Category Archives: Tera

[Wildstar] A Look at Telegraphs and Active Combat

While the Wildstar closed beta is still running hot and more and more press footage is being released on the net (the lucky ones), players have been debating and in places worrying about the active combat and telegraph system. How comfortable does Wildstar’s combat feel compared to other active combat MMOs? How are the telegraphs gonna pan out in 40man raids?

Already in July 2013, Carbine released a devspeak introducing telegraphs, making it very clear that the most defining aspect of Wildstar combat was gonna be this: aiming. After analyzing what similar titles had done in the past, Carbine settled for a “freeform targeting” approach which, while conserving the basic tab targeting function, allows players to adjust (and miss with) their area of effect at any given time, and vice versa for enemies. The result is a fairly colorful and at times hectic bling-fest, where the player is not only trying to aim his attacks most effectively (not all parts of a telegraph deal the same damage) but reacting to enemy attacks pro-actively and dodge-rolling or strafing to get out of the really bad stuff. This makes for a rather complex and highly skill-based combat, especially where tougher challenges and PvP are concerned.


As illustrated in the devspeak, telegraphs come in various shapes, with different cast methods, ranges and synergies. They can be stationary or mobile, instant or require ramp-up times. Naturally, colors signify whether a telegraph is detrimental (red), beneficial (green) or a variety of other things players will need to internalize. This has justifiably raised questions of overlapping (telegraphs are translucent) in group play or prioritization. No doubt, telegraphs will be adjusted and tweaked for a while to come yet, before Carbine have found the perfect balance – and then there are always addons. What’s probably safe to say is that this active combat looks far from boring or the automated face-roll we know from older games.

How Wildstar combat compares to other MMOs

Not surprisingly, Wildstar’s combat is frequently compared to that of recent predecessors TERA and GW2. That is interesting because, having personally played both MMOs, their active combat falls on different sides of the same coin for me.

GW2 is hands down my favorite MMO combat to date. It is characterized by a very high mobility and character-centricity, in the sense that combat focus is less about the aiming (there is auto-attack and classic auto-aim via tab) and more prioritizing dodging and survival on the player’s end. When the stakes are high in GW2, players will always move out of the bad first while not having to worry about aiming; auto-attack can take care of such transitions for a while. Indeed, you could take your eyes off the enemy completely if need be.

Auto-aim but quick on your feet

Auto-aim but quick on your feet

TERA on the other hand, flips the coin: while there are some mobile abilities, TERA is back to classic stationary combat that won’t generally allow you to cast while running. While it combines good old feet-of-stone with dodge-rolls, it prioritizes a mob-centric focus. Special attacks and AoE aside, TERA’s active combat is all about freely aimed projectiles (via cross-hair feature) which makes for a fun change from other MMOs. Coming straight from GW2 however, I did miss my mobility. I even wondered how awesome it might be to combine the two modes.

So, where does that put Wildstar? From all I’ve seen so far studying various sources and footage, Wildstar combat falls squarely in the middle. It requires the same constant vigilance tougher GW2 encounters ask for in terms of self-management and survival, while improving on TERA’s aimed combat with telegraphs. While there are some more stationary classes such as the Esper, this new MMO is all about mobility and aiming in equal amounts!

That will take some getting used to, especially for the more laidback and lazy casters among us. I wouldn’t go as far as declaring the peaceful solo-questing routine of one-handed pewpew dead but Wildstar combat is most definitely gonna ask for more attention than many popular AAA-titles have in the past. Carbine intend to keep their combat interesting for a long time and given how combat is such a central feature for most MMOs, I don’t blame them for putting that much thought into it.

As Telwyn recently pointed out too, it’s all about finding a happy balance. We will see how the player base adjusts once the dust has settled over the Nexus and everyone has had time to learn some new tricks. I for one welcome that MMO combat is still evolving.

GW2 Highlevel Light Armor Styles

One of the things that strikes you when going straight from GW2 to a bit of Tera, because Tera has shinies, is that in all due fairness the two games mostly keep an even scale where skimpiness is concerned. The eternal cringe that is the Elin aside, Tera’s nekidness is mostly visible in its High Elves and Castanics (I love my gender neutral Popori!). Many NPCs wear the type of badass armor that makes you question why oh why they couldn’t just stick to that overall aesthetic?


