Unlike most staple MMO mages, WildStar’s ranged nuker, the Esper, isn’t one to toss fireballs or frost novas. Instead, you’ll be doing some “long distance lobotomy” using a wide variety of mental powers, illusions, and psycho-kinetic constructs. The Esper’s signature weapon is a wicked psy-blade, though I didn’t get a whole lot of use out of it in my limited experience with the class. WildStar’s various classes can all fill multiple roles, too. If you so choose, you can even play the Esper as a healer. Given the fact that I was playing solo and you also don’t get a whole lot of healing abilities early on, we’ll be focusing primarily on the nuking today. We all know that’s the fun part anyways, right?
Like most mage types, the Esper is primarily a stationary class. Using the game’s “Limited Action Set”, you can perhaps put together a loadout comprised of some more mobile abilities later on, but the default experience seems to focus on hanging back and slinging spells. In theory, this seems like it would be lame in a game that often requires you to dodge telegraphed attacks, but in practice, it was actually quite fun. Playing a Stalker, I was nimbly darting around my targets, slashing everywhere and worrying less about many of the long wind-up telegraphs, but on the Esper, I often had to make the most of my cast times and dodge at the very last moment in order to set up for a safe damage spike.
Speaking of damage spikes, let’s talk about the Esper’s mechanic: Psi Points. This should be incredibly familiar to any MMO veteran, as Psi Points are a simple builder and finisher mechanic. As an Esper, you’ll use abilities that generate these points which you can then expend for additional effect or massive damage by using finisher abilities.
I started out with the builder Telekinetic Strike, which is a line nuke that can hit up to five targets and generates a single Psi Point. My first finisher available was Mind Burst, a conical spell that can also hit five targets and will expend all your Psi Points for additional damage per point spent. Visually, Telekinetic Strike is a conjuration of a mass of pointy mental weaponry that is then launched at your target(s). As for Mind Burst, the developers refer to this ability as “bird strike” for a reason: a giant illusory bird appears over your head and flies right into your enemies. If you’ve got a bunch of Psi Points built up, it seems to really pack a wallop. Throughout my play, these two abilities were my bread-and-butter combo. I’d usually build up two or three Psi Points and then let loose with the awesome bird strike to blow up my targets.
Each class also has a special ability and the Esper’s is called Spectral Form. Spectral Form is a sort of overcharged artillery mode. While in Spectral Form, you’re rooted in place for five seconds and gain a massive boost to damage mitigation while generating a Psi Point every .5s.
Later on, I gained access to one of my favorite abilities, Concentrated Blade, which allows you to spin up two massive psy-blades that then beeline for their nearest target after a few seconds. I’d basically set these babies up before a pull and get a massive spike of damage a couple of seconds after drawing aggro with my other spells. It’s pretty satisfying to use, but again, you have to be stationary. They don’t follow you around.
I didn’t get too far into the Esper experience, but I did get my first taste of a more mobile ability in Blade Dance at around level six or so. Blade Dance is a three second channel that can be done while moving (and you’ll even get a 15% movement speed buff while casting) that can strike up to 10 targets at a time. Basically, you’re dancing around the battlefield cutting up fools with your psy-blades and generating a Psi Point at both the start and end of the channel. It’s fun to weave in between a group of enemies while shredding them to pieces and dodging telegraphs all at the same time.
The Esper also has access to a number of soft CC abilities early on and they’re great for getting everyone away from you if you start feeling yourself a bit too much and Blade Dance into a group of enemies that don’t quite die once the knife party is over. In these cases, an awesome Shockwave will get anyone left standing off your back with a nice hefty knockback, and you can use the two Psi Points you generated during your Blade Dance to start taking out whatever is left once you’ve created some distance.
That’s about as far as I got into the Esper experience and I think the main takeaway for me is that I can already tell WildStar may be the first game since City of Heroes where I find myself a true altaholic. Every time I think I’ve found my main class with this game, I try out something else and find myself drawn to it. I’m still unsure about the stationary aspects of the Esper, but the theme of the class and the awesome visual effects and animations that go with its abilities are a huge draw. The class just looks great and feels fun to play. Hopefully, it will be possible to put together a more mobile build that ends up perfectly viable, but if not, there’s always the Spellslinger.
Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB