#Wildstar – What Works and What Doesn’t

Editorial alert!  Editorial Alert!  Bring out the pitchforks!

With Wasteland 2 out the door shortly, followed by Civ:BE a month after, I’ve come to the conclusion that Wildstar time is taking a backseat.  I like the game, certainly.  There’s just nothing left for me to do that I think is worth investing my time in.  Sort of.

What works

Good news to start.  The stuff that works, works really well.  The LAS and action combat is amazing.  I’ve only have this level of fun in Neverwinter but Wildstar takes it to a new level.  Picking and choosing skills between battles, applying strategy to it all, paying attention to what’s on screen.  All that works.  It’s a major skill gap for a lot of people but it’s great once you get the hang of it.

Raids.  Now this is taken from the subset of raiders who are actually raiding and the videos produced.  I’ve raided in most MMOs that have the option.  From EQ’s zerg-fest, to Vanilla’s healer rotation and Rift’s sparkle-fest.  There’s the right level of challenge and skill needed to beat Wildstar raids and the general consensus from raiders is that it’s worth the effort to get there.

Housing.  Outside of EQ2, and maybe some UO, I don’t think I’ve seen a better housing system.  And it’s getting better next patch.  This is really a super tool.

What doesn’t

Class balance and stats.  Bluntly, the system as it stands today needs some re-work.  At max level there are only a few useful skills, per role.  Esper DPS are using a healing skill for some reason, that’s a problem.  Stats are undergoing an overhaul right now, where melee and ranged attackers are getting normalized.  This isn’t as bad as SWTOR’s haste issue (where it was something you actively removed from gear) but the core stats is miles more important than anything else today.  There needs to be more softcaps and cross values from skills.  It sort of reminds me of the Diablo3 v.1, stack primary, issue.

Crafting.  Crafting has a great theory in the system.  There’s some randomness, which can be mitigated with a few things but the crafted gear today is better than raiding gear.  And that’s the level 49 gear, not 50.  There’s a ton of potential and the plans from Carbine on rebalancing drops makes sense.  At the least, it needs a use for low level items, otherwise it’s just a grind to max level with vendored results.

Attunement.  It currently prevents access to the best part of the game and the general cause of people leaving over time.

Stuff to do at 50.  Right now it’s just dailies.  Shiphands don’t scale to 50.  Housing instances don’t scale to 50.  Dungeons have no purpose other than attunement.  Adventures have no purpose other than attunement.  It’s like a giant funnel rather than an open field.  Dailies that take 30 days to max out…

The rewards at 50.  There aren’t any really.  See the crafting point above.  From 50 until you complete a raid and get a drop, there’s no real incentive.  Housing is the same at 40 as it is at 50.  Crafting can be maxed out at 30.

End Statement

There’s a ton of potential here.  The story is solid.  The combat mechanics are super solid.  The housing is solid.  The math needs some rework.  The “what the hell do I do at 50?” issue needs some massive investigation and likely a re-shifting in priorities.  The updates we get from Carbine indicate that’s underway.  Though turning a ship of this size takes time… time I’ll be using playing some other games in the pipe.

#Wildstar – 3 Months In

I want to talk about the negativity around Wildstar – which I guess is sort of a Streisand effect…

First off, Massively isn’t a gaming news site.  It’s an editorial/opinion/re-posting web service.  It’s one of the more prominent sites but to claim that it holds any journalistic merit, well you couldn’t be much further.  What it does, it does well – in that it generates buzz/comments.  So when you read an article stating that Wildstar isn’t doing well, take it with a grain of salt.  It should hold as much weight as when BoK posts something similar.

So let’s start with the facts.

Some Wildstar servers are ghost towns.  As with any MMO, once you can’t find anyone to play with, you stop playing, so this is really just like watching water leave a drain.  To combat this, Carbine will be implementing Megaservers (like every other MMO in the past 4 years – including WoW).

The game has a much harder difficulty curve than any other themepark.  The wall is early and it is high and it gets bigger over time.  I won’t say the game is complex, outside of coordinating interrupts, but it is very unforgiving of mistakes.  This by nature reduces your potential client base.  There are no planned changes for this outside of a “learner” dungeon in the next patch.  More tools to teach without changing the core system.

Itemization/Runes/Power distribution is not aligned.  Right now, the melee classes get a larger benefit from stats than ranged players, which is causing them to have ~50% more damage output.  They just scale like crazy.  Rune slots are also an issue, where “optimal” runes are 2-3x better than a normal rune.  What this means today is that there is little choice at max level, and making anything but the correct choice is a massive penalty. Both of these issues are going to be addressed by Carbine – the first part by normalizing power and stat gains and the latter by spreading out runes across more slots.

The next part is my observation.

The end game is forked into two parts – the solo side of dailies (that each take 30+ days to cap), customization (armor and housing) and farming/crafting and the group side of adventures/dungeons/raids.  Elder Gems are the max level currency and right now, it only has a use for the latter group.  Solo folk need more content and the next patch has some more dailies.  However the game needs more types – shiphand missions are an easy target – and a better use for Elder Gems.  Carbine has stated they are working on this but there are no timelines.

