The curtains have been pulled back, the lid has been lifted and the banner has been unfurled. After months of rumor, speculation and downright trolling, WildStar’s two remaining classes have finally been announced. There’s the Engineer: a heavily armored handyman that’s tooled up with a quartet of robots. And there’s the Medic, a medium-range but highly mobile class that brings persistent damage and high-tech healing.
We’ve known for a while that the two remaining classes are a tank and healer, with both of them able to bring damage as well. What we haven’t known is exactly how they’ll both work. That’s why I recently joined a roundtable discussion with lead combat designer Chris Lynch and lead class designer Hugh Shelton. Also joining us were the principal designers behind the Engineer and Medic, Steven Engle and Marc Maztenbacher.
During the discussion, we touched on every aspect of these new classes, from telegraph sizes to cooldown durations. Bear in mind though: beta is beta. All of this information is subject to change as Carbine responds to player feedback. The studio is also working hard to keep all the classes feeling unique, which is something that it says beta is already helping with. Consider this a taste of things to come, rather than a declaration set in stone.
The DIY Engineer
As Carbine’s class team explained the Engineer, there was a lot that got me excited. First there’s the weapon: a high caliber launcher that’s so unstable, it’s turned Volatility into a primary resource. Then there’s the ‘bots: a quartet of semi-intelligent mechanical minions, each with a unique purpose. On the Exile side Humans, Granok and Mordesh can play the engineer, along with Chua and Mechari for the Dominion.
But by far the best bit was the Engineer’s innate ability – the Mark 4 Exo-Suit. It places armor on top of your existing heavy armor for a short period of time, currently pegged at 20 seconds. As a tank, it ramps up your damage mitigation to make you almost invulnerable. As DPS, your Launcher generates even more Volatility, allowing you to hit the fun buttons with impunity. Like other innate class abilities, the Mark 4 has a long cooldown of two minutes.
That resource – volatility – comes from your Launcher. It has a self-build appearance, as if someone on Junkyard Wars started taking things a little too seriously. As it fires it builds up volatility, which can then be released in unstable, energy-based attacks.
The range of attacks that the Launcher can deliver is very appealing. There’s Pulse Blast, a 25 meter cone attack, with a narrow strip down the middle that does more damage than the flanks either side. Energy Auger is a 30 meter skill shot that drops three mines in a row, making it useful for pulling. Target Acquisition, unlocked through the AMP system, is a channeled ability with a little more complexity – by aiming whilst channeling, it’s possible to tag up to 12 monsters, or load up the tags on just 1 or 2, with the damage dealt proportional to the number of tags.
The Launcher can be handy with crowd control. Zap is a skill-shot stun, while Shock Pulse works as a snare. Obstructor counts as both an interrupt and a blind, making it interesting for both PvE and PvP. While the Engineer doesn’t have as much CC as some of the other classes, they can be boosted up with Ability Tiers.
Overall though, the Engineer is considered to be more of a shock trooper than anything else, being able to take heavy damage while still dishing it out from range. That range is also likely to be useful during boss fights, as it can back away from enemy telegraphs while still keeping threat up. It can also use all abilities while moving, although anything with a cast time also slows movement. It’s also the only tank-capable class that can restore its own health and shields.
The Engineer’s bots make it the only ‘pure’ pet class in WildStar, and come in four different flavors. While it might be tempting to walk around with a gang of mechanical friends, bear in mind that only two can be in use at a time, and each one will take up a spot on your Limited Action Set. To make up for it, a bot’s button will also issue it with a command once it’s been deployed.
These are permanent pets, remaining by the Engineer’s side in Nexus until they’re either dismissed or destroyed. A pet bar provides control of both ‘bots in tandem, with all of the usual pet controls such as attacking a specific target or waiting in position. I’m told that they can also be set to aggressive, defensive or passive, in much the same way as pets in other MMOs.
For off-tanking, the Bruiser Bot is likely to be a popular choice, with the ability to leap to a location and taunt anything nearby. The Artillery Bot, meanwhile, is for those Engineers looking for DPS, firing a volley of missiles at its target. If you need help keeping your shields up, the Repair Bot (unlocked through the AMP system) will lend a hand. And finally, the Diminisher Bot helps with crowd control, snaring and damaging anything that gets in range. It’ll be possible to beef the ‘bots up further through Ability Tiers, although there wasn’t any word on cosmetic customization.
The robots themselves scale off an Engineer’s stats, although it’s not yet clear if that’s based purely on level or if changing character gear will have an effect. And, when one of your electronic buddies dies, there’s a 15 second cooldown before you can bring him back. It’s also going to be interesting keeping them out of trouble, considering the amount of telegraphs that could be flying around. The ‘bot won’t instinctively move out of danger, requiring a little micro-management from the Engineer. That said, Carbine might decide to make pets immune to some telegraphed abilities.
With a robot that can taunt, would the pet or the player be doing the tanking? According to Shelton, it’s likely to be a mixture of both. “Since the engineer does have high mitigation, they’re able to face-tank enemies effectively. And, since we have the telegraph system in WildStar, you’re able to back away from the boss and cast your abilities on the move - you’re still able to dish out some damage at range. And besides, you yourself are the tank. The Bruiser Bot is able to taunt, which means you can divert a boss’s attention to it for a short period of time.”