[Wildstar] Silver Dungeons and the Return of the DPS

(Is anybody still playing Wildstar out there? Well…I am!)

Before disappearing from gaming for the past few days due to real life, I got my Esper in Wildstar ready and prepped for silver dungeon runs. No doubt the bronze patch is incoming soon to speed up that attunement process somewhat but silvers are still on the table for many players and frankly, I was curious about difficulty compared to WoW heroics. Turns out, Wildstar silver runs are really more like mini-raids than WoW-style 5 mans. There’s no way a random group of mostly inexperienced people will finish anything for hours and hours.

Silver progression goes the same for most groups and guilds: STL first, then KV, SC and SSM, that last one being a nightmarish place created around a jumping puzzle. There are only four dungeons to run in WS albeit in three different modes. In no way can they be compared to adventure difficulty. Silver comes with a timer and extra objectives/bosses compared to bronze. Gold on the other hand, comes with everything and zero deaths. So far the theory.

I’m halfway through silvers now myself, thanks to running with experienced groups and vocal leadership. It still took several attempts per dungeon due to the unforgiving mechanics, yet that is nothing compared to what early progression teams had to go through. Even if you keep the same people around to crack a dungeon, and that’s what anyone does who wants to reasonably progress, you’ll spend entire afternoons learning WS dungeons before silver. You’ll be resetting over and over, going again after an early wipe or unlucky deaths slowing you down. You’ll consider mastering single bosses a success, rather than entire dungeons. You’ll be back after dinner. Persistence is the only one way to crack silver dungeons, so you better bring a good-humored bunch of people.

Ready for battle! Well...sorta.

We’re ready for battle! Well…sorta.

Or maybe you just get very lucky sometime and have a team invite you that’s already done most of the work together, with willing leaders and/or imba DPS (or the stars will align for you once every 100 years while pugging). At encounters like Stormtalon your damage dealers easily decide over make or break – a difference most acutely felt by healers.

Bringing DPS back to the Table

There is something that dawns on the traditional healer in WS at silver runs latest. It’s an obscure hunch the first few times you keep dying horribly during an encounter, a hunch that solidifies once your group keeps going on without you for minutes on end, sometimes until the boss dies. A guildie of mine condensed it best in a related forum topic on healing, a comment that hit a nerve for me too –

Tank is most important
Dps need 2 out of 3 good
Average healer = complete adventure/ dungeon.

the worrying thing is that in every other MMo I have played the healer was rated as important as the tank now with the interprets we are last even behind the Dps. imho.

WS is a game of self-sustainability first. Even if the healer dies, at least half of the encounters allow for the party to continue (and DPS finish fights). That doesn’t mean healers should die by any means or that bad healers cannot still screw up your silver runs – they definitely can. However, nothing is quite as devastating as missed interrupts in WS, the mechanic all major encounters revolve around thus far. And the responsibility of timing and rotating interrupts is almost exclusively on tanks and DPS, even if every class can theoretically do them. Needless to say, I concurred with my guildmate’s points although way more cheerfully so:

WS healing is indeed quite different to the position it holds in many other MMOs. I’ve been a healer in many games and I agree with you on this. the reason is Wildstar’s game / encounter design:

Mechanics are more unforgiving and a lot more about individual survival skills (dodge that shit, use a pot) than in other classic MMOs (not GW2, GW2 is more similar and has no roles anyway). I was used to being able to ‘save’ most of my party members all the time in WoW – you can’t do this so much in WS. People die quickly if they screw up and so does the healer, so your overall playstyle needs to be a lot more centered around your own survival + MT. There’s less leeway for the ‘extras’ (not the normal damage but the unnecessary one) in WS than in other games that I’ve played (and then there’s also the telegraph / cone thing that gimps healing). Sure, once a healer has better gear, stats, etc. he/she can make up for more screwups but still, many mechanics are just unforgiving and up to the individual player. You can’t save a one-shot, and depending on the situation not a 2-shot either.

And that’s why you feel the healer matters ‘less’ in WS which is true; because the onus of survival is more well-spread in Wildstar. So really, think of it as a good thing. The fact that even the healer is allowed to die first sometime (for some encounters it doesn’t matter), is a good thing. It means responsibility is shared more evenly, which is also true thanks to the interrupt mechanics in WS. So, imo we are more even now / not less. DPS finally aren’t just being carried in this game. [Syl]

I love it. I love the fact that DPS don’t get the back seat in a trinity-based MMO. Enrage timers aside, there was never a time during my WoW era (up to Cataclysm) where pewpew were nearly as much on the spot as they are continuously in Wildstar’s encounters. The scales have evened out and while some oldschool healers might feel that sting of lost power, they should also feel the relief of shared pressure.

