Monday, July 14, 2014

There's a New Sheriff in Town

Please note: There are spoilers to the story of Algoroc in this post. You hast been warned.

I barreled into Tremor Ridge. This is really where you get that "cowboy in space" Firefly kind of feel to the Algoroc zone started. The Loftite rush is such a beautiful double entendre . The Loftite Rush is a clear allusion to the Gold Rush of the Old West. But Loftite also gives you one of your first experiences with reduced gravity and super jumping, which in an of itself is quite a 'rush'.

The quest lines with the crashed Protostar ship were a highlight of my time in Tremor Ridge, This is really a case where you need to read all the quest text and the various journals. They take the experience that much better.

One example is a journal you find, Chapter 7 "So You've Crashed Your Spaceship". The humor in these quests is excellent. I also loved the line the Protostar guy gives you. "Please accept my emotionally neutral farewell."



Another reason I prefer the Northern Wilds / Algoroc path is you continue to follow Deadeye Brightland. You see his reaction to what happened at the end of Northern Wilds and help him get established in Tremor Ridge. In Beta, I found the area around Tremor Ridge to be much more difficult than I did when I went back through this time. I was tearing through mobs with little of the problems I had in Beta.

Another of favorite areas in Tremor Ridge is a cave complex run by the Chua. What are the Chua up to? What are the Chua ALWAYS up to! They are working on a new super weapon. You thwart their scheme and there is a cool Science Path mission that lets you turn their weapon on themselves. That's always fun. This cave also features one of the few challenges you can do that isn't affected by the presence of other players.

At Level 6, I got Quick Burst. Quick Burst is a defining skill. It's a PROC. Whenever you score a critical hit, Quick Burst will light up and once you hit it the mob is pretty much toasty. It's nostalgic of Vanilla's Seal of Command. You hope and pray for Procs and as soon as she lights up, it's game over for your enemy.

I know Finesse is supposed to be the bread and butter stat for Assault Engineers, but now I wanted Moxie, Moxie and more Moxie. Moxie gives the Engineer Critical Hit chance. Also, I dumped all my AMPs (Wildstar talent points) into Critical Hit. I wanted to do anything I could to make Quick Burst proc more.
It lead to some tough decisions on what to wear, trading Moxie for Finesse or vice versa.

After finishing up Tremor Ridge, I headed over to Gallow. Gallow continues the "wild west in space" feel. You become a deputy, put down a gang of bandits, and even help an Old West style "Judge" dispense justice.

There is a vendor in Gallow who sells the Harmful Hits AMP, but you need Algoroc reputation to buy it. It's a big reason why I decided to go the Northern Wilds / Algoroc path. Harmful Hits provides a buff to Critical Hit chance after a Critical Hit is landed. Can I get you a little Crit with your Crit, sir?

Gallow is where many of the systems open up. There's a bank and this is where you train your tradeskills. As much as I thought about going double gatherer, I caved and went Technologist / Relic Hunter just like I did in Beta. It was so much fun. I'm not usually a huge crafter, but I really enjoyed it in Beta and it really fit well with my character concept for this incarnation of HonorsHammer. I also picked up Farming. I love what the NPC said.
"Just go shoot the plants. Don't worry, I'm sure they had it coming!"
This is Nexus after all. The plans are probably more likely to bite you or infect you with a deadly poison as they are to smell nice.

There was also a taxi to Thayd. I was finally able to start listing stuff on the Auction House and get a little coin going. The biggest problem was that on the Sell Now tab, nearly everything was listed at below vendor prices. I could make more gold selling to the vendor than on the Auction House / Commodities Market. I did a little better with Sell Orders, but most of my stuff expired and I just vendored it.

I did my first Shiphand "Steady Traveler". Again, I had a much easier time than I had had in Beta. Steady Traveler has sort of an Aliens feel to it. It's a fun little excursion. I couldn't find anyone in local who wanted to run with me, so I went solo. Shiphands are great in that you can run them solo or you can run them with a group. They really seem to be targeted at the more casual player who may or may not have time to get a group together.

