Duel Pistols! Trans-dimensional Travel! Moustaches!
We’re into the third week of our six-week journey, taking a look at the classes you’ll be able to run around as in WildStar. Need to catch up on the other two? Consider this helpful mini-hub the saviour to your terrible ignorance:
So now we’re back up to speed and ready to roll, it’s time to dive into the class that, rather understandably, has been the most popular amongst the community and the closed beta testers – the Spellslinger, a space cowboy who uses ranged attacks and abilities whilst wielding a pair of blasters to decimate their foes. I mean, come on, it’s not too hard to understand its popularity. It’s basically as if Carbine Studios took Han Solo, Mal Reynolds, Roy Mustang (or whoever your favourite weaver of elemental spells is, although the Colonel is pretty badass) and Nightcrawler, blended them together, and created a ranged class so wonderful that I cannot find the words to describe how amazing a combination it is.
So this picture of a joyful otter will have to illustrate it for me.
So, what is skinny on the Spellslinger class? It can potentially be one of the most mobile classes in the game, wearing light armour to either deal out a lot of damage or act as the healer, but at the same time it also has the ability to be a stationary nuker of pain thanks to the Limited Action Set. In short, it’s the glass cannon of the game that gets to wear some sweet, sweet hats, and that’s absolutely find with me. In terms of its resources, much like how the Warrior has Kinetic Energy and the Esper has Psi-Points, the Spellslinger uses Spellpower to activate Spell Surge. While this is turned on, every ability at the player disposal gets a boost in its effectiveness, allowing for sudden bursts of heavy damage or intense healing when things go south. Spellpower will recharge over time, but it will be up to the player to decide when to activate it or turn it back off just in case they need it later on.
Now the Spellslinger is the only class I’ve had proper hands-on time with in the past, and while I found the Spellslinger to be fun back when I played as one earlier in the year, I felt that it did leave me with moments of “Well now I’ve not got anything to use for a few seconds. I’ll just dance around for a little bit looking really cool but doing nothing.” In terms of traditional MMO mechanics, that’s fairly common, but Carbine knew this was an issue when thrown into their highly mobile fast paced combat, so seeing how Carbine have changed the way the spellpower resource works is a huge relief for me.
As always, the Livestream (archived here) and the reddit AMA (found here) gave us more insight into how the Spellslinger and the game in general works, but being the helpful person I am I’ve wrangled up the most interested bits from both. But before we get to that, the presenting team for this week’s stream – Class Lead designer Hugh “I look like Morgan from Chuck” Shelton, class designer Marc Matzenbacher, and community manager David Bass – took the time to apologise for holding the stream at the same time as the Dr Who special, meaning anyone who watched the stream didn’t get to see John Hurt become the most badass Doctor of all time.
And to keep this on-topic, if John Hurt were to play WildStar, I’m almost certain he’d be a Spellslinger. Just sayin’.
Anyway, Spellslinger details! That’s what we’re here for, right? The gun-toting class will have a selection of elemental attacks, from fireballs to frost-based abilities (which I assume will act as crowd control, but there’s no confirmation on that front yet), to arm themselves with alongside their standard shots, but one particular offensive ability caught my eye during the livestream – the Magic Missile. This ability has a set amount of damage which will be split among any enemies within the telegraph at the time of use, but if there’s only one enemy there they will feel the full force of the blow. The best part of this? The visuals change to match the number of enemies. If there are multiple foes, there will be multiple missiles, while one enemy on their lonesome will be met by a rather fat looking missile. It is this level of detail that gets me every time with what we see with WildStar, and that whole mechanic now sits alongside hoverboarding and cow-tipping as my favourite thing for the game.
I did consider finding a way of combining all three things, but that would surely blow up the fragile minds of anyone who sees it. So I won’t.
Another aspect of the Spellslinger worthy of note is how it can warp around in a couple of ways. Gate acts like the old Blink ability that Mages in WoW known and love, only it also stuns anything in the path of the Spellslinger (imagine using that and then the Magic Missile. Da-yum.) It was also mentioned during the livestream that, with some skillful timing, Gate can even be used to avoid fall damage. While it’s a very cool move to have, it is admittedly a fairly standard move to have within MMOs, which is why the Spellslinger’s other traversal move – Void Slip – is so awesome. For a few seconds (up to seven if tiered and AMP’d up) the player can go into a Void phase to escape harm, or perhaps to act as a version of stealth to move into behind an enemy, before returning to reality to unload some hurt.
Now before you go shouting “Overpowered!” you should be aware that the devs have confirmed a few things about Void Slip. Firstly, other Spellslingers can follow you into the Void phase, meaning a player who escapes there to avoid a killing blow in PvP could just be delaying their invertible doom momentarily. Secondly, using it in what the devs declare “sensitive areas” might result in coming face to face with void-based creatures, so trying to avoid a nasty boss or pull might end up backfiring in a comical fashion.
Oh, and Spellslingers also have something called Spatial Shift, which allows them to switch places with an enemy and disorientate them. Before you go asking, apparently you can’t jump off a cliff and then quickly use it to fling an enemy to their embarrassing doom… not at the moment, anyway….
