WildStar's Stealth and Stalker

By Lewis Burnell -
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Whoever thought Stealth in a competitive video game was a good idea needs immediately firing. You can guarantee that if there’s a new massively multiplayer game, there’s always one class that can stealth. Whether it’s the Spy in Team Fortress 2 or the Rogue in World of Warcraft, they all share the ability to be a headache. Their sole purpose is to kill quickly and exit combat even quicker. It’s also fair to say that these rogue-likes are my biggest pet peve in the genre and I’d happily see them removed entirely.

I appreciate that there many players out there who enjoy the play style and having had a Feral Druid in World of Warcraft and a Shadowblade in Dark Age of Camelot I’ve certainly had my fair share of sleuthing in the shadows. The reason I hate stealth so much nowadays is because it’s an inherently unfair mechanic against classes that can’t.

That might be stating the obvious but for the majority of the time players who pursue stealth classes tend to roll out the predictable set of excuses in defense of the mechanic. While some are justified (Stealth classes do tend to be squishier than most) it isn’t strictly true in WildStar. Unlike other massively multiplayer games, WildStar’s Stalker class - it’s dual blade wielding assassin - is also a tank.

Now, most players who pursue the Stalker in PvP obviously don’t equip the class with a set of tanking gear and skills but what it does have, by default, is Medium armor. It makes the class tougher than genre alternatives but and as you might expect, it’s provided with all the tools possible to ensure it’s capable of spiking for massive damage and escaping quickly. I must stress that I have absolutely no problem with the Stalker’s burst potential. The fact it relies heavily on it’s Suit Power severally limits its prolonged damage and as a result, all its power is up front rather than over a period of time. What I do have a problem with however is the fact that when you’re receiving end of a Stalker’s burst, there’s so little ways in which to combat it that it’s inherently unfair on every other class.

In a typical 1 on 1 encounter with a Stalker, there’s a couple of scenarios.

  1. You wildly fire blindly in the direction you think the Stalker is in the hopes you hit him. At which point you can use one of your CC skills to hold him in place or DOT him up if your class has access to such skills.
  2. You await his burst with a view to losing half your health.
  3. You await his Tether Mine, at which point you’re forced to use one of your precious CC break skills.

You might think that’s absolutely fine but the frustration is the fact that the Stalker then instantly re stealths and even if you’ve created distance, you return to stage 1 of wildly firing into thin air in the hopes of tagging the Stalker. Inevitably, you’ll die to the second burst.

Unfortunately for almost all classes, with the exception of an Esper, there is no reliable counter. The window of opportunity for avoiding the initial burst is almost non-existent to the point where success is only determined by how poor the Stalker is, not your ability to truly counter them.

Of the encounters I win against a Stalker, it’s always because they were at fault. It’s not a particularly challenging class to play (Stalker) but there are a couple of moments against the worser Stalker players where they miss-time their opener or they walk into your blind-firing. Only in these instances are you capable of really capitalising on their error.

As an individual who is incredibly competitive, the whole scenario is just nonsense because there’s no skill present here. What I find amusing is that clearly Carbine acknowledge the power of Stealth in the game because there’s an AMP that reduces its effectiveness (it makes Stealth 50% more visible) but the AMP doesn’t work, is only available on certain classes and the potions which do the same job are also broken.

If we’re to ever make Stealth classes a fair opponent to fight against, the whole mechanic needs to be revised. Combining invisibility and the highest burst into a single class is bonkers, especially when you pair it with so many skills to ensure escape is near guaranteed.

What I’d propose with the Stalker (and future Stealth classes) is to have the invisibility refract light as opposed to removing them from view entirely. Similar to the cloak system in PlanetSide 2, it’s needed in order to level the playing field as it still permits stealth play but gives the opposition at least some chance of rooting you out if they look hard enough.

Until a change like this is implemented, or the damage potential of the Stalker neutered (not really a great option without pissing off an entire section of the community) they’ll remain a class that’s far too powerful in PvP with no reliable counter. Oh and before anyone complains, I have a level 50 Stalker.   

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About The Author

Lewis "PersistentWorld" Burnell
The only game to have distracted Lewis away from MMOG's over the last 15 years was Pokemon Red. Despite that blip, Lewis has worked his way through countless games in the genre in search of something that comes close to his much loved (and long time dead) Neocron. Having written for several gam...

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