Anticipation has been building steadily for the upcoming release of Guild Wars 2. As time passes, more and more information is released to whet the appetites of eager fans. Today, Ten Ton Hammer talks with Lead Designer Eric Flannum about the engineer profession and technology in Guild Wars 2.
Ten Ton Hammer: We enjoyed the Commando class reveal on April Fool’s Day, but the Engineer bears an certain resemblance. I have to ask: did any of the April Fool’s Day feedback you received go into the Engineer profession concept?
Eric Flannum: The engineer was designed and in development long before we even thought about the commando joke. The commando is really nothing more than an April Fool’s joke and has no hidden or deeper meaning.
Ten Ton Hammer: Fans of the game have expressed surprise at the technological leap embodied by the Engineer. With the reveal of Guild Wars 2’s seventh profession, are we to understand that material technology (as opposed to magic or magical technology) is now the dominant force in Tyria? Should fans stop worrying and learn to love the bomb (and rifle turret, and flamethrower)?
Eric Flannum: The engineer is representative of the technological leap that is being experienced by Tyria as a whole. During the fight against the Shatterer we saw guns, mortars, and canons being used. In the charr video we’ve seen steam and gear driven vehicles. Even 250 years ago we had cannons mounted on giant beasts of war (Luxon siege turtles), explosive kegs of black powder, and fireworks.
Does any of this mean that technology is the dominant force in Tyria? Technology is a rising force in the world, but there will always be magic as well. We have seen more physical professions such as warriors and thieves embrace technology. We have seen rangers move more towards magic and away from technology. We have seen that engineers are adapting their tech to deal with magic (the magic-absorbing device on their shield) and we may see some of our users of magic dabble with technology as well. The best and brightest of Tyria (as represented by our playable professions) are all dealing with these advances in different ways.
We view the advance of technology and its integration with the magic of Tyria as part of what makes our world an ever-changing, living place. Could any “material” technology continue to exist without integrating with magic? Could any pure forms of magic exist in a technological world? How do magic and technology influence and affect one another? These are all questions that the people of Tyria must face as their world evolves.
Ten Ton Hammer: The Engineer seems to have a lot of ranged combat options – even the flamethrower seems more like a line-drive-ball-of-flamethrower than a close-in weapon from the video. What choices does the Engineer have in melee range?
Eric Flannum: It should be noted that almost none of the engineer’s kits and weapons have a minimum range associated with them. That being said, the engineer does have fewer up close and personal options. Flamethrowers are best at close or short range, whereas things like the bomb and mine kit are definitely good for dealing with enemies who get too close. In an emergency, the engineer can even smack someone with their wrench!
Ten Ton Hammer: Here's hoping the wrench becomes the crowbar of a new generation! Will the various kits (backpack kits, weapon kits, and tool kits) be hot-swappable? Can an Engineer take on several different roles in the same fight, or will there be a longer cooldown on kit switching?
Eric Flannum:The kits are very easily swapped between and currently have no cooldown associated with them.
Ten Ton Hammer: Turrets seem to work much like Ritualist spirits in the original Guild Wars, with the important addition of Overcharge. Are turrets meant to last longer than one encounter? Does using the Overcharge special ability take out the turret?
Eric Flannum: A well placed turret should be useable for multiple fights. The overcharge ability does not take out or damage the turret in any way.
Ten Ton Hammer: Engineers make perfect sense for races like the humans and the Charr, who have been fighting for centuries. It’s harder to picture a Sylvari, fresh out of the pod, would go for Engineer. How do you reconcile these seeming inconsistencies with race and profession when ArenaNet has committed to the idea of no race-locked professions?
Eric Flannum: I think it is easy to forget that there is a difference between talking about a race and talking about individuals within a race. Not every member of a race will fit in with what is commonly accepted as being “normal” for that race. Players in particular represent very exceptional members of their respective races. Although sylvari engineers may be rare, they do exist. Sylvari by their nature are very curious, and while this usually manifests itself in magical or natural studies, some sylvari are fascinated by machinery. You can use these same criteria when looking at remarkable individuals such as Norn Necromancers and Asura Warriors.
Ten Ton Hammer: At the mention of turrets and elixir guns, we couldn’t help thinking about the Engineer’s potential in PvP. Do you feel that the Engineer is distinctly suited to competitive play? Was that consideration a part of the profession design?
Eric Flannum: Part of our consideration for every profession is in how it would work in both PvE and PvP, so it has definitely been part of the profession design from the beginning.
Players can look forward to swinging wrenches and sidestepping mines when Guild Wars 2 enters beta later this year. Ten Ton Hammer thanks Eric Flannum and the Guild Wars 2 team for taking the time to answer our Engineer profession questions.