There are many discussions about the nature of playing a character in Guild Wars 2. The conversations we are going to talk about those that try to state what is best and what is optimized for players. These conversations offer up different standards for what is best or optimized when it comes to PvE, WvW and sPvP. Despite being so different in their stances they all try to do the same thing: claim that their way is the only way to truly play that character. Any other way is just falling short.
Heavy armor and Berserker stats only so you can get the dungeon with as fast as possible. No mistakes.
However is it always the best for a player to be optimized? Some people would say that the two things are hand in hand and that a player is only at their best when optimized. Certain groups are so certain on this philosophy that they are willing to exclude others who do not agree with their viewpoints. We see these groups in dungeon groups and in guilds that enforce this perfect standard onto others and if you don’t fit in to their optimization then you aren’t the best and therefor not allowed.
Let’s take a moment to discuss on what being optimized means in Guild Wars 2. Due to the current nature of the game there is a view, in PvE, that the best way to play the game is to take advantage of the fact that more damage is the most efficient way to play the game. There is truth to this as defensive stats are almost insignificant in the face of some challenges Guild Wars 2 currently has and for the challenges where defensive stats might be useful there is the argument that dodging is the perfect defense. This usually means that Berserker stat equipment is the best equipment. The argument is that you should develop the skills with your dodges, positioning and (frankly) exploitation of mechanics to put out as much damage as quickly as possible to efficiently handle any challenge the game can give you.
I, too, keep a full set of Berserker stat equipment on me at all times.
In WvW and sPvP the voice is that some defensive stats are good but you still need to be able to put out damage. The general consensus, for your average player, is that Soldier’s, Knight’s and other stats that splash defense with damage are the most optimized options for those game modes. They also enforce that total defense isn’t necessary if you develop the skills to dodge, position and exploit mechanics. This is also a valid stance due to the fact that if the current game is about capturing objectives rather than defend them. There is little worth in defending any objective, in these modes, and so the idea is to constantly push forward and have the ability to take a punch or two.
So how are these not the best options for a player? The key is that a player is expected to develop skills and knowledge of the tools necessary to efficiently be optimized. To be optimized you have to really understand every aspect of your character and of the challenges you face. The problem then arises that if you go into a challenge, and missing some essential knowledge to what is happening, you are unable to handle that challenge. That means that, more often than not, you are dead because you haven’t learned when to dodge appropriately or don’t know how to use your skills properly. Therefore, despite being built the most optimal way, you are not at your best because you don’t know what you are doing.
I also keep a set of Clerics for my shout ranger build. Don't judge me.
The best option for a player is to pursue what is going to get them through the content they want to do. If you can’t dodge at the right time every time then sacrifice some damage for defense. If you know you would much rather play a long term game then go for conditions. If you know your group isn’t as skilled as you then you need to build to help them through it with healing power and boon duration.
The worst thing to do for a player is to insist they build to the optimized way and then refuse to follow up on what they need to do with that optimized build. To just tell someone to build for Berserker for PvE, without explaining that they need to be ready to exploit certain mechanics and time dodges pretty well, is just setting them up to fail. This extends to WvW and sPvP as well. The best way to help someone is to help them build to their skills and desires which might just lead to the optimized way.
This is why when I have helped a friend build a warrior I have asked him what he wanted to do with his warrior after he played it. We’ve concluded that sword/shield warrior in Rabid’s gear is what he wants and he certainly seems happy with it. That is the best thing for him and he still does admirably for overcoming the challenges the game throws at him. It is certainly not optimized.
So while a Berserker warrior with a greatsword and certain traits may be the most optimized way to handle PvE it certainly isn’t the best for everyone. These groups and guilds who dictate their preferences are fine to do so if they can just remember that not everyone should be expected to meet their optimized standards. So please don’t yell at me when I run my ranger in Cleric’s gear and running shouts.