If you haven't been paying attention to latest Guild Wars 2 news, another profession has been revealed. This is the Guardian, a heavily-armored soldier specializing in both frontline combat and party support. There's been a lot of speculation across the Web that the second soldier profession would be a reincarnation of the Paragon from Guild Wars Nightfall, or some sort of holy warrior, like the Dervish, or a re-imagining of the Monk.
However, it seems that ArenaNet has done something a little better: they took all of those ideas and synthesized them into something new. Though the Guardian has some very distinct similarities to World of Warcraft's Paladin, there's also a lot that sets it apart.
In the video above, you can see the Guardian as she activates one of her virtues, an ability that allows her to extend powerful benefits, or "buffs" if you will, to her allies. In this video, she is using her Courage virtue, which applies Aegis to her nearby allies, blocking the next attacks that would hit them. The Guardian's virtues are continuously active until they are activated, which then sets them on a recharge. The drawback to spending the virtues is that the Guardian sacrifices the passive benefit she receives from them to buff her allies. This means playing a Guardian will be about knowing when to put your own self at risk to help your party out, as these virtues have some very potent abilities.
ArenaNet has already stated their conviction to re-imagining the "sacred" MMO trinity of tank-DPS-healer, starting with their removal of a dedicated healing class. This upset many players, especially those who actually enjoyed playing a support role. However, the developers told those players not to fear because they had distilled what was enjoyable about playing a healing class into something better. And that something is the Guardian.
Rather than healing, which ArenaNet described to be a "reaction" rather than an "action" (and thus, un-fun), the Guardian seems to be built around protecting his fellow party members, echoing the Protection builds for the Monk from the original Guild Wars. In addition to Shield of Absorption, the skill demonstrated in the video above, the Guardian has skills like Wall of Deflection, which reflects enemy attacks back at them, and Zealot's Defense, which seems to be a flurry of sword strikes that cuts through the air to damage enemies.
The Guardian can use many weapons. In her main hand, she can choose to wield a sword, scepter, or mace. In her off-hand, the Guardian can use a focus, shield, or torch. Or, she opts to use a two-handed weapon, she can use a warhammer, greatsword, or staff. Like most professions, it's assumed that the Guardian can switch between two weapon sets during combat.
Many community members have pointed out that the Guardian is essentially a Paladin, and though I admit that there are certain similarities, I'd like to point out that Guardian has more kinship with the Guild Wars professions of Monk and Paragon than WoW's Paladin. Yes, the Guardian is some kind of holy warrior that is both a fighter and a "healer," but the same thing is true of the Paragon. And for players concerned that the Guardian will be overpowered (like the Paladin), the official Guild Wars 2 wiki has confirmed that the Guardian has a lower base health than the Warrior, but has more health regeneration thanks to her Resolve virtue.
Now that we, the ravenous masses that comprise the Guild Wars 2 fanbase, have been sated with information on the Guardian, ArenaNet can breathe easier. But not for long, of course. There's still plenty to be done. With only five of the eight professions revealed and virtually no information on guilds, underwater exploration and combat, crafting, and combat, I'd say ArenaNet still has their work cut out for them, especially if they're aiming for a 2011 release like the community is hoping. Fingers crossed, eh?