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Wildstar: A closer look at the classes

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It’s awesome to be excited about games, and now is a good time to have that sense of wonder and excitement. Some have it for WoW. The alpha news with a first look at the patch notes for 6.0 are almost to the point of mind-boggling. Druids without Innervate? Hunters without Hunter’s Mark? The list goes on. Many changes afoot, for sure. I will say that I am a bit exasperated with Blizzard who are making the release of an alpha client a huge news event. I can’t recall that people have ever been so ga-ga about an alpha before. I am furthermore shocked that it took them from Blizzcon’s announcement until April to actually get an alpha out.

Now is also a good time to be excited about TESO. Belghast sure is, and is very happy about the smooth launch. Well done, Zenimax. While I don’t have any interest in this game at all, more diversity in the MMO-sphere is important to ensure that us enthusiasts will keep getting exciting games in the future. I have a feeling Tales of the Aggronaut will be a good source for TESO fans in the months to come, with some guide content already on the site.

Me, I choose to be excited for Wildstar. I pre-ordered, played on more beta weekends, dragged a friend into the game yesterday, and am fully convinced that it will keep me busy until WoD for sure. Because of that reason, you can expect more Wildstar posts in the near future. I get the feeling it’s a bit of a niche game. I would like for this game to be successful, and so I shall blog about it, to get out the word. That’s the best any fan of Wildstar can do for now.

Because a game where you can create a cute fuzzy EVIL KILLER MOUSE needs championing.

Because a game where you can create a cute fuzzy EVIL KILLER MOUSE needs championing.

Today, I want to take a closer look at the classes, to share my opinions after playing all of them, most to level 10 and above. There’s a hint of bias as I can only describe the classes as I personally experienced them. Also, I played every single one as assault and have only dabbled in support abilities for self-healing.

In general, we have six classes. All six classes have assault, support, and utility abilities. Assault=DPS. Support=either tanking or healing. Utility=as the name suggests, with a bit of a focus on PvP abilities. Each class has a so-called Innate, a cooldown they can use that is unique to the class. Often looks cool too! Each class has one type of weapon they use, so there is never any competition whatsoever between classes. Also, all classes have a power-type that they build to spend on finishers.

The Engineer
Big guns and cute bots

Weapon type: did I mention BIG GUNS?

The engineer is a ranged DPS with a tanking support role. Yes, you can be a ranged tank. I find the concept of ranged tanking pretty exciting. If you want to compare it to a WoW class, if you must, the engineer feels a bit like a hunter. Instead of pets you collect, you can have two types of bots with you. A bruiser bot that will tank for you, and an artillery bot that will shoot barrages of death and destruction at your enemies. You can use both bots at the same time, if you are so inclined. Like WoW hunters I felt engineers nicely suited for beginners because you take considerably less direct damage thanks to your trusty friends the bruiser bot with aggro issues and artillery bot who is very happy to steal aggro off bruiser bot. 😉

Power type: Volatility
In order to use your big finishers, like Electrocute, you build Volatility, up to 100. I suppose you can compare it to energy, only that you actively have to build it. As early engineer, you will spend a lot of time using Power Blast to have enough Volatility for your finisher. I wasn’t bored with this mechanic, because Power Blast has a nice, let’s call it oomphy sound effect. You can’t miss an engineer, they’re loud, and they know it.

A Granok engineer with trusty buddy bots.

A Granok engineer with trusty buddy bots.

Innate ability: Modes
Pretty much the same as a warrior stance, see below. Being in a mode comes with specific bonuses, aka increased damage for assault, increased threat and higher resistances for support. The coolness factor is very high. You get a 2 minute cooldown to jump into an Exosuit for 20 seconds. The assault version called Eradicate gives you 10 volatility per second plus extra damage dealt, but it also slows you down movement wise. Great for a burn phase. The support version called Provoke gives you 10 volatility per second and reduces incoming damage, but the movement penalties still apply. And yet, what about penalties when you look like a giant armored rockstar for 20 precious seconds? Rar!

