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  1. #1
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    The GW2 Mesmer: A critical reflection after BWE1

    So, those of you who know me know that I am A) a one character man, and B) a master Mesmer in GW1.

    With these two things in mind, I set out in GW2 with the expectation of creating one character, a Mesmer, and remastering the art of Mesmerizing in its GW2 BWE1 incarnation. This thread is a critical reflection on that experience.

    The Pros:

    In Guild Wars, the Mesmer is an under-rated profession, in my opinion. It has been typecast generally into two roles--interrupted and degen-pressure. The lack of flexibility has left some Mesmer players, myself included, desiring a complexity to the Mesmer. The good news is, Guild Wars 2 largely delivers this complexity. While the Mesmer can no longer user many weapons that were usable in GW1, such as bows, and cannot use some of the new weapons in GW2 like rifles, the Mesmer is now a very pick-up-and-play-friendly class, which is easy to begin using and hard to master.

    Do you want to wield a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other? Great! Your Mesmer can do that. Want to pick up a huge freaking broadsword and cause illusionary havoc? You can do that too. And each weapon has a variation to it depending on which hand (main or off-hand) you use it in--staves and two-handed swords obviously the exception.

    This makes the Mesmer potentially a very dangerous class in GW2. Add to this the ability to make illusionary clones, and you have a reincarnated class that truly captures the complexity and mastery of the mind that the Mesmer seems to have always set out to be.

    In this sense, the Mesmer is very much in the spirit of its GW1 counterpart, even if the form differs.

    The Cons:
    Despite all this, the Mesmer still suffers from a critical setback that its Guild Wars 1 counterpart also shared--squishiness. In GW1, this could be offset by the clever player, through a combination of energy management, interrupts, and proper usage of the secondary class. And if that failed, you always had monks to heal you.

    Not so in GW2, so far. The monk class is completely gone, which means you are on your own for healing. The bad news here is that your self-heals are pretty weak, take forever to cast, and have a recharge time that makes them almost useless. Your squish will be your downfall in many a situation.

    Also, GW2 has removed the ability, so far as I experienced, for a Mesmer to interrupt and degen-pressure. That's right, the two most crucial and stereotypical roles of the Mesmer in GW1 are completely absent in GW2. While I appalled ANet for taking a risk here and breaking the Mesmer out of the box, so to say, I can't help but think they may have gone too far. The Warrior still tanks, the Elementalist still nukes, the Ranger still uses a bow, but the Mesmer now lost two of the fundamental aspects of the class.

    Sure, you can do a lot of condition pressure now, thanks to your exploding clones, but that won't help you much when you need those clones to make effective use of your heal and/but you need conditions to keep yourself from being squished. This is where degen-pressure and interruption are crucial to the Mesmer class. Also given the relative strength of the new enemies, and the cast-time of self-heals, the Mesmer absolutely has a role to play as an interrupter and a degenerator.

    In GW1, I played a Domination Mesmer, and specialized in interruptions. While I certainly enjoyed cloning myself and fighting akimbo with a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other like some kind of steampunk magic-god, as enemies came at me with moves that turned me into a glowing purple pulp, I found myself wishing I could do more than simply do a dramatic deathroll away from their attacks. I'm a Mesmer, gosh darnit! My GW1-self would simply throw a Cry of Frustration into your silly face and make you beat yourself up with Backfire or Empathy! Alas, not so in GW2.

    Send in the Clones:
    So what about those clones I've mentioned? Honestly, they're really cool. Especially when you make use of them with a singlehanded ranged weapon like a scepter. Having five of you all spamming attacks at the enemy while they fumble about trying to find the real you is greatly satisfying!

    Yet, there is also something unintuitive about the clones. You can make them explode in a variety of ways, but these often require them to be in the face of whomever you are attacking, which they rarely will be. It also ends up being a measure of last resort as you actually need those clones alive to use some of your more effective attacks and self-heals, which, as I illustrated above, often puts the Mesmer into a catch-22 of squishy death.

    Oh and if your opponent is using AoE--forget about it, you might as well just back off and hope you can dodge enough to get out of the way.

