First Impressions of Healing in WildStar

Choosing a Class

Brutal honesty time. I decided to try an Esper healer because I loved the way the spells looked. Espers heal with butterflies, fish, giant lanterns, paper lanterns, balloons and a giant absorb shield that turns your target into a super –armored golden knight. They’re basically amazing.

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Fortunately, I also ended up enjoying the Esper’s healing style. It has more single-target spells than the other 2 healing classes (Medic and Spellslinger), but since my tank was the only person taking consistent damage I was able to mostly keep her targeted and heal the rest of my party with my telegraph abilities. I only found myself needing to switch targets when another party member was either targeted by a specific ability (which was rare) or when one of us failed to move out of a telegraph in time.

The non-tank damage in WildStar’s Adventures and Dungeons is almost entirely avoidable. If you are quick enough to move out of telegraphs before they hit you, it is very possible to go through an entire encounter and take very little damage at all. That may sound like it has the potential to get boring, but remember that you will also be dodging those same telegraphs as the rest of your team as well as aiming your healing spells so that they will hit your tank.

While I was using 2-3 single-target spells in the Dungeons I ran, I noticed that those spells tended to be more expensive to cast than their telegraphed counterparts. So while I suppose I could have worried only about moving out of enemy telegraphs rather than using my own healing ones, it would been a significant strain on my Focus (your spell-casting resource) to only use my single-target heals.

The Add-on Frontier

For many seasoned healers, the use of an add-on to augment our efficiency and speed has become second nature. I have been using some type of healing add-on for very nearly the entire time I have been healing in WoW, and I have always suggested at least the use of mouseover macros.

But WildStar is, of course, still in beta and while its developers have decided to allow add-ons, the functionality and availability of them can change from day to day. This week I did stumble across a Grid-style add-on for WildStar healing, but I haven’t downloaded it just yet. In fact, the only add-on I’m currently running is BijiPlates, which draws friendly and enemy nameplates in a way that feels more natural and readable than the default UI.

So all that said, I have been running 5 person Adventures and Dungeons without any healing-specific add-on for the last several weeks. And you know what? I’m doing just fine.

I’m never going to make the obnoxious argument that using a healing add-on is akin to using training wheels, and I totally understand if folks will want healing add-ons if for no other reason than it’s what we are used to and what feels most comfortable. But a major part of why I feel that I can go without healing add-ons in WildStar is directly tied into why I enjoy its healing in the first place.

What Makes It Fun?

Everything I’ve said so far today pertains only to healing in Adventures and Dungeons. I have yet to try healing in raids, and I am sure I will not do so until sometime well after launch. But despite my limited experience, I’ve gotten enough of a taste to be pretty sure that I’m going to enjoy what’s next.

As I discussed yesterday, WildStar’s combat system feels more engaging because it requires me to pay so much more attention to my surroundings. I was initially very skeptical of its developers claim that their combat system would have healers doing something more than watching green bars. Now, let me be clear. I do still spend plenty of my time keeping an eye on green bars. The first thing I did was move my party frames down to the bottom of my screen so that they’d be at the same eye level as my feet – the eye level I’m used to from my WoW UI.

Over time, however, I found I was able to train myself to start looking up rather than down. I was keeping an eye on the friendly nameplates above my teammates’ heads rather than the party frames. It’s a small psychological and semantic distinction, but an important one. By encouraging me to raise my eye level to the characters on the screen, the game made it possible for me to simultaneously watch my allies’ health and positions, the telegraphs of enemy mobs and also my own healing telegraphs. It felt much more like a system that was designed with all the pieces moving together, rather than a setting in which my focus on a healing add-on feels distinctly divorced from my attention to positioning and boss abilities.

Essentially, I was able to focus on the screen in a way that is usually reserved for tanking and DPS players, which is a much more intuitive and fun way to interact with a game’s PvE content. I suspect that this may also be a part of why players who usually do not enjoy healing in traditional tab-targeting environments are likely to find WildStar’s healing more engaging and accessible to them.

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5 thoughts on “First Impressions of Healing in WildStar

  1. I definitely had that experience of suddenly finding myself looking around instead of at the tiny health bars on the UI. I hope the fun of healing means that that many people give healing a try in this game.

    • Healing is definitely fun but I’ve had some very challenging moments. I find it hard at times to get heal a group back up quickly during high AOE damage phases. My general impression is that it is VERY important in Wildstar that DPS avoid damage whenever possible. As you mentioned, most of it is avoidable and the healer does have to focus on the tank. Also, DPS must learn to try to stay in range of friendly telegraphs. For now I am an Esper healer as well. I’m looking forward to reading your blog.

      • Thank you! I noticed that I wanted to make sure I was standing behind everyone in the group to make sure I could line up my telegraphs. That meant that if a DPS got behind me, they were essentially in a blind spot and I wouldn’t necessarily notice if their health was lower than it should be. Some of that is my problem – I need to get used to panning my camera around a little more to look for that sort of thing. But some of it, as you say, is that DPS have increased responsibility in WildStar to avoid damage when they can and move into their healer’s telegraphs as often as possible.

  2. Well, I remember back in 2011, when they first announced it, (I think it was around then anyway; there were some videos circulating the web at that time for sure, such as this from 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4fIruA4fxo ), Wildstar got me all hyped up. Took some time before it actually arrived, but when it finally did, it was a pretty good experience tbh.

    I had some beta invites, but by the time I got those, I was a bit on the fence. Nevertheless I picked up the game on launch day and started running around with a Warrior. The whole experience of it was pretty decent (I am saying this as a long time WoW player). The story is compelling and the areas (zones) are well made. Lacks a bit in some of the sub-systems such as trading/crafting/auction house interfaces, but I suppose that will all be ironed out as time goes by. The PvP is pretty decent too.

    As an MMO, I can put it this way: If this was the first MMO ever made, people would be over the moon about it. It IS a great game in itself. The raiding has an unprecedented approach, for example ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lr5wzAviCQ ). Thing is, over the years we have seen so many games fall into the trap of trying to copy one another or do the same, only better – well, this might be a good thing actually – because it creates competition and we all know competition is good for the end user. But none has really “risen to the challenge” of becoming a “WoW killer”. Honestly I do not think anyone ever will. A new, successful MMO has to be a good experience in its own right and for its own reasons.

    As for the economy there is one thing that really separates Wildstar from other MMOs; the C.R.E.D.D. system. The way they laid out this whole feature is pretty unique. It is about taking power away from the 3d party actors and transferring it over to the players. I know that one can get a good deal on some sites, such as g2a: https://www.g2a.com/r/wildstar-category-global – but if one can make big bucks in game (being sort of an in game tycoon), one can actually end up paying for the subscription by just playing the game.

    In the end I think it is safe to say that the impressions one gets from playing a new MMO depends on where you are coming from. If you have played MMOs for 15 years, you will not easily get impressed. But if you are just starting out, and Wildstar is your first MMO experience, it is as good as any.

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