WildStar Choosing a Healer Guide
WildStar Choosing a Healer Guide by Steamhawke
Healing in Wildstar is a fast-paced, challenging feat that requires quick-thinking, proper resource management, and unlike most games… aim. Three of the six classes are capable of players as they journey through the dangers and excitement of the planet Nexus, and most players find themselves hard pressed to determine which class fits them the best. To that end, I have put together a comprehensive overview of each class, rating their relative performance in the following general categories so that you can make a better decision as to what best fits your needs and your playstyle:
• Range: This is a measure of how far away the player can effectively heal from. Longer ranges for individual casts and the class’ ability set as a whole garner higher scores.
• Targeting: This is a measure of how easy it is to land the healing skills of the class, as well as how many players can be affected by the class’ skills. Targeted heals and greater numbers of targets receive higher scores due to their reliability for greater net healing output.
• Sustained Healing: This is a measure of how well a healer can keep a fellow player’s health pool up over time, typically using small heals or healing over time effects. Higher scores are assigned to classes with stronger HoTs, shields, and low cost heals.
• Burst Healing: This is a measure of how quickly and efficiently a class can surge a health bar from a low percentage to a high percentage. This is often valuable in PvP or in the occasional PvE encounter where players receive highly damaging hits regularly and must be topped off quickly. Higher scores are given to classes with abilities that heal for greater amounts and can be used readily.
• Focus Management: This is a measure of how well a class manages their focus (mana) pool. This is a broad category that takes skills, AMPs, and the relative cost of each heal into account to generalize how well a class can perform in extended fights where they may run out of their resource. Higher scores are granted to classes with stronger focus recovery abilities or low-cost, efficient healing skills.
• Dispelling: This is a measure of how well a class can remove buffs and debuffs. Cleansing is the terminology used for a class’ ability to remove harmful debuffs on friendly targets. Purging is the term used for a class’ ability to remove beneficial buffs on enemy targets. Scores are assigned based on the class’ overall dispelling ability, with notes made to their effectiveness in regards to cleansing and purging.
• Interrupt Armor: This is a measure of how well the class can protect themselves and their teammates from crowd-control (CC) effects. Very few PvE encounters require Interrupt Armor, so this is largely a PvP-oriented metric. Scores are assigned given a class’ ability to generate IA for themselves, as weighted more heavily given the class’ ability to grant their allies Interrupt Armor.
• Defensive Cooldowns: This is a measure of how well the class can keep themselves alive when under pressure. This is *not* a metric used to consider how well a healer can keep another target alive. Higher scores are given to abilities with powerful life-saving effects and shorter cooldowns. This is again, largely a PvP metric.
• Crowd Control: This is a measure of how effectively the class can lock down another player. In PvE, it typically falls to DPS and the tank(s) to break interrupt armor stacks and stop enemies from casting, but in PvP it is generally expected that the healer brings at least one crowd control effect to aid in setting up kills. Higher scores are granted to skills with more potent CC effects and shorter cooldowns.
The content below is highly opinionated. All of the scoring and comments are based on personal observations, experience, and crowd-sourcing, but ultimately compiled by me. You are welcome to disagree, but nothing in this break down should be inherently right or wrong. It is merely my interpretation of the facts that I am presenting to help assist those who do not have as full of an understanding of the game yet. If you would like to voice your opinions or ask for greater detail on mine, that is encouraged. Being an ass hat is not.
The Esper is a lightly-armored telekinetic mage who uses their mind powers to heal friendly targets from a range. Also, they can kill you with their brains. Espers are the nearest match to traditional “tab target” healers, who largely do not need to aim telegraphs at allies in order to land their spells, but rather just target them and cast. They boast long range spells, focus efficient casts, and can heal multiple targets simultaneously with relative ease. Mechanic-wise, Espers use a combo point system to build up to 5 “Psi Points” that can be expended at any point on powerful finishers whose magnitude and effects vary with the number of points spent. This, coupled with a diverse set of healing over time (HoT) effects, direct heals, and absorption shields give the class a very flexible toolkit for healing and protecting their allies in any situation.
