The newly released patch notes for WildStar are enormous. At a whopping 71 pages, it’s hard to even know where to begin when it comes to the list of changes, especially if you’ve yet to play the game. In this analysis I point out some of the main changes that caught my eye and what they actually mean.
- A completely revamped User Interface has been introduced to the game! The UI will continue to be polished over the coming months, so please pardon our dust.
Although no one has yet to play with the new User Interface, we have all seen it. The existing pyramid, that served its purpose well, lacked the sleakness or intuitive layout needed for effective play. The new UI is designed to keep your eyes on the prize (i.e enemies and players) and not neccesarily at the UI itself.
- Stun Breakout Gameplay has been changed. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on this mechanic over the last few months!
For anyone unaware, the old Stun Breakout Gameplay resulted in you having to bash “F” repeatedly in order to reduce the stun time. Bad for your fingers and bad for your keyboard, Carbine have now replaced this with a bit of a Quick Time Event (QTE!) where you simply hold a random directional key down (see here!). For example, if you use WSAD, one of those 4 keys will be picked at random when stunned and all you have to do is press it. Marvelous!
- Added new character hair options in Character Creation.
- Character Creation now offers various body types for all races and genders.
Perhaps the biggest shock to everyone (not necessarily the addition of hair options) is the fact that character creation now offers a variety of body types. We don’t yet know to what degree this is (can we have fat and thin Chua?) but it’s clear that Carbine have been listening. Considering only a month or so ago it was stated it was physically impossible to implement body types, it’s clear that Carbine have managed to get over this impossibility. I’m hoping to be able to make a slightly smaller Draken female who’s a little bit thinner, but we’ll have to wait and see.
- AMPs have received a major balance pass. In general, they were previously much stronger than intended.
Unsurprisingly this change stretches to all the classes and has seen significant reduces in damage and mitigation. An Esper’s “BINGO” AMP, for example has reduced from a 33% chance to trigger to 20% while a Medic’s “Chemical Burn” AMP has been reduced from 21.6% to 9.5% (quite significant!). Although every class will see their damage come down because of this change, it’s much needed. My only concern now is the fact that healers were hard enough to kill before this reduction and although some defensive AMPs have been tweaked, I can’t see anything to make killing healers easier. One to watch.
- Abilities can now be purchased directly from the Action Set Builder, rather than requiring an Ability Vendor.
An enormous and glorious change that was well over due. Previously you had to visit a skill trainer back in a capital city or large settlement to acquire your skills which was nothing short of a pain in the backside. Now (praise the lord!) you can simply purchase them from your Action Set Builder anywhere in the game world. Brilliant.
Overall the Engineer has faired pretty well this patch in terms of dodging any bullets. Although they’ve had some numbers tweaked, the main changes have been to the Exo Suit:
- Eradication ExoSuit
- Can now build Volatility if not in combat.
- Can cast the innate while casting other abilities.
- Can only proc once every 2.5 seconds, up from 1 second.
- 22.96 damage per level, down from 10.65
- 72.51% Assault Power, down from 33.65%
- Provocation ExoSuit
- Can now build Volatility if not in combat.
- Can cast Innate while casting other abilities.
The fact they can now cast their innate while using other abilities is well overdue and a most welcome change while building Volatility while not in combat (with suit activated, I’m assuming) is a great change as well. It’ll allow for a little bit of lead up time before big bosses or players. Although the Tier 8 bonuses of Electrocute got cut down to size, that isn’t entirely surprising considering it was almost mandatory. Other notable changes primarily revolve around their AMPs and the fact that they’ve been nerfed though not as bad as I might have feared. The biggest I think is “Keep Up The Pace” which used to snare by 40% but now only snares by 15%. Ouch.
