Dear MMO devs, please stop nerfing complex classes

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. 

4 thoughts on “Dear MMO devs, please stop nerfing complex classes

  1. Reminds me of EQ2’s Coercer class. Back when 70 was the level cap… tbh, the job was a mess, with many of its skills working at cross-purposes….. but you could still do some absolutely crazy things with it, including soloing instances meant for full parties. It was slow… and *very* risky, but you could do it. You could run it 3x with a party in the time it took to do it 1x solo though, so there wasn’t a point to it other than bragging rights, but even so….

    In the next expansion the skills got fixed to allow it to do more damage overall, but at the cost of losing a lot of the control abilities, which made the class a lot less complex. And they also made about half the mobs immune to control effects anyway, so all you could do was dps on them. Ah well. It was fun while it lasted 😉

  2. My husband mained an Elementalist for years in GW2, chosen at launch because he likes the aesthetic / class fantasy of an elementalist, not because of the gameplay. He found it be exactly as you described: frustratingly difficult to play effectively and very squishy. The contrast to my Mesmer, especially with the tanky Chronomancer build, was pretty stark.

  3. I’ve always found the supposed difficulty of the GW2 Elelmentalist hard to understand. You can very defintiely make it difficult if you want to but I’m all about the line of least resistance in gameplay and have Elementalists as my lead characters on all three of my accounts. I’ve played all the classes to 80, most of them more than once, and I ended up with Elelmentalist as my “main” on every account because i found it the simplest to understand and the easiest to play. By far the hardest was Revenant which I never understood for the whole 80 levels.

    To me, there were two reasons the Ele always seemed the easiest: a) they didn’t weapon swap and b) their powers were Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Weapon swapping is a pain in the butt so I automatically prefer any class that doesn’t need to do it. Everyone knows what the four elements do without having to look it up.

    At the beginning I tried out all the weapons but the only one I liked was the staff so I’ve played a Staff Ele for ten years. Technically two of the three of them are Tempests but there’s no material difference between a Staff Ele and a Staff Tempest. I did try Weaver for a while and it didn’t seem that hard to play but it was nowhere as near as much fun as Staff Ele so I didn’t pursue it for long.

    As a Staff Ele in WvW all I have to do is set stuff on fire or swap to water and heal as necessary. In solo play the elementals mean you can be a pet class if you want, now they changed the cooldowns. Open world PvE has never needed any skill from anyone so just do whatever you want, no one notices or cares. As for squishiness, Eles have fantastic defensive/escape capabilities. I make a practice of running blockades and straight through zergs in WvW just for the fun of it. And anyway, if it goes wrong, what does it matter? There’s no consequence to death in GW2.

    I’m sure things are different in raiding but since I never raid that’s hardly relevant. I wonder how many do, these days? it must be the best part of eighteen months since I even heard anyone mention raids in game. Anyway, I’d play Ele over any class for straight-up casual knockabout fun, reputation for difficulty notwithstanding. I certainly hope ANet don’t nerf anything to make it “easier”. With Colin Johanson back in charge, though, the prospect of anything being made “easier” seems less likely!

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