Category Archives: Wildstar

OTC: Wildstar Relaunch, Star Citizen Kerfuffle and Steam Pricing

otc

OTC is a multi-topic category on mmogypsy.com

October is a wild month for gamers and not just thanks to so many great new releases in the coming days and weeks. On September 30th Wildstar finally relaunched, now fully free-to-play after its introduction of the CREDD meta-currency earlier in 2015. Even with relaunches like this one, it was apparently difficult for the developers to prepare a successful launch week and anticipate (mega)server load. Since last Tuesday I have logged into the game on several different days, after being greeted by a queue of ~2500 each time. Once I got in and wasn’t kicked by the loading screen, the experience went something like this:

  • Get spammed by 10826452628 achievements
  • Try to move character and write in guildchat
  • Retrieve 50 loyalty rewards from account inventory
  • Character starts moving…and keeps moving
  • There is now one new item appearing in my bag; I try activate it
  • My text appears in guildchat
  • The activated item is gone for good /sadface
  • My character is suddenly bald

Okay I made that last one up, although twitter was full of hilarious character bug screenshots by Wildstar players. Unfortunately the game has been really unplayable for me up to Sunday night, which was the last time I tried doing more than loitering in Illium. I am still subscribed too, so that’s a little meh – even if I totally agree with Anook that launch hiccups are part of MMO launches. But then, so are players whining about launch hiccups, so HANDLE IT!

All that aside, I profess a certain indifference to the whole thing; at the end of the day it’s still the Wildstar I left a few months ago, with bigger plots, more currencies and easier dungeons. Since the latter were not a primary concern for me anyway, it’s not like I am now getting the shot I never got before; I already raided in Wildstar and I have no interest in going back to raids. That’s not to say that I won’t binge-decorate the Manor de Syl sometime in the future but yeah, the novelty is limited in this case.

The Escapist versus Cloud Imperium Games

Space travel geeks and readers of dramatic mainstream gaming websites have been very agitated these last few days, as the whole kerfuffle between The Escapist and Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) has moved to second base. In case you’ve no idea what I am talking about, The Escapist has said some pretty accusatory and partly not-so-well-researched things (this is a good summary) about the hiring practises over at CIG and the overall status quo of the now $90 million-project that Star Citizen has become since the initial kickstarter for 500’000 bucks. I understand things have been significantly delayed from the original timeframe but hey, a backing surplus of umm 18’000% (correct me if I’m wrong, am bad at maths) is potentially overwhelming to anyone passionate to deliver the best possible product to their long standing fan base. Just sayin’ – two years are not a long time in AAA terms! I know what I’d be doing with some of that extra cash –

One year-long international backers orgy, for realz!

One year-long international backers orgy, for realz!

I  keep my fingers crossed that all the SC backers out there will still get to see their dream of space travel come alive, whenever that will be. As for The Escapist, the last time I intentionally visited that webpage they were interviewing “game developers” versus “female game developers”, while not exactly vetting some of their interview guests either. Ethics in game journalism (lol) is apparently not The Escapist’s forte, huh.

Understanding Steam Pricing

Last night I posed the below question to my twitter-wiki because I was puzzled over some of the not-conversion-rate-related price differences between certain games on Steam vs. Amazon vs. retail (nothing new, I know). I don’t buy any non-digital games anymore but as several people have pointed out to me in the discussion that ensued, regional VAT regulations play a part and whether we are talking digital-only releases or games that still go over the counter. Another reason as pointed out by Armadillo may lie in physical presence of services or infrastructure.

But these are just some of the reasons, the most obvious one being that you set a prize that people will pay of course. Arguing different markets is the same thing: it’s not a social system whereby I somehow fund gaming for players in low-income countries. I am the first person to sign up for collective insurance models but asking relative prices for digital games is about profit margins.

So looking at some of the bigger differences for Steam games and the absence thereof in certain cases, I guess I can’t realistically comprehend the whole thing as a wanna-be-informed consumer with a limited attention span. It’s all very complicated which is also business code for “because we can” – only sometimes it’s not but then, how would I know? To clarify, I have no issue with some price differences on games and I certainly am not looking to get everything as cheap as possible; games cost money to make. Like most players however, I would prefer to fund the people doing the actual work and not scores of (unnecessary) middle men. That’s why digital distribution is potentially great and it feels wrong when there are price differences of 25% or more.

