced this way and after i bought game i saw actual game play is cannot be compared with this type videos. different angles bla bla sucks. you are making awesame game im waiting with my four eyes but this video looks like silk road ...

Azghouls
Azghouls

Hope the mesmer makes a return...or some kind of hybrid. That class was my favourite.

sandman663
sandman663

seems like a combination of monk, ritualist and paragon, with a touch of warrior and elementalist thrown in, should be interesting

tomio160
tomio160

Oh my god, comparing this to other mmo's coming out this year it's hard to think this is going to be without monthly fees.

saladin03
saladin03

@Morfessa Have you even seen any gameplay footage before you made that comment? Anyway i just came....

Shinkada
Shinkada

I'm still a little worried about this whole 'no specific roles' thing. I mean of course I can see the good but it's going to be very hard to pull off. Just like Guild Wars 1 had a big problem of pigeon-holing players too hard to the point where they were too specialized, you can't just swing the complete other way and give players no specialty or it doesn't feel right. What's the point of healing if everyone can do it? What's the point of tanking if everyone can do it? Eventually you're not really working as a team, you're just five people soloing in the same vicinity. I really do hope this works out well though because certain things - such as the graphics especially - are just amazing.

Franknight
Franknight

GW2, MS3, DAO2 mmm lots of good PC games coming this year. Even the Duke is coming out. Poor pocket. ;)

digitalheadbutt
digitalheadbutt

I will buy it just to support a company who employs so many cool artists :P

Slagar
Slagar

Awesome. Just awesome. Can't wait for this game, I hope it really pays off for these guys. ... now can we have the Mesmer? ;)

whitemute
whitemute

God I can't wait for this game. Serenity now!

simon1812
simon1812

sounds interesting, I'l give it a chance to this guardian, though I favor brute force -my very first character in GW is warrior- I changed later to the scythe-carrying dervish whose style I found far more interesting and useful, cant wait to see what the other professions are about. PS Im hoping for something dervish-like next...crossing fingers till then :P

aryeec
aryeec

So far, Guardian is gonna be my first pick. I love playing any Cleric-type class/profession. So fun!!!

Undead-Souls
Undead-Souls

ArenaNet sure is crafting one hell of a game! All this goodness without a monthly fee. Take that Blizzard! :D

danyjr
danyjr

I'm definitely going to be a Guardian!

Nodashi
Nodashi

@Oyeboy94 YEah, that's one of the reason that didn't make me excited. I want the Ritualist at the game. It's the MOST suport-centered class in GW1 imho. This paladin lowers the probability of a ritualist being on the game. Well, I hope not. I think the ritualist is much more interesting and new that the old paladin.

winyon
winyon

@Morfessa What are you talking about, the animation is great. If you want to complain about animation, you should check out SW:TOR. Man I hope this will come out soon, been waiting for it a long time now.

Oyeboy94
Oyeboy94

@Nodashi You can't expect ArenaNet to be able to please everybody. You may not like it, other people may not like it. But the support type players will like it. It's called versatility, MMO's that revolve around teamwork wouldn't work without support...so, just sayin'.

tiggerlu
tiggerlu

What would make GW2 a total winner? A true physics engine, destructible environments, true physics knockbacks...yeah!