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Outside the Meta: Gear and Stats

June 28, 2014 - 12:32am -- Lee B.
Outside the Meta: Gear and Stats

Outside the Meta: Gear and Stats

Everyone knows that, for PvE, the usual best thing to build is Berserker and the argument is that you can dodge any and everything that is currently in the game. The idea is that dodging is the ultimate defense and can be used enough that building tanky isn’t necessary. This is especially true if people can kill bosses of fast enough that the damage isn’t important or if there are traits that prevent all damage for a short while when you hit 25% health.

The culture for our community has become that being Berserker is the only option and to be anything less can be viewed as being bad. It then became my goal in this series to play anything and to try out everything to see why they are bad and bring to you the reasons they could be considered less powerful. I also wanted to bring forth this series to prove that you can still play with any set of gear and still be a valuable member to your group.

What is the Meta?

The current standard, for anyone playing the PvE side of the game, is that Berserker is the best option for the game. This is explained with the reasons that anyone can dodge anything or that if you kill fast enough that damage doesn’t become an issue. “You can just dodge the attacks.” Is the most common thing I read when it comes to people explaining a Berserker build to someone new.

The thing that people don’t do a good job at explaining is the high skill requirement for playing Berserker. There is barely any room for mistakes. If you get hit by a boss it is almost always an instant down so to dodge it you need to be very familiar with the attack animations of that boss. You need to know how to condition cleanse properly otherwise you could be stuck with a long-lasting stack of bleed or burning that you didn’t know was continually applying. Most of all you need to know your class intimately so you know when the exact moment is you can really spike all of your damage and get out before you’re hit.

The benefit here is that you can farm dungeons or mobs incredibly fast to reap the most amount of reward in a short time. The downside is that if you aren’t up to standard you will die a lot and most groups don’t want that dead weight in their group. There are certainly people who will teach the tricks but some players don’t know where to look after they are simply told, “Build Berserker.”

What are the Options?

I wanted to show that there are alternative options for players. There are valid options for any build in a PvE environment. Here are the builds, we covered in the video, ordered from best to worst in categories of damage, inherent survivability and potential to heal.

Damage

Survivability

Healing

Berserker

Soldier

Cleric

Rampager

Celestial

Celestial

Soldier

Rampager

Soldier

Celestial

Cleric

Berserker

Cleric

Berserker

Rampager

Celestial

Celestial rounds out to be the middle of the road when it comes to what they provide. Celestial as an entire set means that you want to be prepared to do a bit of anything. The problem is you have to be good at providing everything and you have to be ready to fit into any role at the drop of a hat. If your group doesn’t have a strong condition applier you can pick up the slack, if there is no raw damage you have to be ready to be there and certainly you have the capability to be a healing provider on top of all this.

Generally few classes can play Celestial well like Engineer and Elementalist. Other classes can benefit from a splash of Celestial stats so they aren’t too specialized but they also aren’t too spread thin (i.e: a Guardian with Celestial trinkets). It is a good idea to have some experience with your class before trying to build into Celestial gear otherwise you can limit what you can provide.

Cleric

Now you will notice I put Cleric below Rampager in terms of survivability. That is because of how close to the fight you have to be in order to provide the most benefit to your allies. You will need to be up front with the Berserkers and making sure they get all the boons and healing you can provide. You will need to be there immediately to start healing someone up when they go down and usually that means you are getting some attention from mobs. Rampager has the benefit that, for most classes, conditions are linked with a ranged weapon.

Cleric Build

That doesn’t mean that because Cleric ranked lower in more categories it is bad. It means there is a bit more you have to do to be a valuable member of your group. You can’t just heal. You need to provide condition cleanses regular boons and what little damage you can provide. If you can do it well you will be a desirable part of a group.

Rampager

Rampager is a great way to go all in with damage. You won’t provide as powerful of a burst of pain as a Berserker but you will be able to deal a more consistent damage. The Rampager stats emphasize that when you hit you are likely critically hitting and those conditions you apply will be able to hit even harder.

The problem is that it has a skill window very similar to Berserker unless you plan on going as a ranged damage and AoE build. If you can hit multiple targets while providing damaging conditions and raw damage you can potentially out damage a Berserker over a short amount of time. You have to play smarter in that role but there is the benefit of more safety.

Soldier

Soldier is what I will recommend to any new player or someone not terribly skilled at the meta of this game. Soldier provides you raw damage but also plenty of cushion in case you aren’t playing to the best you can. It is good for any role because it allows you the ability to make mistakes which allows you to learn.

Final Thoughts

Most of all I want to emphasize that any build can be played. I have a Elementalist in pure Giver’s gear that I run in WvW because of the sheer amount of boons and healing potential I provide. I have a Cleric Ranger build I run that people seem to like. I know of a Thief Carrion build that I want to try for solo play. Everything truly is an option.

Let’s make this a discussion. In the comments below, or in YouTube, let me know what you think of meta builds and playing outside of them. You can even shoot me a message on twitter at @CanadasMathlete or @TenTonHammer.

Next week I’ll bring out another “Outside the Meta” to talk more on weapons for each of the classes. 

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