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Guild Wars 2 Previews: The Engineer Preview

By William Murphy on February 28, 2012

Most of my time during the recent Guild Wars 2 Closed Beta weekend was spent with my Norn Engineer.  I couldn’t get enough of the guy once I realized how many wicked choices to lay down destruction he had.  The Engineer is all about traps, bombs, things that go boom and ways to crowd control and burn down your opponents’ health over time.  Basically, you’re like Batman but with a utility belt that makes Bruce Wayne look like an underfunded amateur inventor.  The class is one that will require a lot of experimentation, but there’s a different flavor of Engineer for everyone too: from pistols to rifles, to turrets, bombs, grenades, flamethrowers, and more.  It’ll take some time for you to find your niche, but the beauty is… you never have to pick just one.  The ability to swap between toolkit load-outs makes you a roving death machine and it is glorious.

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THE WEAPONS

I managed to level my Norn Engineer to 16 before the beta event’s end, and I have to say that it was easily one of the more complicated professions I experienced in the game.  There’s a lot going on with each profession in GW2, and the Engineer is no different.  There are about nine bazillion (real number) ways to play the class, but probably the most straightforward part of the Engy will be his weapons.  You can wield a rifle, two pistols, or a pistol and a shield and each offers different capabilities.  For instance the rifle gives you the ability to cast a net on a single target, holding them motionless for a few seconds.  The dual-pistols allows you to lay down a glue trap AOE that can hold several, meanwhile the shield and pistol is more focused on defensive capabilities.


The way weapons work in GW2, your main-hand weapon determines your first three skills, while the off-hand weapon determines four and five (two-handed weapons take up all five).  This is a novel approach to the way weapons work, and it also seems to mean (at least at this time) that you won’t be able to move around your keybinds all that much when it comes to the hotbar.  But we’ll see how that evolves in the beta.  Meanwhile, keys 6-0 are for your profession skills, and these can be swapped around quite a bit in terms of where they lay on the hotbar.

In any case, I really loved the rifle the most on the Engineer.  Starting combat with a net snare and then waiting until they got close and blowing them back 20 feet with a “blunderbuss” knockback (which also knocks you back to create more room between you and the enemy) was a lot of fun.  Though there’s a lot to be said for the dual-pistol wielding, because of the glue trap and the flame-blowing skill that come with it.  The shield seems like more an option for wishful “tanks” in the Engineer role, or solo players who want a little extra defense.  It basically puts up a ward, and of the three options was the least useful to me. 

One final note? Engineers don’t get the weapons swap at level seven like the rest of the professions.  That’s because instead their skills revolve a great deal around their toolkits, which essentially replace the weapons with something far more awesome.

THE TOOLS OF THE TRADE

There are a lot of skills to play around with on the Engineer, mainly because of the Toolkits idea.  Like the Elementalist’s schools of magic, the toolkits basically replace the main weapons for the Engy on the hotbar.  The use of such toolkits can be placed on numbers 7-0 on the hotbar, and in theory you could be an all toolkit-wielding Engineer.  Chances are though; you’ll stick to one that’s your favorite.  There are grenades, mines, bombs, and even flamethrowers.  As you can tell from the videos attached, I really enjoyed the flamethrower.  It’s a high damage-output toolkit, with some great single and multi-target abilities like a wall of fire that other classes can send projectiles through or can be used to burn a bunch of enemies at once.  It also has a sort of “grapple” skill called “Backdraft” that will pull a target into range, leaving them wide open for the fury of your fire and any other players’ who might be around you. 

The bombs were another toolkit I played around with, and I found them extremely useful when on the move or running from an enemy whether human or AI.  More meant for close-quarter combat, they could be the perfect toolkit for someone who likes to play the Engy close to the battle (perhaps with the shield in-hand?).  But laying down timed explosives as you run away is a great way to make sure you live to fight another day, and if you delve into the Traits for explosives, you eventually get the ability to drop a bomb every time you dodge… which works wonders for supplemental damage as well.


In total, I found the Engineer to be a lot of fun, and very much about movement, location, and strategy.  The flamethrower became my weapon of choice, but as you level higher and unlock more skills, I can see some turret builds, landmine builds, and even grenade builds really laying waste to people in PVP.  The healing skills of the Engineer are great for the group too, with a healing turret becoming an option with just two skill points, and I’d say it’s essential to take this one early on.  I don’t know what profession I’ll be playing at launch, but I can tell you for certain that the Engineer is on the shortlist.  There’s just so much you can do with one, that the possibilities seem endless.

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