Alpha mini-guides: Engineer

The original thread, along with the feedback it received at the time, can be found here:
http://www.hellgateaus.info/forum/london-2038/alpha-mini-guides-engineer/

Disclaimer: As 2038 progresses, much of the info in these guides is very likely to, or even bound to, not apply in the future. The purpose of these guides is to highlight how classes differ from their Global/SP counterparts, so as to provide leveling testers with more efficient ways to test later content.

Disclaimer #2: The builds outlined below are most often functional after lv30, as they do often use lv25-30 skills. It is noteworthy that not all such builds will be easy to start from lv1 with, either due to high gear dependency (ie Shrapnel) or a significant lack of AoE that would assist in leveling. Therefore, in such cases it is highly advised that testers either

  1. deviate from such builds in favor of more AoE-oriented ones early on, and later reskill to them, or
  2. account for the relative lack of AoE through the use of early/mid-game weapons that assist in that front, either by themselves or by providing AoE skills.

What’s the Engineer now?

In stark contrast to Global’s Engineers being very efficient Strikers, 2038 finds them to be a minion-based support class. This means that Engineers will not be competing with other damage-dealing classes, or at the very least not by traditional means.

Engineers still provide parties with the invaluable Haste Bot (and Beacon if Marksmen with the skill are absent), and have some efficient ways to apply debuffs on enemies. The base Bomber Bot, Ghostly Strike, Molotov Assault and Phase Grenade all fall within this category.

Key differences with Global (details in spoiler tags)

Strikes and Phase Grenade are much, much worse. Both Strikes and Phase Grenade don't currently (seem to properly, if at all) crit, and they don't get radius/damage bonuses from the player's guns. This means they will be of little more use than stunning, igniting or phasing a gang of critters, and they will boast much less radius than they did. It's noteworthy, however, that Phase Grenade is much more effective at phasing enemies than it was.
Minion damage pays off. Global's Drone had never been much more than a metal meatshield. In 2038 however, +minion damage has a very visible effect on it. As long as the player has a decent amount of it, a Drone equipped with a Magnum (formerly Gatlings) or an Exothermic Rifle full of +damage vs a caste can truly deal respectable damage, even more so if Tactical Mode is used.
Novas work. Possibly the most basic difference with Global, in 2038 Shrapnel and Exploding Spikes currently* work terrifyingly well. In practice, this means that any Drone can use a nova-filled gun to decent effect, and Engineers themselves can too. Any gun with high Rate of Fire (Hotshot, Hu's Hypershot and so forth) can work stunningly well with a decent amount of Shrapnel in it.
  • This is an aspect of the game that is very likely to change in the future. But currently, it’s a very efficient leveling/farming option.

What’s still broken.

Tactical Mode, and the Drone equipment feeds.
Tactical mode doesn’t grant the proper RoF/CD bonuses, so it has been avoided for the builds below.
Equipment feeds may also deactivate gear when switching among zones, so the player will have to manually re-equip such gear on their Drone.

Gear (details in spoiler tags)

Engineers now have much less use for +stat pieces than they did in Global. That is not to say that they have no use for +stat pieces, but:

CCM values are halved. This effectively means that crit builds are much harder, bordering on impossible. A crit build with a ~50% caste crit chance is still possible and performs decently, but critcapping weapons the way players did in Global seems impossible. Therefore, +ACC bonuses are also less valuable than they were.
Engineers have fewer skills to spam. With Strikes underperforming and Spider Mines being equally lackluster, Engineers don't need a massive power pool. Therefore, +WILL bonuses are also less useful than before, bordering on redundant after a specific amount of power regeneration has been reached.
Strikes don't receive the +radius bonuses on the player's weapons. This means there's no need for Engineers to cover huge STR feeds for +radius mods.
Feeds are generally much more modest. This means players don't need to seek +stat pieces to cover feeds of weapons and mods.

