Your mesmer has evolved !!!
250 seems to have changed the mesmer a lot. He has a lot more visual effects for one, so that foes and allies alike can see he’s doing *something*. He’s also decided to move the names of spells to new unrelated spells, just to confuse us… ah yes, mesmers like to do that.
But has the mesmer gameplay really changed? I will argue that it hasn’t, really, and will provide examples of parallels.
In Guild Wars the first, mesmers did a number of tasks: (1) interrupts, whether proactive or reactive, (2) punishment, (3) denial of service, whether via energy, snares, daze, etc, and (4)health degeneration. Only later did mesmers learn to do actual damage, a tradition they kept alive for the next 250 years. Mesmers stayed alive using stances (mantras), kiting, as well as using the shutdowns mentioned before. They were also known for fast-casting. I’ll review how Guild Wars 2 mesmers fare in these areas.
Interrupts, proactive vs reactive
Stun interrupts, as well as immobilizes and incapacitates foes. It can be applied using the diversion shatter. Daze interrupts and prevents skill usage for some time. There is a mantra to apply daze. The mesmer has also other ways to apply interrupting conditions, or to knock down. Despite the lack of pure interrupt skills, one could easily run an interrupt mesmer.
Confusion is a condition that inflicts damage on each skill used. You can apply it using a scepter skill or the cry of frustration shatter. Backfire is a phantasm that hits target foe when using skills. The mesmer also has at least three skills that reflect projectiles to the attacker. The GW2 mesmer can thusly punish skill usage via hexes (phantasms, sorry), conditions, and reflection.
Denial of service
Imagined burden summons a phantasm that cripples foes. The mesmer also has an AoE skill that cripples foes and speed boosts allies. A greatsword skill knocks down foes in a cone ahead of you, ideal against those pesky melee fighters. The mesmer also has an array of skills to stun or daze or otherwise prevent foes from being useful (see above), with the bonus that these skills and conditions still have an effect if you cast it while a foe isn’t activating a skill. The shutdown mesmer is very much alive in GW2.
Mesmers have access to some direct degeneration skills (in addition to degen caused by confusion and punishment), like a pistol-based skill that summons phantasms that use an attack similar to the thief’s unload, a greatsword beam attack, and the mind wrack shatter that damages foes (this one is direct damage). Yeah, health degen is something GW2 mesmers can do.
Kiting is still very much in, with even a dodge mechanic added. But the mesmer was better able to kite due to fast-casting. The new mesmer has greater ability to avoid damage in a number of ways: (1) cloaks, (2) clones, (3) damage reflection. Think of those as kiting on crack.
The Prestige cloaks the mesmer for 3 seconds. Decoy and veil cloak too. Stuff like leap, illusionary leap, mirror images, decoy, and a scepter blocking skill all produce clones. Once a clone is created, the mesmer can also shatter it. Who needs a stance for self-defence when one can disappear or make a clone?
The mesmer has at least 3 ways to defend against projectiles and reflect them to foes: (1) use the reflection shatter, (2) summon an illusionary warden, and (3) use the mirror skill. Of course, mesmers can also prevent foes from doing damage…
Mantras, once charged, are instant-cast. So far we know of “Mantra of pain” for damage, “mantra of healing” for healing of course, and two unnamed mantras for condition removal and to inflict daze. Shatters are also instant. It is also likely that many skills are faster-cast, faster-recharge, but these do not need to fall under a “mesmer main attribute” for balance purposes. So mesmers can still spam skills better than other professions.
The GW2 mesmer also has a few support options, although unlike the healing power of the elementalist. Chaos storm: applies random conditions to foes and random boons to allies. Veil also provides support for allies that need a breather. Portal allows fast movement. A staff skill swaps locations of a foe and yourself.
A lot of those skills apply equally well to casters or physicals, to melee or ranged. Thus, it is easier for a mesmer to be effective against foes of different types. The mesmer still casts hexes (in the form of phantasms), but now anyone can do hex removal by literally hitting these pesky hexes on the head.
Otherwise, the mesmer is the same old, but with new flashy packaging. Lots of fun to be had for all current mesmers, I promise.