With the devs having posted the updates for launch I figured I would update this, with both any changes from that or stuff encouraged in the comments of my previous post.
These are based on my experience during the various demos/stress tests as well as my overall game experience from 5 years of playing.
I expect the upcoming raid meta composition to possibly look like the following:
2 DPS/Alacrity Chronos, 2 Firebrands for quickness, 2 cPS, 2 Druids and then 2 remaining slots for dedicated DPS
The Support Roles
cPS reimains unchanged and will still have a place in the raid meta. Although many new classes have might stacking capabilities, the fact that cPS does this while having very high damage, bringing unique buffs in the for of empower allies and banners, as well as a significant amount of CC, it will stay in the raid meta. The only way for this to change is if a class was able to eclipse the cPS war in all these areas in terms of utility and damage.
“tank” chrono does not need to supply quickness anymore, merely alacrity meaning that chronos can invest in damage instead of boon duration– using only 3 captain’s trinkets a chrono will be able to have the highest toughness in the party and be able to tank without much dps loss. Using 4 wells means a chrono can pretty much upkeep permanent alacrity, this is even more reliable with the addition of 1 avenger phantasm and/or the gravity well if moa signet isnt needed. This will not mean chrono is now as good as a dps class, simply that it can now do considerably more damage than before. It should be noted that this build does not incorporate distortion sharing, so it’s not entirely viable with current raid strats however tweaking the build to bring inspiration could make this a bit more feasible.
Quickness Firebrand orignially I had a similar set up with some seraph’s trinkets, however upon further inspection this was not really necessary. Using firebrand runes with alacrity, one can keep up perma quickness by using the heal mantra and quickness mantra(heal then 2 quickness the heal mantra again a few seconds after initial use) this in conjunction with the quickness shout means 100% isnt even required. This build has just under 100% burn uptime as well so it is only a small dps loss compared to a straight dps build(think the difference between cps and dps war)
Driud does not see a huge change however PoF introduces Harrier gear, a nearly ideal stat set for healing. As Chrono’s no longer invest in boon duration, this means a regen druid can shine, especially with harriers armor, druids will not be able to upkeep perma regen easily with 80% boon duration(a full set of Harrier’s). This will also have slightly more damage than a Magi druid, but nothing to write home about. Healing power with harrier’s as opposed to magi’s will be a bit lower, however with the conversion from bountiful maintenance oils, the massive increase in concentration will provide a substantial amount of outgoing healing %, making for overall stronger healing(not to mention permanent ticks of 500+ regen). Marshall’s gear is also being introduced, this means a condi/healing hybrid druid is now more viable, it will have lower condition duration and damage, as well as some reduced healing but it does create a fairly respectable medium between the two builds. It will allow druids to both do ok damage while still having fairly strong heals–something useful for fractals or carrying raids/maxing dps while still being able to heal a lot).
The Damage Roles
Mirage this is rather unchanged in terms of set up from what I originally had, mostly its just some slight buffs for this class–notably the extra second to be able to cast ambushes. The 35% damage reduction to the scepter ambush isn’t that much of a nerf as the damage is primarily the confusion from it. Compared to condi mes currently the gameplay is not going to be drastically different, just adding in the ambush, sand shards and jaunt for some dps increase. The main difference other than the ambush mechanic is the traits–dune cloak especially as it gives a free 10% condi duration meaning mirage can take earth and bursting sigils for a dps increase. Due to the nature of condi mes in it’s consistent and reliable dps, when this is added to the bonuses provided by mirage will allow mesmer/mirage to become a fairly strong and competitive dps class.
DPS/Alac Chrono is essentially just power dps mes but with chronomancer line to be able to provide alacrity. This doesn’t need too much explanation as it’s not drastically different, but the basic idea is using a lot of assassins armor to achieve the 100% crit chance that makes superiority complex so strong. And although it may not be the highest damaging of classes it will be a fairly stable and consistant dps in conjunction with the essential alacrity.
DPS Firebrand this specific build was the one that had the most variability to it, in terms of what gear is best(grievers vs sinister), I’ve settled on sinisters being the best due to how strong burning is as a condi and that the direct damage from axe is not anything to write home about. I mean 2000 condi damage pre might is hard to argue with. Not having to invest into expertise due to burning being the only condi that matters means that firebrand can stack very high damage stats due to only needing burning duration increases. The changes for launch dont really affect much, its pretty much just going to mean some animations are faster and that mantras are easier to hit. Firebrand is going to prove to be a very high dps class.
Condi Soulbeast is not going to have drastic changes to gameplay compared to condi ranger now, but various changes from soulbeast will increase the damage overall. Especially with the recent changes to dagger, making it attack a bit faster and the base condi durations being increased means I think it will pull ahead of axe in terms of damage. The fact that it can stack a lot of bleeds and poison, especially in conjunction with the lifesteal from predators cunning is what leads me to this conclusion. The other major change is the beastmode mechanic that gives you bonus stats and access to new pet skills, this combined with the bristleback that will give you precision and condition damage and another sharpening stones type skill makes condi soulbeast rather strong. Finally oppressive superiority supplies the 10% condition duration that condi ranger needs and lost with the condi food nerf. All these together more or less restore soulbeast to the condi ranger dps pre nerf, and then take it a step further and improve upon that even.
