Land mines, grenades, flame throwers, air blasts, rocket jumping, mechanized turrets, magical healing mist… Team Fortress 2? No… well yes, but we’re also talking about the Engineer (or the Gunner- wink @Rubi)! Guild Wars 2 takes place 250 years after the first game in the series, and no profession exemplifies and emphasizes this transition more than the Engineer. Brace yourselves for a long post because the Engineer is not only the latest profession revealed, it is the most controversial and the most complicated profession we have seen to date. The weapon list for the Engineer is the smallest to date… in a manner of speaking. However, the Engineer also possesses a large number of utility skills that also alter the first 5 skills in their skill bar, so I will list those as well:
- Main Hand: Pistol
- Off Hand: Pistol, Shield
- Two-Handed: Rifle
- Tool Kit
- Grenade Kit
- Bomb Kit
- Mine Kit
- Med Kit
- Elixir Gun
- Rifle Turret
- Thumper Turret
- Net Turret
- Flame Turret
- Healing Turret
Before getting into the weapons, backpacks,weapon kits and turrets, I’m going to talk a little bit about the community’s response to the Engineer’s release. Now, I know that it’s normal for there to be some people that love a new profession, some that hate it, and a hell of a lot of people in between. For a variety of reasons though the Engineer drew far more ire and disapproval than the rest of the professions. Some of it I feel is pretty understandable, some of it a little bit too nit-picky, and some of it is simply a matter of aesthetic taste, which you can’t really argue with.
That beeping light on the mines. Might as well start off big. I’ll admit, this one actually bothered me the most, as with most other people. For those that haven’t seen the skill in question yet, the mines have red blinking lights and make a beeping sound. Like a bomb in modern day movies (though of course real bombs don’t beep for obvious reasons). Firstly, it is quite strange aesthetically, and the beeping feels more like modern technology rather than the steam/clock-punk style that ANet seems to be going for. Second, in my view it is a bigger issue of disparity between the same profession’s choices that seems off. Engineers also have a timed bomb in the form of a barrel full of gunpowder with a lit piece of rope for a fuse. To have essentially the most primitive bomb in existence, one that was in fact even in GW1 already, and then to also have a remote land mine with beeping noises just seems too disparate for one class to have. After all… there isn’t actually much functional difference between the two other than the fact that a remote mine is just plain more useful and advanced.
Now, to be fair, there are a number of rationalizations I can give for this LED thing. The first is just a lore explanation that the red light is an Asuran power crystal or some such thing, and the beeping is magical. Sure, that sort of violates the principle of the non-magical Engineer, but if he isn’t the one using the magic and it is instead baked into his bombs… I can let it slide. The second rationalization, and likely the key one, is that it’s for game balance. Those mines could be really hard to see in a dark area, and they do seem pretty darn strong. They want a way for people to be able to make educated decisions about whether they are going to blow themselves up, or at least that they have a good chance to. I can totally get behind this, it just changes they way they will be used. Instead of being a surprise explosion to the face, they will instead be used for zone control. When the enemy knows where it is stupid to go, you in fact can force them into fewer and more predictable options. In TF2, the demoman’s sticky grenades are a classic example of this. Blow them up and you might kill one guy, then the next comes through the door. Keep them visible but hard to hit, and suddenly 5 guys will stop using that pathway altogether because they know that whoever does go through will get killed. This limits the avenues of attack to a much smaller number and funnels all of their team into your heavies and pyros who excel in narrow-corridor combat. If all of that isn’t enough to subdue some people, honestly, how much will it bother you when you are playing the Engineer? Truly? In the video, they show it zoomed in right next to the mine- of course that is going to seem intrusive to your mood. Will you really notice it in the heat of battle such that it bothers you? I doubt it.
The turrets break immersion. At least that’s what some people say. Immersion is one of those really fickle things. To start with, everyone has a different tolerance for suspension of disbelief. To some, the idea of being able to survive 2 sword thrusts to the chest is far too immersion breaking. To others, the idea of having the chainmail bikini is too immersion breaking (nobody would wear that!). Others can look at those things and say “Eh, heroic fantasy MMO, standard fare” but still have problems with the immersion word. A big part of the problem is that the Engineer is being touted as non-magical. It is a user of gadgets, kind of like Batman, just a dude with all the right tools and a penchant for kicking ass. Given that description, most who can accept Batman would have a problem if he whipped out a mounted machine gun from behind his belt- it just couldn’t have been there! As implausible as always having the right doo-hickey might seem, it is impossible to accept Hammer Space (you know, how Wiley Coyote can always find a hammer behind his back) as plausible unless they give you a real reason to. Examples of plausible explanations would be a magical Bag of Holding or Portable Hole in DnD. Sci-fi films and shows have had advanced technology that can fold down or change size such that it could be hidden, like in say Transformers.
