There are 3 berserker threads on the front page now, and all 3 of them are littered with the same stuff:
People arguing with each other about how is a worse human being.
People threatening to quit if Anet does/doesn’t make changes to berserker
People are throwing insults back and forth
People complaining about how GW2 should/shouldn’t be like GW1
People having no idea what the issue is.
Hopefully, this thread will help to clear the air a bit. Now, from an non-partial standpoint (I am neither casual or elite), I will explain what the problem is, and more importantly, what the problem is not.
Section 1: What the problem is.
The whole zerker problem isn’t obvious to the casual observer. In fact, it isn’t obvious to the devs, either, which is why there is a “problem” to begin with. The “problem” itself is actually multi-faceted, so it will take some time to explain.
As you know, the game is designed on the premise that you can play as you want. This is meant to mean that a player could choose a particular style in which to play, and not have to suffer from being restricted in their chosen class to play, the style in which they play that class, or the race that was chosen to play. This is in stark contrast to what most other MMOs have, which require some kind of trinity system for cohesive groups, specific races running specific classes to accomplish their classes goal, and inflexible class design that shoehorns players into doing only one thing with that class and that race.
Now, this goal to play how you want comes predicated on several conditions that are hard to fulfill, but nonetheless are necessary for such a system to truly work. The goals, of course, is to encourage equality among different equipment loadouts as to objectively encourage build diversity. Anet has, for the most part, accomplished these goals by doing the following, but has made a few mistakes.
#1: By having small ratios between damage and survivability, the game is not heavily emphasizing one or the other, and thus everyone can both survive and do damage at the same time.
#2: By including the dodge and the heal skill, there exists a form of defense that works independent of all circumstances, allowing a player to always be capable of defending themselves that does not involve stats.
#3: Support and control utilities also act independent of stats, allowing players to fulfill multiple roles even within the same equipment set.
#4: By introducing the down state, this makes all classes and builds capable of large scale healing, as well as introducing a wider margin of error in combat.
#5: By having players heal automatically outside of combat, a player is ultimately not dependent on any outside influence for sustenance, instead requiring a player to merely survive an encounter before continuing on. This has other benefits, too, but they aren’t pertinent.
So, what is the problem then? Well, Anet failed to account for balancing around dodging and utilities being statless (#3), and following basic enemy design has led to an environment where, regardless of circumstances and many times even regardless to player skill, it is always best to equip yourself in pure DPS gear.
That is not good, because it leads to no one being happy. Those who do gear themselves for maximum damage (objectively superior overall) find the game easy and unrewarding, because content cannot be balanced around only the pure DPS playstyle. Those who do not gear themselves for pure DPS have to constantly deal with the pressures and difficulties of being objectively inferior, and suffer greatly each time Anet “compromises” between the two, or balanced rewards off of the most efficient instead of the average player.
Section 2: What causes this problem specifically?
This comes down to how damage, active defense, and enemy offense behaves. Now, there is a saying I used to hear around City of Heroes, and it holds true here as well:
Death is the ultimate debuff.
The best thing you can do to any enemy is kill it. A dead enemy does no damage, does not heal, does not debuff, and does not block attacks. The faster something is dead, the faster you get money from it, and the faster you can go and do something else.
There is an often overlooked aspect to damage: the faster you do damage, the more durable you are indirectly because of the fact. For example, assume it takes 10 seconds for you to kill an enemy, and it does damage to you during this 10 seconds. If, say, you built yourself to do double the damage, but take double the damage, you’d end up taking the same amount of damage because the enemy will live only half as long.
(edited by Blood Red Arachnid.2493)