Cracking on with the hunt for quirky and exotic Mesmer skills, with the remaining two offhand slot items.
After 250 years, and a lot of technological progress which only the Asura and Charr seem capable of making, guns are a big thing in the modern-day boutiques of Tyria. It’s all a bit Fable II to be honest, and flintlocks abound. Most classes get to tool themselves up these days with pistols, rifles and spearguns. The Mesmer, in a typical fashion doesn’t really shoot people with their Pistol, instead opting to just wave it around and use it to cast spells with, which at least saves on ammo. It is quite a stylish option though; paired with a main hand Sword it all looks very highwayman buccaneer chic! But what does it actually do?
It is an off-hand only item when used by the Mesmer, so let’s jump straight to #4, Phantasmal Duelist. This is the obligatory Phantasm, this time creating a duel-pistol wielding handsome devil that stands at the back and goes all John Woo on the chosen target. In a flamboyantly noisy display it will unload both guns, firing off eight shots every seven seconds or so for a highly respectable DPS. It doesn’t do a lot else, although the shots have a chance of being a Projectile Finisher for Combos. Mind you, it doesn’t really need do anything else, being a respectably solid Summon-and-Forget Illusion choice for basic damage work. As with most Phantasms, avoid shattering it, where possible.
#5 is Magic Bullet, an extremely improbable trick-shot which can change targets during flight and moderately damages and debuffs the things it hits. It works a lot like the Staff: Winds of Chaos and Greatsword: Mirror Blade by bouncing from target to target, applying different Conditions to each. Like Mirror Blade, it also Projectile Finishes combos. Note the somewhat shorter range though, 900 vs a usual 1200 for such skills.
I don’t often use the Pistol but when I do, it seems to be a decent middle-of-the-road option, offering basic damage and debuffs, with a useful Phantasm thrown in. The problem comes with range; paired with a Sword, you end up with a mix of melee and ranged skills which work somewhat at odds with each other. Paired with a Sceptre it works better, (everything works at a 900 range), but you lack punch in a particular role – neither of them is a particularly focused on damage, debuffs or survivability.
The last option for the Mesmer weapon slots is the Torch. An odd choice, but very handy for mobbing the local mad professor’s castle on stormy nights, this is literally a flaming stick. It offers a very quirky pair of skills which I still don’t quite know what to make of. Torches can only be carried in the off-hand, presumably to leave the main hand free for a pitchfork.
#4 is a joke, or at the very least an entire skill slot given over to an Easter Egg Shoutout. Called The Prestige, this skill does a number of things. First, it blinds nearby enemies. Then it makes you invisible for 3s. Then you reappear in a fiery explosion, burning nearby foes. If this sounds at all familiar, that’s because you’ve played Borderlands, and this is more or less exactly what the Lilith the Sirien’s “Phasewalking” class skill does. It’s quite baffling really, for Mesmer AND player. I’ve tried it out a fair bit, desperately wanting to like it, but I’ve found that it really does sound a lot cooler than it is. As with all Mesmer Stealth skills, the duration is not nearly long enough to get anything useful done and while the Conditions are nice and the damage reasonably high, placement is a problem; to get the most use out of this skill, you need to be in exactly the right places, for disappearance and reappearance. While invisible, you can’t be targeted, but you will still take AoE damage and most fights typically have a fair amount of that, and also a lot of bodies in the way of where you’re trying to get to. Unlike Lilith, you don’t pop in and out of view accompanied by an apocalyptic fireball of doom and sadistic peals of laughter, only a mild and annoying scorching. Also Lilith gets a speed-buff while invisible, WHICH WOULD BE NICE! Good position and timing can make powerful use of the Combo Finisher: Blast of this skill, causing Multi-Zorb-Bonus-Round, but again timing is against you here. All in all, I find this one quite fidley to use, and there are better Mesmer options for Stealth, Conditions or Damage. Useful for losing aggro in mad minute, but in general highly gimmicky.
#5 is better, but still not hugely impressive. Phantasmal Mage summons a curiously attractive Phantasm which dishes out reasonably high damage and Confusion to enemies, and Retaliation to allies with a bounce effect as seen elsewhere. Phantasms are always welcome and this one puts out a reasonable DPS, but again, there are better Phantasms available, including Pistol #4, above, making it hard to justify Torch use for this skill alone.
I just don’t get on with the Torch, which truly does fit in Mesmer Comedy Build territory. Possibly one to come back to for a humorous quirky exhibition build, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for day-to-day levelling PvE – it’s awkward and doesn’t seem to offer an appropriate payout. Given the choice between Pistol or Torch, I’d go Pistol every time, but probably take Focus over both.
(If you want to see a Torch made awesome, give it to a Guardian. Their #5 makes them breathe plumes of blue fire in a spectacular breath attack, and their #4 makes them set themselves on holy fire which damages everything nearby, and which can also be thrown! So. Jealous.)
More to come: Heal Slot, Elite Slot and the Utility Skills!