Discussion: What makes an Elite Specialization good? — Guild Wars 2 Forums
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Discussion: What makes an Elite Specialization good?

rdigeri.7935rdigeri.7935 Member ✭✭✭
edited August 15, 2020 in Professions

Since the announcement of the Cantha expansion, but even before, players have shared many of their Elite Specialization ideas with enthusiasm here; It's impossible to miss them. Some are liked very much, some less so. Some have mixed opinions. Of course we'd all love to see elite specs that have the weapons, theme, playstyle or strengths that we want, but that's not what this post is about.

What is it you respect about Elite Spec design, disregarding personal bias? When do you call it good, even if it happens not to be your taste?
-Is it giving access to things the class lacked?
-Is it providing an interesting new theme?
-Is it having synergies with other skills and traits?
-Should elite specializations move away from the core, or make you re-explore it by providing a new lense?
-How big an impact should they be on your build compared to core traitlines?
-Can it even be generalized, or the case is always different? Is there any objectivity to this at all?

What are some good or bad examples of this in your experience, and why?

I'd love to hear all your thoughts on this, maybe anet can refer to these general preferences too, no matter what they have in store for us.

Comments

  • Tayga.3192Tayga.3192 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @rdigeri.7935 said:
    What is it you respect about Elite Spec design, disregarding personal bias? When do you call it good, even if it happens not to be your taste?
    -Is it giving access to things the class lacked?

    Usually this one, like giving AoEs to chronomancer, weapon swap to holo (photon forge) or a more sustainy playstyle to daredevil.

    -Is it providing an interesting new theme?

    This usually don't come from especs. I believe if core classes are good enough, they will provide a stable base to fun/interesting especs.

    -Should elite specializations move away from the core, or make you re-explore it by providing a new lense?

    Depends, imo first one is pretty good (chronomancer is stationary with its wells while other mesmers rely more on moving).

    -How big an impact should they be on your build compared to core traitlines?

    Daredevil and mirage is 100% the best in this context. 3 playstyle-changing grandmaster traits to squeeze the maximum out of the theme, while having rest of the traits normal. Obviously this is not taking "adept minor" that makes the "elite specializations" actually different (like giving new weapons, mechanics etc).

    What are some good or bad examples of this in your experience?

    Dragonhunter, druid, soulbeast, daredevil, scrapper, holosmith, reaper, tempest, weaver, chronomancer.

  • Kulvar.1239Kulvar.1239 Member ✭✭✭✭

    None of that matters.
    What matters is if the elite spec is effective and enjoyable to play.

  • Taril.8619Taril.8619 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @rdigeri.7935 said:
    What is it you respect about Elite Spec design, disregarding personal bias? When do you call it good, even if it happens not to be your taste?

    It depends on what you mean by "Good". There are many E-Specs that are "Good" in the sense that what they provide is balanced relative to the rest of the game, but I'd not call them "Good" designs.

    Meanwhile there's also the opposite, E-Specs that I'd consider "Good" design, but what they provide to the game overall can be lacking.

    @rdigeri.7935 said:
    -Is it giving access to things the class lacked?

    This can be a positive factor for an E-Spec. Especially when it creates the potential to play a new role within a class, such as how Druid enabled a Support build for Ranger

    @rdigeri.7935 said:
    -Should elite specializations move away from the core, or make you re-explore it by providing a new lense?

    I think good design for an E-Spec should move away from core. So that it doesn't feel like "Core 2.0" and feels more unique.

    @rdigeri.7935 said:
    -How big an impact should they be on your build compared to core traitlines?
    -Can it even be generalized, or the case is always different? Is there any objectivity to this at all?

    I'd argue that they should have a similar effect on your build to core traitlines. But have a larger impact on your gameplay.

    Like, I think the design in which they completely reimagine a classes core mechanic are the best designed E-Specs. Since the focus is providing you a new way to play the class so that it feels like a new class but with some familiarity.

    I'm really not a fan of the design where they simply powercreep a class up to a new standard by tacking extra things on top and occasionally nerfing them back down by jamming some negatives onto them.

    @rdigeri.7935 said:
    What are some good or bad examples of this in your experience, and why?

    I think that E-Specs such as Scourge, Berserker, Deadeye and Chronomancer are some decent examples of core mechanics being replaced.

