Before the release of Guild Wars 2, I had already asked myself whether I wanted the warrior or the mesmer profession for my main character. Oddly enough, I am not the only person wondering about this choice as I have regularly seen readers come to our blog because of the very same “dilemma”. The game has been out for several months now and I figured I would revisit this topic. Keep in mind that for me, the subjective measure of “fun” is the most crucial deciding factor and “min/maxing” or “doing the most damage” is a lot less important. So your mileage may vary, but perhaps I can still help you get a feeling for those two professions.
When a game hasn’t been released yet, I look at which classes/professions I have liked playing in other games to judge which class/profession I may like in the new game. My usual routine in MMOs is to choose such a character to play to max level first, but on my way there or after reaching max level, I realize that the character actually is not the one I want as my main and switch. In World of Warcraft, I had a warlock then switched to (frost) mage. In Warhammer Online, I had a Black Orc (though an odd choice for me at the time as I had never been a fan of melee or tanky characters until then) and then switched to shaman. In Lord of the Rings Online, I had a runekeeper and then switched to a warden (at that time, this choice was a lot less odd as I had since realized that I actually love playing tank classes). And in Guild Wars 2, I started with my mesmer and once she was at level 80, I switched to my warrior.
I don’t want to keep you in the dark, however, my favourite profession is the mesmer! My warrior had a short time of being my favourite but she quickly lost to the mesmer again. So, what is it about the mesmer then that makes her that much better? Let’s have a look at their playstyles.
With my mesmer, I primarily play with a staff and a sword/pistol combination. With the warrior, I usually play with a sword/axe and rifle combination. As you can see, both professions offer me the choice of playing close to or further away from the mobs. The difference here is that with the mesmer, I usually start at ranged with my staff and if the situation allows, I switch to the sword, teleport to the mob (“Illusionary Leap”) and hit in melee. With the warrior, I start by jumping towards the mob (“Savage Leap”) and if I find the situation too dangerous, I switch to the rifle and start kiting the mob.
The pistol in my mesmer’s off-hand may not be the best choice, but it is fun and stylish. I wish she could use a pistol in her main hand as well! On the other hand, I love going into melee every once in a while. It just feels more energetic and dynamic as a whole. Being a clothie, one would assume that the mesmer can’t survive in melee, but she can! “Flurry” is great for that as it gives her immunity to damage for a few seconds. “Magic Bullet” stuns the first target and dazes the second one for 2 seconds each. I play a condition-build and also have “Signet of Domination” equipped which, when used, stuns again for 2 seconds. And if all that doesn’t help and I need to get some distance, I switch to my staff, click “Phase Retreat” and teleport myself away from the mob. So far, I haven’t had much problems fighting against veterans, even with adds.
My warrior uses “Healing Signet” with my warrior which gives her passive health regeneration that manages to outheal poison. Very convenient if my skill to remove conditions (“Signet of Stamina”) is on cooldown. I love the signets with my warrior. They give me lots of passive goodies without having to worry about activating them all the time – unless I want to. But apart from that, there isn’t that much tricky gameplay with her. This is very likely due to my chosen weapons/build, but it is also because I miss the mesmer’s illusions. There is certainly less confusion (quite literally) for the enemies, and it feels lonely. I also regularly find myself thinking “kill it faaaaster” when there’s a dangerous situation (like a veteran with additional mobs coming in and my health going down faster than it regenerates) whereas with the mesmer, I just think “oh, this gets interesting now” and I find myself looking at which skills are still on cooldown and which skills I can use. E.g., can I heal, then stun/daze, then use damage avoidance until I can heal again? And if my own skills are on cooldown, I can destroy my illusions and use “Diversion” or “Distortion”.
Long story short, I enjoy the gameplay of the mesmer a lot more than that of the warrior, even though sometimes, especially in dungeons, it can get frustrating because switching to melee can get too dangerous. You really need to know what the mobs can and can’t do and you need to judge when to jump into the middle of the combat and when to stay away. The warrior, on the other hand, allows you to go crazy even in melee, but she feels less complex.