GW2 Gameplay Thus Far

I technically have four max-level characters in Guild Wars 2. For a while now, I have played all of them regularly, insofar as I use them to farm Winterberries. The gathering itself is simply pressing a button, but each node is frequently guarded by 3-4 mobs, one of which is usually a Veteran, e.g. equivalent to a WoW elite.

While it is not really a high bar, I do appreciate how differently each of the classes play when encountering the same content. Of course, some are (much) better than others. Sometimes even the weapons the class equips is enough to radically alter the gameplay.


I consider the Necro to be my “main” in GW2, and so I have been spending most of my time playing this class. It was tough choosing which Elite spec to funnel my expansion Hero Points into, but I settled with Scourge. While that decision was based on what research I could find regarding DPS and raid-worthiness, I feel like perhaps my normal gameplay style would’ve been better suited to Reaper.

The big change with Scourge over default Necro is that the Shroud (F1) ability is replaced with Manifest Sand Shade. This feels more powerful – and by all rights is – but it also introduces some clunky, fiddliness. Shroud always felt awkward for me to use, because it was basically an Oh Shit button that sometimes made sense to use as a DPS cooldown. The Sand Shades of the Scourge are more obviously DPS cooldowns, but it requires you to basically pick an area to create a stationary damage field. This clearly works in more known locations like raid encounters, but gets really annoying really quickly as you roam around in the the world.

A running theme throughout my experience with GW2 is that I hate the F1-F5 abilities. In fact, I hate all Stance Dancing in every MMO I have ever played. I ended up remapping the F1-F5 keys to something easier to press, but the Scourge represents a step backwards to me, as it took one button (F1) and turned it into five buttons, three of which you need to press regularly. Meanwhile, Reaper appears to be something more like I was looking for: turning F1 into a straight DPS cooldown, plus increasing survivability from a bunch of disposable pets.


The Mesmer is a class I used one of my level-80 boosts on, primarily because everyone talked about how boring it was to level. That boost automatically decks your character out in passable Exotic gear, so I felt relatively comfortable using her to farm Winterberries. What I ended up discovering was a playstyle that really suits me… providing I can figure out how to deal more damage.

The Mesmer is all about creating Clones and Phantasms, both of which can distract foes and deal damage themselves. In short, they have all of the positives of pets, with none of the downsides, considering they exist for only 10-20 seconds at a time during combat. It also amuses me to no end when I automatically create a Clone when dodge-rolling, as the mobs chasing me break the pursuit to attack something that disappears moments later anyway.

The problem is that while I can create a lot of distractions, it takes a lot longer to actually kill anything. Which might explain the whole “it’s boring to level a Mesmer” trope. I do not have either of the Elite specs unlocked, so perhaps that could improve things. Right now I am using Sword/Pistol and Greatsword, so that could be another avenue to explore.


I enjoy the Thief, but it is squishy as hell. The straight-forward F1 ability, spammable attacks, the Stealth… there is a lot here to like. From everything I have been reading though, the Elite specs are where it is at in terms of improving everything. I can kill things decently as it is, but I always seem to be hovering around 25% HP by the end of the fight.

Perhaps I need to move away from Dagger/Dagger…


Let’s see… squishy, no burst damage, 20+ skills to keep track of across F1-F4, and stance dancing. Yeah, Elementalist is my least favorite class by far. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even bother using it to farm Winterberries. There just isn’t anything fun about the way it plays.


My other two characters are an Engineer and a Ranger. The Engineer in particular is one that I have always enjoyed – it was my second character created, in fact – but I unfortunately did not spend one of my two level boosts on her. Which might have been a mistake, given how the Thief is turning out. That said, I am accumulating those +1 level books at a decent clip based on my dabbling in WvW, so who knows when she will join the others at the cap.

The Ranger is another class I enjoyed to an extent, but not enough to play consistently. I like pet classes, but I don’t like fiddling with pets; I prefer cannon fodder to a companion in my MMO. That might sound cruel, but in my experience, what actually happens is I find a pet that I enjoy having around, but the optimal pet to use is something else entirely, so I am constantly forced to choose between form or function. Plus, there are usually dozens and dozens of pets to choose from in the first place, so actually picking one is difficult. Give me a generic, useful demon pet any day.

