A Hands On Look at WildStar's Engineer / Explorer

| 20 Dec 2013 19:00
WildStar Gameplay 2

WildStar's Engineer is Jak and Daxter in an MMO.

WildStar has been capturing the attention of online gamers this holiday season. Though it isn't scheduled to ship until spring 2014, Carbine's recent reveal of the Medic and Engineer was well received by the community, and with winter beta opening, players seem to be eager for a chance at seeing Nexus for themselves. I recently had the opportunity to take part in WildStar's closed beta and played an Engineer to level 15. I also picked the Explorer path, and played through the optional content for the first two zones.

The Engineer immediately had me intrigued when I first heard about it, inspiring me to abandon the Esper I had planned to play for more than a year. The Engineer feels like a class that can do it all: long range, short range, tanking, DPSing, AoE, focused damage, burst damage, sustained damage- they are incredibly versatile. Backed by two powerful bots, the Engineer is a master of flexibility.

The MK 4 Exo Suit is basically the Engineer's god mode, the "armor for his armor", which amplifies his damage or mitigation to absurd levels. The wide cones and long range on the Engineer's ability telegraphs allowed me to fight at various ranges, whether it be sniping individual enemies out of a tight pack, or dropping AoE on all of my surrounding foes. The Engineer is also a capable kiter, and will make old-school Hunters, Rangers, and other archer classes feel right at home.

Playing as an Engineer Explorer feels exactly like playing Jak and Daxter. I've got a huge arsenal of guns, two little buddies that help me fight, and whenever I'm not blowing something up, I'm platforming to the top of some crazy tall tree. WildStar emphasizes the use of mobility in combat, and although the Engineer isn't as mobile as some classes, you'll still be doing your fair share of ducking, dodging, and sprinting out of harm's way. The run-and-gun play style is infinitely satisfying, and there's little down time involved with the powerful shields and heavy armor that the Engineer uses.

The Engineer does have a few issues. Some of the the class's abilities -- such as Give Em' The Gas, Zap, and Unstable Anomaly -- don't have very expressive particles, and the only way that I can know that I've used the skills is through seeing their mechanical effects in combat. For a class as explosive as the Engineer in a game as over the top and expressive as WildStar, some of the effects could be more vivid and noticeable.

WildStar
WildStar

The Engineer's UI could also definitely use some polish. In addition to being fairly bland (I can't tell you the number of times I didn't realize I was at max Volatility, the Engineer's primary resource), the UI was also very buggy and would occasionally just disappear and become unusable. As I discussed in my WildStar General preview, trying to take a minute and tweak your UI while questing is an exercise in frustration and dodging ability.

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