The third adventurer profession for Guild Wars 2 has been revealed as the engineer, a technology-based profession that uses guns as their base weapons but have a large variety of tools and utilities at their disposal. This class feels like something that will please FPS players and other gamers (or action movie fans), and help to broaden Guild Wars 2’s appeal beyond “people who play MMOs” – although it’s not a move which appeals to me.
The engineer is a very modern-feeling class. I don’t object to this in itself – 250 years after the original Guild Wars, technology has moved on and things like guns are around. The problem I have with the engineer is that the class’s technology doesn’t seem to be evident in anything else in Guild Wars 2 so far, only engineers. The craft started among the Charr of the Iron Legion, which I have no problem believing; the Black Citadel is a cradle of industrialism and it’s not surprising that Charr would take to gunpowder and explosives like Sylvari to trees. While members of other races must have imitated or traded for both weapons and skills, it seems very odd that only engineers use anything like grenades, of turrets, or elixirs. Although the engineer is obviously a lot more grounded in the world than the commando, the profession is almost as removed from what everyone else is doing.
The adventuer professions now are ranger (focusing on pets and localised effects from traps and spirits), thief (with stealth and the ability to spawn temporary weapons by ‘stealing’ them) and engineer. There are certain similiarities: movement and versatility, reliance on environmental factors, and abilities based mostly on technology and technique with very little supernatural influence. As mechanics go, turrets can be conceived of as stationary pets or attacking spirits (harkening back to the ritualist in an obscure way?), and weapon kits are compared to elementalist attunements throughout ArenaNet’s commentary. It’s really the feel of the class, the appearance and theme of it, which don’t fit sufficiently for me and might change how I experience Guild Wars 2.
The actual skill effects discussed are not so unusual. Engineers have mines and grenades, but their effects are area damage, immobilisation, knock-down, and other familiar hindrances. Flamethrowers are equivalent to certain spells in some ways, but given a technological basis rather than a magical/energy one. In hindsight this was pretty much inevitable for this profession, whatever name they gave it, because adventurer professions are partly defined by their reliance on non-magical means. Managing an engineer is something which is going to require practise and probably can’t be conceived of well without getting one’s hands on the interface and trying it out.
Upon reflection, the adventurer classes are probably the most controversial professions in GW2. The ranger is familiar, although pets provide their share of controversy and questions. Both of the really new professions coming from Guild Wars are adventurers, the thief and the engineer – and the theif at least has the assassin to draw from, if only in looks. The guardian is a familiar archetype to us: a paladin, buff-warrior, warrior/monk/paragon. Not so foreign. The engineer draws on a lot more outside the fantasy and RPG genres – commenters have made frequent comparison to Team Fortress (e.g. on this article). ArenaNet really seem to be trying to make the most of their active, movement-based combat ideas with these guys, as well as working to broaden what an MMORPG can and should be.
In the end, I don’t think I’ll be playing an engineer. I do think that I have to obey my own mantra, and trust ArenaNet. Even if it takes some tweaking, I’ll trust that they know what they’re doing, they’ve tested it, and they have reasons for including things one way or another. I like what these guys do! Thus, benefit of the doubt.
EDIT: ArenaNet answer some common questions about the engineer and how engineer skills work in a Q&A here.