And… that’s it. Can’t really play a Warrior or Revenant until there is a sale on Character Slots.

Posted on January 25, 2018, in Guild Wars 2 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Your talking about GW2 mounts pushed me to pick up the game again. I’ve only unlocked a couple of them for the moment, but I agree that they are fun. A lot less fun is switching from one to another, do you know if there’s a way to have one keybind for each mount?
    BTW for ranger pets: if you fear death, a tanky bear + some random, optimal: tiger+wyvern, tiger I like a lot just because I like felines, wyvern is effective, except for its tendence to drop its F2-AoE at completely random spots…. or maybe not so random, since they look like they were selected to avoid any mob I’m fighting….. In any case switching them is as annoying as with mounts, I fear, so I just don’t bother and use the “optimal” ones always.

    I’m sticking to the same character, slowly gaining HP to unlock the new elite spec (which is apparently the must-have for group DPS), and the gameplay feels as shallow as it did in the past (which is obvious for GW2, but not for someone used to WoW and the changes that every expansion brings to a class). I don’t have full ascended and I don’t steamroll mobs by the dozen as with my OP druid tank, but I never really feel threatened unless I really overpull (which I do systematically not to fall asleep).
    The new story quests are as bad as the ones in the past (= HoT, the base game ones I liked, actually), with fake-difficulty fights and a story which has turned more or less completely uninteresting.
    I don’t regret the purchase because the GW2 scenery is just beautiful (even if my GTX1060 is starting to suffer at max settings), I just don’t know how long this GW2 period will last.


    • Ha, it sounds like you have made a lot more progress than me, even though I started first. I find myself stuck in a grinding loop of “let me just go ahead and get the 2g daily out of the way” and that ends up either A) sucking me into some peripheral events if I find an Event/WvW train nearby, or B) making me feel like I should play a different game afterward.


      • Well, very different approach then. :)
        My idea was:
        – complete story
        – i.e. do only stuff which allows me to complete the story
        – which becomes: “grind” for masteries to upgrade mounts and advance in the story quests

        GW2 dailies are nice, because they push you to go visit different/old regions all the time, but they ARE a time sink.


  2. I’ve been getting back into it since the new year as well, and am completely on board with a hatred of the utility skills. Hence why I’ve rerolled Warrior, which is by far the best class I’ve played in the game – good animations, good elite specs and you can easily have the same 2 weapons to do most content in the game. Albeit I end up having about about 5 on the go.

    “providing I can figure out how to deal more damage.”

    I would imagine because the lvl80 boost decks you fully in gear where the stat weighting is 2/3 survivability (toughness and vitality) and 1/3 power. I switched to all zerker gear and things die a lot quicker, including my character.

    If I had a blog what I’d write an enormous post on would be the seemingly intense confusion ANet are grappling with over what their combat system is and how to make it work.

    Fighting multiple small mobs is often vastly more difficult than the bosses (open world, story, fractals, whatever). Yet these bosses behave like a weird parody of the Souls bosses, in that they seemingly have a set of animations that you’re meant to learn and exploit the weaknesses of.

    The problem is that they’re so easy but with massive health pools that the fights just drag on and on and on. Or you can play aggressively but then die to some absurd mechanic from a telegraph that is, as you would expect from an MMO, locked to a generic animation that tells you nothing about the attack. One leap in the air does paltry damage but follows you, one sends out a shockwave your last location, one knocks up in an area target. Good luck finding that particular red circle on an orange platform that’s covered in fire.

    It’s quite fun for what it is, imo mounts have been a game changer because the game feels much bigger. Exploring on foot and spamming swiftness buffs was garbage.

    How’s your gold game going? I’m finding that gold is by far my biggest barrier to anything I want; especially as, unlike later WoW, an hour or less doing nice easy right clicks isn’t enough to live off.


