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Engineer preview: Hands on with Guild Wars 2’s swiss army knife


The Mesmer might be the most bizarre class, the Thief most elusive and the Warrior the most straightforwardly stolid, but the most flexible is the Engineer. As we’ll see, it’s the class that can fulfil the most roles and also can cause the most confusion; going up against an Engineer in PvP means that the only thing you can be certain of is that you can’t be certain of anything.

The Engineer plays like the entire cast of Team Fortress 2. First off, obviously, he’s like the TF2 Engineer. He can put down turrets and play around with a wrench and something like a shotgun. But the GW2 engineer can also play like the Demoman, tossing grenades around, or like the Pyro, with his flamethrower, or the Soldier with his rocketjump, or the Medic, with his healing kit and healing turret. It’s unlikely that you’ll experience all of these in one fight, but you never know what he’s going to pull out next.

Just to reiterate; the engineer has three weapon kits, four device kits, seven types of turret, seven types of elixir and a whole bunch of miscellaneous items that can be slotted in. On top of all that, he’s still got an array of weapon choices like the other classes, albeit not as wide as the others. He uses the two-handed rifle as a shotgun, but unlike the Warrior’s version, the attacks are mostly mobility-related, either pinning down, knocking down or hopping away from enemies.

A main-hand pistol allows him tremendous flexibility, damaging, poisoning or blinding enemies, whilst the off-hand version can either immobilise or immolate them. If you choose to forgo the offhand pistol in front of the shield, the engineer gains immense survivability against enemy ranged attackers, giving him an ability to reflect projectiles and knock back enemies or stun attackers.
Normally, these will be overridden by whatever kit the engineer has slotted. The engineer’s righthand quickbar has four items slotted and an elixir, each of which when selected produces up to five lefthand actions and can be switched between relatively quickly. This means that the engineer has twice as many possible abilities as the other classes, before you allow for skills that flip or the F keys.

It also means he has a huge number of possible builds, varying between all turret versions (any of flame, healing, net, rifle, rocket, melee and mortar turrets) to gadget heavy-versions (combining the battering ram, rocket boots ), all devices (grenades, mines, bombs, and a med kit) or all weapon kits (grenade, flamethrower, elixir gun and tool kit).

The three weapon kits are worth a mention in themselves. The flamethrower is, of course, tremendously satisfying and is a great AOE damage-dealer. The elixir gun can fire five elixir types, that themselves have random effects (and shouldn’t be confused with the other seven elixirs an engineer can carry that also have different random effects.) Finally, the tool kit can be used to repair turrets or perform a range of melee attacks.

Similarly, the ‘device kits’ are really just another bunch of weapons (save for the med kit which lets you drop three healing packs, an antidote and an stim brew – perfect for prepping for a defense or tough battle.) The mine kit is simple, allowing you to throw up to five mines, which can be remotely detonated. The grenade and bomb kit gives you five types of grenade or bomb, all with debuffs associated – the bombs are more powerful but can’t be thrown and have a timer.

Those turrets are also crazily varied, though linked by both fragility and immobility. Each of these is just placed on the ground, then left to its own devices, save the mortar that requires manning. All of these can be detonated, doing AOE damage to any melee-distance enemies. Only one of each turret type can be deployed at a time though another elite power, Supply Crate, can spawn an extra flame and healing turret on top of this limit.

The healing turret gives you a quick heal, then applies constant regeneration to all allies. The flame turret, rifle turret, net turret and rocket turret are self-explanatory. The thumper does melee damage to any units nearby. Manning the elite mortar, meanwhile, allows you, or an ally, to fire a range of utility rounds a large distance with a wide impact.

Finally, the gadgets are just plain daft and only produce one skill each. The Rocket Boots let you fly backwards a ridiculous distance, burning enemies with your exhaust. The Slick Shoes let knock down any foes pursuing you. The Utility Goggles break stuns and give you fury, and make you immune to blindness. And the Personal Battering Ram is a concealed boxing glove that launches enemies way back.

In line with this variety, his special ability (on the F-keys, like usual) is modified by whatever piece of kit he’s using – every single slotted piece of kit gives him a different special F-ability, normally an extra overpowered skill. Given that there are at least 30 types of possible slottable item, the Engineer is just not predictable. Players will come up with killer builds for him, which are going to be a nightmare to balance, but also a nightmare to get right.

Engineers, thankfully, aren’t indestructible (especially as they only have medium armour) and having such a huge array of options can freeze you with indecision; often during the beta, I’d forget about my healing skills, so intent was I on laying down turrets and mine fields, swapping weapons and planting Big Ol Bombs.