Flash in the Pan

Posted: May 22, 2011 in Wait...What?

The latest profession to be revealed by ArenaNet for their upcoming MMORPG Guild Wars 2 has caused more outcry, arguments and disagreements than anything else disclosed thus far, including the Transmutation Stones. And that’s saying something.

If you haven’t read up on it yet, here is the Engineer in all it’s glory. Additional, and possibly clearer, explanations about the profession mechanics can be found here.

Just to get it out of the way, I love the Engineer. Sure, maybe a few aesthetic things could be improved upon such as how turrets just pop into existence and that beeping, flashing mine but overall I cannot wait to play the profession. Having played Warhammer Online I don’t find guns, grenades and turrets existing alongside magic, swords and bows to be an issue at all. Heck, I even had an Engineer as an alt. I was a refreshing change to still play a game in a fantasy setting but with different game play and an alternate weapon set.

Guild Wars 2 is set 250 years after Guild Wars 1. War has been a fact of life for much of that time and necessity breeds innovation and invention. The charr have lead the way in this regard, their distrust of magic seeing them turn to industrial and mechanical means of solving the age-old problem of how to kill something before it kills you. They have succeeded spectacularly.

So why the massive backlash against the Engineer? Not being a detractor I can only speculate and of course the reasons will vary from person to person. Much of the outcry seems to boil down to two major points:

1. It doesn’t fit.

Given the very unique mechanics and game play of the Engineer, I can understand the reaction. It is a very radical departure from anything that currently exists within the Guild Wars universe, and from the professions that have been revealed thus far for Guild Wars 2. ArenaNet have stated from the outset that “Since Guild Wars 2 takes place 250 years in the future from Guild Wars, we wanted to introduce new technology to Tyria. From the mystical tech of the asura to the industrial war machines of the charr, Guild Wars 2 unmistakably takes place in a different era than the original game, and the weaponry and machinery reflect that. The Engineer hasn’t been shoehorned into Tyria because a few people at ArenaNet thought it would be cool. The Engineer exists in Tyria because the progression of the lore allows for it. And because it’s cool.

2. Pffft, OP / EZ mode much?

All we’ve seen of the Engineer in action is contained within five highly choreographed and scripted skill videos. Exactly like the highly choreographed and scripted skill videos we saw for the Elementalist, Warrior, Ranger… People cried “OMG OP!” at those too. Only once we see the Engineer in action with other professions participating in a dynamic event or fighting in PvP will we have any idea as to the relative power of the class. As to play style, I see the Engineer as being extremely difficult to master. The keys to playing one successfully will require very high mobility, almost omnipotent battlefield awareness and a strong grasp of tactics. Just plonking down a turret or two and flinging some grenades around won’t do much if the turret is poorly placed and the grenades aren’t thrown where they’re needed.

If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. ~Mary Engelbreit

The knee-jerk of initial reactions seems to be abating some, and a few detractors are even coming around a little. Over 2000 posts in 24 hours (not counting the many that have been deleted) speaks volumes about the community polarisation this profession has caused. Given time, more contextual information and possibly a few little tweaks, I think many people will come to at least accept the Engineer as a valid and logical profession within the Guild Wars IP and perhaps even come to love it.

Bombs away!

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