WildStar Burst: Spellslinger Hands-On Impressions
Over the next few weeks in each of my WildStar Burst features, I'll be taking a look at one of WildStar's classes. First up is the Spellslinger.
For anyone who knows very little about the Spellslinger, it's a ripe mix of of speed and damage and sits somewhere between Nightcrawler and Deadpool. Although I'll provide you with a fair assessment of the Spellslinger, I must admit it's an incredibly fun class and one I've spent the most time playing. That isn't to say it's perfect, but I do feel that it stands head and shoulders above the others in terms of raw power and flexibility.
As you might have expected with a dual pistol wielding class, it's all about attacking your foes at range and as someone who's rarely played melee archetypes over the last fifteen years (with the exception of a DAoC Friar), I'm right at home here. What makes the Spellslinger powerful is its speed and overall mobility. As with all the other classes in WildStar, you can only dodge twice and sprint for a limited time, but combined with skills such as Gate, Void Slip and Spatial Shift, you become a slippery pain in the ass. That isn't to say that you have to load up on these skills (surviving with one is relatively easy) but I really do recommend at least one. They're powerful and far too useful to ignore. I'm undecided at this point whether that's a good or a bad thing but considering these 3 skills are unique in appearance and align heavily with the Spellslingers overall design, I'm tempted to forgive this mandatory trio.
The Spellslinger's "mechanic" is Spell Surge and is probably the most lacklustre out of all the classes. When you use it, you'll crackle with electricity and deal additional damage or where your support and utility skills are concerned, you'll tend to gain additional passive bonuses such as extra shielding or healing. Spell Surge as a concept is absolutely fine, but it isn't particularly exciting and acts only as a spike tool (offensive or defensive) as opposed to one that really gets the juices flowing. I like the fact you can stop and start it, so you have full freedom over how much you want to gain the benefits of it, I just wish it offered something...more?
On the flip side, there are plenty of AMP's that sex up Spell Surge. I've managed to squeeze out an extra 15% damage and 43% extra Critical Hit Severity while Spell Surged. That extra damage really is significant and helps you chew through plenty of enemies. I'm a little undecided where else to spend my AMP points besides going all out maximum damage, but neglecting Void Pact (increases your movement speed by 25%) through investment in the Utility line is a hard decision to make, especially when it'll take some heavy spending to get it.
Luckily I don't feel the Spellslinger relies too heavily on speed. Yes it's a very mobile class, but speed and mobility don't necessarily have to go hand in hand. With careful use of Sprint, Dodge and Gate you can create more than enough distance between you and your enemies and when coupled with the likes of Cone of Frost or Frozen Bolt (the former roots for 3.35 seconds and the latter snares by 35% unless Spell Surged, at which point it's 50%) you really are formidable and incredibly annoying to face. The rotation of Spell Surge > Ignite (impact and periodic burning) > Distortion (additional shields) > Frozen Bolt (Snare by 35%) > Mobile Fire (auto attack equivalent) > Wild Barrage is so powerful that there's very few combinations of enemies I can't kill – upwards of 6 or 7 at a time. I'm not entirely confident I'd be able to achieve this so comfortably with other melee classes.
That brings me nicely onto the Spellslinger's skill set. Carbine have been clever in its design and distribution and although some skills mirror each other, there are subtle changes between the Assault and Utility skills that really stretch your choices. Frozen Bolt and Cone of Frost, as mentioned above, are a perfect example of this. Choosing to slow at a lower cooldown or root at a higher cooldown is one choice between the two, but it gets even more complicated when Tier 8 Major Upgrades are applied: Frozen Bolt would snare for 65% when Spell Surged while Cone of Frost would snare by 35% after the root expires.
At times it really can be a headache to decide which skills to use, but for me that's part of the magic of the Spellslinger. I'm surprised at how many people continue to use Charged Shot and other stationary skills, though it does depend entirely on your playstyle. For me, I have to stay mobile because if one thing is certain, if you aren't moving and incorrectly use your mobility skills as a Spellslinger, you really are mince meat.
I've mentioned very little about the healing and support capabilities of the Spellslinger. I found you'll rarely need any of them during solo play because I hard ever took damage, but some of same questions arise when choosing your load-out for party play: "Do I want to remain stationary or mobile while looking after team mates?" Skills such as Vitality Burst and Healing Salve (Vitality Burst healing 5 allies in a charged attack and Healing Salve applies a “buff” that heals over time) really aren't choice skills for me. I found them too static and they left me far too vulnerable. That isn't to say they haven't worked for some people I've paired with (because they have) but as you've probably figured out by now and due to the heavy telegraphs in WildStar, standing still brings more trouble than it's worth.
Where my final thoughts on the Spellslinger are concerned, it's a bloody brilliant class and one that surprises me with its flexibility and power. Better still, it really is capable of being a fantastic healer. I'm still hopeful of refinement to Spell Surge but this minor gripe isn't enough to prevent me maining the class when the game eventually launches. Pew, pew!