Recently I got some hands on time with the Wildstar beta. When I think of RPGs and classes that dish out damage I’ll be honest and say I don’t think Engineer. Generally I see Engineers as a support class, dishing out combat buffs or erecting utility based constructs. It’s a rare thing to see in an RPG. Then Carbine steps in and says, “Hey, shouldn’t the guys who make things to blow stuff up be the ones to blow stuff up?”. I totally just made that up, but I can imagine that’s how it started.
Engineers are dished out in two flavors. Tanks suit up and wade into combat cutting a large path through the opposition with their bots assisting. DPS takes a ranged approach to rain down hot molten hell on their enemies. I generally like the idea of having the options there, and they cover it briefly in the Dev Speak video below.
In standard MMO style you start the game fairly simple with a limited power set. Your ability bar is actually level locked so you can only slot so many abilities at a time. I have mixed feelings about this, but I recognize the purpose is there so you can tailor your experience instead of being overwhelmed by abilities to spam that a good chunk of you wouldn’t use. Each class also starts with an innate ability, for the Engineer you summon your Mark IV Exo-Suit. This suit actually sits overtop your armor and for the short bit of time it's there you feel pretty bad ass. Seriously you are doing armor on armor action, straight up Iron Man here folks. Sad side is the armor doesn’t stick around long, and the cool down keeps you from spamming it. The Mark IV has two abilities depending on your stance. If you are going Tank mode then it will help to handle damage mitigation, but if you are in DPS mode it will increase your Volatility gain.
Volatility is the currency in which you transact your choice of death-munition. Yeah I just made that word up. Your basic abilities are standard spam fair to build up your Volatility in order to call down the big guns. Being able to electrocute five enemies in a row at once with your gun never gets old. So as you throw shrapnel and then run enough current through your enemies to time travel you start to wonder, what could make this even better.
Bots, it’s the reason I picked this class. Seriously if there are two things I love it’s ranged combat, pets, and stealth. Wait that’s three things and the third has nothing to do with this. Pet classes with ranged combat are among my favorites. I really love the ones that have the option of close combat so you can fight side-by-side with your pets. Unfortunately a certain MMO, that shall remain nameless in its craft of wars, took this away from me. I’m not bitter, I can Tank in Wildstar with my Bruiser bot at my side fairly well, I just wish I had a sword while doing it. The main issue I see with bots is they are stupid. Their pathing AI needs love or the world clipping needs fixing. Bots get stuck, a lot. Bots don’t know how to handle telegraphs. Instead of moving to safety like their master they just stand there like a deer in headlights. Please fix this Carbine, so many bots have lost their lives, when will the violence stop!?!
As it stands right now combat has a fairly straightforward formula of building up Volatility by spamming your launcher, which is the only way to build Volatility. Then you move on to your primary abilities like Electrocute if you are sporting a DPS style. You might start the whole equation off by sending in your Bruiser bot to tank the mob and build up some threat first, just depends on how hard they are hitting. While you’re dishing out the DPS keep an eye out for telegraphs, your Bruiser bot can interrupt them with its special Blitz ability. This allows it to cause some damage, taunt up to 5 foes and do an interrupt. It’s a nice little package of distraction that give you time to dish out some major damage.
Understanding when to deploy the Mark IV is essential to the class, you don’t want to waste the damage mitigation or Volatility gain on the start of a battle. Now that your Bruiser has aggro If you’ve got the Artillery bot out then it’s time to drop a Barrage, you don’t want them to move out of the telegraphed zone once shells start dropping. Speaking of telegraphs, keep an eye out for the nasty red areas that may appear, dodge quickly to avoid some major damage. That’s about the time you’d need to suck it up and accept you might lose one of your little buddies. Heck even if you follow the Science path that little Scanner Bot you get might end up biting the dust.
You also have a few utility abilities to whip out early on like Zap which gives a nice stun/interrupt. There is also the handy Urgent Withdrawal that allows you to drop a small amount of damage, slow your foes, and jump backwards out of the brawl about 8 meters or so. The one I used the most in group though was the Recursive Matrix, it gives a nice Deflect rating boost.
I enjoy the ability system and how I can easily swap out abilities and focus in them. Switch from Tank to DPS was fairly straight forward and very handy when joining up with my group. I can see how my bots might not be a great thing in the group setting, but many pet classes face that issue. It’s all about the right tools for the right job. The day I can call in four bots to assist and they can handle telegraph response is the day I call Wildstar my MMO nirvana.
Around level 10 trade skills make an appearance, and that’s great. I went ahead and grabbed Armorer and Miner to supplement it. The mining aspect is a bit odd with the loot being split among all miners. This mechanic must be to keep people from fighting over mines, but it wasn’t at all expected. I’m still on the fence how I feel about it.
Up to this point I’ve only hit level 12 so this is very much an impression of the start of the game. In general I feel this is an excellent start to a class but it just needs some tweaking. I don’t care for the AMP system as it stands, it means nothing to me, and I don’t see its impact in combat. You could argue numbers with me, but it’s so small it doesn’t matter. It’s not till higher levels that anything substantial comes from it. That tells me to not even waste my time with it until it can accomplish something for my character. Personally I’d prefer it wasn’t there until it mattered, it’s just something to confuse people as it stands now.
Overall the good of the class and game outweigh any minor issues I faced. The Engineer looks to have a solid foundation with a clear direction to where the class is headed. I expect prior to launch and for the first year after we’ll see a lot of tweaking and love go into these mechanized masters of destruction. If you like pet classes and big friggen guns then the Engineer is for you.