With the first pre-order Beta Weekend right around the corner (less than 48 hours but who’s counting?) I thought it might be helpful to pull together a guide for players who’ve never played WildStar, so that their experience on Nexus isn’t one of complete confusion.
Races and Factions
There are a total of 8 races in WildStar split equally across 2 factions: Exiles and Dominion. As far as races are concerned, there’s no difference in how any of them play or benefits to choosing one over the other. You aren’t at an advantage for choosing a small race over a big one, as they all have the same hit boxes. When it comes to aesthetics however, they’re all notably different and it all boils down to personal preference (we all know Exiles suck!).
On paper the Exiles are the airy fairy bunch who like bright colours and lovely landscapes, while the Dominion are cold killers who like nothing more than to bask in the blood of their enemies in the harsh deserts of Nexus. Ahem. Although its not that simple from a story standpoint, both races do offer unique starter areas to play in while they both have their own unique capital cities and infrastructures. The races are:
There are a total of 6 classes in WildStar and the first thing you’ll need to do is select one. All classes are capable of being damage focused, but they are also split between Tanking and Healing. The Esper, Medic and Spellslinger can heal while the Stalker, Engineer and Warrior can tank. As far as your early levels are concerned, the need to heal or tank is negligible but as you progress (post 15+) it’s definitely something you need to consider. The ability to heal yourself in a fight does make leveling somewhat easier but all classes are fun and powerful in a PvE environment. The official WildStar page is slim on the details when it comes to classes, so we’ll help you out.
The Healers and Damage Dealers
The Esper is your more traditional spellcaster. Capable of dealing massive damage from afar it's heavily sought after for not only its damage but healing capabilities. Unlike other classes which have free movement with their starting skill, an Esper does not. You’ll have to remain stationary when attacking with Telekentic Strike which means there’s a tactical element to your play and a need to position yourself properly. An Esper’s primary mechanic are “Psi Points” which you generate when using your skills: you can then unleash these to use your powerful attacks.
- Capable of dealing high single and multi-target damage
- Highly sought after healer
- Able to attack players with temporary pets
- Has a significant range advantage
- Lacks the mobility of Spellslinger
- Their basic attack prevents you from moving
- Light armor wearer so can die easily
- Psi-Blade isn’t used as a physical weapon
The Spellslinger is a popular class, primarily because it’s pretty bad ass. Wielding two pistols and capable of vanishing Into the Void, they’re a slippery class to fight against and a lot of fun to play. It isn’t all easy with the Spellslinger however as you need to know how to kite well to survive. During the early levels things are a little difficult until you get hold of skills such as Gate and Into the Void. Spellslingers deal excellent damage and make pretty good healers while their primary mechanic, Spellsurge, offers a boost to your skills damage as and when you need it.
- Exceptional mobility
- Capable of slowing and rooting multiple targets during early levels
- Good range and damage
- Makes for an excellent single target or small group healer
- Relies heavily on kiting opponents to survive
- Can be killed easily due to wearing light armor
- Very popular
- Difficult to play well due to the need to kite, manage cool downs and control your Spellsurge
The Medic is an exceptional class and one that is capable of dealing huge amounts of damage while still healing its party members. During the early levels they’re harder to level than the likes of the Esper or Spellslinger, but once you reach level 15 they sky rocket in power and potential. Their area of effect healing and close quarter combat make them challenging to play as but very powerful if in the right hands. Although they get focus fired quite easily in PvP they can survive for long periods due to several and very handy escape skills.
- Large area of effect attacks and heals
- Powerful group healing
- Has some useful mobility skills to get in and out of combat
- Wears medium armor so isn’t as squishy as the Esper or Spellslinger
- Often focus fired in PvP due to their healing and damage potential
- Relies entirely on building Actuators to use your skills
- Needs to be in the the thick of combat to be effective
- Has no viable ranged attack options
Jump to page 2 below to read about The Tanks and Damage Dealers, Paths and more!
The Tanks and Damage Dealers
Although you might not think it and because they're capable of stealthing, the Stalker is an exceptional tank. Fortunately, if you just want to sneak up behind people and stab them in the back (for massive damage I might add) you can do just that. As with the Healing classes, there’s no need to specialise for tanking it's simply an option. Stalkers rely on a Nano Suit to boost their damage, defense or evasion. Unlike traditional rogue-like classes, the Stalker spends a lot of time out of stealth and acts more like a Berserker than a typical perma-stealth class.
