WildStar Stalker PvP Guide
WildStar Stalker PvP Guide by TeoH
There are some decent guides going up on the other class forums so we need a Stalker one. This is going to be based on level cap PvP between decent/organized players, as lower level PvP is neither competitive nor balanced.
General PvP Overview
– TTK is very short, especially in group fights
– Large area attacks are dominant even in small scale fights because of up time
– Healer focus with Shoulder Special is abundant
– Healer output is sufficient to keep players up for quite some time in small scale PvP, but is iffy in larger scale fights simply because players die so fast
– CC is of limited use because of easy access to short duration breaks, CC reduction and diminishing returns. The exception being Pulls and Blind, which are not so easily negated.
– Snare effects are weak and of short duration compared to other MMOs (Good thing)
– Player mobility is decent as a result of weak snares, but it’s not decent enough to get out of the way of Quantum Cascade
– Healing reduction effects are potent, and stack, but healing is only a big deal in small fights due to TTK
Class balance has been a bumpy ride, and Stalker has had its highs and lows. Thankfully the changes from WB3>WB4 mean that while Stalker may not be top of the pops, it is no longer mushroom tier and is capable of being potent in both small and large scale PvP. The current kings of end game PvP are Engineers and Medics, who are the primary damage dealers in all game modes due their large, long ranged AoE telegraphs putting out similar damage to the smaller telegraphs of other classes while having higher up time and connecting with more targets. The ability to easy connect all of their damage all of the time means that these classes do not need to invest heavily into snares, gap closers, movement speed or other utility to be able to hit their targets, and can go into PvP with a LAS that isn’t far removed from a target dummy DPS build. The typical PvP damage builds of Engy and Medic deal very significant damage even in 1on1 situations, and because these builds use wide area AoE attacks they scale all the way up to large group PvP, where these 2 classes are responsible for the bulk of group damage output and are capable of melting raid groups in seconds.
Conventional wisdom might suggest that a Stalker, the shortest ranged class in the game, would want to stick ontop of an Engineer or Medic and slug it out in melee, but conventional wisdom would get you killed, as with the damage focused builds that these classes can bring, the typical PvP Stalker builds will actually lose in a point blank slug fest. To fight Warriors, Engineers and Medics right now, the Stalker has to rely on disengaging regularly from the fight to restore Suit Power and/or health. I’ll get to that.
Stalker Strengths and Weaknesses in PvP
As a Stalker you can potentially bring some combination of the following to a fight:
– Quite significant single target burst damage
– A variety of offensive CC
– The most potent healing debuff
– Slightly gimmicky group sustain via Lifesteal
– Good self sustain via mobility and self healing when disengaged
– Stealth scouting? (lol)
– The single best AoE setup ability in the game for large scale PvP
While your limitations look like this:
– The easiest class to peel in the game due to their range and vulnerability to CC
– A CC break which self-peels by rolling them away from their target
– CC options limited for defensive use because they require the Stalker to get into melee range of the target to CC
– Vulnerable to large amounts of collateral damage and CC because they have to be within 6 meters
– Can’t afford to wield both sustained damage and the utility required to deal sustained damage at the same time
– Stealth doesn’t really work, just in case you wanted to use stealth for something
Note that you won’t necessarily have all of these advantages at once. The Stalker can now contribute quite a lot to both large and small group combat due to improvements to lesser used abilities in this build, however the Stalker now has more ‘good’ abilities than they can fit on their bar. For smaller fights, the Stalker can play the evasive mobile spike class, disengaging regularly and sustaining themselves, then re-entering the fight to try and spike a player down. In larger groups the Stalker can pull to setup AoE, as well as throwing out a powerful healing debuff and providing their group with AP and lifesteal. The reason I called Bloodthirst gimmicky is that in the current meta, TTK for group fights is so low that players tend to die from full to zero during CC or while trying to get out of a kill zone. The lifesteal boost is something that could be very potent if survivability is increased in PvP and fights become slower paced.
Stalker Resources and Movement
Other than being melee, the most unique mechanic of the Stalker that determines how it approaches a fight is the way their resource system works. Every other class has some form of ramp-up time, resource building requirement, casting time or a cooldown restricted power mode, the Stalker on the other hand gets their full optimal damage output straight away, from the very first button press at time zero. Their damage trails off instead of building up, and when out of the action their resource rapidly regenerates itself. Since that mechanic is mostly unique to the Stalker, it is something that you can exploit to get the best out of the class.
