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[Catalyst][PvE] My feedback, perceived issues and some proposals.

Wielder Of Magic.3950

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I hereby present my feedback on the Catalyst elite spec for the Elementalist class after an attempt at a pretty deep dive into the spec and its mechanics. I will divide my feedback into several sections and will try to look at things from  a PvE perspective. I think the hammer-wielding Catalyst will be able to provide some interesting gameplay of its own...after Anet goes back to the drawing board with it.

There is no way to say this nicely, so I will just be blunt: This spec is a mess.
My main worries have to do with the F5 mechanic, meh utility skills,  the clunkyness of support options and the lack of fields and combo finishers on the hammer.

The PvE DPS numbers:

The damage seem to be there for benchmarks, but the power benchmark gets carried by conjures and glyph of storms on a big hitbox, meaning elementalist players in high end PvE will be forced to do almost the exact same thing they have been doing since 2012 while almost never reaching these numbers in realistic combat situations. It seems like elementalist players are forced to play the piano once again, only to reach similar numbers AT BEST, when compared to other specs. Should Anet one day decide to hit Conjured Weapons or Glyph of Storms with the nerf bat, it will mean all power elementalist builds, including Catalyst, will be deleted from high end PvE. It might be too late for other ele specs, but perhaps Catalyst can be saved by being allowed to stand on its own, and not fall in the exact same Conjure&Glyph trap again.

Possible issue with the theme:

It’s not completely clear to me what the theme is to be honest. We have the orbs on the hammer which is a completely self-contained mechanic ( and which is buggy and unrewarding to maintain), we have the different combo traits and an aura focus, and then we also have our Jade Sphere with Wells that are powered by energy that seems to function like adrenaline. The spec does feel like it is all over the place. It  has many possible mechanics at once, but seems to never really choose one of them, which means that as a consequence it feels messy. I have trouble feeling like the Catalyst, while feeling more like a discount Tempest/discount Scrapper/Discount ele 2.0 with a tacked on adrenaline-like mechanic from the nearest Walmart.
The spec misses an identity of its own.


Possible issue with the Mechanic:


Elemental Empowerment:
I think we can call this buff somewhat of a mechanic, considering a lot of the Catalyst is built around getting this to stack as high as possible. I am okay with it. A boost to all stats helps damage, hopefully also helps to get rid of at least some squishyness that ele always suffers from, and it may just be what is needed to elevate a build with Celestial stats out of the meme status (at the very least for WvW, PvE would depend on what a possible support Catalyst needs gearwise). What can I say, I like juggling buffs through active gameplay. Unfortunately that is also one of the few positive things I can say about the Catalyst.


 F5 Sphere/Wells

Let’s start with how the F5 is situated in a weird spot in the UI, almost hidden at the far right. Not to mention how small of an icon it has, making it hard to gauge the energy build-up on the top of said icon. Could this perhaps get a druid celestial avatar treatment, or at least a warrior adrenaline/revenant energy UI?
Other issues I have is that these wells that your F5 throws out are static, cannot really be traited for effectively, cannot be moved when placed, and how you lose all energy when cancelled.


Some Proposals(Some of this should be baseline, and other things can perhaps be done through traits):


1.    Allow us to move the F5 field around, either make it follow us or give us a way to move the field after it has been placed. Ele has always suffered from foes walking out of its fields, and now they can simply walk out of your elite spec mechanic?


2.    Cancelling the field should not make you lose all energy. Energy already takes ages to build up as it is, the current implementation of losing all energy when cancelling early is overly punishing. Fix how energy works or just get rid of the idea completely. It takes ages to build up, overly punishing when cancelled early, and in open world stuff dies before you have a chance of fully charging it ( not to mention how this implementation will make sure that we will never see a dedicated quickness Catalyst build, because it cannot give quickness from the get go).


3.    If you want this to act as a pseudo adrenaline system with pseudo bursts, then allow us to spam the fields like a warrior can spam their F1 skill. These sphere fields are pretty much the only reliable combofields the Catalyst has, which is saying a lot about a spec where comboíng has been made very important.


