Mind Bullets! Group Combat! Fish-based Heals!
We’re back with yet another wrap-up of the 6-week-long class reveals for WildStar, which highlights some of the important or more eye-catching details from the previous seven days. After the success of the first week (I’m stating it as such because I’ve managed to get our resident Playstation junkie Brendan frothing at the idea of Carbine’s upcoming MMO) which focused on the Warrior, we continue with the second class in the series of reveals. Or, in this case, yet another re-reveal, because you haven’t earned the good new stuff just yet.
You gaming peasants.
Now, I enjoy smashing things with giant swords in a virtual space as much as the next person, but sometimes conventional warfare just doesn’t cut it (decide amongst yourselves if that’s a pun or not – I’m far too tired right now.) So it’s just as well that we get to look at the first of WildStar’s ranged classes with the second week of the Class Drop – the Esper. This class is the nearest thing to a traditional mage in regards to the rest of the MMO genre, capable of being either a damage dealer or a healer, but as the latest DevSpeak video demonstrated, this is no ordinary mage thanks to its array of mind-bending abilities. Fancy utilising deadly illusions to destroy foes? Perhaps you want to make you enemies think there are horrific monsters nearby? Maybe you want to hurl glowing daggers of death? Personally, I feel the following image sums it all up perfectly.
So, the Warriors have Kinetic Energy to fuel their warpath, but how do Espers work? They use something called Psi-points which are generated by casting ‘builder’ abilities, with ‘finisher’ moves taking those points and converting them into pain (lots of pain) or, if you’re playing the healer, some sweet, sweet heals. Being a light armour user, the smarter Espers will be wanting to keep their foes at bay, and let their spells do the slaughtering. You can learn more about the Esper, along with some tasty bits of lore, by heading to the official website.
As explained in the livestream (find the archived version here: Part 1 / Part 2) the previous version of the class was all about standing back and nuking anything that tried to come near you (much like holding someone much shorter than you at arm’s length and kicking them.) However, these days the Esper is all about utilizing its array of crowd control (that’s CC to those who like their MMO lingo) to manage mobs and then do Area of Effect (AoE) damage over time (DoT… yep, there’s going to be lots of these abbreviations this week.) You might think this means that the Esper is still a long range combatant, but depending on the build it can actually be used for close range encounters.
Now this leads me on to something I didn’t get into last week - how WildStar uses something Carbine calls the Limited Action Set. Put simply, players will need to choose up to 8 abilities out of the many at their disposal to use during combat, although they will be able to switch them out inbetween fights if they need to – effectively allowing them to change roles. Along with Ability Tiers altering the power of specific skills, this adds yet another layer to the power the player has for creating a character to their specific playstyle.
I will admit though – ever since last week I have been wondering if this would lead to a case of there being an optimal build that everybody will flock to, but Systems Designer Jade “Steve-O 2.0” Martin explained during the livestream that while there will be certain setups that are the best for specific scenarios (such as single target combat or group healing) there won’t be a one build to rule them all. Considering the scope of encounters we’ve been teased so far, this kind of flexibility to go between roles is something I really like considering how tied down we’ve been with most recent MMOs.
Last week I gave words to my excitement about how tanks will work in WildStar, but I have been very curious to know how healers will behave. After all, we’ve seen these amazing and quite mobile moves for dealing out the damage – how would healers be able to keep up. Thanks to the AMA over on reddit and a demonstration of a group dungeon during the livestream, we finally got some details on how players will be keeping their friends alive while taking on the foes of Nexus. The short answer? They’ll do pretty much the same sort of thing as their damage-dealing comrades-in-arms – lining up telegraphs and firing them off as needed.
So, for example, the Soothe creates a telegraph in front of the Esper and can be charged up (simply by holding down the correct key until you’re ready) before being used, at which point any friendly character within that area will be healed. Haven’t got time to charge it up all the way? Just fire it off earlier for less healing power. Meanwhile, Mirage (which casts some floating fish, naturally) is a placed heal that is consumed as soon as someone walks through it – ideal for tanks who need some emergency health . Game design producer Stephan Frost pointed out during the live stream that most other MMOs are all about watching health bars on the UI and not much else, but while WildStar will still have you keeping an eye out for those, the focus on moving into position for those charge abilities will make the healing game not only a much more challenging affair, but far more involving in the moment-to-moment gameplay.
