I've always felt that Elementalist wasn't made with a specific role in mind.
With other classes, you can sort-of guess the play style from the names;
A Guardian guards, a Warrior goes all-in or dies trying, a Ranger fights from a range. But Elementalist? They fight with elements..? Doesn't say much.
It feels like they were trying to make a jack of all trades, but "master of none" weighs more heavily on the scales.
You can play like other styles, but you can't build like them.
You can try to play bunker/support Tempest, but a Firebrand or Druid does that job better. With Firebrand now being a thing, the killing nerf of Wash the Pain Away back during HoT doesn't make sense anymore, which is why I wish they'd put it back to its original healing power.
You can try to play DPS Weaver, but a Warrior can just pop Endure Pain and swat you like a fly. The sacrifice in sustainability necessary to even make a dent in the opponent, makes you far too weak to survive a single second of burst from any other class.
If only lesser-obsidian flesh was a thing...
I wish Arcane shield would simply block attacks for 3 seconds instead of just popping like a balloon after 3 hits. Maybe that alone would be enough to make Ele a little more viable...
Or maybe give Ele weapon swap? I feel that would also solve a lot of its problems. Just try to 1v1 someone with a staff, you're dead before you've even cast your autoattack.
There's so much Ele has, but nothing really stands out. Out of all the conjured weapons, two are seeing usage; FGS and Lightning Hammer. The best thing Ele is known for is... Meteor Shower.
In my 2000+ hours of playing Ele, I've never gotten a firm grip on what I'm meant to be doing. Yet the other classes I play such as Firebrand, I've picked up in a single day.
I just wish Ele had a specific role that no other class could do better.