Category Archives: Combat

Class names and expectations

Trove Candy BiomeI was just baking some bread while listening to a Trove stream (this one, to be precise) when the streamer was asked if Trove was going to add a healing class any time soon. I thought: Oooh, I would love that! But the streamer’s reply surprised me. “Yes, the candy barbarian will be somewhat of a healing class” (quoted by memory here). Candy barbarian… A healer. When I had heard that class’s name, I imagined a pastel coloured slightly pinkish guy running through cotton balls with an equally pastel coloured axe. Never once did I think that this guy could heal. I also always thought of “him” as a guy, even though my own character, Paeroka, is female and will always be female no matter which class I activate.

Back to the classes – I do have certain expectations towards classes. When I see a game (MMOs and RPGs mostly) I always look at what the classes are called. When they have “mage”, “warrior”, “hunter” and “priest”, I close the website almost immediately. No, thank you. If you can’t even have enough imagination to a) have more than those standard classes or b) at least give them more imaginative names, I can already assume that the game itself won’t offer anything new or intriguing either. Maybe I won’t do the game justice then, but that’s the thing about expectations.

Rift_Warrior fighting

Her build is a pretty standard warrior build: Run in, watch enemies die.

Of course, Rift is falling into that category. The main callings are named “warrior”, “mage”, “rogue” and “cleric”. But Rift advertised having souls and those do have unfamiliar names. My cleric can choose three our of ten callings: Sentinel, inquisitor, justicar, oracle, defiler, cabalist, purifier, warden, shaman and druid. Druid can call faeries to assist in combat, by the way. Purifier is a healing soul. So they clearly fit my expectations. But here comes to downside of having all those nice and imaginative names: I can never remember which soul is which. Justicar or inquisitor – which one was the tank soul?

GW2_Mesmer_Illusions

For those who don’t know, the mesmer in Guild Wars 2 can create clones of itself.

What I’m trying to say here is that a class’s name should ideally give you some kind of an idea what it is about but not be as bland and boring as “warrior”. Or at least, a game should offer more classes to choose from with some “better” names. Warhammer Online comes to my mind (though they had it easy seeing how it was an already established IP): Black orc, Disciple of Khaine, Zealot on the one hand and Engineer, Shaman and Swordmaster on the other. Guild Wars 2 has pretty generic class names mostly (warrior, elementalist, necromancer), but at least, they have more than standard 4 classes and add the mesmer which is a class name I haven’t seen anywhere else yet.

Long story short: Candy Barbarian will be a healer. Okay. I’m still looking forward to trying that class – I love healers, after all!

Pondering about which profession to choose…

WoWScrnShot_041710_184501When I wrote about my favourite profession in Guild Wars 2, I was looking at the topic from a pure PvE point of view. This entry is about WvW now.

I used to play World of Warcraft on a PvP server and I always hated it. As soon as I got the chance to get away (because I founded a guild with friends on a PvE server and later transferred to join a guild that bookahnerk had been with back in Ultima Online who are also on a PvE server), I left and never looked back.

The ironic part is that I actually love open world PvP. However, and here’s the big caveat: There have to be “safe” zones and going to either (PvE or PvP) zone has to be optional. I want to decide when I want to PvP or PvE! I do not want some random player who passes by to make that decision for me. Especially since that usually meant players that were much higher in level or had much better gear and thus, much better chances than me.

Defending a tower.

Defending a tower.

I found out how much I enjoy PvP when I played Warhammer Online. For those who don’t know: The game has 4 tiers, which are basically four level ranges. Each tier had different zones that belonged to the different race pairings. For example, dwarves and greenskins. So there you were, a level 5 player in the dwarf/greenskin T1 area. You could either do your PvE – regular quests or public quests (events) – or hop into the RvR lake which was marked on the map with a brownish border. When you entered the area that was marked as RvR, you got a warning and had a few seconds time to run back in case you did not want to get flagged.

This is what I miss most in my current MMOs. The ease of joining RvR when you wanted to (PvE and PvP was on the same map in each zone) and do PvE if you wanted to do that. There were clear borders (on the map, at least, not in the world per se). Joining was as easy as setting a foot into the area.