I had a lot of fun playing the engineer, I got mine to level 12.

The Esper
Killing stationary with the power of your mind!

Weapon type: Psy-Blades. They’re basically shuriken that the esper carries around on his or her back.

The esper is another ranged DPS, with a healing support role. If you want to compare them to a WoW class, mage or warlock probably comes closest. Though more mage, really. They mostly cast illusionary creatures or use telekinetic abilities. Also, an adorable whirlwind. At least on my chua I thought the ability was quite adorable. 🙂 They feel a bit like a glass cannon. Unlike all other classes, you need to be stationary for most builders, which means that DPSing on the run while moving away from telegraphs takes some skill. They are quite bursty and feel quite powerful to me. From what I read about their healing, they play more like a traditional healer, with some heals you actually need to land on folks by targetting, which I find a bit weird for a game that is so huge on not targetting mobs. If you can deal with having to stand in able to cast your builders and like a bit of burst, esper might be for you.

Power-type: Psi-Points
Psi-Points are pretty much like combo points of rogues or druids in WoW, but on the caster, not the target. You build psi-points by mostly using stationary abilities like Telekinetic Strike and then spend them on bursty damage abilities like Mind Burst. As healer, you use an additional power-type, focus. It’s like mana. Heals cost focus, psi-points or both.

Innate: Spectral Form
A cooldown that lasts for 10 seconds, increases damage mitigation and generates a psi-point every second. Available every 2.5 minutes. Both a damage and healing burst and while questing a life saver when something is pummeling on you. However, you cannot move at all while it’s going on, so usage can be tricksy when there’s suddenly a big telegraph under your feet.

Esper is another class I would consider as a main, because I had a lot of fun playing my little chua field mouse of doom. I got him to level 12, just like the engineer.

The Medic
Dubstep all the time, wub wub wub

Weapon type: Resonators aka dubstep guns

The medic is a mid-range DPS, with a healing support role. Mid-range really means that you have to hang out much more closely with mobs than the other ranged classes, but you’re not melee by any means. Medic is the class I exclusively played in the closed beta, and thus made it to level 22. Medics apparently were the flavor of the month in the beta because they got buffed just before I joined. They do good damage with a good deal of front-loaded burst, and are highly survivable with some healing abilities thrown in. Consider them healers that heal you with TECHNOLOGY! Unlike espers and spellslingers that use their minds. Their resonator guns look a little bit like dual-wielded defibrillators, and a lot of abilities sound like dubstep sounds. They have little probes, e.g. that either heal or do extra DPS.

Power-type: Actuators
Actuators remind me a lot of paladin holy power. Or combo points. Doesn’t really matter. As medic you start out with full 5 actuators so you can frontload a good deal of damage. However, building actuators up is done with a fairly weak-feeling ability called Discharge which can make it feel a bit tedious. At later levels you get more cool things like Collider or Fissure which don’t require Actuators nor build them but are quite good anyhow. Heals cost a mix of Actuators and focus again, much like the esper, but mostly focus. From what I hear they are better suited to healing via telegraphs but a bit hampered by their medium range. Wildstar, the game where you must pray the people who don’t stand in bad stand in your good stuff instead.

Innate: Energize
Pretty straightforward, it will refill all your Actuators and you gain an Empowered buff. If your health is above 30%, you will do increased damage and/or healing. With a fairly short 1.5 minute cooldown, this one is a no-brainer, is it? Wub wub wub.

Dubstep guns, in the face!

Dubstep guns, in the face!