I think the Esper has done well out of this patch. They’ve had a load of items adjusted to use their correct attributes but have also seen some quality of life improvements by making some of their skills mobile. Catharsis now only has a 6 second cooldown (as opposed to 20) which works fantastically well with the new dispel changes. The bump to Phantasmal Armor might also make it worthwhile. As for the now mobile skills, Haunt and Soothe, it’ll make a massive difference to the healing and attacking functionality of the class. Haunt now provides a solid mobile Psi Point builder (though it has a cooldown) and Soothe, already awesome, is now even better at charges 2 and 3. Changes to Spectral Swarm so that it scales with the caster should also see it receive a nice damage bump. Where the Esper’s AMPs are concerned, there’s nothing too drastic but the biggest is “Reckful” (Increases Critical Hit Severity by 18%, down from 38.5%).
I’ve complained about Medics for some time and as an individual who planned on playing one before everyone jumped on the bandwagon, they received a bit of a beating this patch (rightly deserved). Skills were nerfed and AMPs were nerfed even harder meaning this unstoppable machine with excellent damage, healing and mobility should be on a level playing field with the Esper and Spellslinger. Empowering Probes, the go-to skill for all Medics, has seen its power slashed in half (from 20% to a 10% damage increase) and Quantum Cascade (that’s the face-roll Area of Effect skill everyone uses!) has seen its telegraph reduced in size by a whopping 75%. Where the AMPs are concerned, all the big hitters that provided a significant damage increase for the class have seen their output reduced. As a couple of examples, take a look below:
- Recycler: Gamma Rays has a 30% chance to trigger this effect, down from 60%.
- Recycler: Quantum Cascade has a 25% chance to trigger this effect, down from 45%.
- Meltdown: Deals 104% Assault Power damage, down from 153.6%. Also fixed a bug where this could damage 40 enemies rather than the intended 5.
- Energy Pulse: Deals 54% Assault Power damage per tick, down from 72%.
I doubt many Medic players will be happy with any of these changes and make no mistake, they are significant. It's going to have a huge reprocussion on their damage output but the class was far too easy to be successful with and was capable of dealing too much damage, too quickly, to too many players. For the most part it's often hard to even miss with any of the Medics telegraphs so the Quantum Cascade changes are welcome.
The Spellslinger was in desperate need of some improvements, it lagged behind both the Esper and Medic in terms of healing and damage. I wrote up a rather large analysis of the problems facing the class (see here
) and it looks like, for the most part, Carbine have listened. The recharge rate of Spellsurge in combat has been increased to match that when out of combat and the majority of the Assault skills have seen their damage numbers increased. To offset the increased amount of times you’ll be able to use Spellsurge, some skills have had their Spellsurge power reduced (notably ignite) while some have changed very little if at all. Other skills have had their cooldowns increased as a result of the extra firepower but only slightly (Sustain for example now reaches Max Charge in 0.9 seconds, up from 0.6 seconds).
Something I’m incredibly grateful for is the fact that a Spellslingers “escape skills” have had their cooldowns slashed, making our survivability much better. My biggest frustration with the class was often the reliance on Gate and Void Slip as a minimum in order to survive and yet the cooldowns were so long that you were often left vulnerable for lengthy periods. As one example, Void Slip used to have a 60 second cooldown. Against a Warrior the skill was relatively useless because although you’d vanish for a few seconds (and heal if equipped) their use of Leap (15 second cooldown) and Grapple (20 seconds) completely removed any advantage Void Slip offered. You were effectively gaining nothing because in a heartbeat Warriors would be immediately back upon you. Although changing the cooldown to 45 seconds doesn’t sound a lot, when combined with AMP’s to reduce cooldowns it’ll make a huge change to our evasion and kiting.
When it comes to mobility changes, Healing Salve, Sustain and Trueshot can now be used on the run improving the Spellslingers healing mobility but also making Trueshot a worthwhile skill. In true balance fashion though, Carbine have increased the cooldown on Healing Torrent to 3 seconds. Some of the more vocal forum community are up in arms about this, but I personally dislike the skill. I dislike its necessity in its original form: it was too much of a requirement and had little tactical use for healing Spellslinger. By increasing its cooldown people will have to think about when they use it (only a little bit more) but because of the other numerical increases to other healing skills, there’s potentially now no need to take it.