Guild Wars 2 Mini Lion CubAll this long-winded history of my gaming habits is just here to explain what I love about “world PvP”. For some reason, Guild Wars 2’s WvW hasn’t sticked with me yet. I’ve been in there a couple of times (almost literally) and I enjoyed my time there, but it seems to be so distant from the rest of the game that I find it hard to get in there, but yesterday, ArenaNet talked about the upcoming WvW area Edge of the Mists, and it makes me want to get into WvW!

The problem here is: As much as I love melee and swords in PvE, I do not like playing melee in PvP. So, the warrior is basically out. I did think about taking my mesmer there, but I really dislike that she’s so slow… or I’d have to get builds that make use of the focus which is a reliable way of getting some swiftness. On the other hand: Maybe this weapon IS the perfect one to use in WvW?

All I know is that I want something tricky to play. The warrior is too straight-forward. I absolutely loved playing a frost mage in World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade. That mage was about controlling, freezing, slowing, the enemies. Making sure they can’t hit you. Something like that would be great. And this is why I’m rambling about this topic. Maybe some of our readers can help me here. Which profession would resemble such a playstyle in Guild Wars 2? Maybe the engineer? Anything tricky that isn’t melee… it’s okay if it’s not easy to play. I get used to it… I hope. ;)

My favourite profession in Guild Wars 2

Before Guild Wars 2 had been released, I had already narrowed down my choice to play either mesmer or warrior. After the game had been out for a few months, I looked at the topic again and the mesmer had come out on top. Some of you may already know it, I am actually not playing the mesmer much anymore. My warrior is my main and I do all the high level content almost exclusively with her. But it’s not really the mesmer’s fault per se, instead, it’s more an issue with conditions not stacking above 25 and me not liking shatter builds. But I digress.

I was looking for a new profession to level to 80 on my main account. My guardian is now level 65, but she’s on my “German account” (the one I play on a German server). I really like the elementalist, but I couldn’t find a weapon combination I liked. The necromancer is cool as well, but again, I just could not settle for a weapon set. And then I tried the thief and after a bit of research, I found a build that’s supposed to be good for levelling. Don’t ask me about that build, I forgot to bookmark it and have since decided to just go with my guts. ;) The point however, is that I fell in love with the thief.

And then I realized it: My favourite “profession”, “class”, whatever you want to call it, isn’t the mesmer or the warrior. It’s also definitely not the thief or the elementalist. It’s much simpler: I fell in love with each of those professions as soon as they were holding a sword in their hands! Yes, it’s apparently that easy. Give me a one-hand sword and chances are high I will love playing the class. With one exception (in Guild Wars 2’s case): the ranger. There was too much leaping, evading, aimlessly moving around…

In general, I love the movement the sword gives you in GW2. The guardian has a teleport skill to get to the enemy fast, the warrior can leap, the mesmer can call a clone to the enemy and swap positions, the thief has shadowstep. On top of that, combat usually feels dynamic and fast. This is why it needs to be a one-handed but not a two-handed sword. I have never liked combat with two-handed weapons, no matter which game.

So, am I alone with that? Loving a certain… playstyle, I guess, so much that it doesn’t really matter which class you play, as long as there’s this little something that they absolutely have to have.

Seriously now, mesmer or warrior?

GW2 Combat MesmerBefore the release of Guild Wars 2, I had already asked myself whether I wanted the warrior or the mesmer profession for my main character. Oddly enough, I am not the only person wondering about this choice as I have regularly seen readers come to our blog because of the very same “dilemma”. The game has been out for several months now and I figured I would revisit this topic. Keep in mind that for me, the subjective measure of “fun” is the most crucial deciding factor and “min/maxing” or “doing the most damage” is a lot less important. So your mileage may vary, but perhaps I can still help you get a feeling for those two professions.

