In line with the sudden increase in information available since the Guardian profession release, ArenaNet have posted a page for the thief profession, one of the new classes to be available in Guild Wars 2. At a glance this profession appears to be the new incarnation of Guild Wars: Factions’ assassin class, complete with shadow step, dual weapon attacks, and tight leather outfits. There are a few interesting changes and innovations, however.
The most obvious deviation from original GW stuff, to me, is the ability to steal from enemies. This gives the thief access to a relevant ‘environmental weapon’ that can then be used in battle. Whether this creates a temporary skill that can be used or a one-shot bonus to be used immediately, I’m not sure; I’m sure it won’t be an actual item since it will be temporary. Stealing should make new areas a little more exciting for a thief – I look forward to trying it on new enemies and finding out what can be gained from them throught the campaign. In PvP it could be very interesting. I wonder how the items gained from players will be defined – by class, by armour, by the weapons they’re wielding, etc. At least it should be predictable and can be accounted for in team strategies.
Other theif mechanics are a little more familar. They have the assassin’s shadow step, which seems to work in a very similar way but with a nifty visual effect fitting GW2’s ‘painted’ art style. They also have a stealth state in which they are essentially invisible and cannot aggro enemies; interestingly different skills seem to bestow stealth with different conditions, such as losing the state when you attack, or move, or something else. This will be an interesting one to counter in PvP – luckily I don’t play PvP so it’s not my problem! But the strategies could be interesting.
Thieves also have ‘initiative’, apparently as a sort of substitute for energy. Thief weapon skills (and only these; healing and other specialised skill slots work as for everyone else) have no cool-down time, enabling a swift chaining of attacks in a spike similar to how assassins work. Instead they use initiative, which recovers one point per second – so these spikes are able to be used once, but then the thief loses the element of surprise. It’s a nice way to build this style of attack into the mechanics. There are skills listed here which restore initiative, so combos are going to be central. Thieves will want to dash in, strike fast, and retreat effectively to safety through speed or stealth. It should prove rather different to existing classes like the ranger. Speaking of which, thieves also have the ability to lay traps (I wonder if this could be usefully combined with stealth?)
At any rate, the thief is sure to be popular for its novelty and, let’s be honest, its sneaky, sexy look. Well, mostly sexy on human females – I would put money on the fact that this is one of those professions with mostly female characters, at least at first, even if the males get black leather greatcoats. I’ll be making an effort not to make a thief early on, because it’s likely that the world will be overpopulated with them and guardians – and whatever the other new class is going to be.
I’m still absolutely certain mesmer will be a playable class.