    • Scourge ditches Shroud's Transformation mechanic in favour of F skills.
    • Berserker gets a new mechanic for how they access their Burst skills with charging up to enter Berserk mode.
    • Deadeye goes away from the standard steal mechanic and gets the mark skill and the associated Malice mechanic.
    • Chronomancer has unique shatter skills that have some differences compared to the core ones.

    However, they're not perfect designs and they do some things poorly.

    • Scourge's lack of Shroud Transformation means it doesn't synergize as well with all of the traits that are constantly being shoved onto Necromancer that empower them while in Shroud (Even more so with the hilarious anti-synergy that Harbinger Shroud provides). Which one could argue is more indicative of the way Necromancer is being designed is not very well thought out.
    • Berserker has their class mechanic tied to their Rage skills to maintain, making them dependent on their utilities AND they get a stat penalty on top for no reason.
    • Deadeye's mark still plays very similarly to steal just with a specific stolen skill. Almost as if you were using the regular steal and getting the Blinding Tuft every time.
    • Chronomancer shatters aren't all that unique and still function in a similar fashion of F1 = Power damage, F2 = Confusion stacks, F3 = Daze.

    These designs means that while they are going a good direction in terms of creating unique playstyles, they are not fully utilized and sometimes still provide the exact same gameplay as core but with some number changes or are hampered by janky designs.

    On a similar note, I find that E-Specs such as Druid, Firebrand and Renegade were good examples of enabling new build types.

    • Druid allows for Ranger to be played as a Support/Healer.
    • Firebrand allows for Guardian to be played as a Support/Healer.
    • Renegade allows for Revenant to be played as a Support with boonshare.

    But again, these are not perfect designs.

    • Druid just tacks on its Celestial Avatar mechanic onto the base Ranger mechanic. Then later got the 20% pet stat reduction to try and balance it out.
    • Firebrand gets Virtues 3.0 as a direct upgrade to core virtues (This is made worse by the Loremaster trait that means activating them doesn't even sacrifice the passive effects which is the only reason why core Virtues aren't spammed on CD)
    • Renegade still plays very much the same to core Revenant with only exchanging the F2 skill for a new set of F2, F3 and F4 skills. The legend swapping mechanics and available legends remain identical to core Revenant (With addition of the Kalla legend)

    This means that while these E-Specs are great in terms of how they enable you to build the classes. They also feel like they're just doing so by powercreeping and adding in a bunch of stuff to the class rather than changing how the class plays.

    It feels like you could have had a similar effect on the build availability by simply improving the core specializations traits to allow for more supportive functions and that these E-Specs were just trying to bypass that and as such got loaded up full of extra stuff.

    Cat: Meow.

  • Fueki.4753Fueki.4753 Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited August 15, 2020

    What I want from Elite specializations is a theme and role that differs from the Core profession but still aligns with the professions' original inspirations.
    For example: Guardians
    Guardians (and technically the entire Paladin archetype) are based on Crusaders, whom basically were religious fanatics.
    Dragon Hunters are themed after medieval Europe's witch hunts, which were a religious fanatical practice.

    Both traits and the new skill category should reflect that theme.

    I also want an Elite spec to carry on with the Core profession's colour scheme (does not apply to Engineer and Revenant).
    Mesmers' elite specs remain pink and purple, Guardians' stay light blue etc.

    An Elite spec should also ideally come with a viable weapon that takes on a role no Core weapon occupies.
    For example, Scrappers Hammer fixed the Engineer's lack of a Melee weapon.

    I do not think that an Elite specialisation needs a unique mechanic.

  • Lynx.9058Lynx.9058 Member ✭✭

    As a complete noob here with no actual experience on the matter: I think it just comes down to the elite specs offering a change in playstyle from the core class. I dont think elite specs are meant in any way to be more powerful than the core profession they're an extension of, but just offer a different playstyle or theme. For example, scrapper turning the generally midranged and squishy engineer (who has no melee weapons standard) into a tanky melee brawler.

    I dont know all the elite specs yet, or really any of the core classes well enough to comment too much on the topic, but I do like that plague doctor idea for engineers that's been thrown around over on their profession board.

