Friday, March 7, 2014

Wildstar Kills The Pure Class

Let’s talk about Wildstar’s classes.

The game is still under a Closed Beta NDA. The information here is taken from the Wildstar Fan site and the Wildstar class videos.

Wildstar made an interesting decision with their six classes. Every single one of them is a hybrid. In past MMOs, players of pure classes often complained anytime hybrids appeared to be able to do their jobs even marginally well. For example, players of a pure DPS class (a class that can only perform the DPS role) would ask what the point of their class was if a hybrid could DPS nearly as well, yet still have the option of taking on a support role like healing or tanking.

It was the reasoning behind the so called Hybrid Tax that permeated Vanilla WoW through early Wrath of the Lich King content.

WoW even had discord among its own hybrids. Some classes could only take on two roles, some could take on all three trinity roles, and Wow even produced the exceedingly rare class that could take on all three trinity, and also switch between Ranged DPS and Melee DPS.

In Wildstar, every class is a two way hybrid capable of filling the DPS role and one support role. They break their six classes down symmetrically into three Tank/DPS hybrids and three Healer/DPS hybrids. One question a new Wildstar player has to ask is which support role they want to have opened to them, Tank or Healer.

Let’s look at the three Healer hybrids first. They are the ESPer (pronounced ess-sper), the Medic, and the Spell Slinger. The ESPer looks something like a Mind Mage out of Palladium’s RIFTS Pen and Paper RPG. The Medic would seem to indicate something like a high tech priest. The Slinger looks like the combination of a Warlock or Rune Mage with SWTOR’s Gunslinger (right down to the dual pistols and cowboy hat).

The three Tank hybrids are the Engineer, the Stalker, and the Warrior. The Stalker is the stealth class much like a Rogue or Operative and they use these Wolverine-like claws. During Burning Crusade, one fight in Black Temple actually required rogues to do a bit of tanking, and stories abound of rogues evasion tanking the last few percentage points of a progression kill. Wildstar expanded on the rogue tank and made it a class. Since rogues were evasion tanks, I would imagine the Stalker would be a high avoidance, low armor tank, but that is pure speculation on my part.

Warriors seem pretty straight forward. They have a giant, overcompensating sword and smash things to little bits. They probably tank similar to a Blood Death Knight.

Now we come to the Engineer. I’ve always loved Engineers. In WoW, it was a profession and not a class, but one of my toons always had it trained. The Engineer is a Ranged DPS / Tank pet class with gadgets and a big honking gun.

SWTOR originally had something similar with their Vanguard/Powertech tank, but late in beta they changed the class from pure ranged to more short to medium range. Vanguard's have to find a sweet spot where they use their abilities but maintain some range. In practice, most just go full bore into melee. I'm hoping the Engineer can avoid that fate.

The Engineer's pets are summonable and don't change so they feel more like Warlock pets than Hunter pets. Hunters, and to a lesser extent Warlocks, were always testing to see what they could tank in Wow with their pets and some of them accomplished amazing feats. Like the Rogue evasion tank, it looks like Wildstar has taken that idea and fleshed it out into a full class. I do wonder who will actually be doing the tanking, the player or the pet. If it’s the pet, I wonder about the inevitable raid fight that requires heavy tank movement and repositioning. As we all saw with the tank equality issues in other games, encounter design and how well that design meshes with the strengths and weakness of the tank classes can have a huge impact on what tanks are chosen for various tanking duties.

I think it’s obvious what my favorite Wildstar class is, but which class appeals to you the most?
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