The bulk of the Esper’s healing spells sport a range of about 30 meters. Some of the abilities can be cast at ranges of up to 35m, while others are limited to 15m, but the vast majority can be considered long range casts. This gives the Esper flexibility to stay at the back of a group or out of harm’s way and keep their teammates alive, with plenty of notice should something or someone break away to gnaw on the healer.
Espers are king when it comes to group heals and landing their spells. Since Espers largely use targeted heals, as opposed to freeform telegraphs, it is nearly impossible to miss with any of their abilities, so if you successfully cast a spell, then your target will receive the healing. Additionally, most of the primary Support skills in the Esper loadout affect 5 or 10 players at a time, and typically affect the Esper as well. This means you can typically ignore your own health since every cast you make will replenish your own health pool, and can therefore focus all of your efforts on keeping your allies alive. Between Soothe hitting 5 targets, and Reverie affecting 10 targets, Espers make fantastic raid healers, able to quickly and efficiently top off large groups of players.
Sustained Healing (7/10)
Between a HoT builder, HoT finisher, and a charge-and-release spammer, Espers are able to keep health bars sustained quite well without needing to dip into their focus pool to push out big heals. These abilities are all instant-cast, or can be channeled for short periods of time to increase their effectiveness, so keeping a player’s health pool sustained is a relatively inexpensive operation for Espers, who only require a few global cooldowns to get their spells rolling. On top of this, the Esper can regularly apply absorption shields to their allies, which will negate a chunk of incoming damage, so the health pool remains unscathed. These effects are somewhat short-lived, however, lasting about 6 second, so they’ll need to be reapplied regularly and watched vigilantly. But beyond the basic skills, Espers can also spend their Psi Points on finishers for reduced cost and effectiveness to give small surges of health, so their class mechanic allows you to choose whether you need to supply small frequent heals or larger, more dramatic health surges on a less frequent basis.
Burst Healing (7/10)
The combo point system that drives Esper abilities lends itself greatly to burst heals allowing you to build up Psi Points over time, and then spend them all at once for one gigantic surge of health. Espers have 2 large finisher abilities, allowing them to instantly heal their allies for huge portions of their health pool, which only become more powerful through AMPs. Since there is a build-up associated with these finishers, however, you won’t always be ready to burst heal a target at any given moment. Even so, Psi Points are generated quickly and regularly, so with a bit of forward thinking and preparation you can always have the resources necessary to quickly turn a player at 20% health into a player at 90% health.
Focus Management (6/10)
Espers have very little active focus management, relying instead on efficient spell casts and passive effects to keep from running dry throughout combat. Skill-wise, they have Meditate, which is a long, channeled ability that restores focus every 0.5s over the course of 5 seconds. Such a long cast is undesirable in both PvP and PvE, so the more you can avoid using it the better. Alternatively they can use the Utility capstone ability, Fixation, at tier 4 or higher to recover 120 focus over 12 seconds once every minute, but the cost of unlocking and tiering up this skill is painful. As far as AMPs go, Espers have the standard focus regeneration and focus cost reduction AMPs that all of the healers have, as well as Focus Mastery, which will cause your finishers to restore ~150 focus once you’re below 15% focus. This means that once your pool starts running low, you’ll have to slow your healing output significantly, but you’ll be able to continue restoring health by rotating between low-cost heals for several seconds, then using a finisher to replenish some focus.
Espers are unique in that they have a dual-purpose dispel that can be used to defensively cleanse unwanted debuffs on friendly targets and offensively purge helpful buffs from enemy targets. In a game where each player can only bring 8 abilities on their Limited Action Set (LAS) at a time, this compression of two utilities into 1 is highly desirable. However, these benefits come with a high focus cost and ability tier requirement. In its base form, the Esper dispel skill, Catharsis, removes up to 2 debuffs from yourself and 5 allies in a large area around you at a cost of 38 focus. As you tier it up, it removes an additional debuff at tier 4, and gains the ability to simultaneously purge 2 buffs from enemies at tier 8. While this makes the ability very flexible and very powerful, it has a high cost associated with it.