So, previously secondary properties on gear that may now be of much more use include:

Shrapnel. The mother of all damage-dealing, this property currently works terribly well. Any high-RoF weapon can truly shine when filled with Shrapnel.
+Movement speed. The TC gear currently has an inherent -movement speed penalty. Therefore, odd pieces such as Lanzer's Longrunners may be of much more use in counter-balancing the loss.
+minion damage. As previously mentioned, this stat is now much more significant than it was. It can elevate the Rocket Bot into an efficient PvE damage-dealer, and the Drone into a decent source of damage against bosses. +Minion health/armor may be of much use as well once the Drone is fixed. Given its current state and how it may not properly take such bonuses into account, I am not suggesting that they currently be given equal priority.
+Damage against caste/+damage/increases damage. These are also previously overlooked properties that currently seem to work much better than they did. +Damage against caste roughly capping at 50% allows the player to stock up on it, in a similar way to how they would on +caste cdb.
+Elemental damage and +elemental strength. Global had little use for this property, but currently using a Mythic set of armor that grants a decent sum of +elemental strengths can be very efficient. +Ignite strength is now more likely to actually help ignite a boss, and the Dessicator calls for massive +poison strength.

Builds (details in spoiler tags)

Given the factors discussed above, here are the rough outlines of two builds that can work sufficiently.

Note, both builds take for granted a +1 to All Skills helmet. This is much easier to augment compared to Global, and it’s generally not a rare augment by any means.

Such gear as Gunny’s Mistress, Doompulse, and other +skill weapons and rings can also provide room to expand on these builds. They are not accounted for in either build, to ensure gear dependancy is kept at a bare minimum.

But what about Strikes?

Strikes are nowhere near as powerful as they were in Global, as mentioned above. However, they’re still powerful skills that can fit into either of the two builds below, as long as points can be spared.
The full Strike trio requires 18 points (6 to each, plus +1 to each through a +1 AS helm), while a less intensive version of it would be 13; 1 in Smackdown and 6 in the other two. The reasoning behind it is that, among +radius, +duration, and +ele strengths, the latter should be the least harmful to sacrifice if points don’t suffice.

Droneless

Skills 7/7 Haste Bot

Note, the skill is maxed at 7/7 in 2038, despite the planner’s depiction.
Still an incredible party buff, even more so for users of high-RoF weapons.

7/7 Rocket Bot

As discussed above, high +minion damage can make this a decent damage-dealer against most critters and non-Champions. It can easily be swapped with Bomber Bot, if the player is willing to trade the added damage for a (decent) chance to phase enemies.

10/10 Tactical Stance (can be reduced)

This is mainly a filler skill whose points can be spent elsewhere (such as into a Strike core, as outlined above). It was chosen for its decent damage bonus and (apparent) synergy with Novas, in the same way that Anchor works for Gundians.

10/10 Beacon

Still an invaluable debuff, both for solo play and for parties that lack Marksmen with the skill.

1/7 Escape (2/7 with +1 AS)

A great panic button.

10/10 Phase Grenade (can be reduced)

Currently a very decent way to phase enemies, the skill is maxed for max phase strength. Points can be shaved off this skill and invested elsewhere.

Drone/Bomber

Skills 7/7 Haste Bot

Note, the skill is maxed at 7/7 in 2038, despite the planner’s depiction.
Still an incredible party buff, regardless of build.

10/10 Bomber Bot, 2/10 Ghostly Strike

Those are meant to provide a means of phasing enemies more consistently, thus boosting the damage output of both the player and the Drone. They can be swapped with Rocket Bot and/or Phase Grenade, the latter of which can be of similar performance in phasing, or a Strike core, as outlined above.

10/10 Beacon

Same as above, an invaluable debuff to skip.

1/7 Escape (2/7 with +1 AS)

Still a great panic button.

4/10 (3+1) Construct Drone, minimal Retrofits and 4 (3+1) Master Engineer (recommended to adjust accordingly)

This is a basic investment into a functional Drone; the ability to equip any gear and heal the Drone in times of need. Construct Drone and Master Engineer are left at 4 (3+1) for the simple reason that using a cast set of 2 weapons with +3 to both skills can practically save the player those 12 points.

This is bound to change when Tactical Mode is fixed, of course.

6 (5+1) Phase Grenade (can be reduced/increased)

Again, a decent way to phase enemies.

Note: A Strike core (as outlined above) is always a welcome addition to any such “concept” build, so it would be a highly advised route. Moreover, a single point in Aggressive Mode seems to be of much use to Drone builds, so it is arguably a very decent investment as well.

Edit: An alternative build concept can also be found here: Engineer mini-guide: Igniting Leeches... what?

Skillplanner links updated :slight_smile:

Also made some slight corrections and additions.

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