- Capable of dealing massive single target damage
- Able to stealth and bypass enemies and players
- They make excellent tanks
- Very easy to level in a PvE environment
- Can struggle to stealth effectively in a PvP environment due to telegraphs
- Relies on Nano Suit swapping to be fully effective
- Is often seen as a solo class (despite it being an excellent tank)
- Very popular
A ranged tank, to many MMOG traditionalists, might sound a little strange. Thankfully the Engineer fits this bill perfectly and is capable of not only keeping an enemies attention easily, but also dealing huge damage. If you like gadgets, hyper-sci-fi weapons and robots under your control, look no further. Although an Engineers range is shorter than the Espers or Spellslingers and you walk slower while attacking, it makes up for this by wearing heavy armor. On top of that, the Engineer has access to an Exo Suit which, similar to the Stalker, you can change to Damage or Tank mode as you see fit. Unlike traditional tanks (and similar again to the Stalker or Warrior) the Engineer really is capable of dealing big damage, meaning if tanking doesn’t interest you and you just want to melt faces, you can’t go far wrong.
- Capable of dealing massive damage and tanking very well
- Heavy armor provides plenty of survivability
- A larger attacking radius than the Spellslinger and Esper
- Bots act as excellent utility in PvE and PvP
- Slowest movement out of all classes when fighting (although not when using the Exo Suit)
- Has few skills to escape enemies
- No self heal
- Has a shorter range than the Esper and Spellslinger, putting you at closer range to fights
The Warrior in WildStar will be familiar to many, the difference here however is the fact it wields a massive sword at all times and has an arm cannon that provides a variety of utility. Don’t let the fact that it wields a massive sword make you think it can’t tank, because it absolutely can. Fortunately it’s also capable of dealing big damage and generally being a pain in the neck to fight against. As a melee class there’s a need to get up close and personal but closing the gap on targets is relatively easy with its mix of leaps and pulls. During the early levels the Warrior doesn’t tend to struggle with anything and has little or no downtime between killing enemies.
- Solo’s content in PvE very easily
- A real nuisance in PvP
- Capable of dealing high damage while having high survivability
- Pairs wonderfully well with any of the healing classes
- Seen as the more traditional class out of the roster
- Relies heavily on cooldowns to keep opponents in their place
- Has to remain in melee range of opponents at all times
- Arguably a weaker tank than the Stalker or Engineer
Now you’ve picked a Race and a Class you’ll need to pick a Path. Paths are permanent choices and define what role you’ll undertake once in game. There are four in total and although some tasks overlap, they are all pretty unique in play style:
With the ability to double jump in WildStar, I’m sure it’s easy to guess what an Explorer Path entails. It’s all about scouting, searching and exploring the game world. There are a total of 8 mission types you’ll participate in such as Cartography, Expedition, Scavenger Hunts, Surveillance, Exploration, Operations (this is where you get to hurt people!), Staking Claims and Tracking. There’s a lot of running around as an Explorer and you’ll need be the sort of individual that’s not only a completionist but whom also doesn’t mind an easter egg hunt and a need to track back and forth across the world map.
Being a Soldier is all about combat and kicking butt. Unlike Explorer it’s a lot more of a combat focused Path and some challenges can be particularly tricky. As with all paths there are 8 for the Soldier: Assassination, Rescue, Holdout-Conquer, Holdout-First Strike, Demolition (who doesn’t want to blow things up?) SWAT, Holdout-Security and Holdout-Protect. Some of these mind sound relatively similar (especially the Holdout’s) but they all play very differently. Whether you’re defending, attacking, sneaking or blowing things up, the emphasis is always on combat and the challenge of it. I’d probably say Soldier is the most accessible out of all the paths.
For someone like me who likes exploration and lore, Scientist is a good mix. You have to scan plants or artefacts and can find hidden bonus items or buffs from the enemies and creatures you encounter. Better yet, you get a mobile robot that follows you around which does the scanning for you. Scientist is a much slower pace than all the other paths and has much less emphasis on combat. That isn’t to say you won’t fight during this Path, because you will, but for the most part it’s all about discovery. Some of the mission types include Analysis, Biology, Chemistry, Cataloguing, Archaeology, Diagnostics and Botany.
