I’m confident I could name every profession I have ever played in an MMOG. Unlike many players I know, I’m not an alt-a-holic. I tend to stick to only one profession or class that I love and learn every nuance and tactic it has to offer. There’s a satisfaction in understanding all that a profession can achieve, rather than spreading yourself too thinly and never truly mastering one.
What has surprised me coming out of last weekend’s Guild Wars 2 Beta event is that I now find myself undecided, even after several phases and countless hours. Unlike in other MMOG’s where you can categorically define yourself as having a ranged or melee preference (me preferring the former) the waters are muddied in Guild Wars 2, with profession capabilities blurred by the ability to wield both melee and ranged weapons, to great effect.
Originally intent on playing a ranger, as I have always done since my first foray Ultima Online many years ago, the reliance on pet A.I. (which I will cover in a separate article) left me in doubt as to the long term viability of a profession that relies so heavily on an unresponsive companion. Having moved to my second choice, the engineer, it became apparent this weekend (after achieving some incredible damage with the rifle) that the profession is suffocated by randomness and laborious use of Kits.
On far too many occasions in both World versus World and structured PvP my downfall was my hope on Elixirs and their utility, which failed at the worst possible moment; “I really need stealth! – Oh, it’s Smoke Screen” or “I really need Tornado! – Oh it’s Withering Plague”. This lack of guarantee and reliability, right when you need it most has crippled any enthusiasm I had for the profession.
My third and final profession choice, the mesmer, is wonderful in design and implementation. Intricate, complex and with a high skill ceiling, it shows signs of being one of Guild Wars 2’s most rewarding profession choices. However, my preference for World versus World exposes several flaws in its design. The first is that both clones and illusions succumb to area of effect damage in seconds, removing much of your damage and defensive potential, but my distaste for condition damage also removes the possibility of me using the staff, leaving only the greatsword or sceptre as main hand alternatives. Neither of which fill me with excitement.
As a result, I find myself making a choice on one of three professions that all have elements I dislike. Were ArenaNet to fix the rangers pet A.I I would, without hesitation, choose to play it. But with almost 8 months having passed since I first played it and with no discernible improvement in its responsiveness or effectiveness (despite the wonderful addition of pet swapping) I’m not sure I have faith left in their ability to truly fix the faults, though there is still time.
Where the engineer is concerned, if ArenaNet removed all random elements from Elixirs (including Elixir X), added underwater skills for Kits as well as fine tuning all of them (I’ll be covering the engineer in separate post) I might reconsider.
Finally the mesmer, a profession I deem to suffer so few faults, is appearing as a very viable frontrunner despite a few small niggles. But with a preference for quick, medium armoured professions who have potency for AOE damage, it isn’t quite ticking all the boxes.
In spite of the difficult choice I will have to make, every profession I’ve played has captivated me in some way. There may be some minor problems and it's clear ArenaNet are actively managing this; it has certainly been of great interest to watch each profession evolve and improve over recent patches, but what I can be confident in is the knowledge that irrespective of such issues, whichever class I choose, will be a whole lot of fun.
The only question remaining is “have you found your profession?”.