Lewis B Editorial: Black Sheep

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Lewis B has a nice editorial about the engineer in GW2. If you are a fan of the profession then you may extremely enjoy this. I ran across some Engineers in WvWvW in the BWE and the “Stress Test Monday” and they can deal some damage if used correctly.

 

I hope you enjoy this article and thank you Lewis B and guildwars2hub.com for keeping the GW2 Player Nation well informed.

 

http://www.guildwars2hub.com/features/editorials/black-sheep

 

Black Sheep

 
May 18, 2012 – 1:29pm — Lewis B
Guild Wars 2 Engineer

I could count on one hand the number of Engineers I’ve seen in my time playing Guild Wars 2. Perhaps I’m unfortunate to not encounter more, but I find myself shouting with excitement when I do encounter one. When I ask the player how he or she finds the profession, as I always do, I’ve never received any response other than “It’s OK”. Hardly a ringing endorsement.

The Engineer is often seen as a convoluted profession that stands unique against all others. Kits, Tool belt skills, turrets, elixirs with random properties and no second weapon are a melting pot of ideas and influences and all, to some degree, play a key part in bringing the profession into some sort of odd cohesion.

At times I can understand the lack of enthusiasm around the profession. The clash of ideas and aesthetics are at times confusing. Is it an eccentric alchemist, with its use of chemical elixirs or is it technology based with its use of flamethrowers and turrets? Does it really need either?

Part of my primary complaint with the Engineer is that the profession has spread itself so thinly across so many avenues that I’m not sure anyone knows what its true purpose is. Many of the principal design decisions behind the Engineer, however, I believe are functional and reasonably refreshing.

Being restricted to only one weapon set at a time, while seemingly dull in comparison to the Elementalist, is more than acceptable in the knowledge that you technically have at your disposal 4 kits and 2 additional weapons sets (Bomb, Grenade, Medical and Mine Kit as well as Elixir Gun, Flamethrower and Tool Kit).

In addition, you also have access to 6 turrets, all entirely unique in their damage dealing, 5 elixirs that all serve individual purposes, from invulnerability to guaranteed boons or group revival, and 4 gadget skills that aim to free you from or prevent you being stunned.

The choices before a player when entering the Mists for the first time are incredibly daunting and the options, when combined with traits are seemingly endless. However, it quickly becomes apparent that there are gaping flaws in the engineer’s current skill sets and design and that beginning to rectify them is a task I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.

Weapon Skills

Overall, I would consider I’m relatively happy with the standard weapons available. The rifle is strange in that it acts more as a close quarter tool than the long-range equivalent of the Warriors and subsequently turns the Engineer into a midline fighter, leaving the profession with no true long range option for World versus World. Skills such as overcharged shot also, at times, feel like they punish the Engineer unnecessarily when alternative profession such as the ranger have risk free knockbacks (overcharged shot launches you as well as your opponent back a great distance). Jump Shot is also in need of some fine tuning as the animation is often slow to trigger and pathing in the air is often a little shaky.

Where the pistol (and dual wielding pistols) is concerned, unlike the raw direct damage afforded by the rifle, it leans more into the realms of relying on condition damage and attrition, rather than through Power or Precision alone. Its use of bleeds, burns and poisons are at times incredibly limiting and based on the volume of skills available to other professions, can quickly be removed, resulting in a significant damage loss if that were to happen.

As the only mainhand weapon useable with the shield (which is easily the best weapon available to the Engineer), you’re left with no options as to how you deal your damage from your main hand if you dislike kits or feel you cannot spare a skill slot to equip them. Evening out the pistol so that each of it skills is first and foremost direct damage, comparable to that of the rifle, would go some way in reducing an engineers need to unnecessarily stack condition damage and thus spreading itself even thinner.

Weapon Kits

I believe all the weapon kits available to the Engineer are, in some form, in desperate need of change or revision and that based on this, I currently avoid using them. Principally, I believe that the Engineer at level 7, just like every other profession, should unlock a second weapon slot. Once the player has unlocked either the Elixir Gun, Flamethrower or Tool Kit skills, the individual can then equip one of these as their second weapon, without sacrificing a skill slot.

