Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Rules

I suppose one of the downsides to being in an endless depression is that one’s creativity wanes. Fortunately, I live in a world which offers a vast array of technically superior and innovatively entertaining gaming experiences which act as suitable fillers for what I may lack personally. Within the manufactured worlds of multiplayer games (the qualifiers massive and online are redundant at this point), we subject ourselves to a set of rules for the sake of amusement, entertainment, growth, self-improvement, socializing, and so forth. At worst, these rules are arbitrary and untested; at best, their genius shines through in the myriad ways in which they afford players the illusion of endless possibilities within the confines of carefully constructed parameters. There is a sense of liberation within these bounds.

When these rules are suspended, altered, or lifted, the effects vary. The Golem Rush event in GW2’s World versus World removed the supply cost of constructing golems and doubled their speed and power for a week last July. Many players simply stopped playing for the duration because the strategic use of powerful, mobile, and comparatively expensive siege weaponry had been trivialized. When Star Wars: The Old Republic offered 12x experience rewards for story missions (among other things) during the Epic Story XP Boost, people such as myself who were merely passive franchise fans were enticed into signing on for a month to pilot the narratives. “Fake” rules, then, can be sources of delight and grief.

There is a certain something that is called into being with the arrival of the holiday events at year’s end when the rules of everyday life are put up on the shelf for a while. As a child, these times were magical: decorations, a festive atmosphere, and a fundamentally different tone to the rhythm of life filled my little body with wondrous awe. Nowadays, the magic lies in pretending that I am not a responsible adult and that these figments of our collective imagination are somehow the real thing.

It is the same in the games that we play. When the game’s rules and world are altered for a time, magic is in the air and our perspectives change. Outside of these times – or inside them, for that matter – very limited-time events designed to increase participation (and cash shop patronage) also capture the spirit of play and dreaming without waking.

Forget about fighting: let’s settle this faction nonsense with a dance-off!

I don’t need to be knee-deep in the seasons of thankfulness and giving to tell you that I am thankful for what players are given by events such as the recent Double Prestige Bonus event and the current Double XP X-Plosion event in WildStar. These events doubled PvP currency and PvE experience rewards, respectively, for a limited time. They put the normal rules aside for a while so that players could revel in an enhanced, sugar-rushed play experience.

The Double Prestige event afforded me the opportunity to experience the somewhat limited PvP offerings in WildStar as an assault Stalker without being hamstrung by poor gear for too long. Stalkers are a highly mobile stealth burst class that wear medium armor. They can also tank in an evasive fashion; however, their usefulness as capture point guardians or mask carriers (flag carriers) is eclipsed by that of support Engineers who are currently the god-kings of melee tanking.

As an assault Stalker, my role is to cull the weak from the enemy herd. My primary targets are those that have low health, wear light armor, or are undergeared (to my dismay). Viable targets included those wearing comparatively weaker gear as evinced by the rate at which their health pool went down when attacked. For example: if I am able to eliminate a heavy armor-wearing Warrior’s shield and dip into their health pool in the first opener, they are probably undergeared and are therefore a suitable target despite their armor type.

I do not use a “filler” autoattack. My heavy hitting attack, Impale, costs Suit Power (my class resource) and is used in place of my autoattack. It is best used against 1-3 targets; beyond that Neutralize is better. In battlegrounds, I am typically opening on one target and anything else that happens to be within my telegraph. Once I have run out of Suit Power, I run away using three mobility skills slotted (out of a maximum of eight slots) because if I do not, I go down very quickly. I regenerate Suit Power during this “reset” and select my next target.

This is repeated ad infinitum. I surmise it is a style of play that appeals most to assassins who are in love with the idea of striking from the shadows and moving like the wind. While it sounds romantic to my ears, in practice I did not care for it much. I prefer to heal in PvP.

I did not go out of my way to “pick on” particular targets. If, after opening on them twice or perhaps three times, they did not go down, I would usually select a different target. In turn, this appears to have been reciprocated by the enemy team in general – I was only ever singled out when I had low health or went after a healer who had brought a bodyguard.

Ultimately, I found that PvP as an assault Stalker was depressingly one-dimensional and possessed limited potential for experimentation. There simply aren’t very many interesting ability variations on the “Blow Stuff Up” approach to engaging one’s opponent on the three available battleground maps which offered capture the flag, serial capture points, and base assault/defense. (I did not participate in arena matches.)

The Double Prestige event allowed me to bypass half of the drudgery of grinding out the necessary currency and instead had me gleefully amassing the gear and runes required in order to be “viable.” In other words, the temporary lifting of the normal prestige gain rate resulted in an experience which approximated – but is still inferior to – games which allow you to PvP immediately at full power. And as I advance in age and begin my slow drift into senility, I find myself drawn to experiences in which progression is defined by access to a greater range of additional possibilities or adding new and interesting cosmetic items to my account-wide collection. All these kids and their loud item levels need to get off my lawn.

So, thank you, Double Prestige, for allowing me to simulate my desired PvP experience in a game I am still otherwise attracted to. And thank you doubly, XP X-Plosion, for giving me double experience gains this weekend (which stack with experience gain consumables) allowing me to level my Spellslinger from 28 to 50 in the space of ten hours so that I can go straight to the “maximum level” group healing that I have been in love with ever since I took up the nomad’s mantle in places called Icecrown and Wintergrasp. I am so done with quest-grinding for numbers++.

Playing what you like (without having to play what you don’t like) – now that’s double-plus good.


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