The changes to the Stalker weren’t huge and primarily revolve around reducing their survivability through personal heals (see below). In many ways this was needed based on the sheer indestructibility of a well skilled and AMPed up Stalker - they literally can’t die.
- Nano Dart
- Health transferred has been reduced to 50% of the damage done down from 100%.
- Nano Field
- Nano Field no longer damages or Heals off of player pets.
- The overtime field only transfers 25% of health down from 75%.
- The 2nd press now transfers 50% Health down from 100%.
- Healing reduction reduced to 50% down from 60%.
- Damage increased to 34.75% Assault Power up from 29.4% Assault Power, Damage per level increased to 15.12 up from 12.8.
- Tier 4 Heal reduced to 28% Assault/Support Power down from 50% Assault/Support Power.
- Fixed a bug that was causing Tier 4 Preparation to always critically heal while in Lethal Stance.
Interestingly, Carbine have also had an impact on Collapse which is arguably the Stalkers signature move in Warplots and Battlegrounds for spikes. The fact you could pull in 5 players, before telegraph bombing, was incredibly effective but made the skill almost mandatory. With the Tier 4 causing the root to break on damage combined with only 3 targets being pulled, I think this is a good change and might make Stalkers think twice before automatically placing it on their bar.
As far as AMPs go, the theme of personal healing reduction has continued with Forbearance reduced to 51% Support Power, down from 125% and Stay Afloat seeing its internal cooldown doubled and its heal Support Power halved. Hopefully we should see less of the Terminator Stalkers that were cropping up and have them a little more reliant on healers to stay alive against outrageous odds.
My hands-on experience with Warriors is limited compared to many of the other classes but having fought against countless in PvP and a guild mate who is exceptional with the class (he literally melts faces) I’m all too aware of how good they are. Most of the Warriors damage potential is drawn from some rather fantastic AMPs and while they deal excellent damage by default when in the right stance, these AMPs did tip them over the edge (similar to Medic). Power Hitter for example provided Empower up to 5 stacks on Critical Hits, offering an 80% increase in damage to your Critical Hit severity. With a fully Empowered Warrior your health literally vanished in seconds if they were fortunate enough to land a crit or two on you. Unsurprisingly Carbine have adjusted this to only 7.5% per stack, totalling 22.5% when Empowered 3 times. Yes that’s a pretty huge reduction but a valid one. Other significant AMP changes include Kinetic Fury seeing its Empower numbers tweaked:
- Kinetic Fury: Above 500 Kinetic Energy increases damage dealt by 7.2%, down from 12%.
- Kinetic Fury: Above 750 Kinetic Energy increases damage dealt by 9%, down from 25%.
As you’ll notice, there’s a trend developing here and it primarily revolves around the fact Warrors ploughed points into the Assault AMP line (second Tier) and reaped the rewards far too easily for a heavy armor class. As for their skills, it’s primarily been an effort in fixing the Tier 8 elements. The best changes however have to be the fact Power Strike now has a new animation and visual and that Grapple now ignores Global Cooldown (as if that skill wasn't a pain in the ass in the first place), fortunately it now breaks on damage. Overall though, I think these changes are more than fair.
- Stormtalon's Lair and Ruins of Kel Voreth no longer require players to discover the entrances in order to queue for them.
The last thing I wanted to highlight was the above change. It might sound minor, no longer requiring players to travel to an entrance, but I actually dislike this change. I appreciate it’s an inconvenience to traverse the map but part of what I like the most about the existing system in WildStar is the fact you have to do that. It encourages movement over the map, works well for PvP rulesets and doesn’t trivialise the game world. Maybe we’ll hear about why this change was made in the coming days.
Those are my patch highlights (though there is so much more to discuss!) but considering most if not all of it needs hands on time, I could change my opinion in the next week or so. Still, stay tuned for a class Health Check once I’ve tested and be sure to let me know below what your favourite parts of the patch are!