Profession Impressions

June 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg, PvE | 30 Comments
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It’s a little late to call these first impressions. We’ve had 2 beta weekends and a stress test so I’ve had a bit of time to think about it. Still it’s not as though I’ve been playing the game for months so here are some basic thoughts.

I’ve got more time logged on the medium classes, thief, engineer, and ranger, so there will be more detailed thoughts there. Also as I didn’t play a whole lot in the 2nd weekend, perhaps some of these concerns have been addressed? I’m not sure.


I loved this class far more than I thought I would. The rifle is okay but I found a certain rhythm with the pistols and turrets that felt natural and felt like a character I’d like to play. It felt like I could do a lot of different things at once even without switching to weapon kits thanks to the numerous conditions and abilities of skills.

There is a learning curve when switching out kits quickly and efficiently, or placing turrets effectively, but I thought otherwise it was very diverse in play styles.

Glue Shot is my main gripe with pistols on engineer. Didn’t really get a chance to play much on the weekend so I can’t confirm if it was any different but I didn’t like it previously.

Anyway I’ve talked at length about engineering here and here.


In the past I have been apprehensive about pets for rangers. I’ve advocated in particular for more complex pet control aside from being given a single pet skill to use. I stand by that. Nothing has changed in that regard.

That isn’t the only problem. I love the pets, bonding with them, the range of selection but the AI is still substandard. They should be attacking the moment I’m attacking but they don’t. Couple that with poor survivability (particularly with bird pets) and more than half the time your pet isn’t doing anything. It’s not doing damage, using its skills, or taking aggro.

That being said it is a fun class to play. One of the few melee classes I didn’t mind much at all. The skills are moving you around a lot on the battlefield, it makes you feel nimble.

Shortbow I wasn’t a fan of because it didn’t seem versatile enough, and axes just had that “felt wrong” vibe for my personal play style. Longbow on the other hand was a lot of fun in the ranged department.


At times thief felt awkward. Usually when I was using daggers or long sword. Heartseeker felt like it didn’t have the range it should, and too many times it seemed like I wasn’t attacking correctly, likely just a skillset that didn’t fit me as a player.

Shortbow and pistols though were fun and complimented each other. I felt like pistols were a great single target skill set with shortbow being great for multiple targets. Switching back and forth between those two weapons is my favourite part of that class.

Steal is a fun mechanic but because I was often playing ranged it more often put me into danger rather than saved me from it. Effective for a melee thief of course, but not my ranged thief.

Initiative didn’t appear to be as much of a problem as I had thought. I had briefly said it seemed rather pointless, and I stand by that but I’m sure some people will find it fun and it doesn’t appear to get in my way at least.


Warrior seemed like a warrior. A big armoured buffoon blundering into situations, shrugging off attacks, doing damage. Just clobbering things over the head with whatever is at hand.

The ranged weapons, rifle and longbow, felt more like something you’d switch to when you’re not doing melee. Perhaps rifle could be used as a primary weapon but I never found that to be the case with longbow.

The unique mechanic constantly has this feeling like you’re about to set off an explosion which is good. It’s a lot of fun in that way, and the visceral sense you get from a lot of the melee weapons is also sucks you in. You definitely feel like you’re in the fight.

I really liked great sword and hammer which to me sort of feel like the reason this class exists.


I don’t even really know what to say about guardian. A lot of people seem to like guardian but it isn’t the class for me. I’m sure someone will find the various things the class has going for it entertaining but I felt like it had little to offer.

The virtues are okay. They didn’t feel like a particularly great unique mechanic that wowed me but they did save my butt once or twice.

I don’t think I’ll surprise anyone who played guardian by saying that Greatsword was overpowered, and to a lesser extent for rangers and warriors as well. It just felt like you were never in any danger as long as you were using Whirling Wrath, I think it’s called.


Every person I talked to raved about using daggers on elementalist, so it’s a shame I never really got around to it. Mostly I had a scepter and focus and didn’t enjoy those weapons at all. The first two elements I unlocked, fire then water, seemed too similar. They both had an AoE that focused on a location where the target used to be. I found my targets moving or dying before getting off Dragon’s Tooth or Shatterstone.

