Why Play the Engineer?

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Guild Wars 2 Engineer

Coming out of the first Beta Weekend Event and Stress Test, many of us got the chance to finally try the professions we wanted to. Some of us, undoubtedly, still have no clue what we’re playing, whereas some of us immediately knew what profession we were going to play as soon as we got through the tutorial. I plan to play the Engineer, a steampunk-inspired, gadget-wielding, elixir-chugging daredevil whose archetype is fairly untapped by the MMO genre. Below is my list of 5 reasons to play the Engineer:

1) Uniqueness

I used to be a big World of Warcraft player. Although I haven’t played in over a year, I noticed some obvious similarities when looking over the professions in Guild Wars 2.

Necromancers are like Warlocks: Dark magic wielders featuring fears and minions.

Guardians are like Paladins: Holy Justicars featuring holy shields and divine protection.

Warriors are like, well, Warriors: Vicious barbarians featuring charges and stances.

I know I’m blatantly over-simplifying everything, but when I was looking for a profession to play during the first Beta Weekend Event (referred to hereafter as BWE) I knew I wanted to play something I was completely unfamiliar with; thus, the choice was between the Mesmer and the Engineer. While this was a difficult choice, there was one thing that tipped the scales in the Engineer’s favor…

Guild Wars 2 Engineer - Profession Popularity

Only 10.1% of players plan to play the Engineer. Data from gw2census.com (taken 5/20/2012).

According to the Guild Wars 2 Census, the Engineer is going to be the least played profession at only 10.1%. The Mesmer, on the other hand, sits at a high 13.5% played. I’ve  always been one with a penchant for the least played class; an exclusive club, so to speak. Because of  those numbers, I decided to try my hand at the Engineer in the BWE. Boy, was that a good decision. My original plan when entering the BWE was to try out each profession at least once, but I just couldn’t let  go of the Engineer. I made a Mesmer, but within 5 minutes I was missing my rocket-jumping, bomb-dropping, turret-tinkering madman!

2) Aesthetic appeal

This is based more on my opinion than solid facts, but I instantly fell in love with the Engineer’s steampunk-style skills, abilities, and feel. Plus, some abilities (mainly the gadget utilities) are just plain ridiculous, making me feel just like Inspector Gadget himself when I play with them!

Guild Wars 2 Engineer - Gadgets

Engineers have a wide arsenal of gadgets to choose from.

I mean, how would a skill like Slick Shoes work? Oil shooting out the back of your legs?

What about the Rocket Boots? The first time I used it, I was taken by surprise by how far I actually went!

And my personal favorite, the Personal Battering Ram. That’s right, a BATTERING RAM. Concealed in what, your pocket?

Abilities like this, seemingly impractical and out of control, yet used in the most dire of situations. That kind of irony is what drew me to the Engineer.

3) Easter eggs

After messing around in World vs World and some PvE (I must say, the personal story far exceeded my expectations), I made my foray into Structured PvP. With the full arsenal of traits and abilities available to me, I found a few little Easter eggs in the titles of traits and abilities that reminded me of the infamous Ranger ability, Crippling Shot.

Guild Wars 2 Engineer - Crippling Shot

And I thought the gaming community had gotten over this annoying meme…






H.G.H. – Elixirs give might.

ArenaNet never actually states what H.G.H. stands for, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s a tease towards Human Growth Hormone. So I guess if you aren’t a fan of Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds, stay away from the Engineer. It goes well with the Performance Enhancement minor trait.

Cleaning Formula (409) – Throwing or consuming elixirs removes conditions from those effected.

You need clean? Cleaning Formula 409 now removes 99% of conditions, guaranteed!

Packaged Stimulants – Med Kit skills can be thrown.

This one is for you StarCraft fans out there. Time to upgrade your marines! Unfortunately this trait does not allow you to move and attack 50% faster…

Pry Bar – Launch your foe with a smack from a pry bar.

The Tool Kit skill Pry Bar is I think a reference to Gordon Freeman’s infamous crowbar in Half-Life. Or maybe I’d like to think that. Throw that trash away!

There’s probably a bunch more that I missed. But as I discover new Easter eggs as I play the Engineer, it reminds me of how fun the profession is and how much fun the developers must have had creating it!

