You might recall that I did some serious class speculation when we didn't even know what the last two races were going to be back in March. Now we know the last two classes of WildStar and I can see how good my aim was. And once I'm done congratulating myself on fitting together pieces of obvious information, we can talk a little more about what the last two classes are actually doing within the context of the game. That seems fair, doesn't it? I'm glad you agree.
What I got right and what I got wrong
First things first: I was completely wrong about how many classes each non-human race has access to. Yes, the Granok, Aurin, and Draken have access to three classes each, but the Mordesh get five and the Mechari and Chua both get four. For interesting trivia competitions in the future, please note that the Granok and the Aurin are the only two races that share no classes.
Other than that... well, I didn't guess that the ranged tanking class would also be a pet class, but otherwise I was pretty much spot-on with my guesses. The Granok can be both Engineers and Medics, the Mechari can be Engineers (and Medics, but I've established my poor guesses regarding total class numbers), and the Chua and Mordesh nicely round out missing options for both factions. I was even right in guessing that both the Chua and the Mordesh can be Spellslingers.
Espers are apparently the odd man out, so to speak, being confined to only two races instead of three like the other classes. Interestingly, I wonder if some of that was part of an effort to direct attention toward the races that seemed most likely to be underpopulated; the Aurin have never shaken the "bunny-girl" image from early promos, and the Chua occupy the Token Short Race slot, which attracts a certain (vocal) portion of the audience while being tiresome to the rest of the playerbase. I suppose you could just be a human, though.
First, do no harm
Medics complete the triumvirate of WildStar's melee options, and they hit more or less all of the notes you'd expect. We already have the big bruiser and the sneaky sort, so Medics comfortably sit in the "weird hybrid" slot. Of course, it could be argued that WildStar's classes all have elements of strangely hybrid behavior, but that's not the point at the moment.
Melee healers, as a whole, are a rarity in this genre. The design is fraught with problems, not the least of which being that most fights tend to be a bit harder on melee than on ranged classes. There's an image that healing should be something done from as far away as possible to minimize the chances that the healers are in any danger of taking damage themselves.
In WildStar, of course, everyone's regularly in danger of taking damage; trying to avoid it altogether is achieved only through watching those telegraphs. Even your ranged Espers and Spellslingers are going to be moving around. Having a melee healer might introduce new wrinkles, but being able to drop fields and then get out of the way is going to have a big impact on gameplay.
Fields in general provide an interesting dynamic; the very idea emphasizes placing healing and support not where you are but where you will be. That means Medics have to dance with the telegraphs, which sounds bad until you realize that being up in the thick of things means they're already doing half of that. If it isn't obvious, I'm very curious to see how things will shake out for Medics right from the word go.
Tighten nuts, change oil
Engineers pose an interesting conundrum for me. On the one hand, I am generally not a fan of ranged classes and pet classes. You can blame this on Hunters if you'd like; I usually blame it on Final Fantasy XI's Rangers and Beastmasters. But the inverse is that I am very fond of anything referred to as an Engineer, and I am a really big fan of robots. Also power armor.
So the flavor of Engineers hits me right in the feels, even if the actual mechanics might not. Only actual play will tell how much I enjoy the class in motion.
Having a ranged tank reinforces what I said before: WildStar does not have range as a defensive absolute. Being further from an enemy means that you might not get hit as often, not that you exist in an ultimate zone of perfect safety. Having an Engineer throwing multiple minions around might well contribute to this, although at this point we don't know how many bots you can have marching around. The class trailer seems to imply you can have several around at once, but again, only play will tell.
Like the Medic, the Engineer is utilizing a class design not seen frequently in games; the Vanguard/Powertech in Star Wars: The Old Republic is my experience with a ranged tank, and it was a personal favorite. While Warriors seem to be built around a bit more soaking of damage and Stalkers are more about avoidance, I'm guessing that Engineers focus on recovering from damage and splitting it between the Engineer and her minions. It also offers the opportunity to design fights around all three sorts of tanks that encourage one without requiring anything.
So I'm excited. Yes?
As always, feedback is welcome in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, it's time for a look at the Aurin, and the week after that, I'm looking at the year in review.
Here's how it is: The world of Nexus can be a dangerous place for a tourist or a resident. If you're going to venture into WildStar, you want to be prepared. That's why Eliot Lefebvre brings you a shiny new installment of The Nexus Telegraph every week, giving you a good idea of what to expect from both the people and the environment. Keep your eyes peeled, and we'll get you where you need to go.