4.    I want to interact with that Jade Sphere/Well thing, and not just have it be a fire and forget field when my meter is full. Aside from being quite passive that also comes close to it just being tempest overloads without the tempest damage, longer downtime but less channeling time. It feels like it really needs to fleshed out a bit more, through both basic functions and traits. The Sphere has potential, so make use of it so it is not going to feel like a poor man’s Tempest or Core Elementalist 2.0 or a weird Scrapper.

5.    Why do I have the Spheres project these beautiful creatures, only for them not do anything but look pretty? That’s a waste of such beauty. You are the catalyst, so be a catalyst for their power somehow. Just a field that I can’t really do much with is...disappointing. Let them do an attack, let them empower me...do something.

6.    Make me choose when I switch attunements if I want the active F5 field to switch over or not.

7.    The field is extremely small. Especially if you want to consistently give out boons on a more supportive build, the radius needs to be increased.

8.    The current usage of the Jade Sphere is..boring. Press F5, get field. Done. Give me that “wow that is awesome” factor. Give the Sphere more interesting characteristics, or make the fields it give special in a way, but give it SOMETHING. This is problematic.

9.    Perhaps make the swirly hammer orbs the mechanic instead, or at least tied to the mechanic. It’s what most of us thought when we saw the trailer. Jade sphere, swirly balls, etc.

10. Perhaps we could get some bonuses for good field placements, bonuses depending on if we stand in the field, our foe, our allies, etc.


On paper this mechanic looks cool, but its current implementation is a total trainwreck. I don't like to be this negative, I WANT TO LIKE ALL NEW SPECS, but this might need to go back to the drawing board or at least get some massive changes.

Possible issue with the hammer skills:
A big issue is the hammer does not just feel slow, but that it only has 3 reliable combo finishers in its 20 skills, all on 20s recharge or more. For a spec that gets so much out of combo finishers and auras that feels a bit lacking. The lack of fields that weapon generates is also very worrying, a hammer Catalyst seems to almost completely rely on their F5 for fields. I am also not sold on the swirly balls and their 5 second durations. Lot of setup, not enough pay-off. It might be better on dagger/x sets, but if I need to give up on my spec weapon to get the most out of my spec, that spec weapon has problems.

Something positive (I am trying): What I do like a lot about the hammer is how many skills get better effects when you meet certain conditions, like all attacks of a skill hit, inflict X, if target suffers from X and you hit with Y, get Z, the more you hit with A, the more of B happens. To me that rewards skillful usage of your arsenal and I am 100% in favor of it.



Make sure that the hammer is a viable option that is not held back by a lack of damage or finishers/fields. Certain buffs will not be possible to maintain without someone else babysitting you (aura’s for example). Make people want to use the hammer, and if possible make way for a playstyle that makes elementalist players do something else than 90% the same thing they already did on Core Ele, Tempest and even partially on Weaver. The swirling orbs are currently almost impossible to maintain, miss a lot, and do not have enough pay-off. Up their durations, effects, damage...


Possible issues with Utility skills:
 Soothing Water:
It’s has similarities with Ether Renewal. Just with a longer recharge time, condi cleanse only happening near a water sphere, and some higher raw healing in a shorter channel. It’s functional. Not very exciting.

 Relentless Fire:
15% damage boosts are fun...but it only lasts 5 seconds. Perhaps this is good for helping a massive burst during very short phases in fire attunement, but that feels the opposite of what the Catalyst seems to be designed to do, which is to rack up boosts over time first. You are not going to get all your juggle buffs going during short phases. It works, but it contradicts the entire spec for me.

Shattering Ice:
An ele’s discount One Wolf Pack. And nobody will probably use it because Lightning Hammer and Glyph of Storms are higher damage, and this skill cannot compete with Relentless Fire.

 Invigorating Air:
Aside from the recharge time this almost looks like a worse version of Tempest’s ‘Eye of the Storm’ shout. Perhaps the endurance regeneration IF an air Jade Sphere is present makes it worthwhile in PvP, but for PvP I am not impressed.

Fortified Earth:
So we are just going to do nothing except block 3 seconds and perhaps get barrier if near an Earth Jade Sphere? Even with 3000 barrier, which on a 10k base health pool may look very impressive, is this really worth it? Perhaps a tank ele somewhere is very happy right now with this skill, but I am not.