    This is once again where the importance of interrupts and degen comes in. Imagine eating your opponents health away while they fumble blindly through a field of your clones, only to have their attacks interrupted while you hop about from clone to clone in an illusionary dance of death by a thousand cuts. This is the Mesmer at its most mesmerizing--but is currently not possible in the Mesmer shown to us in the BWE1, and if ANet's stated plans are any indication, will never be as interrupts and degen are gone forever if they have their way.

    Conclusion:
    While everyone has to struggle and adapt to the changes in how classes and moves work in GW2, I can't help but feel that the Mesmer has taken the worst of it--this is not your great-great-grandfather's GW1 Mesmer. Maybe that's a good thing, but as I hope I have demonstrated in this critical reflection, a reflection on the core principles of the GW1 Mesmer might bring a lot to the table in GW2.

    The Mesmer has a lot of potential to be not only a fun class but an extremely dangerous one. Yet, I have to conclude that what ANet has given us in the BWE1 is only a shadow of what the Mesmer could be--an incomplete portrait of the class at best.

    Right now I'm forced to conclude that, like the illusionary clones so important to the class in GW2, the GW2 BWE1 Mesmer is just that--a hollow illusion of a class that has true potential to be great. I look forward to see what ANet does with it between now and release, and truly hope some of our feedback will be incorporated.

    I look forward to your own critical reflection and commentary on the class so close to many of our hearts.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quintus Antonius View Post
    squishiness
    1) Everyone is squishier in GW2 than in GW1, so without trying different professions, you may not be aware of that.
    2) Mesmers rely on clones mostly to avoid damage, both in PvP and PvE. Good usage of clones makes you live longer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quintus Antonius View Post
    interrupt and degen-pressure. That's right, the two most crucial and stereotypical roles of the Mesmer in GW1 are completely absent in GW2.
    Completely absent is far-fetched imo.

    3) Degen is accomplished in many ways in GW2: clones and phantasms often do damage, confusion also does damage per action your foe does. Having 3 clones hitting a foe adds quite a bit of degen, compared to your autoattack.
    4) Interrupting is not so much gone as it is under-emphasized. Foes show the actions they make and you *can* interrupt them, I know I have... but it is hard to do well. There are also fewer skills that interrupt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quintus Antonius View Post
    make you beat yourself up with Backfire or Empathy! Alas, not so in GW2.
    Might not be obvious, but backfire is in, and confusion does what empathy did before. So that at least are still in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quintus Antonius View Post
    It also ends up being a measure of last resort as you actually need those clones alive to use some of your more effective attacks and self-heals, which, as I illustrated above, often puts the Mesmer into a catch-22 of squishy death.
    Yes, there is skill in that decision. Thankfully though, clones and phantasms can be re-summoned fairly quickly... there are many skills you can use to make more of them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quintus Antonius View Post
    Oh and if your opponent is using AoE--forget about it
    Yes, back off, and re-summon your clones.

    Think of foes killing your clones as hex removal. And AoE as team hex removal. It was not uncommon in GW1 to have to re-apply hexes because the monk removed them. At least in GW2 you can see which hexes (sorry, illusions) were removed and how many you can re-apply.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quintus Antonius View Post
    I look forward to your own critical reflection and commentary on the class so close to many of our hearts.
    I really like the new mesmer personally. It's easier to play, still hard to master, and so much more complex and visual. I think it will take a bit of time for people to really understand how the GW2 mesmer really is the best approximation of the GW1 mesmer but in GW2 terms, and that it is a pretty good approximation indeed and I think an improvement.
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  3. #3
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    I hate to be 'That Guy', but the Mesmer has been ruined.

    With GW2 emphasis on action the tactical play that Mesmers were ideally suited to is gone.
    Without Hexes and interrupts, life and energy degen, the Mesmer has been reduced to nothing more than a purple hued dps.
    The skills have kept the same names, but they don't do the same thing.
    And trying to compare foes killing clones as 'like' removing hexes just makes me more sad. It is us just trying to convince ourselves with weasely words that we haven't been fobbed off really...

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    Quote Originally Posted by EnoughAlready View Post
    I hate to be 'That Guy', but the Mesmer has been ruined.