The group folk have a completely different problem, in two parts.  First is the attunement wall.  Unless you already have a raiding guild who wants to pull you through content, you’re not going to get through it – in particular because of the world raid bosses.  It took WoW multiple content patches to create this attunement wall (BWL and BT come to mind) and caused enough problems that the entire model was scrapped.  That Wildstar implemented this wall at launch…very odd choice.  Carbine is making changes to reduce the requirements of attunement but without Megaservers or an existing raid group, people are still out of luck.  The second part is the reward structure around group play, in that it’s “gold or bust”.  Given the above mentioned difficulty, and the fact that adventures/dungeons provide a significant boost in rewards if you achieve a gold medal, any failure is met with a group disband.  This causes an “elite” culture and provides absolutely zero learning curve for players.  Carbine has made some changes to the rewards structure in that now even a bronze gives something but there is still too large a gap between bronze and gold. (To compare, Gold runs in Wildstar are akin to Gold Challenge runs in WoW).

The good news is that I’m still playing and having fun.  It isn’t a daily thing mind you, but every couple days I log on and run a few things.  The group thing is an issue for my playstyle.

Is Wildstar in a rough spot?  Certainly.  At the very least, it will continue to hemorrhage players until they can implement Megaservers. There should be no larger priority.  Aside from that, there are plenty of balance changes on the way to address some of the concerns above – and soon too.  As for the group play at max level, that is going to require more time and more thought.  Had Megaservers been there at the start, perhaps the attunement issue would be smaller as there would be a larger player base to get through it.  My opinion (since beta) is that focusing solely on 20/40 person raids is a mistake.  Time will tell if Carbine feels the same way.

#Wildstar – Megaservers

Quick post as I’ve been out away from a computer (heck, an internet connection) for a while now. Seems while I was gone Wildstar announced that Megaservers were coming to the game.

If you’ve played GW2, then you know what these are.  I’ve always found it odd that NCSoft didn’t apply that tech to Wildstar at the start…Anyhoo.  Megaservers are going to provide 2 main server rules, PvE and PvP.  The RP stuff is going bye-bye.  This is similar to what SWTOR did, DCUO too.  WoW still has front end servers when picking a place to play but the backend has nearly every single server tied to another (or more) through “merging”.  It just doesn’t make sense to have actual server anymore as there’s no real win to be had.

The only kink I see here is the naming conflicts.  There are still plenty of players and servers and for the love of poop, I am not giving up Asmiroth to anyone.  I liked WoW’s implementation (with server name as last name) but I’m sure as the weeks go by and they test it out some we’ll see progress.

Overall, quite happy with the news.  And looking forward to 1.3 as well!

#Wildstar – Veterans

While I recently tagged 50 with my Engineer I was left with a conundrum.  What do I want to do now?  I mean, I have a healer and a tank, both of which are DPS as well.  I’ve done the paths that interest me (scientist and settler).  What’s next?

I opted to get my Engineer up to the first “hurdle” for attunement, getting enough reputation.  Well, the first step is getting 150 elder gems, that took a week+.  Then was killing Pyralos in Wilderrun.  I did this guy with my Esper, who had about 20K hit points.  That took about 3 hours of trouble and I was swearing something fierce.  My engineer had the hit points to be knocked down from the tower and survive with 300hp.  He could also stand in the fire without dying.  3 tries and he was down.  I can’t imagine how that would feel for a player with their first 50 – with such a large disparity between the classes.  Anyways, after that I hit the reputation wall – currently at 26K of 32K.  At that point it’s either daily grinds OR veteran content.

My Esper is at the “all adventures on veteran” stage and a class I tend to enjoy playing more, so I hopped back on.  I collected a Goldensun Essence (which is neato) first, then decided to run around a bit.  I collected a few bags (the 16 and 15 slot ones from challenges) as I seem to be perennially out of space.  The I looked at my housing plot, thought “It’s going to take days to make this look less like a trailer park” and moved on.  I do need to take a stab at it mind you, just not today.

First was re-gearing from the AH.  Esper had more cash and for 1.5p I was able to replace 4 pieces of gear and up my Moxie by nearly 200.  (note to others, look at level 49 gear).  I put in a few runes but it’s about 1p per right now, something for later gear I suppose.  Though from what I’ve read, this crafted gear I have is optimal well into the raiding sphere.

At this point I thought about getting into the veteran content outside of the guild, which meant the LFG tool.  I have a natural aversion to LFG tools for the first few months of a game.  Let’s just say that the people who are using it are in it for the end result rather than the actual content, locusts by and large.  Once you hit the end of month 3, the people left in the game are vastly different than before and quite enjoyable.

So I said, let’s do veteran ship hand missions – the button was there while leveling after all.  To my disappointment, the button doesn’t work.  Same with housing plot adventures.  I’d gladly do both on veteran.  Mind you, the housing ones do scale and the shiphands scale you down.  There’s a challenge, I just don’t want the gear.  I want the housing stuff!

I then decided to bite the bullet and opened the LFG tool.  I selected DPS and removed myself from the healer queue.  It’s always a good idea to do hard mode content as a DPS, where you can make mistakes and learn new patterns, and then graduate to healing.  Less than 2 minutes and I was into War in the Wilds.

