The last of the two Path of Fire preview weekends is now behind us. It was an incredibly frustrating experience for everyone involved but I think it also gave us a lot of much-needed insight into the mechanics of the elite specializations. I also hope that ArenaNet takes to heart how frustrating the weekend was for everyone and never does another preview like it ever again. Maybe between now and the next expansion we can get practice dummies in our home instances. But, with that aside, there was a lot of experimentation to be had and a lot of opinions formed. What did people think of the Elite specs? That’s what we’re looking at right now.
Mirage – Mesmer
My Thoughts: For me, Mesmer has always been the class I’ve had the most difficulty getting into. It took me 3 years of playing around off and on with my first Mesmer before I finally found something that worked for me. Chronomancer never grabbed me the way it did so many other people, and it looks like Mirage is going to carry on that tradition. That’s not to say that it is bad, I think I just need to take my time and get familiar with it before I can find what works for me. And maybe it won’t at all. But I am at least going to try because it looks beautiful.
Public Opinion: Mirage seems to have had a lukewarm reception at best. It seems that people feel it lacks direction and it doesn’t have any benefits over what we already have in-game. One major issue that people seem to have with Mirage is that it goes against the standard way of playing Mesmers so far, shattering illusions. There is also a lot of issue with Mirage’s mirrors which require you to move into danger to shatter them. But by far the biggest issue was that it doesn’t put out enough damage versus the other elites. With a month to go until Path of Fire launches, ArenaNet does still have time to make changes to Mirage, we will see if they do. It may also turn out that getting Mirage out in the real world rather than fighting golems will help.
Scourge – Necromancer
My Thoughts: Scourge was one of the most difficult to test properly this weekend because it is all about playing the field. Something which was a little bit rude to do at most times during the weekend when you were lucky if you got one golem to yourself. With that being said Scourge was…alright. I really love Reaper, so in my eyes, Scourge had a lot to live up to. Based on the test I don’t think it did. But I think Scourge really did suffer because of the way this test session was set up. I suspect that once we get out into the wild I’ll enjoy it a lot more.
Public Opinion: All in all Scourge seems to have a had a positive reception. No one seems to strongly hate it while there are several people who have said Scourge is what sold them on the expansion. The most talked about part of Scourge is the teleport. At the moment, having only used it in fights with golems who don’t move it is a little bit difficult to see the usefulness. Though it was fun to play with. If it weren’t for mounts it would have been very useful to have to get away from mobs in a hurry.
Firebrand – Guardian
My Thoughts: Firebrand was one of those elite specs that I was never really sure about based on the various previews and videos that ArenaNet had released. I was waiting for this preview weekend to get an idea of how I feel about it. And my feelings can be pretty much summed up as “eh.” I think the fact that I won’t be doing it on my main Guardian says something about it. (Keep in mind I have 27 characters.) What disappointed me most about Firebrand is the fact that they don’t actually have a book out. The entire idea of the Firebrand is that you’re working from a few different books. You see them when you initially attune to that book, but from there on all you see are the pages floating around you. This is made even worse by the fact that your arms just hang there in the bent combat stance. This would be the perfect opportunity to be holding a book. Keep the initial attunement moment of tossing the book up into the air, then the rest of the time keep it in your hands until you run out of pages and the book gets stored.
Public Opinion: I saw several people also mention they were disappointed by the lack of books. But it seems that most of the public discussion about Firebrand was on the long cooldown times and mantras. In particular, people are disappointed with the visuals of mantras and their limited range. It also doesn’t stand up when being compared to Dragonhunter, which was one of the favorites from Heart of Thorns.
Deadeye – Thief
My Thoughts: This was the one class I found the most annoying to test and be around this weekend. In a time when people just wanted to see how their elite specs worked and see those pretty numbers, we had Deadeyes. If you were playing a Deadeye you would stand so far back that it wasn’t obvious you were using a golem and you would end up having a melee character run in and kill your golem. If you were testing anything there was at least a 40% chance of a Deadeye murdering your golem from far off in the distance. But, enough about that. Deadeye itself was a bit of a mixed bag for me. Malice builds up too slowly to be useful in your average fight. It will be great for the likes of world bosses and bounties, however. In WvW though is where I really see it working. I’m already a stand on the wall and snipe enemies from afar type. I just do it with Staff Elementalist. I could see myself swapping between my WvW Elementalist (yes, I have one just for WvW) and my Deadeye. It will take some time getting used to how kneeling works in relation to dodging and getting up to run away. It may not be hugely high on my list but I am looking forward to giving my Charr thief something that fits her personality a little bit better than what she has now.
Public Opinion: It would appear that people are a bit mixed about Deadeye. Some say it’s fun, and yes, you can get a massive amount of damage from one skill. But it ultimately lacks damage, the ability to maneuver, and is useless once things get in your face. Playing 1v1 seems to be a lot of fun, and in fact, it would seem that PvP and WvW are where Deadeye will be most popular. I suspect that we will see a lot of kneeling in the two PvP modes and not so much in PvE. Though, thankfully, we can still be useful rifle users without taking a knee.
