|One of Many Weapon Choices|
When I first started playing the mesmer, as I always do with a new class, I bounced around and tried a variety of weapon combos. And curiously enough, I really actually liked the feel of sceptre and focus. Ranged, but you still had to be mobile. And of course, I read plenty of guides, and watched plenty of guide videos. And though they all had various opinions on which particular weapon combination they preferred, they were almost universal in saying sceptre and focus was the worst. Typical internet. But I like to try to be as good as I can with a class, so I made an honest effort to try everything. Greatsword is mostly acknowledged to be the best DPS for PvE, especially at range. But honestly the greatsword playstyle didn't appeal to me much. Yes, it's a caster using a greatsword, which is an awesome idea, but for she's using it to hurl arcane bolts of energy at her enemy from a distance. I just couldn't get behind the notion of greatsword as a ranged weapon - at least for now. A lot of people recommended dual swords, or sword and pistol. These are both pretty powerful - and I like sword and pistol quite a bit. Dual swords though was a bit too melee feeling for me. I already have a thief, so I didn't really want another class that was in your face melee. Dual sword isn't quite like that, but it's definitely a short range DPS alternative.
While I was trying different weapon combos, I also tried a variety of builds. I wasn't entirely sure what role I wanted Syrene to fill - straight DPS, or more of a support role, or some combination between. I have seen shatterer builds, and those were pretty interesting. And I've seen illusion and misdirection builds. After respeccing three different times, I finally settled on a phantasm build (you can see it here), and boy do I love it! It uses a sceptre and sword as one weapon set, and staff as the other weapon set. But the important thing is - I don't consider this a sceptre/sword build. I consider it a sceptre/sword/staff build. That's what I mean about being versatile. I swap weapons a lot - pretty much two or three times in any particular battle. So with the weapon swap, I essentially have 10 weapon abilities on different cooldowns, plus my utility abilities. This build is all about using phantasms to dish out the DPS, and so I'm swapping between my weapon sets whenever one phantasm is on cool down so I can put up another one.
I honestly feel this perspective is key not just for the mesmer, but for all of Guild Wars 2. You should be prepared to change things up. And not just from combat to combat, but even as you're leveling up. Respeccing in this game is cheap. I know a lot of people that say "Well I picked my weapon set at level 15 and never changed again." And I feel like that's just leaving a huge amount of play mechanics on the table. Even if you try a weapon set early on, and decide you don't like it, I encourage people to give it ten or fifteen levels, and try it again. You may have learned more about how your class plays, or you may have acccess to some new utility skills to gain some new synergy, or some traits that make a previously dull weapon skillset seem suddenly revitalizing and powerful. I'm loving the build I have now, but even so in another half dozen levels I'm going to pick up a sword and pistol for a few silver and give that combo a try again, as well as greatsword. And if it means respeccing some talents to get the most out of it, no problem!
The thief was all about explosive damage spiked right at front. She's weaker through the middle of the fight, but then has some crazy finishers, as she has about a million things that stack damage when an enemy reaches below 50% health. The mesmer though, is curious, in that her power curve starts off relatively weak, and then ramps up through out the fight. It takes me a little while to get a few illusions and phantasms up. But once I have a full set, the damage is getting poured on! The problem, if you can call it that, is that as soon as the mob all your illusions are trained on dies, the illusions all disappear. And you start the process over for the next mob. So damage ramps up, then falls sharply off. Then damage ramps up, and falls sharply off. This results in this sort of interesting sinusoidal damage output wave over time. Curiously enough though, this allows her an amazing amount of survivability.
|This Isn't Going to End Well|
I'm not sure if it's because maybe I've just gotten better at doing story missions, or they're easier in the human story line than they were for the Sylvari, or if the mesmer is actually just that much more survivable than the thief, but knock on wood - so far I've had surprisingly little trouble with my story missions. In fact I just did the level 37 one - it's the one where you have to run across a windy precipice - and if you don't time it it just right you get blown off the wall - and well, we breezed right through it. But though I can't call the class tanky by any means, the mesmer just keeps going.. and going.. and going.
Not For Everyone
Unlike the big three - Ranger, Warrior, and Elementalist, I can see where the mesmer is one of those classes that not everyone is going to love. In fact, for awhile as I struggled to sort of get her groove, I wasn't sure the class was going to end up being for me either. And I haven't dropped into PvP with her yet, because she honestly still feels a bit squishy, despite me being continuously surprised by not dying. But now that I've found a build I'm really enjoying, I'm loving the class. It's definitely a fiddly class, in that you want to fiddle with weapons and traits and utility skills to get the most out of the class - you can't just pour on the damage and watch the big numbers fly. But for me, I'm loving it!