This is the MOBA adventure and I’ve done it quite a few times on normal.  Capture flags, destroy enemies, check.  Very easy, very short.  Veteran started well enough as we captured 5 flags without incident.  Then things took a turn.

I don’t know if this is the core strategy or not but the tank decided to take on all 5 enemy heroes at once, in the middle of the enemy AI path for the moodies.  So there’s those 5 plus 5 more moodies and there’s red telegraphs everywhere.  I was doing my job, decently enough I might add, then the healer just ran out of focus.  We’re talking a solid 5 minutes of non-stop battling, which shouldn’t be a normal thing for a healer.  I died, the tank died, then it was a wipe.

You know what happened next? Full disband.  I’m used to gkicks in other games but just a full drop seems excessive. I know to get silver you need to have more kills than deaths, and we were WELL above that marker.  I just don’t get that mentality of failure and quitting.  I guess I need to run some more stuff with the guildies.

#Wildstar – Esper Healing Guide

Updated for Drop 6

Syl has a good post detailing her healing experiences in Wildstar thusfar.  The main point is that it’s incredibly hectic but at the same time, extremely rewarding.  I had started a comment but realized it was getting too verbose, hence this post.

The following is my perspective on healing as an Esper.  They are more akin to the traditional healer in MMOs, when compared to Medics (mid-range, shield and AE focused) and Spellslingers (long range, Spellsurge dependent, absorb focused).

Espers work with Psi Points, obtained through builders.  They cap at 5 and unless you have a specific AMP, any gained past that point are wasted.  They last for about 10 seconds in combat.

Our main healing resource is Focus, analogous to Mana from other games.  You have a decent amount, it regenerates over time and there are a few skills that can boost it.  In drop 6, focus management took a rather significant turn – spells cost about 3x more than before.  This means that focus management became really important and also changed the value of healing skills in terms of cost/benefit.

It should be noted that the largest challenge for healers in Wildstar is paying attention.  DPS need to focus on avoiding the red stuff, interrupting and then doing some damage with their skills.  Tanks need to figure out what red stuff they can stand in, interrupt enemies and then gently poke the bad guys.  Healers need to avoid the red stuff, stay in range of the moving DPS/Tanks, aim their healing skills at their party, and interrupt enemies.  The days of Clique/Grid are gone in Wildstar.


This section will give you an overview of all the healing skills and their value.  While Esper healing is somewhat simple (builder + finisher), there are many options depending on the event.

Spectral Form

30 second cooldown that gives you an absorb shield, increases output and gives you PP over time.  You want to use this at 4 PP, to get to 5 quickly then cast a finisher.  You’ll be back at 5 in a flash just afterwards.  Get used to using this often as it’s extremely powerful.

It can also be used for movement portions with low combat, such as dodging laser beams.  It will give you an absorb shield and enough PP to cast Reverie to maybe save a few folk.


One of the most powerful skills we have, it heals for about 75% of Mind over Body and is a great group heal.  You need to target it in a wide beam, so the group needs to work together. There’s a question of casting it at C2 or C3.  I prefer C3 but your mana pool will dictate which is best.  My personal go-to heal, in all situations.  Of all abilities, this one should be maxed to T8 as it applies a HoT.

Mind over Body

While I have this slotted, it has very limited use for 2 reasons.  First, it requires a lot of focus and can drain you quick.  Second, it’s the only ability that the Esper needs to stand still to cast.  There are very few times where you can use this outside of some raids and dead spots during boss events.  Even then, the ramp up time for point generation is rather slow.  I sometimes use this on heavy boss fights on the tank, if we’ve wiped previously.  If you’re a dedicated tank healer, then slot this to T8 as it increases future heals by 15%.


Super group AE heal, massive space but you still need to make sure everyone is in range.  T8 increases future healing by 10%, which makes this thing an awesome chain heal in big AE battles (which is nearly all bosses).

Mending Banner

Single target mega heal.  A good “oh crap” skill that has to be T4 to get the armor buff on the tank.  T8 gives a chain heal but only 10m.  Costs a variable amount of focus, slightly more than Reverie.

Phantasmal Armor

I use this to start the fight and then when the tank is dipping a little low.  It’s a great damage shield.  Never found a reason to upgrade it mind you.

Pyrokinetic Flame

It’s a raid buff, plain and simple.  The heal is minor but the 5% increase to attack/support power is amazing with more than 5 players, at T4.  Otherwise, I leave it off.


A stationary AE Heal over Time.  Really low output that doesn’t scale very well and has a high focus cost. This changes at T8, due to the absorb and buffs.  It’s likely to be your go-to heal for tanks. Very useful now.


This is simply a way to generate 2 charge PP near instantly.  Sadly, pretty much required.  If you can, target the tank, otherwise it’s a self-cast.  Costs 13 focus.

Mental Boon

Very similar to Warden but has no focus cost because it’s centered on you. The range is so small, you need to be in melee range to hit the tank.  The benefit is with the Guardian rune set, in that it continually applies a shield to affected members, for extremely low focus costs.  Keeping 100% uptime is key to get the most out of it.