4) Variety and Kits

As with most of the professions in Guild Wars 2, you can play how you want. But this is even more accentuated with the Engineer. Even though the Engineer is one of 2 professions that cannot switch weapons, your kits give you amazing flexibility, and access to the second most active abilities. (If you go with 4 kits, you’ll have 34 active abilities, which is higher than the Elementalist’s standard 30. But if the Elementalist decides to go with 4 Conjured weapons, their amount of active abilities goes up to a staggering 45.) In general, professions have between 16 and 19 active abilities.

This variety allows you many different options in how you want to play the Engineer.

You could be a full on tank with Pistol + Shield and Flamethrower with the Juggernaut trait.

You could be a medic with the Med Kit and Elixir Gun for support.

And, my personal favorite, you can play what I dub the Bomber Man: Slick Shoes to knock ’em down and the Bomb Kit to blow ’em up (Credit to Teldo from Team Paradigm).

Guild Wars 2 Engineer - Bombs

With the right kit and skills, you too can become Bomberman!

5) Elixirs and Turrets

Kits aren’t the only feature that give you variety as an Engineer.

Many elixirs are, by their nature, random. You never know what you’ll get when you drink that vile concoction. Will it be might, protection, or swiftness from Elixir B? What random boons will you receive from Elixir C? Will you get stability or stealth from Elixir S? You never know. That’s what makes every encounter while playing as an Elixir Engineer have amazing variety and feel different every time. Sometimes this can be really frustrating, especially when you want a specific boon, like swiftness or stealth, but you get the wrong one. But I enjoy that unpredictability that comes from using Elixirs. Luckily the more defensive Elixirs that save you when you’re in a tough spot are less random.

Last, but definitely not least, are the turrets. They are the staple, the defining mark of the Engineer. Say you want to do high damage? Just pick up the Rocket Turret, the Rifle Turret, and the Flame Turret, and be on your merry way. Oh, you want stuns and knockbacks? Try your hand at the Net Turret, and my favorite, the Thumper Turret. (Thump is just the perfect onomatopoeia to describe what that turret does.) Or combine the two for hybrid snares and damage. It’s all up to you. 

Guild Wars 2 Engineer - Turret

Ah, the turret. An Engineer’s best friend.

I love my Engineer. I’ve spent more than 40 hours with it in the first BWE and the stress test, and I won’t be looking back. The combination of a steampunk attitude and play-how-you-want gameplay is enthralling to me. However, I couldn’t have summarized everyone’s vision of the Engineer. So, my questions to you are:

To the readers: If you plan to play the Engineer, what do you like best about the profession? What makes it better than other professions? If you hate the Engineer, or will simply be playing a different profession, what makes that profession better / more appealing than the Engineer? Did you find any more Easter egg style traits or skills in the Engineer? What about in other professions?

About the author: Traverse has been playing MMOs since 2006 with World of Warcraft, while additionally branching into Guild Wars, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, and Age of Conan (briefly). An avid PvPer, he has fought on the battlefields of MMOs for many hours, often listening to trip-hop albums and eating animal crackers. When he is not PvPing, he enjoys exploring the world, long walks on the beach, and cat gifs. He is the new Engineer writer for TalkTyria, and hopes you have a wonderful day!

Further reading:

  • Mawgleah

    I made a couple of characters during the BWE trying out different professions, but my Engineer was the most fun.  However, I would hesitate to classify any profession as “better” than any of the others.  I don’t play a profession because it’s perceived to be better than another.  I play a profession because I enjoy playing that profession.  And I enjoyed the Engineer immensely.  Before this BWE, I hadn’t really made up my mind which profession would most likely be my main, but I’m now of a mind that this is the one and look forward to the next BWE to get more time on her.

    • Traverse

      I love the Engineer too!
      When I said “better”, I meant in your own opinion. If I feel the Engineer is more fun than the Necromancer, than I think the Engineer is better. Sure the Necromancer may be fun to play, but the Engineer is MORE fun to play, therefore better. But semantics aside! I’m glad you’re a fellow Engineer player!

  • Although I’ll probably be playing mesmer, I really like the sheer ammount of skills from the engineer. However I feel kinda disappointed that all grenades/bombs/mines have basically the same play. In fact, for versatility purposes, I think elementalist is a better class: not only it has more skills [with conjures], they create conjured weapons for friends, boosting the team versatility. The 60 sec cooldown on conjures is a hefty price though.

    I’ll probably sticking to mesmer mostly because I like illusions and swords. The evasive/deceptive style from the mesmer is very attractive to me. I don’t have rocket jump, but I do love blink, portals and area invisibility!

