In Guild Wars 2 no player character actually dies. But what is going to happen, when your health bar is reaching critical level? We talked with Lead Designer Eric Flannum about the unique death and healing system of Guild Wars 2.

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Guild Wars 2 - Screenshots des Todes- und Heilungssystems

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gamona: Guild Wars 2 uses a unique system for handling a player’s death. Can you explain how it works?

Guild Wars 2 - Exclusive interview: Lead Designer Eric Falnnum talks death and healing in GW2

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Being "downed", a player of Guild Wars 2 is still able to keep on fighting.
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Eric Falnnum: When a player reaches zero health they enter a state that we refer to as “downed”. When a player is down they are unable to move and their health bar is replaced by a meter which displays how much time they have until they are defeated. While downed a player has access to 4 skills, if they manage to finish off an enemy while they are down then they will “rally” (i.e. stand back up). While down a player can still be attacked and will be defeated more quickly as they take damage.

If a player is either downed or defeated any other player can come along and revive them. If they are defeated and no friendly players are nearby then they can open up their map and travel to any waypoint they’ve unlocked for a small fee.

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gamona: What is the purpose behind this system, why did you choose create this system instead of using a common death penalty?

Eric Falnnum: We wanted Guild Wars 2 to be a game about taking risks and creating epic moments. Our new death system helps create these moments through clever use of downed skills and tactics. We also wanted to do away with the traditional Tank, Heal, and DPS trinity found in most MMO’s. Giving everyone the ability to revive other players was important to that concept.

Fight to (almost) death

gamona: What was your inspiration for the rally when you kill an enemy? It seems like it comes out of some 80s movies where the hero, mortally wounded, rallies his last strength and kills everyone around him - great times those have been ;)

Guild Wars 2 - Exclusive interview: Lead Designer Eric Falnnum talks death and healing in GW2

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When one player is dying, other players must revive him.
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Eric Falnnum: It does sound like that, and that was certainly one of the more cinematic influences we’ve had. To be fair, our major influence was found in team based shooters. We like to look at the cool things games in other genres are doing and try to envision how we could adapt those mechanics to an MMO. Sometimes (as with the death system) it works really well… other times not so much.

gamona: Some hardcore gamers might find it too easy if there is no big penalty to dying, like losing experience or all of your gear. Will you include some kind of "hardcore mode" for these players, maybe on special servers?

Eric Falnnum: We have no plans for a hardcore mode at this time. If it becomes obvious that players want such a feature (or indeed any feature) we will always consider adding it post launch.

gamona: When you take the fear of death away by having only mild penalties will there be some kind of bonus for those players who manage to stay alive for a long time?

Eric Falnnum: Players who stay alive for a long time already have a bonus in efficiency granted to them simply because they aren’t taking any time to revive and are probably having much shorter fights. We don’t want to further reward those players and create too large a gap between really efficient players and inefficient players. Also, rewarding staying alive for long periods of time is a bit like penalizing heavily upon death, it ultimately encourages a play style where players don’t want to take risks and are just obsessed with not dying.

We subsisted solely on self heals, solid tactics, and a little bit of luck

gamona: What does it take to revive a fallen player and who can revive them?

Eric Falnnum: All you need to do to revive a fallen ally is walk up to them and interact with them. Everyone can do it, and some professions even have specialty skills capable of reviving at a distance or reviving multiple allies at once.

gamona: There is no dedicated healing class in Guild Wars 2 which makes combat unlike other MMORPGs where you have a tank, a healer and damage dealer. Maybe you can tell us how a combat situation will/can work out in Guild Wars 2?

Guild Wars 2 - Exclusive interview: Lead Designer Eric Falnnum talks death and healing in GW2

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Every player in Guild Wars can revive other players.
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Eric Falnnum: I can give you an example of an epic boss battle we had just a few nights ago. We were testing a dungeon which is normally supposed to be challenging for a full party of five. Well, we had an odd number of people testing and were left with only three people. Two warriors and an as yet unnamed ranged profession. I was one of the warriors and was specced out for ranged damage and was carrying a longbow and rifle. The other warrior was more of a traditional warrior with lots of health and specced for mace and shield. Our ranged companion was specced for ranged damage with a little bit of control.

We fought our way into the dungeon fairly well until we got into a fight with 5 boss golems each of whom uses a different type of elemental beam weapon. We were clearly overmatched but pressed on, determined to take some of them with us. Our more tankish warrior would call out targets and our ranged friend would immobilize them while I inflicted as much aoe damage as possible. If one of the warrior went down we’d use the downed skill “Retreat!” to give a speed buff to the others which would further enable them to kite the golems away so we could revive our fallen companion. A few times during the fight the other warrior would also use a downed skill called Vengeance which allows the warrior to get up and act normally for a short period of time before going straight to “defeated.” He’d use this skill to rez a friend or lead the golems away for a short period of time while the others healed. We defeated this encounter with no healer and nobody even playing one of the more support oriented professions in the game. We subsisted solely on self heals, solid tactics, and a little bit of luck.

"We as game designers were ready to create something new"

gamona: Why did you choose to stray away from the "standard combat" of other Online-RPGs and don't you think that those gamers who worship this system will shy away from Guild Wars 2?

Eric Falnnum: We as players (and we play a lot of games here) were ready to play something new and we as game designers were ready to create something new. We figured that there must be a lot of game players out there who felt the same way we did. We believe that players who really love the concept of a tank or a healer don’t generally fall in love with the specific mechanics behind those things but rather the feel of that particular role. For example we don’t think most people who love to play “tanks” love the mechanic of “I make one mob attack me and just hit it over and over again”. They love feeling like a big badass warrior in plate armour who can take a ton of punishment. Healers don’t necessarily want to sit at the back of a group and play the party bar game, they simply want to help make their teammates better at whatever it is they do.

gamona: When we look at the MMORPGs out there and the people who play them it seems that there is much more work & science involved in playing than having fun and still this seems to be what many MMORPG-players want. With your "overhaul" of the combat without the traditional damage/healer/tank-system was your intention to bring back the fun into the genre?

Guild Wars 2 - Exclusive interview: Lead Designer Eric Falnnum talks death and healing in GW2

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Every class in Guild Wars 2 has healing abilities.
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Eric Falnnum: Every feature we implement, every art asset we create, every sound we put into the game, every story we write is done with the idea of making the game fun. The last thing we want is for our game to feel like work, we think player get more than enough of that at their day jobs.

gamona: Is it possible to end up with no healer in the your party, e.g. no one with healing skills (like in the random arenas of Guild Wars 1) and if so what happens in combat?

Eric Falnnum: Since every player has a skill slot that is dedicated to a healing skill it isn’t possible for a party to have no access to healing. That being said, a party can certainly end up with no single member who dedicates themselves to supporting their allies. This actually ends up changing very little as far as party survivability goes, it just means that the other players in the party will need to shoulder a little bit more of the support load. That could mean being better about self healing, kiting intelligently, using skills that push enemies away more frequently, etc… Guild Wars 2 is built around the premise that it shouldn’t matter what profession a prospective party member is, the only things that should matter are whether they are fun to group with and how well they play their chosen profession.

Guild Wars 2 - Screenshots des Todes- und Heilungssystems

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Guild Wars 2 - Screenshots des Todes- und Heilungssystems

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Wischen für nächstes Bild, klicken um Infotext ein- / auszublendenBild 1/5Bild 474/4781/478

Diese neuen Screenshots zeigen das Todes- und Heilungssystem von Guild Wars 2.

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