Crush / Incapacitate

For when you need to break armor and interrupt.  Depends highly on your group composition and your level of trust.


A cleanse ability that can be upgraded to a purge but that needs a T8 investment, way too much.  It’s very situational and will only be used on a few bosses.


Takes 5s to cast and regenerates focus, 1 more per tier.  T4 gives you 2 PP.  You also can’t move while casting, which is a massive downside.  At low focus regen levels, it has uses on long fights but I prefer Fixation.

Fade Out

A “get out of crap” card that breaks stuns and roots and throws you backwards.  Situational but quite useful – aiming can be tricky.

Projected Spirit

Allows you to sprint forward and give a minor heal.  This is more of a DPS skill, in my opinion, to keep a gap on the enemy.  Rather slow too.  In high movement fights, where a double dash + sprint is not enough, then this has some value.  But you probably made a bunch of mistakes for this to be useful.

Concentrated Blades

If for some reason you still have room on your bar, CB will give you 2 PP after they hit and deal some minor damage.  It’s been a while since I’ve played with it active but it certainly has uses.


At T4, it gives a focus regen on top of giving you 3 PP.  Very powerful and I use it pretty much on cooldown.  Scorchwing with 2 healers is possible with this skill.  If your regen gets high enough, then I can see you dropping it.  If you’re reading this guide though, your regen isn’t high enough.


There aren’t many bad choices, outside of perhaps Companion and Mirage, which need some rework.  AMPs that trigger on crits are useful, or that add extra shield/healing power.  If you don’t get Fixation, then you can fill out all of the T2 support skills.

Build Suggestions

There are 2 core builds, an AE focused and a tank focused, which prescribe 3 main skills per.

AE – Soothe + Reverie + Bolster (My Base Build)

Tank – MoB + MB + Bolster (My Base Build)

The rest of the skills are highly dependent on your preferences and the actual event.  Fixation should be on the bar if you have the AMP.  Phantasmal Armor is always useful.  Crush or Incapacitate (I like the latter) will save your bacon and help the team.

Stat Priority

  • There are new stats in Drop 6
    • Intensity – increases healing inputs by a percentage but also increases the focus cost. This second part actually makes it a poor stat choice.
    • Focus Pool increases the total amount of focus you can have.
    • Focus Recovery increases the percentage of focus you get per second.
  • Stat priority is simple enough to start, get focus regen to ~20 per second. This depends on your focus pool and recovery stat, so some juggling may be required.  You’ll get a feel for the size of the focus pool as you play.  Raiding is around 1700 or so.
  • From that point, it’s Multi-Hit > Critical Hit Chance > Critical Hit Severity > Intensity

Focus Management

  • Not all skills require focus and those that do often have varying amounts required.
  • You want to start your gearing with a fair chunk of Focus Recovery, try aiming for 20 FR/s
  • It’s a good idea to have more recovery than increasing your focus pool to start. Once recovery is in a good spot, then gradually raise the pool to a 1:1 ratio
  • For any non-boss fight, focus isn’t an issue. For bosses, if you’re spamming MoB + MB, you’re going to run dry in a flash. You can practically chain Soothe + Reverie forever.  Think about what you’re casting.


  • Runes were redone in Drop 6
  • You can only complete a run set in a single piece of gear (pants for example), so you’ll need high quality runes and at least 4 slots to complete a level 8 rune set
  • You can use the same regular set in other pieces (better stat optimization), but not class sets
  • Class sets require ilvl 100, which is raid quality gear.  Then you’ll look for Hardened (ilvl 120) or Guardian (ilvl100)
  • Regular sets should be either Cynosure or Resurgence.  They also have ilvl requirements.
  • Fusion runes are gear specific, can fit into any rune type slot, and provides an AMP-like effect:
    • Weapon: Exuberance
    • Gloves: Soothing Light
    • Head: Heavenly Echoes
    • Chest: Virtuous Circle
  • Until you’re in full dungeon gear, it’s not advisable to spend more than 50g per regular/set rune, and 2p for Fusion runes.
  • Class sets are on raid gear and you should know what’s going on by then.

Learning to Heal

My suggestion for this has always been the same, regardless of the game.  Learn to heal in PvP first.  Start with single target healing – find a tank and shadow them.  Figure out what skills work best for you.  Move on to group heals so you learn to aim the darn telegraphs.  Once you’re comfortable, move to open-world group content – in particular Scorchwing for 5+ group quests to learn the ropes.  Following that, move onto Adventures, then dungeons.  You’ll learn all about situational abilities, how to manage focus, what rhythm works best for you.

WS is hard enough to require triage but forgiving enough to let a few things slide.  If you’re at 50%, then you’re going to live – if you’re not the tank.  And if things are really going wrong, in 99% of the cases, your group is not using interrupts properly. Smart play is very well rewarded.

There is little pity for DPS in this game.  They can die in 2 hits if they are not paying attention and should learn to interrupt when needed.  Combat damage was changed somewhat in drop 6, with a bit less focus on the constant damage and more on telepgraphs, which mean damage is going to come in spikes.  The focus should always be keeping yourself above 50%, the tank above 50% and then the rest as you see fit.

