Derailed

Ever sit down to play a game, and then experience an existential crisis halfway through? I just hit that in Wildstar.

Earlier in the week I had hit level 25, unlocking hoverboards and “tier 4″ abilities. With the latter, it basically means I can unlock expanded nuances to the abilities that I have on my bars, if I sink enough Ability Points in. For example, one of my attacks deals extra damage to enemies below 30% HP – the tier 4 unlock changes the threshold to 70% HP. Needless to say, this sort of milestone requires you to sort of comb over your action bar to see if you can find hidden synergies or if the tier 4 unlock makes an otherwise lackluster ability more useful.

On top of that, I was beginning to mentally prepare myself to actually start queuing for LFG. Yes, I have been talking about Veteran Dungeons and the like these past few days/weeks without firsthand experience with them. The primary reason for that is because of the reports I have been reading elsewhere, and the sort of Socratic musing on whether this sort of thing sounded like something I wanted to do in the first place. Given the state of Medic DPS, or more specifically my DPS, I thought I would try healing first. But instead of just jumping in blind and subjecting random people to my ignorance, I thought it a good idea to at least get a feel for healing in PvP.

You can probably guess where this is going.

The two BGs I played were perhaps the most awful experiences I’ve had in Wildstar thus far. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a dozen or so BGs on my other (lowbie) characters. Part of the problem is the classical healer dilemma in that you are pretty much useless on your own; if no one actually endeavors to capture flags, or if most everyone is terrible at PvP, you have no way of steering the battle yourself. Wildstar has an extra healer punishment in two more directions. First, the majority of heals are telegraphs just like everything else, which means that that near-dead teammate you are attempting to save will be precisely-dead when they dodge-roll out of the way of your heal.

Second… well, this is probably more of a personal problem, but actually picking which abilities to use is a depressing experience. It isn’t like you can just pick all Support powers and do well. Actually, you can, but without attacks of some sort you won’t be able to prevent flag flipping and such. So you are put into a position where you have to give up actually good abilities for weak-ass attacks, which you end up spamming all the goddamn time because the people you heal are goddamn useless. Just imagine the Exiles as the Alliance, and the blanks fill themselves.

And that’s when I realized that I don’t really like my Medic. Not just healing, which is a total clusterfuck, but… all of it. I enjoy the concept of the class, and even the sort of niche it occupies as an AoE healer. But guys, there is a profound sense of deadening when you realize how utterly shallow the combat system is. I get why Carbine did things this way – the only way the bullet-hell gameplay works is by reducing everything down to 5 buttons – but it puts enormous pressure on those few abilities to be fun to press. This isn’t like WoW where you can go Arcane or Frost if you dislike the Fire rotation. Every (DPS) class is basically a Ret paladin. Enjoy.

Some of this isn’t fair criticism, and I know it. I have precisely zero PvP gear, which likely has something to do with it. Everyone gets bad teams from time to time. I haven’t found an Arena Junkies-esque website to theorycraft the most efficient PvP builds, which raises the likelihood that I was specced poorly. Maybe I should have went 50/50 with attacks and healing, under the assumption that the shorter the battle, the less damage needs healed. Or perhaps I should simply “HTFU” and get back on the horse.

That’s the thing about existential crises though: you just don’t care anymore. Supposedly Medics are being looked at for the upcoming content patch in July, and it’s entirely possible I’ll just log onto my Medic tomorrow like it ain’t no thing. There’s a non-zero chance I don’t log on at all though. Because at the moment, I really don’t feel like playing anything.

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Posted on June 26, 2014, in Wildstar and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’ll front load this comment by apologising for sounding like a Neverwinter fanboy but this point about abilities is crucial to me – it’s a key reason why I didn’t get super excited by Wildstar after I’d tried it in the open beta. I got to level 10 in Wildstar on Medic and Engineer and I was already bored with the combat on both classes. I loved the aesthetics of both classes – the facial animations on my engineers bots, the cone beams from my Medic’s resonators. But actually the combat was very formulaic for all that; just builder+finisher and an interrupt.

    Neverwinter, for all its faults, has really nailed the combo of action combat and build variety. You have already at level 5ish (out of 50 max) a variety of abilities with different limitations on use. But if you compare abilities between classes or even different builds of the same class they’ll play very differently. I think that’s pretty important if you want the game to have high replayability.

    • Well, not really.
      Neverwinter has a very satisfying action combat, it feels close and personal and it’s satisfying to smash stuff. My GF “stomp” really feels like a sending a shockwave through the ground, the pure feedback is way beyond the “zone on the floor” I experienced in Wildstar.
      But still, Azuriel’s analysis is spot on: it plays like a ret paladin. I’ve played mostly my GF and only dabbled in the other classes, but overall it ends up with “spam the spammable, use the rest on CD”, i.e. a simple priority list. On my GF the only “exception” is the survival encounter skill which I use when in need, for the rest it’s really like a (simplfied) ret paladin. Looking at the complexity (mess?) of my feral druid there’s really no comparison….

  2. I have precisely zero PvP gear, which likely has something to do with it.

    So what? You’re leveling up, are you really supposed to farm for PvP gear? I can contrast your experience with mine in SWtoR. I picked it up when it went F2P, but never really played it. Now I decided I want to see how raiding is (even if I know that it’s a cheap copy of WoW), so I’m into leveling. I do it exclusively by PvP + instances + class questline. As you can guess, it’s a lot of PvP, a few instances and very little class questline. Ah and waiting…. BGs and instances are NOT cross-server….
    Well, my experience has been positive: I’m having FUN with my tank class in PvP. I have zero PvP gear, but the game is designed to give you some baseline PvP stat together with a level homogeization boost when you enter a BG, as a result I’m not completely useless. I do little damage, but I can can still stun/grip/annoy the hell out of enemies. The second type of PvP is Galactic starfighter, which is a completely separate game, level-independent and some kind of FPS in space. If there’s depth in it, it’s well hidden, but as a pure PBSE (“press button see explosion”) it’s satisfying.
    Wildstar: after the ten-odd levels on engineer in the beta I had completely failed to see what’s interesting about the game. If it were F2P I’d probably go a bit higher than what I’ve seen in the beta. But the auto-assigned, 1-line quests (the main leveling approach, as it seemed) are so utterly bad that I would not be able to level with them. So it would be again instances and PvP, both of which are not really getting good comments on the blogs ATM. (and I also have a problem with the “5-buttons” approach of the action combat gameplay, I hit level cap in NW, but I won’t level another character, to be honest I’ve stopped completely playing it).

  3. I imagine this may be part of the reason guilds are important – that your class is dependent on another’s to really succeed in areas of the game, including PvP and end game PvE content (just read this post http://scree.org/healing-in-wildstar-level-50-and-beyond/ ).