Air on the other hand immediately became fun as it reminded me greatly of Star Wars, and I think we all know how I feel about that. Arc Lightning just has an excellent feel.

Aside from that it felt like it took way too long to unlock skills on elementalist. In general this eventually became tedious on all characters, but seemed highlighted by the number of elements you have to unlock for each weapon. I think it needs to be toned down towards the end.


I disliked this class the most, though that should be taken with a grain of salt because I’ve also spent the least time with mesmer.

Staff in particular felt like it had the most useless first skill out of any weapon on any class in the game. I do not appreciate random effects, whether they be boons or conditions. But there was also the problem of damage, where virtually every other class has a clean damaging skill to begin with, mesmer goes with out. Fortunately that is just one skill.

What was more of a problem for me was how useless I felt any time an enemy moved to melee range. My only option became dodging, which is fine, but you only have so much endurance to dodge.

I probably gave this class too little time however, as I only tried staff, scepter and focus.

The clones and phantasms were okay. I don’t think I liked their AI that much but they did their job. It’s hard to say if they were underpowered or not given that I spent so little time with them but it did seem that way.


I think anyone who liked the old necromancer will be pleased to play the same class again in Guild Wars 2. No class more closely resembles the gameplay of the original game than the necro in my opinion, whether it was a blood build, a minion master, curses or otherwise. Except now you can play them all at once, sort of.

Perhaps one of the things that stands out most about necromancer is that it has so much atmosphere. More so than in any other class, you feel like you’re playing the class you picked.

Getting to gameplay, certainly the minion master felt very similar. Having that moving wall surrounding you seemed like a bit of nostalgia.

I think I had the same problem with necromancer that I had with all the scholar classes though. They felt squishy, I felt kind of disconnected from combat, they didn’t really feel like my thing. I chalk that up to personal preference however and not their design.

Anywho, just a post I had sitting in drafts for a while that I thought I’d publish.



  1. I agree with you about the ranger, I tried a number of the melee classes – and it is the ranger which I felt like I worked a rhythm up with. Using a sword and dagger I’d use the skill which made my attacks cause bleeding, then I’d run in and poison with a dagger skill, do the main hand sword chain, use hornets and leap out of harms way – then throw the dagger to cripple to foe and finish them off with my longbow.

    it seemed to work really well in PvP too, which was encouraging.

    • Yeah I really liked both greatsword and the sword/dagger combo. I felt like greatsword crushed enemies and loved swoop or whatever its called. The sword dagger combo just goes so much further by turning you into an acrobat. Lots of fun.

  2. Playing an elementalist I went with a staff and unlocked all four elements. Water seemed very weak, but the other 3 all seemed useful. Having some powerful AOE skills makes Eles very popular with the melee classes I noticed, when they are outnumbered and getting pushed back, some Ele AOE usually turns the tide of battle around. Every time I went wandering around I soon picked up a small army of rangers and warriors. 🙂
    I enjoyed a dual pistol thief so much I didn’t unlock anything else. I actually found the thief more squishy than the Ele in solo play, which is why I went ranged dual pistol, but a melee thief teamed with another player(s) is a different matter, as a friend played a thief using various bladed weapons and was meshing really nicely with our small group, cranking out a lot of damage as well.
    Next BWE I hope to try out guardian and necro. I’m kind of saving ranger and mesmer for live, but if we have enough weekend events I’ll likely give them a try before then. My concern about the mesmer is really weak elite skills, from the look of them.

    • Dual pistol on thief is definitely what I loved about the class, it just felt right in a couple different ways, especially if you start pairing it up with cool utility skills. It’s interesting that playing in a group plays so differently than playing solo, even with the same weapons.

  3. I agree with most of your comments here (especially about elementalist taking so long to unlock), but I disagree with you about the mesmer, Staff is a staple for me, but it does require a certain playstyle – this one is build up conditions to knock em down. There’s an illusion/clone that does more damage the more conditions the enemy has on them. Dual swords is another favourite of mine as it provides some really strong illusions/clones and options for temporary invincibility.

