Guild Wars 2 is the highly anticipated sequel to the online role-playing game Guild Wars. The sequel will take place centuries after the events in the original game and will offer new stories, new playable races, and new characters--some of whom are intended to reflect just how much the world has changed. This is truest of the newly revealed engineer profession in Guild Wars 2, and it marks a significant change of pace from the original game's purely high-fantasy roster of wizards, knights, monks, and assassins. This new profession is a gadgeteer whose flamethrowers, grenades, and stationary turrets will work wonders in controlling space and setting up defensive perimeters while providing strong support to teammates.
What? A flamethrower? Yes, Arena Net's designers remember well the phony commando profession the studio revealed this past April Fools' Day and the ensuing backlash from fans who felt that a rifle-toting soldier had no business appearing in the fantasy world of Guild Wars. While the Arena Net staffers do anticipate some backlash regarding a steampunk-like profession that charges into battle with a ramshackle, homemade flamethrower backpack, they assured us that the reasoning behind the new class was sound. For starters, because Guild Wars 2 takes place more than 200 years after the events in the previous game, the world has grown and changed. Thus, conventional technology has also changed--and the strange and wonderful gadgets of the engineer are proof. In addition, the designers feel strongly that the profession fits extremely well into the sequel's general mix of characters and can provide a strong, unique role for the right players to play.
We've revealed previously that Guild Wars 2's thief will be one of the few professions in the game that can wield a pistol, but the engineer will also be able to use pistols and is the only character in the game with the ability to use rifle-class weapons. The profession will also be able to use mines, bombs, turrets, and alchemical elixirs (which will have random beneficial effects when hurled at the ground near friendly team members). Interestingly, though most of the sequel's professions will have two different sets of weapons and will be able to switch between them freely, the engineer will be one of the game's only exceptions here. The elementalist is one of the game's few exceptions to this system (elementalists "attune" their single weapon to different elemental forces, rather than equip new weapons), and the engineer is another. This class equips only one weapon set, but it can carry multiple "kits," which are sets of relevant skills that work along a theme.
The engineer will have seven kits: the flamethrower kit; the elixir gun kit (which, again, can cause random effects in battle); the medpack kit (which offers healing to engineers themselves and to their teammates); the mine kit (which lets engineers drop stationary mines that can be tripped to enable their various effects); the bomb kit (which lets engineers set explosive bombs); the grenade kit (which lets engineers toss grenade items of various types); and the tool kit, a utility-focused kit with various useful support skills. In addition, engineers can deploy five different kinds of stationary turrets: healing turrets; flame turrets (which deal fire-based damage); net turrets (which fire incapacitating nets); rifle turrets (which deliver single-shot damage); and thumper turrets, which deal damage to all nearby enemies. Turrets are utilized based on a toggle system similar to the way Guild Wars 2's necromancers handle their summoned undead minions, in that only one turret of one type may be equipped for use at any time.
Arena Net's designers suggest that the engineer profession resembles the ritualist profession, which was introduced in the Factions add-on for the original Guild Wars. Like the ritualist, whose ability to summon spirit creatures acted as a powerful pre-battle strategy, the engineer has a clear-cut strength in planning ahead of battles. Specifically, the engineer can swap in the proper kit skills and establish a defensive perimeter with turrets. The engineer reflects Guild Wars 2's stronger emphasis on zoning and controlling space in battle; having a good sense of positional abilities, ranges, and spacing will play a larger role in Guild Wars 2 overall. It will likely make the difference between a mediocre engineer player and an expert engineer who can efficiently lock down an area, especially with proper intel on what sort of enemies will be incoming.
In the meantime, the engineer profession will have various skills and traits that make him useful to a party in other ways, such as the healing turret, which heals nearby allies; the random positive effects of elixirs; a glue-shot pistol skill that immobilizes enemies (along with a net-shot rifle skill); and even utility skills. These utility skills include "slick shoes," which leaves an oil slick behind engineers as they flee; any enemies that step on the oil slick lose their footing and fall head over heels. They can also set themselves up to deal damage by dual-wielding a pistol in either hand or set themselves up as a defensive character by wielding a pistol in one hand and a heavy shield in the other. Engineers with shields can get between their teammates and hostile enemy magics; in some cases, they can absorb and even reflect harmful effects back at their aggressors.
We're told that the engineer profession has already been implemented into the game's internal test version, which is part of Arena Net's philosophy of not revealing any feature or character in its games until that character or feature has been implemented, tested, and proven to work. The staffers of the Seattle-based studio suggest that the team started its character design process with the game's more straightforward professions, such as the elementalist and warrior. It then continued on to more complicated professions that merited more extensive testing, like the thief, the guardian, and now, the engineer. The studio is keeping one last new Guild Wars 2 profession under wraps for the time being, and in the words of one of the designers, "Not surprisingly, it's also kind of complex and definitely plays differently than other professions."
We've already seen and played some of Guild Wars 2. The game's vibrant and beautiful graphics make a great first impression, and the deeper strategy underlying the game definitely seems worth investigating. We look forward to trying out the engineer profession, getting more details on the final profession, and bringing you more details on this highly anticipated game leading up to its release later this year.