GW2 Combat WarriorWhen a game hasn’t been released yet, I look at which classes/professions I have liked playing in other games to judge which class/profession I may like in the new game. My usual routine in MMOs is to choose such a character to play to max level first, but on my way there or after reaching max level, I realize that the character actually is not the one I want as my main and switch. In World of Warcraft, I had a warlock then switched to (frost) GW2 Combat Mesmermage. In Warhammer Online, I had a Black Orc (though an odd choice for me at the time as I had never been a fan of melee or tanky characters until then) and then switched to shaman. In Lord of the Rings Online, I had a runekeeper and then switched to a warden (at that time, this choice was a lot less odd as I had since realized that I actually love playing tank classes). And in Guild Wars 2, I started with my mesmer and once she was at level 80, I switched to my warrior.

I don’t want to keep you in the dark, however, my favourite profession is the mesmer! My warrior had a short time of being my favourite but she quickly lost to the mesmer again. So, what is it about the mesmer then that makes her that much better? Let’s have a look at their playstyles.

GW2 Combat WarriorWith my mesmer, I primarily play with a staff and a sword/pistol combination. With the warrior, I usually play with a sword/axe and rifle combination. As you can see, both professions offer me the choice of playing close to or further away from the mobs. The difference here is that with the mesmer, I usually start at ranged with my staff and if the situation allows, I switch to the sword, teleport to the mob (“Illusionary Leap”) and hit in melee. With the warrior, I start by jumping towards the mob (“Savage Leap”) and if I find the situation too dangerous, I switch to the rifle and start kiting the mob.

GW2 Combat MesmerThe pistol in my mesmer’s off-hand may not be the best choice, but it is fun and stylish. I wish she could use a pistol in her main hand as well! On the other hand, I love going into melee every once in a while. It just feels more energetic and dynamic as a whole. Being a clothie, one would assume that the mesmer can’t survive in melee, but she can! “Flurry” is great for that as it gives her immunity to damage for a few seconds. “Magic Bullet” stuns the first target and dazes the second one for 2 seconds each. I play a condition-build and also have “Signet of Domination” equipped which, when used, stuns again for 2 seconds. And if all that doesn’t help and I need to get some distance, I switch to my staff, click “Phase Retreat” and teleport myself away from the mob. So far, I haven’t had much problems fighting against veterans, even with adds.

GW2 Combat WarriorMy warrior uses “Healing Signet” with my warrior which gives her passive health regeneration that manages to outheal poison. Very convenient if my skill to remove conditions (“Signet of Stamina”) is on cooldown. I love the signets with my warrior. They give me lots of passive goodies without having to worry about activating them all the time – unless I want to. But apart from that, there isn’t that much tricky gameplay with her. This is very likely due to my chosen weapons/build, but it is also because I miss the mesmer’s illusions. There is certainly less confusion (quite literally) for the enemies, and it feels lonely. I also regularly find myself thinking “kill it faaaaster” when there’s a dangerous situation (like a veteran with additional mobs coming in and my health going down faster than it regenerates) whereas with the mesmer, I just think “oh, this gets interesting now” and I find myself looking at which skills are still on cooldown and which skills I can use. E.g., can I heal, then stun/daze, then use damage avoidance until I can heal again? And if my own skills are on cooldown, I can destroy my illusions and use “Diversion” or “Distortion”.

GW2 Combat WarriorLong story short, I enjoy the gameplay of the mesmer a lot more than that of the warrior, even though sometimes, especially in dungeons, it can get frustrating because switching to melee can get too dangerous. You really need to know what the mobs can and can’t do and you need to judge when to jump into the middle of the combat and when to stay away. The warrior, on the other hand, allows you to go crazy even in melee, but she feels less complex.

Guild Wars 2: A FAQ for new players

You may already know the first version of this FAQ. I decided to rewrite it, update it and put newer screenshots in. So here is the new version. A very special thank you goes to Tasha Darke for reading through it all. I was hoping for a few bits of corrected grammar but she gave me very valuable feedback on top of that!

This FAQ is mostly for those who have just recently heard of Guild Wars 2 and now want to know more. If you have been following the game for years or even just months, if you have pre-purchased the game and if you have already played it, you are welcome to read it as well, but you will find a lot of information that you already know.

