Most people who keep an eye cracked for Guild Wars 2 news have heard about the PC Gamer article that did some name-dropping in the caption of a GW2 image. The “Blue Mace Lady” that we have all come to know and love has an official name: the guardian.
Until this coming Thursday, the newly-named profession remains shrouded in mystery. Since speculation about this heavy-armor magic-user has run rampant for quite some time, however, the faithful (and frequently rabid) GW2 community has come up with plenty of hopes and theories.
Comparisons to other games have, naturally, cropped up ( – as well as cross-medium references to such heroes as the Green Lantern!)
Many forum-members across the fansites have been quick to point out the existence of a Guardian class in Lord of the Rings Online, a highly-defensive heavy tank that focuses on keeping aggro. Since GW2 is hoping to do away with the conventional idea of tanking and replace it with an emphasis on control, the analogy couldn’t be perfect, but the defense (or support, to use GW2 verbiage) aspect of the LotRO Guardian has inspired comparisons.
NCSoft’s Aion has a moderately well-armoured melee magic-user called the Chanter, to whom tentative comparisons have also been drawn. Wielding a staff offensively and switching to a mace and shield for more defensive play, the Chanter offers effective DPS (and debuffs), player-based AoE buffs, and only minor direct healing. Since many fans have long speculated that the BML is one of the options that will cater to those who enjoyed Monks in the original Guild Wars, the Chanter’s support-oriented blend seems like a likely parallel to the guardian’s theoretical role.
(In support of the guardian-Monk relation, folks have pointed out that the Monk skill “Guardian” seems to fit right in with what we’re expecting from the support in GW2.)
And, of course, one cannot talk about a heavy-armor support class without suddenly being hip-deep in references to WoW’s Paladin. These gentlefolk are popular for their ability to withstand heavy damage, as well as providing support through their auras, blessings, and seals.
There are others. So many others.
Between these precedents, hints we’ve seen through Logan’s actions in Edge of Destiny (and the low-level human demo), and unabashed speculation, the tentative consensus has been reached: the BML (as I will affectionately refer to her until the very end of my days) will not match her warrior counterpart in terms of raw DPS, but will provide valuable front-line control and player-based AoE buffs. (We think.)
Of course, no opinions here are universal. Others have hoped that there’ll be a higher rate of DPS to keep the BML from losing favor in the eyes of the min/maxing crowd. The debate will rage on until (and probably well beyond) the official profession release.
So, it’s obvious that the concept of a melee-and-magic class that is effective both offensively and defensively is fairly popular. That doesn’t mean that the idea has to be stale, though – or that ArenaNet is being particularly unoriginal in using it. After all, the fighter and mage archetypes are about as old as oral history, not to mention gaming, but GW2 is promising to give us some fun times with both the warrior and elementalist classes.
In the weapons department, we’ve seen Logan (a confirmed guardian) with a staff in a cutscene from the demo on last year’s convention circuit. This goes well with what we know of Logan from Edge of Destiny as a magic-user, and we also know that staves are used for long-range casting. There’s no hint, yet, as to whether or not our guardian will have access to scepters (the other two magic-users we know of have access to both, but they also have very limited access to martial weapons. It’s possible that the guardian will be on the other side of the trade-off: limited access to magic items in return for a greater martial versatility.) (Yours truly is guessing that scepters will be off-limits for these guys. Staves[staffs] still have a possible and probable melee application, but all front-line fighting will do to a scepter is get it bent and broken.) Since weapons are supposed to augment the functionality of the character, my guesses are these: the guardian will have access to staves, maces, swords, shields, torches, warhorns, and potentially double-handed melee weapons. I guess axes are a possibility (just doesn’t feel right, to me), but I don’t predict gun-use on these guys. Guardians lack the weapons versatility of the warrior, and all these weapons focus on personal combat, defense, and/or practical magic. (I’ve included two-handed melee because someone‘s got to have access to them besides the warrior, and this would potentially allow the guardian to up its DPS functionality.)
So, what will spice up the guardian? What is going to be their unique class mechanic(s)? We’ve seen each profession be given a set of “special skill types” (e.g., the elementalist’s glyphs, signets, conjure, and area spells) as well as more specialized mechanic (e.g., attunement-swapping on the elementalist). We also know that while unique mechanics are, well, unique (nobody but necromancers have access to the Death Shroud effect), there are similarities between certain special skill sets -for example, the necromancer mark skills share some characteristics with skills of other professions: their area of effect makes them similar to certain area spells that an elementalist can set up and their ground-targeting and trigger system is related to ranger traps – but the mark system retains a unique flavor and effect.
For the special skills, there’s been a great deal of talk of auras – player-based (or ground-based) AoE buffs/debuffs that would turn the guardian into a sort of walking safe-spot. Based on Logan’s in-book fighting and certain concept art (see above), there’s also heavy speculation that spirit/magic weapons/shields will come into play. These have been named as everything from a special skill type to an elite skill to the profession’s unique mechanic. Since every other profession’s mechanic (Life Force/Death Shroud, Adrenaline, etc) has been to augment their play style at a very fundamental level (ex: the Life Force gives the necromancer more durability and opens up a new style of play possibilities), I have a hard time seeing these as a unique mechanic, since I don’t see how they would augment other skills or the general playing style. (I could be wrong, though! Goodness knows, I frequently am.)
It’s difficult to find an idea for the unique class mechanic that many people have really taken a shine to (which is good for ArenaNet, I suppose). The suggestion that likely has the most support of is that of a mechanic that gradually buffs the party(or the guardian, or a target of the guardian’s choice) as the guardian takes or deals damage. Auras as a main mechanic are also a popular idea, swapped out in the same manner that elementalists swap attunements (I, personally, don’t find this one very tenable). Of course, everybody has an opinion – there simply aren’t many, aside from the two I just mentioned, that are really getting rallied around.
(Actually, I kind of like Corsair’s unique mechanic idea - only, I’d like to see the Will (or whatever it’s called) empower the guardian’s support skills. That would reward more experienced/aggressive players and fit in nicely with ArenaNet’s idea of encouraging proactive rather than reactive gameplay. While I’ve got my wish-list running, I’d also like to see Ritualist-esque weapon boons.)
What do you think? Leave us a comment with your two cents about the guardian’s awesomeness, potential abilities, and playstyle!
About the author: Elixabeth has been a Guild Wars fan since the release of Nightfall, and is now eagerly awaiting the release of Guild Wars 2. To bide the time, she began fiddling around with the online GW community and takes great pleasure combining two of her great loves (writing and games) here at TalkTyria. Follow her on Twitter, if you like!