Interrupt Armor (6/10)
Espers have great access to 1 stack of Interrupt Armor (IA) every 30 seconds through their class’ Innate ability, but don’t have much to offer their team. They only haveone1 ability that generates IA, and it only affects one target at a time, offers only 1 IA, and carries a pretty lengthy cooldown to boot. As such, Esper healers will have a difficult time protecting their teammates from crowd-control effects, but are able to fend off quite a few directed at themselves without needing to sacrifice a LAS slot.
Defensive Cooldowns (7/10)
Though not terribly tricky, Espers can be incredibly difficult to bring down due to their access to powerful defensive abilities. First off, the Esper Innate ability is a low-cooldown skill that roots them in place for several seconds, but grants 1 stack of Interrupt Armor, an enormous absorption shield, and causes them to automatically generate Psi Points at a rapid rate (that will inevitably be used on powerful heals). Not only do you have to contend with that every 30 seconds, but the class can also bring along several powerful utility skills to escape the jaws of death. Fade Out is an instant cast ability that breaks all CC effects, teleports the Esper back several meters, and causes foes in the area to deal 25% less damage to the Esper for several seconds. Shockwave is an instant-cast knockback that sends nearby foes flying, and when tiered up gives the Esper a second CC break. (This makes the Esper the only class in the game with 2 stun breaks.) Projected Spirit is a very powerful heal that causes the caster to leap 25m away while TURNING THEM INTO A RAINBOW DEER. All of these can be combined to make the Esper an incredibly difficult target to catch and kill.
Crowd Control (9/10)
Though Espers have some of the longest cooldowns on CC abilities in the game, they also have some of the most potent. Crush offers a long-lasting knockdown that can be used on its own or coupled with the root effect of Restraint for a full lockdown on an enemy for 3+ seconds at a time. Since knockdowns prevent actions but can be ended early by dashing, and root effects prevent movement but allow actions to be made, combining the two prevents both movements and actions making it a very potent CC combo. On top of this, Espers have access to the unique Subdue effect, that functions much like a disarm. Foes hit with the Incapacitate ability have their LAS locked, and their weapon sent flying roughly 25m away, preventing all actions until the effect expires or they recover their weapon.
The Medic is a highly mobile, mid-ranged healer who gets into the thick of combat to heal allies and damage foes (sometimes simultaneously), using Medium Armor to help cushion incoming blows. Medics make use of large, wide telegraphs, ground targeted fields, and scientifically legitimate “probes” to buff and heal allies. This causes Medics to be much more adept at controlling spaces than individual entities, making them useful for healing groups of players in close proximity to one another, or setting up defensive strongholds amidst the battlefield. Medics have almost no targeted heals, so they rely on expert aim and competent teammates to do their jobs effectively. Similar to Espers, Medics have a class resource called Actuators that requires efficient building and spending to efficaciously replenish health to themselves and their allies. Unlike the other healers, Medics have a wide array of tools that allow them to heal a player’s energy shield as well, giving them a unique approach to keeping their allies alive.
Medics are not melee healers, but they certainly feel that way sometimes. Their primary heals have 15m conal or rectangular telegraphs, meaning you must be quite close to your targets in order to reach them. A few abilities in the Medic’s skill set extend up to 25m or 30m in range, but with the core abilities and AMPs requiring you to be close to your allies, you’ll find yourself closely hugging your teammates at all times to make sure you’re ready and able to heal.
If you’re able to bullseye a womprat from your T-16, then Medics are the class for you. With no assistance being offered by a targeting computer, Medics must be able to aim telegraphs at their allies for almost all of their abilities. The tradeoff for this, however, is that nearly every ability in the Medic’s healing arsenal can affect the Medic and up to 5 other targets simultaneously, and in some cases up to 10. There’s a fine balance between player skill and player competency when it comes to Medic healing, as though you’ll have large, wide telegraphs to aim at your allies, if they’re standing right in front of, even small movements on their part have serious implications for your aim. This means that Medics are best used for healing relatively stationary or predictable targets, and preferably small groups of them. As a Medic you do *not* want to chase after players to heal them, so try and coordinate with your group members to make sure their playstyles don’t conflict with yours.
