06 June 2013

Wild(Star) Speculation: Hidden Classes

So I was browsing the WildStar website yesterday, wondering how many body parts I could donate to secure a beta invite and still remain healthy enough to enjoy said beta, when I got to the page about their classes.  No one has been talking much about the classes in the game, not even Carbine themselves.  Much of the official information lately has focused on the Path system, with nods towards the economy and crafting systems in the game.  The last big reveal in terms of classes was the unveiling of the Stalker class, which is going to be WildStar's take on the traditional "rogue" archetype.  There have been four classes confirmed so far and two more yet to be announced.  So I thought this would as good a time as any for some wild speculation and guess as to what the two remaining unannounced classes might be.

What We Know

So just a quick summary of the classes that have been revealed and the RPG archetypes that they can be associated with.

Warrior-  Your standard melee hack 'n slash and tank type.  I don't think there is an RPG anywhere without some version of this guy in it.

Spellslinger-  Your not-so-standard ranged gunner.  Feels like a cross between an archer/rifleman archetype with some mage characteristics.  Generally fits the profile of a damage focused ranged attacker.

Stalker-  Your standard sneak 'n stab melee type.  This is WildStar's take on the rogue... stealth, duel wield, does it from behind.

Esper-  Your not-so-standard magic user.  Feels like a cross between a mage type with some priestly characteristics.

Overall we have two melee classes and two ranged classes.  Both melee classes have tanking abilities and both ranged classes have healing abilities.  Carbine seems to be operating on the general principle that every class will be able to focus on either damage exclusively or one of the support functions, be it tanking or healing.  And I have to say I am much in favor of this philosophy.  I know there are many players that still shy away from supporting roles and just want to "pew pew" their way to glory, and such classes/specs should always exist.  But I don't think it is good design anymore to "lock in" an entire class as purely damage.  I think the option should always exist for them to do more if they choose to.

In terms of archetypes, we have the warrior, rogue, and mage types fairly well covered.  I hesitate to classify the Spellslinger in the ranger/hunter type because of the lack of any kind of pet, which is usually associated with those classes.  So what "gaps" exist?  What sort of archetypes or functions are not represented by the classes that have been revealed?  Two possibilities jump to the front of my mind.

Pikachu, I choose you!

The reason I don't really think of the Spellslinger as a hunter type is that I think one of the unknown classes is a pet class.  Now "pet class" doesn't automatically equate to "hunter" and pets can be many things.  Mages in World of Warcraft and RIFT both use elementals as pets, as do shamans (in WoW) and druids summon fae folk (in RIFT.)  Warriors in RIFT have a pet spec also.  And then of course in Star Wars: The Old Republic, everybody has a "pet" of one kind or another.  So I don't think it is too much of a stretch to imagine that one of the classes Carbine still has up its sleeve is oriented around the use of pets or summoned creatures.  Given the overall flavor of the WildStar universe, my best guess would actually be something like an Engineer type class that summons robots, automated turrets, and other such things. 

I could see this class as either melee or ranged.  It could be the type who gets into the fray and smashes things with hammers and oversized socket wrenches.  The Engineers in Torchlight II and Guild Wars 2 both incorporate aspects of this, and honestly that would appeal to me more as a gamer.  I also think it would fit nicely in WildStar's kind of zany sense of humor.  What could be more amusing than a dainty little Aurin whacking things with a wrench bigger than she is?  Or on the other hand it could be a sort of "heavy gunner" type using big weapons like rocket launchers or mortars.  The aforementioned Spellslinger really doesn't break out the "heavy artillery," so there is definitely still room for a class that uses absurdly large weaponry.  There are lots of different directions this archetype could go, which is why I think it is one of the unannounced classes.

The biggest point against this type of class that I have noted from forums and WildStar fan sites is that WildStar's more mobile combat would make pet micromanagement even more difficult than it already can be.  Will pets "know" to move out of enemy telegraphs or into friendly telegraphs?  Games like WoW stripped much of the micromanagement out of pets by streamlining their care and training, and giving them the ability to automatically avoid things like AoE damage and the like. Pet management can be a tricky thing under the best of circumstances.  Heck I remember back in the vanilla WoW days when you were basically forbidden to use pets in dungeons or raids because they would invariably ruin an encounter somehow.  So Carbine will have to take care to make sure that any pets are actually helpful, rather than something where the rest of your group groans when you pull one out.

Guided by the Light

My thought for the other unannounced class is a bit more of a stretch.  Based on what Carbine has shared with us, the world of WildStar is not a very "religious" place.  Yes the Eldan are revered, and yes the Luminai are viewed similarly by some within the Dominion, but there has been little said about any kind of organized religion or supernatural forces potentially at work.  So that is an archetype that is certainly missing from the current lineup of classes... some kind of priest, cleric, or paladin... or perhaps even a druid or shaman.  But that's also why this guess is a bit of a stretch.  What we know about this game setting so far does not really lend itself to that kind of a spiritual or religious presence.  That's not to say Carbine can't surprise us, and it would open up a whole new avenue of lore to explore.

Like with my Engineer idea, there is a lot of room for flexibility here.  Heck I'm not even really suggesting a single class, but more of an idea with a multitude of potential implementations.  Depending on what "niche" Carbine might most be trying to fill, you could have melee based characters like a paladin, ranged like a priest, or mixtures like a druid or shaman.  If you forced me to make a single guess though, I'd like to see something akin to a Paladin or battle cleric.  Both of the confirmed melee classes seem to be "purely" melee, which is fine, but I think this leaves an opening for a hybrid incorporating magic and other abilities... I'm thinking something like WoW's enhancement shaman or retribution paladin.  But whatever direction they might go, I think there are a lot of viable possibilities here.

The biggest point against this kind of thing showing up is just what I already mentioned.  The world which Carbine is creating does not seem to be a very religious one and so the presence of a class like this would be difficult to explain at best.  But at the same time it may simply be a portion of their vision they haven't shared with us yet.  Maybe the next "WildStar Wednesday" will be all about the various cults and sects of Nexus. 

So those are my two guesses... an engineer type pet class, and a paladin type melee/magic hybrid.  Of course like any wild guess I'm probably completely wrong, but in the slim eventuality that I'm right, at least now I'm "on the record" and can gloat about it. ;)

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