    With GW2 emphasis on action the tactical play that Mesmers were ideally suited to is gone.
    Without Hexes and interrupts, life and energy degen, the Mesmer has been reduced to nothing more than a purple hued dps.
    The skills have kept the same names, but they don't do the same thing.
    And trying to compare foes killing clones as 'like' removing hexes just makes me more sad. It is us just trying to convince ourselves with weasely words that we haven't been fobbed off really...
    I actually do agree with this. I didn't hate the class, but it's not a Mesmer anymore. It's basically another damage caster now.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by EnoughAlready View Post
    And trying to compare foes killing clones as 'like' removing hexes just makes me more sad. It is us just trying to convince ourselves with weasely words that we haven't been fobbed off really...
    Quote Originally Posted by RDarken View Post
    I actually do agree with this. I didn't hate the class, but it's not a Mesmer anymore. It's basically another damage caster now.
    Pfft.

    Meanwhile, those of us who aren't so easily distracted by shiny graphics...

    Please explain to me how clones and phantasms aren't like hexes, without using words relating to visual representation.

    Because to me, that is really the main difference (balance aside), that now we get to see hexes and back then we didn't.
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    Well, we kind of already talked about this a few times:
    1- They do direct damage. Hexes required more strategy. You may not have liked that kind of gameplay, but that's what I actually liked about Mesmer. I couldn't just go around slapping hexes on everything; I had to choose which targets to hex with which spells to be effective. In GW 2, it doesn't matter what clone you use.
    2- The clones do totally different things than hexes did. Instead of life degen, passive damage, interrupts, etc. the clones do direct damage, cause confusion (closest to a GW 1 hex - Empathy / Backfire), daze, or boost caster's evasion.
    3- Delay on cast. This was my biggest problem when I actually played the class. Against a regular mob, there's no need to time your shatters or anything, if you even have time TO shatter the mob before its dead. They only come in handy in PvP or against boss mobs.

    I know you said it's possible to use clones to blend in, but I disagree. Clones have really low health and expire when combat ends (or is it when the target dies?), so a couple of attacks will take them out and you can't have them up before engaging a target. I faced a Mesmer in WvWvW and I killed a couple of her clones. My first thought was "Wow, that actually did fool me!" But then she had to summon more and I figured out which was the real Mesmer easily and killed her. As soon as you have to summon a new one or if you summon a phantasm, you're revealed.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by RDarken View Post
    1- They do direct damage.
    See below.

    Quote Originally Posted by RDarken View Post
    Hexes required more strategy. You may not have liked that kind of gameplay, but that's what I actually liked about Mesmer. I couldn't just go around slapping hexes on everything; I had to choose which targets to hex with which spells to be effective.
    This is correct. We differ on opinion, but at least you are correct in saying that this is a way phantasms differ from hexes, there is less variety in them.

    I honestly think though that such variety works better in team-based games in that you still have a team you can rely on to round up your flaws. Also, ANet did mention they wanted to reduce complexity.

    Now, this to me however means that there are fewer hexes in GW2 to choose from. That's true across the board, we have a lot fewer skills in GW2 than we did in GW1. It does not imo argue whether clones and phantasms are hexes.

    Quote Originally Posted by RDarken View Post
    2- The clones do totally different things than hexes did. Instead of life degen, passive damage, interrupts, etc. the clones do direct damage, cause confusion (closest to a GW 1 hex - Empathy / Backfire), daze, or boost caster's evasion.
    1) DoT is very very similar to doing small damage several times over time, no? So aside for math details, I don't see the difference with life degen.
    2) Confusion is similar to empathy/backfire as you noted, and there is a backfire phantasm that does what backfire did except not just to casters.
    3) We also had hexes that made you miss your attacks, which is what clones do when you get confused and hit them when you intend to hit the real mesmer instead.
    4) Interrupting is still possible (and I did it too) but admittedly it requires more skill to pull off and it has been downplayed from GW1.

