Sunday, November 24, 2013

We Can't All Be Espers: The Spellslinger

It's been a little since my last post, mostly due to the fact that I was out of the town the past few days and have come down with a bit of a cold (damn you, sickness!) The large amount of dancing and yelling I did at a wedding two days ago did little to help the situation, but alas, here I am fighting through my illness to bring you my thoughts on Carbine's newest class drop: the Spellslinger.

I know, I know, this is an Esper blog. But I would be remiss if I did not mention our gun-toting brethren, who we may have to share some gear, tactics, and group space with. And despite not being nearly as cool as the Esper, there are some takeaways from the Spellslinger livestream that can be applied to not only our class, but the entirety of the game.

We have some things in common...

Like the Esper, the Spellslinger is a ranged class that has a focus on healing and/or DPS. They stand in the back and heap huge piles of damage on the enemy, or pewpew their friends in the back of the head with heals. In addition to this, both classes wear light armor, and as such, there will be some competition for armor (more on that shortly). Overall, that's about where the similarities end. It looks as though both classes may spec to be somewhat similar, but what's the point of different classes if they do everything the same?

We have our differences...

Unlike the Esper, whose telegraphs range from wide cones to huge point-blank AOE's, the Spellslinger is a far more mobile class with a larger amount of straight-line, narrow telegraphs. During the class livestream, Hugh Shelton frequently referred to the Spellslinger as  an "assassin," likening the abilities to that of a sniper who lines up long range skill-shots and fires with deadly accuracy. While the Esper looks to allow a bit more room for error with their wide telegraphs, anyone playing a Spellslinger will have to get used to lining up their abilities. This holds true for both damage and healing specializations.

As I mentioned previously, the Spellslinger allows for a bit of the "run-and-gun" offense, if specced to do so. At the expense of raw power, they can utilize a variety of quick strikes and movement abilities to make their away around the battlefield at a quick pace. This differs a bit from our Esper, who utilizes CC abilities to prevent the enemy from moving around as much. The stationary vs. mobile dynamic will definitely be something to keep an eye on in PvP.

Secondly, while both classes use light armor, the attributes they focus on will be different. Shelton mentioned that Espers focus on "Moxie" (whatever that is), whereas Spellslingers focus on "Finesse". The (perhaps obvious) takeaway here is that all classes have a few primary attributes. While this holds true in nearly all games, it's good to see that both classes will not be competing for the exact same gear every time they roll through a dungeon. A little variety, despite narrowing down the choices in armor, may keep conflict from arising when two players feel the armor was "made for their class."

What else we learned...

There we a few other little tidbits that made this stream particularly juicy. The biggest for me was the drop that not only would dual specs be available, but Hugh Shelton mildly hinted that they may be additional chances to create more loadouts. One of my biggest fears was that I wouldn't be able to switch from solo DPS to dungeon heals on the fly, and thankfully that fear has been assuaged. I guess I shouldn't be overly surprised, as this feels like a feature that is sort of becoming a must-have in MMO's nowadays (for better or for worse). I do not miss the days of being limited to one specialization at a time, with a huge money sink involved to discourage players from changing roles rapidly.

Another interesting note that I think will prove important to Espers, Shelton mentioned that as opposed to abilities devoted to granting long-term buffs, most buff skills would have something else tied to them; i.e. a damage ability might grant attack power to any friendlies caught in its radius, or a heal might grant extra health for a time. This is very important, as Hugh pointed out; with only a limited number of abilities able to be placed on a hotbar, having a singular ability that is only used once an hour feels like a pretty big waste.

Also, and this is a brief note, but it's something that I find super cool: disorient. They team only briefly mentioned this, but when your character comes under a disorient effect, it randomizes your movement keys (forward could be back, left could be right, left could be up, etc.) I love this sort of stuff, and I hope we see more examples, such as abilities that blind perhaps effecting your view of the screen.

So in conclusion...

I recommend everyone go take a peek at the Spellslingerstream, even if you have no intention of playing one. The bits the team shows of Stormtalon Lair are great, and they address a bit of the random dungeon idea in that as well. A lot of questions are of the "Esper vs. Spellslinger" variety, which is good, and you even get to see Nick Roth (Content Systems Designer) play an Esper and wipe the floor with Marc Matzenbacher, as a Spellslinger, in a duel (then, subsequently, have his own butt handed to him). Tasty bit of PvP action there, if you're so inclined. So while the Spellslinger may not be as inherently awesome as the Esper (they get real bullets, we get mind bullets), I have a feeling I'll end up enjoying one as an alt at some point.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to down some Dayquil and condition my stomach for turkey and stuffing. You gotta start early if you wanna put on a show.

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