One of the topics brought up in both the livestream and the AMA was how it differentiates from the Esper, which at first glance is a very similar thing. After all, they’re both ranged, they both can be healers or DPS-ers, and they both use light armour. Well, thankfully they won’t have to share armour drops, as the Esper will focus on the Moxie stat while the Spellslinger will be after Finesse. Secondly, in terms of the telegraphs of their abilities there will be differences between the two. An illustration of was shown during the livestream (which you can see below) but it translates to this: Espers will have a wider area of effect yet a shorter range, while the Spellslinger will require focused aiming with thinner telegraphs whilst being able to hit targets much further away. Of course, this is speaking quite generally as not all players will necessarily have the LAS loadouts that provide the range or wider hitting arcs, and it was mentioned that the AMP system could also increase the range of certain abilities even further, but it’s good to see that there will be some differentiation between the two.
During the livestream we also got to see another PvP battle, this time between the Spellslinger and the Esper. While the fights themselves were rather cool to watch, what was more interesting was that between the two bouts each player switched up their abilities to counter the other class. This almost certainly means that charging in with a standard PvE setup won’t cut it – you’ll have to have the right abilities to take on specific classes, which will result in some in-depth debate for dedicated PvPers. My thought though? It’s going to make PvP servers a place only the brave will want to think about levelling traditionally in. After all, you’ll be made short work of if you’re killing X amount of Rowsdowers and then BAM – two enemy Stalkers appear. I can already taste the tears of anguish.
Another thing I enjoyed from this week’s livestream was this Chua’s moustache. Its refined and frankly majestic facial hair detracts from the fact it’s almost certainly thinking about different ways to blow up your home and everyone you care about. While laughing and looking adorable!
It’s not quite the otter from earlier on, but it’s damn close.
Last week we got our first look at dungeon content in action by seeing the first part of Stormtalon’s Lair, and this week we continued it by watching the devs work their way to the second boss. A few things of note – firstly, they didn’t mess up anywhere near as bad as they did last week (I blame Chua sabotage), but secondly we got to learn some interesting features for dungeons, such as randomised optional objectives. Changing every time a group goes into a dungeon, it could ask a group to rescue X number of prisoners, or open up an optional area that could reward the group with a holo-crypt (WildStar’s version of a graveyard.) I’d be interested to see how varied the objectives it gives out actually gets, but at the very least it will provide a little level of variation for those who like to grind for that one piece of epic loot from a specific boss.
We also got to see the second boss of Stormtalon being fought, and I picked up on a few intriguing things from the encounter that came across like an elaborate wind tunnel of death (not too dissimilar to the Blade Lord Ta'yak fight in WoW, but at level freakin’ 20.) Firstly – something specifically for our class of the week – the Spellslinger can Void Slip during boss battles to avoid powerful moves or, in the case of the wind tunnel, avoid environmental damage. Secondly, we already knew that Interrupt Armour (the number next to the creature's name tag) would require teamwork to get down, but we now know that once the boss is CC’d it become immune until the next stage of the fight, at which point the Interupt Armour will reset and the circle of life will continue. I personally consider this the fairest way of doing it, as it makes encounters much more strategic – when do you use that precious CC? Go for broke immediately or save it for the mega-nuke ability that will wipe the group?
There were quite a few other interesting tidbits from this week, including a few pointers on healing. For example, the Esper will be better at single target healing, while the Spellslinger will be better for bursts of AoE, but the devs were quick to clarify that both classes would be viable as main or offhealers in group content depending on LAS and AMP setups. Also, an eagle-eyed redditor spotted that line-of-sight heals like the Esper’s Soothe ability heal friendlies with the lowest HP instead of the nearest two. The devs went on to explain that while this is the case, they have the technology to allow for a variety of scenarios, so spreading heals evenly across a group, prioritising friendlies that are furthest away, amongst others. I suspect that the customisable UI will play into this a fair bit.
Elsewhere, the topic of hit boxes was once again brought up, so here’s the official word – NPCs and creatures in PvE will have hit boxes appropriate to their size, but hit boxes for players will be normalized (ie. identical regardless of the race they are playing.) So in short, Chuas will have the same chance of being hit that Granoks do, meaning there will not be any size advantage during PvP. It was confirmed last week that it doesn’t stop Chua stalkers from hiding in tall grass though… the sneaky bastards. One last tidbit was that AMP selections will cost money to reset, meaning changing them for every raid would not be financially viable, but it was confirmed that players will have at least two setups to switch between to provide some variety for their characters. After all, it has been previously stated that there won’t be one combination that excels at everything, and that PvP and PvE setups will be quite different.
And finally, a few bits of housekeeping. David Bass reminded everybody that nobody other than Carbine themselves are handing out beta keys, so stop being suckered by small websites and livestreams that are claiming they have some to give away. Secondly, the devs on the linestream gave us some insight into the balancing process between all classes, and it’s basically one gigantic Excel spreadsheet filled with ridiculous formulas (which scares me a little.) Finally, the hype for the Pappy Vs Frost deathmatch has now reached fever pitch even at Carbine Studios. The stakes have never been higher – bold claims are being made, taunts are being thrown, and the sexual decency of relatives is being brought into question (I’m guessing.) Who will emerge victorious? As I said last week, I’m not picking sides – all I am saying is that one of the competitors has endorsement from our mascot, Toby the Dealspwny.
That’s it for this week. If you like the look of the Spellslinger be sure to check out the page dedicated to it on the official website. We’ll be back next Tuesday to talk about the Stalker – Wildstar’s stealth class that will not only bring the deeps, but will be able to tank as well (yup, evasion tanking is finally a thing.) With there not being a livesteam next Saturday, I’ll almost certainly need to fill out the article with some content, so expect some sort of ramblings included in the next instalment.
Got any questions regarding WildStar? Perhaps you’ve got your mind set on a class already? Maybe you’re just here for the otter picture? Let us know in the comments below! In the meantime, here's some more screenshots. Shiny.