Sustained Healing (9/10)
Medics have some of the best sustained healing in the game between a powerful HoT and a cheap, spammable heal. The basic healing skill, Emission, ticks 3 times over the course of 1.25 seconds, healing a fair amount each tick, and costing almost no focus. Together, these allow Medics to keep their teammates nice and healthy with very little focus investment. If a bit more health is needed, the Actuators generated by Emission can be used on Crisis Wave or you can use Dual Shock after a crit to slip in an extra bit of healing without crunching on your GCDs.
Burst Healing (5/10)
None of the Medic abilities heal for particularly large amounts compared to the big heals of the other classes. The one exception to this is the ability Shield Surge, which can easily restore a player’s shield from 0% back to full. This ability can also be used to buff shields so that they absorb 100% of incoming damage as opposed to the typical 50% damage split between shield and health. As such, Medics have something akin to a powerful burst heal, but with shields being much smaller than health pools and the ability to be disabled temporarily through the Overload effect, this doesn’t exactly replace a legitimate heal. So Medics are great for sustained healing and replenishing shield capacity, but lack the tools to effectively surge health bars back up.
Focus Management (5/10)
Medics have a variety of focus recovery and management tools, but none of them stand out as particularly impressive. Skill-wise, they have Recharge, a 2 second cast that restores a small amount of focus instantly, and the same amount over the next 5 seconds, as well as substantially buffing Assault and Support Power. This ability alone won’t make a big difference in combat, only allowing you to use an extra heal or two every 45s, so we also take a look at our AMP options. AMP-wise, Medics have the standard focus regeneration and cost reduction AMPs, as well as Running on Empty, which massively buffs your focus regeneration for 20 seconds once you drop below 100 focus, and Attrition, which gives you a moderate increase in focus regeneration after you’ve been in combat for 3 minutes. Neither of these is particularly impressive, however. Running on Empty has a prohibitively long cooldown, and dramatically increasing a tiny amount of focus regeneration will result in very little focus actually restored. Attrition requires you to be in combat for 3 minutes, and once again boosts your focus regeneration rate, which barely changes the rate at which focus gets expended. So… what’s a Medic to do? Tier 4 Emission becomes free to use after you drop below 250 focus, so once you’re starting to have focus issues, you can continue using your spammer and reserve your remaining focus for larger important heals.
Medics have access to two separate abilities that allow for offensive and defensive dispels, but both are cheap, low-cooldown, and very effective. Dematerialize is an Assault ability that deals minimal damage (especially as a healer), but purges 2 buffs from up to 5 enemies and is on an 8 second cooldown. Antidote is a minor heal that cleanses 2 debuffs from yourself and up to 5 allies in front of you for 28 focus. As you tier it up, Antidote gains the ability to remove up to 4 debuffs, and it refunds its focus cost if it removes a debuff from a target, making it effectively free. So while these abilities take up 2 LAS slots compared to the Esper’s 1, they’re much more focus efficient, making Medics the master of dispels.
Interrupt Armor (8/10)
Using the Utility capstone ability and the Solid State AMP, Medics are able to defend their allies and apply 1 Interrupt Armor to up to 5 teammates every 20 seconds. This alone makes Medics very strong when it comes to negating CC effects, since most CC abilities are on a 20 – 35 seconds cooldown, meaning Protection Probes will always be ready. While this has a somewhat steep AMP investment, it offers a very strong defensive ability with no focus cost which will reduce the amount of healing that you need to do, and doesn’t require a large portion of your ability tier points. Additionally, Medics can grant themselves and a few teammates another stack of Interrupt Armor through the spell Barrier, though it carries an enormous focus cost.
