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Tyria Evolved: Massively's analysis of the Guild Wars 2 Guardian

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

Today ArenaNet has unveiled the Guild Wars 2 Guardian. After nearly a full week of wild speculation, we've finally got the details on the fifth class.

Interestingly, this reveal followed a similar pattern as the Necromancer reveal in that by the time today's details arrived, it was a surprise to exactly nobody. The Guardian had been revealed after a fashion in Edge of Destiny, then leaked by PC Gamer last week. In the ensuing fan frenzy, Regina Buenaobra stepped in to announce that the full reveal would happen on the 27th.

Now that we've finally got the full scoop on the Guardian, follow along after the jump and take a look!

The Guardian is the first Guild Wars 2 class that we've been introduced to that hasn't come straight out of Guild Wars. The Elementalist, Warrior, Ranger, and Necromancer are classes that we've known since we first set foot in Ascalon City. This doesn't mean that he's a stranger, though. The fascinating thing about the Guardian class is that while it's new, it has plenty of familiar elements.

The most obvious element is the one that will make Monks do one-handed handstands from pure joy: there are some serious prot-Monk aspects to the Guardian, and I don't think that's an accident. The Monk is a core and well-loved profession, one that a lot of members of the current Guild Wars community didn't want to see eliminated. At the same time, ArenaNet has been firm in its desire to move away from a dedicated healer class in GW2. The Guardian seems to be almost a compromise between these two desires, particularly given the emphasis on Guardian skills such as Aegis and Shield of Absorption.

That's only the tip of the iceberg, though. There's a strong sense of familiarity throughout the Guardian's description that will catch the eye of veteran Guild Wars players over and over. Wards are an old and familiar concept, and Spirit Weapons are strongly reminiscent of the enchanted weapons and armors that we knew and loved (to hate) in Prophecies and Eye of the North. Even more interesting is the fact that they've taken on an appearance strongly reminiscent of the Ritualist's chained spirits.

All of these familiar elements open the door to some interesting possibilities in the lore department. It's been 250 years, and while the Monk class is gone, echoes of what it was remain in the Guardian. How and why were these skills carried down over all the years? How did they evolve through time?

The same questions and speculation can apply to all of the familiarities of the Guardian. The Guardian's virtues of Justice, Courage, and Resolve seem to have their roots in the Paragon class. The wards, the summoned weapons, even the range of weaponry available to the Guardian -- these all speak to a class that has evolved and adapted from things that were known a few hundred years ago. There's enormous potential here to delve into the lore and history of how the Guardian came to be.

It might be a new class, but there are hints at some very deep roots. ArenaNet would be wise to take a look at them.

Not just Frankenstein's monster

Make no mistake -- the Guardian isn't merely a conglomeration of bits and pieces of current Guild Wars classes. Those familiar elements are a significant and important part of the Guardian, but rather than standing alone, they form the foundation for even more.

Most of what we've seen today might carry strong echoes of Guild Wars 1, but the revealed content follows a pattern that has become familiar with everything we've seen of GW2 so far -- it's like Guild Wars, only better. Is this what Guild Wars would have been back in 2005 if the resources and technology had been in place?

Maybe, but the Guardian class is definitely a good example of the evolution of Guild Wars both in and out of the story. What we know of the Guardian so far shows skills that are grounded in Tyria but have grown more sophisticated, diverse, and powerful over the years -- and the gameplay is going to match that.

Players are unlikely to jump from character creation to battle and be an effective Guardian within an hour. While all classes that we've seen up to now are designed with the ability to respond to a fluid and changing battlefield, the Guardian will have a wider range of roles to fulfill. She or he is unquestionably a frontline fighter, but if and when the line of defense is flanked or penetrated, the Guardian is going to need to think quickly to decide how to respond: dive into the fray, fall back and act as support, or maneuver to a different point of the fight and resume the protective position? The Guardian will have a responsibility to be constantly on the lookout for changes in the fight and to respond with the most efficient use of his or her wide range of abilities.

It looks to be an impressively complicated class, requiring strategic thought as well as a willingness to jump in wherever you are needed. An interesting facet of the Guardian class to watch for after launch will be the difference between veteran Guild Wars 2 players and Tyrian novices. Will the vets have an advantage on the learning curve thanks to all the familiar elements?

Overall, while the Guardian is technically a new class, there is a strong enough blend of the old and the new to let us know that yes, this is still "our" Tyria.

The Guardian comes with five skill videos, a handful of screenshots, and brand-new wallpapers to add to your desktop rotation. Check out the compilation of videos above, the gallery below for the screenshots, and the reveal on the Guild Wars 2 site for the wallpapers.

Gallery: Guild Wars 2 Guardian | 6 Photos

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