Guild Wars 2

[End of Dragons] Let’s have a serious discussion about a companion system in GW2 (also known as heroes or henchmen)

There's been a few rumors running around about companions/henchmen/heroes being the key selling point for End of Dragons, so I figured we could discuss that possibility ourselves.

Before you dismiss the notion, don't forget many people believed mounts would never be happening either, and we all know what happened next: ArenaNet proved everyone wrong by taking mounts to a whole different level.

So, what if they're giving the mounts treatment to companions as well?


Introduction

Companions are NPCs who follow your player character around. They're generally far more complex than pets or minions, and display a player-like behaviour.

The original Guild Wars (GW1) had three types of companions:

  • Henchman: Player-like characters with predetermined equipment and abilities.
  • Hero: Same as henchmen, but their equipment and abilities can be customized by the player.
  • Mercenary Hero: Same as heroes, but cloned from your own characters in the account.

Something similar to GW1's system is highly unlikely in GW2, since it would be a huge mess; however, if we learned anything from mounts, is that we should never take any approach for granted; so, what if combat wasn't the primary role of companions?


Metroidvania approach

Following what we've seen with masteries and mounts in the past, this is how I would implement a companion system into GW2:

  • Companions follow the same unlock process as mounts, using the mastery system to unlock new abilities. Companion stats and skills cannot be customized.
  • Each companion can be summoned with a different hotkey. Only one companion can be active at a time, and you can't swap companions while in combat.
  • Companions will follow the same rules as pets to engage in combat, giving priority to objectives you call target against.
  • Just like player characters, companions enter downed mode when their health drops below zero, but leave no corpse when stomped. Companions are automatically revived once you exit combat.
  • Companions fulfill a supportive role in combat, but their primary utility is a series of non-combat abilities, designed following the same metroidvania approach present at the other masteries.
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Few companion class ideas:

  • Human Assassin: Attacks your target from behind, stunning them so you can finish the job. Can pick locks, pickpocket enemies, and deploy a hook line to navigate the terrain.
  • Human Ritualist: Summons spirits, providing AoE ranged combat support. Can reveal nearby ghosts to the player, letting him interact with them.
  • Naga Monk: Provides healing in combat, and can instantly revive the player when he's downed. Can cure the effects of the Jade Wind, revealing new tresures and enemies.
  • Tengu Warrior: Melee tank role, taunts enemies to keep them busy. Can pull down flying enemies you couldn't reach otherwise.
  • Warden Ranger: Single-target ranged combat support. Can sing and interact with plants, removing vines to reveal new shortcuts across the map.

Companion abilities outside combat would be beneficial for all nearby players, encouraging teamplay and diversification instead of a constant companion swap.

A temporary option to take manual control over your companion could be interesting as well, but not mandatory. If we aren't getting any new races, companion control could be a good solution to the problem.


Monetization

Companion appearance would be monetized following the same exact approach taken by mounts. This would include new outfits, different physical appearances, dye channels, etc. In some cases, companion skins could include new voice lines as well; for example, an assassin skin replacing the default character by Shiro Tagachi himself would sell like candy.

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Some of the skins sold in the gem store could have their own unique skills as well, providing a different flavor for the same companion class; as long as they don't turn into a pay-to-win scheme, of course. Alternatively, just let players customize their companions a bit, letting them choose which weapon types the'll be wielding, picked from a limited list (tengu warrior with greatsword, longbow, or hammer).

Companions wouldn't be able to use armor skins unlocked by the player, but weapons are a whole different thing, and could be pretty interesting, albeit not mandatory.

Broadly speaking, a companion system would be pretty easy to monetize if done right.


So yeah, that's my take on it. Note that (afaik) there's been no leaks involving a system like this whatsoever, so take everything with a grain of salt.

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