Close to 60% of my Guild Wars 2 gameplay is determining which class/spec I want to play at a given time. It’s a struggle because there are nine classes with three specs which have two broad categories of damage types (Power vs Condi) apiece. Nevermind the various Utility options and talent tweaks and, oh yeah, all the weapons that bring different skills too.
When looking at what to play though, my priority list is:
- Sustain, e.g. self-healing
- Pressing buttons feels satisfying
- Good open-world DPS
- Has option for ranged damage
- Condition cleanse
- Good open-world burst damage
- Class/spec is competitive (with tweaks) in fractals and/or PvP
- Rotation isn’t crazy
Might seem weird to have Sustain at the top, but in my nine years off and on playing GW2, I have discovered that the worst feeling I experience while playing is eating some big boss hit for 2/3rds of my HP and then frantically dancing around waiting for my self-heal to come off cooldown. Will other players help you up? Often, in fact! But I would rather be the guy helping other people off the floor than eating dirt myself.
Scourge [Necromancer elite spec]
My current main is a Scourge. While I have not played every single class/spec combination, I can say that Scourge is about as perfect as I can imagine. Phenomenal self-healing and barrier, great DPS, all ranged damage, baseline Condition cleansing, Boon stripping on a short cooldown, and even decent burst if you just unload all the cooldowns right away. While “class fantasy” isn’t listed as important above, it does count for something. And the Scourge has it, what with the sand necromancer schtick.
The “problem” is that… well, I’ve been playing that same spec for months. Not even months in a row (although it’s close), but like for a while, then taking a multi-year break, then playing it again. While the damage is good, the rotation is pretty straight-forward, so I end up pushing the same sort of buttons in the same sort of way, forever. It works, but it’s rote.
For the last several weeks, I did try to make Reaper work. Greatsword that turns into a giant scythe, the ability to burst down regular mobs in seconds, what’s not to love? Well, the sustain, or lack thereof. Bursting mobs depends on accumulating Life Force and popping a cooldown that burns Life Force naturally, in addition to said Life Force being your 2nd HP bar. So, get low on normal HP, pop the cooldown, and if the fight is still going on a few seconds later, you get to be right back on low HP.
Renegade [Revenant elite spec]
My up and coming new main, or at least secondary main.
I tried Revenant when it was first released and didn’t “get” it. Maybe it was undertuned at the time? All I know now is that the Condi Renegade pushes all the correct buttons for me: great sustain, good DPS, and bursting potential. Plus, it has great ranged damage, which is a huge plus. I plan on using my Renegade to go back through the various Living Story, er, stories in order to complete the Return Of… meta-achievements. If I have to play these again, may as well be on a different character.
Holosmith [Engineer elite spec]
I really want to like the Engineer, but it’s a struggle. Conceptually, the Holosmith is cool. The damage looks fun, there is some bursting potential, and so on. The problem I find is that the self-sustain isn’t there, even though I’m walking around with a shield. It is very possible that I’m simply not playing it correctly. Looking at some Scrapper videos, it’s also possible that I should be trying that spec out more, since it has a lot more sustain.
Really though, the main reason my Engineer is getting any attention is because of the upcoming Mechanist spec in the expansion. That is something I’m very interested in.
Another class that I should really like, but don’t in practice. I love the concept of an illusionist fighter dealing psychic damage, with a bunch of clones running around confusing people. Playing with it though, I find it extremely hard keeping up 3 clones for maximum DPS, let alone shattering them and then creating three more. I end up either not having three because one died or whatever, or wasting cooldowns trying to create three and doing nothing. Meanwhile, nothing is dying particularly quickly.
Maybe it’s my lack of gear on this character, but it’s hard to justify grinding Winterberries for the 10th time to get them enough gear to potentially be fun at a later date.
Again, I wanted to like them, but nope. One of the meta specs (Condi Daredevil) has a “rotation” of literally evade spam. Like, use an ability to makes you Dodge x3, use actual Dodge Roll x2, and then auto-attack a few times. Repeat. What’s not to love about that? I prefer simpler rotations myself, but damn guys.
Power Deadeye actually came closer to being good for me despite having an even simpler rotation of pressing Unload a bunch, because Unload is cool. Like you are just shooting with dual pistols a bunch over and over. The problem is that it has no cleave, so I had to press Unload a bunch on one guy, then swap, then swap again. Maybe Scourge has spoiled me, I dunno.
My character is named Azuriel Prime, as it was my original class when I started playing nine years ago.
Too bad Elementalists suck, and have pretty much forever. Is there something more brittle than a glass cannon? Sand castle cannon at high tide? Zero sustain, your elementals disappear when you mount, and everything kills you. Oh, and your rotation is cycling through 20 abilities compared to “just Dodge on cooldown and things die.”
[Fake Edit] Between when I originally wrote this and when the post was scheduled, I did spend a bit more time with the Elementalist. I went for Condi Tempest with full +Toughness, +HP, +Condi damage gear. And… it’s working, sorta. It’s not particularly fun and I couldn’t tell you what the Tempest brought to the table aside from being able to press your elemental attunement again (which is a DPS loss), but it’s not totally useless in of itself. It just can’t compete with other options, which have better sustain, higher damage, and easier rotations.
Guardian, Ranger, Warrior
Don’t have the character slots to have any of these.
Granted, I did before the Revenant, and actually had a few at level 80 back in the day. But back then, I wasn’t particularly impressed, and now it’ll cost me $10 to try them so… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