In my last article on Returning to Guild Wars 2 we spoke about the very first thing returning players need to contend with, and that is their class choice. In this article we will continue down the list of classes, detailing the remaining classes and how they fare for new players as they learn to approach the multitude of changes Arenanet may have imposed over the course of their time away from Tyria.
Within the last article, we learned that despite having many new specializations for the Warrior, the Guardian, the Engineer and the Ranger added to the game, not every specialization is “new player friendly.” Most notably, I outlined some of the most problematic specializations for returning players, such as the Firebrand Guardian Specialization. For certain specializations, it’s very important to understand why they might not be returning player friendly, and that really has to do with the high learning curve to play a specialized build easily. For a class such as the Firebrand, your virtues are replaced with entirely new sets of skills called “Tomes”. For every virtue that would normally just execute an ability, you have five entirely new abilities that require forethought and understanding of their usage before diving in. To that end, new players could easily feel overwhelmed with the multitude of options available, which could increase the difficulty of otherwise simplistic encounters.
Elite Specializations are Extremely Powerful
It’s very important to understand that the Firebrand is an exceptionally powerful elite specialization, but for the purposes of getting back into a game you as a player may have forgotten even the most elementary of mechanics, it may make more sense to start with an easier specialization, and then move into the elite spec that you truly desire. It’s also important to note that in PvE, you have to earn the usage of your specializations. For example, if you really want to play a Holosmith in PvE, and you’ve purchased Path of Fire, you still have to go through the motions of earning the necessary skill points on that character to unlock all of the traits and abilities for the Holosmith, which means you won’t really be viable as a Holosmith until you’ve completed the majority of your trait unlocking anyway. With that in mind, below we take a look at the remaining classes and specializations to consider when returning to GW2.
Elementalist – The Elementalist is a versatile class that requires some awareness to play. As a light armor wearer, you have the ability to throw down huge, damaging area of effect spells with your staff, focus single targets with your scepter, or utilize exceptional crowd control and healing spells in your earth and water attunements. The base elementalist is a great prelude to learning more advanced classes such as the Firebrand, Kit based Engineers and SpellWeavers.
Tempest (requires HoT) – The Tempest plays similarly to the base Elementalist with one very large, very important distinction, the ability to overload your attunements. After a short time in any given element, you can execute an Overload, which is a powerful ability that can damage your foes or heal your allies depending on the element you’re attuned to. The Tempest differs so little from the base Elementalist while adding so much necessary functionality to the attunements that it makes it my choice for new players when learning the Elementalist profession.
Weaver (requires PoF) – Weavers essentially combine two elements into one, weaving spells together with amazing effects that can do all kinds of useful things. Weavers also meld the attunements of the Elementalist in ways that can be quite confusing for new players. Switching from one element to the next will only give you a half bar of your new attunement, and a half bar of the old attunement, while granting you a mixed ability. One of the greatest powers of the Weaver is its variety in abilities a player has available at any given time. A thoroughly understood spell Weaver is an amazing class to have around, but due to its vast amount of abilities, it is not recommended for untested players.
Mesmer – Many players want to start fresh playing a class unlike anything they’ve ever played before, and that often leads them to the Mesmer. The Mesmer is an extraordinarily powerful class on its own, with the ability for high condition damage as well as some burst damage potential, but where the Mesmer really shines is in its utility. Mesmers can stealth and teleport allies, confuse enemies with clones, and well played Mesmers can even play high end content without the worry of an elite specialization. The trick to learning the Mesmer is in the art of deception which makes it an easy class to learn but a tough class to master.
Chronomancer (requires HoT) – The Chronomancer is a step up from the Mesmer in the sense that the Chrono abilities add more depth in pretty much every facet of a Mesmers gameplay. Armed with the ability to control time, and a new power on your shatter bar, Continuum Split, a Chronomancer has great burst potential, and the ability to double up on elite abilities or high damage abilities when utilizing Continuum Split properly. The Chronomancer is a well-rounded elite spec that requires a moderate amount of play time to become truly proficient, so new plays should be wary, but not be afraid to give this one a shot.
Mirage (requires PoF) – The Mirage is powerful both as a burst damage dealer as well as being highly proficient in condition damage over time. Mirages are great at evading enemies while enabling ambush skills to increase your potential for damage. The Mirage is similar to the Chronomancer in that, they both have very specific hooks that require a little forethought to use properly, but the Mirage isn’t so incredibly different than the Mesmer that returning players won’t be able to grasp it after a short play time.