Elemental Celerity:
Very simple: This is crap. An elite slot is precious. In PvE you are most likely going to be boon capped or prefer Fiery Greatsword/Fire Elemental, and you will probably find yourself under alacrity in organized content, meaning the few seconds this might shave off your cooldowns will be close unnoticeable. What is this elite supposed to achieve?


Redesign this into something worthy of elite status. As a matter of fact, I think all augments could really use another pass by the design and balance team. None of them feel truly impactful or gamechanging to me.


Some Ideas/Proposals

Ironic as it is, but the shouts from Tempest fit the Catalyst better in terms of synergy than its own Augment skills, and that is worrying. Considering how these augments seem to interact with the Jade Sphere, perhaps this is the moment to re-introduce the GW1 doublecast spell funcionality? Things like GW1 Double Dragon were cast simultaneously on both you and your opponent/ally for certain effects/effects when targeting an ally/foe also under the effect, or additional effects if the effects of you and your foe overlapped. Just throwing on ‘the table’ as a possible idea. Or make augments have effects on allies, with better effects in certain sphere-fields, or make them help the Catalyst to get easier aura/combo-finisher access, but make them interesting. Right now only Harbinger has utility skills that are less interesting.


Possible issues with Catalyst Traits in general:
The traits for Catalyst are a mess. They are not one-dimensional, but there is no clear focus, or it focuses on things that feel copied from existing specs, or something that does not fit the Catalyst. There is a big focus on aura's, a Tempest thing, yet Catalyst lacks ways to reliably get them. The traits focus on comboíng, yet its elite-spec weapon lacks fields and finishers. There is zero support for either Hammer or augments. There is no interaction with energy or any way to interact with the F5 in a meaningful way. These are a lot of traits put together that may look okay in a vacuum, but don't work well with each other, the synergy is often missing for me. Aura trait, have issues getting auras. Want me to combo-finish, my spec weapon has issues finishing. Supposed to be a strong melee presence, has issues staying in melee. You cannot just smack 3-4 random ideas together and expect it to become a cohesive elite spec.


Issues with Catalyst specific traits:

Hardened Aura’s:
Looks mostly fine to me in essence, but I do wonder if 6s is enough time to keep the buff going, it could perhaps do with a longer duration. The fact that the Catalyst has a hard time to create any aura’s is also an issue. Sure you can play dagger/dagger/focus, but it’s not great design if you invalidate your entire spec weapon.



This trait certainly isnt OP. In fact, it might be underpowered.  Give this trait possibly a longer duration, and give Catalyst a way to more reliably create aura’s and combo’s without having to resort to specific weapon sets. This is a trait, thus part of the core design, meaning the Catalyst must be able to create the conditions to make use of this trait on its own, with just the spec mechanics and weapon.


Vicious Empowerment:
It’s okay I suppose, but I do wonder if you have enough disables and immobilizes to effectively make use of this trait. I think hammer gives you 2 disables and 1 immobilize from air and earth respectively. Would be a shame if this becomes another spec that does not use the spec’s own weapon.



Make sure there is enough disable and immobilize available in the Catalyst it’s design to make this worthwile.

Energized Elements:
2s of fury and 2 energy when swapping elements. That would be great if you had the 3s recharge attunement swapping of a weaver, but we are looking at 10s attunement swapping on the Catalyst. That does not really sound like it’s worth it to me, it’s almost as if this trait comes straight out of 2012 in terms of power. It might be better to scrap this and replace it.



Since the trait seems energy/well focused, perhaps this is a good place for a trait that makes your fields follow you/give a bonus at max energy/make fields do X/regain energy upon cancelling a well.
Something to fix some of the huge issues the F5 mechanic currently has.


Elemental Empowerment:
3 permanent stacks of Elemental Empowerment during combat. I suppose that’s fine, that means you only need to maintain 7 yourself to hit the maximum cap of 10 stacks. Only thing I would do is change the name. You already introduce elemental empowerment in the adept traits, and now you also give it with a minor trait that has the same name?



Since it’s an in battle buff and all Elemental Empowerment traits seem to have Empowerment in it, call it something like Aggressive Empowerment and be done with it.

