Ahead of the latest Guild Wars 2: End Of Dragons beta test we got to go hands-on with the final three specializations set to land as we make land in Cantha. With the aid of some experienced ArenaNet developers, Gamespace got in the dam robot and took the Mechanist for a spin.
Wielding an impressive new mace and sporting a new companion, the Mechanist is the newest specialization to take Engineers in a new direction and, according to Arenanet, hopefully, bringing a bit more accessibility to the class. Engineers have, outside of the old bunker meta, been something of difficult class to play well. The Scrapper and Holosmith might have established metas of their own but the Engineer has a bunch of rotations and a ton of capability that need to align to get the best out of this class. Sidestepping a little closer to the pet orientated Ranger, the Mechanist takes some of the established pet systems and gives them an innovative new twist for the End of Dragons expansion.
It feels a little off to be talking about the addition of the mace as a new weapon as the skillset that comes with this is designed to support players. The three primary skills that accompany this weapon are an interesting choice that provides plenty of flexibility to Engineers looking to jump in and out of the frey, without pushing players in any particular direction. The opening gambit of Mace Strike, Smash, and Blast seem to suggest that this new addition to the Engineer’s toolkit is aimed at creating confusion and vulnerability, but not exactly standing center stage in the fight.
That might be an issue if it wasn’t for the mechanist’s crowning achievement, the Jade Mech. A fusion of Canthan and Tyrian tech, this battle platform is an attempt by ArenaNet to create a set of systems that are inspired by the Ranger pet but do not undermine it. Informing almost every other part of this build, The mech streamlines this new specialization and allows players to get to grips with blowing away the opposition without having to tweak their toolkits.
As we’ve already discussed, the Mechanist dispenses with tools that you’d normally expect from a tinkerer and instead takes a slightly less direct approach for these active skills. As one of the lat classes to get Signets, granting this mech commander a range of knock backs and shields that add benefits not jsut to their mech but any party members in range. What’s really ingenious about this new setup is that the mech does not take up an active ally slot but still gets a bunch of the benefits. Largely these allow a good mx of heals, barrier, and knock backs to keep everyone alive, with the ultimate Jade Buster Cannon beam linked to the Overclock Signet. While most of the signets fall into the more passive area of combat support, this disastrously powerful beam weapon will track a target from wherever a mech stands, sweeping through anything in its path and potentially making for some awesome plays in PvP.
The Jade Mech might actually seem familiar to seasoned Rangers. This amalgamation of metals, minerals, and magic inherits the same control interface Rangers are used to but rather than select from a wild nest of different pets, Mechanists get a slightly different way of taking on the action. Mechanists might just get one machine to call on but they move many of the toolkit style configurations out to the mech itself. With just one weapons platform and a whole host of options, picking and choosing from the Mechanist’s trait line is an essential task. Each of the major traits in this new configuration directly influences which active skill a mech might use, even going as far as modifying the physical weapons it carries.
This is all very cool and adds a ton of customization to the Mechanist’s gameplay. While it makes things distinctly easier to manage, that doesn’t say a whole lot about the abilities on offer. While you can take a quick glimpse at all three traits and abilities available when things go live next week, let’s just say they all work together to give your mech a solid mix of support and destruction. You might notice that the mechanist has a bunch of Alacrity and damage dealing possibilities when you get hands on, but equally it can swap out to simply be a companion during solo runs. Taking a step back from the ranged rotation of the core Engineer or the frontline support of a Scrapper, the Mechanist feels more this powerhouse has the ability to drop a ton of DPS with the right build without having to go running for support when things get too tough. If you’re looking for a solo DPS experience without having to worry about being a glass cannon then the Mechanist is definitely worth a look, even if we don’t actually get a chance to get in the dam mech.