I was perusing the Guild Wars 2 Reddit the other day, and I was struck by how many Elementalist nerf memes there were. Sure, it’s Reddit, they like to be negative about everything, but it’s kinda true. Elems, Weavers especially, have a significantly more complex rotation compared to other classes, for little to no more DPS output (depending on the fight; they still shine certain circumstances, but I’m talking more broadly), and on top of that, they’re the squishiest class, sporting light armor and the smallest health pool in the game. And this most recent balance patch somehow managed to make it even worse. This is supposed to be the class that has the best theoretical maximum DPS, but with a rotation that makes it hard to hit that potential all the time. Nerfing that potential takes away any incentive I have to put in the work it takes to learn that spec.
Elementalist is my least favorite GW2 class, so I’m not personally too affected by this, but it reminds me of what I’ve seen in other MMOs time and time again; when they’re new, they try new things with a complex class that rewards hard work, then, over time, as metas shake out, players of other classes start to complain about the fact that their (much simpler) class can’t parse the same numbers as everyone else, and eventually the devs cave and homogenize everything. This happened to the Jedi Shadow/Sith Assassin tank in SWTOR; at one point, Shadows, who, oddly enough, wear light armor, made nearly unkillable tanks at endgame, but were hard to play because their rotation required a lot of cooldown management. Now, after years of nerfs and changes in encounter design, they have been out of favor for a while now. Similarly, LOTRO’s Warden was famous for its combo system that allowed it to accomplish incredible feats of buffing, debuffing, tanking, healing, and DPS all at once, soloing on-level instances meant for whole parties. But now, it is a pale reflection of its former self, and can be outshined in any area by other classes, and is really only played by those who find its frantic, muscle memory-heavy playstyle gratifying.
I also wouldn’t be happy if these games just dumbed down their complex classes along with a nerf. I think there should be some classes that reward complex play, and others that are more accessible with less reward.
I’m all for good balance, but good balance doesn’t mean that every class needs to do the same amount of DPS. If it did, you could effectively put different graphics on the same set of abilities for every class and call it a day. Some classes should put out less damage because they provide other utility, and some classes should reward complex play with more damage output.