Pigeonholing Guild Wars

I’ve seen it several times since ArenaNet’s announcement of “no healers!” that people are very skeptical. Tell them there are no healers, no tanks AND no raids and the answer you’ll get from some of them is “I have never seen something like this and thus, it can’t work.” I haven’t played Guild Wars 2 yet. So I can’t say if it works or not. But I do believe that a company can release an MMORPG with no healers, no tanks and no raids and it will still be fun.

Either way, it reminds me of my little love&hate relationship that I had with Guild Wars in the beginning. Before Factions was released, ArenaNet had a “Factions Preview Event“. I got a key from a friend and so did bookahnerk. And off we went. He had previously played, among others, Ultima Online, Everquest and WoW. I had never played any MMO but WoW. And there we were, tossed into the world of Guild Wars with premade level 20 characters. I was totally, completely lost. I loved the graphics, I hated the movement (come on, no jumping? ^^ Thankfully, Guild Wars 2 will let us hop around like mad bunnies. *cheers*). But my main complaint was: 8 skills? Only 8 skills? I sat there, in front of my PC, nerd-raging: “How is that supposed to work? Skill comes from knowing which of your bazillion abilities to use at any given moment! This is crap! GAAAAAH!!”

I tried and tried but… the game didn’t grow on me. I actually don’t remember what made me buy it in the end. I only know that I kept bothering my friend with silly n00bish questions. There was something about the game that had captured me, after all (maybe just the feeling that I was missing the point seeing how the game was quite popular). She told me that I’d be better off getting “Nightfall” (the third campaign) to start because the tutorial is much easier to understand than the one in Factions.

However, the main problem was still: Why do I only get to take 8 skills? World of Warcraft lets me access all skills available to me at any given time! – It wasn’t until I read some comparison that I finally started to understand. I can’t remember if it was somebody from ArenaNet who compared their system to Magic: The Gathering. Oooh, I had played that! I even have a ton of cards (my favourite colour is blue, in case you wanted to know ^^)! And in Magic, you also build your deck. Something I actually quite enjoy doing. You choose a certain strategy, then you take cards out of a huge pile of cards that you own and use them in a game. You may own 1000 cards, but you can only use 60 of them in a match. And it makes sense because you’re using a certain strategy. And just imagine trying to play with 1000 cards at once! It’s the same with Guild Wars. You have access to 2 professions’ skills and build a “deck” with it. Here is an overview. The warrior has 140 skills, for example. I’m glad I don’t have to memorise all of them! ;)

Once I read the comparison of Guild Wars and Magic, the system was suddenly very easy to understand. Guild Wars was still the same game it was before. But now that I had a comparison, I didn’t call it lame anymore and started to really appreciate it.

It’s funny how our brains work (or maybe just my brain but I don’t think I’m *that* special ^^). It’s difficult to imagine a system that we’ve never seen before. Or imagine a system that’s so different from the ones we’ve seen in the last few years. And in some cases, we might jump to conclusions and say that this new system can only fail because we can’t imagine how it could work. On the other hand, Guild Wars already does work without a ‘tank’. At least, it’s not the kind of tank you know from WoW, Rift,… – so if they could pull that one off without it being too easy, why shouldn’t they be able to do it again but this time, without a tank OR a healer

I remain curious and really hope I can get to test the game on this year’s gamescom (note to self: Bring earplugs! We didn’t test the game last year because the stand closeby – was it TERA or Rift? – was so loud that my ears hurt after a few minutes and we left :( ).

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