The lights are on
ArenaNet’s brand-new MMO sends the traditional tank/heal/damage MMORPG trinity packing in favor of a positioning-based system that puts each player in charge of their own health. Here are a few pointers to help you get through Guild Wars 2’s five-person dungeons without the comfort of a familiar role to play.
Move out of the way.
This one may seem obvious, but it bears repeating. Just like in any World of Warcraft raid boss encounter, every player needs to be aware of their surroundings at all times and avoid any incoming damage that they possibly can. This goes beyond the classic “don’t stand in the fire” tip; even though hostile area-of-effect abilities usually put a red circle on the ground, you need to watch enemy animations and attack patterns and dodge appropriately. As a general rule, spread out around the bad guys -- many if not most attacks are cone- or line-based, and even if you can’t dodge out of the way entirely, making sure the entire party doesn’t eat the big attack helps tremendously.
Don’t give up.
A party wipe isn’t always a wipe. Don’t just pound your desk in frustration when you get downed – fight on! Find an enemy that is close to death and hit it from the ground, and you can often rally thanks to the amount of area-effect damage that parties usually throw around. Failing that, being resurrected in combat when fully defeated usually takes too long to be worthwhile -- but you can usually rally to a waypoint and run back to continue the battle. Running back to rejoin the fight after being killed may seem like a cheap tactic, but I’ve seen it be the difference between victory and defeat on several occasions.
Learn your allies’ skills.
I mostly play a guardian in Guild Wars 2, and it’s beyond frustrating when I drop a wall of light that reflects enemy projectiles back to their source and my groupmates insist on fighting with their backs to it. Positioning abilities like that are extremely important to take advantage of. Even if you know how to use your own skills to great effect, you’ll do the whole party a favor by learning what your group is capable of and playing accordingly. Similarly, don’t just mindlessly spam your damage rotation. Watch what kind of combo-enabling fields your friends are laying down, and wait to use your finishers until they do. A few fire auras and area retaliations can make all the difference.
Embrace multiple roles.
Tanking and healing don’t exist in Guild Wars 2 like they do in most MMOs, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t different roles to play and ways to specialize your character. Many dungeon fights throw curveballs at you, from additional enemies spawning mid-battle to bursts of status effects that cripple the party for short durations. Be ready to not only change your tactics, but switch to a different weapon set and embrace a secondary role. Many elite skills, like the guardian’s tome of courage, change your entire skill loadout – learn when those dramatic changes are useful, and capitalize on them. Weapon switches (or attunement changes, for you elementalists out there) are much more useful than just for the occasional swiftness buff. Take a second look at your classes’ skills, and see what might be useful in a party despite being pointless for a solo player. You’ll be glad the first time you turn the tide of a battle by blocking off a doorway and locking out a bunch of monsters with a support skill that does nothing in one-on-one fights.
Use the environment.
Would you use a brutal knockdown skill with a five-second cooldown? Of course you would! You would hit that button every time it lit up. Why, then, aren’t you picking up every boulder in the dungeon and chucking it at the nearest enemy? Your groupmates would sure love to know. Many bosses have no resistance to environmental tricks like boulder throwing, proper use of which can turn a hair-pullingly awful encounter into a laugh-worthy breeze. On a similar note, the line-of-sight and grouping tricks that any WoW tank worth his salt should have burned into his brain are as much if not more useful in Guild Wars 2. Use corners and pillars to avoid ranged attacks, convince monsters to run up and engage you in melee, and otherwise make them play your game instead of theirs. Elementalists tear your party apart if left alone – why not get them to run up right next to your melee friends for a more intimate conversation about the relative merits of long channeled spells and barrages of sword strikes?