Home Editorial Balance Guild Wars 2: How ArenaNet ruined the Mesmer

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.


25 replies to this post
  1. I’m hoping that the skills are different/better in the full game rather than what we saw in the beta. As an avid Mesmer player in GW, I wasn’t too thrilled at the lack of degen and interrupts in GW2.

  2. Huh?? the Mesmers have an elite skill that DOES speed up their skills and actions… they also can interrupt foes through the shatter… and they can stack confusion which causes foes to hurt themselves when they use skills… Clearly you have not played the game/know the game enough…. since most of the skills you say they do not have… they do have! Also some of their attacks cause debuffs such as DOT burning or Chilled (slowed movement speed) Learn the Game! and using swear words dramatically decreases the sophisticated tone you ever so desired to attain!

    • Well, as all of that is true, I ave to side with WiNG.

      I loved playing Mesmer in GW1. I was Nekro and Monk in PvE but PvP was all about screwing with people for me. I loved that.

      While the clones do confuse some people from time to time, they are not good enough to bring up the same feeling.

      As to the shatters: I found when playing a mesmer that by the time I had a good situation to shatter, the enemy health was already so low it didn’t make sense to put the shatter on cooldown.
      Also allowing for only 3 illusions that are target-bound I’m not a fan of.

      The one big thing I’m missing really is the interupts. Resource denial is kinda out the window anyway since there are none (except maybe the dodge meter).

      I will definately miss casting “Waste” and shamelessly interrupting all enemy spells in the desperate attempt to avoid the damage…

      Problem with this in GW2 is that most big attacks are not telegraphed well enough to see through 5 elementalists effect fireworks…
      So while I will definately play a Mesmer at some point in live – I will gladly start with Guardian and Necro and just wait and see…
      [Many of my Guildmates that never played a Mesmer in GW1 really liked it, so maybe we just have to look at it as an Omage, rather than a remake]

    • 1. Shattering can interrupt but like I said, the shatter mechanic is poorly designed.
      2. Confusion does punish opponents but it doesn’t feel tactical. In GW1, you could apply different types of punishments, so you had to choose what to use and when. In GW2, “Confusion” is a boring, catch-all condition that doesn’t require thinking to use. It is always beneficial to stack Confusion. There is never a downside or any planning required.
      3. Yes burning causes DOT but it just feels tacked on. Why does a Mesmer cause burning? She doesn’t use fire. It feels random and bulky, whereas it made more sense in GW1 that Mesmers used Hexes that essentially cursed enemies, instead of something generic like burning.
      4. Who said I was going for sophisticated?

      • I’m actually OK with them cutting down the hexes and transforming them into conditions.

        What bothers me is that theres no real timing involved anymore. You needed fast-casting to better interrupt in GW1. Here you have to command your clones, which then have to close the distance to the target and then interrupt.
        The action you want to deny most likely get’s through that.
        Also this randomness in applying conditions (looking at you Chaos Storm) is really not that tactical.

        Of course, theres the slight possibility that we are just too big n00bs and that with some practice the mechanics are manageable.
        …but I doubt it.

  3. Mesmers actually have four skills that interrupt.

    Illusionary Riposte gives access to Counter Blade which in turn dazes enemies in a line.

    Magic Bullet on the pistol interrupts the first target with a stun and the second one with daze.

    Mantra of Distraction gives access to Power Lock which dazes your target in turn.

    And Signet of Domination stuns your target when activated.

  4. Simple GW1 is not GW2, no matter how much you beg, also your ethereal AoE is by far the best cross profession combo in the game (chaos armor anyone?).

  5. It seems you havent played enought this character at beta events.
    I would need to write a lot to explain you in what are you wrong. A waste of time. Instead this, next time you should play a bit more.

    An advice to everyone, dont take seriously this text.

    • This is an entirely useless comment. You just wave your hands and proclaim you have all the answers, yet provide none of them. If you can’t explain how the author is wrong, don’t waste page space.

      I didn’t play mesmer much either because the 8 levels I did play it were boring and did not live up to my expectations of a dynamic class. So while you fanboi it up, it might be good to concede that the class is uninspired and unpolished

  6. Have you sent this to ArenaNet? It might not be too late…
    I personally haven’t played GW1 (just watched sometimes), but what I read here totally convinced me that you are right ;P

  7. Mesmer damage output is fine, however some of the weapon options do need a buff, as only currently 3 of their weapons of really viable. Illusions may not hold “aggro” however they do cause the opponent to lose a lock upon creation, meaning your opponent has to re-target you, the more clones you have the higher chance the thing they are targeting isn’t you at all.

