The class is coming into itself a bit more, with a shift towards AE DoTs. It does two things very well: single target burst damage and AE damage-over-time. Survivability is still low, but it is adequate for PvE and improving in PvP as I learn how to play better.
By level 20, the turrets have a permanent improvement, doing what they do a bit better. I have fallen into what seems like the proper use: the gun turret is the generic, single-target damage, what you use in solo PvE; the flamethrower is for close PvP fights and AE PvE, as in public quests; the bombardment tower is used less, for ranged PvP where clumps of enemies are more likely that solo targets. I think I will use that last one more when I start doing more open-field RvR.
I got most of my levels from tier 2 scenarios, which you can reasonably start doing around level 16. People start at 10, but they are mostly wastes of space that help their teams lose. The Order/Chaos scenario uses single-target ranged damage well, along with the flamethrower at the flag. The Dwarf/Greenskin scenario is great for AE, since people clump around corners or near spawn points. The Engineer is the default defense class for protecting your flag in the Elf scenario.
There is a little defense, a flak jacket, but it competes for “worst buff in the game.” It has a casting time, so you are stuck for 2 seconds (not huge, but not good while being hit), and it lasts for 20 attacks. On the plus side, it lasts for an hour if it has charges left. I have no idea how much better I survive with or without; if I do not have 2 free seconds after 20 attacks, I am probably in trouble anyway. My new level 20 ability gives an occasional knockback option, so we will see how that goes.
The single-target damage sees only a slight bolster with Hip Shot, which can be used point-blank and at extreme range but has a 10 second cooldown. I added my mastery points to Path of the Rifleman, so that helps too. I am looking forward to buying the Hollow-Points tactic, which will add a lot of damage to my basic shot.
The AE fun is the addition of Flashbang and Fragmentation Grenades. Flashbang is not huge: nice single-target damage with an AE interrupt. When I can target a healer in a RvR clump, I throw this; he is usually flanked by another healer and a ranged DPS or two. The Frag grenade is the big AE DoT, which stacks nicely with the existing Acid Bomb. These two are how I get huge damage numbers in the Dwarf/Greenskin scenario, when used with a flamethrower.
The new utility toy is a land mine. Mines have a 15 second cooldown and last a minute, and give AE damage and knockdown. They are fun to throw at groups, and I can use those two seconds to throw a frag grenade, then hit the acid bomb as I round a corner.
Getting used to my barbed wire has improved survivability. PBAE root, so hit it as you start running away. I do not run away unless I have a corner and/or a healer, because otherwise you get shot in the back and die while snared all to heck. Spanner Swipe also has a snare if the target is already debuffed, so I get away from single targets with a DoT-snare combo and from multiple targets with the AE root.
I wish I had more tools for chasing people. I have a couple of insta-cast DoTs, plus that Hip Shot on a 10 second cooldown. If they are close enough, I can use my few melee attacks. Everything else has an induction timer. If you stop to shoot something for 2+ seconds, make sure you kill it with that shot.
PvE is fine and pretty quick. I can take two to three at a time solo. In groups, I go AE overnuke crazy and hope for the best. It usually goes just fine.
In RvR, I must accept that I cannot solo anything except a fellow ranged DPS, unless I significantly out-level the target. Every class that is not ranged DPS has a better survivability/damage combo than me, although I can often get away. One on one, I will generally lose. In large groups, if the enemy is away from me, I am a stellar addition. The same clumps of enemies that burn people down are the perfect targets for all my AE DoTs. It may take 15 seconds, but they are all bleeding constantly while I focus on shooting one down. There will probably be a Bright Wizard next to me, adding to the AE fun. In one way, this is horrid, because burst damage that takes out targets is usually the big winner in PvP; a slow DoT means the target needs a slow HoT to ignore me. But do you have the time and energy to HoT everyone in your team constantly? And if I can nullify one healer myself, we are at least still even, and I can use my single-target shots on the healer while he is tossing those HoTs. I do not get terribly many killing blows, but I do soften up half the opposing team. They also get distracted killing turrets.
I am still not using that detaunt much. I rarely need to in PvE unless we are fighting a hero, and in PvP I usually want a target dead or away from me, not doing less damage as it interrupts my abilities. My morale ability with knockback does more for me.
Then again, I fought relatively few hero-class monsters in this level range. Scenarios popped within a minute of queuing, so I hit PvE for those early levels and when I felt like exploring; RvR was always there for me, with great experience (>10,000 on a win, ~5,000 on a loss, including the quest turn-ins). That is one reason I avoided the Elf scenario: not only does it tend to be slow and boring, but rarely does anyone get to 500 points, so you spend more than 15 minutes (broken timer) for relatively few kills (lower xp and rp). Or I could go to the Temple, where the whole point is to kill as many of the enemy as possible as quickly as possible. Gates of Ekrund is still my favorite scenario, but I like the Dwarf/Greenskin pairing so far.
For PvE content, I spent most of my time in Empire lands. I connected with some guild groups for RvR and public quests, and there is a whole line of public quests right along the road. Seriously, there are four right next to one another, so even if you do not have a group to take out champions, you can walk down the line and fill your influence bar with stage 1. I found Dwarf PQs hidden in the corners where I would be stuck soloing them, so I mostly did not. I did not see much of the High Elf lands (next character?), except to see painfully broken lands where the constant Ventrilo question was, “I see it on my map, how do I get there?”
After the public quest binge, my monster kill count topped my RvR kill count. That is back in its proper status, since I spent most of 16 to 20 in scenarios.
This is about it for active abilities. The main bonuses for future levels look like tactics, morales, etc. I will fill out my spec trees, gain power through increased renown since I am leveling through RvR, and see about getting some loot sometime.
On the trade skill front, I took Scavenging and Apothecary. I effectively get free and cheap potions, which also help my survivability. I am just ~110 and ~90 respectively. I need to farm some materials to get Apothecary over 100. Healing potion components are very plentiful for scavengers; I would need to talk to a cultivator to get more buff potions, although I use the ones I make freely so that I can have my pack space back.
Still fun. I am learning and living more. Open field RvR may be another kettle of fish, but that will be something to learn as I play more. Onwards!
Once I hit the new tier, it is back to PvE and public quests for about four levels, since I do not want to be the scenario leech. I learned how useless I could feel doing the open-world RvR in the 12-14 range, when I lacked many abilities. Of course, now I have all those abilites, with fewer gained in the next tier, so I would just have lower mastery. Hmm, maybe I can play scenarios earlier in tier 3. We shall see.