Seemingly very popular in game, being a Settler is about supporting the game world infrastructure by building objects for other players to use. Generally you’re providing a public service such as constructing a post box or a buff station to make everyone's life easier. If you do choose Settler, you’ll need to pickup materials scattered around the game world and apply these to pre-set construction locations. Be aware that anything you build is temporary and it’ll take additional resources from you or other Settler’s to increase its longevity. The best thing about being a Settler from a PvE perspective is the fact you can build buff stations, with one of those buffs increasing run speed. This buff makes leveling a real joy as you zip around the map at super speeds. Mission types include: Expansion, Supply Cache (you have to find the Cache and often fight for it), Public Service, Civil Defense and Infrastructure.
Jump to page 3 below to read about UI Basics and more!
Although the current WildStar UI that you’ll use is temporary (a new one will be available at launch) you’ll need to understand the quirks of it. In the picture below you’ll see the typical UI pyramid with slot skills along the bottom and above that a green and blue bar. The main things you’ll need to know are:
- The skill marked with an “R” is your classes innate ability. These are on cooldowns and once triggered will need to recharge. If you see on your innate ability the little arrow above it (as pictured below), it means access to other skills are available. This tends to be on the Warrior, Engineer and Stalker.
- The purple circle is your dash counter. You can dash twice before it is depleted and you will need to wait until it recharges before you can dash again. Unlike dodging in Guild Wars 2, dashing does not make you immune to damage,@ it is simply a way of avoiding telegraphs and gaining distance from your enemies.
- The green and blue bar is your health and shield. Your shield acts as a barrier to the damage you receive and will save your life if you keep it topped up. Although attacks against you hurt both shield and health, your shield will recharge given time. It’s important to keep an eye on your health and shield, especially in PvP, to stay alive as long as possible.
- In WildStar you can only equip a total of 8 skills at any one time, with skills 9 and 10 restricted to Gadgets and your Path skill. As you level up you’ll unlock more skills which you can place on your bar. Be aware that you cannot freely move your skills but will have to set them from your skill window. It should be noted that your first skill tends to be your “auto-attack” but unlike other games in the genre, you have to manually trigger your skill instead of letting the game do it for you.
- To the lower left left of the screen there are a further collection of icons. These provide access to your character, skills, battlegrounds, mail and everything in between.
- Lastly (clockwise in the image below) is the map in the upper right hand corner, your Path missions and quests in the lower right and your chat box in the lower left.
Jump to page 4 below to read about Skills, Tiering and AMPs, Movement and Crowd Control and more!
Skills, Tiering and AMPs
WildStar as mentioned previously only permits you to have 8 active skills at any one time. With 30 available for each class, making decisions can be difficult. During the early levels you’ll only have access to a couple but as you reach levels 10 through to 15 you’ll have enough to play with to make difficult choices as to how you want to play. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to skills (although everyone has something to say about one skill or another) and it all boils down to personal preference. What I’d always recommend is to simply test skills against AI controlled enemies and see what you think. If you feel its cooldown is too long for your play style or that it deals too little damage, swap it out for something else. Remember that some skills pair well with others, while taking skills that offer Crowd Control utility are invaluable in both PvE and PvP. It’s always worth having one skill on your bar that gets you out of trouble (whether it’s a blink or swiftness based skill) and if you can heal yourself, packing a healing skill doesn’t hurt either.
In terms of Skill Tiers and AMP’s this is where you can knuckle down on how you really want to specialise. Skill Tiering involves you improving an individual skill and its effects while AMP’s improve your character and/or unlock additional skills. There are a total of 41 points available to be spent on Tiering skills at level 50 and when you reach Tier’s 4 and 8 the skills you’ve spent points in will take on additional properties. For example, an Esper who takes Telekentic Strike to Tier 8 will, at Tier 4 bypass 25% of an opponents armor and at Tier 8 Grant a Psi-Stack and when they have 3 stacks, obtain a Psi-Point. You can play around with spending Tier points, here.