Since the game is still in development a lot of things are subject to change (yes, believe it or not, ArenaNet is handling the Beta Weekend Events like a real beta and is still changing things around). Also, new information comes out every now and then which might outdate what you can read here. If you notice any of that – or just errors that I’ve made – please comment (with sources if possible).

I am going to use the same categories that I have used for my “Rift vs. Lotro vs. WoW” posting already.

If you only want a very short overview, the following will hopefully be enough. There are lots of links leading you further down my posting if you want more information!

Before we start, we need to get two questions out of the way (as suggested by Pyzlnar on Reddit):
“Yes, you can jump!” – and no, this game is not an Asian-grinder and it is not made by an Asian company. It’s made by ArenaNet who is located in Seattle, Washington, USA (though they do belong to NCSoft but they only work as a publisher here while ArenaNet is the developer and thus, actually makes the game). Guild Wars 2 will also feature an open world and will not be heavily instanced like Guild Wars 1 is. Again, thank you, Pyzlnar, for these suggestions. You were right, they’re clearly missing and should be the first two points in any GW2 FAQ. ;)

OMG! When’s the beta? How do I get in?
If you have pre-purchased the game, you are automatically invited to all beta weekend events planned to take place roughly once a month until release. Do not confuse it with a preorder, though. Pre-purchasing means you pay the game in full! Beta keys are also available through giveaways and competitions from a variety of fan and gaming websites.
Wait, what?

How much does the game cost? Which extra security against hacked accounts do they offer?
You will have to buy the game itself but there will be no monthly fees. Without monthly fees, the follow-up costs are basically voluntary as there will be a real money shop (called “gem store”), but stuff you buy there will not give you more power and thus, won’t be required for the gameplay. Gems, the shop’s currency, can be bought in the game’s auction house (here called the Trading Post) for in game gold. Nothing is known yet about security like authenticators. There will very likely be system for account restorations in case you were hacked.
More on costs and security

What can I play and how do I play? – Races, professions and combat mechanics
You will be able to choose from 5 races: Norn, human, asura, charr and sylvari. Each race can be each of the 8 professions (often also called “classes”) in the game: Engineer, Thief, Guardian, Warrior, Elementalist, Necromancer, Ranger and Mesmer.

There is no holy trinity anymore! “Holy trinity” refers to characters that tank (the foes focus on the tank and leave the other players alone), characters that heal and characters that deal damage. In Guild Wars 2, every profession is self-sufficient up to a certain point and you will be able to play with any combination of professions without having to wait for “another healer” or “a tank”. Professions can interact with each other through their skills and support others.
More about races and professions

What does the game look like?
In short: Gorgeous, artsy, picturesque if you ask me. As with all games’ graphics, this is very subjective. Have a look at the various screenshots you can find online and decide for yourself if you like it.
Pictures and videos outsourced to below in order to keep the part up here short.

What’s there to fight against (PvE)?
First things first, there will be no regular raids in this game as you may know them from WoW or SWTOR! Instead, dynamic events in the open world that scale for up to 100 players. There will be several dungeons to play which will each have a story mode and the more difficult explorable mode. There will be no standard quests for playing either. The closest you will get to regular quests will be your personal storyline.
More about PvE

Who’s there to fight (PvP)?
There are 2 modes of PvP – Structured and World vs World.
Structured PvP, also known as Conquest, is somewhat similar to battlegrounds (WoW) or warzones (SWTOR) except everybody will be max level and have all weaponry and armor available to them straight out of character creation. So no gear advantages. 2 Teams (hot join or premade) fight it out on different maps for Glory, a currency which can be spent on better looking equipment and other (as yet unannounced) rewards.
World vs. world vs. world (frequently abbreviated to WvW) is the second mode. Three worlds (servers) will fight against each other for guild recognition and bonuses which affect the entire world. Players cannot fight players from the same server,as there are no factions, and while characters are buffed to have the basic stats as a level 80 character, gear and traits are not levelled (but you do earn experience in WvW which means that you can level your character in WvW). Servers will rotate every two weeks.
More about PvP