    I still need to spend quality time with the guardian, warrior and engineer though…

    • Well that’s fair, but personally I just didn’t like that playstyle. It felt like it took too long and was too reliant on that clone which I constantly mistimed and misused. Again I didn’t spend too much time with mesmer so I’m sure it has it’s virtues but off-hand I haven’t been liking it.

  4. Sorry to not be replying much, I still love reading your columns. I’ve had family engagements both weekends – god frustrating let me tell you – so none of my experience is relevant so I don’t comment. Keep up the good work. Having said that I did play ele for most of the time I decided that I could do without sleep. I found that by the time I had unlocked three of the four elements, changed to unlock the 4th was downright life threatening! Having just the basic shot was not enough for me to be killing stuff before they got me, thus I never unlocked it. I rejected going back to a lower level area just for the purpose of unlocking my skills, that’s grind. I don’t do grind. I hearby request all skills to become unlocked once you leave the first/second area; a special training quest or whatever.
    I’ve also read somewhere that you need to complete a dungeon around 100 times in order to unlock yourself a full set of armour; that’s grind too. I miss the original GWs initial release goals; both in the current GW and seemingly in GW2… maybe I should read my second sentence again.

    • I don’t know where you read that 100 times to unlock something nonsense, it sounds like garbage. But I do think later skills need to unlock at a similar rate to the first few skills. I think they’re underestimating the human learning curve.

      • 5 tokens per successful run, 5 pieces, 100 tokens per piece. Take a look at catacombs wiki page. Excludes weapon which is another 200 tokens. I am told there is a chance some of it will drop from creatures which may or may not save you some time.

        • I don’t know where you saw 5 tokens per run, but I don’t think that is accurate, besides, they’re sure to balance that before release.

  5. I spent some time with the warrior but I actually really liked the longbow and rifle. The rifle’s burst skill, Kill Shot, has a very long range of 1500 which will be great for finishing off a kiting foe in PvE and PvP alike (I did notice mobs kiting me at times.) When there’s a huge glut of enemies the rifle is great for laying and setting off combo fields, inflicting mass burning, in addition to blindness/immobility on key targets. I agree that the greatsword felt stronger than the other weapons by a lot, but it was really fun. Warrior has the same problem as the elementalist with skill unlocks, but obviously not to the same extent.

    The necromancer is simply oozing with flavor, which is what I love about it. The similarity with the GW1 necro definitely helps that. I didn’t feel the same way about being disconnected from the battlefield–did you try out the axe or main-hand dagger? Using the melee weapons made me feel connected to the fight and hugely increased the breadth of what I could do.

    Your two-parter on the engineer actually inspired me to write about the necromancer in what ended up being excruciating detail. You can find those posts here:

    • I didn’t really try out many weapons on necro, but I think it was just more of a preference to not want to play a casting profession rather than a ranged or melee profession.
      I liked the rifle a bit, but the longbow not at all. Probably personal preference, and I almost always felt like, as a warrior, I should be in melee range rather than shooting stuff.

  6. Not just daggers, but daggers + air. So much fun. Fire may have the bigger numbers, but the speed and slipperiness of lightning more than make up for lesser damage (from a balance perspective it probably evens things out, but it’s so much more fun. Also, eles may have more skills to unlock…but eles have more skills. It’s not like it takes more time to unlock the same amount of skills as other professions. The thief has the least to unlock, but at the expense of variety.

    Staff has been the most effective weapon for PvE on my mesmer, but I’d really recommend sword and torch in PvP. Apparently sword/pistol is a more popular choice for DPS but I tend to build around survivability and slipperiness. My guardian feels more squishy than my mesmer by comparison, though nowhere near as squishy as my ele. In fact, I think I need to take a similar approach with my ele now that I know the joy of lightning.

    • It’s not solely the problem of ele’s to have to unlock a great number of skills, it’s just highlighted on that particular profession. In general I’d like it to be faster to unlock the last couple of skills.

      Guardian is pretty squishy I think until you learn the ins and outs of the profession at which point you can learn to use your virtues a bit better.

  7. That was fun to read. I definitely don’t agree with everything, but you had some good points as well. However, I can’t imagine how necromancers could feel squishy. They’re probably the most survivable profession in the game.

