I’ve been playing around with Engineer in Guild Wars 2 (GW2) for the past few days, my first hands-on time with the class since launch.
Part of the reason I was curious about Engineer is the broad perception that it’s an underpowered class, and the mechanics with the tool belt and kits create a very different playstyle relative to most of the GW2 classes. It’s worth pointing out that the majority opinion on classes and balance is often off-the-mark; e.g. Elementalist was broadly considered underpowered for the first several months post-launch, even moreso after the blast finisher nerf to the Evasive Arcana trait back in mid November, but I think we all realize know that there are some strong Elementalist specs.
Given that I’ve been playing Elementalist since Christmas, I figured that the adjustment to playing with more than two sets of weapon skills with Engineer wouldn’t be that big of a deal. What has been awkward is getting used to the activation of kits, given that the kits are slotted on utility and healing skill slots. Activating kits is very non-punishing: there is no swap-activated cooldown, so if you make a mistake switching to/from a kit, you can immediately switch back (and you can leverage this fact to trigger on-swap traits and sigils). However, for UI design consistency I would have preferred to see kits slotted on the profession bar, similar to attunements for Elementalists, as that seems more intuitive to me. On the one hand, I can rationalize my perspective because I tried Ele first, but the more I think about it, there really aren’t any other classes that have weapon (kit) switching based on healing or utility slots, as Engy does.
My point here is that the design of the Engineer class creates a unique learning curve from a control perspective. This creates an unnecessary hurdle to player performance – it’s going to be harder for players to get comfortable with Engy compared to other classes. Consider for example Guardian and Mesmer – these are popular classes and the way their profession skill bar is implemented is conceptually similar, so swapping between characters is straightforward. Just so I’m clear: I like the idea of having multiple kits to slot, but I don’t like the design of the controls, especially when compared to the other classes.
At any rate, the positive implication of being able to select multiple kits is that you can come up with a wide diversity of specs and capabilities. For example, here are two videos of very different setups:
- The 1st video, shared by Maskaganda, features an Engy with zero kits, Pistol/Pistol and elixirs
- The 2nd video, shared by mischwoof, features a tanky Engy built for close-quarters combat
Aside from the controls, there are several aspects that I like about the Engineer class:
- The diversity of damaging conditions (bleeds, burning, confusion, poison)
- The ease of sustaining quality-of-life and combat boons such as Swiftness. E.g. 10 points in the Tools trait line gives you access to the on-demand swiftness trait Speedy Kits, and you can pair this up with 10 points in Alchemy for the on-demand vigor trait Invigorating Speed. It’s important to note that Speedy Kits is far more useful from a mechanics perspective than most swiftness-granting abilities and boons, because these are often tied to abilities with meaningful cooldowns (e.g. Warrior’s Signet of Rage elite ability), so if the boon gets peeled off you, it sucks
- The number of AOE options available
I’m still in the process of messing around with different Engineer specs in sPvP and thinking about whether I want to commit the time/money to leveling the class to 80. You can create some interesting tank specs with Engy, and that appeals to me.
I’d welcome your thoughts on the Engineer class, so please share ‘em.
P.S. I played a variant of TANKCAT, same slot skill selection, and with an emphasis on reactive boons (Protection and Retaliation). Here’s the spec: http://www.intothemists.com/calc/?build=-VRw;2sPFw0u5FQFx0;9;69TT;40;005957AN.
I also tried some Flamethrower (FT) builds with the Juggernaut and Deadly Mixture traits, but it felt more limited compared to other specs.