Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
Playing an engineer in Guild Wars 2

Azuriel writes:
You see, I actually enjoyed my Engineer quite a bit, but… well, once I unlock all of the weapon skills, most of these classes just fall apart in terms of interest. The Engineer in particular gets hit hard because dual-pistols is the only rational weapon choice for leveling; which means pressing 2, 3, 4, backpedal a bit, mob dead. Over and over and over again. For 80 levels. Given the Engineer mechanics, you cannot swap weapons in combat, although you can spice things up by dropping turrets or swapping to a Flamethrower, Landmines, Grenades, etc. But none of those alternate weapons seem to work better than dual-pistols, unless people are accidentally tanking for you. In which case… nope, dual-pistols are still probably the strongest.
Instead of replying on his blog, I thought I'd discuss this here. I hope Azuriel doesn't mind.

My only current Guild Wars 2 character is an Asura Engineer. I tried various weapon options, pistol & pistol, pistol & shield, rifle, flamethrower, etc., and I do agree with Azuriel that dual pistol works best for leveling. I do *not* agree however that this results in 2,3,4 over and over. I found that it makes a huge difference for an engineer what you put in your other slots. Filling them with elixirs or filling them with turrets for example significantly changes how the class plays. In addition, filling those right-hand slots also results in different abilities on the tool-belt skills F1 to F4.

Furthermore "You cannot swap weapons in combat" is not completely true. I found that some of the utility skills ("weapon kits") you can learn and put in the right-hand slots work in effect like a weapon swap, because they change your weapon skills and give you the option to swap back and forth during combat. Thus I can press 2, 3, 4 with my pistols and instead of then waiting for the cooldown switch to the toolkit or another weapon kit, which will fill hotkeys 1 to 4 with new abilities that aren't on cooldown. Use those, swap back to pistols, and so forth. Weapon swapping for engineers.

I am far from an expert yet, and don't know yet which skills are the most effective. This is one of the reasons I like collecting skill points in the various zones, so I can buy more skills and experiment with them. There probably is an Elitist Jerk style site out there explaining it all, but I'd rather experiment by playing and having fun than theorycraft with a spreadsheet to determine which rotation is the best.

Azuriel is totally wrong. For example using a Flamethrower, you can switch to knock back a mob tanking you, create a wall of fire to use as a field so that your bullets explode. Because Engineer is a very unique class there are many things to learn. Also keep in mind, that when you switch from or to a kit does not trigger any cool down like switching weapons for other classes.
As far as I recall, the weapon kit swapping doesn't even incur a CD unlike weapon swapping for any other class (or attunement swapping for elementalists).
I agree with Azuriel, this is actually not an engineer specific problem.

I think what is an issue for me is the whole concept of ability "sets" per weapon.

In more "complex" or more "open" RPG games, you usually will have your weapon and say 10 abilities. It's then up to you to pick which 5 you will actually use in combination.

In GW2, i feel this has been "simplified" at the cost that you end up with

1. Wasted Abilities on your bar which is not applicable in PvE/situation
2. Having to swop weapons constantly to use a single ability
3. Ending up concluding that the weapon with the "most" abilities useful in a given situation becomes the weapon of choice...hence you end up using a specific weapon for 80% of your gameplay.

#3 has the danger of making the game and your class become very mundane and boring, particularly since now you're left with utility slots which may or may not be interesting to use.

With engineer, they simply removed the weapon swopping and moved it to your utility belt in the form of "weapon kits". Since i see there's like 3 utility slots and the elite slot, you can potentially wield 3-4 weapon kits (+1 for the healing slot too) . Weapon kits turn into 5 new skills on your ability bar.

So looking at it that way, engineer probably got the MOST skill options of all the classes IN COMBAT.

No other class can really do that, even Warrior which can use almost all the weapons in the game, at any given moment only got access to TWO weapon "sets" (10 abilities).

Anyway, i got off topic there, but overall i feel the whole "grouping" of abilities is a bit restrictive and throws away that feeling that you're customizing your character. This can make probably more than half the classes turn into very "cookie cutter" classes, where everyone is going to use the exact same weapons and skills...

Completely disagree with you silvertemplar. The engineer and Elementalist are the only 2 classes who cannot weapon swap. With good reason. They both have alternate skills they can use.

The engineer has weapon kits which when used effectively along with elite skills can down any veteran solo. Same with the Elementalist, who can switch between 4 elements and have skills which summon weapons like an Ice Bow or Fiery greatsword and allow for a lot of flexibility.