Where AMP’s are concerned, at level 50 you have access to 45 points and can spend these in 6 trees (Assault, Hybrid Assault/Support, Support, Hybrid Support/Utility, Utility, Hybrid Assault/Utility). Once again this all comes down to how you want to play as to where you spend your points. There’s no right or wrong but each tree improves one specific area, whether it’s your ability to deal damage, to provide utility or to heal others. With each tree broken down into 3 tiers, you will need to spend a minimum of 3 points in a specific tree to unlock the next tier, with the cost of investment in further tiers increasing incrementally (1 point per AMP in Tier 1, 4 points per AMP in Tier 2, 6 points per AMP in Tier 3). During low levels you’ll only have a handfull of points to play with and will need to locate or purchase AMP’s in the game if you want to unlock anything above Tier 2. Once again you can experiment with spending AMP points here.
Telegraphs and Combat
WildStar plays distinctly different to other traditional MMOG’s and does not have typical targeting or methods of attacking. Every skill in WildStar has a telegraph, which is basically an area on the floor that shows you the width and range of the attack. Dependant on if its a positive or negative skill it will be coloured accordingly (green and red respectively). Green is always healing and red is always damage while your personal telegraphs tend to show up as blue only when casting. You will need to ensure you stay out of the red telegraphs to avoid taking damage and where possible, remain in the green ones to keep your health and shields topped up. It might sound easier than you think, but at first combat in WildStar can be confusing. Learning telegraph shapes and what you can and can’t stand in takes time.
In terms of aiming you’ll need to manually aim each attack irrespective of whether you’ve an enemy targeted. Your skills don’t automatically home in on anyone, making combat a very reactive and accurate process. If you’re unsure of your skills range or radius, simply hold down the skill button and your telegraph will appear, without firing the skill.
Movement and Crowd Control
WildStar does two things differently when it comes to movement and crowd control. The first is the fact you can not only double jump (just hit space bar twice) but can also dash. As mentioned above, dash works as a skill to gain space as opposed to immunity. Its recharge is relatively slow and you need to manage it effectively in order to ensure prolonged survivability. Lastly, Crowd Control in WildStar works a little differently with physical limitations or restrictions placed on you when under their effect. For example, when affected by Blind your screen will actually go black or when subdued your character will drop their weapon. It’s important you recognise what’s happening to your character and act accordingly.
- Subdude - Causes you to drop your weapon (you need to retrieve it)
- Stun - Prevents your character from moving (you can tap F to remove it)
- Knockdown - Prevents your character from moving (you can dash to remove it)
- Root - Prevents your character from moving (you can use break-out abilities which remove it)
- Tether - Prevents your character from moving away from a fixed location (you need to destroy the object tethering you)
- Knockback - Prevents casting and takes several seconds to get back up (you can dash to remove it)
- Blind - Prevents you from seeing with a clouded screen (you can cleanse this to remove it)
- Disorient - Reverses your characters movement (you can cleanse this to remove it)
Jump to page 5 below to read about Questing and Crafting, Battlegrounds and More!
Questing & Crafting
Questing in WildStar functions very similarly to other games in the genre, the difference however is that you can often claim your rewards and hand in your quest via mobile telephone. This not only saves you a considerable amount of time but also allows you to continue questing easily. Typically, questing involves gathering, collecting, killing or escorting and provides the majority of your experience that you’ll need to level up. To pick up a quest just speak to an NPC with an “!” above their head. Quests received appear across the right hand side of the screen and can be tracked or deleted. As far as tips are concerned for leveling, I’d simply recommend that you group with friends or random players to make process quicker and more fun. I’d also also recommend you try to gather up and complete your quests all at once, in a single area.
Where crafting is concerned this opens up at around level 10 and you’ll be required to run a couple of quests to get started. There are a total of 9 tradeskills:
- Relic Hunter
Alongside this, there are two hobbies which you can undertake (Cooking and Farming) that you can have alongside your tradeskills. What I will add is that crafting in WildStar is both time consuming and relatively complicated and requires significant understanding to get the most out of it. On that basis, I’d sincerely recommend you head on over to WildStar Fans and take a look at their crafting guide which is not only packed with information but wonderfully displayed.