Gallow led to my favorite questing area of the game so far, a place called Expedition Camp. You see it initally standing on a cliff and staring down into this Eldan complex. There is a this huge giant robot trying to get out but he's stuck.
You go around doing the quests. You meet some interesting characters like Belle Walker and her two trusty scan bots, Rusty and Bolt. The whole area is a treasure trove for the Science path and for the Relic Hunter profession. You eventually find a Exo-Lab and have to activate the fail safe. The ending of the story line is freaking epic.

By the time I was done with the Expedition Camp, I was 15 and ready to try my first Adventure, however; I spent most of the night crafting and exploring Thayd instead.



Monday, June 16, 2014

Green Flag! Nexus Ho!

My start on Nexus was delayed by a family commitment. Ideally, I wouldn't have taken vacation just as Wildstar launched but when Little Hammer made the National finals for the History Bee, we were bound for Atlanta.

This proved to be a boon. I have yet to see a queue and the game has been remarkably stable and bug free as far as I can tell.

I blew through the Arkship quickly as I had done it many times in Beta. What I had not done in Beta was change the default landing site. I decided to roll my Mordesh Engineer, but I wanted to take him to the Human and Granok starting zone of Northern Wilds.



A big reason I wanted to do this was that Northern Wilds leads into Algoroc. Each starting zone has a couple of AMPs that you buy with reputation. AMPs are somewhat analogous to talent points in Wildstar. The difference is that you can’t train some AMPs until you find them in the world. Generally the entire 2nd tier is locked down in this manner. One of the key DPS AMPs for Assault (DPS) Engineers is called Harmful Hits. Harmful Hits increases your Critical Hit chance by 9% when you land a Critical Hit.

The early Engineer plays a lot like the Vanilla Retribution Paladin. Critical Hits power a skill called Quick Burst much like Critical Hits powered the venerable Seal of Command.

It took me a few moments to figure out at exactly which point you switched. I kept getting worried I would take a quest that would lock me into going to Everstar Grove and Celestian (the Aurin / Mordesh starting area). That area has some fantastic lore for those races, but overall, I find the stories and quests far more enjoyable in Algoroc.

Basically, it’s the very last quest you take and it clearly shows an (Optional) quest objective of the other starting area. Even if you mess it up, you can blow through the Arkship in about 30 minutes. If you find yourself in Celestian by accident, you can always start over.

Harmful Hits requires Algoroc Accord reputation (which you get from doing quests in Algoroc). You could travel from Thayd to Algoroc even if you go Celestian but you won’t have the reputation to buy it. You could get a friendly guild mate to purchase it for you or you can check the Auction House/Commodities Exchange.
I made it down to Northern Wilds and started clearing out quests. It wasn't until after I finished Northern Wilds that I noticed that I had a quest item in my bag that started a quest. Fortunately, the NPC I needed had come to the new phase with me. I got a very nice blue weapon. The weapon had an imbuement quest. This is a special quest in Wildstar that opens up a new ability on your weapon. This particular quest would give the weapon a chance to leave a Damage over Time (DoT) effect on your target. My problem was that the quest to activate this ability required me to kill a very specific named mob. That named mob was back in the Northern Wilds area and like the Arkship, there was no way to return to that area to kill that mob. I had to leave the imbuement quest undone.


My late start also helped with Challenges. I was able to complete many of them with little of the competition I heard that early players were facing.


With the Northern Wilds defeated, I set my sites on Tremor Ridge in Gallow.



Friday, May 30, 2014

Update! Orias or Bust!

Gamebreaker has made the decision to move to the US PVE Server Orias. My old WoW guild mates are joining Gamebreaker.

If you want to find out more about our guild, check out our site here.

If you would like to join us, set course for Orias.



Make it so!!


"Join Us!" by Doran
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

#Wildstar Launch Plans

Tonight is the big night. Wildstar launches at 12:01pm PST / 3:01 am EST Saturday (which I still think of as tonight, although it's technically tomorrow. I won't get started until sometime on Saturday. My days of playing at 3am are sadly behind me.