I realize this is not exactly a new topic, certainly not for gamers living in Australia, but I should probably look into buying from alternative sources like Greenman Gaming more often and consider gifting opportunities via my Steam friendlist, as most guides looking to thwart the Valve overlord suggest. Who wants to be my Steam gift-pal? Considering where I live, I can’t guarantee you get much out of it though!

Optional reading: The weird economics behind Steam prices around the world

Zomg Double-Subbed?? [#Blaugust 24]

Last night while working on my Wildstar housing showcase for blaugust, I realized something rather extraordinary:

I am officially double-subbed to two MMOs. This happened in 2015, that slow year for MMO releases!

Unplanned occurrences aside (let’s forget that I may or may not have remained subbed to WoW by mistake), I can’t remember the last time I was subbed simultaneously to two different games. I’ve always been subbed to something since 2002, namely FFXI, WoW, Age of Conan, Rift, LOTRO, Wildstar and now FFXIV. I would often combine this playtime with a free-to-play title like Allods or Tera, or then a buy-to-play game such as GW2. I like variety these days but being double-subbed is rare even for me.

Once more with feeling

I don’t know how long this will last but in terms of my current enjoyment with MMO gaming, I find it quite a remarkable and certainly unexpected state of affairs. In the years following my WoW spree, I was struck by a general MMO-malaise that many ex-WoW players undoubtedly shared. New games had much to live up to, sometimes too much, while I did my best not to qualify every different feature in terms of “better or worse than in WoW” – which is ironic given that I left WoW because it clearly wasn’t so great any longer.

I feel like I have finally overcome this mindset. I approach new titles without all the past baggage. It’s definitely nice to be immersed in that one MMO don’t get me wrong, it is also a very positive sign however that I can still find enough fun and enjoyment in MMOs to subscribe for two games in 2015. Even if I’m not necessarily representative, I feel hopeful for this genre. What I look forward to in the coming years is more stability; fewer new releases, more quality content for existing games. Fingers crossed!

With that in mind, I want to highlight this youtube fan guide on all the more recent changes to Wildstar (not the upcoming f2p changes but what’s been done up to now). I agree with the commenter that the pace and difficulty have been improved by Carbine in many events. As he points out too, it is sad the tweaking comes this late and one can only hope more players will give the game one more chance come F2P, together with those who have never tried it. Coming from FFXIV, I hold a torch for second chances: really, what’s there to lose?

New Wildstar Housing Tour! My Cassian Crib incl. Gameroom [#Blaugust 23]

Now that I am resubbed to Wildstar and have access to my housing plot again, I realized I should really get another housing tour done before free-to-play hits. I did a couple of videos last year when I was still playing, but I never actually got around to frapsing my own crib. This has now been amended.

The following is a tour of my fully furnished 3-floor Cassian home in Wildstar, including a custom made veranda with botanical lab, my plushie collection and of course the gamer room with multiplayer! Carbine have added a lot of interesting construction tiles since I made all this, including round shapes and glass panels but am not gonna mess around with these before F2P since I expect to redo everything completely once we have access to the bigger plots and new housing items. There will be so much to do….anyway, enjoy this quick tour of mi casa, status pre-f2p!

Is F2P Saving Wildstar? [#Blaugust 17]

The much awaited Wildstar f2p-build is currently in beta as more and more players are either remembering to resub or acquire a copy before official f2p-launch. There are various veteran rewards and different goodies depending on whether you were continuously subscribed to the game, subscribed right before f2p or well, none of the above. There’s some more tricky fine-print as Bhagpuss points out in his post today and I need to thank him for the reminder. I’m about to resub myself before the whole f2p switch. I miss my housing plot in Wildstar and am very interested to see the additional items and bling yet to come out.

CaretakerDJ

All the while, existing Wildstar players are debating what f2p is going to do to their game. Depending on where you look, player attitudes towards the payment model change seem more or less dire: there’s those who believe that f2p was always in the books since day one (myself included), those who think it necessary to save Wildstar from bankruptcy and then another group who fear f2p will be the game’s downfall.

