[GW2] …And then we didn’t fight anymore

A while ago now I posted an article on matchmaking in MMOs in which I described how, much to my personal chagrin, my longtime partner and I are incompatible when it comes to our questing “mode”. This has always been something I eyed with resignation, since I’m the reason he started playing MMOs in the first place. How nice would it have been to explore and level up together peacefully? Well, in WoW we only ever managed this so often.

I’ve explained and no doubt unnerved a few of my readers with all the ways I believe cooperation in GW2 to be different, with a potential for much better than in MMOs past, recently on this blog. Alas, I have to inform you that I am not quite done yet and won’t be for a while when it comes to analyzing this particularly fascinating topic. Now that we’ve begun to immmerse ourselves in the real Tyria, this will be an aspect to revisit and re-examine, to see where expectations were adequate and where I set my hopes too high. I know that especially longterm things will probably look quite different from right now, now that everybody has just started off and quest and event areas are crowded with new folk. This very real issue applies to all MMOs I’ve ever played.

And then we didn’t fight anymore

Back on topic, one thing I did not dream of was for GW2’s questing experience to not only prove generally more enjoyable for myself, but more enjoyable for myself plus my partner! When the borked overflow mechanics actually allowed us to, we’ve given exploring together several shots over this last weekend. Lo and behold, not only did we not bicker the way we used to but enjoyed killing things together (oh, the romantic moments among gamers!). I could actually run off and gather that “peacebloom” (formerly known as warbloom…) without calling things to a halt. He did not wait impatiently or worse, keep pulling and killing himself while I trailed off somewhere else entirely (and yeah…I do that). There is no such coordination and focus needed to constantly do the one thing at the correct time; there are no roles and hence co-dependencies, so when one of us is off to gather or sell items, the other one simply continues to look after himself. Or in other words: if you die, it’s your own bloody fault, pal!

“Ohh, teh harmony!”

Looting too is no topic anymore: “do we choose group loot or FFA?”, “you still need to loot that corpse over there!” and “how many more do you need??” are non issues. These may seem trivial changes and petty issues to somebody else, but for me our past questing experiences together were constantly disrupted by things like that. Now, loot is something that just “happens” while you’re off exploring – just as leveling up is. As an explorer, I love for the focus to have shifted thus.

More recent, unexpected revelations

Another thing I sure did not expect to happen, is that I actually choose to switch to water spec with my Elementalist quite often to spare allies some healing during bigger and tougher events. I’ve declared quite publicly before how fed up I am with the healer role since WoW – and I still am. Only, in GW2 it’s not a role and more importantly: it’s not a role I’m expected to have. And that is probably precisely why I enjoy to include some healing in my greater rotation again – because I am not expected to! Nobody is taking it for granted and I will sure as hell not get a hard time for not healing anybody. I believe every or most GW2 classes have an area heal like that (for example Engineers have a healing turret) and while CDs are long and it’s nowhere near an all-powerful tool, it gives you a sense of support and versatility. It’s fun!

…See how I am reacting towards this lack of “pressure” or rather entitlement? Now don’t get me wrong – I know if you play a healer in WoW you should want to play a healer and can be expected to heal (demanded to too?), that’s natural. However, having played a holy priest for years myself, I got really fed up with the way my role was treated by many, especially public groups; the way blame was usually appointed and how it was just a given that priests are heal, buff and ress-machines. In GW2 healing is appreciated more for its sparseness instead of being “your job after all”. Or as the ever-insightful Tesh recently commented in my topic on individualism vs. collectivism:

“That which we are forced to do, we do grudgingly, and good memories stand out for their rarity. That which we choose to do, we do gladly, and bad memories stand out for their rarity.”

I have a feeling we’ll see a lot more of that over the coming weeks. I am excited to see what else will reveal itself over time as I level my character in GW2. At this point, technical aspects aside on which I fully agree with Klepsacovic, I got no reason for complaints.

12 comments

  1. I’m just beginning to look at the healing options. I really didn’t touch them in beta and I haven’t paid much attention here. As a ranger I pretty much only heal myself and my pet. I haven’t even taken any of the healing spring type options because I strongly dislike placing things on the ground following the utter pointlessness of doing so in GW1, when no-one ever stayed in range.

