Happy October, everyone. I’d like to share how my builds are doing since Path of Fire dropped. Fortunately for the development of these builds, PoF did not take very long to “complete,” so I’ve had plenty of time to test and play every class. I am excited to report significant changes since my theorycrafting post a couple weeks ago; one of which was very surprising.
As a reminder, I share these builds with the goal that I might introduce an adjustment to a class that helps some players enjoy it in open world PvE content. Sometimes, these builds happen to align with what’s being played in raids and fractals. Other times, they are wildly different. In open world PvE, priorities are different, and this can cause some raid or fractal builds to underperform; this is obvious, as those builds are crafted with specific circumstances and group compositions in mind. Builds for open world need to be created primarily for solo excursions with different goals in mind, and that changes quite a lot in some cases.
In addition, these builds are crafted within my personal taste, and I am just one player with my own opinions. I have an affinity for power builds, and I believe power builds are best equipped for general open world play, but there are players who might disagree with me and say that condition builds tend to fare better in their own experiences. It is not my goal to establish a “meta” or become an authority for open world PvE. It is my goal to share the fun that I have with you all, in the hopes that at least a few of you might also have fun with it.
Some notes before you get to the links:
- This list utilizes both HoT and PoF elite specs. If you don’t have access to an elite spec I use here, but would still like a build for that class, leave a comment below.
- I’ve included food and utility nourishment suggestions for all builds this time. Eight classes use exactly the same buffs, mesmer being the exception.
- Each build also includes underwater equipment, utility, and pet recommendations, but I won’t be discussing underwater combat in the summary.
- For ease of interpretation, any blank infusion slot represents Mighty infusion. Infusions I’ve placed in these builds are Precise infusions, which are sometimes critical for reaching crit chance thresholds.
It turns out that Sword is a pretty weak weapon in a power build. Possibly the weakest option out of any Elementalist weapon. However, Staff got several strong dual skills, and is free of melee overloads, which makes it a little nicer to play in open world.
This build is crafted to give you some breathing room. Though Conjure Fiery Greatsword is strictly better DPS, it would be the only skill that requires short range, so I’ve dropped it in favor of Glyph of Elementals, which is more flexible. The required range threshold of this build for maximum damage potential is 900 with the utility skills, but using staff skills from 1200 range supplies the bulk of your damage.
The build or something very similar to it is about to be meta in some raids due to its extremely high DPS potential against large hitboxes. I anticipate nerfs down the line, so I will be keeping a close eye on it as balance changes over time.
Boss rotations are still being developed, and you will be able to use a raid rotation when it is released. At this point I will only recommend key skills to focus on for general play:
- Lava Font. Return to Fire frequently to cast this.
- Meteor Shower. I typically try to use Meteor Shower shortly after dual attuning Fire to benefit from Elements of Rage.
- Plasma Blast, Fire/Air dual skill.
- Pyroclastic Blast, Fire/Earth dual skill.
- Pile Driver, Air/Earth dual skill.
- Lightning Surge when in Air or when swapping out of Air.
- Eruption when in Earth or when swapping out of Earth.
This build is best suited for lower pressure environments that allow you to freely DPS, but can be played anywhere with sufficient experience. Be aware of its fragility and use its extreme damage output aggressively, especially against dangerous ranged enemies.
Almost like a brand-new class, Holosmith has dramatically changed power Engineer. Only Shield skills are featured from core Engineer; the rest is Holosmith skills. This build is highly self-sufficient, with great Fury and Might uptime, 100% crit chance, and both passive and active defense available in and out of rotation.
The playstyle of the build is straightforward compared to other engineer builds. I will provide some tips:
- Get in Photon Forge and stay in Photon Forge as long as you can, up to 130-149 Heat.
- After you leave Photon Forge, immediately cast Radiant Arc and begin autoattacking. Cast Radiant Arc again before you drop below 100 Heat.