I've also stuck with dual-pistols for my primary weapons and some of the weapon kits don't work for me at all. The flamethrower might be okay, but the CDs on it are too long for it to be better than other utility slots. The bomb kit is just terrible: dropping at my feet with a short timer means that it only works when they're on top of me, which is when I want escapes and knockbacks, not a simple explosion.

However, to suggest that there is no point to using the weapon kits is ridiculous. The elixir gun has been a live-saver, even without 'accidental tanks', which is an absurd term given that I've usually seen people work together on purpose. Having two condition-removers is great; one of the personal quests appeared impossible, until I tried the elixir gun and found that removing fire fixed most of my dying problems and the yellow blog thing allowed me to effectively kite. The grenades can be annoying to aim, but having an extra AoE snare has come in handy.
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The engineer has weapon kits which when used effectively along with elite skills can down any veteran solo. Same with the Elementalist, who can switch between 4 elements and have skills which summon weapons like an Ice Bow or Fiery greatsword and allow for a lot of flexibility.

Is this uncommon?

I can do the same with my Mesmer, without using an elite skill. I haven't played other classes that much so I can judge whether this is uncommon, hence the question.

Anyway, whatever class you play you will end up unlocking all weapon skills quite fast and from there on you will probably find your favorite combination of powers to use.

Frankly I'm very happy that I don't have to twist my fingers into knots to be able to pull off some three-button combination to use those special condition abilities that you almost never use and had to place in the worst available slot because there are too many abilities. It's still enough abilities with weapon swapping.
I don't necessarily agree that the only way to play an Engi is 2x Pistol + backpedal.

I play Rifle all the time.

Mastering combos is where the fun is for more. Using a Rifle Jump Shot to land in a fire made by my Flamethrower to gain a Fire Aura, or dropping a mine in the same fire to create an AoE Might buff.

Those that choose to play the way described in the quote can sure be successful. But I don't think it is a fun way to go about it. Often what is easy, is also what is boring.

Explore your abilities, learn how to exploit them, and the game rewards you for it.
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Yeah, I find the same thing. At the moment I'm loving my warrior, but unfortunately the Greatsword is king. The damage is ridiculously high, it has chained tagging, front-cone incidental AoE on its hardest-hitting attack, and PBAoE escape/closer. The situational diversity is the greatest over all the other combos. It's possible to set up purely passive signets for all the utility, healing and epic slots, with traits that make never activating them more effective. There's never a reason to switch weapons. So I'll be using the same playstyle for pretty much the entirety of the character's life.

There's a gun or bow in there for in case I have taken a real beating in damage and need to run around a boss or whichever plinking away at it from range while healing up.

By contrast the elementalist is more fun to unlock skills for, given that it has just as many weapon choices as the other classes, but also has fire, water, lightning and earth sets for each weapon, which is more fun to unlock.

Putting up a field then using a finisher in the VERY brief time that field is up, isn't exactly complicated. You can't stack or chain the effects very well because the fields are usually so brief and on longer cooldowns such that you can really only get in maybe two but usually one GCD and it's over.

If only they could do something similar to TSW's synergies system... That is so rich and well-balanced it's a joy to figure out devastating new combinations.
I mainly use the rifle in WvW for the range and that net attack that is great for when the enemy are routed.
@Cam: Have you tried dual axes? It works about as good as greatsword, and its multi-hit aoe doesn't root you to the ground and hits 360.

There's also some nice weapon swapping loops you can do with a bow, if you've got 15 points into discipline for the fast weapon swaps.
hmm, i love my engineer it replaced my old char guardian as my main, and while when i first started playing I would have had to agree with Azuriel, but now hell no when i got to dredgehaunt cliffs that didn't cut it anymore. so I started playing around and found that pistol shield, with toolkit and elixer-B makes a great solo engineer character, 4 can push enemies back great for times when you are getting swarmed and need to get away, while the toolkit can bring the pain in one on one fights, elixer B gives you might retaliation fury and swiftness all great abilities in the midst of combat.
I have had great success playing with a rifle as primary, but interchanging between it and my grenade kit, kind of using each to my advantage. I.E. Landmine, minefield, grenade barrage to pull mob with, rifle shots, they walk through minefield, net, blunder, blowback, rinse and repeat. I am totally loving my engi! Granted, im only level 35 but it has been absolutely survivable. :)
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