Wildstar silver KV - cheat when you can!

Wildstar silver KV – cheat when you can!

Tangentially, I realized that there’s still a strong WoW healer beating in this chest; I installed GRID right away and am still working on “untargetting” my healing style. And I still die way, way too often because I choose to try save others over ruthlessly minding my own six. That simply doesn’t fly with heroic telegraphs – it’s be there or be square for each and everybody!

11 comments

  1. I really love this post, it hit on something I’ve been trying to figure out about myself for a while. Usually I play healers in MMOs because DPS seemed boring, I never felt as engaged. I think the same reasons that make healing seem “less important” in WildStar are also making me enjoy DPSing. EVERYBODY matters. EVERYBODY has an important role. Hopefully that makes all the roles more fun!

  2. That was exactly my experience as well, and it’s why I think PUGs went so badly. Most DPS in MMOs rely on the healer to bail them out of any trouble (usually without even knowing it), but that just doesn’t work in WildStar.

    1. Indeed. I’ve never felt so helpless as a healer in PuGs really, it takes getting used to – but it’s definitely also refreshing. Doesn’t necessarily make pugging easier tho.

  3. I agree that in WoW, the DPS could get away with a lot of derp. There were some that were just awful at interrupts or always stood in the bad, but the other players were able to compensate for them. The fact that they continued to be able to progress despite being terrible just reinforced these bad habits and negated any sort of drive to get better, leading to even more reliance on the healers.

    There was also the bizarre phenomenon of “healer blame” for pretty much every wipe, regardless of who screwed up. Have you ever heard the passive aggressive phrase: “I wasn’t GETTING heals”? Like it’s from a dispenser.

    I’m ok with having the so-called “easy” job for once. I’m ok with DPS taking personal responsibility for their own health bars. And I really like that it’s not even POSSIBLE to save them from themselves, so they have to pay attention and learn or get out of group content.

    1. Aye I was used to healer abuse in WoW, I sure do not miss it. Now it’s more up to everyone to perform well and I just focus on myself and the tank. There still needs to be a reason for the healer in the group, right ;)

  4. Spreading that responsibility around is a good thing, in my mind. Honestly, in Cataclysm I *loved* the hard dungeons, especially Stonecore. Most of the bosses in Stonecore had instant-kill techniques that if you weren’t watching your feet would get you pretty dead. And nobody could blame the healer, because you can’t heal dead, hahahaha! It was honestly the most fun I had running dungeons, ever.

    But the thing is that doesn’t work in random matchmaking contexts; that’s just an exercise in frustration. As you point out, you pretty much need a dedicated party of people to pull that stuff off. If it’s random joe-schmoe who’s going to drop/kick at the first sign of trouble, then you can’t make progress. It’s why I’m a little more excited for WoD’s heroic 5-mans requiring Silver Proving Grounds–you have to know how to play the game at least a bit before you can queue for randoms.

    Wildstar seems to have just started learning the same lessons Blizzard learned in Cataclysm and are finally putting into place in Warlords. Some of us WANT that hard content, and that distribution of responsibility. It’s just matchmaking systems in MMOs currently don’t have enough criteria to try and match you with folks of a similar playstyle/mindset. Something they could learn from either the PvP portions of their games, or FPSes.

    1. That’s very true and why many PuGs are quite a nightmare in WS atm. If you need a group of 5 skilled players instead of 2-3, that’s an issue. I wonder if we’ll see changes to the interrupt mechanics anytime soon.

  5. That was one thing I liked personally, in theory, when I trialed Wildstar, that the DPS needed to be on-the-ball and competent and responsible for the team as well with controls aka interrupts. There’s more equality all around, in a sense, that a good team is the sum of -all- of its parts. Too often, poor players hide in the DPS role and just look/beg for a competent tank/healer duo to carry them through.

    Of course, the question of whether that’s an overall good thing for the game is another matter. By definition, there will always be below average players, and if you make it so that the requirements are that they can’t hide anywhere, chances are good that they’ll be pushed right out and excluded, and there goes your population and extra sub fees.

    And oh, the irony, as more get excluded, the average level of performance expected goes up, doesn’t it? So then another batch of people become viewed as ‘below average’ scrubs…

    1. I think you have a point about more elitism and less room for average to bad players. But then, many of the ‘bad’ WoW dps remained bad because they didn’t need to learn. It’s a fine line to push for sure but I think most of the required playstyle in WS can be learned. Whether players don’t get frustrated before that is ofc another question entirely….it certainly is a risky business for any MMO to come with such standards.

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