#I’ll keep this as up to date as I can…

MMOs – Where are they now?

Nosy Gamer’s recent MMO roundup from XFire shows some interesting developments when looking at Wildstar and ESO.  Wildstar launched at the start of June while ESO was start of April, so 2 months and 4 months respectively at this point.  They are slotted at 8 and 12 on the list.  WoW rounds out the top, even though it lost 800,000 players.  EvE and FF14 are the other 2 subscription-based games on the list.  Everything else is FTP, which makes for some interesting metrics.

I do agree that the sample is flawed and isn’t a direct representation of the population.  I mean, I can’t think of anyone who actively installs XFIRE today, so newer games are at a distinct disadvantage.  Heck, Raptr only shows WoW, WS, FF14 and ESO in their top 20. That said, XFIRE does a great job at showing patterns over time and for that I think the discussion is very relevant in that both WS and ESO are down.

While I can attribute a fair amount of that to the 60 day drop (people play box + 1 month), rather than the 3-monther Keen professes, there are certainly some additional factors at play.  We can’t just assume that the summer provides a dip here, because it should affect all the games rather equally.  The factors have to be game-specific.

ESO first.  The VR wall was my “I win” bucket.  The fact that the game was anti-social certainly didn’t help.  Mind you, recent reports say they are trying to fix both issues, among a pile of kitchen sink additions.  I do think that once VRs are gone, the game will be in “ready to launch” state, some 5 months after actual launch.  I think of this compared to Marvel Heroes, or Neverwinter’s “beta phase” but both of those had no price point for entry.  It will have cost box + $60 to get to launch with ESO and that’s a price point people can find more value elsewhere.  In particular GW2 from a FTP perspective or FF14 from a subscription perspective. There’s certainly a chance it comes back up to the top, what with WoW likely not launching ‘til December.

Wildstar next.  While I am still enjoying my stay, I do know a lot of people who have left due to lack of progress past 50 – or heck, even mid-game.  Wildstar’s approach to combat is extremely divisive, and scales at an inappropriate pace.  There’s very little transition for people entering group content, just a wall of bodies at 20.  There are very few reports of successful PUGs anywhere, to the point where Carbine had to make change to the rewards system, in order to avoid group crumbling after 5 minutes.  And this doesn’t even get into the craziness of level 50 and raiding.  Sure, you could do the attunement and farm gear in dungeons/adventures but there ain’t no way you’re going to raid.  Everything up until that point can either be accomplished solo, with 5 people or with random PUGs in a zone.  The dungeon medal requirement is crazy, to boot.  But the cherry is getting 40 people to do it and then getting them to raid with you.  Bluntly put, the investment requirement for raiding has either been accomplished already by those with a want to invest or never will be.  That means two distinct parts at issue.  First, you need to accept the combat structure (difficulty + pacing) which is not going to change, outside of adding some “learning” zones.  Second, you need to accept that you’re likely never going to raid.  This part has been beaten to death on many blogs and I would like to think that Carbine, like Bethesda, is actually paying attention.

I do have to say that I’m less surprised with ESO’s tumble than Wildstar’s.  The ESO beta was not kind, and there were significant rumblings before launch about readiness.  It’s clearly still popular if it’s on lists though, so that’s good.  And there is active development, also very good.  Wildstar’s issues seem to be more condemning.  It had a relatively clean beta and had significant groundswell at launch.  Many people have issues finding a flaw with the game outside of the inability to find attachment to justify investment.  That is a massive problem for MMOs in general and one that doesn’t bode well for the future.

#Wildstar – Class Design Interview

Oddly enough, TenTonHammer is one of my go-to places for Wildstar news.  Massively’s staff cuts have cut that bugger off my reading list.  Recently, TTH had the chance to interview the lead class designer, as well as the Medic and Esper leads.  There are three main things I get from this interview.

  1. Carbine is being rather forthright and honest about their design intentions.
  2. There are fundamental issues with balance that need to be sorted before they look at skills
  3. TTH’s interview skills are “unique”

For 1, this is somewhat novel to me. I know Blizzard is seen as open about their design intents but that took 4 years to start. And the tenure/legacy of GC is always a debated topic. Compared to other MMOs mind you, ESO, TSW, FF14, SWTOR and RIFT, this is a drastically different approach. Now the flipside to honesty is that people are going to dissect every word. A 2 month lock on class design before launch may seem crazy to some but from my experience, that’s a rather short lock on release windows outside of bug fixes. Plus, if you look at the patch notes WS puts out, Carbine is putting a ridiculous amount of effort in fixing their game.

For 2, this is disconcerting while at the same time NORMAL. When you build operational models, you use normalized data. So assume everyone is at the same power level, and what do you get – that’s the baseline of testing. Sure, you can test some outliers but core builds are based around design principles you need to adhere. And as with all massively multiplayer games, people will find optimizations that the developers did not consider. Absolute scaling is tough to predict.

If you play WS, you’ll notice that the tank players have lower Assault Power compared to the healing players, assuming the same item level. It’s rather drastic actually, where a level 30 tank weapon as 200 AP and a level 30 healing weapon has 350 AP. Now, for a level 30 tank and healer to have parity, it means that damage has to scale differently between the classes.   Let’s say they each need 1000 power. A tank would scale at 5 power / AP and a healer would scale a 2.85 power /AP. Good so far?

