The Heroic Habits of Guild Wars 2

Despite the Thief’s best efforts, his traps and poisoned bolts, his amulets aglow with enchantments, his opponent struck him to the ground. In the waters of the swamp, he struggled to survive as the undead horror lumbered closer. He threw knives as he quaked, desperate to dispatch it. But at long last he succumbed to his wounds. His body crumpled beneath the murky water. Fated to remain entombed in the sick scent…

…until a fellow adventurer arrived. With deft sword work the armored Warrior finished the monster with a few easy strokes. With splashing and sputtering the creature slumped into the mud, defeated. Before departing, the Warrior came to the side of the Thief and began to work, reviving the Thief’s broken body. With his work complete, the Warrior vanished into the mist without a word, leaving the Thief well enough to escape the swamp and fight again.
While many MMO’s rely on a healing class to support the player population, Guild Wars 2 strives for new group dynamics by giving every player the ability to both heal and revive their fellow adventurers with very little effort. And while each successful resurrection rewards the healer with a handful of experience points, the amount is too small to matter much. Why, then, do other players consistently go out of their way to resurrect fallen strangers?

During my most recent bout of weekend play, I began to ask the strangers that resurrected me why they were compelled to save a stranger. No easy task, mind you, as sparking philosophical discussions in the midst of battle can cause its own set of problems. And while most of my healers ran off without responding, no doubt preoccupied with their own quests, I did receive some illuminating answers.

One player noted: “I hate it when I die in battle” — a touching answer revealing his wish to save others from his own frustration. Similarly, another traveler — an Elementalist partial to fire — said “I just like being nice.”