After this last beta event, its time to do a quick update on how the Engineer is doing as a whole. And while I was not able to participate in the event, I am going on second hand sources (which everyone doing something like this should rather than going purely based on your own opinions). This is mostly in regards to PvP, and to be honest, I don’t really care about PvE since its limited to 5 man dungeons and world events where viability isn’t really an issue. Also, this is all completely subject to change, who knows, maybe Arena Net has a super elegant way of doing things that have nothing to do with anything I bring up in this post. So lets hop to it.
In this event, we saw a substantial damage boost to just about every Engineer skill there is (base damage, modifiers, so on). So we got a buff from Arena Net. However, despite this, there is a huge concern among the community that the Engineer might need an entire rework to become remotely viable (according to the reddit AMA held before the beta event). And this is where the Engineer stands, despite having received a huge buff, every other class currently is more viable in every possible facet. And there are a few reasons as to why this is and why the Engineer needs a rework, especially in PvP.
The first bit is turrets. Turrets are a wonderful idea, and on paper, can potentially be completely overpowered and bring about a flavor that you are a defender. Turrets make the Engineer feel like they are able to control any situation they are put into, but the biggest problem is that they are stationary. The problem with stationary mechanics is that they are impossible to effectively use on the offense. Yes, you can set up a turret mid combat, but you would in turn sacrifice valuable time dodging, attacking, or moving around to other goals. In a PvP scenario, movement is the most important thing to take into consideration. Always choose the ability to increase movement or regain movement over anything else. It doesn’t matter if you have a million armor, if you can’t get away, you will die anyways. In a PvE scenario with pulls and the like, stationary mechanics can work because you can set up between pulls, but that leads to the same problem. Sadly, there is no real way to make turrets viable in PvP. Most people (hopefully) are not stupid enough to walk into an area littered with turrets just to get mauled to death by tiny bullets from 15 directions. Nor, are they going to stand next to them and wait for them to detonate. Walking out of range of turrets is simple and most players that see this will choose to disengage or wait for backup. Its just the nature of the way things work. And while I personally love turrets, they just need to go. All they are really doing is wasting space and wanting to be a real skill.
While ranger’s do have traps (which are also stationary mechanics), those traps are purely utilitarian in nature. However, I fail to see why Engineer’s cannot take those same ability but add more interesting effects. Like triggering the trap will explode glue on them, crap tons of shrapnel, or even a blinding trap. Better yet, take the land mind kit and the bomb kit and mesh them together.
Utility, to put it short, the Engineer has too much of it. To be quite frank, half of the Engineer skills are utility. And while there is nothing wrong with that kind of thing, balancing it becomes a huge problem. Just like my statement in earlier posts about WoW and the hybrid problem, the Engineers are already showing signs that this might be the case for the class. Whenever you have a class that can essentially double the amount of heals of any other class in the game, remove several conditions, grant several boons, snare, have super high mobility, and a host of other things. Something has to be sacrificed for the sake of balance. In WoW, Shamans and Paladins (although Shamans had it worse) used to be these juggernauts of tanky DPS. While in a raid setting, they were pretty much useless, but in PvP, they were impossible for more classes to 1v1 and nobody could beat a fully geared Shaman 1v1 (vanilla days people). Those classes traded their damage for the ability to heal in combat, which is what made them truly terrifying. Engineers are suffering from the same thing, except the damage is negligible because they have an entire series of skills that are effectively useless in any kind of PvP scenario where you are not defending (turrets). However, buffing their damage too high could lead to some balance problems similar to the way Shamans and Paladins were in WoW.
The only real way to fix this kind of problem is to take away utility in order to increase their damage output. However, the only real way to do this is to just rebuild the Engineer from scratch, but to be honest, with the game right around the corner and potentially only a single beta event left, that might not happen and we might see an Engineer that cannot compete until a rework is put in place. However, I don’t think Arena Net will release a game with a broken class and hopefully we will see the Engineer’s in a much better spot come BWE3. Right now, every class can heal themselves and others to a certain degree, Elementalists have the Water Attunement, Guardians are Guardians, Engineers have over 9000 elixirs and turrets that can be used twice, once on just themselves and another on whoever decides to take a flask to the face. The elixirs are a super cool mechanics and really shows the diversity and resourcefulness of the Engineer, so keep those.
Oh, a nice fix to the whole Elixir problem (although not really a problem but it does provide them with stupid amounts of utility) is to remove the toolbelt, place the weapon packs as a means of swapping out and have the elixirs become an AoE grenade effect where you ground target and it only gets whoever’s in them (you included). But that’s a random thought.
Also, did I mention that Blunderbuss is broken? It doesn’t hit its targets at point blank range. Hopefully this will be fixed next event.
The damage of other classes outmatches the Engineer significantly. Warriors currently deal the most damage out of any other class (up to 8k in a single hit) and all the other classes are not hindered by stationary mechanics. Every other class can maintain full DPS while remaining mobile whereas Engineers (because of Turrets) are severely limited in the amount of damage that they are capable of putting out. This really goes right back into turrets and as long as they deal damage rather than providing purely utilitarian abilities, Engineers will have to take a hit to their damage output. If the turrets acted more like traps (similar to the hunter in WoW) then I can see them being viable, but they cannot deal damage. Increasing the damage on all of their rifle abilities can potentially fix the major problem that they are having right now, but the damage on pistols will have to go up even more to remain competitive with the sheer utility that the rifle brings. Having so few weapon choices, the Engineer really needs (rifle, pistol, shield) means that those base skills have to be viable enough to keep Engineers going into it and provide enough utility to make them work better with other kits. Between the Rifle and the Flamethrower, the Engineer has 5 skills that affect movement. Net, dual knockback, jump, pull, push. Packing the pistol only brings 3 but you get a blind (woo?). And most builds will only use 1 kit along with their primary weapon (which, if you are thinking correctly will be the rifle). Sometimes 2 can be viable (elixir kit is really cool and has a lot of really great stuff in it as well). However, having the toolbelt be replaces with kits F1 can be actual weapon, and then F2-F4 can be whatever you choose, will open a large number of things. Will this fix anything, not necessarily, but it will give them more options rather than filling up utility slots on things that are not turrets.
Engineers are really in a rough spot being in 8th place. And while I would never want to see them being the top class (because being OP, FOTM, whatever you want to say) isn’t as much fun. However, I do want the class to be competitive and still be a valuable choice and addition to any team. But right now, every other class out damages and out utilizes the Engineer. Elementalists deal significant amounts of damage, can easily swap attunements and begin healing. Warriors just destroy, but that’s what they do, Warriors smash. These are my thoughts on this matter. The state of the Engineer is very poor right now from the last beta. Either every class needs a good nerfing or the Engineer needs a good buffing/rework. And as I have been saying all post long, one of the primary problems are turrets and how poorly those mechanics work in a game that prizes mobility. It also makes me wonder why you would bring stationary mechanics into a game like GW2. But that is a post for next week, faulty mechanics and whatnot.