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Engineer Ahoy!

September 17, 2008

Something I’m reminded of when I read about so-and-so’s bad experience with lengthy queues (and how the head start is epic fail, etc etc, boo hoo) or so-and-so just couldn’t get into any scenarios because of a population shortfall is that for all of these systems Mythic’s put into place, it’s going to take a little bit of time for them to smooth out and run on all cylinders. It’s pretty unfair for people to demand that, no matter what zone they’re in, for huge amounts of world RvR be taken place, or for no queues to exist at all as thousands upon thousands of people are trying to squeeze through the front door into the tier 1 zones. It’s just kind of silly, that’s all. Anyone who’s done a MMO launch knows that even the smoothest launch is still a bumpy, chaotic ride, full of patches and downtime and crowded zones and queues and frantic questions over chat and rampant nudity (thanks Carrie Gouskos for encouraging that) and high emotions. Sooner or later, things calm down, populations smooth out, queues reduce, and there’s enough players in the world to start staffing all of these features.

Personally, I have very little to complain about this week. I think I’ve been in a small queue… twice. Scenarios pop up all the time, especially if you’re in a group that’s queuing up across two or three zones’ worth of scenarios. I’m not really to the point of caring about open world RvR or sieges or anything like that, because I’m a runty rank 9 just doing quests, maxing out influence in each chapter (ooh new shiny gun!), upping renown through scenarios, and figuring out all the little nuts and bolts of the game. There’s a lot, by the way, of those “little things” that people don’t know or are asking, and other folks sharing. How do I equip a talisman into an armor slot? I had to be told that I have to put the armor piece in my backpack first, THEN right click on it to slot it. Kind of unintuitive, but little stuff like that.

My only real complaint is that the game does lag down with huge amounts of people and action, particularly in chaotic RvR. Not all of the time — sometimes it’s gloriously smooth and I have a great amount of FPS as I get hacked in the back by an orc. But enough to want to see improvement.

So let’s talk about the Engineer. I thought long and hard about what class I wanted to make my main, because I am determined to level this one character to 40 before starting any other alts (aside from my Destruction main, a Black Orc named Sype who’s sitting all by himself for a while). The Engineer career (choo choo!) contains so many elements that appeal to my personality and playstyle — a steampunk class in a fantasy world, gadgets and gizmos, ranged damage and pets. While everyone else is futzing around with bows and arrows or clubs, I shop smart, shop S-Mart and blow them away with my boomstick.

Slowly taking my time to level, Syp’s only gotten to 9 so far, but I’ve started to formulate quite a few pro’s and con’s of the class:

PRO’S

  • When unattacked in PvP, ranged damage is so very much fun. Watching a Witch Elf hack away at a tank while I’m carving off neat slices of her health from 200 yards away is a beautiful thing. It’s nice that I don’t have to worry about running up to any mob or player to start attacking, either.
  • Turrets are great fun and enforce the “defensive dps” nature of the class. They’re three stationary pets — gun (long range, least damage), bombardment (medium range, medium damage), flame (short range, high damage) — that you can set down to assist you in long- or short-ranged dps’ing, or you can “fire and forget” it by plopping it down to protect a flag or inflict the most damage. Considering that turrets are cheap and quick (2 sec) to cast, it amazes me how much they annoy the enemy that players actually stop seeking out enemies and instead focus their attacks on the turrets themselves. Well done, Mr. Marauder. You took ten seconds to kill my turret, and now I have a new one two seconds later.
  • For my money, you just can’t beat the look. It’s a very gear-and-gadget looking class, with a hefty spanner at your side, an ornate rifle slung across your back, and gear that looks appropriate to someone who messes with engines and technology.
  • You have both short-ranged and long-range damage options. I’m not usually freaking out when a mob closes range, because a chunk of my skills are usable either point-blank or from afar. It took a bit to adjust to the mentality of switching between short and long range fighting on the fly, but it seems pretty natural now.
  • Dwarfs in Warhammer actually seem cool, for the first time to me in any MMO.
  • You have tons of tricks up your sleeve that’s more than mere damage. Engineers are a “messing with you” type of class that I find attractive in other MMOs. Debuffs and detaunts, sure. My favorite 1-9 skill was an acid bomb, a decent ranged (or point-blank) attack that has you tossing a bottle of green acid onto multiple targets for a DOT injury. Every Engineer I know can’t wait for barbed wire at rank 10, an instant-cast AOE root that lets you get out of immediate harm’s way and regain some ranged advantage — or cover your side’s retreat from a position.
  • Guns firing (particularly if you have the gun turret out too) in a salvo sounds loud and impressive. None of this little “pfft” of a bow sending a little stick on a merry voyage, but the ear-popping BOOM of black powder propelling hot lead across the battlefield.