Depending on race and armor choices, you can mostly avoid the sexy armor if you so choose, which similarly to GW2 gets frustrating at times but is still doable. A great range of class and cultural armor in GW2 adds bare midriffs, split skirts and high heels for its female heroes, and yet the audience at large seems to be okay with that arrangement. Depending on time and chance, you’ll have a very hard time spotting serious looking apparel (and not another iteration of the masquerade set) standing around the mystical forge in Lion’s Arch. Yet, some games clearly get more beef, especially pre-hyped beef, for their armor design than others. I do wonder a little why that is.

This brings me to a long-made promise concerning my Elementalist in GW2 whom I love to outfit. I managed to create three overall sets/looks for max level that I’m incredibly happy with, so without further ado, let me share my favorite srs bzns styles for GW2 light armor classes (all items come without class/race requirements):

1) The Berserker
The first seriously awesome exotic set I ever got in GW2, Berserker Acolyte items become available from lvl62 upwards. This set is best known for its heavy skirt and blindfold mask, creating the original Illidan look. I love what different color palettes can do here and I prefer a random drop called Doric Helm of the Valkyrie (pics 2 and 3) over the default headpiece. This style is cheap and easy to come by in the market place!


2) The “Queen’s Guard
Named for its royal baroque look, I named this mix’n match between the Berserker set and several more items the Queen’s Guard. The extra pieces to look for here are Mending Epaulets (of something), (Valykrie’s )Exalted Pants and very common Apprentice Shoes. The more delicate Masquerade gloves will also fit in beautifully (pic 3).


3) Conqueror of Arah
By far my proudest accomplishment, nothing radiates rite of passage the way the Orrian set from Arah does. I sweat blood and tears acquiring this look! All pieces are awesome and unique, not to mention versatile – letting you go from demon spawn (especially with the default head piece) to my favorite angel healer depending on coloration. Since I love the steampunk vibe of the Inquest Cowl from Crucible of Eternity, I substituted that one with the rather ugly Orrian mask.


I gotta admit, the very last look in blue/white is a big favorite although I clearly should’ve remembered to switch my gloves back before taking that screenshot.

These pictures should prove beyond a doubt that GW2 features some wonderful armor that treats the ladies right – so dear ArenaNet, you have my approval to create more of these and less of those, thank you!

For more light armor inspiration, check my old overview of non-skimpy low level styles and also this formidable skins overview on the GW2 Guru forums. Choices, choices!

The unsavoury Case of Tera’s regional Morals

With more and more armor and boob complaints on the female character models in Guild Wars 2 popping up, it struck me how quiet the blogosphere has been in regards to Tera – and what has been going on there in terms of character representation and “censorship” over the last couple of months. I wonder: is it a sign of the more western oriented blogosphere’s disinterest in this MMO, or have players just given up on discussing delicate issues where Asian games are concerned? Well, here’s some background:

Act I) In April 2012, Tera’s publisher announces the removal of ingame blood splatter effects for the EU version to meet the legislated 12+rating requisites of the EU market. The blood effects remain in the Asian and US versions of the game as Tera is rated mature in the USA anyway. Of course, European fans are in uproar after this, petitioning the publisher to remove this evil censorship from hell. Frogster reacts by promising a “gore slider” for a later patch.

Act II) Accompanying the necessary adaption of Tera for the European market, the appearance and armor of the controversial Elin race gets changed to meet “western standards”. These changes are exclusive for the NA and EU market and unlike to the blood censorship case, they are no direct reaction to legal concerns. To cite Frogster’s explanation:

“[It was] not to comply with a demand from any official board, but because those characters in particular could have attracted to the game a population of unsavoury users, and it is part of our responsibility to protect our younger audiences from them,” he explained. 

“All partners involved in the project decided to ask Bluehole Studios for a solution, so they created new textures and designs for Elin wear. We are sure you all agree that this effort for child protection was the right thing to do. We all did, here, at Frogster.”[source]

The rationale behind this official statement is so cringe-worthy that unsurprisingly, the critique following it was as numerous and diverse as can be, burying completely what might be a good and valid concern at the core. But before I get to the different facets of this issue, judge for yourself just how effective the Elin changes are between the NA/EU and Korean version: Youtube documentary

While the more obvious sexual innuendo was toned down where open cleavage (particularly odd as they have no noticeable breasts), belly buttons and mini-panties are concerned, the adapted Elin armor still features many pieces that western society (and I am sure Asian society too) considers sexually alluring: high boots over naked legs, short dresses or skirts showing underwear and our favorite high-heels. While I certainly agree with some of the commenters that the censored armor DOES look better (for various reasons), there are still pieces that make it hard to grasp the systematic behind the armor changes.
Furthermore, taking Frogster by their own words, if you truly mean to remove sexual appeal of game characters, you should also consider secondary attributes such as stance, movement or voice. 

