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Guild Wars 2 Previews: The Elementalist Preview

By Garrett Fuller on March 01, 2012

In many MMOs casting professions usually limit you to the type of magic you can use. The Elementalist in Guild Wars 2 however uses four elements to unlock an infinite number of possibilities as a caster. The profession plays extremely well with lots of options and we wanted to explore a few of those for you. After the beta our time with the Elementalist proved one major factor for the profession: variety is the spice of life. We loved the idea of using so many different forms of spells and switching between them as needed. For mag-loving players the Elementalist gives you some serious power.

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In the early levels you start with the elements of Fire and Water. Fire spells give your blasting combat explosions and super damage style spells. I found that while fighting monsters I could kill most of them before they got to me. However, in Guild Wars 2 monsters do fight in packs and there were times I had to resort to some attacks. Keep in mind that Guild Wars 2 has no dedicated healers, so you can self heal if things get rough, but be prepared to die a bit more than usual early on. Fire is a great weapon in long ranged battles and will likely play a strong part in objective battles for WvW PvP.

The element that I found myself using the most however was water. Water gave me access to ice magic and I loved the abilities of slowing or snaring my foes. Water gives you some great control over the fight and the CC is excellent when working with a group. Slowing down foes with ice while a Ranger shoots them with barrage is a great combo. Also a Water Elementalist groups extremely well because of their group heal abilities. These two things combined made me use Water more than any other element when I played.

 Unfortunately because I only had so much time, I didn’t get much time with Wind and Earth later as you get them later on as you level. These two elements have a lot of spells which can go from sheer blasting power with Wind, to some serious defensive spells in Earth. I found that Earth was extremely useful in tight situations when mobs were charging you down. I switched to it a lot when facing multiple opponents who were closing in fast. Wind definitely seems more geared to long range single target blast attacks. Wind is another element that could play heavily in PvP combat.

For me, the profession was definitely complex in how to construct the best spec.  There are so many choices, and you have loads of options with weapons giving different abilities, that it’ll be a long time before someone declares “one best spec” if ever. I found the best combo for me was a dagger and focus for mid range and close range abilities. I did keep a staff on hand as well for when I needed to go long range and blast things from far away in group situations. Again I found Water and Earth to be my favorite, but I also was thinking how the profession would play in terms of PvP. That being said, there were a lot of Elementalists sitting on top of gates blasting down lightning bolts on players trying to break in.

The weapon options were fun. While I liked the look of the scepter, I found the dagger/focus combination to be my favorite. I liked the speed of the dagger casting mid range attacks and keeping my opponents at bay with water spells. If needed the focus gives you a boost to close combat and when switching to earth magic it was very useful to have both. The profession definitely has a strong sense of solo-ability too. While all of the professions solo well, the Elementalist has so many options it is great to run around and explore on your own. Sadly, I could not take a tower in WvW PvP by myself…seriously, you need friends for that.

Caster players will be very pleased with the number of options that the Elementalist has to offer. I really liked the way the profession felt and the power was in your hands to make changes and move quickly when in combat. The Elementalist is not the stand and shoot profession that most MMOs relegate for casters. It is versatile and fun, and involves a lot of movement and casting on the go. Study now, because there will be a lot of different specs that will come up once the game launches. The great thing about Guild Wars 2 is that any of them may be worthwhile and players seemed to enjoy the options more than having to focus on just one form of casting… it’s pick your poison and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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