Quick status report: My mood improved a lot over the weekend, and I had a mostly-enjoyable time playing WildStar. As of this writing I have a 25 Esper, 15 Spellslinger, 15 Warrior, and 15 Engineer. I spent a fair amount of time leveling up three alts so I could experience adventures/dungeons with some other classes. (Getting from level 10 to 15 is pretty brutal the third and forth time.)
So dungeons. Man. Those two level 20 dungeons are serious PUG-killers. This is the first MMO where I’ve wondered why they bothered to include a LFG tool. Unless you’re a total masochist like I am, I would strongly advise you to join a guild to do dungeons in some kind of cohesive group. For reasons I’ll explain below, PUGs are going to be terrible or deserted.
I spent 2 hours and 38 minutes getting through Stormtalon’s Lair in a PUG. It was my third attempt at it, because the first and second attempts broke up even before getting to the first boss. But in this third PUG we got through the first boss on the first try without any casualties, so I thought we were on a roll. Unfortunately we proceeded to struggle through the entire rest of the dungeon on both trash and bosses (a massive understatement). In the end, we managed to beat the final boss with just myself and a Medic chipping away by ourselves after everyone else had died. I recorded a video of the whole run, but apparently it’s too big to edit down on my computer. I don’t think I got a single loot drop the whole time, but at least I got the achievement for completing the dungeon and now I feel like I know every encounter inside and out.
My fourth dungeon attempt was the Ruins of Kel Voreth, in which the other four players were members of a guild. We spent 25 minutes trying to kill the first boss, where each time I was the last one left standing, and then I left because I did not want to spend another two hours with them. Neither of the next two PUGs I joined could beat the first boss in Kel Voreth, either.
Here’s my theory on why PUGs are dying: Few other games have prepared anyone for the skills you need in the very first WildStar dungeons. Certainly anyone coming from a primarily WoW-based background is going to have to re-learn everything they knew. And WildStar itself does not train you enough–the first Adventure is nowhere near as demanding as the first Dungeon. Nowhere in the first Adventure do you need to interrupt or even dodge that much.
Also, you can watch a guide all day long, but it’s not the same as experiencing these dungeons first-hand. In the past, groups usually wipe because somebody wasn’t aware to do something, which you could resolve by watching a guide beforehand. But in WildStar it’s a lack of execution that kills PUGs, not a lack of knowledge, and that can only be fixed with practice.
I suspect that in three or six months when people get more used to the game we’ll have forgotten how hard the first dungeons were, but in the meantime let me see if I can give out some newbie DPS survival advice.
First: You are primarily responsible for your own safety. You cannot rely on the healer to protect you. The tank should keep you from taking direct auto-attack damage, but that’s about it. In practical terms what this means is that you must always think about dodging and moving above everything else, particularly if you are in melee range. Even if you don’t do a single point of DPS, if you can train yourself to dodge effectively, you are ahead of the game. I cannot stress this enough because if you miss a single telegraph, you’re going to be hurting or dead, and the group will suffer. (I suggest using a dash button instead of double-tapping movement keys–I have mine on a mouse thumb button.)
Second: Get an interrupt ability on your hot bar in a convenient place, and be ready to use it. Every class gets one quite early. Almost every boss in the first two dungeons has some telegraph ability that will wipe the group unless two or more people interrupt it, and I can only assume it will get worse in the later dungeons. Your interrupt will probably have a 30-second cooldown, so try not to waste it. Some things must be interrupted and some things don’t need to be. (It only takes two out of the five of you to do the interrupt correctly, but you might be surprised to know how many PUGs can’t manage it. Most people expect the DPS to do it, but anyone that’s paying attention can.)
Those two things are the most important things you need to know about the first dungeons. Dodging and multiple interrupts.
So are the dungeons too hard? I guess it depends on how you look at it. In one sense it was just right. I was never bored. I was engaged with every fight and had to make decisions crucial to the success of the group. I was never on auto-pilot like you get with most dungeon runs in other games. Likewise I was never frustrated because I couldn’t meet the challenges of the dungeon.
But. There are major social consequences to setting the difficulty bar high.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I expect to be rewarded for spending 2 1/2 hours persevering through hard times in a dungeon, and other than the intrinsic reward of feeling good about myself, I wasn’t. I got jack squat for that Stormtalon effort, and in fact I’m sure it cost more gold in repairs than I earned. Even if I’d gotten something, at level 20 it’s only going to last a few levels anyway. So the lesson that the average PUG player is going to learn is: If the going gets tough, leave the party and find a new one. Otherwise you’re going to waste your time and gold. Very soon the only people left in the queues will be newbies who haven’t seen the dungeons yet and experienced players who like to yell at newbies. Everyone else will only run dungeons with a group of people they’re comfortable with. In that sense, yes the dungeons are definitely too hard. It won’t take long before every group disbands after the first wipe. (Incidentally, that’s what happened in the FFXIV hard mode trial PUGs.)
So I guess my stance is that the first dungeons are just about right for static groups willing to put in the time and work together, but they are too hard for PUGs.
Are any guilds recruiting Exiles on Evindra? :)