Power Soulbeast The interaction between beast mode and the pet specific modifiers of sick ’em and attack of opportunity means that power soulbeast has some insane damage burst and real potential to be a competitive dps. The change to signet of wild to give ferocity and that being in beast mode adds 200 power and ferocity only helps this even more, it also means that a power soulbeast can have pretty strong sustained damage–3000 power and 254% crit damage isnt something to scoff at. The basic idea of power soulbeast is to open with longbow and then use greatsword after that, using maul to boost swoop and then hilt bash to refresh maul ect. The devs nerfed this slightly making the damage modifier from maul only be 25% for players not 50% but I believe that power soulbeast should still have very high damage regardless. Sword/Axe does have better auto attack consistant dps, but its only real ability to take advantage of sick ’em is path of scars, while GS has maul on a short cooldown and swoop to take advantage of another modifier.
Power Holosmith Using this set of utility skills allows for a lot of passive damage, with the rifle turret and “fidget spinner” doing a lot over time, and the photon wall activate providing a decent little burst. The toolbelt skills for these are also very nice because they’re all instacast damage, meaning that you can do other things will hitting them off cooldown for more damage. The devs recently reduced the ranged auto varient of the forge auto attacks, but as you mostly just use the other skills this is pretty much a negligible change. Bouncing in and out of forge mode to use the high damage skills and taking advantage of the +100% heat bonuses will make holosmith possibly be one of the highest dps classes in the game.
Hybrid Holosmith is probably the best candidate for grievers stats, burning is one of the primary conidtions for engineers and the forge/sword skills still provide alot of direct power damage. Additionally using flame legion runes means using PBM is the ideal of the grandmaster traits, it will provide a large damage burst in addition to applying burning. Engineer/holosmith traits synergize well with this hybrid build and grievers makes it viable to have 100% burning duration while having alot of power and 200% crit damage.
Staff Weaver is almost certainly going to surpass tempast for the power ele build, being able to hop between fire and earth for all the big damage spells in each as well as the dual skill which is one of the strongest of them all will make staff weaver a very strong dps going forward. It will still be viable for fights like KC as arcane can be easily swapped out for air without too much of an impact on the gameplay. Mostly it will play very similar to ele now with some slight tweaks to the rotation.
Condi/Hybrid Weaver As ele is the definition of a mono-condi dps, that makes it another great candidate for grievers, especially because even in a condi build ele stacks a lot of modifiers. Im not sure how much stronger than the current condi build this will be but I do expect it to be a noticeable and rather significant improvement.
Condi Renegade will make the already strong condi rev even stronger, although shortbow is a bit of a letdown the traits and mechanics of the new elite spec are far from that. Kalla’s fervor is going to be a very strong buff for condi rev, as well as the ability to provide and help supplement the alacrity for the group(this is like I said supplementary and is not able to replace chrono). Most notably for the renegade is Soulcleaver’s summit as this will provide a large dps increase fo a significant portion of the group and helps renegade shine even more. The recent changes merely reduce energy costs making the class feel better to play, but wont have huge implications in terms of changing the build. The gameplay won’t actually change much from what it is now, but the damage will be noticeably different making renegade one of the stronger of the dps classes going forward.
Scourge is just not going to really have a place in pve unless the amount of boons applied by mobs are greatly increased(it’d have to be something akin to the rate at which players apply boons to really be effective). The deathly chill trait on reaper just makes the condi damage from scourge not strong enough, and barrier doesn’t seem to really be that strong, however this could give scourge a place if it proves to be necessary.
Deadeye doesn’t look to be very viable, the rifle relies largely on one big hit that can only be done ever so often. The nerf to 3 shot does effect this viability further and that is without looking at the actual feasability of using such an immobile class. As for a dagger build taking advantage of the elite removing revieled, I think will not be that great as its still a build relying largely on spike damage without having anything to write home about when not spamming 3x back stabs in a row. It may be more viable in fractals, though fights like mai trin with a unique reveled debuff should be noted–I think we could see something similar in raids as opposed to just the initial revealed application.
Spellbreaker similar to scourge this is just not a PvE class, its just entirely made for pvp and wvw. That being said it will still be usefull and fun in just open world and story stuff, I know I’m looking forward to running around as a sunspear in Elona again!
This is not exactly a concrete meta as without the ability to test these all out on dps golems right now to fully maximize possibilities hinders the ability to establish a true meta. I do think these are very close if not the exact builds that we will see surfacing as the meta builds post PoF. I hope this can continue the discussion about balance/what is going to be ideal; or at least just helps people decide what classes they might want to play and what stat sets and food to start thinking about.