Well once you reach max level and start optimizing, those options are class agnostic. While your equipment may be optimized for tanks (lower stats, better scaling) runes and imbuements are not. A 50 AP rune can be used by anyone. So what you have is players stacking AP runes (and imbuements) in parallel with healing classes, but they scale at a much better rate, giving them a very aggressive power curve.

There are a few fixes for this but it’s really a core design flaw that needs to be addressed. Either you change base scaling of the class, or you apply the scale to all stat inputs. And that’s aside from skill/AMP balancing.

Skill/AMP balancing is an interesting topic since Carbine can clearly analyze existing patterns. Some classes have decent diversity, others less so – Espers in particular, with only 2 skills per role that matter. Nice to see they’re trying to fix that.

Finally for 3, TTH’s rather aggressive and subjective interview style comes off as being childish. Or perhaps extremely passionate about the topic rather than objective. There were no softballs in the interview – again, a significant difference when compared to Massively. It’s fresh but at the same time dangerous.

Overall, I’m happy with the interview. The lead designer is clearly a lead (correcting a class designer in an interview is rare) and the class designers have a solid plan to resolve issues they freely admit exist. And if we follow the current patch timeline, most of the changes should be in September/October, which is a very acceptable timeframe for a big rebalance. WoW didn’t touch Rogues at all until BC, if you recall. It’s encouraging to see that type of attitude.

#Wildstar – Engineer vs Esper

I have a 50 Esper and a 42 Engineer.  I’ve played both rather extensively, both in the DPS and alternate stances (healer and tank respectively).  I’ve read about the classes and messed around with them.  Only things I haven’t done are raiding and PvP.  Though I do read that logs put the engineer at top level for DPS (all melee are in the top 3) and Esper just above the Medic in the bottom (the ranged are all drastically lower than the top 3).  While there will always be a gap, and I am more than comfortable, the mean average should not have such significant deviation.

Engineers are heavy armor, mid range attackers with quite a bit of variety.  While their Bot (combat pets) AI is junk they do however provide an extra target to soak a hit or two. More or less HP shields.  Their cooldowns are mostly defensive and their skills have tremendous synergy and a rather simple rotation.  They are somewhat simple to play, can take a beating, and dish out a lot of damage.  Tanking is also quite easy.

Espers are light armor, long range attackers with little variety.  The fact that their main builder “roots” you in place for the cast duration (the only ability I know of in the game that does that) it makes for a very immobile play style.  Their cooldowns are offensive but they have alternate healing skills to keep them alive.  That said, due to low armor, any focus attack or boss attack is usually a 1 shot (or dead in under 2 seconds).  There is a high skill level required to play one.  In terms of DPS role, they are essentially debuffers at this point.  Healing is quite powerful but there are bugs with the way focus (mana) works on some skills.  Very effective mind you and a lot of fun to play.  The most fun healing I’ve had in a long time as keeping everyone topped is HARD.

I do know Espers are being tweaked in Drop #2, where their main builder is(?) becoming mobile.  I also know that by Drop #3/4, the core stats should be tweaked which will change the way the power curve works.  And there’s always class balance.

I kind of see this as the difference between Hunters and Rogues/Warlocks from WoW.  Where a rather low skill level and pets to absorb damage we got many derogatory terms for Hunter players.  Warlocks were either amazeballs or the worst players ever.  You also never saw a Warlock due to the difficulty.

While in past MMOs, in particular WoW, ranged attackers have always been out of harms reach compared to melee, Wildstar is not like that.  With few exceptions, melee (not tank) and ranged suffer the same vulnerabilities due to the telegraph system.  Inversely, due to the telegraph system it’s harder for range to hit their target while moving.  I mean, I don’t think an engineer can actually ever miss an attack.

There’s a perception, based on some amount of fact, that Engineers are simpler, easier to master, mobile, higher damage and higher survivability than Espers.  Engineers are also seen as great tanks too.  Espers are top of the healing pile.  That isn’t the sort of view that goes away quickly as it becomes near cultural after a few months.

Oddly enough, I still prefer my Esper due to the skill level but have fingers crossed that with a few tweaks they can be made a bit more manageable.  Either by taking advantage of that skill set (similar to old “stance dancing” in other games), by increasing the telegraph damage based on distance (less on accuracy), or by simply increasing overall survivability.

Wildstar One Month Review

Ok, so we’re more than a month in.  I was on vacation!

I am a firm believer that an MMO should be judged past the 1 month marker and your decision to be made after 2 months of play.  Outside of MMOs, I can’t think of another type of game I pay full price for anymore mind you.  The timing has less to do with the game and more about the nature of the game – multiplayer.  After 2 months, the zeitgeist passes and you get into the player plateau.  Still, onto my thoughts.

Starting Off

I have never been a big fan of character creators in MMOs, unless the game was mostly helmet-less.  I like having different character models for silhouettes but if everyone is the same (SWTOR and RIFT come to mind) then what’s the point?  Wildstar gives me enough variety in sizes and art to make me happy.  I have a tremendous dislike with race-restricted classes mind you and Wildstar applies that to Espers more than other classes for some reason.  So I created a grumpy ol’ human esper and a granok engineer.