    With GW2 A-net stated they wanted to move more away from reflex based gameplay, hence the loss of many interrupts, and with the loss of the energy pool they also lost E-denial.

    They are vastly different, however the Mesmer is still a very smart class with a variety of options in combat.

  8. Okay. You got those comments from a beta. It was in testing! There are such things called patches! Don’t whine and complain about something just because some of its trolling abilities might be gone. Maybe you’ll like another class? Maybe not. Bottom line, shut up and dont whine about things you find in a beta.

  9. […] In Guild War 2 most of the classes have gained new stuff, for the ranger more pets to have, for the warrior ranged weapons, necromancer death shroud, assassin a western look and guns.  Mesmer in the others is not a mesmer anymore, I don’t know what it is but it’s NOT a mesmer.  Someone wrote a better post about the sad situation about the mesmer in Guild Wars 2, here: Guild Wars 2: How ArenaNet ruined the Mesmer. […]

  10. Mesmers are very different because GW2 itself is very different (from GW1). The design has been greatly consolidated and simplified, with new mechanics like dodging becoming a bigger part of gameplay.

    By the by, mesmers are one of the four strongest classes in the game. That being said, they are also the most skill intensive and difficult to play class in the game. Not for everyone.

  11. Mesmer is the single easiest (read: overpowered) PvP class in GW2.

    This whole article is retarded, maybe they did “ruin” it by making it attract all the no-skill kiddos, but it’s the best class in the game bar none right now. Even more OP than Heartseeker spam thieves or 100s warriors.

    Try playing Guardian if you want to see a ruined class, it was supposed to be the successor to the Wammo from GW1 basically, yet it’s easily the most underpowered class in the game, warriors do all the melee aspects better and Guardian support isn’t even very good, they need more actual direct heals which don’t suck ass, throwing out minor boons in WvW is completely useless and nobody notices it at all, they get removed a lot anyway.

    Mesmer is for kids who want to sit there and tap about two buttons for free kills in WvW while being nearly impossible to target and kill. Anyone who thinks they’re hard or skill based is a MORON, plain and simple, all you do is spam confusion and get kills in WvW, it’s way too easy and effective.

  12. Sorry Pal, its all there, you have to unlock the skills and traits all over the gaming. Its not easy and the class remains perfect! is just to play and level up to unlock those powerful skills, im mesmes 40 level on GW2 and im very mighty!

  13. Never tried it in the beta, so can’t say anything there. But full release, and as of the Lost Shores patch and currently at lvl 80… Mesmers still fracking rule. They interrupt just fine, they hold agro too… quite handy when you don’t want to face a mob and just want to run the frack away. Sure they are gone when hit a few times, sure they don’t do much base damage (Clones aren’t meant to anyway) but you have to shape the using main traits, runes, upgrades, gears, sigils, allocated main stats on gears etc to have your Phantasms do high enough damage… btw if you didn’t know;

    Phantasms are the DPS Illusions, Clones are just that with a higher health pool than Phantasms.

    They are most certainly not short lived…. unless you yourself decided to leave them to fight and went afk. Try supporting them and they most definitely stay alive longer. Shattering is noticeable. Pay attention more. Again, make a better build if it’s not.

    It’s all about the build. Bets thing about this game is it has a ‘shape how you want’ attitude when it comes to role builds. If Mesmers aren’t effective for you, then you are most certainly doing it wrong.

    Level 80, 1800+ in Pwr, 1990+ in Pre, 900+ in both Tough/Vit, 56% Crit chance, with effective level 66& crit dmg, condition at base level 800 (staff) effective level of over a 1000….My build is a semi high crit/precision to condition damage increase over-time build. And it works. I hardly use the F1-4 skills, aka Shattering as my build is so effective, it’s pointless to use it. Adding to the fact that I’m a Sylvari (healing seed and grasping vines) with a Scepter/Pistol and Staff setup…. I can safely say that Mesmers are very much effective in the world of Tyria in PvE/WvW (haven’t tried PvP) from early levels to 80. And they are just fracking fun to play. I rely on my DPS Illusion to do most of the damage, while I do the conditioning. Add three DPS (Phantasm Duellist) on the field using a carefully times rotation that never fails, my build is officially called Charlie’s Angels: I’m Charlie, the 3 Phantasms are my kick-ass angels ^_^

