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As a new player I tried every Elite Specialization so you don't have to...


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{This will likely be quite a long (is a very, very long) post, so feel free to skip to my list below. This is mostly a way to get my thoughts cohesively out, and a way to share my findings with my friends. However, I felt it would be important to detail the Why behind why I did this, so that will be upfront if you're interested in my reasoning. Thanks for reading regardless.}
Disclaimer: I am practically a brand-spanking new player, and have Zero experience with expansions. This post is purely coming from the perspective of someone who has just started and has only leveled a character as high as level 60 before making this post. If I get something wrong, or you feel that I'm off base, that's probably why, but I'm hoping my reasoning and research are sound enough. This also might get posted on the subreddit.
Reason for the post:
Recently I began my journey as a Guild Wars 2 Player. As I got further into the leveling process, however, I found I had a nagging question in the back of my mind which ended up halting my progression: "Is this one for me?" After learning about Elite Specializations, and that your class basically entirely changes with acquiring one, I became worried that my original choice would be a mistake.
After (probably far too many) hours of research on the topic, I learned that a huge number of people on the internet basically have the same question for a variety of reasons. Sure, every MMO has questions like this, but a quick google search proved to have nearly a full page of people asking the same question in 100 different ways. I read a huge number of them and even posted my own on these forums and the Q&A on the subreddit a while back.
With 9 choices, and essentially 3 classes in each, that's 27 (yep that's math) potential classes to enjoy or not enjoy, not including builds, etc. It is a mountainous decision at the start, because if the playstyle of even 1 or 2 of the elite specs isn't something you enjoy, then you would then feel obligated to make an alt and start your progress all over again. With 3 expansions, living world content, open world content, collections and so much more ahead of you, at least until you've done a plurality of what the game has to offer, you're not going to be wanting to level an alt, at least for myself.
After reading the responses from long-time players on other players posts and my own, I found that the majority of responses were: "It doesn't matter pick one that interests you", "I can't tell you what you would enjoy (very helpful), a suggestion for one elite spec and build that they enjoy, with little to no talk about the other two specs, or (potentially the most frequent one) "you can try them out in the PvP lobby". (There were some very helpful folks willing to ask questions and figure it out though so shoutout to them.) Now, most responses left me in a bit of a state, but the PvP lobby one was really always the most helpful. But being brand new, this was additionally daunting, as I felt that I didn't know what to even look for. But, around level 60 on the one character I had (a guardian), in fear of regretting my decisions before the point of no return, I decided to create and delete a character 9 or so times in order to test every single class and elite specialization.
For me and the few friends I have invited to join the game, I realized that as new players we were all basically planning on playing the same way and that most new players will likely have the same desire: Follow the expansions through till the end, fighting and collecting what we can along the way, and leaving the endgame content for, well, the end. Because of this the areas on which I judged the specs, while smashing away on target dummies and bots for hours on end, boiled down to a few components:
Flow, Engagement, Impact & Flair
Essentially I treated it like every class I played, I was playing a brand new video game and asked if I would enjoy playing a whole game with that combat system. For Flow: is the combat loop too tedious or too simple? Engagement: is it just brain-dead button mashing or do I feel I'm working towards something I want to do? Impact: if I hit something with a hammer, does it feel floaty and lifeless, or does it feel meaty and hard-hitting? Flair: are the animations and styles unique, and does it add to the class identity?
Right, on to the list.
Disclaimer: I made this list in a Tier list format, going from F to S. However, it's not going to turn out as you think. Despite the rankings on this list, I found that I had NO classes that go as low as F tier, which I believe is a tier I would put a class that I would actively dissuade a friend from playing. In fact, D tier also remains empty on the class list, because felt all classes had something to like. The list is ranked in the order in which I believe a new player would have the most fun experience. Some of this may be highly subjective, and it is not taking in any way dps, endgame, or meta into account, only the criteria above, but I will leave my reasoning as best I can. Most are just ranked in comparison to each other, not ranking the fun as a whole. Additionally, I will add a ranking of the Elite Specs themselves below in their own tier list.
Overall Class List:
