Guild Wars 2 Hands-On Preview - Engineers, Dungeons, and Underwater Combat

We go hands-on with the engineer profession and brave the unknown both on land and underwater in Guild Wars 2.

Guild Wars 2 is shaping up to be a very different experience from its predecessor. While both online role-playing games, the original Guild Wars was heavily instanced and tailored for the individual, whereas its sequel will be one giant, persistent world driven by hundreds of dynamic events. We're going to break out of the cookie-cutter formula of other MMOGs, said ArenaNet studio head Mike O'Brien during our visit to the developer's scenic Seattle-based studio. While we were there, we got our hands on the recently announced engineer profession, played through the game's first dungeon, and made waves while exploring under the sea. We've got a lot to report, so let's dive in.

A good engineer has the right tools for any job. And as we discussed in our previous coverage, Guild Wars 2's engineer does as well. Where other professions rely on swords and sorcery to get the job done, the engineer has a different set of equipment for every occasion. Most of the time, this means using a long-range rifle or shorter-range pistols to gun down foes. But when that doesn't cut it, extra firepower comes in the form of kits--unique items that temporally replace our character's existing skills with kit-specific ones. These included sets of grenades, landmines, and a flamethrower.

While playing with explosives sounds great in theory, it's even better in practice. We experienced this firsthand in the Ascalonian Catacombs dungeon. This dungeon will be the first that players encounter in the game and includes many throwbacks to the original Guild Wars. You remember King Adelbern? It turns out the past 200 years haven't been so kind, reducing the good king and his subjects to an army of angry ghosts--the most powerful of which were former skill trainers. Its layout was a (mostly) linear pathway through numerous packs of ghosts, a trio of boss encounters, and the final battle against King Adelbern.

We brought our rifle to bear against the king's spectral servants. This weapon packed plenty of punch and discharged with a satisfying crack. Its first two skills, hip shot and net shot, damaged and stunned our targets, respectively. The last three skills--blunderbuss, overcharged shot, and jump shot--could be combined to make a stylish combo attack. Using the jump shot, we propelled ourselves toward an enemy before hitting the foe with the blunderbuss skill, which does additional damage at close range. Then, we triggered the overcharged shot, which dealt high damage and blew our character back out of melee range.

Engineer is credit to team.

After dealing with the ghosts and disabling a few traps, we ascended a stone-cut staircase into a small arena. All was calm for a moment before (you guessed it) another pack of ghosts ambushed our group. Against such overwhelming numbers, we activated our grenade kit to help even the odds. This replaced all our rifle skills with different types of grenades, including flash, freeze, poison, and shrapnel. When we selected which grenade we wanted to throw, a green circle would appear on the ground to indicate the location of our weapon's area of effect. However, we took little time to aim and instead lit up the battlefield with a variety of colored explosions. And don't worry, everything worked out in the end.

Once all the enemies were silenced, King Adelbern materialized. After a brief cinematic sequence, he challenged us to best three of his strongest (undead) warriors. Our first enemy, a ranger, fought at range with a bow and arrow, as well as in melee as a wolf. Neither worked particularly well for him, and he fell without much trouble. The second pitted our group against two lovers who grew stronger when they were together. With a bit of luck and a lot of landmines, we managed to keep them apart throughout most of the fight. Unlike the versatile grenades, the landmines come in only one variety: explosive. Each of our five skill slots represented a different mine, which we could detonate all at once or individually.

The third and (semi)final boss fought with an army of undead minions. For this fight, we went back to our old standby--the grenades--though the deadly flamethrower kit would have been a better choice. In addition to looking cool, this flamethrower can deal damage to multiple targets with the fire blast skill (which created a rolling ball of fire) or the napalm skill (which burned and blinded targets). Once this foe was blasted into ectoplasm, we returned to the arena to face King Adelbern. The king decided to forgo any fancy tactics in favor of a straight fight against our group's strongest. To help back him up, we activated our med kit, which let us drop medical kits all over the battlefield for our allies to pick up. Ultimately, not even the king could stand against our teamwork.

Our demo wasn't just dark dungeons and angry spirits. We also got our feet wet while playing with the game's underwater mechanics. Though exploring underwater can be a nightmare in some games, ArenaNet is committed to making these areas as painless as possible in Guild Wars 2. There was no oxygen meter to fuss over, and our mobility wasn't hampered just because we left the surface. In addition, our character gained a whole new set of skills while underwater. He could fire torpedoes as a standard attack, as well as deploy mines, timed charges, a giant net, and a grappling hook to drag enemies closer.

Engineers don't have to worry about petty things such as ammunition.

The more we see of Guild Wars 2, the more excited we are to get our hands on the final game. As we were finishing up, ArenaNet dungeon lead Kevin Millard explained the differences between a dungeon's story mode and its explorable mode. In brief, story mode is what we played today, whereas the explorable mode opens up new areas and challenges within an existing dungeon after you complete its story mode. Playing the new engineer profession was an interesting experience. With all the different kits and abilities at its disposal, this profession certainly felt like one of the most complex--and interesting--to use. We'll be sure to bring you more details on the game leading up to its release later this year.