    • My gold game has essentially been “Get daily 2g, sell anything worth more than 2s in my bags.” Oh, and sell all my Mystic Coins when I get them, every 7 days. All of that is not a particularly viable strategy to unlock the Griffon mount (250g I think) in a reasonable time-frame, but I balk every time I see the guides pointing out that it costs >50g to level a particular crafting profession up to 500.

      Honestly, the whole thing is about as ridiculous as I remembered it back in 2012. The LS3 map I have been farming Winterberries on also has frozen treasure chests every 30 yards that drop green+ gear for basically zero effort. And yet, I don’t even bother opening them up unless they are already unfrozen by someone else. The gear itself sells for nothing on the AH (vendor+1c), so I break it down, deposit resources into my bank, and then sell whatever else didn’t make it out of my bags. Sometimes I get an Exotic that will go for 17s, but that’s pretty rare.

      Ironically, I think the best AHing I have done thus far was when I put in a Buy Order for some named Exotic berserker gear for my Elementalist. It took a few days, but I got all the pieces. Then I realized I didn’t like the Elementalist, so there’s no point getting that gear soulbound. Well, apparently there is a 20s+ difference between Buy and Sell orders for those pieces, so I accidentally made a gold or two in the process.

      There are probably better strategies out there – something like converting otherwise useless currency like Karma or Winterberries – but that fundamentally is no different than grinding/doing dailies. I heard Silverwaste Champion Chains were a thing? I dunno. What might end up happening is I spend $15 sometime down the road to buy diamonds, then convert to enough gold to get the Griffon. That sort of nonsense isn’t something I typically engage in, but the GW2 endgame is accumulating gold (to turn into diamonds) for cash shop purchases, so… I dunno. I’m already committed to buying more character slots when they go on sale. Well, provided I still like the game by then.


  3. Give greatsword reaper with axe as your secondary weapon a shot. It’s AFAIK the best build for open world stuff. If you use “Rise” along with the talent that improves survivability per minion you’ll get much of what you like in Mesmer. The other talent that’s a must have is the one that auto enters shroud when your life goes to zero as it’s a great backup for when you are cc chained.


    • I will definitely give that a shot later on. I was worried about the fact that I was about 60% of the way through the Scourge tree, but as it turns out, none of the abilities that I have yet to unlock seem particularly useful to what I want to do. So, any new Hero Points I accumulate will be put towards the Reaper. And, interestingly, I am able to auto-complete Hero Point challenges via some of the WvW currency I have accumulated too.

      On the other hand, I moved some abilities around on the Scourge and have been able to kill things much quicker than before. It could also help that I bought three Ascended trinkets with all the Winterberries.


  4. Ele has no burst damage? What?? Ele is the plus non ultra of burst damage! I have all the classes at 80 and most of them I have twice but Elementalist I have three, one on each account, and in each case the Ele is my go-to for outright, explosive damage.

    Casting my mind back a long, long way to the start of the game I do remember the multiplicity of options feeling a little daunting but like all things that goes away with practice and familiarity. Bear in mind I am 100% a clicker. I control everything with the mouse – even dodging. Maybe it’s actually harder if you have to hit the keys, I don’t know, but my survivability is fairly good against players actively trying to kill me so against mobs with their predictable AI it’s excellent.

    I use the Tempest elite class from HoT, which has some amazing damage from Overloads, and I spec deep in Fire for the Ae potential and the combination of direct and condi damage. Mostly Berserker stats and staff for the weapon, of course. Writing this before work or I’d go into it in more detail but in the end it all comes down to personal preference plus time put in. Every class in GW2 takes a considerable time investment to understand – I have no clue how to play about half of my characters!


  5. Yeah I’m also not a big fan of stance dancing, so this has stopped me from trying out Elementalist in earnest for a while.
    I don’t really have the feeling my Thief is a lot squishier than my Warrior, so maybe I’m playing the Warrior wrong :P
    Also pretty much the same with lack of damage with my Mesmer, but it’s incredibly fun to play.
    Right now I’m on an extended hiatus but also kinda keen on continuing.


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