- Enter Photon Forge once you cool to 50 Heat. Do this even if you’re not actively fighting mobs, so that you’re always prepared to face the next mob.
- Try to cast Laser Disk, Blade Burst, Hard Light Arena, and Prime Light Beam while in Photon Forge above 50 Heat, but as early as possible, so that all their pulses occur during Photon Forge.
- When using Photon Forge skills, prioritize Corona Burst, then Photon Blitz, followed by autoattacks.
- Use Holo Leap, Holographic Shockwave, then Holo Leap again to quickly build Heat from 0.
Not much has changed. The balance changes to Radiance emphasize Retaliation as a very important boon, so an extra utility skill that applies Retaliation is desirable. Here I’ve chosen Hallowed Ground for its Retaliation uptime contribution, as well as providing a safe haven to unload a full burst combo without being interrupted by CC.
Typical play involves throwing Spear of Justice on every mob you fight, using Symbol of Punishment and Orb of Wrath liberally. Spear of Justice’s cooldown is refreshed every time you kill any mob. When you get to a boss, or anything tanky that you want to kill immediately, perform this burst combo:
- Hallowed Ground
- Shield of Wrath
- Spear of Justice
- Symbol of Punishment
- Dragon’s Maw
- Procession of Blades
- (Weapon Swap)
- Symbol of Wrath
- Whirling Wrath
This is almost exactly the same as a raid build. You can reference it here for more information on trait line variations and sustained DPS rotations. I would recommend not using Virtues in open world due to the difficulty of maintaining Aegis uptime.
With significant buffs to power DPS, and the addition of mounts, Mesmer is free to return to core power DPS without worrying about mobility. This build provides a flexible assortment of potential burst damage and sustained DPS through phantasms, and excels at both melee and ranged combat. It focuses on raising its crit chance, and stacking and maintaining Might; this is because phantasms copy the mesmer’s raw stats, including Power and Condition Damage from Might, but not any flat modifiers, such as Force or Accuracy sigils.
Burst can be done with either weapon. With Greatsword, get in melee range, cast Mirror Blade, then Mind Stab simultaneously with Mind Wrack and Mantra of Pain. With Sword/Sword, again in melee range, cast Illusionary Leap, then Blurred Frenzy simultaneously with Mind Wrack and Mantra of Pain.
For sustained DPS, decide where you will be fighting. In melee, start with Greatsword and summon a Berserker, then swap to Swords and summon a Swordsman; cast Signet of the Ether and summon another Swordsman; when Swordsman is off cooldown, summon a third one. At range, start with Swords and summon a Swordsman; cast Signet of the Ether and summon another Swordsman; then swap to Greatsword and summon a Berserker. If you can survive for approximately 15 seconds in melee in the beginning of a fight, you can begin with the melee setup, then back off with Greatsword’s autoattack while you have three Swordsmen out.
Utility skills are open for experimentation; the only ones that should be present at all times are Signet of the Ether and Mantra of Pain.
So, this was the biggest surprise for me in PoF. Power Scourge does more damage (solo) than power Reaper. You have to adjust the way you play, because you lack the second health bar, but you gain significant damage and the best condition cleansing in the game.
This build has a rather unique playstyle. You build up Life Force from kills and abilities, like core Necromancer and Reaper, but you spend it on Shade skills instead of using it as an alternate health bar. You can project a stationary Sand Shade into the world at a target location, and whenever you use a Shade ability, you cause a strike of damage – or several pulses of damage – around both you and your Sand Shade, as well as other effects. These damage strikes are easily added to weapon and utility skill abilities, because every Shade ability is instant cast.
To summarize the playstyle simply: set up your Sand Shades, and cast Desert Shroud. Cast abilities that restore Life Force, as well as Dagger autoattacks, and spend Life Force on Shade abilities if you are about to overfill your Life Force. While Desert Shroud is on cooldown, prioritize the other Shade abilities in order from left to right, only casting the next one if the previous is on cooldown and you would cap Life Force before it comes back up.
