Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire – Holosmith – Impressions, Analysis, Skills, Traits, Synergies and Builds
It looks incredibly cool but did it deliver? Let’s find out! Engineer is my exclusive main since release so I was very excited for Holo during first looks. Now after playing it, not everything is that awesome as we all wished, but it’s still very solid and pretty polished. I wanna talk about mechanics, skills, synergies, builds, what I like and what I’dont. Keep in mind it’s my personal opinion based only on limited experience so if you disagree, don’t hesitate and leave a comment.
The concept of Holosmith as a sort of crazy high-risk, high reward DPS spec is something I really like. And It’s very funny and fluid to play. The point is that engineers haven’t a shortage of good damage builds. We have a solid place in current DPS meta and what we needed and what we asked for since release are some party buffs like… Well, basically like any other class. Yes, we recently got Pinpoint Distribution. But it’s barely enough and Holosmith delivered literally zero party support. On another hand, I see other synergies and possibilities for all kinds of new builds. From pure DPS, both power and Condi, thru elixir hybrids, as well as very defensive ones. Holosmith got a brand new mechanic called Heat, together with an ability to engage Photon Forge.
-When you activate Forge mode you will start slowly generate Heat, and your weapon skills will change into different, very powerful abilities, what generates additional Heat when used. – Heat have multiple thresholds what will amplify your abilities once you cross them. More heat you accumulate more powerful they will be. But if you stay in the Forge mode for too long and reach max threshold you will overheat. That deals massive self-damage and Photon Forge will be disabled until you fully cool off. -The whole mechanic is about staying below max threshold but don’t cool off too much so your abilities stay buffed. -While you losing Heat and it’s not from overheating you will get a buff called Heat Therapy. After a short delay, it regenerates Health for each Heat point you loose. Also, your character will change color based on a threshold. But if you have a small asura it’s hardly noticeable and bar really blends in at bright maps, so it needs a way better visual indication. Forge abilities are independent of your weapon and you are not forced to use a newly added sword.
Unfortunetaly main-hand sword is the only weapon what benefits from Heat. It’s a bit shame especially if you consider how much more effort got Weaver with all its new skills. Another thing I don’t like is a Forge cooldown. While you can enter Forge without any restrictions you have to wait 6 seconds before you can leave it. Because of that is the Heat management a bit unintuitive. I get it. It’s there to prevent static discharge spam, but simply swapping this cooldown to entering instead of leaving would fix it all. The Heat management and its mechanics, have 3 quite distinct types of gameplay determined by Grandmaster traits. -Vent Exhaust allows your dodge to release some heat what damages and burn enemies. It has some nice synergies with recently changed traits in core lines, what increases your damage without full endurance, and spawns mines on dodge. In my opinion amount of released heat is a bit too small, but it’s not that big deal, and it can lead to some builds focused on Endurance regen. -Enhanced Capacity Storage Unit or ECSU increase your Heat capacity from 100 to 150 and add a 2nd amplifying threshold to some skill which makes them even more powerful.
While you are above 100 Heat you will also stack 2 Might each second. It would be so great if a party could have that might as well. -Photonic Blasing Module or PBM alters mechanics quite a lot. You no longer loose Heat while outside of Forge except when you overheat. That means you can generate heat over the threshold, leave forge and keep all abilities amplified forever. Also, Minor Grandmaster Trait Laser’s edge that increases damage by 15% while in Forge mode will work outside of Forge as well.
And if you overheat, instead of self-damage, you will explode with massive AoE, and Heat Therapy starts without delay. Minor traits allow you to tweak Forge functionality even further. -Light Density Amplifier increases passive Heat generation but decreases incoming damage by 15%. With ECSU if you don’t use any Forge skill you can have this up straight for the 50s. With -50% damage from Spectrum Shield 10% from Frost Aura and -33% from Protection it’s a lot of damage mitigation. -Prismatic Converter is literally God Tier Condi counter. Each time you turn off Forge 1 stack of condis will be converted into the boons. Over 50 Heat 2 stacks and over 100, 3 stacks. Every 6s. This have some nice defensive synergies with Alchemy, since transmute will convert another stack every 15s.
Together with Alchemical Tinctures, HGH, and Elixir Gun, it can bring back some Elixir based builds. -Solar Focusing Lens will add burning for next 2 attacks after you leave forge or 5 attacks if you Overheat. There can be interesting rotations with PBM like turn off just before Overheat, fire 2 skills, turn back on, overheat, explode and fire another 5. Turning on Photon Forge will grants you 5 new, very powerful skills. Each one will generate additional Heat. -Autoattack contains 3 skills in melee Chain. They all do just very high base damage. The DPS is around 30% higher than Bomb 1. – It can be upgraded with trait Crystal Configuration: Storm.
Instead of melee, it will throw exploding disks up to 600 range. The damage will remain same which makes it probably the hardest hitting range auto attack in the game. Holo Leap is a 600 range, high damage AoE with leap finisher what also stack Swiftness. And all of that only with a 2s cooldown. -It can be upgraded with Trait Crystal Configuration: Zephyr. Instead of Swiftness, it will grant 3s of Superspeed and each use will remove Cripple, Chill and Immobilize.