Necromancer – For PvE, it’s very hard to find a class easier than the Necromancer, but the big caveat is, the Necromancer requires that you player be in tune with their class traits to really get the most out of it. Traditionally known as the “Minion Master”, the Necromancer can utilize pets to wear down enemies without trying very hard. Wells also have great utility in team settings, and Death Shroud, the Necromancers special ability, adds an offensive and defensive bonus to a class that is already very powerful.
Reaper (requires HoT) – If you like the base necromancer, the Reaper will add to your enjoyment with a highly offensive focused Reaper Shroud, that takes the place of Death Shroud. With this elite spec you also gain the ability to use a greatsword, which is highly coveted among players and will aid in heavy burst damage potential.
Scourge (requires PoF) – The Scourge is a defensive powerhouse. With Sand Shades taking the place of your shroud abilities, you no longer have a form to turn into such as the Reaper or Death shrouds, but you place these Sand Shades on the ground, similar to how your wells work, and execute abilities that will grand barriers, cause conditions and more. Scourges gain Punishment abilities, which also includes a Mesmer like teleport which can come in handy in PvE when the situation calls for it. Due to the start departure from the other two forms of necromancer, this is definitely not an elite specialization for players out of the gate.
Thief – Thieves are traditionally one of the toughest classes to play due to their flimsy nature, despite being medium armor wearers. They excel at stealth as well as close and ranged combat, though the base thief plays exceptionally well as a dagger wielder. The thief at times can be unforgiving, but despite that, even the base thief excels at evasion and high burst damage. I recommend players not starting with a base thief if they’ve never played the game before. Thieves have a lot of power, but for new players, they may only see frustration.
Daredevil (requires HoT) – Daredevils are the upgraded powerhouses that all thieves wish they could be. With the addition of a new dodge, and the ability to customize that dodge at the highest trait tier, evasion and mobility is what the Daredevil is all about. With the customization options, players will be able to specialize in burst damage or condition damage to their hearts content. In World vs World, a highly skilled Daredevil player can keep groups of people busy for hours with no hopes of stopping their assaults. Daredevils are easy to learn, but very hard to master.
Deadeye (requires PoF) – If Daredevils are all about mobility, the Deadeye is on the opposite spectrum. A smart deadeye plays the sniper role with a rifle and a hefty amount of stealth behind them to mark targets and put down high burst damage in a very short amount of time. Deadeyes are hard to play due to their sniper abilities require the Deadeye to kneel, making its most damaging abilities also their most vulnerable time. Of all the thief specializations, this one is definitely the one new players want to stay away from until they are comfortable with the hit and run style of the thief.
Revenant (requires HoT or PoF) – Revenants are solid in their simplicity, but still incredibly difficult to play. While every build for the Revenant, including the Elite Specializations, locks players into the utility abilities defined by each legend, you would imagine that the defined abilities would signal simplicity in play style, but the Revenant is no pushover to play. While the Revenant has ample builds for condition damage, burst damage, healing and mobility, players will be hard pressed swapping legends and utilizing their abilities efficiently. Balance and planning is the way to play a Revenant expertly, and new players may find that it’s not the easiest class for them to start with.
Herald (requires HoT) – The Herald adds the Glint Legendary Stance to your arsenal, and it is also one of the more coveted stances in PvP. With Glint, you are able to buff your teammates, and keep boons on you and your surrounding friends pretty much all the time by utilizing the Facets of Glint. Heralds are masters of team play, but also have the ability to put out substantial burst damage and crowd control when needed. This is undoubtedly the easiest of the Revenant specializations to play, but by no means is it simple.
Renegade (requires PoF) – Renegades are great for bombarding enemies with conditions thanks to the addition of the Short Bow and the mist summoning abilities of Kalla. In addition to dealing hefty condition damage, Renegades can also buff your allies with boons and heal them when the chips are down using SoulCleaves Summit. Renegades are fantastic additions to the Revenant, but are very tough to play like all Revenant classes due to the need to stance switch between Legends to be truly effective.
Now that we’ve gone through all of the classes and their specializations, my next article will outline what you can expect after logging in, what to do with all of those inventory items you’re getting, and a smart leveling guide for those classes that you haven’t quite gotten to 80 yet.