“I don’t care if f2p people come in. I just want the fucking game to be properly funded. I’m concerned with how much it costs to host the f2p players. I’m concerned that we are going to lose all of the subscribers we gained. Who many current players are going to opt out of the signature service? How many people who join for f2p are going to get the signature service? I think we might actually lose money. Then again they haven’t announced their cash shop. I’m not looking forward to getting nickel and dimed for vanity items I used to farm dungeons and content for.” [source]

I guess no matter how you feel about f2p as an MMO player, in lieu of verified numbers by developers it is impossible to predict what a payment model switch can or must achieve in the mid- and long term. LOTRO is one of the most well-known examples of f2p saving or at least buying an MMO more time. This is thanks to how well Turbine designed their different payment options too. From all I’ve read about Carbine’s approach, they may actually pull off a similar stunt – new players will first jump into f2p and opt in to signature service at some point. There seems to be a higher chance of that than legit, existing subbers from today downgrading to more restricted f2p service.

I guess we’ll see if f2p will “save Wildstar”. Am not exactly convinced how last resort we are speaking, anyway. Does Wildstar need desperate saving at this point or is it not much rather Carbine ditching a dated business model, the way they always intended? Whatever, huh.

[Wildstar] Of Unexpected Turns and Raiding Pains

My recent blunders into Wildstar’s raiding scene were more of a happenstance than anything, a surprise to myself first and foremost. At the end of 2013 my plans for this year were quite clear: play TESO, ignore Wildstar. Fast forward, I find myself not only among few remaining bloggers in our blogosphere still subbed to Carbine’s MMO, but attuned to raids and geared for endgame. I’ve written about my first raiding experiences here but having gone through a streak of heavy back pains these past weeks, I’ve decided to put an early end to a raiding career that I never meant to have. Too scary is the prospect of another episode of what I have come to call my “post-WoW raider back” since I left WoW in 2010.

A passage dearly paid.

Not many MMO raiders and ex-raiders (myself included) speak of whatever physical backlash, temporary or permanent, they may have experienced due to their focus on top tier PVE/PVP endgame. I’m not saying that every MMO player or raider is like me in terms of poor posture control, but I suspect that there are many among us who come to know such side-effects after reaching a certain age latest. If you’ve raided in a competitive and dedicated manner consistently over several years, it’s hard to avoid any form of physical repercussion for so much sedetary amusement. I remember a time when my youth would cradle me in blissful ignorance of such concerns, yet after I had turned 28 years old with five years of WoW raiding (12 hours a week on average) on my literal back, the physical reality of my hobby caught up with me. I’ve always had issues with my neck but from that point in time my back pains took a life of their own and spread to the rest of my body in one neurological fun fest.

Combined with was generally a deeply troubling and stressful time in my life, a fact that must be emphasized, my unhealthy way of slouching through long-session gameplay (during which I ignored all warning signs for lack of judgement) turned into a chronic pain condition that, after the usual series of medical examinations, is fair to say will never leave me. After quitting WoW and spending considerably less focus time in front of the computer, as well as regular massage therapy and healthier living, I’ve been able to recover slowly from the more acute and crippling pains that used to overshadow my life for at least three full years. I know I have partly my lack of discipline to blame – I have never been great at self-control when it comes to the things I love doing (and I am hardly a sports-fan either). I also realize that many people gamers or not, deal with backpains which are always multicausal; in a way, what happened five years ago opened my eyes to a variety of issues I had ignored for too long in my life. Treating myself better in every sense was one consequence, so in retrospective I’d like to see my time spent raiding as a catalyst, rather than the root cause of all the pain.

Nonetheless, my gametime is something I will always have to control in the future, no matter how tempting some aspects of MMOs might be. I’ve tried the whole “getting up during biobreaks”- and “loading-screen workout”- routines and for me, they simply don’t work. I can spend half a day casually at the PC, blogging, podcasting and carousing Steam, but raiding puts me into a state of emergency in which I grow tense and too absorbed to notice lousy posture. I don’t think there’s any gaming activity quite like online coop when it comes to demanding exceptional focus from each individual. If you ever get up from such a session and feel the pang in the back of your neck, don’t ignore it.

Alas, I have been there, done that and no epic pixel nor fleeting friendships were worth the physical pain that was caused or amplified. I love MMOs and the competitive aspects of online games but if beating endgame and obtaining shinies require me to sit still and focus in front of a screen for 3-4 hours on end, then I am happy to leave such feats to a younger generation – a generation hopefully wiser than me. Hindsight is 20/20 – and the story of how much their bodies must hurt is never told in Surrogates or similarly intriguing movies about virtual life.