Let’s quickly talk about resurrection. It was confirmed that there’s no combat-res, but anybody can pick up a friendly player while out of combat to off-set this. Considering how integral combat-res’ are for other MMOs, I feel some genre veterans will find its omission strange, but when you take into account recharging shields it should mean that players will have every opportunity to stay alive. Another thing that has been brought up by the community quite regularly is the “res here” mechanic that I saw first-hand earlier this year, where players can get straight back into the action after dying for a high monetary cost. During the livestream Frost did confirm that players will only be able to do it once every thirty minutes, which bodes well for everybody’s virtual wallets and the general difficulty of the game. Considering this has been a huge concern for the community for some time now, it’s good to see the issue has been cleared up.
Another mechanic that has drawn up a lot of questions is that of Interrupt Armour and how it will work. For the sake of those who are only just learning about WildStar I will recap the system – in most MMOs bosses or elite enemies cannot be stunned or interrupted, which Carbine decided was an archaic design, so they created Interrupt Armour. When a player uses a stun on the enemy, that armour will go down by one, and when it has been depleted the next stun used upon that enemy will actually work as intended. What this means is that players will need to coordinate to bring their defences down, and to decide which stun would be the most beneficial. Players can also have Interrupt Armour as well, meaning PvP will be a highly interesting affair. One question does remain though – will Interrupt Armour regenerate over time, or will it reset once a stun is used? Hopefully we’ll get an answer on that front soon.
A lot of what we’ve seen of WildStar has been solo play up until now, so seeing some group content with five players during the latest livestream was something many players have been waiting for. You see, many players have been worried that the telegraph system would turn the game into some sort of 70’s disco, but that couldn’t be further from the truth (although thanks to UI modding I suspect we’ll see that put in something to that effect, with Disco Stu voice-overs. Don’t disappoint me, internet.) We also got to see that, as with any other MMO, pulling multiple packs of enemies will get you killed in a horrific and non-glorious manner. Admittedly, what we saw was just a level 20 dungeon, but the boss’ special ability telegraphs going off (and the advanced tactics such as using enemy skills against them) shown demonstrates that the fights will not be a cakewalk.
And apparently the level 50 versions of the encounters will be even harder. Dayum, son. DAYUM.
So what else did we see and learn from this week’s drop? It was confirmed that in terms of loot, the Need or Greed system will be used for everything in a dungeon. Considering the controversy of revamps systems in WoW, this will no doubt make many people (including myself) rather happy. Elsewhere, we learned that if players are in a group, XP will be divided equally among them for kills. Competing for a mob will be a different story though, with contribution to the fight being the deciding factor in the XP given. With open tagging being a thing in WildStar, this is great news as it will hopefully avoid the obvious problems with boosting characters through the levels as quickly as possible.
And finally, are you a fan of PvP? Because we got to see some duels and open world ambushes during the livestream. As you might expect, the combat was far more hectic than the PvE encounters, and we also got to see the Stalker (the stealth class of WildStar) in all their stabby-stabby action. I personally liked how the more observant players will be able to spot cloaked stalkers if they move through grassy areas, proving once and for all that nature is a treacherous bastard.
Speaking of PvP, the Carbine team continue to hype up the clash between two of its developers – lore hound and lead narrative designer Chad “Pappy” Moore, and game design producer Stephan “Daddy’s home” Frost. The Smack talk has been building up for months, and it’s reached the point where the reddit community has even made an official fight poster to mark the upcoming bout. The stakes are high between #TeamPappy and #TeamFrost (if you consider pride and humiliation-infront-of-the-internet high stakes) but which one will come out victorious? I personally would never want to take sides – they’re both friendly chaps, after all – but at least Frost has been graced by the presence of Dealspwn’s own mascot, Toby the Dealspwny. If anything is a deciding factor in this fight, that one is surely key.
Besides, the fight proves nothing until they’ve come face to face with my virtual bearded wonder, McGarnagle. Dibs on facing the winner, yo.
And on THAT bombshell, it’s time to end this week’s wrap-up. We’ll be back next week when we get reacquainted with the 'Mal Reynolds' of classes – the Spellslinger. If you want to learn more about WildStar, you can head over to the official website, or you can go through our vast coverage. Our vast, VAST coverage.