Over the course of Guild Wars 2’s storied history, there have been so many changes. Some of those changes have taken builds that I once loved, such as the Celestial Elementalist, and turned it into something as useless as playing a revenant without a specialization. Others have come and gone, creating builds that I could only love for a short time, like the hammer warrior, that eventually got thrown to the wayside in favor of more versatile, higher damage builds. Throughout all of these changes, it’s apparently clear that nobody knows what to expect. Then, the last balance patch happened.
Yes, most of the builds I speak about are utilized in a PvP capacity. I’m a “casual” PvP player, but often play my way through the Ranked Arenas to platinum status which is about when I get bored. One of my main sticking points that I’ve spoken about at length in one of my first articles, is the lack of diversity in builds. There are a lot of people to blame for this, the developers, Metabattle, streamers, YouTube videos. It all boils down to what class you can play the best with as little difficulty as possible, and that ends up giving way to builds that revolve around classes choosing the same skills, and using the same tactics.
Up to this point, I’ve always shirked this mainstream idea of choosing the easiest things to play. I was blissfully happy playing my Engineer, as I always felt the Engineer had the most diverse sets of skills that a player has access to at any given time. I primarily revolved my builds around playing a Scrapper, even when everyone and their mom, and their mom’s friend Beatrice, of which all moms have, played Holosmith. After Heart of Thorns, Scrapper had its day in the sun. The use of the Hammer had solid defense, and decent attack strength, and you didn’t really need to sacrifice mobility. It was a great specialization to play.
If there was one main sticking point, it’s that the Gyros were, quite literally, hit and miss. The blast Gyro specifically, was a wonky, weird little drone that would tag someone with a seeker dart (sometimes), and a little gyro would fly to them and detonate. It was beyond useless. Then the Developers changed the way Gyros worked, and everything changed for my Scrapper. Quite literally overnight, every Scrapper build I mused about over the past couple years, materialized into build options that were nigh unkillable, or put out surprising amounts of damage along with exceptional crowd control, the likes of which have turned the tides on many Arena battles.
One of my favorite anecdotes of this change, is during one of my first battles, where I went to our Home node, and capped it. I was rushed by a Mirage Mesmer, one of the highest damage classes, and a Warrior Spellbreaker, one of the highest burst classes in PvP. After about a minute of their assault, the Mesmer stopped and wrote “Just die already!”, which I didn’t, and I was able to hold off the assault until my team returned. That’s not to say that we win every match, but I’ve gone from having some truly abysmal matches, to matches where I can be confident that I’m having fun, playing my favorite class how I want.
Inside of all of this is a cautionary tale. These kinds of crazy class swings, creating Flavor of the Month builds out of thin air, and subsequently eliminating other viable builds in the process isn’t really a good thing in my estimation. What it shows is a broader picture of how balance, which everyone believes should be the pinnacle of MMOs, is really a façade. What this change has shown me in particular, is that class balance isn’t possible. There is no way to create equals out of classes. Not now, not ever. The joke that gets played on the players every patch is, the hope that a widely disliked build will become less effective, and someone else’s preferred class increases in power. It’s all wishful thinking, and outlines the severe unbalance, and ridiculousness that is the current state of Structured PvP in GW2. All that being said, it looks like the Scrapper is back at the top of the totem pole, and to that I can only say, I’ll see you on the battlefield.