The tutorial zone is decently done.  You can zip through it under 5 minutes if you want.  I feel bad that the zone is never visited again mind you – wasted assets.  The starter zone follows and you get 2 choices per faction and those choices link to the first “starter zone”.  There’s a gradual build up of skills for your character and there was clearly some thought behind it all.  By and large, the “power path” is similar between all classes.  They get a stun at the same time, a builder, a finisher, flavor, etc…

You get access to costumes early on, which is on-par with RIFT in terms of customization, very good.  Housing at 15, nearly fully featured, which is amazeballs.  Mounts too, which makes travel a whole lot easier (mounts are different enough too!)  I’d say from 1-20, the progress is really well thought out.

Mid game

This is the 20-49 game and by and large, we’re talking about PvE content.  PvP is there and certainly the most fun pre-50, but the game is built on something else.  So from 20 on, you get a zone per ~7 levels.  Whitevale – a frozen tundra which starts off cool and ends on a whiper.  Farside – probably the most fun I’ve had leveling in years, certainly with the moon sub-zone where gravity is weak.  It’s well designed.  Wilderrun – your typical jungle level, which we’ve seen a thousand times.  The story is kind of cool but anything after Farside feels meh.  Malgrave – a western themed zone which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  There are some neat parts but you’re happy to leave.  You finish with Grimvault – a plague filled area with few redeeming qualities.  Western Grimvault in particular is just horrible making the trek from 47-50 feel longer than 20-47.

Questing is decent enough, with traditional kill X, deliver X or press X quests.  There are varied questing interfaces mind you – a simon says  game, a mash the button game, a button timing game.  There are zone defense sub quests, public tagging (so you can share quest progress with non-group members), smart drops and quite a few quality of life PvE boons.  Group quests are present, with ~5 per zone and still at this point people are grouping up.  In fact, grouping with people rewards you with reknown, a currency for non-combat items.  There’s even guild credit too.  Everywhere you go, Wildstar rewards you for grouping.

Paths are less fun, as a “side” leveling exercise.  Each gives you 3 skills to use and bluntly, the only ones worth mentioning are scientist with a group summon and portal to the capital and settlers with mailboxes and vending machines to repair gear.  I expected more.  There was more in early beta.  A lot was cut back.  It’s more than any other game on the market mind you but once you unlock the skills, there’s no reason to keep going, other than being a completionist (which all scientists are I suppose).

Crafting makes sense and provides gear at or above your level, better than quest and drop rewards.  I think it’s the first time where crafting is a viable alternative rather than an end-game activity.  There are crafting daily quest (used to get credits for top level recipes), talents to customize your skill set and only 5 tiers to progress though, so you’re rarely stuck in some grey zone.  Customizing gear, including rune crafting, is rather well thought out in terms of mechanics.  What isn’t though out are actual stat numbers and I’ll get to that.

“Elder” game

Wildstar’s term for what to do at max level.  PvP, dungeons, veteran dungeons, crafting, daily quests, raiding, adventures and ship hand missions are all options.  Solo, you can do most of it.  Majority of groups will do everything but raiding.  Raiding requirements are simply too high for the average skill set and the logistics of getting 40 people together means every server is going to have 2-3 raiding squads, at most.  I expect this to change in a future patch.  Still, there’s a whole lot to do without raiding.  Housing has private/group instances (dungeons) which is something you could spend a week doing.


Limited action bars are the future, plain and simple.  WoW has always been a poster child for skill bloat and SWTOR exemplifies that further.  Wildstar gives you a limited slot to put in what you want.  You can customize those skills as well, for various buffs.  Sometimes you need more AE attacks, sometimes a super interrupt.  It’s smooth and forward, a step forward compared to TSW’s decks – at least to me.  AMPs (or talents) work ok as well, with a lot of simple passives and flexibility.  I think the fact that there are no existing cookie-cutter builds as a good thing, as each build is based on a set of circumstances.

What doesn’t work so well are stats.  DPS players value attack power above absolutely everything.  Healers need focus (mana) regeneration to a breakpoint, then support power above all else.  Tanks are slightly different with 2-3 rather even weights, after deflection.  Carbine has said this is a problem and they are going to make changes.  It’s not to say there are BAD stats, just less optimal ones.  We’re not talking about SWTOR’s haste issues (it actually made you worse) or those that scale wrong (armor penetration in WoW).  This further affects rune slots, as some are worthless and others worth gold.  It’s a fair amount of balance needed and that’s due in the fall as my guess.  Overall, the largest impact on stats is on raiders, most people won’t notice it that much.