Thus my raiding chapter for Wildstar is officially closed.

[Wildstar] Now Raiding

So I started 20man raiding in Wildstar last week and have downed a couple of mini-bosses as well as X-89 in Genetic Archives thus far. It took my guild of jolly freeform raiders several wipenights to get a team of 20 people fully accustomed to the drill, something that players already need to learn during the dungeon attunement: individual performance matters. Even if some veteran 5mans get easier over time for a seasoned group of well-geared folk, many fights require every member in the party to be familiar with fight mechanics. Wildstar combat is a dance more than WoW ever was, unforgivable unless players continuously adapt their playstyles. The X-89 in GA comes with two different “YOU ARE THE BOMB!”-features which means an unsuspecting rookie is likely to ruin it for everyone else.

sylraidws01

There is no hiding in Wildstar’s raids – addons are seriously recommended, cooldowns must be juggled and adjusting your tragically limited actionbar for every encounter is a given. Execution demands a high level of focus because the fights are so mobile. From that point of view the learning curve is quite steep, especially for genre newcomers. Considering how 40mans must feel in comparison, which are no less unforgivable, it becomes apparent why raiders have been crying out for Carbine to critically consider their endgame. In their most recent state of the game Nexus Report, they finally address this issue albeit just briefly:

malzek: That “other” MMORPG abandoned the 40-man model 9 years ago due to logistical issues.  WildStar’s raids are much more unforgiving, leaving many scratching their head at this design decision. Has any consideration gone into bringing raid content to a more realistic level for the playerbase size?

CM: “All I’m willing to say right now is yes. Yes, there’s been discussion. I’m not going into details at this time…..the devs are listening.

With subscription numbers dwindling and complaints both from the casual and hardcore (see the rest of the Q&A), Carbine cannot afford not to act. New content dumps may appease some non-raiding players but the fact remains that Wildstar endgame is tuned to a difficulty level that not enough people enjoy longterm. For myself, I will say this: I had fun getting to grips with the X-89 mechanics and I didn’t mind wiping as much as we did – but I am also under no illusion that the really hard bosses are yet to come and will test those spirits further. Have raids felt harder than vanilla raiding so far? – No. Do I expect them to get much harder? Oh yes! Woe to all that underestimate this endgame.

Server merges

The dreaded server merges of both global region’s PVE and PVP realms respectively, have been hinted at going live sometime around mid-October earliest. The names were decided by community poll and it appears I shall soon reside on Jabbit, a name I neither endorse nor understand.

Alas, for me the merges can’t come soon enough. Lightspire’s Dominion side has quickly turned into a graveyard, with probably 60% of its active members hosted by my guild and only one single other, competing guild in terms of raiding. The AH is dreadful, with entire subsections entirely empty or then, most likely offering an item or two by guildies (keeps the money in the family!). The costs for much coveted items such as runes amount to a subscription’s worth of platinum, just to get a basic gear set kitted out. No, I do not like this situation at all. We need a better market, we need comparisons and proper competition. For once, I don’t think a merge can do more harm than good – the fact that I cannot reasonably accumulate fancy hats and robes via the auction house is frankly intolerable.

So, why is Wildstar not doing better?

Yesterday, Rohan tried to put a finger on why Wildstar isn’t doing so well only 3 months into launch. Wildstar the great AAA-hope of 2014, the polished, cartoony WoW-esque holy trinity, theme-park MMO that appeared different yet similar enough to accommodate the mainstream. I agree with Rohan that WS has a higher difficulty level than WoW, although the leveling process never struck me as hard or tedious on my Esper. WS is packed with some fun quests and a very linear, well-paced progression to level 50. I’d happily place bets on FFXIV:ARR being grindier than WS, only FFXIV is so fortunate to have a faithful, asia-based community on top of all the western influx since revamp.

However, it’s true that WS dungeons are tough and by the looks, raids even tougher. Even if you’re not after the attunement, bronze runs are a tricky to pug. That said, I don’t think endgame is the problem either – at least WS has an endgame that poses a bit of challenge and brings guilds back to the table. What does GW2 have? No endgame, failing guilds and not even great housing. Somehow, there’s always something to complain about.

My veranda in Wildstar.