    At heart, however, I am a healer. Well, really at heart I’m an EQ1 cleric but any healing will do in a pinch. Tonight I played my Asura Engineer in events for the first time and was amazed to find he has an option to turn ALL of his weapon abilities into healing. I am guessing going Water as an elementalist does the same? This was a minor epiphany. Presumably if I wanted to, I could “spec” towards healing in some, if not all professions. I had no idea that was even theoretically possible.

    I like the Holy Trinity (although I like it when it’s Tank/Healer/CC – DPS can fight over the scraps) but that Tesh quote is bang on the nail. This looks like a better option. Still curious to see how it will play out in one of these supposedly very tough dungeons, though, where there are just five people and nothing can be zerged.

    1. As far as I could see, water is the only out of four attunements that has heals and only 2 out of the 5 spells are heals, for staves. there’s also one each for daggers (1h and/or offhand), but obviously that cannot be combined with a staff.

      all other weapons do not offer healing spells with water iirc. I have to look into this again more though, also traitwise. turning all weapon abilities into healing sounds rather excessive! :D
      and I too am excited for the first dungeon. so far I’ve found movement is everything in reducing damage though, so I expect this to be a big requirement in tougher 5man runs and ofc self-sufficiency.

  2. Haha, I’m glad you and your SO are finally getting along in-game! Me and mine are a bit on and off too; we don’t fight about it but it takes some effort to actually do things together. Let us know how long it lasts! ;)

  3. Agreed. I like tanking, but I don’t like to be forced into it, and I especially do not want to be blamed if someone dies, due to genuine human error or their own stupidity. Everyone can heal, everyone can revive, time for everyone to take some responsibility for themselves, not just wait for a good tank and healer pair to carry lazy dps through.

    It’s going to take a while for people to learn this though. Many are still used to old habits. I’ve caught myself just staying still and flailing away with a sword, while I watch (without really registering) the mob rev up for a HUGE axe attack to the front, and three seconds later, I think, “oh crud, I should have moved, shouldn’t I?” as 600 hp flies off my bar. We all have to be patient with each other through this learning process.

    I believe people will eventually learn that things flow much more smoothly if everyone takes a turn healing and supporting, while others are controlling the mobs by interrupting with knockdowns, dazes, confuses, whatever cc they’ve got. At the moment, many people are all out damage and it’s still a bit painful to attempt dungeons that way.

    1. Indeed. it will take a while and well, there’s no way around it. groups must adapt or die horribly! :D

      “oh crud, I should have moved, shouldn’t I?”

      that happens to me all the time still lol! there’s so many attacks you can actually avoid – just standing there or lazy strafing won’t do. mindset, mindset, mindset!

  4. I haven’t yet got to that kind of harmony grouping with my friends just yet. Although I think it is mostly due to my fault as I am a completionist and since we all rolled different races I end up in maps where they are half-way through it while I have yet to begin on it. The problem with that is that I keep seeing a lot of empty hearts, skill challenges, points of interest and vistas on my map to be completed and I feel bad to go out to complete them and not hang around to help my friends out.

    In any case, and this is just something I noticed now when I read your post, it is fascinating how in the groups I’ve done so far we never ever talked about who would “tank”, who would “heal” or who would do anything. We just get to the places, each one of us just focus on doing our stuff and try to kill the mob. This kind of group flow is a thing of beauty! Although I don’t know if most of them are aware of combos yet or how it works. So perhaps that should be the next step so we can work even more awesomely together! :D

    Like you, I am also loving to be able to throw in some support in events and such through my healing turret and throwing potions that give boon. It is nice to be able to do it without being obliged to or only having to do it and nothing else while the group does all the cool stuff and just take your support for granted. I don’t know if anyone notices that either and I think said it here before, but even if they don’t it doesn’t matter. I do notice it and that is more than enough to fill my heart with warm, fuzzy feelings. :)

  5. Ah, thanks for the quotation!

    I really am looking forward to playing the game. Someday. I’m not a healer, but I can easily imagine myself giving a helping hand whenever I can. It’s almost like the drive-by buffing that I do sometimes in WoW, or the occasional “that guy’s in trouble, I’ll go tank for him”. I have the ability to help people, so I do. It’s as simple as that. There’s no social or game design-imposed contract, just tools to be used, and the will to use them.

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