I am by no means an expert on Guild Wars 2’s Engineer class. This last beta weekend, I spent roughly 40 games testing a number of different builds and roles in structured PvP. I also spent a few hours leveling, though admittedly not very far into the game.
I walked away from this weekend with mixed feelings on the class. On the one hand, the Engineer’s versatility and style were top notch. I loved having the ability to throw out heals and buffs, or the variety of damage ranges I could work from. I also really enjoyed the blending of steampunk and mad scientist aesthetics, both of which come through very well in the myriad of potions, effects, and weaponry that were at my disposal.
However, the class never felt as effective as I wanted it to be. Part of the class’s core concept is utilizing weapon and device kits as utility abilities design to give you sudden new role in battle. But for any of these unique kits to really shine, you have to specialize in them. Even if you don’t specialize, they take up a utility slot while not in use.
In addition, it felt very strange that the primary gun profession in GW2 has perhaps no real range on their rifle. The entire setup of their rifle kit is getting in and out of close range to utilize what is essentially a shotgun blast. I won’t say it isn’t fun to pull this combo off correctly, because it is actually fun. However, it doesn’t feel anything like a rifle, and when compared to the Warrior’s Rifle Kit or the range on a specced Ranger’s longbow (both of which I played this weekend as well), it feels god awful.
The issues I have with the rifle kit and my problems with needing to specialize too much in the unique kits bring to light a broader, more overall problem with the Engineer. Despite a stellar aesthetic and some really fun mechanics overall, the class feels more like a mish-mash of abilities that didn’t quite work for other classes, thrown into a pool of things that are 100% unique to the Engineer, but that are also 100% underdeveloped. In their versatility, the Engineer fails to really shine because of the set in stone limitations of the games traiting and limited action bar features which prevent them from truly doing a little bit of everything.
Here are a few suggestions I would make to really improve, streamline, and re-build the class into proper play and balance:
Instead of unarmed kits versus armed kits, the dichotomy should be permanent kits, which would act and be utilized as the Engineer’s second weapon set, versus temporary kits, which would be powerful utility skills that temporarily replace your weapon to give you a new role or increase your versatility.
For example, Flamethrower should be a permanent weapon that has to be traited like any other weapon set and is accessed via the tilde key (switching weapon sets) rather than as a Utility skill. The Mine Kit, however, would remain a Utility skill, but be limited by an amount of charges. After those charges are used, the Utility skill goes on cooldown and you return to your last equipped weapon.
This would serve a few key purposes. It gives the Engineer an answer to the question of “why don’t we get a secondary weapon set?” without forcing ArenaNet to add in shotguns, flamethrowers, and rocket launchers as weapon sets available to EVERY class. It makes specialization in these actually permanent sets seem more reasonable and more in line with how the game is currently designed. It also frees up Utility skill space for weapon sets that, by their very nature, should never be intended to replace an every day weapon.
Turrets need some serious love to be made useful. I usually hate turret classes in MMO. It is rarely done in a way that doesn’t over-penalize the player (long turret cooldowns, no options for mobility) for minimal gain (weak turret damage, weak turret utility). The Engineer’s turrets are no exception in Guild Wars 2 because they barely tickle, force the player to sit in one spot, are too weak if they ever get focused, and go on a far too long cooldown if you try to move them.
Turrets should be far more flexible. If you pick up a turret, it should be put in your pocket, ready for immediate use (i.e. no cooldown). If you want, have it retain the same health you picked it up with, so to balance out those Engineers who brave death to rescue their turrets by putting them in their rather deep tool bag. When the turret dies, the skill goes on a rather lengthy cooldown.
OR, when you pick up a turret, you actually pick it up and gain a new weapon set. In a way, they would be like the Warrior’s banners, which are especially awesome when you start beating people in the head with them.
Turrets should be more focused. I think 6 is too many. I’d rather see four overall. I think you keep Healing Turret, Rocket Turret, Rifle Turret, and combine Net and Thumper into a better control-based turret. Instead of detonating a turret being the same across the board, they would all detonate in unique ways.
Healing Turret would explode and do a combination of its Burst Heal and leave behind a temporary field of strong healing. Rocket Turret would drop out an oversized rocket (to add to the humor of the class, it could just drop to the ground a roll a bit) that would explode in a brilliant large radius. Rifle Turret would turn automatic until it overheats and melts downs (literally, melts down at that). The Control Turret would provide a large circle radius aoe knockback that ends in a very brief immobilize (from the netting).
Tool Kit should be a permanent weapon kit that makes babysitting and maintaining turrets a viable build. I think the Tool Kit would work if you made it a mix of wrench melee and melee-to-medium single-handed shotgunning.
You keep the 1 ability, but significantly boost its ability to repair turrets to the extent that a turret being focused by any combination of TWO professions cannot out damage the healing being done by the Engineer. That healing comes naturally at the price of the Engineer being focused on one very specific role and one very specific turret. I might also add a trait that allows the Engineer to temporarily boost the power of the turret whenever he repairs it. This could create a neat little “whack-a-mole” game for the Engineer trying to area deny effectively.
The number 2 could be changed to a blast of nails from a shotgun. It would effectively do the same thing, but look a little cooler.
The number 3 and 5 can remain, though the latter should definitely be a very strong shotgun blast. Also, perhaps instead of a launch, just a knockdown that lasts longer the closer you are to the blast. The blast could even pierce.
The number 4 though needs to remain defensive in nature, but I would like to see it also focus a special shot from each turret within range to that one location. Sort of like a laser targeting, but one you use on yourself to ward off the enemy.
Finally, the Rifle needs to be made into a true ranged option. I get it, it is a fun kit, but man does it feel out of place. Worse, it feels like it is taking up a spot where a real ranged weapon should be. I don’t necessarily want a ranged weapon that out ranges the Ranger’s longbow for lore reasons, but I do find it just a bit silly that the Warrior’s rifle set is so much superior in range and quality to that of the Engineer. It is made even worse in the current game because the Engineer’s weapon choices are so incredibly limited (Pistol + Pistol, Pistol + Shield, or Rifle).
I believe that the Grenade kit is very close in range to the Rifle kit, and can exceed the Rifle kit if you specced for improved Grenade range. Given, their is a trait for improved Rifle range, but that means our two longest ranged options have to be traited to even approach being truly long-ranged. This is absurd given the class has a large number of abilities that are rocket propelled. You would think that launching something really, really far would be a chief pursuit of the sort of science at the Engineer’s employ.
The 1 should be changed to ‘No Scope’ (for all you FPS fans) and have a base range of 1200. The 2, Net Shot, can remain as a 1000 range if 1200 feels overpowered for a two second immobilize. The 3 ability needs a complete change. I vote for a 1200 ranged AOE that shoots a scatter of bullets in a cone, but hurts more if you take all of it. For League fans, imagine Miss Fortune’s ultimate but with Grave’s shotgun blast. The 4 is fine, but remove the penalty (maybe add a trait where knockdown and knockback effects are improved, but also effect you negatively). The 5 should be changed to Kill Shot. Roots you in place similarly to the Warrior’s adrenaline ability for the rifle, but does less overall damage in exchange for a “if it kills, it immediately refreshes” feature.
I apologize for the length of this article, but I do believe the Engineer needs some fundamental change to make a better rounded character for all types of play in GW2, not just WvW and healing in PvE. If you have any rebuttals, other suggestions, or just want to talk about your own Engineer experiences thus far in the game, please leave me a comment. I love the feedback and discourse that competent MMO class reviews can create.