For years there has been a constant struggle for new MMORPG’s, having to establish an entirely new fanbase, and then trying to increase that fanbase to a point where the game can support itself.
Many titles over the past few years will have started out as a title with subscription-based pay schemes, only to inevitably fall and become Free-to-Play. We all know who they are competing with. Wildstar is the latest rival to draw its gun at the sheriff, and the following duel could decide the fate of World of Warcraft. Taking on the pay to play scheme, Wildstar will be putting its neck on the line, so the question is, can it live up to the challenge?
Many people may think that Wildstar looks like WoW, and to a degree it does. They both have almost cartoony art styles, but Wildstar uses that style to exaggerate the humour and themes. It makes the art stand out, and gives the player more freedom when it comes to creating your avatar. It also allows the races in Wildstar to be varied and to feel fresh. Along with the inhabitants of Wildstar, the world, Nexus, looks incredible too. The palette of strong colours makes exploring the locations of Nexus more enriching, with varied environments, each with their own Sci-Fi twist.
You start by choosing your faction and, subsequently, your race. Each faction has four races to choose from, all holding a variety of different character size types to choose from, including the obligatory human. After selecting and creating your character you must pick a class and path, class being your combat style and path being a choice of gameplay priority. There are six classes to choose from, each with the potential of two playstyles. Stalkers are sneaky, wolverine-clawed DPS/tank characters. Espers are similar to mages in that they can conjure attacks, such as blades or pets, but they can also heal. Warriors are as you might expect, tank-type characters with swords, but they also come equipped with an arm cannon. Medics do what they say on the tin, but with the ability to heal at the same time as attacking enemies. Spellslingers are also DPS/healer, but with skill shots that increase damage/heal outputs. Finally there is the Engineer, a long range tank class that can utilise up to two robots, each bot with its own purpose. There is a good variety to the classes, not only in gameplay, but in visual form too.
The combat for each is well implemented, and offers an interesting new approach to MMORPG fighting. The use of “Telegraphs”, indicators of where damage will be dealt, means that you can plan your attacks perfectly, and also dodge incoming attacks. Because of this, the combat is very free and open, allowing you to move about whilst performing most attacks. They also have an interesting take on crowd control, in that it has different counter for you as the player. Using crowd control on mobs works fine, but with Wildstars “breakout gameplay” you can break yourself free from crowd control when it’s aimed at you. For example if you get stunned you will be told to press a certain key to break free. This prevents you from ever being stuck watching your character get beat up.
PvP is absolutely insane, as you would hope. The “telegraphs” are still visible when in PvP Battles which makes you change your tactics slightly. It is a lot harder to see attacks coming due to the mass amount of telegraphs on the floor, so it’s better to keep on your feet and not let anyone get too close, if you are capable of keeping your distance. It took me a while to actually get into a PvP battle, but when I did, my team and I were tasked with capturing a mask 5 times, before the enemy did the same. Unfortunately for me, I have been encountering a bug with this Beta that causes me to lose my Nameplates, meaning in the mad fray of battle, I couldn’t identify who was an enemy very easily.
My PvP experience was limited to a training ground battle, but I did get a taste for the brutality of PvP in Wildstar. To go along with this there is Warplots, 40v40 battles that require you to reinforce your stronghold, whilst destroying the enemy structure. These are only unlocked at level 50, however there are different PvP options open from level one, including Arenas, which are more combat-driven compared to Battlegrounds, which often include objectives to focus on. Winning PvP matches awards you Prestige, a currency to be used for PvP gear.
Overall I feel Wildstar is taking on a giant, though could become a stable contender for the MMORPG throne. It’s had the time to see other MMO’s strong and weak points, and has utilised that data to make a truly enjoyable and customisable adventure. With exciting PvP and plenty of other activities, Wildstar also looks set to keep delivering after the level 50 cap. End game content is a huge and important aspect of any MMO, and Wildstar seems want to prove that it understands this. It seems like Wildstar will be able to attract a lot of players who may be wavering from their old, potentially dated MMOs of choice, it’s a game that offers a lot of attitude and a lot of content to explore. It has a huge battle ahead, but of all the recent rivals, I can say that it certainly deserves a chance.