The Spellslinger
Spellslinging space cowboys

Weapon type: dual-wielded pistols. Pew-pew

The spellslinger is a ranged DPS class with a support healer role. From aesthetics nothing screams Wildstar as much to me as the spellslinger does. They are frickin’ cowboys with pistols. Unlike the esper, they are all about mobility, with a couple of teleportation spells though they have a stationary spell (that you can later make mobile once you invest tier points), Charged Shot. They do need some work however and hope they get some fixes before release, because right now they play a bit…underwhelming. The main issue is with the way their Innate currently works, but I will get to that. Once they are fixed, they will probably be a lot of fun. A lot of their attacks are very narrow atm, so you need to be very careful with positioning, so that you actually hit bigger groups.

Power-type: Spell Power
Here’s where the problem with this begins. All other classes have a power-type that they actively build. Spellslingers don’t. You start at full 100 spell power. Turning the Innate on drains the spellpower. You build spell power during combat, but very slowly, over time. Out of combat, it refills quickly. There is nothing you can do to actively fill your spell power, but without having any to power your Innate, spells don’t hit very hard.

Innate: Spell Surge
The Innate is a toggle. While active, it drains spell power and will make all the spells you cast hit harder. It’s pretty much mandatory at this point to have this on whenever. Which turns this Innate from ‘Rar, super-power buff’ into a super-micromanagey drain. Carbine can start to impress me by making it into something fun. Because I seriously seriously want to love the spellslinger.

While my description of the class sounds like a requiem for it, it was still a class that was fun enough to play, but the difference in questing was most jarring between esper and spellslinger. Spellslingers look cooler, but have it harder.

And yet, even the concept art shows how cool spellslingers are.

And yet, even the concept art shows how cool spellslingers are.

The Stalker
Sneaking and stealthing like a pro

Weapon type: Claws. Dual-wielded fist weapons that look like claws.

Here’s the class I chose to play as a main. It’s actually my least-played class beta-wise, because it took me like 5 levels to say ‘Yup, that’s what I want to play’. In order not to spoil myself any further, I logged off and never touched the stalker again. It was that easy. Stalkers are the rogue-class of Wildstar, a melee DPS with a tanking support role. As far as I can tell, they’re currently the highest DPS class as well. They play very fluid, very fast-paced and should be fun for anyone who ever enjoyed rogue gameplay. I felt right at home. At the same time, they also have nice survivability with self-heals called Lifesteal. Tanking should be quite interesting with them.

Power-type: Suit Energy
The stalker class is wearing a specific suit that gives them stealth abilities and many abilities require suit energy as power cost. The energy bar fills quite quickly both in and out of combat, which is one of the reasons that gameplay felt quite fluid.

Innate: Nano skins
They have three different nano skins, basically like warrior stances. All nano skins can be activated to turn stealth on, with different outcomes when you break stealth. They have a 20 second cooldown in combat, and no cooldown out of combat. Yup, you can stealth to your heart’s content, in and out. The agile skin increases movement speed when you exit stealth, the evasive skin increases threat and deflect and gives you resistances when you exit stealth, and the lethal skin increases damage and makes the first stealthed hit have a 100% critical chance. Ooooh, yeah.

100% crit hit incoming, you little fluffy aurin bunny.

100% crit hit incoming, you little fluffy aurin bunny.

The Warrior
Big swords, big leaps

Weapon type: the most enormous 2H swords you can imagine

Oh warrior class, near and dear to my heart. In Wildstar warriors are melee DPS with a tanking support role. The first character I rolled in Wildstar was a Granok warrior with a mohawk, and not only did I hate the character model, I also couldn’t deal with the class. I played the class a little bit more now and it grew on me, but my biggest pet peeve still exists: the sounds. I come from WoW, so I am spoiled. WoW combat sounds are utterly satisfying. I can’t think of a single attack I hate. Then I played a Wildstar warrior and met Power Strike. Power Strike is an ability that does some nice burst damage. When you first use it, you can use it for a total of 4 strikes with a reduced global cooldown, which means four attacks in very short succession. This could and should be awesome. Unfortunately the power strike sound effect makes it sound like you are missing four times. Loudly. It’s just this super-bland swooshy sound that inevitably makes Schmitt yell at me to turn the sound down. The Wildstar subreddit also agrees that this is not a good sound effect.

