There will be no primary healing profession in Guild Wars 2. This news doesnt come as a complete surprise as there was almost no room for a dedicated healer in the profession lineup, yet it is still shocking to hear. Its almost unheard of to have an MMO where there is no dedicated healer or no dedicated tank, breaking the healer/tank/dps trinity. It does make a lot of sense to move away from this paradigm and explore more options with an outgoing game such as Guild Wars 2.
The Destruction of the Holy Trinity
There are a lot of games with dedicated healing classes right now, but these healing classes have evolved from their former selves to become some kind of hybrid killing machine/healer of wounds. For instance, World of Warcraft only gave the original healing classes enough DPS to reach level 60 originally and from there they become dedicated healers. Yet, the healing minigame is not for everyone and eventually the game had to compensate by making the DPS spec viable. Now, healers are not only lean mean healing/buffing machines but also machines of destruction.
We're making players more self sufficient, but are also providing appealing ways for them to effortlessly work together to create a more inspired moment-to-moment experience. That is why Guild Wars 2 does not have a dedicated healing class.
A more personal story would be when a friend and I explored Allods Online. I chose to be a Healer archetype and my friend chose to be a Psionicist archetype. In turn we found out that I was doing way more damage than he was, even though he was a dedicated damage dealer. This was the earlier levels, but it still left an impression that dedicated healers are given massive amounts of damage to make their class attractive past grouping making them some amalgamation of healing and death.
Various abilities will help shelter you from your enemies and heal wounds. Everyone will have one slot on their skillbar for these abilities.
Why should a game go out of its way to make a class fun by tacking on what all of the other classes have? Dedicated healers are not fun, except for those who really enjoy the healing minigame. To be honest, healing is a minigame. There are health bars and your goal is to press enough buttons to keep those health bars up. The actual fun, facing the boss and attacking him, is usually ignored except for where youre currently standing. Some people enjoy this playstyle, but the vast majority wants to deal damage and actually be involved in the fight.
With that I applaud this move to make Guild Wars 2 more action game and less Final Fantasy # or Star Ocean or Phantasy Star or Earthbound or Chrono Trigger or well you get the idea. It feels almost as if GW2 will be similar to action games like Fable or perhaps Morrowind.
Without a dedicated healer then how will players survive? Combat follows a very simple formula. Do more damage than the enemy does to you, compensation for healing. So, how are we going to deal without a healer? Simple, each class will get a dedicated healing slot on their skillbar. This support skill will assist in keeping you and your allys alive in battle, but will not be a dedicated healing spell that you cast over and over.
This will allow for dynamic action game like combat where youre trying desperately to control the incoming damage while dealing as much damage as possible before dying. Although dying is no longer a terrible thing, as you can read here. This means that everyone will be having fun casting spells, using attacks, and using their abilities instead of focusing on keeping the attention of a single enemy all the time or watching health bars move up and down.
This also comes with a great benefit:
We keep hearing other MMO developers espousing the "holy trinity" of DPS/ heal/tank with such reverence, as if this is the most entertaining combat they have ever played. 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.
Group compensation changes drastically when you no longer need 1 of X type of class, 2 of Y type of class, and 4 of Z type of class. You cant stall a group because you need a certain healing profession to come along. You can bring the player instead of his profession. Variety of support skills and buffs will likely be needed, but youll no longer be restrained to needing a certain profession type to succeed.
Really, this is the same philosophy that the original Guild Wars had for PvE. Henchmen existed to remove the need for having a healer or support classes and you could always bring a healing type secondary profession to manage yourself and top up others. Of course, henchmen couldnt work in PvP and whammos cant keep a group up in to an offensive spike.
The same may happen in PvP in Guild Wars 2, but I am in no position to judge right now. Well have to see how combat works and how the support skills will come into play as youre moving around. It may make PvP something incredibly amazing or it may be so different that it may not work.
I really think that this is a positive change and keeps with the theme of different yet fun that ArenaNet seems to be pushing out. This makes me want to play the game even more and, as an unintended consequence, possibly make it harder for me to choose a profession.
What are your thoughts? Come on over to the community forums and share your opinions. You can tell my opinion is glowing, but dont be afraid to share yours good or bad.
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