    And the elixirs are something I don’t really like on the engineers. they just seem to be too random to be reliable.

    I do plan on having it as second/third class though, together with Elementalist.

    • Traverse

      Thanks for your comment! I am definitely making a Mesmer as my first alt. I played a Dead Ringer spy in TF2, that’s what the Mesmer really reminds me of. And I love clones!

      I am going to have to disagree with you on your comment that grenades, bombs, and mines all have the same play. I’ve played with the grenades and bombs, and the grenades are a power dependent kit that is excellent for sustained damage. On the contrary, the bomb kit is a condition damage dependent kit that is excellent at burst damage. 

      When I played with the bomb kit, I felt that an in-and-out style tactic was the most effective, dropping my fire bomb and blinding bomb first, then finishing off with the daze bomb, and, if necessary, the immobilize.

      When I played with the grenade kit, spamming my abilities was the most important. Using the frost grenade to kite melee opponents, I would swap between my pistol and my grenade kit every 5 seconds to keep as many bleed stacks up as possible.

      Then again, I am a big PvPer, and I haven’t tried out the kits as extensively in PvE. I used mainly elixirs in PvE. 

  • ArcherAvatar

    This was simply an outstanding article and a really fun read.  (Bonus points for use of the word: onomatopoeia… I did NOT see that coming!)

    The sincerity of the author’s enthusiasm made it very contagious, and pleasant.  I also have to agree with the assessment of this profession’s versatility and style points (plus, all of the medium-armor professions have some pretty cool looks imo.)

    My personal preference is for a much more aggressive, in-your-face, style of combat and I favor a couple of professions that accomplish this in ways that are especially appealing to me, however, it’s only a matter of time before an engi shows up among my list of characters (I do play an awfully diverse range of alts usually.)

    It should also be noted that a member of this profession (wielding pistol+shield, and using a couple of turrets – including the thumper) was easily one of the most difficult foes I’ve faced thus far in Nifhel or Kyhlo.  There are indeed a LOT of tricks in that bag…

    Anyone favoring, or considering, a support style character and/or pressure/condition builds should really at least take a look at the engi… there’s a lot there to like.

    • Traverse

      You know, an Engineer can be very in-your-face too! Just wait until one runs over you with Slick Shoes then drops bombs right on top of you!I actually was able to make a strong power build using the Rifle and Elixirs. But yes, the Engineers have many options for condition damage, especially when you consider the different kit options. Really, every profession in this game is fantastic. Thanks for the compliment!

  • Anonymous

    The article’s well-written and certainly portrays your enthusiasm for the class, but as someone who hasn’t actually seen much information about the Engineer and didn’t manage to play an engineer during the BWE and Stress Test I’m still kind of left in the dark as to how the class actually works.  It has all these interesting and useful skills, but how does the class combine them all into a neat package?  Also, how on earth do the kits work?  Or more specifically, how and why would you choose to have any specific number of kits?

    • Traverse

      Thanks for the comment!

      The article was meant to get people interested in playing the Engineer. A foot in the door, so to speak. I think figuring out the basics of the class and putting it all together, like the usage of kits and other skills, is part of the fun of the game!

      To answer your questions, kits are essentially weapons that take up either a healing slot (Med Kit) or a Utility Slot (all the other kits). Once you activate that skill, your 5 skills on the left side of the action bar change to reflect your current kit. The reason you would want a kit is for the damage and/or utility that they can bring. 

      For example, the Elixir Gun is good for support with an AoE heal and swiftness and can apply conditions that damage the enemy, like poison and weakness. The Bomb Kit is more effective at applying conditions that disable the enemy, like daze, blind, and immobilize, and does much more damage than the Elixir gun. It also has a knockback. The catch is that you have to be in practically melee range to do any damage! I’d recommend you try out the Engineer to see what kits you like best!

      My future articles will be looking at the Engineer through a imaginary microscopic lens. I plan to share and discuss the little things that are both interesting and useful, but not what you’d encounter when you first pick up the profession. I’ll leave that to you!

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  • engineer = shaman

  • You make a good argument, I just found the engineer boring after a while because of the lack of weapon diversity. Sure you have kits like the flamethrower and grenades, but it still didn’t offer the diversity of classes like the thief and warrior. But for a good balanced raid team the game will need engineers. I think they have the best group healing abilities. 

  • JLanceCombs

    slick shoes – goonies