  • I can only speak for myself, but to me, a good elite spec. should:

    • Add something new and useful to the profession while remaining true to its theme/concept (e.g. a Ranger spec. that had nothing to do with animals or nature wouldn’t make much sense to me)

    • Not be overpowered or underpowered in comparison to other elite specs. or core;

    • Be fun to play :)

  • Thornwolf.9721Thornwolf.9721 Member ✭✭✭✭
    1. A new thematic angle for your class. Whether that be in role or aesthetic and even color choice for your skills that are part of the new kit.
    2. A change to fundamental class mechanics (Soul-beast, Scourge, Warrior spec's as a whole, guardian spec's, Ele Spec's)
    3. New weapon, that is GOOD and not lukewarm and unwanted. (Shield on herald? Torch on zerker.)
    4. They fill their role well (Many E-specs we have currently don't, at least not their intended role.)
    5. They are good in ALL game modes and have multiple builds to choose from (a few now suffer in this department.)
    6. The utilize and understand the foundation of their class, and specialize it to be better in a field they covered before but not perfectly. OR they give them a new piece to add to their tools..
    7. They have some solid lore implications and dont feel forced or tacked on for no reason.
    8. They come with some good cosmetics. (Debatable, some come with some ugly stuff lol.)
    9. They inspire you to perhaps consider playing something, you otherwise might not of? When HoT came I jumped to ranger, and then to rev. When before I was strictly a warrior player and didn't have but one character.
    10. They change the flow, pace and interactions in combat and feel more robust and unique even when standing side by side with other specs/core of their class. For example rangers all feel different depending on spec; And you can tell them apart based on how they engage and how they appear/play. Thats good design and it also is a huge tell for opponents that even if you dont know the symbol; You know the class and the spec its running based on whats utilized. Its a form of visual story-telling and thats one thing guild wars 2 has gotten right from the get go.
    11. They are fun. (Several right now aren't and the current ones we have, at least those who are suffering need reworks and makeovers to make them not so lame.)
  • Dadnir.5038Dadnir.5038 Member ✭✭✭✭

    What make a good elite spec:

    • Respect of the core traits fonctionality.
    • Respect of the theme and defining tools of the profession.
    • Good traits.
    • balanced main mechanism (F skills).

    Everything else is flavor in my opinion.
    For example, If we look at the necromancer, Reaper was pretty well made based on these standards while Scourge only respected the theme and defining tools of the profession. From my point of view it make scourge a "failed" e-spec while it make Reaper a "good" e-spec.

  • otto.5684otto.5684 Member ✭✭✭✭

    Having access to something the class lacked is important. Otherwise it will just be power creep.

    Having interesting theme is important.

    Having synergies with skills and traits. Not necessarily. Most elite utilities tend to be stand alone. And if it too synergistic, odds are it is also too similar and redundant.

    The remaining questions are somewhat similar, so I will move ahead to example. I will disregard performance here, cuz that gets adjusted and tends to change.

    My main guardian. DH is a bad elite. Why? It does not add anything the class did not already have. It is power creep of core power build. The weapon does not synergize with the elite line. It worked for a good periods in PvP, but was never of any use in PvE. Also, the elite does not offer much but power build. There have been some PvP condi builds as of late, but even these are niche.

    FB is a good elite. Solid, and somewhat unique dps. Great support options, that in pve do not even require heavy investment. In addition provides solid CC options, which guardian also lacked. Axe works well with FB.

    I think Mesmer is an example where elites are good, design wise, even though I never liked chrono and it currently sucks. Rev has the same situation as guardian, with herald being pure power creep and nothing else.

  • Eekasqueak.7850Eekasqueak.7850 Member ✭✭✭✭

    I think elite specs that give a new way to play the class are the best ones.

  • Junkpile.7439Junkpile.7439 Member ✭✭✭✭

    Elite specs should fill some specific role. Now many elite specs and just upgraded broken version of core.

    Low quality trolling since launch
    Seafarer's Rest EotM Hero

  • What is it you respect about Elite Spec design, disregarding personal bias? When do you call it good, even if it happens not to be your taste?
    -Is it giving access to things the class lacked?

    Yes and no. Giving access to new playstyle in exchange for losing something to pay for it.

    -Is it providing an interesting new theme?

    The more you try to give it "special new theme" the less it will be flexible enough to give it proper changes in the future.

    -Is it having synergies with other skills and traits?

    To a degree yes, since it should provide new playstyle, so it should give some synergies with that here and there.

    -Should elite specializations move away from the core, or make you re-explore it by providing a new lense?

    They shouldn't move away from the core, they should change them to fill specific roles.

    -How big an impact should they be on your build compared to core traitlines?

    Depends what you mean though. I mean, if I play some long-range Elementalist thingie and I would like to play melee caster I should pick Weaver for it because of the weapon giving me an access to that playstyle and should provide the most benefits to it, but in reality it can also be useful for Staff users, which is wrong and shouldn't happen. It should offer new playstyle after all, so to a degree it should be "defnining and impactful" for creating builds, but in reality they're "upgrades with benefits to core", which is bad.

