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by Becky Cunningham
Previously, we have looked at the basic systems of Guild Wars 2 and the five races that players can portray in the game. Today we'll be looking at the eight professions that determine the main gameplay . There are no race-based restrictions on professions, so all characters can choose between the eight professions at character creation. This article will provide a basic introduction to the eight professions available in Guild Wars 2, including a look at their unique properties and skills.
Keep in mind that there are no specific tank, damage-dealing, or healing classes in Guild Wars 2. Each class has the ability to hold the enemy's attention, do damage, and heal itself, along with providing support to groups and interacting with others using cross-class combinations. Profession choice is all about how the player chooses to do these things, and each of the game's professions has a unique flavor.
The trusty warrior is, of course, a master of arms and armaments. Warriors wear heavy armor and can bring hammers, greatswords, longbows, rifles, axes, swords, maces, shields, and war horns to battle. A warrior's unique resource is adrenaline, which builds up during combat and can be released in a massive burst attack. Different weapon sets provide access to different burst attacks, which have a variety of negative effects on foes depending on the amount of adrenaline that was built up when they were activated.
Warrior skills are largely appropriate to the equipped weapon set, and each main-hand weapon has a chain attack that will do a lot of the bread-and-butter damage for the class. Several of the warrior's elite skills are quite interesting, such as one that causes all attacks to do area-of-effect damage and one that turns the warrior into a fist-fighting champion. Warriors also have banners that they can throw down to assist nearby allies. Although not one of the most unique classes the game has to offer, the warrior will likely appeal to players who want to get in and mix it up directly with the enemy.
The guardian is the second heavy armor class in Guild Wars 2, and is similar in philosophy to paladin classes in many games. A support fighter with an emphasis on assisting allies, the guardian wields skills called "virtues" in order to adapt to the current situation in battle. Using justice causes the guardian's attacks to burn enemies, courage blocks attacks, and resolve regenerates health. Guardians can opt to distribute these virtues to nearby allies temporarily, at the cost of disabling the skill for a longer period of time. Guardians can wield hammers, greatswords, staves, maces, scepters, swords, focii, shields, and torches.
Guardians have chain attacks like warriors do, along with shouts that buff allies or debuff enemies, summonable spirit weapons, and symbols and wards that can be laid down on the ground to help allies and hinder enemies. The wards look particularly interesting. Depending on the guardian's weapon set, wards will lay down an area that enemies cannot pass through. For instance, a hammer creates a circular ward that the party can stand inside, while a staff draws a line in front of the guardian that enemies can't pass.
The basic concept of the ranger is similar to that in the original Guild Wars. Rangers are ranged combat experts who also make use of the power of nature and bond with animal companions. Rangers wear medium armor and can wield greatswords, longbows, shortbows, swords, axes, daggers, torches, and war horns. Their animal companions have different skills depending on species, and there are even underwater pets available for aquatic combat. Up to four animal companions can travel with the ranger. Though only one will fight at a time, the ranger can switch pets in and out to react to the demands of the situation.
Rangers are the final class to have chain attacks with weapons, and also have special preparations that can be used before combat to enhance those weapons. They can summon nature spirits that affect the battlefield and lay down traps for enemies. They have a few stealth-related abilities, can forage for improvised weapons, and can track nearby foes. Possible examples of pet-specific skills include a fearsome roar for brown bears, stealth for a snow leopard, and fire breath for a salamander drake.
Thieves are a new class in the Guild Wars universe, though they have some similarities to the assassin class found in Guild Wars: Factions. Instead of having specific chain attack strings like the previous classes listed, thieves have a unique resource called initiative. This allows them to chain weapon skills together swiftly at the cost of being unable to act for a short time afterward. Thus, thieves must act swiftly and brutally, then use their talents of stealth and mobility to escape and recharge. The class wears medium armor and generally dual-wields weapons, using a sword, dagger, or pistol in the main hand and a dagger or pistol in the off-hand. Shortbows can be used as two-handed weapons. In an interesting twist on the class, thieves can "steal" an improvised weapon from opponents, which gives them access to a unique set of weapon skills depending on the stolen weapon.
Along with being able to hide in the shadows, thieves can shadow step around the battlefield, a skill that is basically a short-range teleport. Thieves can also lay down traps, which are more subtle and mechanical in nature than ranger traps. Examples of stolen environmental weapons from monsters include an egg that can be stolen from a moa bird and eaten to regain health, or a scale from a giant firefly that can be thrown and causes bleeding and poisoning on the target.
Several elite rogue skills may look familiar to World of Warcraft players, like the ability to vanish out of combat and to throw a flurry of daggers at targets in the area.