If you are going to be up and waiting for Carbine to flip to switch, you might want to check out Gamebreaker Nation's launch party on Twitch. They will start streaming at 1am eastern and carry on right up until launch. My good friend, Ghostal is one of the hosts and they are going to do a great job.

My Launch Plans


Class


From the moment I saw her, I knew the Engineer was going to be my class. Regardless of my class in WoW, I always had at least one toon with max level Engineering as a profession. I thought many times that Blizzard could solve the balance problems they had with the profession by making it a class. It was a hero unit in WC3 just like the DK. Instead Engineering started out really cool each expansion and then was constantly nerfed.

In addition, I've always wanted to play a tank with a Ranged DPS offspec (and Boomkin/Feral never appealed to me). Vanguard almost did it, but then SWTOR made them this weird not ranged/not melee tank and I just played him as melee.

Robot pets, heavy armor, giant guns, and the mech suit. Oh, you had me at mech suit.

Faction


I'm going Exile. I've always had a preference for the 'good guy' side. My time with the Horde was more about my relationships with the other members of Devolve rather than any affection for that side.

I played both sides in Beta and the Exile quests made me feel more heroic. Both Northern Wilds and Everstar Grove have great stories with endings that give you that emotional punch. Although not everyone was a fan.

On the Dominion side, you feel like a cog in the machine. They thank you for your service and if you did really well maybe they won't kill you. I was also completely turned off by the Draken "blood" village where my Mechari Warrior spent most of his early days.

Algoroc was my favorite zone in Beta. I loved the Firefly feel to it and as soon as I saw the giant robot in the Excavation Camp, I knew I was in for some fun.

Race


The decisions had been pretty easy up to this point. Now they start getting tougher. As an Exile Engineer, I could pick any race except for Aurin. This wasn't a huge problem for me as I'm not a big fan of the Aurin. Granoks as Engineers don't make much sense to me. These guys are supposed to meat heads (rock heads?) They don't strike me as the kind to be spending time in the lab.

That left me with human and Mordesh. My initial thought was to go human, and indeed, my beta Engineer was a human. I love Iron Man so I made him sort of a Tony Stark wannabe. When I rolled my Beta Spellslinger I made him Mordesh and ran him through the Everstar Grove / Celestian area.

The Mordesh lore was fantastic.

But Mordesh have 'big' models. I struggled with the big model when I made my Paladin a Tauren in WoW. In Wildstar, movement would be even more critical. I rolled a Mordesh Engineer at the end of Beta and didn't have any trouble. The other nice thing about the big Mordesh model is the guns are freaking huge. Honors want Big BOOM!

I went back to playing my human and encountered a quest in Whitevale. I don't want to spoil it for you, but it cemented my desire to roll Mordesh.

That said, I loved Algoroc. I would go human just for that zone. Then I learned that your choice of race doesn't lock you into the starting zone. It takes a couple of extra steps, but you can choose which zone you go to.

So I'll be one of those weird Mordesh you see running around Algoroc. Keep the fires warm in Gallow for me.

Professions

I was all set to go Technologists and Relic Hunter. Then I can across this.


This is a strawpoll on professions. The gathering professions are out front. That doesn't surprise me since you get both the double gatherer crowd and the people looking to support their production craft.

What does concern me a little bit is how high Technologists is. In case you can't see it clearly in the picture, Tech is at 16% beating out even one of the gathering profs (Survivalist). The next production craft is at 12%. I realize this is a limited sample size with a self selected group, but if this is indicative of the wider game, I could see that being an issue.

The problem is that anyone with MMO experience is going to look at the professions in Wildstar and see really quick that Tech is pretty much the only one with End Game application. Unless WeaponSmith, ArmorSmith, Outfitter, or Tailor get an end game consumable/use, all the armor or weapons they craft will be outdone by raid drops, which will severely limit the ability of these profs to be profitable at end game. But if everyone and their brother is a Tech, the market will saturated and it'll be tough making any CREDD there, too. Tech/RH fits with my Engineer, but now I'm wondering if I should switch.

