January 29, 2012
Closer to the Machine

Closer to the Machine: The Engineer

“I’d explain it all to you, but a demonstration would be more useful.”

I have a confession to make: I really love the aesthetic of Steampunk. Note my choice of words. I’ve never really read anything steampunk, I just like the look of it, and I feel it makes videogames especially much more interesting.

One of the things I loved about the Warcraft series of games was their use of steam-powered engineering. Same with the Warhammer universe. There’s just something about that low-tech, fantasy approach that appeals to me.

So when I saw that the Engineer was going to be one of the classes in GW2, I was intrigued. 250 years have passed since the first game, so technology has unsurprisingly come on leaps and bounds — especially thanks to the industriousness of the Charr.

The availability of gunpowder weapons and other steampunk-like technology seems to have really split the fans of the first game, however. For me it just seems like a natural progression. As long as firearms are balanced in with every other weapon, why the Hell should we not have them!

The Engineer

Mechanically (no pun intended) the Engineer is a tricky one, and it runs a similar risk to the Mesmer for me: I love the idea behind it, the gameplay conceits, but I suspect I may be rubbish at it because of how many things I’d need to keep track of.

The key mechanics of the Engineer profession are its tool belt, turrets, weapon kits and backpack kits.

Tool belt

Let’s start with the tool belt. The idea behind this is that each utility and healing skill on the Engineer’s bar has a corresponding ability in the tool belt. F1 works with the Healing skill in slot 6, and then F2-F4 work with slots 7-9.

…Every healing and utility skill has a Tool Belt skill, which offers them considerable versatility…

Let’s say, for example, that you have the Med Kit equipped as your healing skill. If you use that skill normally, it switches your entire 1-5 slots into Drop Bandage abilities which allows you to dump bandages on the floor for your allies to heal themselves up with. It also switches F1 to the Bandage Self ability.

This means you don’t need to use 6 to heal yourself all the time like many other healing abilities. You can instead use F1 every 20 seconds for your healing instead (though I don’t know how powerful this is compared to other healing abilities, as there are no numbers on the GW2 wiki).

Every single healing and utility skill in the Engineer’s arsenal has a corresponding Tool Belt skill, which offers them considerable versatility despite them only being able to have one weapon set equipped in combat.


An Engineer can potentially employ up to four turrets at once — one healing turret and three utility ones — out of a potential of five different types. The healing turret takes up slot 6 (shocking I know!) while 7-9 can use the Flame, Net, Rifle, or Thumper turrets. These seem pretty self explanatory: Flame turrets shoot flame at short range, Rifle turrets shoot foes, Thumper turrets do local AoE damage, and I assume Net turrets immobilise foes at range.

…This makes the class feel a lot like the Engineer from Team Fortress 2

Once a turret is erected, its Tool Belt button turns into an Overcharge ability which triggers a special effect for each turret, and its original skill button turns into an ability to destroy the turret so you can erect a new one elsewhere. This makes the class feel a lot like the Engineer from Team Fortress 2, as well as explain why some ArenaNet devs state that the Engineer is, in a way, the spiritual successor to the Ritualist from GW1. No pun intended.

Backpack and Weapon Kits

As well as all the versatility I’ve talked about so far with turrets and the tool belt, Backpack and Weapon Kits add another layer of complexity to this very versatile profession. When a kit is used, it replaces your 1-5 skill slots with specialised skills related to that kit.

…These do pretty much what you would expect, setting fire to things (flamethrower)…

For example, the Bomb Satchel replaces 1-5 with a variety of different bombs that you can hurl at your enemies for AoE damage or control: conditions such as burning, daze, blind or immobilise can all be inflicted by the bombs.

Backpack kits are toggleable, allowing you to switch back to your original weapons when you have used up, for example, the limited number of bombs the Bomb Satchel gives you.

Weapon Kits are also toggleable, and allow you to swap your main weapon to either a Flamethrower or the Elixir Gun. These do pretty much what you would expect, setting fire to things (flamethrower), or offering a lot of ground-targeted control and some healing abilities (elixir gun).

It is possible, therefore, to have a huge number of different abilities available for use as an Engineer, making them incredibly versatile — especially in PvP where his multiple kits and turrets can really show flexibility.

Some Conclusions

Reading up on the various professions for this blog series is very enlightening, as until you really get down into the gritty details of how the class works and then try and explain it in your own words, it can be quite hard to grasp without having played them for yourself.

Even just having written this post I feel I have a better understanding of how the Engineer actually works, and it doesn’t seem quite as horrendously complicated as I first thought. There are still a lot of abilities available, but it sounds like way too much fun to not just equip the Flamethrower Kit, drop a Healing, Flamethrower and Thumper turret and just go to town on everything… xD

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Written by: demajen
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About the Author

Jon Burrage, aka Demajen. Urban Sci-Fantasy writer, digital artist, supply teacher, evil genius. One of these things is not like the others...



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One Comment

  1. […] Demajen — Closer to the Machine: The Engineer. “I have a confession to make: I really love the aesthetic of Steampunk. Note my choice of words. I’ve never really read anything steampunk, I just like the look of it, and I feel it makes videogames especially much more interesting.” […]

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