Monday, 14 May 2012

Guild Wars 2: The Elementalist

In Guild Wars 2, the elementalist profession fills the mage archetype class however the mechanics of this class are remarkably different, and in some cases complex, in comparison to mage classes found in other RPG-style games. The elementalist channels the natural forces, bending fire, earth, water and air at her bidding. Conventionally, what the elementalist lacks in physical toughness she makes up with massive burst damage; there's no need for defence if the enemy is decimated before it even reaches a melee radius. Despite the sheer damage capabilities of this profession, it's the versatility that makes the class formidable.

Like with other professions, the elementalist gains new skills when equipping a new weapon. At first each Elementalist weapon only has one ability (corresponding to key 1), but as kills are made more skills unlock for numbers 2-5. Two-handed weapons come with five skills, while one-handed weapons have three skills, and can be matched with an off-hand item for another two skills. The 6th key is dedicated to a character's healing ability, the 7-9 keys are for utility skills purchased with points earned through leveling, and the key 0 is used for Elite abilities that unlock after level 30. That's already a lot to take in and it can be made more complex by considering the the array of weapons an elementalist can wield. Even though you may have unlocked the skills on a staff, there's still many more to be discovered on a dagger, wand or a special off-hand item called a "focus".

Ooo shiny!
That's only the beginning. What makes the elementalist truly adaptable to virtually any situation is that she can alter her power by changing her attunement: switching between the core elements of fire, water, air and earth. Changing the attunement completely changes the skill set for that weapon meaning each weapon has four skill sets. So many permutations and combinations to discover and experiment with! So instead of swapping out weapons mid-way during combat (like the warrior), the elementalist can switch attunements to adapt to a demanding situation; attunements can be cycled through rapidly though there's a short cooldown. A good elementalist can rotate through her entire arsenal of powers in a sustained fight.  Refining strategies for large fights becomes an enjoyable meta-game that results in theory-crafting about attunement swaps and spell chains that would work best. It makes you feel like an alchemist of destructive magic: mixing the attributes of one spell with the power of another for devastating results. When you don't have the time to think, sticking with one attunement and a few skills was effective (though for more demanding fights a decent rotation is necessary), albeit less engaging.

Each attunement has its own advantages and disadvantages. Fire is aimed towards heavy damage; water focuses on healing; wind spells often harm an enemy's resistances; earth spells combine damage with DoT effects. Elementalists can also combine their attacks with other professions resulting in a myriad of combos. For instance, you can cast a ring of fire allowing the ranger to shoot through it to turn their ordinary arrows into flaming ones! Discovering such effects is extremely fun, though I can guarantee there will probably be a database somewhere that lists every such effect possible.

Your average pyromaniac.
And those are just the weapon-based skills! Once the utility and elite skills are unlocked then the elementalist becomes even more adaptive. For example you can summon an elemental creature based on your current attunement, or even giant avatars corresponding to your attunement. You can even transform into a tornado.

The elementalist's flexibility and endless permutations make it a blast to play; it sure does beat casting fireballs repeatedly. It's a challenging class to master but it's extremely rewarding in terms of satisfaction and damage.

1 comment:

  1. After I have now played the elementalist for about four weeks I starting to master the controlls in spvp, there's so many skills to keeop track on and thats what makes the elementalist so powerful and hard to play. I love that the skill level is so high in order to play this class at the highest levels.