What this design means is that, when fighting another damage dealer, disengaging from a fight almost always works out in your favour. Disengaging does not mean running entirely out of combat to eat food, but instead refers to any short duration break in combat such as Dashing out of melee range against a Warrior, or popping behind a wall vs a ranged class. When you do not have the Suit Power to burst, every second that you can buy with evasive movement is of benefit to you. Remember that against most classes if you continue to chase them and mash Shred when your resources are gone, you are putting yourself in the line of fire during a time where your damage output is at its weakest, and their damage output may be at its strongest. This is rarely ever a good trade.
Being a very short ranged class who lacks any especially potent snares, the Stalker has no choice but to build heavily into mobility in order to function in PvP. Against players who can move well you will need to dedicate a decent chunk of your LAS to utility just to be able to get your damage in when needed, this will help you not only to get on top of people, but also to disengage when needed, because disengaging from fights is crucial to playing the class well as Assault. You will live or die based on your movement.
Core Skill Options
This is the good stuff, note that the focus here is on Assault. The commonly seen broken-AMP full tank Stalker is a brick which isn’t any kind of asset to its team, however it is viable in large group PvP to take survivability AMPs/Gear and then run in Evasive stance providing you’re going to fill your LAS with the important utility skills which will benefit your group, instead of a bar full of self sustain and low damage skills aimed at winning the kind of duel which never actually happens.
Shred – Most PvP builds cannot afford to tier this up significantly, and base tier Shred is a very gimpy filler attack because Shred scales a great deal with tiers. Going a high tier Shred is something that you probably only want to do in small scale PvP when healers are involved, eg. 2s Arena, in which case you’re likely to be sticking to targets and can probably justify T8 Shred for sustained damage. For other situations you will usually leave this at base and use it sparingly. It is possible to skip Shred entirely for some niche burst builds.
Impale/Neutralize – The choice between these skills comes down to the type of fights you’re expecting to be involved in. Naturally Neutralize is the AoE option, but it’s not out of the question to take a low-tier Neutralize as well as a T8 Impale on your bar if you want to be able to put out some AoE on demand. The reverse however isn’t really ever true, if you have a T8 Neutralize there is no point putting a low tier Impale on your bar, as the low tier Impale is not going to be competitive even against a single target.
Punish – An option in PvP if you are focusing on single target burst and can spare a slot. This has no real function with Neutralize builds and should only be taken in combination with Impale. Is a potential replacement for Shred in certain builds, but shouldn’t ever be tiered up in PvP.
Concussive Kicks – After several builds of near uselessness, this ability can now be used at T4 in single target burst builds and is arguably not-terrible. The T4 upgrade for CK gives you 2 casts of a skill which hits roughly as hard as a frontal T8 Impale for 15 Suit Power, every 7 seconds. Since it also casts quickly, there is no faster upfront burst that you can buy for 15 Suit Power. Consider using in no-Shred burst builds that take only Impale, Punish and CK for damage, and focus on regular disengages with T4 Prep.
Analyze Weakness – Does not provide enough extra damage to justify the LAS slot in PvP, let alone any tier points.
Ruin – Is still bad, for the same reasons as AW. These skills may have their place in PvE, but PvP is all about bar and damage compression, and LAS slots are expensive.
Cripple – A surprisingly solid damage skill, which gives you some decent filler damage at a low Suit Power cost. Currently cannot be tiered above base because T1-8 cost 15 Suit Power instead of 5, which also means it doesn’t do much as a snare, but as a damage skill it is another potential Shred replacement.
Phlebotomize – The buff to this skill was dramatic, and it is now very potent utility for healer fights, with a duration that can scale up to longer than its cooldown. Great in some arena matchups, but you’re gambling on the other team bringing a healer when you decide to take this over a different option. T4 is only worth it against Medic healer comps, which is even more marginal. The kind of skill that will make people reluctantly buy extra LAS pages.
Stagger – This is usually thought of as a mandatory slot, but it’s possible to drop this in larger group fights where stuns are abundant and diminishing returns become a problem. For small fights this is the instant stun that you’ll most commonly rely on to land damage spikes when using Impale. Tiering this up is not particularly important, as the T4 is now very unreliable for PvP, and stun duration boosts have little impact once breakout gameplay comes into the equation.
Collapse – God tier group PvP setup skill, should always be used at T4 when possible as the root effect is required to create a tight stack of players. If used without a root, players are able to move during the delay between ability use and player position update, meaning they are not actually pulled into a pile and making it difficult to followup. Can also be used in small scale fights simply to grab and root a single player.
