Not much impresses me in an MMO these days. I’ve been around the block a few times. So why am I writing about Wildstar, from newly formed Carbine Studios? I’m doing it because it has done the unthinkable, it’s surprised me.
Wildstar doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel; nor should it. Other games have tried and have not been successful. (I’m looking at you, ESO) Just like WoW did with Everquest, it takes what works well and simply polishes it for us. It uses the old “exclamation marks for quests” and a similar kind of quest hub system, but refines it to allow to you to turn in less important quests remotely. You can also easily find out where you need to be without using the map, not even the mini-map: just click on the quest name and a floating arrow will point you in the direction you need to go.
The combat is where Wildstar is the most innovative. For special moves it uses a telegraph system that visibly outlines where an attack is going to hit: your attacks are blue and the enemies’ attacks are red. When your enemy is about to do something big and bad you’ll see a red shape begin to form under your feet. You have to be mobile to get out quick. All characters can double-jump, sprint, or dodge, and some characters have special abilities like teleports. If you don’t get out of the way, the attack will hit you, and it will hit you hard. By removing the boring old “tab-target, spam the number 1 key” problem, Wildstar makes every fight interesting and fun. This dynamic system even applies when healing, as a lot of the heals are area-of-affect rather than target specific. Oh, and everyone has some abilities for assault, support, and utility which you change on the fly. This means when one strategy isn’t working for you, you can easily re-spec and jump back into the fight.
The housing is the most impressive feature to me. You can literally design it any way you like. There are hundreds of re-sizable objects, which you can place as you please. If you prefer to have your bed on the ceiling, go right ahead. This allows you to participate in what some are calling “extreme housing”. People have made jump puzzles and huge skate parks for their friends to play on. Someone even made a stunning giant grand piano using 758 individual objects. (Looks it up. It’s insane.)
The classes you can choose from are not particularly unique. You have your fighters, healers, and rouges, but on top of that there’s paths you can choose to augment your play. Explorers look around, Settlers build stuff, scientists discover things, and soldiers kill. The fascinating thing is that most of these work in tangent with each other. For example, the settler can repair mining bots, but only a scientist can reprogram them to get them working. It makes you actually want to play with other people, rather than just make alts for each path.
Maybe you’ve heard about Wildstar’s dungeons? I did the two level-20 ones in Beta and the Devs were not kidding when they said they were hard. You gotta be on your toes when you fight anything; even the trash mobs can wipe your party over and over again if you don’t avoid their telegraphs. This kind of frantic feeling is something I have not experienced since Vanilla-WOW, and it filled me with nostalgic joy.
Wildstar is visually cartoony, but in a Saturday morning kind of way. If you are looking for a grimdark setting, this isn’t for you. It has a sense of wonder and humor that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that is what I LOVE about it. The quest-text and little lore nuggets you find in areas range from fascinating to ludicrous. Some of the moments are bizarrely hilarious and it would be a shame to just click past them.
Wildstar is challenging and interesting, which surprised me. When I play, I love every second of it. It makes me feel like a cartoon superhero. Plus you can have a giant hamster ball or a hover board as a mount. Wildstar has done what I didn’t think was possible, it made me fall in love with MMOs again.
[box] Silly Fun Time Rating: 9 out of 10 Chua’s blowing up various farm animals.
Rage Factor: 5 out of 10 wipes on trash mobs in a level 20 dungeon. TRASH MOBS!!
Final Verdict: Worth the 15 bucks a month. Honestly!