Exo Suits! Bots! SO MUCH DEATH.
Well, to quote a wonderfully cheesy sci-fi theme tune, “it’s been a long road, getting from there to here,” (and no, I don’t apologise for putting that in your head) but we’ve reached our final instalment of the Class Drop Wrap-Ups, where I provide a casual take on the highlights from the last seven days of WildStar-related information. I know – you’re all sad to see it come to an end, but we’re going to get through this, I promise. That, or you can continue to get your fix by keeping an eye on our WildStar Hub page, which includes all of the gameplay videos we’ve taken from the Winter Beta. Yes, that’s right, you can actually see why WildStar is shaping up to be promising MMO instead of reading about it, all thanks to the magic of technology.
Need to catch up with the previous wrap-ups? We’ve got a lovely hub of info filled with wonders and joy, and joyness, just waiting for you to click on, plus you get to learn about the other five classes of WildStar. Go on, it’d be so easy – you could have those articles in the tabs of your browser in, like, a second.
In the world of MMOs, if you’re able to deal damage from afar, chances are you won’t be able to take more than a punch to the face – that’s the general rule that class designers have lived by, dating back to the beginnings of pen-and-paper role playing. While the Spellslinger and Esper follow this rule, Carbine Studios have been quite happy to try and mix things up with most other things up to this point, so if anyone was going to mess with the range = squishy rule, it’s them. The end result of their madness is the Engineer – a exo-suit-wearing sonuvabitch with the ability to have armed bots at their side, all of which it makes for a deadly combination. This isn’t some cheery fixer-upper with friendly AI companions, but a formidable war machine who, much like their Medic brethren, can get right up in the dangerzone.
To illustrate this, I have created the following image to clarify just how devastating a class they are. Click to embiggen.
Alright, enough jesting – the Engineer is a ranged class that can deal out damage or tank, be it with an array of bots at their side or going in on their lonesome with just their launcher weapon in hand. In some ways, it’s the AoE master of WildStar thanks to its array of abilities, but while the sustainable damage from its gun isn’t as high as other classes, the burst damage an Engineer is capable of, be it through its launcher or via its bots, can be utterly devastating. It effectively makes the Engineers a pet class that doesn’t have to be played like a pet class which, while not a simple way to put it, is certainly the most accurate description.
That said, even though the bots are optional they provide excellent additional firepower and support, with each of the four bots having a unique function – one to tank, one to DPS, one to provide CC, and one to heal. Basically, there’s one for every occasion, and they’re deceptively cute to boot. Only two can be out at any time, but each come with a useable ability that replaces their summon button in the LAS. So, for example, summoning the DPS artillery bot will replace it summon button with an artillery strike which will remain there until the bot is dismissed or destroyed. Worried about your bot perishing on the battlefield? No problem – just use the "move to" command just above the toolbar to guide you mechanical friends to safety. The reddit AMA (found here) explained that both active bots will be tied together, so giving and order to attack a target or change of stance will be obeyed by both.
Like every other class in WildStar, the Engineer has an Innate ability to activate when needed, giving access to the Exo-suit. Depending on the choice of stance, this essentially beefs up the effectiveness of tanking or DPS of the Engineer at the cost of the other. This lasts for about half a minute with a 90 second cooldown timer, meaning using it at the right time is crucial to success. As for the resource used for the main bulk of attacks and support moves, the Engineer uses Volatility – a resource which is generated with a builder ability and then consumed by powerful attacks or taunts. In the case of Electrocute – which is the first non-builder ability an Engineer gets – the attack is channelled for three seconds or until the Volatility runs out, making the build-up of Volatility a key part to success on the battlefield. After all, do you want to make sure you have some spare afterwards, or will you have time to build up more Volatility?