C Tier:
Ranger - as a person who generally prefers a bow and arrow type class in most games, I walked away feeling disappointed in ranger. Generally, the class feels weighed down by the pet mechanic, and the class fantasy feels more heavily focused on the druid idea than the ranger. The Druid spec as a whole also weighs it down as it is for all intents and purposes a Healer class. For the majority of people, it is something to avoid rather than look forward to. Overall the class mechanics and spec abilities just never get more exciting than "it's fine" in most areas, even though it has some of the more creative ideas in the whole game. It just has nothing to set it apart from the pack (get it?). The most engaging was Soulbeast, but even that felt far too simple. Overall I think Untamed was actually the best, even if it has the worst fantasy, as the 4 criteria were well met, but it's just missing... something.
Engineer - I'll admit this one I might just not get. Although it is more than likely the greatest version of an Engineer class I've ever seen, with little competition, I feel the Engineer was just simply less exciting compared to other classes in their Elite Specs. Holosmith was the stand-out of this class, with high marks on all 4 of my criteria, but the other 2 specs didn't shine as much as I expected. I felt outside of Holo, the other two lacked a good feeling of flow and impact, and mech felt less engaged. Although the scrapper seems to be quite active, the attacks felt somewhat floaty and the button mashy aspect felt repetitive, and while the mech was cool, the lack of synergy between the mace and the mech felt underwhelming.
B Tier:
Thief - I cannot say that I didn't have fun with a lot of aspects, but trying to set my personal bias towards the playstyle aside, I felt that the thief is probably at its best in a PvP environment. I enjoyed Daredevil and Spectre quite a bit actually, even with the DD being a more button-mashy experience, and the specter seemingly being a more support-focused spec. However, the deadeye was nearly the least enjoyable of all the specs and seemed overall counterintuitive to the game it's set in.
Necromancer - Shockingly we're already in the category of "if you're really into the class fantasy, I certainly will recommend it." The Necro overall I didn't love but I didn't hate. The shroud mechanic is one of the coolest things this game has to offer, and every time a spec in any class had one, it instantly got higher marks for it. However, the specs just didn't have anything to set it apart in terms of mechanics, and I felt the Harbinger was weak compared to its sister specs, as I'm not a big fan of "different color circle does different thing" type abilities. Reaper had great mechanics but the skills it got felt samey and didn't feel like there was an overall flow. It certainly got points for style though, and while the greatsword wasn't shock and awe cool, the visual is great. Although completely different in terms of playstyle, Scourge had similar issues to the reaper, but was my favorite overall, and the playstyle and visuals were very unique. I feel like this is a baseline class in some ways, and if you're looking for a clean and simple playstyle, without much thought, but that seems to have hidden complexity this seems a good choice.
A tier:
Guardian - I told you this wouldn't turn out as you expect. As the only class in A tier, I enjoyed Guardian a lot. Regardless of spec, you're always engaged, feeling that you're always ready to set something up, and are excited to hit the buttons again when they are ready. There's almost nothing wrong with it, only that it feels that it drifts into being too simple in some aspects. But again, you can't go wrong with a simple and effective choice, and I feel there is some complexity in there. Firebrand and Willbender are very fun choices with a lot of interesting abilities, but Firebrand steps ahead because it gets a "shroud" type mechanic, and those are incredibly fun to use. Dragonhunter is a step behind those two IMO, but that's only in comparison, as the trap mechanics had great flow and engagement. Overall I can easily recommend it, but not before the S-tier classes...
Now hold your horses, I know some people are going to think Im insane for my choices for S Tier, however, my choices are as such, because each one ranged from me actively smiling through my time playing them, or even straight up laughing out loud at how cool something was. To be able to elicit such a reaction when just wailing on a target dummy, in my opinion, is quite a feat. I could not decide on an order so I just slapped them on there in no particular order.
Time to get controversial...
S Tier:
Mesmer - I was utterly shocked by the Mesmer Elite Specs. I have never been a caster player in games before, as I care very little for that fantasy. This, however, blew me away. Even though it took me a little while to understand it, being quite complex in every spec, I couldn't help but laugh at how cool almost everything this class can do is. I had heard Virtuoso was tedious and difficult, but I found it to be extremely engaging, with a great flow, as you're constantly hunting in your rotation for the next big flashy effect. Mirage was also exciting for the same reason, the axe was extremely fun to use, and the semi-random nature of some of the abilities made it feel like I could someone juke out a dummy that's just standing still. Chronomancer fell behind slightly, as I felt the complexity wasn't as clear to learn as the other two, and it took quite a while to understand and I felt that could be bothersome in an actual fight. Overall though it's a close call to say that I may have been most impressed with this class...
