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GameGeex - WildStar Beta Impressions: Is there a Medic in the house? Is Carbine breaking new ground with their take on the healer class, or is it all been there, buffed that?

When it comes to MMO tropes, you can't get very far without some sort of healer in the party.  Without someone there to patch you up, combat becomes a very dangerous and slow process, requiring the sort of hesitant spirit gamers today are usually lacking.  Luckily WildStar has its own healing class, the Medic, a versitile blend of support class and damage dealer that can still drop the base.  Is the Medic the sort of class that's fun to play, or merely a required element in larger group dynamics?

More than most classes in WildStar, the Medic is a flexible unit capable of molding to almost any playstyle.  I say "almost" because the Medic as a ranged class has no melee abilities, and so if you're the type that likes to jump quickly into a fight then this isn't the class for you.  In fact, if you're the sort that likes speed of any kind, think twice before choosing a Medic, as all of the abilities I've encountered so far have a cast time associated with them.  This makes for a rather frustrating gameplay experience in a game touted to be an action MMORPG, since you have to stand there and wait for your ability to charge while baddies are chomping on your face. Dodging out of the way of attacks is necessary however, since you are a medium armor wearer and can't take a huge amount of damage unless you beef up your Grit stat.

And this is where the flexbility comes in, because it's your choice exactly how you want to play your Medic.  I don't advise completely forgoing the Support abilities because I doubt there's much room in the game right now for a healer that only does DPS (there might be in the future, should they add healing abilities to the other classes), but you certainly have the freedom to build a power set that only uses Assault abilities.  It's up to you how you play your particular mix of Medic -- Support vs DPS vs Utility.  

For my part I chose to focus on Support as I prefer healing above combat.  Granted you always need to survive in a fight, so I also wove in the basic Assault abilities into my power set.  I found a mix of Discharge and Gamma Rays did a good job of wittling down the enemies, and paired with the stun Paralytic Surge from the Utility column I was able to hold my own in most fights.  I took all the ability points I was given and poured them into the first two heals: Emission and Crisis Wave.  I will be eager when I hit those Tier 4 bonuses and I'm actually pretty happy about getting the opportunity to tweak abilities I already enjoy.

The flexiblity of the class continues when you add in the perk system Carbine calls AMPs.  I find that AMPs are pretty darn useful for the Medic.  Just like your abilities, the AMPs are divided into three categories:  Assault, Support, and Utility.  For the Support Power Set I was building, I took AMPs that increased my heals and decreased their cost, and around level 10 was able to then specialize in Support when the second tier of AMPs unlocked for me.  I saw a small but noticeable benefit in cast time reduction and ability efficiency, both of which are important when you are having to wait so darn long to heal or DPS your target.  You need every shot to count when you are counting the seconds between your shots.

Itemization is a little strange right now in WildStar, and there seems to be little explanation on which stats on a particular piece of gear would best benefit your particular chosen play style.  I think this comes down with the use of a progress bar in the stat UI rather than a straight percentage.  It took me some time to realize that I wanted to to spent less time on things like Moxie (a DPS stat) and more time building up my Support Power. Gear drops for the Medic seem to fall into the +Support Power or +Crit camps.  If you like to hit things, up your crit, if you like to heal things that are being hit, grab Support Power.

After playing the Medic for a while now, I have to ask question I'm sure you're asking:  How does this particular breed of healer stack up against other healing classes in other games?  Having played primarily healers in a good many games, I can say that the Medic isn't all that innovative.  You heal things, you shoot things, and some times you heal things by shooting things.  The action combat does add a certain extra element to the rotation, mostly since in order to pull off any of your abilities you have to first dodge out of the way of an enemy action if you don't want to take massive damage.  This variety to the gameplay is enjoyable, and I did find myself enjoying the bouncy rhythm of the class, particularly when paired with a tanky class like the Warrior.  But there's not much bouncing you can do in the face of pure melee attacks, and that gets frustrating at the lower levels.

Where other games are providing some rather innovative ways to heal (TERA's reticle healing system comes to mind, or the Discipline Priest heal-through-mitigation and damage mechanics in World of Warcraft), Carbine isn't really thinking out of the box with the Medic.  I sort of get the feeling that they needed a healer, couldn't think what else to do with it, and so gave it guns and told it to stand at the back of the class.  There's a lot that could be done to make this class truly shine.  Whether Carbine makes any changes to this rather static healing class remains to be seen.

 

 

 

2 Comments for this post.
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I wonder if things start to open up in later levels? Of course if you're not enjoying it in the beginning stages then I don't see why you'd stick around to find out.

 

I'm a huge fan of their dubstep though, nothing like some EQ levels dropping mid battle.


[Mandifesto] @ 2:54:25 PM Feb 26, 2014
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I will stick with it simply because rerolling would rob me of my favorite role:  The healer.  I don't play magic characters, and it's very rare to play a healer that isn't magic based.  I can't say I don't completely enjoy it -- I like the rhythm of telegraph - dodge - blast 'em -- but that's pretty repetitive after a while.  Luckily what we're playing is not a press beta, it's a real beta, so we can expect adjustments and revisions as the community feedback pours in.  It just might be me, but I have a feeling the stagnant gameplay of the Medic might irk other gamers as well.

Granted, after reading Ken's article, I realize there is a healing alternative for those who like a more active gameplay experience.  I just wish I had a little more mobility in my Action MMORPG character class.  "Ooh boy, keep punching me in the face!  Just you wait until my staplers get charged, THEN you're gonna get it!"


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