I've always been a hybrid class-lover in MMOs. From my LotRO captain to my WoW druid, I love versatility and having lots of options in combat. I want to be able switch up my role on the fly as required, and even if I'm not as good at it as a dedicated class, I love the feeling that I can fit into any group and contribute in a number of different ways. I just get bored if all I'm supposed to do is pew-pew the enemy and chip away at his health bar for 10 minutes.
Guild Wars 2 doesn't have a trinity like other MMOs, and most builds are geared for DPS, DPS, and more DPS. That's made it harder to play and enjoy a more versatile build and probably explains why engineers have always been perceived as the underpowered red-headed stepchildren of the game. And it doesn't help that, until a certain pint-sized asura came along, their most prominent representative was an insane sylvari villain. Who had red hair. Or flowers. Whatever those were.
Still, I love my engineer, who's my co-main along with my necromancer. And, true to my usual form, I eschew the typical DPS builds like grenades and flamethrower, and go all in with elixirs, playing her with a buffing/healing build in PvE that still can do reasonable damage and stay alive for extended periods of time. I like to think that, just as with any hybrid/support class, it's not about the big numbers I put up but how I help other players put up big numbers. I know that my HGH-fueled might stacks and healing fields from my Elixir Gun are helping my comrades, even if I can't see the results directly.
In PvP, I play a somewhat more traditional bunker build with turrets galore. I'm not going to claim that I have great builds, but it's a tribute to the engineer's versatility that there are several different ways to play and that they all feel different while still being fairly effective. It's not the engineer's fault that the game favors DPS so much.
There are situations where DPS isn't as much of a necessity, and that's when I love my engi even more. The Mai Trin boss fight and the Queen's Gauntlet Liadri fight are/were two examples where I felt like my engineer is at a sizable advantage over other, more squishy, classes, and things should only get better. If ArenaNet can pull off what it's promising with Heart of Thorns, with expanded roles for different character builds, then my engineer should be right at home in whatever the situation calls for.
All this being said, I've run basically the same build on my engineer for about two years now. If I wanted to switch, I'd have to shuffle out most of my gear and then re-do my traits, which is one of my least-favorite things to do in any MMO, especially if I think I'll want to switch back and forth. I wish every MMO had a system like Rift's or LotRO's, where you could swap out your builds at the push of a button. (Even better would be a way to do that with gear, but I understand that that could be a little messier.)
I know that sounds like I'm going against my whole “fit into any role” philosophy from earlier, but I have so many alts that I've tended to just play different characters when I want something more purely DPS-oriented. I don't have much desire for another necromancer or guardian, but I've got concepts in mind for at least two other engineers, one that would be the traditional DPS/grenade type and another that would be a full-time, hammer-wielding scrapper.
Ah, the scrapper. I've been waiting for this reveal ever since I saw the hammer-and-gyro engineer in the original Heart of Thorns trailer, and so far, it doesn't look like it'll disappoint. A strong auto-attack, leaping, lightning, defense, gyros each with their own use... yeah, I can go for that. If you're one of those, “I hate that GW2 only has 10 skills, I want all my MMOs to have about 382 buttons to press!” give some thought to playing an engineer, so you have all those neat tool belt skills to use. (Or elementalist, but we're not talking about them now!)
The problem is... I've got three-fourths of the Predator built, all but the precursor, and I've wanted to have it on my engineer pretty much from day one. When HoT hits, I'll immediately go after the precursor, the Hunter, and then... I don't know. Keep my current build? Go scrapper with a rifle and gyros? But then what about my elixirs? I can't live without them! Maybe I'll do rifle PvE and hammer PvP... or maybe finally make one of those alts... I'll figure it out. Heck, if I can build exploding rocket turrets, I can figure anything out!
So the next time you're in a group with an engineer, don't blame him or her for not bring max DPS. Thank that person for sacrificing personal glory to make the rest of the team look good. If you do that for me, I'll brew you up an Elixir X milkshake.
Jason Winter is the semi-proud owner of an underwater legendary weapon. You can find him on Twitter @winterinformal. Also, make sure to check out his girlfriend's adorable Guild Wars 2 charms on her etsy shop!