You should be able to generate more than enough Life Force to sustain a rotation with several Shade ability casts, and still have plenty to activate Desert Shroud on cooldown. Try to drop new Shades before each Desert Shroud cast.
A new variation on a very old build, this one picks up some awesome synergies with Soulbeast, and is able to easily maintain permanent Fury and high Quickness uptime. Most of the time, you’ll want to stay merged with a Tiger – or any Ferocious pet of choice – and cast utility and Beast skills to maintain boons. Moa Stance plays a big role here, providing you with boons and greatly increasing the duration of boons you get from other sources.
A typical opening sequence involves casting Moa Stance and Quickening Zephyr, followed by Worldly Impact and “Strength of the Pack!” Do this regardless of which weapon you’re holding; even if you may not hit anything with Worldly Impact while wielding a Longbow, the boons you receive are well worth the cast. Cast Moa Stance every time it comes off cooldown, and notice that all four of these skills have multiples of 25 as their cooldowns; this causes them to line up very neatly.
A few notable skill synergies while in Beastmode:
- “Strength of the Pack!” gives you Might each time you strike something. Has great synergy with Rapid Fire and Barrage on crowds of mobs.
- Hunter’s Shot gives you Swiftness of the same duration.
- Maul gives itself 25% bonus damage.
This build hasn’t changed much in quite a long time, and I pass it forward yet again. But the Sword part of its damage potential has gotten a few buffs recently, and it has moved from satisfactory to excellent in performance. Now that we have mounts for traveling around, maintaining Swiftness isn’t so important anymore, but you’ll still want to make sure you get enough Fury and Might from Glint before swapping to Shiro for Impossible Odds.
I was surprised to see controversy surrounding Deadeye’s Rifle; I assume this is because people who are trying it out are accustomed to melee weapons, and notice a DPS loss when switching to Rifle. In practice, Deadeye’s Rifle is one of the strongest ranged weapons in the game in sustained DPS, and offers unique combat strategies that were previously unexplored.
It is amazing to run around open world, Marking everything one at a time, and blasting it to pieces with Quickness-enhanced bullets. Don’t even have to kneel. Sword/Pistol on swap gives you cleave and safety, and it is equally fun to run around spamming Quickness-enhanced Pistol Whips.
I’ve gotten a lot of use out of this build in PoF, and it’s helped restore warrior as the class I choose when I want to go easymode. It carries significant health sustain and a giant reset button, as well as great personal damage, in-combat mobility, condition cleansing, and CC. I’ve chosen Axe over mainhand Dagger because Axe does more damage, and has a more impactful grandmaster trait in Discipline.
Sun and Moon Style provides a steady stream of healing while you crit when wielding Axe/Dagger. It gets better the more targets you cleave, and helps keep the warrior’s massive health pool topped off.
Might Makes Right synergizes well with Forceful Greatsword, but also with Magebane Tether. Magebane Tether ties you to a target you hit with any Burst skill, and pulses 3 Might per second for 8 seconds. This is equivalent to 400 health per second, as Might Makes Right looks at how many stacks are being applied. Eviscerate also applies 5 stacks of Might for 665 health. Combined with Sun and Moon Style, this makes Axe/Dagger provide plenty of health sustain.
Natural Healing is one of the greatest heal skills for open world, especially in a build that already has so much sustain. Some people shy away from it because it drops your boons, but you can quickly regain Might and Fury, and it strips off up to 7 conditions before healing. I’ve never had 7 different conditions on me at any time in open world, so it’s safe to call this a full reset button, because it also restores a whopping 60% of the warrior’s health. All on a 25-second cooldown.
The choice to emphasize two Physical skills was because this build lacks reliable CC otherwise, and being fully melee, it appreciates being able to interrupt and knock down dangerous enemies. Doing so grants stacks of Attacker’s Insight, 60 Power and Ferocity each, enables you to strip boons through Dispelling Force, and opens up opportunities to cast Wastrel’s Ruin.