If any class comes charging at you in Guild Wars 2, you’ve got a pretty good chance of knowing what you’re up against. There’s only so many ways to play them, and only so many ways you need to keep in mind to counter what's coming at you. Keep your distance from the melee guys, and close the distance between you and the ranged. Simple. And then the Elementalist comes along and completely ruins all of your preconceptions, because it’s all things to all classes, all the time. It’s overwhelming. Which, coincidentally, is pretty much how it feels to be playing one.
Put a staff in a Necromancer’s hands, and it turns into a spectral scythe, ghostly blade hovering in the space just above where the staff ends and the air begins, black as shadow, and very necromantic. Here is a class that changes the world around it, making it a little more shade, a little more grimy, and just a touch more dramatic. Melodramatic, sure, but half of that is drama. It’s Guild Wars 2’s Necromancer, and he’s a sneaky, wily, dotty (not that kind), tenacious bugger.
Guild Wars 2 is a game without the Holy Trinity of Tank, Healer and DPS. Which is why when I say that the Guardian feels like a support class, you shouldn’t instantly try and slot it into one of those roles. They’re not the healer. They’re not the tank. They’re not the DPS. They’re just more about helping the team directly than the other classes. They’re the ones who keep everyone else fighting and fighting hard.
The Mesmer might be the most bizarre class, the Thief most elusive and the Warrior the most straightforwardly stolid, but the most flexible is the Engineer. As we’ll see, it’s the class that can fulfil the most roles and also can cause the most confusion; going up against an Engineer in PvP means that the only thing you can be certain of is that you can’t be certain of anything.
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Guild Wars 2’s Thief feels obvious. He’s the rogue, the assassin, the guy who has a pair of daggers and sticks to the shadows before backstabbing his enemies for massive damage. You figure you know how he works, because you’ve played this class before in a dozen other MMOs, and countless RPGs. And, for the first five levels or so, Guild Wars 2 doesn’t do a lot to shake you of that feeling, provided you /did/ go the dual daggers route. You start with one anyway, so it feels natural enough. The dagger set is all about dealing massive damage up close, and staying mobile enough that you don’t get bogged down and slaughtered like the thieving scoundrel you are.
Ah, actually that thieving part is different. Let me explain.