Perhaps the most interesting aspect to the Engineer is its ability to tank, and this reflected in a barrage of questions being asked during last week’s reddit AMA (found here) and during the livestream (which we've embeded below!) After all – a ranged class that can take damage, AND have pets that can taunt? “How on earth can this all be balanced?” you may be asking yourself. Well, Carbine have admitted they’ve got some fine tuning to do on that front, but having had some hands-on time with the class I can see the overall direction they are aiming for, and they are pretty close to nailing it. That said, while I’ve painted the picture of it being all awesome and no drawbacks, that isn’t the case here – the Engineer is the slowest mover on the battlefield, especially while firing off abilities. This is the main reason why the heavy armour is so important, because unlike the nimble Spellslinger an Engineer will, more often than not, have to soak up the damage from enemies (although by using the AMP system Engineers can improve deflection ratings.)
Let’s discuss the tanking method, which is basically holding someone off at arm’s length and then kicking them in-between the legs (but with fewer legs and more of a giant gun.) This makes the Engineer a better class for handling bosses who don’t move often, or have generally large telegraphs, but that doesn’t stop them from getting up close and personal if they have to. This was demonstrated to great effect during the latest Livestream, as the Engineer tanked the first boss of a newly-shown level 20 dungeon. We were shown how, by using the tanking bot, the Engineer was able to have a moment to recuperate before regaining aggro, but this also made a point of demonstrating that the tank bot has its own aggro meter. Of course, bots won’t survive a sustained assault (and the devs did admit in the AMA that they are currently trying to balance it so they don’t get one-shot during boss fights) but it provides yet another choice in tactics for dungeon runs and raids – a theme that has run through all of the class reveals we’ve sat through over the last six weeks. In short, it may be a little messy in terms of balancing, but choice is good.
The livestream dedicated to the Engineer did give us a taste of what it can do in PvP, but because it was still in a tanking spec at the time, it didn’t get to show off just how painful it can be. As someone who has been on both sides of the pain-filled barrage of hurt an Engineer can offer, allow me to assure you they are more than formidable in a one-on-one fight. The use of bots makes it a nightmare for any opponent, providing enough distraction for an exo-suit-based death. To be honest, I want to save my thoughts on PvP for an upcoming episode of Dealspwn Playthrough, which aims to show you what PvP is all about...
So, what other tidbits did we get from this week’s AMA and livestream? Well, for starters, unlike other classes, Engineers do not have gap closers. What that means to non-MMO types is that unlike the Warrior who can leap huge distances, or the Spellslinger who can use Gate to warp several metres ahead in the blink of an eye, all the Engineer can do is walk from A to B and suck up the incoming fire in the process. Considering the fact they wear heavy armor and have a considerable range on abilities that can be fired while moving, I think we can all agree that’s a fair enough concession (besides, it makes them look utterly badass wading through the fire and emerging on the other side, I’d say.)
Another topic that was brought up in the AMA was that of customisation - are Engineers able to change the appearance of their bots? Sadly the current answer is no, although the devs answering the questions did point out that the topic had been raised a few times, but it was ultimately up to the art team to provide such a feature. As class lead Hugh Shelton added on reddit, "Someday I do hope I can give my Bruiser Bot a scarf and glasses …"
That's the dream, Hugh. That's the dream.
One final note - Carbine's executive producer Jeremy Gaffney recently posted an update on WildStar's development and the status of the Beta over on reddit. It makes for an enlightening read, and if you have even a passing interest in the game I'd recommend giving it a look (via the good folks over at WildStar Fans.)
And on that bombshell, it's time to draw our Wrap-Ups to a close for the time being, although Carbine's Stephan Frost did mention at the end of the livestream that we could be seeing new info Drops in the new year on other features. Considering we have yet to get into detail about crafting, PvP, Warplots, the Eldan Game, and many other topics, I feel there will be plenty to mull over in 2014. In the meantime, it's worth pointing out that you (yes, you) can still apply to join in the Winter Beta by heading over to the beta application form, and you can increase your chances of being picked selected by filling out this Winter Beta survey
In the meantime, stay tuned to Dealspwn as we plan on bringing you even more in-game gameplay via our Dealspwn Playthrough series, and if we're really lucky we might get some impressions from someone that isn't me (you know, to spice things up a bit.) Don't forget, if you have any questions about WildStar you can fire them in the comments below, or harass me on twitter (@CarlPhillipsUK) until I respond.
For now though, we leave you with a selection of screenshots, ready to embiggen.