This would really lend itself to supporting those who choose a turret playstyle (who would obviously equip Tool Kit, to be able to repair them) or pistol and shield (who are potentially seeking the support provided by Elixir Gun or more offensive play of the Flamethrower).

It could be argued that the ability to equip multiple kits and thus gain access to dozens of new skills shouldn’t permit a second weapon set, but this unnecessary restriction (and mindset) only serves to reinforce the convoluted image of the profession.

The fundamental question we need to ask ourselves is would it really unbalance the profession to see it have a second weapon set, determined by a single weapon kit of your choosing? Any other kits the player wanted access to would then be at the cost of a skill slot.

In terms of physical skills, all weapon kits need a damage increase across the board, with all three dealing pitiful numbers. The Tool Kit in particular is at times woefully inadequate; Smack damage is too low, though the turret repair is a wonderful nod to Team Fortress 2. Box of Nails is entirely unimaginative, has too smaller radius and lasts too little time (2 seconds, really?). Magnet is notably worse than Backdraft but does blend well with Pry Bar. Gear shield is excellent though its cooldown feels overly long and finally Pry Bar’s cooldown is far too long, especially in comparison to Air Blast. This leaves the question; “why take Tool Kit over Flamethrower?”

Where the Elixir Gun and Flamethrower are concerned, the Elixir Gun in particular really needs Tranquilizer Dart revising so that it deals a good punch of damage but also causes weakness and vulnerability, rather than a random chance of either. The other skills I really enjoy, but they still require a huge damage increase leaving the weapon almost exclusive to a group use only.

The changes I would make to Flamethrower are that it should cause burning by default across all its skills (why on earth do I need to trait this?) but also have Flame Blast fire directly at my target rather than have it in its current form, as an inaccurate lumbering boulder that often explodes having passed your opponent by. I would also increase the range of all the skills. Flamethrowers are capable of firing across great distances.

Finally, I would like to see all Kits (including devices) remember that I’ve set skill 1 to auto-attack as default. It’s incredibly frustrating to equip the flamethrower, set skill 1 to auto attack only to have to re-set it every time I’ve unequipped the weapon.

Device Kits

Most of the device kits serve a purpose, though there are problems with all of them. The first change I would recommend is that the Grenade Kit should function similarly to the Necromancers staff, by removing the ground targeting from skill 1 (Grenade) while retaining the ground targeting element of skills 2 to 5. Grenade should, when used, fly at your target similar to any other player projectile but cause a minor AOE explosion (similar to Explosive Shot). This would add much needed mobility to the Kit. I would also like to see, when using quick-casting and holding the right mouse button the cursor remain on the screen. It’s currently impossible, in its current form, to see where you are aiming as the cursor disappears.

Mine Kit and Bomb Kit I would like to see merged, though the name Mine Kit retained. Mines are OK for defending an area but are time consuming to lay, deal poor damage and the kit itself actually a little boring. In contrast, Bomb Kit’s utility is wonderful but the playstyle enforced by it (dropping them at your feet with them on a very short timer) makes for a very clumsy, hit and miss method of fighting. It feels incredibly impractical to run around placing bombs at your feet in the hopes someone stays in the blast radius. I see it as a much more practical solution for each individual Mine to have the properties of Bomb Kit (Mine, Fire Mine, Concussion Mine, Smoke Mine, Glue Mine).

This would still allow those who want to protect an area the opportunity to lay down defences, but would also still allow those who enjoy the uglier method of dropping bombs at their feet to do so (the mines would instantly explode the moment anyone was in their radius).

As for Med Kit? That’s just great as it is.

Guild Wars 2 Engineers

Turrets

I have several issues with turrets. The first is that Detonate needs to remain on the skill bar, and the overcharge needs to move to the Utility bar (F1-F4). This would then allow turrets to benefit from Ingenuity. Secondly, I would like to see the cooldown of re-using a turret after you’ve picked it up significantly reduced. At the moment, picking up your turrets doesn’t feel like enough of an incentive when it only results in a 50% cooldown, especially when a fight could break out seconds later and leaving you with two unusable skill slots. I don’t believe a cooldown of 5 seconds, after picking up your turret, is too unreasonable (the overcharge cooldown would remain the same).

Thirdly, a rate of fire increase for all turrets and a damage increase would be more than welcome. It is currently agonising waiting for Rocket Turret or Net Turret to fire and really undermines their use.