Preparation – T4 Prep is a game changer, and allows the Stalker to play in ways which would otherwise never be effective. The ideal compliment to hit and run gameplay, a great benefit to anybody who disengages regularly, and a necessary button for builds that drop Shred. It’s hard to justify using this without T4, although the deflect bonus is respectable when you’re forced to face tank things, particularly if you have a healer.
Pounce – A mostly mandatory gap closer / escape, Pounce is clumsy to use and rarely functions correctly when collision is involved, but a Stalker needs mobility and so this is what we’re stuck with. Now benefits greatly from tiering up as the movement speed is a blessing, and T8’ing this is a possibility. If T8’ing, watch out for double tapping the ability, as both charges can be instantly consumed due to the lack of GCD on this skill. If using at T4 which is also viable, the root can be used to setup opening burst from stealth, as Pounce deals no damage and will not break stealth when used to initiate. To get Pounce to function correctly, try to use it from the very edge of its range, and aim slightly to the side of targets instead of directly at them – This avoids the collision detection kicking in, and will let you land near to the target while also applying the root.
False Retreat – An excellent multi-purpose tool which can be used to both escape and chase if pressed once. FR will move you while rooted, allowing you to flip 180 and FR towards a ranged target when they root you. Is a classical followup to Collapse, as its wide area is good for large group CC. Knockdown area is buggy and can be shifted or extended towards the area your player jumps to, rather than simply knocking down around the beacon. This means if you FR towards people and then jump back, it’s possible to knockdown players who were not necessarily inside the beacon telegraph. T4 is not as good as it sounds, as the beacon now lasts about 6 seconds before the 10s CD kicks in.
Bloodthirst – An ability that your Medics and Engineers will appreciate much more than you will, the value of lifesteal naturally scales up when you’re AoE’ing multiple targets. Decent group utility, although not as good as it could be at present due to the explodo-meta. Take T4 when working in larger groups.
Tactical Retreat – Your only CC break, you should not be running without this. Rolls you away from things and the direction cannot be adjusted while CC’d, so it’s difficult to use this offensively as it will move you further away from your target. When not CC’d, there are some situations where it can still make sense to flip 180 and Tac Retreat towards something to get the Impale crit. As of WB4 this ability now has a steam trail which is completely visible to everybody from long ranges, so you aren’t really stealthed at all. You still need this, because it’s a CC break in a game where players can die in 2 seconds, and you’re a melee character standing in the way of everybody’s AoE CC.
There are now a large number of viable or situationally viable skill builds, as Stalker now gets more good PvP skills than they can bring to PvP. However, no matter how you build, you will always need to bring large amounts of utility, as skipping utility for more damage buttons is likely to reduce your damage output rather than improve it. The Stalker is easily peelable and every Dash will take a player out of your range, if you don’t have a CC break, gap closer(s) and CC to pin things down, your damage will suffer through lack of uptime. For that reason it’s pretty common to take only 3 pure damage dealing abilities in a PvP build.
Now that the Stalker has a variety of workable builds, you have more options in terms of who you pair with for arenas, but the following still hold true:
– The Stalker’s sustained damage output isn’t great in a committed fight because of their resource system, and they don’t have many options to defend a team mate, so they pair poorly with all-in glass cannon builds
– The Stalker with a healer should be able to beat other DPS+Healer comps in a drawn out fight due to Phlebotomize, but is iffy with a healer when against double DPS, as they can’t defend their healer well
– The Stalker’s self sustain through T4 Prep means that they can keep themselves up with only hybrid or zero healing from a team mate, but this assumes the team mate can survive while the Stalker disengages
– Stalker has difficulty playing a solo damage dealer against slippery ranged comps because Stalker can be peeled easily, but with Prep they will not die to harassment teams
For those reasons your best partners will be other slippery classes that are good at staying alive and disengaging, and who possibly bring hybrid healing. Going with a full healer in 2s is probably risky, especially as the current meta involves a lot of double DPS, and your strength with that comp comes from healing reduction. If larger arena sizes ever start popping again then the Stalker should be a valuable utility class bringing Collapse, Bloodthirst and Phleb.
I should have recorded some footage to demonstrate competitive PvP, but recently all I’ve been playing is open world PvP murder fests which look like this. So you’ll have to make do with some scrappy dueling instead, here you can see how disengaging should hopefully work against Warrior, and here is a poor attempt at a medic duel while trying out a no-Shred burst build. I’ll update this with some arena examples when people start caring about PvP again.
Edit: More PvP – http://youtu.be/adH1izMd35s