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Discussion

60 comments
Maddv1lla1n
Maddv1lla1n

@mike12348 the underwater combat video was a demonstration for just that the combat , and that was only one class , but the video just showed one area of underwater visuals im sure they are various landscapes of underwater structures you will just have to wait to find out as far as the underwater mechanics i think its pretty good from a modern mmo

mike12348
mike12348

Super happy Engineering fun time. not too sure about that underwater thing though - most of the time its like all the same colors and stuff. never really any monumental looking structures underwater in other games

rambodg
rambodg

looks nice hope has friendly interface to feel easy when we play it.they should release it asap we have lake of good mmo atm.

whatevernumber
whatevernumber

By the looks of it it feels and plays the same as any other fantasy mmo out there. At least SWTOR's SF setting is not so worn off. My last hope for something different is TSW.

simon1812
simon1812

they should released GW2 as soon as possible,the dev wont be sure of anything till they have millions of players finding the errors, and helping them improve the game. does anybody remember the first day of GW? the game is almost unrecognizable now...well im exaggerating, but just a little , if you play GW day 1 you will be surprised how much stuff would be missing from today's version.

boondocksaint42
boondocksaint42

I can't wait; however, I am glad they are taking their time to make the best game possible. I also hope all the GW haters, who play WoW, continue paying $15/month for that ancient game and leave this new one to veterans of GW and newbies.

Maddogtaylor
Maddogtaylor

when this and swtor comes out the wounded beast which is wow will finally die i think and about time too, hoping it will make blizzard make a new mmo because they make the best games hands down so it should be just the kick up the rear end they need.

simon1812
simon1812

oh God it looks beautiful !! but Im surpprissed dev didnt capitalize more on the breathing device thing, the player could start just relying on his lung at least at first, then after getting the breathing device the player gets the ability to go farther and deeper into the waters to places where his lungs couldnt get him before, that would have been more interesting in my humble opinion. PS the game is looking awesome so far, no doubt it will be a great game, first day buy for me, so sry for SWtoR, the only way they will be able to put a fight is by going free to play XD

simon1812
simon1812

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

stargazor777
stargazor777

@Zendric, You do know that Arenanet was founded by Ex Blizzard employees? Which is why the game is so good and successful IMO. I believe Blizzard can do whatever they want to with their games when it comes to design, release, etc. That was the agreement they made w/Activision before they merged as part of their agreement. Blizzard knows Wow has made a ton of $ for them but its gonna eventually be de-throned by another game w/ better design, gameplay, updated graphics w/today's technology, etc which is why they've been working on their "Titan" mmo for about 3 to 4 years now. I think the world is patiently waiting and praying that Guild Wars 2 is the new MMO to do exactly that.

Nashiem
Nashiem

I cant stand it I only hope I live long enough to actully play gw2. It looks well rounded I like the concepts, and the skill sets are looking well refined as well. I give the aren net team an A+ for show and tell, I just hope that they dont disapoint like some other unmentionables released this year thus far. But given their track record gw2 sucks for only one reason, I will be up for at least 5 years stright playing this game);

Zendric
Zendric

Blizzard's WoW team was and perhaps still is very, very good at making an MMO that is really fun to play. As much as they don't want to admit it, being bought/merged by Activision, and going public with a board of directors to answer to, has changed the dynamic at that company completely. The number one priority now is to make safe decisions that will bring in guaranteed money, instead of taking risky stabs at innovation. If it wasn't for activision, I bet WoW 2 would already be in the works, but sadly its up to guild wars to move the genre forward. At least now Blizzard can do what they do best and learn from GW2 and refine its concepts and put it in WoW2.

Lord_Uhtred
Lord_Uhtred

Maer, Your comment regarding this game being aimed at kids and is silly is entirely subjective. A turret is more than a mere machine gun, while a machine gun can be set up as a turret so can modern cannons, etc..Also there are variations of machine guns...As in Sub, Light, Heavy. As for the landmines, check up on the lore behind Guild Wars 2, most of this technology comes from the Charr. ArenaNet had integrated all of this into the lore and it fits rather nicely. As for this class, it doesn't fit with how I would like to play this game. I'll be sticking to A Norn Warrior with a Greatsword for a good while!

CrookedCrown
CrookedCrown

mmmm enginneer, can't wait to give it a try

maer
maer

@Konyak_Zero Exactly. That was my point. This might not the fantasy game for me after all which is a bit dissappointing since I have been following the game for quite some time. A mounted gun on a turret with a high rate of fire is a machine gun were I come from. And don't get me started on the landmines! No, this is looking way better than WoW but is starting to become just as silly. Clearly aimed at the same people that likes Twilight and WoW ie kids

drokmore
drokmore

Sounds like they are working on advancing the genre which I fully respect.

AaronTreiber
AaronTreiber

@-Shooter- of course you WILL have a life. It will be called Guild Wars 2 is all.

gostrider373
gostrider373

this is one gorgeous piece of art. i love what i see. id say release it soon but rather have them take their time so we wont complain about it after. overall.. its awesome.