Soulbeast – Ranger
My thoughts: I’ve always wanted the ability to play a petless Ranger. Equally, I was never taken with Druid so Soulbeast was very exciting for me ever since the very first leak. Having now played it… I’d say as far as hype goes I’m pretty middle of the road. I know exactly which of my Rangers will be doing it. I enjoyed playing it. Though even more than the mechanic of taking your pet’s soul I really enjoyed the new pets. Even Grandpa Lion. Though someone really does need to go find his dentures for him.
Public Opinion: There seems to be quite a lot of love for Soulbeast in the community. People are already hard at work making builds and working out which pets are best to pair with your Soulbeast. One thing people seem to wish they could do with Soulbeast is swap pets while in Beastmode. While I completely understand why they want to be able to do this, I do wonder if it would end up giving them an advantage that ArenaNet doesn’t want them to have. Otherwise, why limit it, to begin with?
Holosmith – Engineer
My Thoughts: Holosmith, aka Yolosmith, is incredibly fun to play. I am especially fond of the Elite, Prime Light Beam. I think they could make an entire Elite specialization based on it. I am a bit disappointed that the overheating mechanic is so lackluster. When I first heard about overheating I assumed that if you overheated you would instantly be put into a downed state. This doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, your health is only hit by half. Now, while fighting golems who don’t fight back this was disappointing, it may end up that in the heat of battle it will be more of a threat.
Public Opinion: If there was one winner this weekend it was Yolosmith. Engineers have always been the redheaded bastard stepchildren of the bunch. They’re the least popular and overall people are not hugely pushed on them. Even Heart of Thorns only fixed that a little bit. But that redheaded bastard has transformed into a beautiful swan. Everyone ADORES Holosmith. In a Strawpoll on Reddit Yolosmith is the clear winner, and has been consistently throughout the poll. It also seems to have come as a complete surprise. Expect to see a lot of Holosmiths running around the desert.
Renegade – Revenant
My Thoughts: As soon as it was announced that Revenants would be getting in touch with Kalla I was sold. My instant 80 in Heart of Thorns was my main Revenant who also happens to be a lady Charr. But, when it became clear that you would be summoning her warband I became a little bit less sure. I needed this preview weekend just for Renegade. Having now played it, I am convinced again, while I’m not a huge fan of how the Warband works at times, like the one member of the warband who flails around fighting midair. I am really fond of shortbow, despite the difficulties that were had testing it. I like that it really forces you to play at range for the best outcome. Of all the new Elites it is in my top 3.
Public Opinion: It looks like the utilities, Kalla’s Warband, are where Renegade falls short for everyone. They cost a lot to use and aren’t all that good. It is thought that Shortbow will be very popular in WvW, which I can see. But a lot of people feel like it doesn’t stand up to Glint. Still, expect to see a lot of them running around.
Spellbreaker – Warrior
My Thoughts: Spellbreaker is going to be my auto-80 of Path of Fire. It doesn’t work with the Warriors I have but it has from the very start looked amazing. After the dev live stream though I was a little bit concerned. They made it look boring. Thankfully now that I’ve played it I can say that it isn’t. It’s active, it’s stabby, and it’s flamey. What more could you ask for?
Public Opinion: There are some mixed feelings on Spellbreaker. Some people feel that it is a bit on the weak side and a little bit boring. But the majority of people talking about Spellbreaker love it! While some people are calling it weak, I saw people calling it overpowered many times. There’s also the opinion that it is exactly what Warrior needed, and I could not agree more.
Weaver – Elementalist
My Thoughts: I love me some Elementalists. I have 6 and plan on doing Weaver on all but one of them. That’s the one that I am keeping as a Tempest. It is, in my mind, the new standard way of playing Elementalists. I’m not talking about the full thing, utilities and all. But the ability to have more than one element active…I mean, why wouldn’t you? You can keep all the weapons you already know and love from Elementalist, except horn. And you don’t have to swap elements nearly as much. I play Scepter/Dagger as my main character in GW2 and I’m pretty sure that she will be parking in Fire/Water and staying there 90% of the time. Not the way Weaver was intended to be played, but it works for my style. If there was one area where it fell short for me it was Weave Self. My style has never tended towards swapping elements a lot so I don’t see myself getting to Perfect Weave often, if ever. Tailored Victory, however, is just sexy.
Public Opinion: Weaver is easily the second most popular elite specialization to come out of this weekend. One thing people keep commenting on is how gorgeous it is, and it really is gorgeous. But there are also some who feel that it is complex simply for the sake of being complex. But opinions are overwhelmingly positive. Everyone loves it and everyone loves taking screenshots of it. Expect to see many, many Weavers in Path of Fire.
And that’s all of them! Which one was your favorite Path of Fire Elite Specialization from this preview weekend? What will you be playing first when Path of Fire hits? We’re only one month away from launch now. If you’re looking for things to do until then check out this list I made a while back.Related: Article, Classes, Expansion, Guild Wars 2, Path of Fire, Preview