Wildstar: A Vibrant Revamp of the MMO Genre
Wildstar is a colorful, humorous, and fluid revamp of the MMO genre that I’ve had the pleasure of playing in the past two beta test weekends. With the non-disclosure agreement finally lifted, I am now free to rave about tone of the hottest games to come to market in summer 2014.
Wildstar is the product of Carbine Studios, with NCSoft as the publisher. The game consists of two factions – the Dominion and the Exiles – and both are vying for control of the newly discovered planet Nexus. The Dominon have a variety of races, but it is the humans themselves who have been granted permission by the Eldan to reign over the galaxy, using diplomacy, intimidation, and weaponry to colonize and take over whatever planets or races they want. The Exiles are a rag tag bunch of races who are teaming up together to a find a new home without the help of the Dominion. The story sounds simple enough: two sides are fighting for control of a planet.
When I first heard of Wildstar, and the science fiction nature of the game, I was rather skeptical. I am not a big sci-fi buff, and after struggling to find some semblance of fun in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I was very reluctant to try out this game. But after some nagging from my fiance, and positive reviews from friends, I decided to give the game a peek. After being thoroughly impressed with the website’s presentation of the game, classes, paths, and races, I made it my mission to enter the beta. And I had to preorder the game to do it.
I was not looking forward to questing once again. Having to pick up a packet of quests, finish them, run back to the quest giver only to do it again made the whole process boring. Wildstar fixes that rut by having the quest giver come to you. Via your player’s communicator, you are given quests based on where you are, and what quests you have already completed. And if you have a ‘missed call’, you are able to go back to your communicator and either accept or abandon the quests.
I also hated having to read a block of text to learn my objective. Wildstar doesn’t do this, and streamlines the process by giving you the option of reading more into a quest. The first prompt will tell you what you have to do, and you can go do it. If more information is available, and you would like to read it, you may do so by clicking the second prompt. This extra information is kept in the quest log should you need to access it.
Locating a quest objective has never been easier thanks to a handy feature in Wildstar. The tracker will bring up the top quests that are nearest to you, and clicking on the quests will bring up an arrow that tells you where to go, and how far you will need to travel. The arrow also takes into account of elevation, pointing up or down if you need to go up a hill or underground. However while this feature is neat, there are some glitches and problems that the game devs will need to iron out, specifically with the arrow pointing feature.
I am thoroughly pleased with the controls in the game because of how intuitive it feels. Â F allows the player to interact with NPCs, the environment, and other tasks. C is used to communicate with a questgiver, and V is used to pick up or vacuum items. I’ve never thought looting could be so time consuming, but this new feature makes it so much easier. The only downside to vacuuming your items is you can’t pick and choose what goes into your inventory, making it fill up faster. However, because of the scavenge ability – it breaks down items into components you can use for crafting – some of the useless items become useful. Of course, players use the WASD keys to move around, but the added feature of dodging attacks makes the game a reactionary one and keeps the player on their toes.
Gameplay Mechanics and Combat:Â
Wildstar utilizes the dodge mechanic for players to avoid incoming damage. Players and enemies use attacks that light up the ground, alerting combatants to where the damage is going to fall. It lends to some creative attack designs. There are of course the basic circular and rectangular designs that a player dodges out of it, but the more creative ones forces a player to decide whether they would be safe double tapping out of an area or simply stepping away. It almost makes combos and area of effect attacks look all the more intimidating. I even encountered a disorient debuff that makes my character go left when I was pressing the key to go right. Because of these gameplay mechanics, fights seem to end faster. The combat is very reactionary based, and instead of having just a health pool to contend with, players are also playing with the addition of a shield.
The mere fact that all players can be dps, but only a select few can be tanks or healers makes for compelling gameplay. Players are able to switch out abilities. Playing as an Esper, I am able to deal damage and heal. I can pick and choose what abilities I want in my ability bar. I can make it more damage oriented, become a healer for my party, or go solo with a mixture of damage and healing spells. Of course, there is a talent tree, and placing more points into the damage or healing tree will boost my output in the respective areas. The flexibility of classes keeps the game entertaining and flexible, which was a huge struggle for past MMOs.
Crafting no longer depends upon whether or not you have the required materials. Wildstar has a unique approach to this timeless element of MMOs, and it does so with an X and Y graph. If your character is building a fence, an icon for the item will appear on the graph. Several ingredients on the side will determine where your ‘target’ is going, and to make an item, your ‘target’ has to fall onto the icon. This method allows players to discover new recipes and variations.
What are Paths?Â
Paths are similar to a profession or career your player pursues throughout the entire game. Each Path is unique and influences how you yourself enjoy playing an MMO. If you enjoy killing things, you become a Soldier. If you like exploring you er… Become the explorer. If you like analyzing the local fauna and flora, become a Scientist. And if you’re like me who likes to build things, then you become a Settler.
Paths include their own missions, challenges, quests, and experience. It makes the game all the more immersive, and even allows players to help each other or change the landscape. It’s a welcome addition to Wildstar, although I haven’t felt too useful at the moment with my Path.
One of the selling points about Wildstar is the fact that players can own homes and customize their mounts. I wasn’t able to get a mount, but I was able to purchase a house. And boy, was I impressed. Unfortunately, I was didn’t have a lot of money to blow through, but I caught glimpses of the things you could purchase. Things like a crafting table, BBQ pit, zen garden, storage space, and a billion other things could be purchased for the outdoor part of your home.
Indoors was the same deal, with a bunch of themed furniture to pick from. Players have the option of rotating and placing furniture wherever they wanted, and customizing the look of their own home. Also note that rested experience can be gained when a player logs out of their home, and bonus rested experience can be earned when you add more decorations to your home. So not only can players create a stylish pad, but it’s actually useful.
What about Dungeons and PVP?Â
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to test out this function of the game, but I will be updating this post when I’ve gained access to it.
What’s your overall rating of the game?Â
I’ve never been able to play a game that was so vibrant and colorful. Playing a game that is set in the science fiction genre, I was expecting to see a lot of grays, brown, black, and lots of metal. Well the game has that, but there is definitely a lot of greenery, snow capped hills, and ethereal looking caverns. Wildstar has kept the old formula of MMOs – for god’s sake they are implementing 20 and 40 man raids – but they did so by removing the traditional quest giver and lackluster controls to make a breath taking and funny game. Yes, the game has bugs, but I have not witnessed anything game breaking in my beta test. I recommend you check this game out, and if you can preorder because this game is turning out to be a gem.
You can preorder Wildstar for $60 dollars in the United States, which will still require $15 a month subscription. The game comes out on June 3, 2014.