…But that’s not really the point, of course. It is just a half-assed solution of a hard-pressed publisher fearing financial backlash. Whether you agree that the Elin are children/infantilized characters or not, whether you agree or disagree if sexualization is a concern in video games – what bugged me the most about this whole charade is the way it got handled.

Layers of cringe

I’m not going to address the main problematic of this topic which has been discussed to death elsewhere, because I am frankly not up for the usual, derailing discourse we already know so well from female characterization topics. I think nobody wants to explain why “it’s not just a game” or why it’s not just “a matter of artistic integrity”, especially not for a topic as delicate as this one. There are of course thematic differences; we are not talking about social privilege and marginalization (although there are in fact no male Elin) or the differences between sexy/attractive and sexualized characters. What so many like to cloud in heavy semantics is that Tera’s Elin raise the question of sexualized children in the media and pedophilia on the internet. There’s not much room for abstraction and layers in opinion here. The topic is a very legal concern in most countries.

Ironically enough, Frogster acknowledge this themselves: they say that Tera does not wish to “attract unsavoury users” and that it’s a matter of child protection. But oddly, children need only be protected in the western world. The threat is very real, but erm regional!
If the topic at hand wasn’t such a dark one, I’d go ahahahahah at this point. Not just because of the pretentious, baloney explanation but the underlying message that pedophiles only exist in Europe or the USA! Unintentional quintessence maybe, big ouch nonetheless.

So let’s get this straight: Because pedophilia only exists in the USA/Europe and those children should be protected from potential online harassment, the armor of the Elin race in Tera got changed. Slightly. Everyone else in the world is just fine! Also, everyone knows that western society is just overly sensitive (and prude).

That’s me translating Frogster’s statement for you. I wish every publisher did take their self-appointed social responsibility this seriously!

Reception, Perception

As mentioned before, there were plenty of negative reactions to the Elin changes; some justified in my eyes, others not so much. Misguided fandom gets particularly bizarre when design features such as bare midriffs or high-heels suddenly become the epitome of one’s personal freedom and how DARE YOU take my panties away from the Elin!!! Miraculously players surface as spokesmen of artistic freedom who never before cared much about what the Elin wore prior to the changes. But then, the internet has always been an overly tolerant home to stupid. I wish there were spaces where one could discuss such matters in peace, with calm rationale but yeah nevermind.

Personally, I don’t care much for the hairsplitting that is being done for the Elin’s obvious childlike appearance and their “alien-ness” (you know – they look, walk and sound like kids but they are not!). If you play the escapism card, then vote for characters that do not copy real-world stereotypes. If I glue a tail and furry ears on a child and say it’s not a child it still looks like a child. If I go on and dress that alien in sexy outfits, it still looks like a child with furry ears and tail in a sexy outfit. Do I think MMOs are flooded with pedophiles? – No. That doesn’t change that it still looks like a child with furry ears and tail in a sexy outfit.

I think it’s important to highlight a few things in general and in regards to this article:
– This is not a question of whether you believe the Elin in Tera are (like) children
– This is not a question of whether you believe the Elin armor is/was sexy or not
– This is not a question of whether you believe sexy children are part of artistic integrity / escapism
– This is not a question of whether you believe pedophiles in MMOs to be an issue
– This is not a question of whether you believe that video games have moral obligations
– This is not a question of whether you believe all censorship is from hell

…..these are questions too, some of them very good ones, leading deep into the realm of social and cultural values and morals. Topics for another time and place.

What drove me to this article was the way Tera’s publisher handled a serious issue. Their statement was clumsy, their reasoning flawed with double standards. If you go and acknowledge the issue of pedophilia as a game publisher, you don’t present it as a “cultural difference”. If it’s about your morality, then that morality should be absolute (why design the Elin that way in the first place?). But hey, I get it – it’s hard to wiggle your way out of this one: that you’re in deep shit for trying to market an Asian style MMO with a sexy, childlike race on top of the usual upskirt action. Convincing the silly west to embrace the naked ladies is one thing, but when it comes to children they’re not up for joking around. Much. We could of course now engage in a discussion on why the Elin raise no same debate in Asian countries – or whether a fantasy MMO really needs to feature a blatantly sexualized race of kids with bunny ears?

You dwell on that.