End game crafting isn't well known. The good news is that Wildstar allows you to keep your progress. If you change from Weaponsmith to Architect, you don't lose your progress in Weaponsmith. You no longer can do the Weaponsmith crafts, but if you change back to Weaponsmith later your progress is still there. It's more like a respec.

I think I'm going to go double gatherer (Mine/Relic Hunter). I'll let the production crafts sort themselves out and I'll make some money in the interim on the Auction House.

Guild / Server

Now we come to the hardest decision of them all. I was all set to join Gamebreaker Nation's guild and even had my old WoW guild on board to join them as well.

Then, GBN made the decision to roll on the sole RP server.

I think this was a poor choice. I've voiced my concerns, and while the officers listened and understood my points, in the end, they still felt the RP server was the best choice.

My old WoW guild mates are deciding where they are going to go and if they opt for a different server, I'll be left to choose between two great communities. Sure, I'll roll an alt in the 'other one', but my main will be where almost all my playtime is in the beginning of the game. Wildstar will have server transfers right after launch, so at least I can change my mind later.

See this important update!

We are all rolling on Orias!


So those are my Wildstar launch plans. What are yours?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Wildstar’s Endgame Will Work

At PAX East, the major emphasis of the Wildstar team was on end game. Many people including Massively’s Wildstar writer, Eliot Lefebvre, are dismayed by the apparent emphasis on high end raids as the main PVE endgame in Wildstar.

Wildstar has two raid sizes, 20 man and 40 man. If that feels a little Vanilla WoW to you it should.

(cue Billy Mays voice) But wait, there’s more!

They are also bringing back attunements. At level cap there is a lengthy quest chain that must be completed before you can start the 20 man raid. Completing the 20 man raid is required to start the 40 man raid. The attunement requirement is turned off in Beta to allow for more testing, but like the early mount that shortcut will not be in the live product.

We will hear all the arguments about 40 mans we did in WoW. We will hear about how only 1% of the players see the content and how it’s a massive waste of limited developer and artists resources. These were arguments I believed and supported. I cheered as the 40 mans were removed and replaced by 10s and 25s.

But after seeing the results (for example: WoW: Accessibility and Apathy ) I have to admit, I was wrong.

We now have a situation in WoW where you can get to the level cap, beat every boss and get all the gear without lifting a finger. We've gone from not being able to see the incredible raid content, to seeing a weak approximation of the incredible raid content. In addition, the only promise of more content is to do the same bosses over again in a harder mode.

What I've come to realize is an application of something that Rohan noted a couple of years ago. His context was PVP, but his observation fits for PVE as well.

The Path


The key is the concept of "Being On The Path" for endgame content. In nutshell, the number of people who reach the highest point of endgame is less important than the number of people who are working towards--and feel that they one day could achieve--that point.
As long as a player is "on the path", everything is fine. The real crisis point is when people are unable to get on the path, or their progress on the path becomes completely blocked. I think it is more important to help the guilds who are trying to become raiding guilds.
To help the people who cannot get on the path at all. The number of players who achieve the end is less important than the number of players who are on the path to the end. 
I believe the same will apply to Wildstar. The 40 mans, and the artifact gear they contain creates a long range goal for many players.

Orange is the new Purple 


WoW has created the expectation that endgame players will be in purples. Wildstar doesn't even try to fight this. The 20 man raid will rain down the Professor Plums (that’s a Clue reference to purple)*. But being epic’ed out won’t be the goal anymore. The 40 man awards Legendary (Orange) gear with a small chance at Artifact (Pink) gear. You see someone walking around Thayd with all orange gear and a pink weapon; you will know he’s done some incredibly difficult content.

The conceit of most players is to believe one day they will get there. They are on the path.

Off the Path 


Some people, maybe like our friend Eliot from Massively, will look at raiding and decide they don’t want to do it or more likely their life situation doesn't allow for a raiding schedule. Some people are incapable of spending 3 hours in front of a computer for multiple nights. This will, in all likelihood, be my situation. 

