*Disclaimer-some questing and game content spoilers ahead.*
First and foremost let me address the elephant in the room. The internet has been abuzz with allegations that Wildstar is just WOW 2014. This is mainly due to the fact that it looks somewhat similar. Bright cartoony characters and environments have some aesthetically similar qualities-to the untrained eye.
Wildstar is very much its own game. The Visuals and the content/gameplay is innovative and very much its own. This is not to say Carbine Studios has some influence from previous games (12 of their developers did work on “Vanilla WOW”).
In my opinion an MMORPG needs to have a few key elements to keep me going. It has to have a nice visual fidelity, quest structures (including instances, dungeons, and raids) need to be engaging and fluid, and there needs to be a community for leveling and end game content.
I will break my experiences down thus far by category. I have logged roughly 25 hours into the game, and these are by no means my final thoughts. I can say however, that I am very excited to see what the rest of the game has to offer based on what I have seen thus far.
My race is Mordesh, a unique backstory involving a quest for immortality and a degenerative infection requiring the race to leave their homeworld and join the Exiles while one of their top scientists looks for a cure intrigued me. I chose the race because of this backstory and because of how badass they look. My faction is Exile (other being Dominion–bad– it is a faction based game) I am a Medic, and my path is a settler. I am currently level 15.
Your journey takes place on Nexus–which is the legendary planet of the Eldan–a powerful, technologically-advanced race that mysteriously disappeared from the galaxy more than a thousand years ago. Located in the unmapped regions of space, Nexus has been sought by archaeologists, adventurers and treasure hunters for centuries–and its recent discovery has ignited a mad rush across the galaxy to uncover its many secrets.
Graphics- Yes they are cartoony, yes they remind me of Wow, but after a few hours into it I have to say, the visuals have become very distinct. Essentially Carbine is future proofing their game, and it works. Everything looks hand drawn and meticulously crafted. I enjoy the character animations and models, along with the environments. My one gripe regarding the graphics is that sometimes, especially in an adventure (grouped instance) the action effects and animations can crowd the screen, looking beautiful, but obscuring my view on what is going on. To immerse me in a questing location you need to have a great environment, great quests, and great music. I will touch on quests a little later, but the music and the visuals attracted me right away.
Combat- Fighting things will be what you do the most, so it should be great, right!? I have played many MMOs over the years, some more than others. Guild Wars 2 had great combat I felt. I enjoyed playing WvWvW, and pve content. The story however, did not keep me vested, so I used the games strength in its combat and leveled in WvW. Sometimes I would subscribe for a month to Wow, as I missed the nostalgic feeling it gave. Upon logging into Wildstar for the first time, I received that feeling in my stomach. Within minutes I was receiving a tutorial on ending a dysfunctional robot problem with my resonators, my class’ weapon type. The telegraph system, as I am sure you have heard of, tried, or seen, is impressive. The combat is truly unique, it requires skill to line up your attacks, makes sure they hit, and to dodge or maneuver out of the way of danger. It is simple by design, but negates the need for spamming a rotation until your foe lies dead. As a Medic, I can deal damage or heal. This brings me into my next segment.
Classes, Races and abilities – So far I have unlocked a small percent of my active abilities (they are fairly expensive and I am saving up for a mount that costs 10g-a fairly substantial amount-that unlocks at LVL 15). The abilities for my class are broken down into three categories-damage, support, and healing–any combination can be used (and then you have your path abilities such as building a camp fire for peeps). Your action bar is 8 slots long, currently I have 7 unlocked- which is nice because it gets you accustomed at an appropriate pace to your skillset. Next you have ability points that you can add to active abilities to enhance them. This is nice because it gives even more depth to your build. Also adding depth is the AMP system. Upon leveling you get amp points to put into things like 2% cooldown reduction or 2.5 assault or support power. It is like a skill tree, but well crafted and laid out.
There are 6 classes and 8 races; Humans, Granok, Aurin, and aforementioned Mordesh on the Exile side. Dominion have Cassian, Chu, Mechari, and Draken.
Here’s a break down of the classes, if you wish to have a more in depth look Wildstar has a segment called DevSpeak that outlines everything you will need to know. I will post one here which will give you the link to the other ones.
