Path of Fire, the upcoming expansion, is just 10 days away! With its release players will be getting an influx of new content, maps, story, gear and more, including the release of the highly anticipated Elite Specialisations! These new specs will be much like the Heart of Thorns ones before them, new ways to play the existing classes that offer unique and divergent pathways for players. The biggest question now for many new and returning players is- what to play? Here is a helpful recap of what we know so far and what playstyle you can expect from each of the upcoming classes, based on previous test weekends, to help you choose what to play when Path of Fire hits the servers.
Scourge is the first time the Necromancer will be without their Shroud and second healthbar- but don’t let that turn you off. The new ‘sand shade’ mechanic, some choice traits and the upcoming ‘punishment’ skills have created a condition damage monster in both PvP and WvW. The damage output is unrivalled in World versus World, with the ability to massacre boons and put players in the floor even better than past iterations of the Necromancer. If you like watching your enemies burn, torment and bleed themselves down before your eyes, then Scourge is the class for you. To make up for the loss of the Shroud, Scourge has the biggest access to Barrier (a new shielding mechanic coming with Path of Fire) which helps make up some extra health for them. The Barrier output does not fully compensate for a lack of shroud, especially given its fast decay, but helps solidify what would otherwise be an extremely ‘glass cannon’ class. Whether or not the Scourge will have the same damage in PvE is yet to be seen- but given the recent changes to the Torment condition (it now does the same base damage as Bleed in PvE) there is a good chance that meta builds using Scourge will be close if not competitive with other new specs, great news for the many Necromancers sick of sitting at the back of the bus. Hard hitting, but slow paced, the Scourge is perfect for players who want to be big nukers in any group play, but be ready to be the focus of every enemy you come across.
Spellbreaker is the only spec to be getting two weapons at the same time, a first for the game, and its dual wielded daggers look superb. This spec is extremely reminiscent of a classic Guild Wars 1 Mesmer, with a modern Guild Wars 2 twist. Heavily focused on CCing, interrupting and removing boons, the Spellbreaker is all about timing to achieve victory. This class definitely has a big focus on PvP and WvW, with most of its unique abilities only really shining against enemies you can CC and boonrip. The new burst skill gives a new unique counterattack ability, letting you punish enemies that attempt to engage you, making it a potent duellist so long as you are paying close attention to enemy abilities. Unfortunately, any spec with so much great CC and boonrip potential has to make up for it somewhere, and Spellbreaker trades off a great deal of damage to get its utility. Without significant damage modifiers or coefficients behind the spec, its unlikely to be a powerful damage dealer in raids or fractals, with the old PS builds likely to either stay the same or only see slight changes. If you are interested in a powerful duellist with great WvW and PvP potential, look no further than the mighty Spellbreaker! But if its high end PvE that you’re after, be cautious when approaching this spec, as so far it will need some major tweaks to be competitive.
Firebrand takes the theme of the Guardian- a fiery combat mage, and cranks it up to 11. This class literally spews fire around, with an unprecedented amount of burning for both itself and allies that make it a huge player in the damage dealing department. There is every chance that Firebrand becomes a powerhouse in PvE, and it is almost certain to be a game breaker in WvW, with some of the best healing, boon output and AoE damage available to any class. The new Tome skills are designed to get you in and out fast, with limited skill uses per activation, encouraging a fast paced gameplay that rotated between both weapons and tomes depending on the situation. The Mantras, with the new Ammo system, can be uses sparingly to always have something available to you, or can be blown through quickly to take advantage of a powerful third charge, giving Firebrand a tonne of ways to be played. What really tips the iceberg for Firebrand is its cross gamemode viability, with every mode looking like it will have a place for the king of fire in many different ways. If you are interested in huge AoE pressure through conditions, some of the best team support available and a class that is likely to be meta in all game modes then Firebrand is the class for you, but be prepared to memorise 3 tomes worth of skills and pay close attention to the situation.
If you like playing Mozart’s 3rd backwards on the harpsichord, then Weaver is the class for you! Weaver is focused on changing attunements as often as possible. Going from Fire Attunement to Water Attunement will give you a unique 3rd weapon skill that combines the two attunements, making it highly important to track which attunements you are coming from and going to, planning ahead to get the best skills available for the situation. As duellists, Weaver has excellent access to personal Barrier, CC, sustain and damage that make it great for taking on other players. For PvE, Weaver has access to an incredible amount of damage modifiers that look to be pushing what is already a top tier class even higher up the meta food chain. Their zerging potential is limited, with nothing really adding to existing staff builds, but also not detracting from it. Tempest, the other Elementalist Elite Spec, will definitely still take the cake as the healer and support go to for the class, with much better access to abilities that suit the playstyle. For players who want a high skill ceiling and a lot to memorise, Weaver is the go to, capable of achieving good results in all the game modes with potential to stay as the top tier DPS class in PvE. If you want to be a healer, support or zerger, then Weaver may not be for you, but both core Elementalist and Tempest have access to these abilities.