    -Can it even be generalized, or the case is always different? Is there any objectivity to this at all?

    Yes it can, just ask if that said specialization provide a new playstyle and if it takes away something in exchange for it.

    What are some good or bad examples of this in your experience, and why?

    If you ask about good or bad examples of specializations then(without going into bad balance issues...):
    Necromancer only posses good examples of elite specializations, since it changes how you play the class, it changes your class mechanic properly, it fills different roles.
    Everything else is pretty much bad design.
    Like Guardians, both of elite speces don't change a thing beside animations, or even they give more skills to use just because, bad design.

    I'd love to hear all your thoughts on this, maybe anet can refer to these general preferences too, no matter what they have in store for us.

    P.S.
    Some classes struggles to get proper elite specializations, because they're screwed by design of their cores, like Elementalist, which must be "4 elements" which in reality hinders possibilities of e-speces a lot. In the opposite spectrum we have warrior, which core design is so strong, that e-speces cannot really make their own "playstyle", like Berserker in reality should be something like a Rampage, short burst of power in exchange for giving up all defenses(1-5 skills should be changed to something else, instead we've got lazy burst skill...), Spellbreaker on the other hand should be something like "boon-stealer/remover". In this case all of F1 skills should have completely different effects and animations, like GS F1 should be something like defensive posture with blade(like gs4 of rangers) that blocks attacks and after 1-3s it slashes in front of him dealing max 4k dmg and removing boons based on damage that your block absorbed(like you always remove minimum 1 boon and additionaly for every 500dmg absorbed by block you remove 1 more, up to 6 max or something and it could also deal more damage per boon removed or even ignore Protection), but in reality we've got lazy design of "Full Counter"...

  • ZeftheWicked.3076ZeftheWicked.3076 Member ✭✭✭✭

    Reaper and Herald these are 2 e-specs i consider really good. Based on that..

    1. Provide playstyle and functionality core lacks - Reaper makes slow and rather weak core necro finally do real damage, do it fast and have massive tanking options. Herald grants rev amazing tankyness and boonshare capabilites - both short ends of the stick for core rev.

    2. Be exciting to play - I wouldn't be caught dead playing a scourge - that's how bland this spec feels to me. Meanwhile reaper is fun as hell with dynamic, synergetic kit. Just reaper shroud alone has a combo field, 2 combo finishers, stability and damage reduction + 2 hard cc ...among others. There is alot to do with all that!

    3. Be flexible with builds. Look at Herald. On paper that's boonshare support/tank e-spec. In practice? Power herald, Glint Healer, Mallyx condi support herald, Condi tank herald.... Tons of builds and uses for the guy. Then look at a scourge or a druid - they're pretty much stuck with their roles. Druid is a healer, case closed, Power scourge is a meme...

    4. Not be "a role". A role usually means being denied other roles. Look at how scourge has nothing to support power builds, while both core and reaper have something (especially reaper).

    5. Be nerfed in terms of power not functionlity. Hi condi reaper. Why was reaper's condi power nerfed to the ground when it was actually performing as it should? Way later power got to the servicable level (raid-wise), but what was wrong with condi being just as viable?
      To push sales of PoF by making scourge the only real condi necro option for more serious content? Even that got gutted later on...
      E-specs are usually so different from eachother there's no need to lock them into a particular role. Some would love to play power scourge, some condi reaper, nothing wrong with that!

  • Dadnir.5038Dadnir.5038 Member ✭✭✭✭

    @ZeftheWicked.3076 said:
    Why was reaper's condi power nerfed to the ground when it was actually performing as it should?

    2 reasons:

    • A part of the necromancer's community was deadset on having reaper being The power spec.
    • sPvP and WvW subforums are always hunting down "condi cancer specs" and they were especially infuriated by the condi reaper.

    E-specs are usually so different from eachother there's no need to lock them into a particular role. Some would love to play power scourge, some condi reaper, nothing wrong with that!

    I do agree with that. That said, power scourge used to be quite strong, however it's main issue is the relatively low power output of the the necromancer while out of shroud (it has even been lowered by replacing some offhand skill direct damages by life siphon effect). Power that have been given to the shroud in order to push reaper into an "ok" spot in term of direct damage.

  • Its more focused on niche than core is