I’m not convinced anymore that WS would be faring better if endgame was toned down to accommodate pugging. What I will say is that like ANet before them, Carbine took their good time to fix long-standing player concerns as far as the UI, submenus and other optimization concerns went and they are still far from done in my book. I personally know three potential subbers that still cannot run WS smoothly on their machine and have therefore given up playing. Then there’s players like this one who believe Carbine aren’t doing such a great job in marketing their title to a wider audience – but how big an issue is this, really?

Maybe it’s just that simple: WS isn’t WoW just like none of them are. And we have crossed the notorious 3-month mark. The dwindling player base was to be expected. Today’s MMO market cannot reproduce the successes of WoW, not with titles that are “similar enough” and not with titles that are completely different or exactly the same. Even if you own a niche like EVE does, you need to content yourself with 500k subscriptions. And while some WoW attachment still lingers on and declines only gradually, the rest of the market must cope with grazers and players opting for f2p or b2p over subscriptions.

Wildstar is a fine game. It can’t be helped that it wasn’t released in 2004. We’ll see if mega-servers are a blessing or curse for its core community. Maybe it doesn’t matter either way.

[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!

[Wildstar] Of Unfun Raids. And: That Attunement just got Nerfed

Following up on Monday’s post about the complexities of healing Wildstar dungeons, which clearly doesn’t entice everybody, I came across this interesting link on Wildstar’s raiding being a major pita (my words) by one who seems to know what he’s talking about. Now clearly, no raider speaks for everybody but it’s rare to find one of the cool kids looking back and saying”yeah, that sucked” or “I don’t miss it one bit”.

To paraphrase some of Fevir’s points in the video, raid encounters are such hectic and constant telegraph dodge-fights that everything else that’s usually fun and rewarding about raid challenges – such as employing different tactics, improvisation and saves – has no room whatsoever. Fights boil down to dodging 40+ mechanics per boss while staring on the ground, or alternatively looking for healers so you can position yourself in green telegraphs. The unforgiving survivability test requires such a degree of focus that multi-hour raidnights are mentally draining and exhausting. Not to speak of the blame-game.

To be honest, I don’t fully buy into Fevir’s commentary. Much of it sounds like 40man vanilla WoW style raiding where raid nights were as draining at times as they were rewarding. At the same time, 40mans were great because there was actually room for error and creativity, and room for carrying people. And they were far, far from being mobility checks. Once more, I am getting the impression Carbine are out to combine everything other MMOs are already doing in terms of difficult mechanics. That makes Wildstar a game of grim satisfaction a lot more than lighthearted fun. It sure feels that way to me.

Not that I’m particularly fussed about raiding at this point. If we can’t make it, there are plenty of other games to play.

Raid Attunement going Bronze

I’m not going to fake surprise at this week’s news in terms of the Wildstar attunement. I put myself on the spot declaring the chain over the top and snottily giving Carbine six months to reconsider some of the hefty requirements, so three months it is. No condemnation from me for evaluating player concerns, the way they did for more varied body types, too.

wsohnoes

forums.wildstar-online.com

The related forum topic is naturally, already 46 pages long and consists largely of whining about whiners. To clarify what really happened: silver dungeons runs (with timer) weren’t nerfed – instead, the attunement requirement was dropped to bronze mode (no timer). To some kids who clearly don’t belong to the hardcore who have already begun raiding in Wildstar, that is the end of the world as we know it, despite the fact that you can still do silver (and gold) runs and best timers for feels and extra loot. That last point demonstrates the underlying motive of exclusivity over actual content difficulty; you can still do ‘better runs’ but the fact that the attunement just got nerfed, mildly, means endgame has become just a tad more accessible. Amagad.

As far as skill checks are really concerned, Carbine’s primary reason for the change was timers not effectively serving as such. That’s the actual development team saying “yeah, not really working as intended”. Timers promote rushed runs, skipping trash and risky pulls that put most of the onus on yes, the healer. No biobreaks allowed, no disconnects, no swapping specs manually (thanks to the inane interface), not even time to sit down for consumables. Raids are just like that?

What “remains” now are difficult veteran dungeons full of running, dodging, frantic resource management and wipes, only without people hating each other as much afterwards. Anyway, given Wildstar’s current raiding difficulty, I’m not sure how much more accessible raiding really got. There is however value symbolic or otherwise, in being allowed through the door, sniffing some of that endgame air for yourself. What’s the harm?