Defensive Cooldowns (5/10)
Medics are mobile, but don’t have a lot of ways of shrugging off damage. Their stun break, Calm, is a multi-faceted ability that removes all CC effects, restores a moderate amount of your shield, and pacifies nearby foes, causing them to deal 25% less damage to you for several seconds. As far as mitigating damage, that’s about as good as the Medic can do, though. Alternatively, Medics can aim to avoid damage by staying agile, and using teleports, snares, and movement speed buffs to stay out of harm’s way. Restrictor and Urgency both offer short range teleports that allow the Medic to elude damage and gain a movement speed advantage over their enemies. So while you can’t do much about damage that’s going to hit you, you can strive to be out of reach or difficult to target to avoid the damage in the first place.
Crowd Control (7/10)
Medics don’t have many CC abilities, but they have very powerful ones. Paralytic Surge offers a short range stun that can be used to fully lockdown a player for a short period of time, but carries a hefty 30 second cooldown. Magnetic Lockdown is the only CC ability in the game that has a cast time, but offers a long-lasting root effect and only has a 15 second cooldown, making it the shortest cooldown for a CC ability in the game. Additionally, as you tier up Magnetic Lockdown, it becomes instant cast after you’ve been crit, allowing you to easily and frequently lock down players to escape or to help set up damage spikes.
Spellslingers are highly agile, long range healers that use their pistols and Void magic to heal allies and protect their lightly-armored bodies. They have quick casting abilities with long, narrow telegraphs that require you to carefully aim your heals, but the reward for landing them is great. Using a class resource called Spell Power, Spellslingers are able to selectively boost certain spells to increase their effectiveness or decrease their cast time, allowing them to adapt to a situation and react accordingly. This Spell Power naturally regenerates over time, and pools up to a maximum of 100, allowing 4 boosted (or “spellsurged”) casts. Spellslingers have a strong mix of powerful healing skills, defensive buffs, and utility abilities, but tend to have a lot of short cooldowns that need to be properly managed to make sure you’re healing efficiently with both your focus and your GCDs.
With most abilities having a 35m range, Spellslingers are able to heal their allies from incredible range, staying safely out of harm’s way. At worst, Spellslingers have to get within 20m of their allies, but can use almost all of their support abilities at a distance of 25m to 35m, giving them an excellent view of the battlefield so they can see their foes and friends alike.
Spellslinger heals require you to aim relatively narrow telegraphs at players, and typically only affect up to 4 allies. This means it takes substantially more skill to consistently land your heals on a Spellslinger than the other two classes, and that this class is best suited for healing individuals or small groups, rather than raids. Their only natural 10-man heal is a buff that reactively heals allies whenever they take damage, meaning Spellslingers will be greatly outpaced when responsible for more than 4 people. The AoE heal Sustain can also affect up to 10 targets at a time but requires a significant investment (tier and sports a small cooldown making it difficult to heal players with consistently. The major exception to this trend, however, is the ability Voidspring, which leaves a large field on the ground that restores a small amount of health every second for 12 seconds, but has no limit to the number of players it can affect. The basic heal for Spellslingers, Runic Healing, is a targeted heal, but only affects one target, so it will often fall to you to use your telegraphed heals to keep players up.
Sustained Healing (6/10)
Spellslingers don’t have much in the way of spammable heals, with most of their skills sporting a 3 – 15 second cooldown. As such, sustaining health pools needs an alternative approach with Spellslingers, relying on defensive buffs and larger more infrequent heals to keep players up, rather than lots of quick-casting small heals. This can be done through Runes of Protection, which applies a strong absorption shield to allies, and Healing Salve, which restores a moderate amount of health whenever a player takes damage, while using Runic Healing or Sustain to heal for small amounts.
Burst Healing (9/10)
With Healing Torrent on a 3 second cooldown, Spellslingers are always ready to surge a player’s health bar from low to full. All of the casted abilities heal for large amounts on a Spellslinger as well, so no matter what spell you’re using you’ll be able to top players off even when they get low. Throw in the fact that you have Spellsurge to boost your healing output at a moment’s notice, and AMPs like Healing Aura and Savior, and you’ll be the undisputed king of burst healing.