Revenant - Revenant was just fun throughout. Every single Elite Spec had something so interesting and new that I actually found myself replaying some of the specs again after I tested it. Herald had a fun gameplay loop, but in some ways, I did feel like it was too similar to core rev. Renegade however was *chef's kiss*, so great. I don't even want to talk about it, just go play it and you'll see what I mean. Vindicator, I had heard some flack for goofiness, but I thought everything about it was really well done. the only issue with Rev overall for me is the fact that the class has its own ability system tied to the legends. It makes it a far less complex and customizable class, and the energy bar sapping your weapon abilities too is a real bummer. Still, I would instantly recommend it.
Elementalist - Again, if you had asked my interest in every class, the casters would have been at the bottom, and Ele might have been in last place. But geez Louise was this a good time. A great element (get it?) about this class is that every spec feels like an upgrade of the last one while feeling totally different in its own right. Tempest has simpler but satisfying mechanics and abilities (although let's be honest, the warhorn is boring). Weaver is just flat-out well-designed and feels so deep I could swim in it, but I could see a very high difficulty in harder content. Catalyst seemed complicated, but once you just mess with it, you realize what you're trying to do, and it just works well. Even without the class mechanic, it's cool, but add that to your rotation and you're constantly shocked at how cool what you just did was. Not a class for the brain-dead player, but really fun for someone looking for a deeper but more rewarding play style.
Warrior - Warrior is the default MMO class but is taken to such a unique place here. In the same way that Elementalist feels like you're just upgrading from your last spec, Warrior feels like adding a new tool to your tool belt. Every spec is unique and offers a great variety, feeling complex and simple at the same time. Does it make sense? No. Does it work? Absolutely. Berzerker is just flat-out fun, and feels weighty in the best way. The ability change for each weapon combo with the basic class mechanic is great. Spellbreaker seems more simple than the other two, but I am sure that the parry button adds a whole other side to the class I couldn't really test. Fun regardless. Bladesworn gives you a brand new weapon as a class skill with a bunch of different moves for different situations, as well as looking amazing. I cant say enough good things about what I thought would be the most basic of the Classes.
Elite Specialization List: In order of least to the most fun (S Tier is any order)
D Tier:
Druid - Deadeye
C Tier:
Mechanist - Scrapper - Harbinger - Soulbeast
B Tier:
Daredevil - Untamed - Reaper - Spectre - Dragonhunter - Chronomancer - Holosmith - Spellbreaker - Tempest
A Tier:
Scourge - Herald - Willbender - Firebrand - Berzerker - Vindicator - Weaver - Mirage
S Tier:
Bladesworn - Renegade - Catalyst - Virtuoso (could swap with Mirage on the day/ type of content)
And that's all she wrote. Let me know what you thought, and hope you found it helpful in some way.
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I appreciate your post and wanted to drop by to say the following.. Every person will have different opinions about what works best for them. However, I encourage everyone to try multiple classes and elite specializations out before committing long term to one or two classes. 


I primarily played a Guardian as my main since GW2 came out. Firebrand Guardian felt awkward to me and didnt have good flow. However, I recently dusted off my Mesmer, obtained Virtuoso and fell in love. I am finally working towards a full set of Ascended gear because I enjoy it so much. 

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I can fully understand it can be overwhelming. My main advice is to take you time to find out. I've played from start. With the release of the first elite specialisations I switched classes. With the release of the second elite specialisations I switched again and with the latest expansion I have issues choosing between two.

There is nothing wrong with this. There is nothing wrong with switching. Getting decent gear isn't hard. True, ascended and legendary is different, but then again, it is the journey and not the goal that really matters.

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I have the most fun playing with my p/d Deadeye. I have a ranger and a renegade, also. I really like renegade there is so much that is cool but for some reason, something about it doesn't quite click yet, so I havent played it in quite some time. 


Deadeye sucks though, I know strange that it sucks but it's the most fun for me. Primarily it sucks because I think ANet hates the thief class, and secondary - it supposed to be a sniper class but it doesn't do sniper or rifle very good at all.

Edited by Jianyu.7065
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