The good news is that 20 and 40 man raids are large and need a healthy number of bodies. Even someone with limited play time could find a useful role as a bench player. Replacements are always needed during a raid, especially the larger ones.

If someone truly doesn't want to raid, Wildstar has other endgame activities, but those won’t award the best and most incredible looking gear. If a prospective player finds that to be an untenable solution, then I would submit that they would be better off playing ESO or GW2 rather than a game like Wildstar which is clearly communicating an attempt to return to Vanilla WoW’s hardcore raiding roots.

*"Professor Plums (that’s a Clue reference to purple)" is a quote from Jimmy's Story, a very funny old WoW Youtube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeUhSjuhQYE)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wildstar: Which Path to Take?

In Wildstar, you select both a class and a path at character creation and neither can be changed later without rerolling. Classes are fairly straightforward and help define your role (Tank/Heal/Ranged/Melee).

Bartle Paths


Paths are different. They constitute about 30% of your leveling experience and in theory map to the famous Bartle types. In practice, the correlation between Bartle Types and Paths seems a bit forced.

Bartle broke down players in one of four types: Achievers, Socializers, Explorers and Killers. Achievers should be attracted to the Science Path, Socializers to the Settlers path, Explorers to the aptly named Explorer Path, and Killers to the Soldier Path. I've played all four paths in Beta through Level 7. Out of the four, Soldier seems to be the one that best fits its associated Bartle type.. As a Soldier, you get a variety of quests and missions that have you… kill stuff… with style.

Explorer should be renamed the Jumping Puzzles path. I found the early jumping puzzles to be fairly simple, but I’m sure it ramps up to 11 as you level up. The payoff is quite nice and the views are stunning. Settler should be called the BuffBot path. You build these stations that give all players (including you) different buffs. Science is the Lore path. You open up additional Lore and you get a pet.

Science seems like a natural fit for Engineer Class and the additional pet does not count against your ‘bot’ limit. A Science Engineer can have three bots out (2 Engineer ones plus the noncombat Science one). While your Scanbot doesn't fight, it does help give that look of traveling with your own private army of robots. Soldier seems like it would go well with a Warrior. Explorer fits in with the teleporting of the Spellslinger.


Perks and Powers


All paths provide bags, housing items, and titles are various levels. Each Path also provides a your character with several powers. You have one of these power in an active slot on your action set. I’ll evaluate each power on a 5 cupcake scale.

Solider powers: 

  • Back Into the Fray – heals 100% HP. Only out-of-the-battle use. / 3 cupcakes. If your class doesn’t have a heal (all tanks) this will be great for recovering from one battle and getting ready for another. I’m not sure what the cool down is. 
  • Tactical Retreat – allows to take you and your team to the safety. / 2 cupcakes. I didn’t get this power in Beta. I’m not sure if it teleports a short distance away or takes you to your current bind location. • Combat Supply Drop – drops a box with weapon for you and allies next to you. This weapon allows to use skills like stuns etc. / 2 cupcakes. The weapons have limited charges. Most of the time I went with my regular rotation.
  • Soldier Rations: Activation: Places a Ration’s crate. Upon interacting with the crate, for the next 5.0s restores 446/892/1782 health every 0.5s. / 3 cupcakes, and sprinkles on top if Back Into the Fray (BItF) is on cool down. It seems like the solider is focused on recovering health.
  • Soldier’s March: Activation: Movement speed increased by 20% for the next 15.0 seconds. (30.0/20.0/10.0 Min CD) / 4 cupcakes. Movement speed increases are fantastic especially since you won’t get a mount until Level 25. 1 cupcake dedication for the ridiculously long cool down. 
Soldier powers slice and dice a total of 14 cupcakes.