Grouping and socialization
In Guild Wars 2, you will be able to join more than one guild with one single character (I assume you will be able to create more than one character. So don’t misunderstand this sentence ^^). If you want to read our opinion about it, go here. If you don’t, well that’s just as well. ;)
Grouping will be in the game but it will not be forced on you like it is in other games. For example, you can attack a mob that another player is currently fighting. As you both contribute to the kill, you will both get the same amount of experience points and loot that you would have gotten if you had fought the mob on your own! In other words: Kill-stealing will not be possible!
More about Grouping and Socialization

I want to be on my own sometimes (- or: What can do I solo?)
The first thing that comes to my mind is the personal storyline. When creating your character, you get asked a few questions and can choose between different answers. That determines the starting point of your personal story. Other choices later on will further determine how your story evolves. You can bring a friend along to your storyline. But it will essentially be your story.

Guild Wars 2 will also have achievements. So that’s something you can do. You can also roam the world on your own or play a lone wolf in WvW – though I’m not sure how viable the latter is, apart from escorting the odd caravan. ;)
More about stuff to do solo

Crafting
There are 8 crafting skills to choose from and you can have two at a time: Weaponsmith, Huntsman, Artificer, Armorsmith, Leatherworker, Tailor, Jeweler and Cook.
Every character can gather all resources provided you have the correct gathering tool equipped which can be bought from merchants for gold or karma. A resource node can be used by several players, so it is not possible to steal such a node from under another player’s nose.
More about crafting

Fluff
There will be mini-pets just as in Guild Wars 1. Activities have also been announced but there haven’t been any recent details on them. “Bar brawl” was one of the activities mentioned, for example.

You will also have a home instance which is an entire district in the capital city of your character’s race. The home instance automatically changes with your personal story but you can’t change anything yourself (like putting furniture in).

Also, you will be able to change the way your armor looks. And there will be 400 different dyes in the game. Each piece of armor has 1 to 3 areas that can be dyed.
More about fluff

That was the short version. Its bigger brother will follow now, which also includes links for further reading. Most of the information can be found on ArenaNet’s blog or in the official wiki for Guild Wars 2.

Click here to see the full entry

Choosing between the mesmer and the warrior: Which one wins?

Update: The following post is from before the game’s launch. I wrote about this topic again after having played both professions for a bit longer. You can find the post here.

In case you’re new to my blog: I’ve been to the EUFanDay in Brighton where we got to play Guild Wars 2. After our return, we were allowed to write about our game experiences. So I’m not breaking an NDA here by writing about my time in the game and my thoughts about the warrior and the mesmer class. You won’t find any deliberate beta leaks (it’s sometimes hard to know where somebody got their information, especially on the game wikis or the various websites listing the classes’ skills) in our blog! But enough of that. On to the great big horrible dilemma: Should I play a mesmer or warrior (as my main character)?

You may wonder why it’s even a question because those two classes are really different. But now that we don’t have roles like tanks, damage dealers or healers anymore, it’s really a question of which playstyle you prefer. And no, it’s not even as easy as melee or ranged as both the warrior and the mesmer are capable of both. Though it’s physical DPS with a rifle or longbow for the warrior while the mesmer has a scepter, a staff or a greatsword for ranged magical damage. Yes, a greatsword. And since there are no auto-attacks, this means that the mesmer doesn’t actually hit enemies with the greatsword.

What I like about the warrior-class in general is that they’re usually… well, not exactly “easy to play”, but straight forward. They jump right into the battle and are generally not as fast to die than, say, a cloth-wearing mage class. And I do tend to get my character into trouble regularly by running forward without looking around the corner first. ;) So a warrior-class is usually the better choice for me as it leads to less frustration. While I was in Brighton, I tried out the warrior, of course, and the mesmer. So what was it like playing them? I played the mesmer for the first few levels in the Norn starter area. And I played a warrior in structured PvP (level 80, of course) and in a dungeon (level 30). I know this doesn’t make both classes 100% comparable. But I did get a general feeling of how it could be like to play those classes.