CON’S

  • Something I didn’t realize until the head start, but the Engineer is a “squishy” class — we can only wear light armor (if this changes at higher levels, let me know). It’s just not smart to go toe-to-toe with any melee class, because chances are they’re going to win and make you feel foolish about dying. It’s why we get so many tricks, as our form of damage avoidance.
  • I didn’t get a welder’s mask at start. CURSES!
  • As much fun as it is to do ranged damage, invariably 80-90% of combat time is spent point-blank range. Unlike the Squig Herder, our pets don’t keep aggro off of us so that we can plink away in relative safety. You shoot it, you pull it. At least there’s a point-blank shotgun blast skill.
  • Squishiness combined with a lack of burst dps makes Engineers somewhat the outcast in the cool kid’s club (my opinion only, and this may change at higher levels). I get the feeling we’re not seen as invaluable to a group effort as someone with really high dps, or a tank, or healer. We’re just “that guy” who’s tossing bombs and dying a lot.

Obviously, there’s a ways to go to form a full, complete opinion on the class, but I can say this: I don’t regret rolling one. I think I’d regret NOT rolling one if I had picked any other career as my main. There’s more to a game than theorycrafting and mix/maxing — sometimes you just want to play a class that seems enjoyable and cool to you.

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8 comments

  1. Flak jacket should help us survive, but I have not gotten to that level yet.


  2. Syp, I will say that its a bit easier to be so understanding of the queue times when you are actually in the game. When you are staring at an hour queue, you are less likely to be so forgiving. I found myself in this same position. I was in the game reading and listening to players get very bothered by being a 1 hour queue, playing and crashing, then being right back in a 1 hour queue again. I was telling them to wait it out, it can’t be this bad all the time, etc. Then it happened to me and I was in their shoes and it wasn’t so easy to preach that message any more.

    You play Order, which as of now is underpopulated on most servers when compared to Destruction. You get to log in without a queue and play on a very populated server where the scenarios are going rapid fire style because the other side is full and waiting for you to jump in.

    This is by no mean to place any type of criticism at you, just to say that its a matter of perspective. When all you want to do is be online with your new guild playing a great game, people tend get alot more irrational than normal as you well know. Rather than demanding changes and complaining more to people, we recently chose a low population server to play on, many of us losing level 8/9/10+ characters to start over without long queue times.


  3. Sure, and that’s a valid point. It is my perspective, and I’d probably be growling if it were me on the outside.

    But by Mythic’s admission, four of the launch servers have been severely overpopulated, and since a certain mega-blogger guild rolled on one of them, suddenly the WAR blogosphere is lighting up with how crappy the queue times are, when it’s not even happening to a majority of players. It’s not your fault you guys chose that server and it was the one that got bombed, but I can turn the perspective argument around and say that cries of doom and queues have been wildly overstated because of so many bloggers on the same exact server.


  4. Engineer sounds pretty cool–Mythic (thankfully) is making it very hard for me to decide what class I’d like to play once I start). I’m not sure how evident it is during early start, but I’m curious to know what the population balance in terms of Order vs. Destruction is looking like. Because of some RL hoopla, I won’t be ingame for another couple weeks, so I’ve got plenty of time to do my homework.

    I suppose there will always be naysayers and folks losing their heads over a whole lot of nothing no matter how smooth a launch is. An MMO launch will always have its speed bumps.


  5. To be fair, there have been queues on Phoenix Throne. Last night I sat in queues of 200+ three times due to CTDs. It doesn’t help we’re playing on what seems to be the most populated side there, but I think both sides are quite full.

    That said, it’s just like on the CE launch day… there were queues because EVERYBODY was on, then it leveled out. Last night all the SEs were on, and I’m anticipating that the queues won’t be so bad tonight. They’ll probably get worse tomorrow for the official launch, then eventually calm back down.

    For folks concerned about scenarios popping, for serious, this works really well: Form a party with folks spread across all three areas, and queue for all three areas. They’ll start popping much faster.


  6. I’ve been in two short (20 min or less) queues for Phoenix Throne Order so far, and I don’t mind it. I originally planned to roll Destruction, but specifically changed because of queue times for realms and scenarios. If people have such a huge problem with waiting an hour, and they know the opposing side has no queue time whatsoever, and they have invested at most 3 days now in a character…well, there is a logical choice that could be made.

    I didn’t think I’d like many Order classes, but I’ve loved the ones I’ve played thus far.


  7. My main on Pheonix, Garavi, got bumped off the server as soon as I went AFK. Word to the wise, if your waiting in a queue, check you place periodically or you’ll be in for a nasty surprise šŸ˜›


  8. The class doesn’t really come into its own until at least rank 20, which would net you concussive grenade, otherwise known as The Ultimate Tool for Messing With People.

    Not because the knockback is huge, but because out of all your KB abilities, it is relatively spammable with a 10 second cooldown.

    A grenadier spec would be very good at messing with people. It’s just not a class that can perform well without its toolbox.



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