Questing- So far I have gone through my entire opening levels and not made one backtrack quest return. Questing is quick and very fluid. There is a mind numbing amount of story content and lore involved, and at present, I am still figuring things out. Basically thus far, I have completed the opening zone, got introduced to my main town, crafting, and kicked ass in my first adventure (dungeon). I am having a blast collecting quests and knocking them out in succession as they are all appropriate for my level, give appropriate XP and rewards, and make it easy to follow the location of where I need to do my stuff. I have gathered things, built things, located things, and killed things. These are done well, a percentage bar fills up with what your doing, and four times out of five there are three or four quests that intersect and need to be done simultaneously. They make sense like infiltrating a lab, shutting down and hacking cameras, taking out guards, and locating a lost squad. The design is spot on so far. (Questing is made a little easier with an addon that shows exactly where everything is and color codes everythings based on zone/faction/crafting).
My dungeon experience was completed a few hours ago as I write this. I had to switch my action bar to my healing spec, which can be done at anytime for free, great touch! I warned the group it was my first Wildstar instance and most agreed it was theirs as well. My tank (the holy trinity is in full effect, and it feels good!) died a number of times, and we wiped once. We completed the entire dungeon, which has multiple paths at multiple intervals creating up to 9 different ways of playing one dungeon, which I found impressive. The dungeon experience was an early one, we killed things, located things, turned into civilian spies, rescued a town from Dominion rule, and killed the head honcho for the final fight. Rewards were on a need/greed basis-our tank got three pieces-but overall it was a blast. It took us 58 minutes to complete and after we were done everyone get a percent on how much they healed, how long they stayed alive, and how much damage they dealt. I was first, second, and last. This was a nice touch.
Housing/Crafting- Crafting will feel similar to many that play MMOs. It is robust and will satisfy those crafting gurus out there. I have not dove into it too much as I am collecting all my mats and going to spend some time on it as a breather from gameplay when (and if) I need one.
The big story here is player housing. It unlocks at LVL 14, and when I teleported up to my plot in the sky I felt butterflies. I can literally do whatever I want to this piece of land. I have spent about 30 minutes in it at present. This has given me a house with a bed, table, plant, poster, and couch–oh and an alligator sword rug. Outside I have a tree some grass and a plant growing off my tree. I can manipulate any size or orientation I wish. The best part is this area acts as rested XP, and it is increased by what you use for decorations. You can also unlock crafting tables, mines, gardens, dungeon portals, and invite friends over to enjoy some BBQ or make some wine.
Concluding, I would like to say my impressions are very high. The amount of content at launch that Wildstar has trumps any previous MMO. I am anxious to get back onto planet Nexus and continue my adventures. If you play the game or would like to send me a message and I will give you my player name and realm. Cheers!!
June 19th- As of this moment I have logged another 15 hours into the game. I have experienced the frantic PvP, I have had more time to tinker with housing, and I have done the first real dungeon, Stormtalon’s Lair.
It has been a few days since I wrote my first impressions. I wanted to get an article up as quickly as possible as covering a new MMO launch is tough business. Let’s break down some more content.
I have continued with my quest experience and it has been roughly the same formula–world, zone, and tasks are the break down and are usually grouped together as to enhance efficiency. Still no backtracking, which evokes the sense of constant progression both in your character and the story. I am still waiting for these zone quests to come together in some sort of arch–here’s to a hopeful narrative!
This questing has brought me to the first actual dungeon. Like I had said previously, I played a great deal of Guild Wars 2, and was used to that dungeon dynamic. It took me a few minutes to get acclimated to the good old trinity dynamic–it was nostalgic to say the least, and I had forgot how fun it was. We had to really work as a team to take the trash mobs down. These were usually two, or if another was pulled accidentally, three mobs that took between 2-3 minutes to put down. I am a medic and am planning on building a strict healer, but I can also dps, and this was my role here.
Bosses were exciting and difficult. We fought four total, one being optional. We wiped a total of 6 times, as our tank was not understanding the interrupt technique. But we stuck with it and prevailed. Each boss has their own phases and abilities–nothing too revolutionary here. Some of the unique abilities were fun. An elemental tornado threw us back 100 meters and we had to run a tornado gauntlet to stun him and continue fighting. If this dungeon is any indication of the proceeding ones, it should be one hell of a good time!
PvP was, frantic! I enjoyed it however, I usually stay away from PvP until I reach level cap, but I wanted to see what this voodoo inspired arena had to offer. It was a capture the flag game where a voodoo mask was inserted as the flag. It spawned in the middle of the map and the two sides fought to capture it and bring it back to the base. Simple, but effective–more on PvP later!
Housing-along with my mount- has consumed most of my money. I will upload a picture of my plot in a few days after I get a few more pieces, but for now lets just say it is a jungle out there. See you in a few days with another update.