The warrior was more or less the standard that you would expect if you have played such classes before. I was told by two others that the warrior can dish out quite a lot of damage when played with a two-handed weapon (I was dumb and didn’t realise I could have two weapon sets once she was set to level 30. This was no upscaling, by the way! We had an NPC that allowed “members of the press” to level their character to 30 immediately, which obviously was too much input at once for me ^^). I went for my usual routine: Sword and shield! Together with traits/skills that gave me health regeneration, less incoming damage etc. I must say, I didn’t die that often during our dungeon run. I also don’t think I was in downed state too often (I didn’t count, of course). All in all, I was happy with her. She jumped into the fight and dished out damage. Occasionally, she could stun the enemy for a second or so (if I remember correctly, that even worked on bosses! What didn’t work was a knockback on some bosses. But my memory could trick me here ^^). What I loved, however, was the active blocking. I could activate this skill and block incoming damage for a few seconds while waiting for my healing skill’s cooldown to run out! Lifesaver in more than one situation, let me tell you. That was just a short overview of what I experienced. It was… as I had expected. A brute playstyle, always in the middle of the fight, never hiding or backing down. Well, dodging away but only to jump right back into the action! Guild Wars 2-style, of course! So yes, I had a lot of fun playing her. You do notice that the combat is different than in a lot of other MMOs. So even the warrior class, as straight-forward as it was, wasn’t boring to play at all. And that was just one weapon set (and just imagine what I could have done if I had realised I could use two weapon sets… silly me). There are so many other weapons to play with – and, of course, other traits and skills to choose.

The mesmer, one would think, is the kind of class I wouldn’t enjoy: She’s a cloth-wearing class that has a melee sword in her hand. That can’t go well, can it? But, amazingly, it did! At least for the few levels that I played her! Now she’s not as brutish as the warrior. She’s a mesmer, after all, elegant and skimpily dressed. You never play alone as a mesmer as you can have up to three illusions with you! ;) There are two kinds of illusions: The first one is called a “clone”. Those look exactly like you do. The second one is a “phantasm”. They are see-through and thus, easy to differentiate from you. They also have different weapons than your character (you can find more information on the official website). But you can’t control them in a way a pet class can. Which is good for me because while I like the control, I’m also usually annoyed with the whole micromanagement. You can, however, switch positions with an illusion for a few seconds after calling one (depending on the skill). Now, if your enemy (mostly thinking about PvP here) has you as their target, you won’t just disappear from their target when you call an illusion. However, if you’re in the middle of a fight and somebody else from the other side appears, it will certainly be fun hiding in between the illusions. Okay, I admit, I have no idea how difficult – or easy! – it will be later on once we’ve all got tons of experience under our belt. But I assume it’s great to have this moment of confusion for yourself.

As I said, I played my mesmer with a sword and a pistol. The pistol gave me two skills. One is a shot that gives a debuff to three different targets. Well, it gives three different debuffs, to be more precise. And the other is a phantasm with a pistol. I have to admit, I never paid attention to how much damage each of my illusions did. I only know that I was intrigued by this playstyle. It’s certainly not comparable to how a warrior jumps into the middle of a fight and still survives due to brute force. The mesmer relies on tricks (switching positions, going invisible for a bit, teleporting, etc.). The end result, however, is the same: Both attacked in melee, which I love doing, and survived, which is a nice side-effect, isn’t it? ;)

So, which one does win? It’s hard to say right now. I know that when I first heard about the mesmer, I was intrigued because it reminded me of my frost mage back in Burning Crusade’s WoW. But after playing the class, I know it’s even better. It’s a mix of that frost mage (playstyle-wise) and a melee class (if played with a sword) and it almost sounds like it was made just for me! I’ll definitely also create an asura warrior. But I guess the asura mesmer will be my main character. I like melee but I’ve been looking for a class like that frost mage (back in BC, the playstyle in PvP did change since then, unfortunately) and I’m just excited about trying out the mesmer and I do hope this class will give me what I’m looking for… which is a melee-capable class with lots of annoying tricks up its sleeve (and no, thief is out of the question because I’m too impatient for stealth).