Settler Powers: 

  • Settler’s Campfire (60.0 min CD) – allows you to set up a fire which increases healing and maximum health for an hour. You receive a buff for each player who uses your campfire. / 2 cupcakes. This would be higher if the cool down wasn’t so long.
  • Summon: Vendbot – creates a shop which buys everything from you for sixty seconds. Also serves as a repair bot for your party. / 5 Cupcakes. Inventory management is a huge pain in the neck through the early game. You don’t have the bag or bank space (especially if you are trying to collect two sets of gear). This will only be made worse with all the Mystery Boxes and other promotions Wildstar is running. In addition, after seeing how challenging the dungeons are, you are going to want a Settler in your party for repairs. 
  • Report Home – creates portal to your house. / 0 cupcakes. This was removed when they gave all players a teleport to their house.
  • Tech-Totem: Experience: Activation: Drops a totem that increases experience gain by 2%/4%/6% to allies within 35 meters of the totem for the next 60.0 seconds. / 5 cupcakes. Normally, this would only be useful during leveling, however; at cap experience points become Elder points which get you Elder gems. 
  • Sleeping Bag – allows you to log out in the world and get rested experienced (but less rested than you would get at your house). / 2 cupcakes. With the housing teleport you can teleport to your house and teleport right back to wherever you left. I guess there might be sometimes when you’d want to log out in the wild.
Settler makes is 14 cupcakes.

Science Powers

  • Holographic Distraction – summons a clone who distracts enemies. / Originally 3 cupcakes, now 1 cupcake. however this was recently nerfed so that you can’t use it in any group content (PVE or PVP). You can only use it in the open world. 
  • Summon: Group – summons a group to you. / 5 cupcakes. Anyone who had “Have Group, Will Travel” in WoW knows how helpful this can be. 
  • Create Portal – Capitol City: Activation: Opens a portal to the Capital City for the next 10.0 seconds. (120/90/60 min CD) – 0 cupcakes / This was recently given to all players. It is unclear what will happen. Based upon the Settler’s home teleport, it seems likely this will be removed. 
  • Clarity Elixir: Activation: Places a Ration’s crate. Upon interacting with the crate, for the next 5.0s restores 2%/5%/10% focus every 0.5s. / 3 cupcakes for focus using classes, 0 cupcakes for non-focus using classes. 
  • Generator: Reputation Gain: Activation: Places an aura on the ground that increases reputation gain by 2%/4%/6% to allies within 35 meters for the next 60.0 seconds. / 4 cupcakes. Wildstar has reputation grinds and I’m sure you remember how useful the Human racial trait Diplomacy was in WoW.
  • Scanbot / 1 cupcake. This allows you to do Scientists mission but doesn't provide any perks. I’m giving 1 cupcake just for the sheer coolness factor.
Science discover 14 cupcakes for Focus using classes, 11 cupcakes for non-Focus using classes. 

Explorer Powers


  • Safe Fall: Activation: Damage taken from falling reduced by 15%/30%/45% for the next 5.0/7.5/10.0 seconds. Damage from big falls are decreased for a given time. / 3 cupcakes. I have a feeling Explorers will be falling a lot when they mess up a jumping puzzle. Dying is expensive so this will keep you alive. 
  • Air Brakes – It stops you in the air and let you admire views and make another jump. / 2 cupcakes. Really only needed to solve some jumping puzzles. 
  • Translocate beacon – lets you save your current position and then teleport to it. Unavailable during PvP. / 4 cupcakes. The further away you are from the beacon the greater the cool down. I could see players coming up with all sorts of interesting and fun ways of using this like leaving this at the entrance of a cave so you don’t have to fight your way back out. 
  • Enduring Breath: Activation: Breath decays 30%/45%/60% slower than normal. / 2 cupcakes. Like Air Brakes, this one seems like it is simply to help the Explorer do some of the Explorer specific stuff and wouldn't really help outside of that path. 

Explorer finds 11 cupcakes.

For Me? 


I eliminated Explorer because I’m not a huge fan of jumping puzzles. I really like Science since it goes well with being an Engineer and I’m usually a Lore nut. That said, Engineers don’t use focus and the overall package seems a little weak. I’m hugely tempted by the incredible potential of Soldier and Settler. Both seem like they would help you level faster and Settler seems like the advantages would continue even into Elder Game content.