When you reach level 6 you can access Battlegrounds. To join them, simply hit the Battleground button along the top menu and press the queue button. You’ll be able to see how long is remaining on your queue and when you’re able to join, a popup will appear in the middle of your screen. When participating in Battlegrounds, you’ll earn rewards at the end of each match in the form of Prestige and currency, with the side that wins earning additional bonuses. You can redeem your PvP currency for items and equipment in each factions respective capital city. In terms of game modes and battlegrounds, there’s two available:
- Walatiki Temple (Level 6+ Smash and Grab)
- Halls of the Bloodsworn (Level 15+ Hold the Line)
Smash and Grab is a capture the flag game mode with the exception that there are multiple flags while Hold the Line is a sort of tug of war, defend/capture mode (my personal favourite).
Jump to page 6 below to read about Gameplay Tips and available WildStar Resources!
Tips and Resources
- If you’re looking for how to customise your Video Settings and get the most out of your frame rates, take a look here.
- As a healer, pre-emptively judging where your ally will move to is incredibly important to heal effectively
- Each class has a very distinctive appearance. It’s important to learn and recognise, from a PvP perspective, what each one looks like so you can prepare yourself.
- Be considerate for your healer and remember to stay in green telegraphs.
- Try not to waste your dash - it can save your life and keep you out of trouble.
- Remember that to access your mail, you need to go to a Post Box.
- You can bind your location to a Transmat Terminal (a bit like a Hearthstone) that you can change in many of the towns or capital cities (it’s in the lower right hand side of your UI).
- You can gain access to your housing plot at early levels with the quickest method being to travel to your faction's capital city and the Protostar NPC.
- If you aren’t sure where something is in a capital city, speak to a Guard who will be able to help you.
- Don’t neglect consumables. Potions and Health stims will keep you alive when your health or shields are low.
- Remember that telegraphs (both positive and negative) come in all shapes and sizes.
- When you level up, remember to bask in the voice-over guys expletives. It’s the best in the genre.
- Costume pieces can be equipped over your normal armor and will allow you to take on a different appearance (you access this from your character pane). However, these will be remove temporarily in Battlegrounds and Warplots.
- Use the Beta time to decide what class you want to play. It’s an excellent way of testing what class you enjoy and what you don’t so that when the game launches you can get started.
- To purchase skills you have to go to a skill vendor, these tend to be in capital cities or large towns only. They’re highlighted on the map with what looks like a C with lines through it.
- Don’t forget that as you level up your Path, you’ll unlock Path specific skills that you can equip on your Limited Action Bar.
- Undertaking Path missions does not provide experience that physically levels up your character.
To stay in touch with the WildStar community and to keep tabs on everything you need to know about the game, here’s a list of useful resources:
- WildStar-Online (Official WildStar website)
- WildStarFans / @WildStar_Fans (WildStar Fan Site with some excellent guides)
- WildStar-Core / @WildStarCore (Another excellent Fan Site)
- WildStar-Central / @WildStarCentral (Another excellent Fan Site)
- WildStarReport / @WildStarReport (Another excellent Fan Site)
- WS-Base (A useful skill tool calculator)
- WildStar Reddit (The official WildStar reddit)
- CurseForge (Curses’ official Mod site)
- WildStarScrape / @ScrapeBot9000 (A scrape site that pools together content from a collection of WildStar sources)
- WildStarNation / @WildstarNation (It’s all about the Podcasts and Videos)
- @WildStar (Official WildStar Twitter)
- @tonyrey (Community Manager for Carbine, US)
- @GassyDrainage (PR Gunslinger for Carbine, US)
- @CRB_Anlath (Community Manager for Carbine, UK/Europe)
- @HughShelton (Lead Class Designer for Carbine)
- @CRB_Atreid (European Community Lead for Carbine, EU)
- @CRB_Scooter (Community Lead for Carbine)
- @Pappylicious (Lead Narrative Designer for Carbine)
- @mikehiggins3000 (Senior Animator for Carbine)
- @StephanFrost (WildStar Game Designer, Producer for Carbine)
If you've any other tips forh WildStar or can recommend a fan site or contact I haven't noted down, please contact me on lewisb[at]tentonhammer.com or Tweet me @PersistentWorld