For the more hardcore players both imagined and real, there’s mostly this concern: now that they’ve nerfed / showed sense on the attunement, Carbine might adjust more things about raids in the future (noes?). I’m sorry for the lack of empathy in this case because MMOs constantly evolve, balance and change their content. They already do that! Also, I lied about being sorry! Life is too short, yo.

This week in Wildstar: Common Sense 1 – Vainglory 0.

Wildstar Healing and all the Ways it’s different

For the last two weeks, I’ve been on a roll with my Esper getting her through the first 7 steps of the raid attunement which includes silvering all veteran adventures. Having also healed through my first veteran dungeon last night, I’m finally back to the point where my old healer muscles and reflexes run on auto-pilot; healing is a routine and if you’ve stared at other people’s healthbars for years in WoW or elsewhere, you own the mindset that comes with playing support classes.

The main reason why healing is appealing to me is the complexity of choices, not just for yourself but everyone in the group. It’s the splitsecond decisions on what action to prioritize next and if need be, whom to sacrifice for the sake of the greater good (or a much needed lesson in self-management). While most roles are centered around the interplay between ‘self and the other’, healers focus on three units in combat and depending on the MMO, they’ll be asked to do this while being more or less mobile. Healers are also the guardians of time, as far as their role within trinity-based MMO combat goes.

sylheal

And Wildstar asks for a lot from healers. I wouldn’t say it’s more difficult than in some other games but in terms of complexity, there’s an adjustment phase that can feel bewildering to someone coming straight from WoW, Rift or LOTRO. I’ve tried to put my finger on what initially felt so different about healing and decided that similar to Wildstar’s doubly-active combat system, it’s a new combination (and accumulation) of several aspects:

  • Positioning telegraphs
  • Focus and combo management
  • Mobility
  • Limited actionbar

None of these mechanics are new. MMO healers are used to managing mana and optimizing their healing, for instance via proc timing. Games like Age of Conan have featured non-targeted and instead more area- and conebased healing. Many newer titles come with some form of action combat and minimal UI. For some of them like GW2, that makes sense too.

Speaking from an Esper perspective (which more or less applies to all classes), the biggest difference about Wildstar’s healing is that it combines all of the above added difficulties or restrictions at once. The most noticeable change for me personally, was mana management in combination with a resource / combo system, similar to a rogue’s combo points in WoW or a warrior’s rage. Not only will you manage your focus (manapool) but Espers can stack up to 5 combo points (and only with certain builders) which are required to heal efficiently and dish out the big single-target or area heals. That’s two numbers to monitor for your healing at all time while making smart builder- and finisher choices.

Of course this being Wildstar, even as an Esper many of your heals and cleanses aren’t targeted but come as a cone or AoE. So, in addition to moving out of red telegraphs constantly and staying in range of the tank, you’ll have to try position yourself in a way that affects as many party members as possible. They should do their utmost to stay in range / in front of you of course but in the heat of battle, well…we know how the theory usually works out.

The limited actionbar (8 skills) in Wildstar is my only real gripe, because it makes no sense. There are games like GW2 where the minimalistic UI covers all player needs and is perfectly tuned to combat. Wildstar on the other hand, with its fussy skills menu and plethora of situational abilities in the offensive/support/utility department, forces you to manually swap skills for every other fight with only two specs per default (although you can buy more later for Elder Gems). Every time you swap something manually, you have to go back and fill in the points to boost said skill, too. It’s awkward and feels out of touch with the game’s overall approach to combat.

Healing in Wildstar

Wildstar certainly adds its very own flavor to group healing but once you’ve had the opportunity to heal a couple of dungeons in a decent group, you’ll adjust to its resource management, telegraph positioning and mobility requirements. Maybe more than for other MMOs, Wildstar relies on players knowing a dungeon and specific boss abilities (esp. also due to the limited action bar), so it’s advised to always do a practice run or two on normal mode before attempting to crack veterans.

Healers learning the veteran drill should also insist that party members bring their own utility (healing gadgets) and medipacks to fights for as long as everyone’s performance is in those early stages of chaos. There is only so much you can heal / reach and what goes for every other MMO out there, also applies to Wildstar: The tank always comes first. Many whelps? Handle it!