 Sources: http://www.wildstarfans.net/2013/12/chief-sarcans-guide-to-paths.html
http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/632/feature/8252/Chief-Sarcans-Guide-to-Paths.html
http://guides.gamepressure.com/wildstar/guide.asp?ID=24192

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Engineer Tank versus Stormtlaon's Lair

I had one major goal this past Beta weekend. I wanted to run Stormtalon’s Liar (STL) with my Engineer Tank. I had had one previous experience with tanking as an Engineer around level 15 in the Adventure “Hycrest’s Rebellion”. Now at level 20, it was time to see what Wildstar’s dungeons had in store.

First surprise 

Upon hitting level 20, Stormtalon’s Lair did not magically appear in my list of dungeons I could queue for. After doing some digging, I discovered that first you have to go to the actual entrance of the instance. Then you can queue for it. Visions of The Burning Crusade danced in my head. Since this was my first go at STL, I opted to queue with both DPS and Tank selected. The queue popped almost instantly and I had been selected to tank.

Prep 

In Wildstar, you use action sets. These are the powers you have on your hot bar and can use during combat. At level 20, I’m limited to only 7 active powers. In addition to the powers themselves, the action set remembers the points you spent to enhance your powers as well as the talents (called AMPs) that you’ve chosen. You get two action sets you can switch between. Additional sets are purchased with Elder Gems (an end game currency). Effectively, you are limited to two action sets while you level up.

I have mine set to a DPS build and a tank build. I’ve love a third for PVP, but that won’t be happening.

Prep step number one, I switched to my tank Action Set. 

Tank Engineers and DPS Engineers also value different stats on their gear. When I’m DPS, I love Moxie for crit and Finesse for Assault Power. As a Tank, I want Insight for Deflect (which is basically avoidance) and Tech for Support Power. Attack Power in Wildstar is broken down into Assault Power and Support Power. A piece of gear will one or the other, and rarely both (and even when both appear one will be higher). Your powers are also categorized as Assault or Support (also Utility). Assault Power makes Assault powers hit harder but does nothing for Support powers and the reverse is also true.

It has been hard while questing in Wildstar to maintain a good set of tanking gear and DPS gear. Often you have to choose between a DPS piece and a Tank piece as a quest reward, but I’ve tried to keep a decent set in my bags.

Prep step number two. I put on the best tank gear I had. 

Next, I switched Mode. Engineer has two modes: Eradicate and Provoke. Eradicate mode increases damage, while Provoke mode reduces damage and increases threat. Your mode also controls the temporary buff I got when I activated the mech suit. The Eradicate suit gives you crit and assault power. The Provoke suit gives you damage reduction and avoidance.

Prep step number three, I switched to Provoke mode. 

Hammer Time 

I zoned in and spotted the first trash pack. It’s Hammer Time!

Some of the trash mobs hit really hard, or have specials that hit really hard. We wiped at least twice to trash. Wildstar had taught me to be moving almost constantly. That’s a good thing in solo play. It works less well in group play. Your healer is targeting their own heals. I kept moving out of the healing telegraph to avoid a mob telegraph. The heal would miss and would die. Also, there are plenty of patting mobs roaming the dungeon getting an add pretty much equaled death for our group. I really missed not having some sort of Death Grip type pull in my arsenal.

Wildstar doesn't joke around. I mean, sure, its jokes around a lot, but in Stormtalon, those mobs play for keeps. 

While one of the member of my group expressed concern about surviving the first boss when we were dying to trash, we soldiered on.

We arrived at the first boss, Blade-Wind. Stormtalon's Lair is a like a big air elemental raid. Blade-Wind fits right at home. He is a big elemental surrounded by four channelers. After we DPSed the boss, he would go immune and we would work down the channelers. It reminded me a little bit of the Magtheridon encounter. When a channeler died, it spawned a spark. If the spark hit you, you were rooted, and that was, generally speaking, a bad thing.

The boss hit like a freaking truck pulling a freight train. I had about 9k hit points, plus my shield. This guy hit for 3k a pop. I had to pop the mech suit on the pull and again when he came out of the immune. Liberal use of med sprays was involved.