Empowering Aura’s:
This is a fun trait I think. Rewards DPS ele for consistently applying aura’s to itself, and when you get a new aura it refreshes all stacks of the buff its duration. Good trait, just wondering if a 6s duration isn’t a bit on the short side...and if the Catalyst is ever going to maintain enough stacks of it, especially on hammer. It seems like you can either do a good DPS rotation, or try to get an aura to keep this buff up, but not both. This should complement your DPS rotation, not replace it with an aura rotation, because that means we will choose the DPS rotation.



Keep a close eye on how the duration works out and buff said duration if it is unfun to maintain it.

Evasive Empowerment:
Not really interesting for PvE but perhaps PvP eles like getting rewarded with Elemental Empowerment and Vigor upon dodging/evading. Reluctant on proposing changes here because I do not want to break something on the PvP side without noticing.

Spectacular Sphere:
I feel this is complete and utter crap. This feels like it could be another a trait from 2012 to me, it seems that weak.



Use this slot as another way to enhance the Well and support part of the Catalyst.


 Again think stuff like make wells follow you around, increase their radius, allow the effect to continue pulsing even when you switch attunements, etc. Hell, for all I care you give those beautifully creatures we see in the projected field an attack that does damage/conditions/give boons to allies.

Or allow us to lay down multiple fields, spawn an aura or one of those hammer swirly orbs when we lay down a field/when a field is done, we get X bonus if we are in our field and X+X bonus if our enemy is also inside of it (like how GW1 doublecast spells/enchantments worked) there are plenty of possibilities.


Another completely different trait suggestion: For a spec that want to combo-finish this often, I am a bit surprised that there isn’t a trait that improves the effect of your finishers. Blast for more X than usual, Whirl for more of Y than usual, or give us effect A and B instead of X and Y. For a combo-reliant spec like the Catalyst I thought it was a bit surprising that the combo’s themselves in terms of effects don’t change at all.

Elemental Epitome:
Obviously this makes auras double dip since they already have Empowering Aura’s. But that does rely on combo’ing, and hammer seems to only have 3 combo’s ( 2x blast and 1x leap).  I mean you can make this work with other elementalist weapons, but that might mean you are not going to run hammer in a DPS Catalyst build, and that would be a shame. The trait by itself is fine, just a bit worried about the implications and (lack of) hammer synergy (it seems the solution for this would be to up the amount of finishers on hammer, unless you want to change this trait all together).
So once again: Why do you want me to focus on aura’s when Catalyst in a vacuum has such limited access to aura’s? I am a Catalyst, NOT a Tempest, nor should you be forced into playing with a Tempest just to get the most out of your own traits.



More fields. More finishers. More access to aura’s without having to rely on outside sources.

Staunch Aura’s:
Screams PvP to me ( PvP ele might love this when combined with Armor of Earth). Perhaps PvE players might pick this in fights where they get bombarded with extreme crowd control, otherwise it’s not meant for PvE use. But once again, a focus on aura’s while Catalyst has issues with proper access to them.

Empowered Empowerment:
Obviously a DPS buff, but it does nothing until you reach the maximum amount of stacks, and until you do (or if stacks fall off) it does nothing.



I would either make it so each stack of Elemental Empowerment simply boosts stats by 2% ( so not just when meeting the 10 stack threshold), or think of another way to add this bonus without beefing up Elemental Empowerment even more. Maybe a Hammer trait that gives a few additional combo finishers and gives a bonus for each of the swirling hammer 3 orbs or something? Those orbs are interesting, yet the spec does nothing with them ( and I would love to see them become a more integral part of the spec).


Closing statement

I did not expect the Catalyst to be such a mess after watching the reveal. There is no synergy with its weapon, the F5 mechanic feels tacked on, overly punishing and provides little interaction, it’s utility skills really need to go back to the drawing board, and the traits are all over the place.
I would personally also try to find a way to flesh out that F5 interaction a lot more so it feels less like a handicapped Tempest or Core Ele 2.0.

The spec is still not as much of a mess as Harbinger turned out to be (albeit close), but it has serious issues and needs serious work.

I am not saying my solutions are the best or even good ones. But I hope they illustrate the issues I currently have with this spec.

Thanks for reading!




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