Regardless, Engineers have no such explanation. The turret just appears out of thin air, and the rub is that it non-magically appears from thin air. The Elementalist can create meteors because it’s magic. I know, kind of a double standard, but those are sort of the rules that ANet made- magic makes anything possible, non-magic is in some ways bound by our suspension of disbelief. There is also the issue of “magical” targeting with the turrets, but again, we’ll just pretend it is using some Asuran Tageting Crystal or some such thing. Man Asura are convenient immersion scapegoats! Honestly, I give zero f***s about this issue. If weapons and arrows can materialize from nowhere and a dude can get stabbed over and over and over again, I can let the Engineer have his little sentry gun. He should just be glad I’m not playing Spy.
There were even more people that had all manner of complaints about the Engineer. I’m not even going to get into them because most of them are pretty minor compared to the other two I just discussed at length. Overall, I think the biggest problem is that they have such a disparate array of technology. They don’t feel unified in their aesthetic. Why use a barrel with gunpowder when you have remote landmines? The technology of the latter vastly outclasses the former. It would be like using a flintlock pistol in serious combat, then planting some C4 around the enemies and setting up laser tripwires while you watch the door with your assault rifle. One of these things is not like the others, and it is obvious. Between all the different kinds of explosions and their tech levels, the sometimes strange weapon attacks like glue shot (which is cool, but still kind of weird), and the fact that it is hard to mesh anything Asuran with Charr and come out looking cohesive, I can see the problems. Personally, they pretty much don’t bug me all that much. If people don’t like them, don’t play them. If they don’t like looking at them, well I’m sorry, but to be honest its just time to grow up. Engineers will be in the game, deal with it. I understand not liking something visually and it bothering you, I really do. I feel the same way about mounts in most games out there- that they destroy the aesthetic and any sense of immersion. If I had the option, I would prefer that a given MMO didn’t have them. I recognize though that it’s the same thing I have just said, and I don’t sit around complaining all damn day about them being in another game. Giving input on preference while something is being developed is one thing, but once it’s done, it’s done. If you can’t handle it that’s your own issue.
Exhale. Back to the mechanics of weapons
It bears(haha) mentioning that while most professions have two weapon sets that can be active, the Engineer and the Elementalist only have one. Both professions must choose wisely which skills they value when selecting a weapon because they can’t have an alternate set. They of course are compensated by other class features that give them access to a huge number of alternate weapon skills.
The Engineer is the only profession so far that can use both pistols and rifles, as well as the only profession that can use both pistols and shields. In fact, the pistol is the only one-handed on-hand weapon they can use. The spam skill is Explosive Shot, a skill that explodes on impact. Whether that explosion is just for flavor or it can damage multiple enemies close together I don’t know. Dart Volley and Static Shot poison and blind the target (respectively) on impact. As a primary weapon, it is pretty versatile in control options.
The off-hand slots are occupied by either a second pistol or a shield. The off-hand pistol provides an immobilize via a ground area (Glue Shot) and a Flamethrower shot. The shield provides a really cool skill called Absorb. It can absorb an enemy projectile and then let the Engineer fire the projectile back for awhile. The other skill is Deploy Ballistic Barrier which can intercept enemy projectiles. It seems actually pretty Guardian-esque.
The only other weapon Engineers can directly use is the rifle. The rifle skills are fairly diverse and sort of provide an all-range fighting style. When the enemy is far away, Hip Shot can be spammed on the run. If they start to move towards you, Net Shot will immobilize them. Once in close, Blunderbuss operates like a shotgun, firing a cone that does more damage the closer they are. When it is time to make a dramatic exit, Overcharged shot will shoot them, knock them back, and knock you back as well. To round out the skills, Jump Shot lets you rocket jump to a selected area and deal damage. Great to follow up with a Blunderbuss shot or to use right after Overcharged Shot to get further away. Overall the rifle is a more offense oriented weapon instead of the support and control provided by the pistols and the shield.
Kits and what they do
All professions in GW2 have 5 weapon skills and 5 other skills. The other skills are comprised of one heal, one elite, and three utility skills. In the utility and healing skill slots an Engineer can place kits. These kits can be toggled on and off to act as a sort of alternate weapon set. When toggled on, the first 5 skills (weapon skills) are changed to new skills based on the kit selected. The cooldown on switching is relatively low, encouraging a Swiss army knife approach to combat. Of the kits available, there are two weapon kits focused more on offense and five backpack kits which are more specialized in their applications.