Actual combat, what with the telegraphs and all, is very hectic.  It is very easy to die in this game.  As a healer, I’ve been conditioned to think it was my fault but in fact, 95% of the time, it’s the other player who stood in the bad stuff.  Solo play, it isn’t so apparent mind you, though some areas with tight enemy patterns are hard.  Group play though, wowza.  If it’s red, get out.  If there’s a cast bar, interrupt.  You need a mouse to move, not be a keyboard turner.  I think the group content is paced at such a rhythm that you don’t grow tired (sword maiden excepted).  It’s challenging and fair, therefore extremely rewarding to complete something.  I’ve been in random groups wiping on a boss for 30 minutes.  When you get through, it just feels great.  There’s still some need for skill balance mind you.  Like Medics are horribad at DPS, Engineers are way too strong on DPS and so on.  But again, these are tail end metrics as while you’re leveling, it is rarely apparent.


This one is its own section because it’s very polarizing.  Wildstar is very B-movie in approach.  Everything is an exaggeration of the industry, with rather wild (pardon the pun) flair.  Character models are distinct.  Enemy types are varied.  People look different from each other and are recognizable.  Music is pretty kick arse.  Dungeons have good art style and the bosses are more than just giant humanoids.  Heck, the first end boss in a dungeon is a dragon that hatches from the ceiling.

What also works incredibly well is the lore.  There is a very interesting story to be had here and it is subtle.  You can read books, you can read text, NPCs jabber on while you’re about (“oh the hero!)” and Drusera’s reveal is well written.  You knew Blighthaven was coming and the story told there is well done.  For a game without an established IP to work off, I have to say that there are years of work put into it and very little of it conflicts.  Incredibly well done.


Wildstar uses a standard auction house and a commodity one.  You can only list 25 items per AH, which drastically reduces the number of bots/market barons.  I remember in WoW I would have 300 postings at once, RIFT wasn’t far behind.  The commodity one has buy and sell orders, which makes for a more interesting market.  Sure, you can game the thing if you wanted to but overall, the system works fairly well, especially with the floor being high vendor prices.  In fact, you can afford pretty much anything in the game at level 50, as part of your core.  Money is used for customization by and large, which is smart.  There are very few taps as well, so inflation isn’t crazy.  There are no Caturdays here.


Now is Wildstar the next best thing since sliced bread?  No, not so much.  It is a fantasy themepark with all the pits therein.  It is a fine evolution on WoW, SWTOR, FF14 and RIFT.  There are things on those games I’d like to see here (FF14 and RIFT’s open zone content for one) but by and large, there’s little to complain about.  The pacing is well done; you’re not flying through levels hitting a cap in a day.  There’s plenty of side activities to do.  There’s challenging content without the need for facerolls or the “go go go” attitude.  Grouping is pushed early on and social interaction.  There are a few bugs but none that are gamebreaking.  I think I found 3 that I needed to re-log for in my run from 1-50.  It’s very well polished.

I do expect there to continue to be progress on content as the days go by.  There are some needed tweaks here and there, in particular around the raiding aspect.  If given the choice between FF14 (which is also difficult) and Wildstar, you’re in for a rather even fight as I consider those 2 MMOs to be the only ones worth any subscription.  The biggest benefit to Wildstar is the sheer variety of content on offer and things to do.  I personally am enjoying my time and my subscription is continuing for the foreseeable future.



Combat and Art Styles

Pegging off Tobold’s post on appropriate art style, I think it bears mention more than just a couple games.  And I won’t really go into what looks better because that’s a very subjective argument.  This is really about the practicalities.

We have WoW art style, with distinct character outlines since the start. However it’s moved away from tab target to smart target, and red/blue markers on the ground. WoD will finally have target outlines as well. It’s evolved.

Neverwinter, a LAS/action game, uses outlines and AE effects given the mouselook aiming features. It’s a more realistic art style, making it damn near impossible to find someone in the thick of things. BUT, since it’s soft lock and AE for nearly everything (including healing), it works.

SWTOR uses cartoon style graphics for a seemingly endless supply of humanoids. I found it a mess in regular PvE but the group instances aren’t too bad as the character types are often different. Plus tab targeting helps drastically.

FF14 uses tab targets and a full skill bar, though in reality few skills. The art style is VERY unique and it’s fairly easy to spot individual players, let alone NPCs in combat. In fact, you rarely have more than 2-3 enemies at once. Of course, with a requirement for focused combat and targeted attacks, this is vital for success

FF14 - Ifrit

ESO is LAS + mouselook. Many attacks are AE or smart target. Every frigging enemy is the same though. PvP turned into meat walls of AE spam because you can’t focus target effectively. It also means many skills lose all value if they aren’t multi-target. Plus everyone blends in together and the background. So it’s less about aiming and responsiveness as it is about mashing AE attacks and hoping the numbers are in your favor.

Big Boy

Big Boy

Wildstar is LAS but tab/free target combat. Everything has an AE target as well, making aiming very important. Plus the character diversity helps you quickly ID the players in the field. The more quickly you can make an assessment, the better your odds.

That's a big gun

That’s a big gun

I guess it boils down to offense vs defense. A more realistic game favors defensive style of play and 2 types of skills. Either you spam and get lucky or you cross that skill gap to “elite” and run amok. FPS shooters I think show that well.

A more cartoon, or rather distinct character set, provides more offensive options as you can’t really hide. Everyone knows who you are and you have more information to make the right decision. It removes the skill gap and includes progression.

I wouldn’t be able to say which has the higher skill ceiling as that is more game-specific. It’s certainly an interesting topic.