Focus Management (9/10)
Much like the two other classes, Spellslingers have a hum-drum utility skill to restore focus and a few AMP choices. Unlike the others, however, there is enormous synergy between the AMPs and the ability that allows Spellslingers to recover significantly more focus than their Medic and Esper counterparts. The ability Gather Focus is a 2 second cast that restores 60 focus up front, then a bit more focus over the next few seconds, but reduces your outgoing healing for several seconds as well. This can be coupled with the Focus Stone AMP, however, to spawn an item in your inventory that can be used to instantly restore some health, spell power, and an additional 100 focus. This alone gives Spellslingers much better active focus management than the other two classes, but they also have the standard focus regeneration and cost reduction AMPs, as well as Desperation, which restores 240 focus over 8 seconds once you drop below 100.
While their offensive dispels are lacking, Spellslingers have a fantastic defensive dispel that can be used to cleanse debuffs from themselves and their allies cheaply and effectively. Purify is a Utility ability that costs only 18 focus, and removes 2 debuffs from yourself and up to 4 allies in a large area around you on a 6 second cooldown. It can also be tiered up to remove all snare and root effects before removing the debuffs, giving it more use as a dispel, and can remove yet another debuff at tier 8. As far as offensive purges go, the only option is tier 8 Arcane Shock. This ability is a soft CC skill that breaks 1 Interrupt Armor and applies a debuff to enemies that interrupts their next cast, and has 20 second cooldown. So while they’re capable of it, generally offensive dispels are best left to Medics and Espers while Spellslingers stand out as strong defensive dispellers.
Interrupt Armor (7/10)
Unlike Medics and Espers, the Spellslinger’s big, single target heal does not apply an Interrupt Armor, so their options for negating CC are minimal. For themselves, they have the utility skill Phase Shift, which grants them 1 IA stack for several seconds, but does not affect their party members. For their team, they have Runes of Protection, which can be likened to the Medic’s Protection Probes in that it has a steep investment cost, but can be used as a low-cooldown method of applying Interrupt Armor to your group. At tier 8, Runes of Protection grants everyone affected by it one stack of Interrupt Armor on a 17 second cooldown, meaning you can always have an absorption shield and IA ready for an enemy’s CC abilities, but it requires a massive number of your ability tier points that may be better spent on other skills.
Defensive Cooldowns (9/10)
Spellslingers are the slipperiest healers this side of the Okay Corral. With a number of powerful defensive tools, this class can be an absolute nightmare to try and kill. Void Slip is a Cc breaker that removes the caster from the corporeal plane for several seconds, making them invisible and unattackable, allowing them to run away, reposition, and even cast spells while in the Void to heal themselves before returning to our plane of existence. This ability is strong on its own, but can also be activated automatically on an incoming attack that would otherwise kill you through the Homeward Bound AMP. On top of this, Spellslingers can run Phase Shift, which gives them a nearly 100% deflect chance for several seconds, one Interrupt Armor, and can be used while CC’d to negate any incoming damage. On top of that, the Spellslinger CC ability gate, also functions as a short teleport allowing them to blink away to safety, and stun you in so doing.
Crowd Control (8/10)
Spellslingers are often cited as having some of the most powerful CC abilities in the game. Some of this comes from the long durations of the CC effects even at base tier. Some of this comes from the incredible range from which they can stun, root, or disorient you. Some of this comes from jealous rage. No matter the source, it’s true. Spellslingers have access to a long-lasting stun and root effect through the abilities Gate and Flash Freeze, as well as potent snares and their own unique CC mechanic, disorient. The ability Spatial Shift causes the Spellslinger and their target to swap locations, and then applies an incredibly long disorient effect to the affected foe, remapping their movement keys randomly so they have difficult controlling their character. With several AMPs to reduce cooldowns, and the general waywardness of the class, Spellslingers become potent CC monsters when they can lock you down without giving you the chance to do the same to them.