Action packed gameplay
Full of personality
Distinct graphic style
Feels modern and fresh
New content added regularly
The distinct graphic style isn't everyone's cup of tea
Not very PuG friendly
Can feel dull in the first 20 levels
Listen up cupcake, if you thought this game was like many other MMOs before it, you were wrong. However, if you thought it reinvented the genre, you were wrong too.
Wildstar is a game full of personality while at the same time borrowing elements from its predecessors. It can feel both a breath of fresh air and a cauldron of copycat features. This elicits, coupled with the very the distinct yet familiar graphics style, the wild and varied (read: polar opposite) responses of the MMO playerbase.
No matter what you think of Wildstar there is one undeniable fact: the game has balls. It makes a bold statement that says, “We are here to stay cupcake, we are not f*** around.” And being way too familiar with the chants proclaiming your levelling progress every time you get to the next level, altoholic as I am, they are probably saying it with this exact wording.
One thing Wildstar did well at launch was to have all the quality of life features players have come to expect from MMORPGs. Those include a LFG tool, addons manager, quest markers, etc. There are still MMOs that launch without some of these features, although quest markers sometimes are avoided on purpose. Wildstar isn’t one of them.
Every time I read a comment on some gaming site where people say “I played TERA before, this will be easy” or “LOL this is just like Guild Wars 2”, I have either one of these two reactions: I want to facepalm and shake my head knowing the kind of reality check either of these groups of people will face, or I want to kill a kitten. And that’s a shame because I like kittens.
While the gameplay has similarities with those two titles, it is not the same. In TERA, for one, a good tank could almost completely avoid incoming damage. A healer could spend a considerable amount of time DPSing (and if you didn’t experience this, then you needed a better tank/healer). In Guild Wars 2, the “holy trinity” of tank, healer and DPS was almost non-existent, and group events and dungeons were a cl… claustrophobic running around of headless chickens (did I save that one?)
If you are not familiar with either of those games, Wildstar requires you to aim your abilities at the mobs you are facing, while avoiding damage through the skilful dodging of AOE abilities that are marked on the floor by telegraphs (also known as red circles, except they are not always circles).
Healing in Wildstar is very demanding because the tank can avoid the telegraphs but he/she still takes white damage (for those familiar with this WOW term). Thus between dancing around avoiding the many telegraphs and healing the group, the healer role is probably the hardest.
This heavily movement centric gameplay however comes to a cost for some. You can only use up to 8 skills at any time, through what Wildstarrers call the LAS — Limited Action Set. A bit like in Diablo, you have a wider pool of skills from which to choose, but only some will make it on your action bar. You can swap them at any time, which makes it more interesting, but it can also get boring. Once you are in an instance though, your hands are full with dodging and running and you will thank Carbine for not having to look after complicated rotations.
Graphics and animations have a very distinct Disney feel to them. That’s because Cory Loftis is responsible for the game’s concept artwork. This can both grate and click with some players. For me it was an acquired taste. I didn’t like it at first but it’s grown on me at least when it comes to humans. However, there are many races I still don’t like the looks of, especially their female versions which seem to just be uglier than the male counterparts. Unless you are playing a Chua, in which case we don’t know what gender you are. You have a stache? That’s not the point.
Aside from the Disney feel, they also resemble World of Warcraft, due to their colourfulness and cartoony look. Their quality is much higher in terms of texture resolution, at least until Warlords of Draenor is released.
Wildstar has seen its first major content patch less than a month before release, with another one hot on its trail. It was a smart move to entice players to subscribe to the game before the free 30 days run out. As it stands now Wildstar offers 1 or 2 dungeons/adventures every 5 levels, a 20-man raid (although 40-man are planned), PVP battlegrounds and arenas and the usual questing. And questing is very usual. Although instead of killing 10 chickens and collecting 15 eggs, each chicken you kill will raise the percentage bar that marks the completion of your quest. So if you are killing chickens that are consistently higher level than you, that bar will fill up quicker because a big fat chicken will score you more points than a tiddly, widdly one.
If the quest system isn’t revolutionary, the dungeons will blow your socks off. If you are one of those players who longs the “good old World of Warcraft days” where the loot wasn’t thrown at you almost unconditionally, Wildstar will satisfy that need. The dungeons are hard. You have to learn the encounters. You have to dodge, you have to dance, you have to keep an eye on boss mechanics and figure out how to prevent that skill that will inevitably annihilate your party if you don’t do the right moves.
That might sound like dungeon heaven for veteran players, but it’s also frustrating. Imagine doing that with random players you have never met before. Yes, the dreaded pick-up groups. Imagine not only having to get through the instance, but also trying to get the gold medal while doing it (oh yes because your performance will be met by a corresponding medal).
Yes. I can see your pain. I can feel it. Because I too have wiped over and over trying to do just that.
Get a good group of friends and those dungeons will be the most rewarding MMO experience you have had in ages. Unfortunately you don’t experience one until level 20, and during that time the game can feel a bit boring. You do get to do an adventure from level 15, which is an easier instance, but it doesn’t feel as satisfying as the first dungeon you set foot in.
Classes and Professions
There are 6 classes in Wildstar, all able to perform 2 roles. It will either be healer/DPS or tank/DPS. The developers are wrestling with the never ending struggle of balancing those classes for both PVP and PVE and… it’s still a work in progress. Keep an eye on this spot.
To spruce up the system a little, Carbine introduced a secondary set of “classes” called “paths.” There are four, namely Soldier, Settler, Scientist and Explorer. The Settler is perhaps the one path that has the most impact on other players since it provides things like buff stations, vendors and extra flight paths. But they are all fun in their own way. None of them are essential to your character progression, but they are a welcome distraction to your day to day levelling. Talking of which, the paths’ levelling is independent from your “main” levelling, meaning that your character could be a level 50 Engineer, but just a level 7 Soldier.
As of this review crafting’s viability varies greatly depending on the profession you pick. I found that anything that made armour (of whichever category) was very useful as you can craft some really good items, but Technologist (think Alchemy in WOW terms) is broken and doesn’t offer much over what you can get from vendors.
Due to the extensive housing system in the game, there is also the Architect profession. Housing is tied into your experience bonuses and it even allows you to have some gathering and crafting stations… Amongst flying pigs and meteor craters. The unfortunate part is that you can’t interact with the objects in your house by simply clicking on them, so sitting on a chair can be a bit clumsy. That doesn’t stop role players from turning their plot into a tavern and throw big parties.
While Wildstar doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it makes up for it with plenty of personality. It’s a game I wholeheartedly recommend if you love action, humour and RPG mixed together.