As an addition to the line-up and for something a little different, what about a Shield Turret? Acting similarly to Magnetic Field it could protect anyone inside the field or could be overcharged to push back foes.

Elixirs

I love Elixirs. I think they are such a fun addition to the profession that really add an instant element of battle hardiness. My problem however is any random element, to any of the elixirs (this includes Elixir X). The prospect of random effects can be approached either positively or negatively. Some people embrace the prospect of the unknown, reacting accordingly. Some dislike the lack of a guarantee and will avoid their use at all costs.

Primarily confined to the Tool belt skills, though Elixir U is guilty, I really have a significant dislike with randomness. In competitive PvP, guarantees and knowing exactly what your skills will do can be seen as a cornerstone in planning and preparation. On too many occasions have I died as a result of Elixir U or Elixir S’ tool belt skill giving me what I didn’t want, rather than what I did.

I shouldn’t when trying to run away from a group of players have to cross my fingers and pray to the gods that Elixir S just might grant me stealth or Elixir U grant me Veil of Invisibility. On the flip side, how am I suppose to adequately support my team with such randomness? I can’t possibly begin to help them through the use of my tool belt skills if what they need is a Smoke Screen, only for me to throw down Veil of Invisibility.

There is a reason that Elixir B is as popular as it is and that’s because it provides three buffs that never change. The tool belt component of the skill however is still as poor as the others. Why not have it provide allies in the area with all three buffs (just like the primary skill) but increase its cooldown or lower the boon duration?

What I think each of these tool belt skills needs (including a total revision of Elixir U) is to have unique, individual skills, specific to the Engineer.

  • Elixir B – Drink Elixir B, gaining fury, might and swiftness.
  • Toss Elixir B – Toss Elixir B granting fury and might to allies in the area.
  • Elixir C – Drink Elixir C, converting all conditions into boons (retaliation, vigor and regeneration)
  • Toss Elixir C – Toss Elixir C, converting one condition into regeneration.
  • Elixir R (remains the same)
  • Elixir S (remains the same)
  • Toss Elixir S – Toss Elixir S granting stealth to all allies in the area.
  • Elixir U – Drink Elixir U gaining Quickening Zephyr and Frenzy
  • Toss Elixir U – Toss Elixir U creating Magnetic Field at your location (the shield will push back foes after 3 seconds)
  • Elixir H – Heal yourself and gain protection and swiftness.
  • Toss Elixir H – Throw Elixir H granting protection and swiftness to allies in the area.

Where Elixir X is concerned, this too suffers the same problems of randomness. Just as you were hoping for Tornado to knock the offending players from a keep wall, you get Plague. Or just as you want to really beat a player down you get Tornado instead of Rampage. Would it not be a better solution to see the Engineer adopt some elements of all these elites, while remaining in Engineer form?

For example, you drink Elixir X:

  • Gain Stability (15s) and Might (15s)
  • Become surrounded by a Locus Swarm (15s) that cripples and bleeds opponents.
  • Your skill bar is replaced with several or similar skills from Tornado and Rampage such as:
  • Skill 1: Chain Lightning
  • Skill 2: Dash
  • Skill 3: Dust Devil
  • Skill 4: Stoning
  • Skill 5: Stomp

Elixir X would then give the Engineer a very offensive based Elite, that shares all the components or influence from all 3 Elites the existing Elixir grants access to, but would still allow you to remain mobile.

To balance it, if that were a concern, you could always keep the health of the Engineer the same (rather than it increasing) similar in functionality to a Rangers Rampage As One.

Final Thoughts

I’ve said a great deal about the Engineer and have tried, in some way, to really reign in some of my thoughts on the profession. This piece could have potentially spiralled into more than twice the length it is now. However, I feel that I’ve gotten across my main concerns about the profession and more than I could have by providing feedback on a forum or bug report. If ArenaNet were to implement what I’ve suggested (though this is all entirely subjective) I would be incredibly happy with the Engineer and feel that it would bring much needed cohesion and competitiveness to the profession. In its current form and based on much of its random play style (unless you ignore Elixirs entirely) I’m not sure it has any chance of competing against its rivals.

Engineer Icon

 

 

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