After the second wipe, I switched out some gear. It was classic WotLK thinking time: stamina (called Grit in Wildstar), stamina and more stamina. Nothing mattered except what would give me the biggest health pool.

Despite the wipes, no one was getting angry and no one was looking to cast blame. I kept waiting for someone to start yelling at the ‘phail tank’ and kick me to get a new one. That never happened. We actually talked about strategy. I don’t remember the last time I did that in a PuG. We decided to only DPS the channelers down most of the way, but not kill them. This meant we didn’t have as many sparks to deal with.

Between the new strategy and the gear change, we got him down. One of the group members was quite relieved and shared how a previous group had spent hours on just that boss.

We moved on. More trash. More wipes. Sometimes it just made more sense to leave Bobby (my Bruiser Bot) unsummoned until after the pull.

We get to the second boss. He’s another elemental. Every 30% or so, he disappears and summons adds. These adds freaking hurt. I would save Bobby’s taunt for when the adds spawned and then have him pick up the adds. That gave the healer a few seconds to recover and the DPS a few seconds to work on them. If (err…when) Bobby went down, I would use my AoE taunt and we’d finish them off.

This showed me a key advantage of the Engineer tank. The Bruiser Bot essentially represents another pool of health. I haven’t seen anything yet that is taunt immune so when things get crazy, have Bobby taunt and even if he goes down, that’s 6 or 7k worth of damage soaked that your healer didn't have to heal, and you can get him back in 15 seconds.

But that was the easy part of the fight. Now the fun begins. The next thing that happens is the boss blows you back to the entrance and start channeling a nuke that will one shot the party. You have to interrupt it. But in Wildstar, nothing is that simple. Bosses have Interrupt Armor. We had to use multiple interrupts to first break through the interrupt armor. That is, of course, assuming we could get to him in the first place to use our interrupts. Tornadoes spawn when he blows you back and move around the room, a bit like Blade Lord Tay’ak in Heart of Fear. If they hit you, they knock you up in the air and take some damage as well as some additional fall damage. Worst of all, you've wasted precious time not getting to the boss to the get the interrupts.

Yes, this is the very first dungeon in Wildstar. It’s intense.

We continued working our way through the dungeon and dying a couple of more times. Next we were ready to face off with Arcanist Breeze Binder. I promise I'm not making up these boss names. Nobody knew or remembered a strategy for him. The big problem was once again adds. Every few seconds he would summon another set and they would overwhelm us. Eventually, we figured out we could interrupt the cast where he called the adds. That made the fight much easier.

A few pulls after Arcanist, you face the High Priest who calls down Stormtalon herself.
I wish I could tell you more about this fight. It was freaking crazy. Red telegraphs were everywhere. One telegraph centered on a player who had to move it around the room while avoiding other telegraphs. We lost two DPS in phase changes, but we were doing okay. Then I saw the healer go down. I cycled through everything I had. Mech suit, Recursive Matrix, Med pacs. We lost another DPS. Now it was down to just me and the Stalker. Stormtalon’s health was in the single digits. I could tell I didn't have long before I would go down, but instead Stormtalon dropped. The other players cheered and we rezzed the dead. It was nice to actually finish a fight on this side of the dirt for once.

Satisfaction


It was the most satisfying kill I've had in a five man in a long time. I'd compare it to an early Magister's Terrace.

As I zoned out, it felt like a hard won victory. There was no steamrolling, no pull as much as you want and AoE blast your way through it.

 It was intense, it was hard, and it was a blast.

I think the 'scoreboard' screen at the end is bugged. Yes, I died 20 times. There is no way I should have been #1 in staying alive. #1 at dying, yes. Also, no way I was #1 in heals or kills.

The scariest part to me is it was just under two hours and this is supposed to be one of the shorter dungeons.

Special thanks to Raidy the Stalker, Deyedia the ESPer, ThunderTorque the Engineer for a great run. Extra special thanks to Hakurei the Medic for being our healer.

After the run, I decided to head to my house and take it easy.