Endgame: An alt-a-holic’s perspective
I’ve always liked playing different characters, and now that I have a few at max level and with somewhat decent gear, I feel I have some *cough*authority*cough* to talk about what to expect from your characters in endgame. The good news is… the game remains pretty similar to early- or mid-game, so whatever profession you like early on is likely going to be your favourite still later on.
I regularly switch between my so-far 7 characters, and I will eventually have all 8 professions afterall. The main thing that influences who I play though isn’t what profession I like best… I love them all for different reason, and I especially love that they give me different experiences. The main thing that influences my pick is whether I plan to PvE, do dungeons, or do WvW. I find that while each profession can be useful in all three places, some professions adapt better to my playstyle in those different areas…
I mostly keep PvE for levelling my characters in a casual way. This is a good place to learn your character and experiment with different builds and weapons… and I make a point of regularly swapping weapons as I level so I can learn the pros and cons of each weapon set. This remains true at level 80, PvE is perfect for practising new builds. The new dailies also mean you have people actively getting into events which makes for some group fun.
I do find however that some classes are more naturally robust, which is good for casual soloing content: the guardian, warrior, and necro for example. Less robust classes include the thief, mesmer, and elementalist, and with those you will need to be more actively engaged in order to solo tough content, but it is quite feasible for skilled players. Rangers and engineers can be moderately robust depending on their skills.
In the long run I’ll probably mostly use guardian and ranger here because (1) the guardian is going for map completion anyway, and is a good profession to solo with, and (2) the ranger is a pretty good soloer as well, with axe/?? + shortbow offering solid AoE damage.
In WvW, I look for a good mix of running speed, ranged AoE, and ranged single-target damage. I tend to stay in safe areas of zergs, so survival is less of a concern.
So far my favorite is engineer with grenades and pistol/shield, and mortar is nice to use from the top of walls (it has a ballistic trajectory letting you hit foes from further in than grenades). However, I’ve also had fun with mesmer greatsword, although I find the running speed to be lacking even with the focus offhand. The guardian was not an ideal pick here for me because it’s risky to go melee (and I am a coward) and the ranged options were not satisfying to me. I admit not having tried other professions properly here… but I can guess that I’ll have fun as a staff elementalist, a staff necro (with wells), or a longbow/rifle warrior.
Thief works really well especially in smaller fights, but that seems too risky for my taste. I would stay away from ranger because of its dependence on the pet.
Surprisingly, I tend to run melee in dungeons despite that I tend to prefer the safety of range. Guardians and warriors have solid survivability as well as solid AoE damage, which is great in dungeons… but you need to play them well because melee range is tough. Ranged options like engineer also works well for me, but the gameplay feels more passive. Mesmer is tricky because sometimes you just don’t have the place to dodge properly and use clones effectively for self-protection, resulting in situations where death is difficult to avoid (e.g. Twilight Arbor). But then mesmer can really shine against bosses that use single-target high-impact attacks, so it evens out.
I don’t expect thief or elementalist to be as tricky (though I have yet to confirm this) given that they have more self-protective skills.
The most interesting thing for me is to swap different professions and enjoy how they differ from each other. Guild Wars 2 is very good in that respect, giving unique gameplay to different professions while keeping a fairly good level of balance.
I am looking forward to levelling up my least-played professions, and explore their gameplay as well.