You can get used to the sound, and it’s really offset by one of the more fantastic abilities: Leap. It’s what WoW’s Heroic Leap should have been. It’s a very fluid Leap ahead and makes you feel awesome when you land and slam down your sword. Quite quite fun. They do feel like good, solid melee classes, and I think there will be many many warriors around at launch. I have a feeling they will be the default tank class as well.

Power-type: Kinetic Energy
A fancy term for an old mechanic: good ol’ rage. There are a couple twists here. It’s a bar that goes up to 1000, and most energy-using abilities like Power Strike require 250 Energy. Some abilities scale with energy though. The more energy you have, the harder they hit. You build kinetic energy by using abilities like the cooldown-less Relentless Strikes as builder.

Innate: Stances
Warriors have two stances. Onslaught is the assault stance which increases damage. When you use the active component, your kinetic energy fills to 1000 and does not decay for the duration of the buff, 8 seconds. Your damage is also increased, at the cost of increased damage taken and reduced incoming healing. Use with care. Juggernaut increases resistances, shields and threat, and when you activate it, your bar gets filled, doesn’t decay, increases threat and reduces damage taken, at the cost of dealing less damage in that time. Both buffs turn you into a GIANT.

Speaking of giants, here's my warrior looking at a giant robot in the distance. Whoa.

Speaking of giants, here’s my warrior looking at a giant robot in the distance. Whoa.

8 Comments

  1. I had my first Beta weekend this weekend and played all the classes to levels 6-12. I got the medic the furthest, and I love everything about the class. (I have a draft post midway about the Medic – coming soon!tm) Anyway, oddly enough, what I loved about the Medic is what you hated about the Warrior – the sounds! Every ability sounds like you are at a rave or daft punk concert. Very awesome. Plus, with my healer WoW past, its nice to have an “in your face” healing style.

    Which has been awesome on (dis)organized PVP. our teams average 500k damage in the battlegrounds, and I’m healing 100k as well (and usually the only heals) – makes a difference!

    I’m still not sold on buying the game yet, but I’m really curious to see how the Medic does in dungeons (my MMO fave past time)

    Nice roundup!

    • I didn’t run any dungeons, but I did an adventure on my medic, and that was pretty awesome. I died once but felt I did decent damage. Our healer was a medic as well, and did very well, as long as people actually played along with the healing. It’s team work. I have heard nothing but good things about dungeons.

  2. As always, fantastic write-up. Right now I’m deciding between Esper and Medic, though I’m willing to give Slinger another chance if they do any revamping between now and launch. A lot will depend on how important it will be to refill shields, as Medic is the only class that can refill shields.
    Njessi recently posted…Smelling The Roses And Reading The Fine PrintMy Profile

  3. Maybe I’ll try it. I need to try a new MMO this year. Wildstar is one that at least looks somewhat fun to play. Something I CANNOT say about ESO. I’m so very disappointed with how boring it looks and feels (i know, i know, feels like all the other Elder Scrolls. Maybe that’s the problem).

    • What always strikes me when I look at screenshots of ESO is that it looks dark and gloomy. I have mentioned before that the Elder Scrolls games just don’t appeal to me, so I might just be incredibly biased.

      Wildstar is whimsical, colorful and fun to look at, something I hadn’t fully counted on. The Dominion zone Deradune in the level 6-15 range tugged on all my heartstrings by basically being a lush version of The Barrens.

      The next beta will have the release client for the very first time, so maybe the weekend of April 18 will be a good time to try and get a beta key to see if you like it. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Go forth and read! | Bio Break

  5. Just came upon your wildstar posts. Very well written! Looking forward to headstart myself this weekend.

  6. Thank you for the kind words! I can’t wait for the weekend myself. Looking forward to posting many more things about Wildstar before and after launch. 🙂

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