WildStar Burst: Medic Hands-On Impressions
The Medic in WildStar is unquestionably the surprise star of the show. Although my good colleague, Reuben, has already provided a preview of the class, I wanted to try to get my hands on this brawler for myself.
There has been some harsh criticism aimed at the Medic, from lackluster animations to poor combat feedback and while the class does have a few gripes, I'm absolutely in love with it and suspect it'll supersede all other classes as the hardest to master.
What you'll notice about the Medic is its unique art style, with many of its attacks being made up of hologram-like projectiles. This attack style does lack the punch of shooting someone in the face with bullets (see Spellslinger) but I love the difference. The auto-attack (Discharge) fires twin beams of technology damage over your foes while the second unlocked skill, Gamma Rays, fires three cube projectiles that deal more damage the closer your enemies are to the centre of the attack. It does take a little bit of time adjusting to skill animations that seemingly do little to your opponents (the cubes and rays bypass through them) but it has a distinctly different feel to that of any other class in the game.
My only specific gripe with the skills I've used up to level 15 is the hit detection on Discharge and the fundamental requirement to always use it. For an auto-attack it's hard to tell when, during the beam animation, you're harmful effect occurs. As a sort-of damage over time skill (it hurts your opponents 3 times over 1.5s) there's no tactile feedback unlike the bullets of a pistol or the swing of a blade. I think it's important for Carbine to return to this skill and evaluate how they can make it clearer, whether that be sparks flying on the enemies you hit or holographic cubes falling from them. Just something to inform the player of contact.
As a medium armor wearing class and the only melee ranged healer, the medic is truly capable of being a damage dealer while healing proficiently. There's a need to play it smart when faced with large hordes of enemies and it's notably harder to comb through packs of 6+ unlike on the Spellslinger, but it is far more rewarding. The attack rotation of Nullification Field > Fissure > Paralytic Surge > Gamma Rays wipes out any number of groups almost instantly during the early levels. Add in the likes of Devastater Probes (though these are a little buggy at the moment) and your ability to melt faces is complete.
In my previous coverage of WildStar classes (Spellslinger and Esper) I've discussed their primary mechanics and neither filled me with excitement. Without a doubt, though, the Medics is my favourite. Unlike the Spellslinger that offers a flat damage increase or the Esper which provides protection and Psi Points at the push of a button, the Medics Energize has massive potential from a healing and damage perspective. Although it only lasts a few seconds, the temporary buff provides enough time to fire off at least four skills back to back, whether healing or damage. The fact it prevents your Power Cores depleting (removing the need for you to use Discharge) frees up considerable time. It's the flexibility Energize offers from hybrid playstyle that really excites me and it's already gotten me through some tough PvE encounters that I thought were beyond my level.
If I do have one particular gripe with the Medic, when it comes to it's “mechanic” and it's the fact you only really have one viable Power Core builder (Discharge) with Emission the next best alternative. With no other skills regenerating Power Cores or Power Cores gradually regenerating over time, there's a mandatory need to Discharge > Discharge > Discharge > Dump, on a repeated cycle. What Carbine need to do is alleviate the need to constantly use Discharge so that Power Cores gradually recharge over time but also have more skills generate Power Cores. At least that way we'll not feel forced to use our auto-attack when we could be using our better skills.
If I've any other concerns about the Medic it will likely be it's ability to survive in raid environments and high end play. The PvP in WildStar is (predictably) incredibly heavy on telegraphs and PvE, in certain instances, is no different. Weaving your way through these, to get in range and utilize your skills is really what will separate skilled players. It's partly why I suspect the Esper and Spellslinger will always be more popular as it's just easier to stand back. Thankfully for those of us willing to take on the challenge, the Medic has some useful utility skills to stay alive. Urgency (which propels you forward healing allies or damaging foes) or Restraint Grid (which propels you backwards while snaring foes) both look fantastic.
There doesn't seem to be a huge level of excitement surrounding the Medic and considering the Esper is seemingly unpopular in game, I was surprised to see the Medic even less so. I've seen no player Medics in all my time through the Beta, though there has been a scattering of them in public chat channels. These people, after a brief chat, have all said the same: it's a class that has to be played to be loved and understood. I couldn't agree more.
Before I finish off this Hands-On Impressions and because I have to say it, the Medic really reminds me of the Druid from World of Warcraft. Sure it might lack shape-shifting, but the play-style is very close. That is definitely not a bad thing.