With Guild Wars 2 on the ever-nearing horizon and the beta access weekends over, it only makes sense that the Guild Wars fanbase is in a veritable frenzy. Their much anticipated title is sooo close, and it’s promising to bring back everything that made the original great… only better.
The world is more persistent! The characters are more customizable! PvP is more grandiose! There are still lots of goddamn minipets! It would seem everything was improved.
Everything, that is, except for the Mesmer.
The Mesmer: Lyssa’s master of trickery and trolling
Players new to the Guild Wars franchise, of course, have no clue what I’m talking about. Hell, even players who purchased the original Guild Wars may not have ever played Mesmer. And while that’s a felony in at least twelve Western nations, I’ll overlook it and offer a recap instead.
With Guild Wars 1, ArenaNet sought to create a different type of action/RPG/MMO experience. They crafted a vibrant world with rich lore and beautiful vistas. They endowed their creation with gods who represented the different aspects of life (which totally didn’t copy Magic the Gathering at all). And they gave players six professions (as opposed to classes) to choose from.
A few were pretty straightforward: Monks believed in divine light, so the healed and smote stuff. Necromancers preferred sexual partners that just kinda lied still the whole time. Warriors warred stuff, Elementalists nuked stuff, and Rangers were overpowered. Most of the core Guild Wars professions were the kind of stuff you see in every other RPG.
Enter the Mesmer. Mesmers weren’t tanks or healers or DPS. They weren’t exactly support, either… and all their abilities carried this kinky S&M undertone.
It all stemmed from the fact that Mesmers worshipped Lyssa, the goddess of trickery, subterfuge, and being two hot women at once. As a matter of course, Mesmer spells and abilities were often fast, conditional, and convoluted (as opposed to the Paragon’s fairly simple buff/debuff shouts). You might cast an enchantment that sped you up, only to slow you to a crawl a few seconds later. You could hex a foe with a curse that would damage them for casting a spell. Or hex them with something that would hurt them if they didn’t cast a spell. Or you could just disable all their spells and emote /laugh at them from a distance.
It was a goddamn breath of fresh air.
The Mesmer was so special, it was only natural this profession would return for Guild Wars 2. And as each class was revealed for the sequel, fans pleaded and prayed and burnt offerings to Lyssa hoping for the Mesmer’s return.
Be careful what you wish for…
After months of waiting and whining, Guild Wars aficionados were treated to the huge surprise that the Mesmer had returned in the sequel. Finally, players could rejoice knowing their troll-tastic arts would once again flitter around Tyria, tauning player and NPC enemies alike. But as the reveal trailer slowly demonstrated, the Memser forgot to pack a lot of the tricks she learned in the previous four campaigns. Her interrupts, delay tactics, punishments, and guile were all gone. In their stead were flashy animations and something ArenaNet called Illusions.
What were Illusions, exactly? Why, they were clones/phantasms created by the Mesmer that did minor damage or caused debuffs. Players could summon them as distractions or detonate them for damage/effects, but they’d always die when the Mesmer’s original target expired.
While this may still sound cool in theory, the Guild Wars 2 beta weekends quickly proved the Mesmer’s gameplay mechanic was more underwhelming than a Sea Monkeys unboxing. Yes, it was that bad. Within hours of booting up the beta, hundreds of players shared similar complaints:
- Illusions don’t attract or hold aggro, even when directly replacing the player
- When they are hit by AOE/melee/sneezing, Illusions dissipate instantly
- Illusions do almost no damage (and in fact Clones do zero damage)
- Illusions are so short-lived, Shattering them is rarely an option
- When Shattering does happen, the effects are basically unnoticeable
- The Illusions/Shatter mechanic is shallow compared to other professions’ specializations
The list goes on and on. And while I agree with all of those points, that’s not even the real problem with the Mesmer in Guild Wars 2. The real problem is (to put it eloquently) why the fuck did ArenaNet disembowel the coolest class in Guild Wars?
Taking every page out of the profession’s playbook
Don’t know what I’m talking about? You see, from Guild Wars 1 to 2, most of the carry-over classes kept the elements that defined them. Rangers still have pets and distance-based damage. Necros can still profit from death. Warriors still bash stuff with steel, and Elementalists still run away when the group needs help. These basic RPG mainstays got to keep all their cool features.
Meanwhile, the Mesmer lost every single defining aspect of the profession. Here’s a list of stuff the Mesmer did in Guild Wars but conveniently forgot how to do in the sequel:
- Precisely interrupting enemy actions
- Punishing enemies for attacking
- Punishing enemies for casting spells
- Punishing enemies for doing nothing
- Slowing enemies to a crawl
- Stealing/draining resources from enemies
- Disabling enemy skills
- Casting spells and signets at increased speed
- Slowing or delaying enemy spell casting
- Dealing huge amounts of damage over time (DOT)
- Gaining temporary buffs that later became debuffs
- Wielding illusory weapons to deal enhanced damage
- Copying enemy abilities, including elite abilities
- Performing Riverdance
Sure, the Mesmer in Guild Wars 2 can inflict debuffs (as conditions) and punish players for acting (as a generic, boring “Confusion” condition), but there’s no trickery. No guile. No Lyssa loving. The Mesmer’s entire box of tricks has been scrapped for an Illusion mechanic that is shallow, repetitive, and ineffective.
And unlike the built-in profession abilities of the Engineer, Elementalist, or even the Thief, the Mesmer’s Illusions don’t give her lots of different options. They really give her just one:
Bore the player to tears.