From fiendish nightmares to fluffy golden dreams, the telekinetic Esper packs it all.
If you've ever wanted to blow stuff up with your mind, Carbine has you covered. This week's WildStar Reddit Class AMA was all about the telekinetic mind-bending Esper. Join me as I break down this latest WildStar class re-reveal and touch on some of the key points that were talked about during the AMA regarding the Esper's two possible combat roles of DPS and Healer.
In this week's AMA we were joined by Carbine's Lead Combat Designer, Chris Lynch, WildStar Class Lead, Hugh Shelton, Esper Class Designer, Jade Martin and Global Community Manager Loïc Claveau, who all answered community questions regarding this ranged caster. While having been described as a mix of Professor X and the Green Lantern makes the Esper already sound more than awesome, let's take a look at how you can expect this class to play.
Introducing The Esper
The Esper's weapons of choice are its Psy-Blade and the ability to conjure powerful nightmares or beneficial illusions from pure thought. With the use of their psychic abilities, Espers are able to create phantom projections of their weapons and fling them at the enemy. They can even conjure shapes of their own that can deal a variety of different damaging or healing effects, depending on the ability. Create cute fluffy dreams that heal your allies or nightmarish creatures that harass your enemy. The choice is yours.
An Esper's main class resource are points that can be spent, referred to as "Psi Points". Psi Points must be accumulated through the use of "Builder" abilities and can then be consumed by powerful abilities known as "Finishers". Through the use of Finishers, Espers have access to some exceptionally high burst potential.
When creating the Esper, it seems like the team wanted to have a class that felt iconic to the WildStar universe while still keeping a familiar playstyle that some MMO players may be accustomed to.
"When we discuss the differences between all of the healers, we like to say that the Esper will be the one that players who have played previous MMO’s will be the most familiar with. This is because the Esper is pretty much an even split between group/area healing and targeted healing. Players who prefer to target a player and heal them directly will have a set of abilities that allow them to do so. But the Esper will also have access to a wide array of Area of Effect spells that require the use of our freeform targeting system as well."
While healing was talked about specifically in the quote, Espers have access to a wide-range of damaging spells as well. So on that note, let's take a look at what DPS players can expect to get out of this class
The Damage Dealing Esper
According to Jade Martin, the damage-dealing Esper has abilities that compliment different playstyles and therefore can be built in several different ways. If standing back at a safe distance and nuking enemies from afar is more your style, the Esper has many long ranged abilities that allow you to do this. Although the Espers long-ranged abilities tend to do a great deal of damage, some of them require you to be rooted while casting. This helps with balancing a bit and serves to make the player choose whether or not they're in a safe spot to start casting or if they need to reposition and line up their shots again. A concept that most "ranged-caster" players should be familiar with.
Close-ranged casting on the Esper is also a viable route to take with abilities such as "Blade Dance". Blade Dance is a spell that surrounds the Esper and deals damage to nearby enemies while increasing the Espers own movement speed and armor. Because many of the close to mid-ranged abilities can be cast while on the move and don't slow down the Espers movement speed, it makes it possible for player to make a more agile spell-casting Esper if they so choose.
It was also mentioned that it's even possible to have a build for the Esper that focuses on conjuring pets.
"You also have the ability to focus yourself on a pet build, last week my build was based around Phantom Swarm (3 small illusionary pets) and Geist (1 large illusionary pet). I had tiered these guys up as much as I could so that they were doing tons of damage, healing me at the same time, and blowing up on their deaths to do AoE damage."
Pretty great news for players who enjoy harassing their enemies with a barrage of pets. Although it was confirmed that pets would not be controlled by the player and instead carry out a specific task based on the pet ability. Some pets, such as the Geist, grab all of your threat and tank enemies for you for a short time, allowing you to cast spells in relative safety. Others deal damage to enemies or even heal allies until the spell ends.
Because of classes like the Warrior, who wear Heavy Armor and therefore generally deal less damage compared to Light Armored classes, a question was brought up as to what stops groups from only wanting Light Armored damage dealers for group content. Chris Lynch took this one and explained that each class will serve its own purpose and even heavy armored classes will have ways to shed some of their armor in order to compete on the same level as other damage dealers.
"The raids themselves are designed to encourage the use of ALL the classes. There are certain fights in which you will not do well in if you bring just light armor classes. We have stances on the lower DPS classes that allow them to sacrifice their mitigation in exchange for higher DPS. This is a lever we can modify if we find that certain classes are being excluded from the raiding scene."
"Classes will bring more than just their DPS to a raid. Within their set of abilities we will be including tools that will be highly desired in the raid environment."
So no need to panic, it sounds like the team has systems in place to make it so all classes can compete in terms of damage and is looking to keep a close eye on this as the game progresses. Now that we've covered the Esper's DPS gameplay a bit, let's move on to healing side of the AMA because, well--Rainbow Unicorns.
The Healing Esper
Ok, so Espers can't actually turn into "Rainbow Unicorns" but, they can become golden gazelles with the use of their "Projected Spirit" ability which dashes them forward and heals all allies they pass through. Pretty sweet for all of the healers out there. But before we get into too many specifics, let's talk about general Esper healing.
As mentioned earlier, Espers are designed to be more of your standard all around healing class which, in no way, hinders their healing potential. In general, Espers get access to the greatest amount of "Targeted Healing" spells--spells that require you to select a target instead of aiming them. However, because healing spells are balanced based on their ease of use, Espers also have a wide-range of AoE and free-form heals, allowing you to adjust your style of healing through the use of the limited action set and Ability Tiering systems. It's important to note that most free-form heals will also heal the one who casts them, but in cases where they don't, they usually pack more of a punch in terms of over all healing output.
According to Hugh Shelton, the goal going forward is to try and make sure that all healing types are viable depending on the situation.
While the Esper has access to many heal over time abilities, because of their Psi-Point building mechanic, they also have access to powerful burst heals through the use of Finisher abilities. Combining this with abilities like "Sooth", that grow stronger the longer you charge up, ends up giving the Esper a pretty good mix of sustain and burst healing potential.
Aside from raw healing abilities, Espers also have a number of support abilities that can cleanse or grant buffs to your party members. Abilities such as "Phantasmal Armor" grants allies golden armor that comes packed with an absorption shield effect and "Interrupt Armor",which prevents you from being hit by crowd control effects. Abilities such as "Dislodge Essence" deal damage to a target while healing allies that are near that target. Something that those looking to make a "support" build might be interested in taking.
A question was asked about classes being able to revive in or out of combat. Currently, all classes can revive groupmates when out of combat, however, as of right now, there are no in-combat revive spells. So, to all of my fellow raiders and dungeon-divers out there, make sure you learn those boss mechanics ahead of time.
For more on the Esper...
This about wraps it up for my Esper AMA recap. If you're still foaming at the mouth for more WildStar info--as I'm sure most of you are--there is still plenty more that you might find interesting over at the Esper Reddit AMA. If you're thinking about rolling an Esper as your "go to" WildStar class, be sure to go visit the new Esper class page and tune into the Esper gameplay livestream, hosted by Carbine, this Saturday at 12:00pm (noon) PST.
And as always, for more WildStar information and news updates, keep it dialed to ZAM.
See you on Nexus!
Corey "Cyglaive" Jenkins
Follow Corey on Twitter @Cyglaive