Technology in Tyria has improved in the 200 years since the first Guild Wars, and the engineer is the embodiment of this improvement. Relying on gadgets and inventions, engineers are versatile fighters with plenty of fun tricks up their sleeves. Many engineer skills come in the form of unique kits that give access to things like grenades, med kits, or turrets. The engineer's unique resource is a tool belt, which combines with kits to provide extra skills, such as combining with a grenade kit to make a grenade barrage or with a med kit to allow a self-heal. Engineers wear medium armor and can wield rifles, pistols, and shields. This small weapon pool is due to the many offensive properties of the engineer's gadgets.
The engineer's weapon skills have a gadgeteering flavor to them, such as a net shot from the rifle and an explosive shot from the pistol. On top of that, weapon kits can temporarily alter an existing weapon, giving it a completely new set of skills. For instance, an elixir gun allows the engineer to heal, and a flamethrower allows the engineer to be awesome. Backpack kits, on the other hand, replace weapon skills with items that can be taken out of the pack, such as grenades, bombs, mines, and med kits. Finally, turrets can be placed down next to the engineer, acting as support and additional firepower.
The elementalist is the first of Guild Wars 2's scholar classes, which wear cloth armor and focus on magic. Just like in the original Guild Wars, elementalists focus on fire, water, air, and earth magic, but in Guild Wars 2 the character can switch between these elemental attunements freely. Fire spells focus on burning multiple foes, water spells control enemy movements, air spells focus on burst damage, and earth spells focus on quakes and defense. Elementalists wield scepters, daggers, staves, and focii. These weapons combine with the currently selected attunement to determine the five main spells on the character's skill bar. While the elements determine the kind of spell cast, weapon selection determines the effect. For instance, staves create area-of-effect spells and daggers create close-range and defensive spells.
Along with this wide selection of elemental spells, glyphs can be used to alter the elementalist's skills and signets provide buffs. Elementalists can conjure up magical weapons that can be used by party members, such as lava axes or frost bows. They can even briefly take on elemental forms, such as a mist form that causes temporary invulnerability or a tornado that constantly tosses out chains of lightning. Elementalists have some of the easiest to explain cross-class combinations, such as being able to lay down a field of fire that a ranger could shoot through in order to create flame arrows.
The ever-popular necromancer feeds on life energy, using it to power various spells linked to death, disease, and vampirism. Life force is the necromancer's unique currency. It builds up as the necromancer uses skills and as nearby enemies and allies die. Once enough life force is built up, the necromancer can activate Death Shroud, a spectral form that acts as a second health bar and gives access to a unique set of skills. Of course, summoning undead minions is a major skill that necromancers possess. All minions can be destroyed at will, and doing so will provide a temporary boon to the necromancer related to the kind of minion that was destroyed. Necromancers can wield staves, axes, scepters, daggers, focii, and war horns. The necromancer's weapons help determine the shape of the available spells, similarly to the elementalist's.
Necromancers are the only class that can inflict fear on opponents, and have several skills that can be used to do so. They can also lay down wells at their feet that affect the area around them, or cast targeted marks that store a spell effect and can be activated at will. Some of the minions that the necromancer can summon include bone minions, which explode upon destruction, and a flesh wurm, which upon destruction will cause the necromancer to be summoned to its former location and poison all surrounding enemies.
The final Guild Wars 2 class to be announced is a returning class from Guild Wars with a new twist. The mental magic practitioners known as mesmers have surfaced with a new emphasis on creating and shattering illusions, wreaking chaos throughout the game's battlefields. Mesmers can create up to three illusions at a time, and the illusions can be clones (low-health duplicates of the caster) or phantasms (higher-health lookalikes with special weapons and skills). There are four shatter skills that can be used on illusions: Mind Wrack does damage to nearby enemies, Cry of Frustration confuses surrounding foes, Diversion stuns foes around it, and Reflection creates a projectile-reflecting barrier around the mesmer. Mesmers can use greatswords, staves, swords, scepters, focii, pistols, and torches. We're not yet certain what effect weapon choice has on a mesmer's skills.
Mesmers alone can cause the "confusion" status effect on enemies. Confused enemies take damage whenever they activate a skill, which forces them to decide whether using any skill is worth the damage that occurs as a result. Other mesmer skills help the caster move around the battlefield, like a portal that can be laid out ahead of time, allowing the mesmer to teleport from one end to the other and kite enemies around. We haven't seen a large number of mesmer skills yet, but the developers have mentioned that the mesmer can transform an enemy into a moa bird, causing all skills on their skill bar to be replaced with kick, scratch, and screech.
These eight professions provide a nice diversity of skillsets for players to choose between when playing Guild Wars 2. Though some of the skills described here could change before the game is released, we hope this overview has given you a general idea of the unique properties behind each class. Join us next time for our final Guild Wars 2 preview piece, which will focus on player-versus-player combat.
CCC Contributing Writer