Arenanet designer Jon Peters has been talking about combat in Guild Wars 2, specifically about how Guild Wars 2 plans to reject the traditional MMO damage dealer, tank and healer roles in favour of something new. He explains that "holy trinity" of combat roles won't be a part of Guild Wars 2, saying "frankly, we built a combat system that just doesn't allow it.”
Peters shared his thoughts on Guild Wars 2's combat on the ArenaNet blog. In the place of typical MMO classes, there are professions. Each will have their own play-style, but won't fit into a typical DPS, tank or healer role. Each profession will be able to do a little bit of everything. As Peters explains: "Everyone has a dedicated slot on their skill bar where they must place a healing skill. These vary greatly and are an intimate part of the Guild Wars 2 build-making process, but ultimately they are your most efficient and reliable way to sustain yourself in battle. Why did we do this? Because we think it is a more interesting way to create sustained encounters for solo players AND groups while keeping players focused on themselves and their surroundings."
This extends to reviving players, too. "From level 1, every profession has the ability to revive everyone else. This means that players don't have to rely on one profession in case someone is defeated both during and after combat."
There are a few other key differences between Guild Wars 2's combat system and other MMOs. One is a lack of any allied targeting. Typically you'd expect to be able to target a healing spell or buff by clicking on an ally in the world, his health bar in the group section of the HUD. In Guild Wars 2, all friendly abilities must be aimed. "Everything must be done using positioning, ground targeting or other unconventional methods."
"Instead of watching red bars, we want you to watch your allies in the world."
With player positioning playing such an important role in combat, player mobility is even more important. Arrows can be dodged, double tapping on a key will cause your character to roll, and spells can be cast on the move. Peters says Arenanet's aim is to "create a combat system that is more like a first person shooter where finding real cover, flanking and other more realistic fighting techniques find a lot more use."
"In a first person shooter there can be a variety of weapons, from sniper rifles to rocket launchers to machine guns and shotguns. No one looks at these weapons and says, “They're all the same, they all just do DPS.” Why should an MMO be any different?"