Thursday, November 4, 2010

Class differentiation in GW2

When it comes to class design the devs of Guild Wars have said that they want to move away from a strict holy trinity system, where the role of a class is often rigidly and narrowly defined. This post is taken from a discussion about the supposed BML (Blue Mace Lady - speculation based on a piece of concept art) profession, and what role that class might fill in terms of gameplay. The concept art and other bits of information suggest that the BML will be some sort of heavily armored defender capable of using magic. Something close to a Paladin. My post was in response to someone who claimed that classes in GW2 no longer have a "specific focus" when it comes to gameplay. Here's my take on that idea:

Even if classes are capable of doing a lot of things, I hope they still have one advantage that's unique to the class, or at least one area where they excel. It shouldn't be as simple as saying BML's heal and warriors do damage, but every class should kind of have a sliding scale of various things that they focus on. For example:

Warrior: melee damage > melee control > maneuverability > party buffs > survivability > ranged physical damage

BML: party protection > survivability > healing > melee damage > ranged magic damage > melee control

Now, each individual player would be able to modify this scale with weapon choice, utilities, traits etc., to the point where any one of those roles could be their area of expertise, but the chart shows where your class is the most versatile. You might be able to build 9 different viable variations on a melee damage warrior, but there's only 1 viable way to play a ranged damage warrior; or there are a lot of ways to play a prot BML, but if you want to play a melee control BML your options are narrowed down significantly.

That's kind of how I see GW2's system playing out. So to say BML is a defensive/support focused character doesn't mean that's the only thing it's capable of, it means that the player who knows they want to play a defensive/support role will find the most flexibility and freedom determining the specifics of how they carry out that role if they pick a BML. On the other hand, the player who picks a BML because they like the way it looks, or they just want to be a holy warrior or whatever, will still have the option to play whatever role he wants without feeling gimped.

If classes don't have any strengths or weaknesses, or specialties of any kind, then it kind of defeats the point of a class system as far as i'm concerned.

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