-Shooter-
-Shooter-

I can't wait for this game, I'm going to have no life when it comes out

Konyak_Zero
Konyak_Zero

@maer The art style looks nothing like WoW. The Guild Wars series has always gone for more of a painting type of graphic style. WoW looks nothing like this. And considering the art style has been the same since 2005 when the first Guild Wars game was released, you mentioning it now just looks more idiotic. The lore is also quite different as well. This isn't anything like the Warcraft universe. And where did you see machine guns? Please enlighten me. Are you talking about the turrets? Those aren't machine guns... As for your close minded nature, a fantasy world is called a "FANTASY" for a reason. It can be anything anyone wants. That's the entire point. If you don't like ArenaNet's fantasy, then don't buy the game.

maer
maer

The underwater combat looks fantastic but I'm concerned about the direction the art style/lore is taking. This is looking more and more silly (like WoW) for every day that goes by. Machine guns, flying ships, cars.. It doesn't fit in a fantasy world IMO..

gamedjoed
gamedjoed

@N1njaSol1d You'll probably be able like in the original Guild Wars games to choose where you put the healthbar, compass,skillbar,...

gamedjoed
gamedjoed

the day this game will come out in my local store, I'll be standing there before it opens immediately buying it and then I'll go home and have no life for a few days/weeks.

Paul790195
Paul790195

I can't wait anymore for this game I wan to play it

N1njaSol1d
N1njaSol1d

Looks good so far, I hope they get rid of the health bar in the middle of the skillbars, that's going to get really annoying looking a huge bubble in the middle of my skills.

Paliot0maro
Paliot0maro

@ Ipoke87 " Get your facts stright next time before spilling crap about a game you just don't like." I agree with what you said,but you lost me when you mentioned SWTOR,it was really not necessary and it points out you're doing the same thing you're critisizing. You're spilling crap about a game you just don't like,only it's someone else's crap,redirected. Doing what you're trying to go against,not cool. Edit I was expecting to see some engineer and/or dungeon gameplay with that headtitle.

Ryyder1295
Ryyder1295

This is going to take over my life :D just kidding hahahaha -.o I've been waiting for forever just like everyone else and i know its going to be worth the wait X3 Also i've been waiting for Skyrim so this is going to be fun :D

4darklink
4darklink

Gonna be Playing this alongside GW2 and SWTOR. I think both games are gonna be equally amazing, and they're no need to choose one because one is P2P and the other is just buy the game and you have it forever.

nickydanooz
nickydanooz

release it in a year..lemme finish another year of school first so my grades dont lack haha

dinuattila
dinuattila

Been waiting for this game for over 4 years now. It'd about time to release it... looking fantastic by the way.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

I'd rather have them take their time and not set a release than to set a release date and rush job it or have constant delays which I'm certain would just upset people.

Ipoke87
Ipoke87

@ChaosLordPT.. EVERYTHING you said is like.. THE OPPOSITE. Were you descibing SWTOR?? Because it sure sounds like it. Get your facts stright next time before spilling crap about a game you just don't like.

Rooten
Rooten

can't wait to see it release...looks interesting!!!

ChaosLordPT
ChaosLordPT

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Gliave
Gliave

Looking great indeed. So how is this game in Single Player terms?

Pete5506
Pete5506

This game sounds better the more more I hear about it, really looking forward to it

pionplus
pionplus

This game looks like it could be a ton of fun, I'm really excited about it.

GodBladeMegaten
GodBladeMegaten

as Agent-M said before me, with the PSVita, Battlefield 3, ES: Skyrim, college, etc etc time is gonna be one hell of a problem..........but this sure as hell looks epic!

Agent-M
Agent-M

Although I want this game to come out soon, between college, Skyrim, Batman, Battlefield 3, Bioshock 3 and the Sony Vita, I doubt I will have the time. If only I could freeze time.

BornGamer
BornGamer

@digitalheadbutt You really need to read up on GW2's combat system. Saying it's basically the same as SW:TOR's is way off the mark. I agree GW2 looks a "damn sight better" than SW:TOR but if you think it'll be the "same old stuff" you're in for a surprise. Google is your friend.

killa32130
killa32130

I put so many hours into Gw1, i can't wait! Just hope my computer can handle this!

IonNerd
IonNerd

I just recently discovered GW2, and I am incredibly excited about its humongous potential! It looks amazing - and from what I have read, it seems to play amazingly too. I can barely wait to get my hands on it!

digitalheadbutt
digitalheadbutt

@BornGamer They aren't doing any new either, GW2 looks as samey as TOR combat wise. Target monster, spam on buttons, win, collect loots, repeat ad infinitum. GW2 looks damn sight better while doing the same old stuff though so it is worth looking at. I want to get the art book for this game, so much good art.

greendude123
greendude123

@ChaosLordPT so what is it you want, A game that can read your mind? that would be new. And while it would be awsome, its not something that they can do yet... They can only make a MMO so many ways. The UI still has to be a UI, it will probly look different than others, but its still needed. Combat is still combat, in a fantasy game you are still going to be hacking away with your weapons. Theres only so much they can do with the current technology

alexLmx6
alexLmx6

This is going to be great, if it ever comes out.

halokillerz
halokillerz

I hope this game has good as skills as gw1