Pyro! That’s right, the Engineer can use a flamethrower. I mean, say what you will about the aesthetic concerns, but flamethrower. How awesome is that? Flame Jet is an on-the move skill that sprays a cone of fire in front of you, damaging multiple foes. Sort of the bread and butter skill of the kit, very W+M1 if you know what I mean. Flame Blast fires off a rolling projectile that eventually explodes, I assume doing decent damage given its lack of other features. Air Blast actually seems to work pretty much just like TF2- it knocks back and interrupts enemies and can reflect enemy projectiles. I foresee this being really annoying to some ranged professions. Napalm lays down a wall of fire that burns and blinds foes within it. I foresee this being a really popular group skill between the shoot-through-fire effect, forced movement, immobilize/stuns, and the fact that it messes up enemies with blind. Rounding out the skills is Backdraft which pulls enemies toward the Engineer (I actually typed pyro and noticed 5 minutes later >_>). Both Air Blast and Backdraft can combo well with Napalm, allowing the Engi to repeatedly proc the blind and burning one enemies without giving them much choice in the matter.
The other weapon kit is for all you alchemists out there. The Elixir Kit specializes in granting/inflicting buffs/status effects respectively. The offensive attack inflicts random conditions to multiple enemies, the defensive skill buffs allies randomly. I’m not sure what the recharges look like on those skills nor do I know if there are more than 2. It seems that, while encompassing a cohesive theme, the elixirs are… well too random. I’m never really fond of random effects but if they are on a short enough cooldown, I suppose it could be decent.
Bomb Kits provide a variety of timed explosives that appear to inflict AoE damage and status conditions. Burning, dazing, blinding and immobilizing are all effects provided by the various bombs. My estimation is that the bomb kit will be a great addition to add a strong amount of control to the Engineer. Blind, immobilize and daze are all very strong conditions to be able to have at your disposal at any time.
Similar to the Bomb Kits, Grenades provide more AoE damage and conditions. I believe they explode on impact or shortly thereafter. The Grenades can inflict bleeding, blind, chill and poison. I see a lot of overlap between the Bomb and Grenade Kits. Depending on how well conditions stack with one another for damage, the Grenade Kit may play well with other condition-based damage dealers. Alternatively, the on-demand nature of faster explosions might also make Grenades more usable in PvP.
The healing slot for the Engineer can be filled with the Med Kit which allows the Engineer to throw out health packs. The Mine Kit lets you lay out multiple mines which I think have been discussed rather thoroughly in look and feel previously. Another similarity to TF2 is in the Tool Kit which gives the Engineer a wrench and gives it the ability to support any Turrets it might have active. Gotta’ move that gear up!
Finally, there are the Turrets. Turrets are stationary objects that automatically target and attack enemies in the area, or in the case of the Healing Turret will heal allies. The Engineer is also able to pick up and move the Turrets. Evoking a play-style reminiscent of the Ritualist, the Turrets add yet another layer of depth to the Engineer, especially given that they are fighting for competing space with Kits and other utility skills.
As alluded to earlier, the Kits are one of the unique mechanics that really make the life of an Engineer complicated. Being able to have up to 5 effective weapon sets (one weapon set + 3 utility + healing slot) that can have a huge variance in usage will make the selection and usage of Kits quite important. Will it be feasible to use a full 4 Kits, or will it be better to stick with one or two and supplement other utility skills.
Tied direction to the Kits is the Tool Belt (not to be confused with the Tool Kit). The Tool Belt is the “F-skill” (F1-4) that each profession has, like Adrenaline for the Warrior or Virtues for the Guardian. The Tool Belt has skills based on which Kits you have in your load-out (not active, just on your skill bar). These skills are related to the Kits and either provide an extra attack or some logical ability tied to the Kit. For example, when using the Mine Kit, the Engi can choose to detonate a specific mine. If however the Engi has laid out some mines and switched back to the rifle, the Tool Belt provides a Detonate All button to blow all the mines at once. Having a Grenade Kit grants a Grenade Barrage to the Tool Belt.
Aside from community QQ over the aesthetics, I think this will be an amazing profession. I’m worried the complexity might produce a lot of bad Engineers, but complexity is something that some players thrive on.
Why this profession is for you
If you like to lay out complex tactical plans and shape the battlefield to be optimal for you and your team, the Engineer has a special place for you. If you like being a primarily ranged-only profession with lots of conditions and lots of reasons to make enemies want to stay away, there should be a lot of appeal here for you. If you want a flamethrower, this is definitely the profession for you.