It’s an incredibly strong mobility skill and Condi counter especially together with Prismatic Converter. Corona Burst is quite high damage AoE what applies loads of Vulnerability with a 6s cooldown. After first explosion, it charges up, and releases another about 3s later, while you can use another skills. It also stack 10 Might Unfortunately again only on you. It can be Upgraded with trait Crystal Configuration: Eclipse. Corona will also grant Stability and Barrier for each target it hits. -Photon Blitz is basically Thief’s Unload with a 10s cooldown. It pierces and stack Burning. Unfortunately, Burning is super short and skill stacks too much Heat to be viable in PvE DPS rotations. On another hand, it will be great for quick bursts in PvP. -Holographic Shockwave is an incredibly potent AoE Launch. 600 radius is massive and 15s cooldown makes it very reliable CC across all game modes.
On top of that, it deals decent damage and always with a critical hit. As I said before a newly added sword is the only weapon what benefits from Heat. It’s a little bit shame that it’s only for 3 main hand skills. It would be way cooler if we could dual wield it. Or even amazing if Heat would affect other weapons as well. -Sword auto attack chain is pretty basic. Deals damage and stacks Vulnerability. Base damage is quite low but over 50 heat is critical chance increased by 25% and over 100 Heat by 50%. It can be interesting in builds with offensive stats without Precision. What is really cool is that 3rd attack in chain decreases recharge time of other sword skills by 3s. Refraction Cutter deals damage in short range and shoots out damaging projectile what also applies Bleeding. Above 50 Heat, shoots 2 and above 100, 4 additional projectiles what stacks even more Bleeding. Since Autoattack can reduce its 9s cooldown it can be quite a potent way how to stack Bleeding.
Radian Arc is a short leap with decent AoE damage what cripple enemy and grants quickness based on Heat. With some boon duration and reduced recharge from autoattack, you can easily reach permanent Quickness. Skills 2 and 3 deserves swap its positions so leaps would be consistent on both – sword and forge. -Coolant blast, the new heal skill is pretty solid. While it won’t replace turret in glass cannon builds I see potential in solo defensive ones. The main heal amount is on pair with a turret and gives Regen. Over 50 Heat also grants Cooling Vapor which is basically another regen and Frost Aura what reduces incoming damage by 10%. -Toolbelt Cauterize cleanses conditions, more over 50 heat, but self-burn is very unpleasant and makes this skill quite dissapointing. -Laser Disk summons rotating blades what moves and damaging with you. It has 30s cooldown and lasts for 6 or over 50 Heat for 9 seconds. Damage is semi decent considering you can cast other skills while it’s active. It also stacks bleeding with each hit but in my opinion, its duration is too short to be viable for condi builds.
-Toolbelt Blade burst fires up to 5 projectiles, one per target. Deals 25% more damage over 50 Heat. 30s cooldown is a way too long it should be at least cut by half. -Hard Light Arena summons big buffing AoE for 8s, or even bigger for 12s over 50 Heat. Cooldown is 45 seconds. When I saw it for the first time I was like “finally some reliable team support!” But no it’s massive ground buffing area what works only you. Honestly, this was the biggest disappointment of this entire spec for me. The arena itself grants Fury, Protection, and Regen each second. Cooldown is maybe a little bit too high but with 100% boon duration it’s almost permanent uptime. I will definitely use it in my upcoming open world PvE farming build. -Toolbelt Prismatic Singularity is a fantastic AoE pull and damage with just 26s cooldown. Above 50 Heat is radius even bigger.
Reliable AoE pull like this was something engineers always missed so I’m really happy for this. Spectrum Shield is one of the best Stun Breakers in the game. It has 30s cooldown but over 50 heat its reduced down to 15s. It also grants a defense buff for 3s what decrease incoming power and condi damage for 50%. Toolbelt Flash Spark is an AoE 3s blind what apply Light Aura over 50 Heat for 4 seconds. In my opinion is a 34s cooldown inconsistent with 30s on Spectrum shield and 3s blind is a bit too short. Daze instead of a Blind would make it much more interesting. -Photon Wall blocks incoming projectiles in a rather small cone in front of you for 3 seconds with a 35s cooldown. While active you can use skill for a second time and release wall forward. Over 50 Heat it reflects projectiles and releases 3 walls instead of one. Overall, it feels very clunky and underwhelming. Cooldown is too long, block too short and damage from walls isn’t high enough. -Toolbelt Particle Accelerator shoots crippling projectile what grants you swiftness and can pierce thru 5 targets in a row.
The projectile is faster above 50 Heat. With 8s cooldown, it has some potential for Static Discharge builds. Prime Light Beam, our new elite skill is great. It deals massive damage, launches everything it hits, it’s unblockable and only on a 60s cooldown. Over 50 heat it also spawns field for 10s what deals damage and applies Burning. It will probaly replace Mortar in new DPS builds. All new Forge and Utility skills are also available underwater and work exactly the same, which is a nice touch. So my final impression? On the first glance Holosmith looked like one trick pony, but after many hours of studying it, I definitely thinks that devs made a lots of great work here. It’s not perfect and I don’t agree with some design decisions but over all its, the best what engineers got so far. And I like it..
As found on Youtube