    Play my lovely role the right way, and you’ll see how great it is. Try an Exp. Dungeon run wit 5 Mesmers…. go on, try it :P

  14. Mesmer in GW2 is my main but I swear when I lvl 80 any of my other classes, I’m gonna leave my mesmer at once. She’s slow to death, her skills on 6-0 are completely uneffective, except Blink. The Illusions do like 1/8 of the damage I deal, not to mention the Clones, which may do like 0-23 dmg in one hit (!!!), which is a tragedy in my opinion. Nobody wants to play a hybrid of guardian and thief in light armor, because all in all it’s useless. GS and SS weaponswap are most effective in the game, but there are barely 2 AoE attacks there. Not a support, tank, melee or ranged. Just… a big mistake.
    Imagine an elementalist fighting- he has it all. Swiftness as air, Healing as water, Damage in fire and Cripple in earth. He’s totally OP, but still- no one bats an eye. Building an ele is just concentrating on improving his skills, while building a mesmer is trying to just squeeze a little more effectiveness.
    I really hate it when I’m left behind because of how slow I am. I’m not even able to run through a dungeon path on my own!
    You may say “buy the runes of the centaur”… Okay, but I’m losing other boones I have there. If I build movement speed, I lose precision and power, or whatever I have there. Just to run faster?… Is it really worth it as an elementalist has it all from the start?…

  15. In my long running experience with GW2 all but a handful of classes suck.

    Ones that suck:

    Warriors – Because they fucked them up bad, their banners are good if your party sucks but otherwise this class has lost its everything. You could roll one today by the time you reach level 80 you will be asking yourself why you rolled this class at all.

    Thief – Thief is what you end up with when you marry your second cousin to a horse and call it a trickster? Their ability to pretty much do nothing is what sucks, no real dps no actual assassin feel their somewhere between a rogue and a ninja with a misguided selection of sappy well tricks that don’t really do anything.

    Engineer – If you could pack just too much into one class then this has to be it, with one major quirk the area of effect literally sucks because mobs can just walk away from your control range. Also leveling this class without scrolls or xp is next to impossible, I didn’t find it as complex as some peeps claim it to be. But I did find that its support role in a twitchy game really sucks bad. Though its does have some nice offensive weapon choices their just too short sighted because the skills don’t really augment your character in any real way.

    Mesmer – Its fun to play and has some nice visual ques but blows dust in the face of actual combat. Their the worst of the glass canons lineup, the skills are absolutely atrocious except for that teleporting ability.

    Ones that rock:

    Revenant – Admittedly it took me some time to master this class, it is pure out fun once you understand it, reminds me of a mix of classes all wrapped up in one. Way I describe it (probably not the proper way) it’s like an Elementalist with the ability to swap in and out of combat your skills, this is a big deal if you mob control this class has it all. Revenants can also augment party’s like Paragon’s/Dervs use to with their area spam skills. Buffing or healing a party while in combat and every skill attribution has a double effect both positive (to party) and negative (to mobs) this balance plays out well.

    Guardian – If you miss combat Monks and Ritualists, the Guardian is best for that role with Dragon hunter maxed out you can even wield a bow now how cool is that. Guardians have sadly become the better Warriors in Hot their ability to take and dish damage helps compliment lesser classes. Their area of effect is second to none and grouping Gar + Rev is the ultimate area control combo, making an impenetrable wall for the rest of the classes.

    Necromancer – The no surprise and no shit class that still wreaks havoc I’m glad it wasn’t massively abused, it might have lost its awesome offensive blood line trait skills from GW1 but its still a lethal blow to steam rolling piles of enemies.

    Elementalist – This class is just plain fun, there’s no other way to describe it really. Doesn’t matter if it’s balanced in one thing or sucks at another. The way it plays out is fluid it has the ability to dish out massive amounts of damage in short bursts, heck you can even wield/spawn magic weapons that players in the area can use.

    Ranger – My favorite class because if a giant map party could zone bomb with just pets alone you could theoretically wipe the map clean. Rangers ability to use distance and traps and vulnerabilities makes them a deadly arsenal. They even have strange ways to utilize axes after bows. I soloed Zhaitan end game story mode like knife through butter with this class.

  16. i played gw1 a lot and have hundreds of hours in pvp with my mesmer alone, and i was hugely disappointed with guild wars 2… the memser is now just another DPS caster with a purple theme to their spells… gw1 type interrupting and shutdown builds are completely gone. theres nothing unique about them anymore.

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