    • One thing that bothered me about the necro was, for instance, the main heal. Having to set up the minion then kill it to heal yourself can make a tough fight that much harder if you used your heal once already. One of the reasons I think its squishy. Sure you can hide behind a wall of minions, as i pointed out, but in tougher fights it may not matter that much.

      • I actually liked using consume conditions for my heal more than the minion. As you say, the set up time can be annoying, and consume conditions heals for almost as much without any conditions, and way more if you do have conditions. I think it also had a lower cooldown. Of course, I love necro, so I spent a lot more time with it than you probably did =)

        • Yeah I didn’t get around to trying the other heals out, but next time maybe. Sounds like an improvement.

  8. I played Thief in both beta but I found myself disliking something about it. Initiative to me, felt like it regen’d to slow. I noticed especially when I used dual pistols. Perhaps I’m use to the Necromancer axe/scepter/staff, but the slow rate of fire combined with the slow regen made it feel subpar.

    Don’t get me wrong, Unload does a ton of damage but, I could only use it so much and then it was back to spamming the auto attack where as on cooldown based classes it felt like I was using the 2-5 skills more than I did on Thief with the initiative system.

    • I’ve heard other people say they had a big problem with initiative but for me it was okay. I didn’t mind the regen, used skills to augment it, traits etc.

      • Not a fan of initiative either, just seems like a much more restrictive form of cool downs…so I pretty much echo Tramell’s impressions. I’d almost rather have the skills nerfed in exchange for being able to use them more, and it’s kind of lame that we have to use skills and traits to improve a mechanic that detracts from rather than enhances the profession. It’s part of why I don’t have a lot of patience when other mesmers complain about illusions. If there’s a profession that got shafted, I’d say it’s the thief. Still beats the button mashing of similar professions in other games but it’s almost like it goes too far in the opposite direction.

        • I think your supposed to think of initiative as a resource mangement game and some people actually kind of like resource management games. Beyond that I agree with some of the things you said.

  9. The most fun I had was with a guardian on the latest BWE.
    I agree with you about the virtues, but there was one skill that kept me playing.
    I think its the 4th skill when using a hammer, called “Banish” if memory serves.

    • Yeah, that’s a fun skill – huge knockback! The guardian felt a little unpolished to me, especially the ranged skills on sceptre. I really liked the basic mechancis though, and with a bit more work and a good ranged option (crossbow please!) I’ll surely be playing this at least as a preffered alt.

      • I liked scepter but I guess I can agree that it needed a little work. I’m pretty sure they want scepter to be your ranged option, so I doubt crossbow will come into it (until an expansion anyway).

    • I didn’t play much with the hammer, mostly mace, shield, scepter and greatsword I think. I’ll have to give hammer a try, I know it was a lot of fun on the warrior.

      • If you enjoyed it on warrior, I guarantee you’ll like it on the guardian.

        The way the hammer felt was actually the deciding factor for guardian over warrior for me

  10. During the BWEs i tried every profession, getting to at least lvl 13 (thief to 20 and guardian to 17) and unlocking all weapon the skills on all of them (except the elementalist, I tried that one on my friends account),
    I started off with thief being my favorite but the more I played the more annoying he became. The problem I found was his initiative, not only is it shared between weapons which I could get used to but you also loose all of it when you get downed which pretty much means you’ll be dead as soon as you rally. Later in the weekend I tried some structured PvP and with some tweaks to the traits increasing my initiative and giving me ways to recharge it i had a lot of fun.
    Final day I created a guardian and I have to say that was a lot of fun. I found the versatility of his weapon sets just superb. I also like the protective natre of the guardian (my main being a monk in GW1).
    The engineer was also fun but somehow I just couldn’t see myself playing him for long periods of time, especially how the kits that seemed like most fun t me(grenade, mine and bomb) ended up being a nightmare to play due to the lack of auto attack despite the non existent cool-downs.
    So overall my top two are guardian and thief I’ll make my decision in one of the upcoming betas.

    • As I said in another comment I think that initiative was okay after I used a trait and a skill to up my intitiative regen. Kinda sucks needing to have that skill/trait just so you don’t feel hindered by a lack of initiative but I felt the class really shined once I was using them.

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