I have a guilty confession to make. I’ve never made level cap in any MMO. It’s long been a goal of mine to find a game that I can sink some time into, and Wildstar has proven itself worthy for me to take up the challenge. I think the reason I never clicked properly with any MMO before now, was because I never felt like I was questing with a purpose. Sure, getting to the level cap and exploring the end game content is something that has always intrigued me, but I always felt like fighting so that I could fight some more just made the whole concept a bit stale.
Wildstar has managed to use the expected and strongest conventions of MMORPGs, along with a meld of other challenging and fun ideas that keep even the questing side exciting. It goes without saying that the things I find enjoyable may not be the same as the sections that you do, but RCarbine managed to pack so much into Wildstar that I think just about everyone will find huge parts of the game that they will love. For me, it is housing. Questing, running dungeons and completing challenges all have so much meaning when you see that rare bookshelf as a loot item that you know would make your upstairs treasure room look amazing. In previous MMOs the thing I really cared about was the appearance of my character. That’s right; I’m one of those players. The ones who want their character to look cool, no matter the stat deficiencies that being so beautiful inflicts. This is probably why the housing is such a major part of the game to me. It’s another place to show off my customisation. On the subject of looks, Wildstar gives you many options to ensure you are looking the way you want. With costume sets that you can customise, not only with gear you grab along the way, but with actual costume pieces and a plethora of dyes to choose from (once you loot them). You’re even able to add your favourite pieces of gear into costume slots, meaning any item you find can be used as a visual piece of your costume. Then there is Tradeskills and their respective crafting systems. Each gathering skills comes with a tool to help grab their relative material. Then the crafting each has its own unique style to actually build the item. Not only that but you can take work orders for crafted items that give you experience. Plus there is a Tradeskills tree to level up. Crafting has been given the Wildstar treatment, and has its own level of fun and excitement to it.
Whilst I admit, looking good is my first priority, I also believe that combat must be top notch if an MMO has any chance of surviving, and comparing the old style combat to that of Guild Wars 2 and Wildstar, it is blatantly obvious that the old style is a bit dated now. People require real time combat to really feel like they are in the action. There is nothing worse than turning to run away from an enemy, only to be hit from 20 metres away because they had already locked on to you. In Wildstar, enemies do have attacks that are unavoidable to an extent whilst in the fight, but the use of telegraphs for their special attacks means that you can avoid the hard hitting moves. White damage still has its position, as a way of indicating that maybe you are still too low level to fight certain monsters, but the idea of being able to dodge the worst attacks brings the combat to a new level of skill. It’s not just number based stats, it’s about how you utilise your numbers. When it comes to group synergy, you have skills that will compliment others. For example Bosses and Prime enemies will have interrupt armour on top of their shields and extensive health bars. Interrupt armour can have multiple levels too, so if an enemy had a two interrupt armour rating, it would require three interrupts; two to take down the armour and the last to perform the interrupt. This means team coordination is very important to prevent the biggest attacks.
Another aspect that makes the game more approachable to many is the path system. Though I have heard complaints that some people feel they have been denied a part of the game when only being able to do one of 4 paths, I feel this is far from the truth. With Paths, you are given an individual set of missions that level up a second experience bar. Your Path experience leads to Path abilities, unique costumes, and extra garden designs, called FABkits, for your housing plot. The idea behind Paths is that you chose your favourite aspect of online role playing games, whether it be lore, fighting huge waves of enemies, exploring the land, or building buff stations among other handy shops.
Obviously by only having one Path, you may now be arguing that you would like to do it all, which is still an option, but at a price. The price of being social. It encourages you to find and team up with other players who have the other Paths. In a game that falls under the genre of Massively Multiplayer, I believe that this is a great idea. It’s all fine having a few quests that require help, but I’m sure many would just join a group to kill the harder mob, only to depart and continue on their individual quests. The idea of having a whole 3 quarters more of game to explore if I team up with a few friends makes the whole Multiplayer aspect a much more prominent feature. Plus, who doesn’t role an alternative character? In the same way exploring a new class is fresh and fun, having another mechanic to explore makes playing as a secondary character gives even more content to explore.
To add to this concept of additional content to explore with other characters, there are optional choices with certain quests too. The first and best example of this is when you finish the starting area on your respective factions’ ship. You get the option of two different ships to board to make your way to Nexus, the planet which Wildstar is set on. Each ship leads to a different beginner’s area and then takes you on a different route to the respective main town of each Faction. That Faction being either Exiles or Dominion. As you may be able to tell, we have the fairly typical rebels versus the leading authority theme (ahem Empire) but Wildstar acknowledges this with satirical humour splattered throughout, picking up on the classic ideas from both the Sci-Fi themes and the MMORPG genre.
There are 8 races in Wildstar, 4 assigned to either Faction. The Exiles feature the Auren, scrappy little humanoids with big fury ears and a tail, the Mordesh, a strange and scary looking race that has been cursed with a degenerative disease, the Granok, a huge rock humanoid race known for their ferocity in battle and the Exile Humans… who are what it says on the tin. The Dominion features their own Human type called Cassian, the Mechari a freakishly tall robotic race adapt at fighting, the Draken, an almost demonic looking race of aliens, and lastly, the Chua, a race of small hamsterlike craetures that are specifically skilled at building. There are no racial abilities for these characters though, as Path skills almost act in the way of racial skills to a certain degree.