    Quote Originally Posted by RDarken View Post
    3- Delay on cast. This was my biggest problem when I actually played the class.
    Yeah. Granted. Though I do hope that is more of a problem with early foes (who die too fast) than with the game mechanic itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by RDarken View Post
    Clones have really low health and expire when combat ends (or is it when the target dies?)
    Clones and phantasms disappear when the target foe dies. Just like hexes ;)

    Quote Originally Posted by RDarken View Post
    As soon as you have to summon a new one or if you summon a phantasm, you're revealed.
    That really depends on the skill of the mesmer. We were chasing one in WvW and it was a really long chase because he kept using stealth and clones and we kept hitting the wrong one because we were genuinely unable to tell where he was most of the time. I've also fought against mesmers that were good at looking like clones, so even when they summoned new ones I'd get confused.

    And then I played against bad mesmers and it was super-easy to tell which was the real and which was clone. I sometimes hit the clones anyway to reduce degen, but I would never waste big attacks against clones of bad mesmers.

    I'd say there's a pretty big mind game right there that was completely absent in GW1, and I can see this being an important mesmer skill in PvP.

    -----

    tl;dr: if they told me to rebalance GW1 so there's fewer hexes, hexes are more visual, and anyone can remove them, clones and phatasms is pretty much the bests way to implement that. imo
    Last edited by Alaris; 01-05-2012 at 14:32.
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    My point with the disappearing when the target dies is that you can't go into combat cloaked with your clones. If you're in WvWvW, for example, and you happen upon another player who sees you first, you can't really trick him into thinking one of your clones is you because once he targets you, he can keep you as a target.

    Good point on stealth, though, I didn't even think of that. But stealthing isn't really something I'm interested in, nor is acting like I am an NPC. Like I said, I don't hate the class, I just don't think it's for me anymore and it's not really the same as the GW 1 Mesmer (which isn't necessarily bad).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by RDarken View Post
    you can't go into combat cloaked with your clones
    You can't pre-hex foes before combat either. The GW1 mesmer starts off without summons or hexes. That is similar to GW2.

    Quote Originally Posted by RDarken View Post
    once he targets you, he can keep you as a target.
    Not true because lots of skills that create clones also in many ways break target lock. You automatically lock back next attack, but you can easily lock onto a clone instead of the real one.

    Quote Originally Posted by RDarken View Post
    But stealthing isn't really something I'm interested in, nor is acting like I am an NPC.
    Well, clones is enough for defense in PvE and PvP. I'm not into stealthing either, but in PvE at least there is no point to act like a NPC, clones work just fine because the AI is not sophisticated.
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  10. #10
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    I notice this is quickly becoming about "right" and "wrong" and is moving away from constructive feedback. Keep in mind, we won't all agree on everything here. I do not think we need a point-by-point deconstruction of why everyone else's feedback is somehow wrong.

    No one is right or wrong here. We wouldn't be posting if we didn't have some concern or care for the Mesmer as a class, whether that means we think it should stay the same as it has been presented in the BWE or change in some way. That's the point of a beta, after all. Every class is going to change in some way before final release, we have a great opportunity right now to provide feedback.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alaris View Post
    Because to me, that is really the main difference (balance aside), that now we get to see hexes and back then we didn't.
    This is a good point. I'm not against the clones, in fact, I like them. I just think that certain aspects of the Mesmer that were important to the class, such as the degen pressure and interrupts, have been removed entirely. A clone that interrupts with every attack, for instance, would change this. Or, a clone that doesn't do direct damage, but so long as it is alive drains the targets health or degens in as AoE would also be useful.

    There is no reason this has to be clones or hexes/interrupts. I see your point that clones function as a "visual" hex now. Instead of a debuff or a dehex, you now just kill a clone. I'm okay with this, but it needs to be taken further and borrow some wisdom from GW1.


    @Alaris: I'd really like to read your own systematic critical reflection of the Mesmer similar to my OP. You definitely have a different viewpoint from most who have posted here, and that is really great because we need a balanced view of the subject. The problem is that I'm having trouble constructing your particular point of view because I have only read your points in a point-counterpoint defense format. It'd be great to engage with you as you have engaged with me based on your own critical reflection. If you have already written one somewhere, can you direct me to it? Thanks for the good conversation.
    Last edited by Quintus Antonius; 01-05-2012 at 16:14.

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