If you are wondering what classes you can play, then you are in for a treat Cupcake (That’s right I called you Cupcake, because if you are reading this then you are either used to being addressed this way, or you will be soon). Sticking with the classic trio, DPS, Tank and Healer, there are 6 classes to pick from. First there’s the Spellcaster, a dual pistol wielding damage or heal driven character. Next up, the Warrior, a Tank or damage class that like to get up close and personal with their huge swords. Then of course there’s the Medic, who not only heals allies, but can make enemies feel the pain too. There’s also the Stalker, that sneaky guy who will stab you in the back or take you on head first with his Wolverine styled claws. Then we have the Esper, another quick footed DPS/Healer character that conjures magical entities, and finally, the Engineer, a solo players dream due to having up to two bots at a time that can act in place of real companionship
The storyline, while being somewhat familiar, has many secrets to unveil and an interesting set of characters to tell thewhole account. One such character being the Caretaker, an A.I program created by an ancient civilisation called the Eldan. The Caretaker appears throughout the game, maybe guiding you, maybe not, as his split personality makes him hard to trust. There are all kinds of other characters that keep in touch with you as you venture out, but the closest companion I found was the narrator who is all too happy to taunt you when you die, which happens a lot to me for some reason. Luckily his witty quips at my expense are funny enough to keep me chuckling at the fragility of an Auren Spellcaster.
And talking of dying, let’s move on to PvP. With all enemy and ally telegraphs shows it brings a whole new intense side to player vs player combat. It is a true show of skill and definitely teaches you how to adapt to different enemy classes and their particular strong points. I have never been great at PvP in previous MMOs, but due to the telegraph system allowing me to see when I am in danger and where to place my hits. Along with innate abilities for each class that allow temporary boosts to your skills. Though again teamwork and cooperation is paramount in battle as it’s easy to suddenly be overwhelmed, especially while defending a vital objective.
For all those who aren’t a fan of fighting each other, but prefer to team up to fight bosses and monsters, there are Dungeons and Raid.Dungeons are 5 man groups taking on multiple bosses and mobs while watching out for environmental dangers, indicated by telegraphs. And like the stimulant ridden older brother of Dungeons, Raids crank the whole concept up to 12, that’s right 12, we had to pass 11 for this one. Looking at video of Raids reveals just how hectic they can be as the mass amount of telegraphs lighting up the floor.
Then there is Warplots, a sort of mixture of all of these things. With player built guild fortresses and multiple factors to turn the tide of war, there is plenty to set this PvP mode apart from others. The core concept is based around building defences for your fortress, whether it be with laser grids, turrets, mines, robots, or even creatures you have captured from a Dungeon. It requires you to be at end game level, aptly named Elder game for Wildstar, with you getting a free Warplot to design and fight with. However, it will require two teams of 40 to play, so expect a huge amount of colours and lights to flash in your screen when you get to that level.
Wildstar is topped off by its art style, which complements the style of humour and the genre perfectly. It doesn’t take itself seriously and doesn’t attempt to make everything look realistic, but instead attempts to make unique and interesting characters that can really express their extreme personalities. Not to mention the enemy design fits with the respective environments, with some of the tougher mobs making you stop and think “How will I ever kill that thing?”
With a current of level cap of 50 and only a couple of level 50 areas, it would be fair to say that for the people who sped to the level cap, there might not be as much content as is desirable, but one of the most admirable things about this game is the connection the devs have made with the community. It’s fast becoming a trend for developers to actively involve themselves in Reddit discussions about their games, in the hope of finding the best and most desired features. RCarbine are listening as their promotion Dev Speak videos always remind us, and with the promise of content updates to tailor to the wants of the fanbase, it’s a very alive game to be a part of at the moment.
I could write an article about each individual item mentioned in this review, with so much depth and fun to find. Wildstar comes with a subscription fee that is £8.99 a month, so a comfortable price for any seasoned MMO player. It is also worth that money in my opinion. They have an in-game market that allows you to buy game time with game money, so it is even possible to sustain yourself with the money you earn in Wildstar too, which is an amazing addition for those who can put a lot of time into the game.
I still haven’t reached the level cap, it’s bad I know, but this is the first game I can see it happening, and I’m not far off now. It’s not that I haven’t been playing, oh I’ve been playing all right, it’s just this game is a procrastinating, house building, explorer Aurens dream. Wildstar is a solid game that has not only the attitude to turn heads, but also the aptitude to keep you playing… non-stop. A few bugs have managed to creep through here and there, including UI issues, and some quests that aren’t quite as seamless as you’d hope, but regular support and hot fixes are being rolled out to help try and solve these small problems. Overall, Wildstar has blended the concepts that work from other MMOs and tied them all together in a beautiful and unique world. There is plenty to keep all kinds of players coming back for more, so what are you waiting for? Go pick up Wildstar.