To the surprise of no one, I have a rather large hankering for some Wildstar. Given that the game’s approach to classes is akin to SWTOR (every class plays DPS and either Tank or Healer) and that time has shown me that I have no tolerance for tanking, I am going heals baby! That and telegraphs in your face aren’t so much fun thanks Neverwinter! That leaves 3 classes, Esper, Medic and Spellslinger. I have played all of them to about 15 in the beta. They play drastically different from each other.
Side note, Wildstar has a “tiered” difficulty setting, per zone. The starter zone and the tutorial (once you actually land) get you to about level 7-8. They are cake and meant to show you how all the systems work together. The next zone (2 per faction) gets you to level 15-18 and shows you every other system but mounts. It is quite a bit larger than the previous and a fair chunk harder. The next zones…those ones are where the real difficulty starts. Multiple enemies, you have access to all core skills, lots of telegraphs, new quests, lots of exploring. So, tutorial ‘til about 7, learner’s permit ‘til about 15, meat and potatoes after that.
Back to classes, I have to say that I’ve found more fun in the Esper than the other two. Medic has to get into near-melee range and the Spellslinger’s mechanics with Spell Surge don’t particularly jive with me. The Esper is a pain in the butt to start, given that their core attack skill requires you to stand still, but the payoff later is a lot of flexibility. The upside is that they are by far the least played class in the game, which means that if I stink, there’ll be less people to compare to! I do plan on running Dominion too, just because I like their storyline a bit more. Unfortunately, the race selection or rather restrictions, mean that I can only really run a Chua Esper. Not so bad but I was hoping for more choice than Human and hamster.
I also reserved my name. Even with the tech issues, no one is getting Asmiroth but me. Dibs for sure!
But that’s the core of a themepark MMO. The framework. What really makes a difference is playing the game.
UI – I like the UI. It’s a combination of MOBA action with tab-targeting for some other skills. There’s a lot going on but the simple UI keeps it tidy. Movement is fluid, telegraphs are very visible, effects are clear, graphics are solid. The extra bits, lore and whatnot, are in additional UI elements that are hidden from the core set but still accessible. Even the Path UI elements work well. The only thing that doesn’t is costumes, as you need to be in the capital city to access it. I expect that to change. I also like the art style, which I think is going to be the #1 thing for most people.
Combat – Things work. Check YouTube for a ton of streams that show how combat actually flows between the various skills. Resource management works. Priority skill management too. Active combat does have some hectic parts but it isn’t so overwhelming. You aren’t tasked with doing 8 things at once. If you have to avoid stuff, then that’s all you need to do. The good part is that you need to pay attention and the bad side is that you need to pay attention. The days of face-rolling and standing in the fire are done. Red stuff will kill you, which is going to make for a very steep skill wall for most players. I think that FF14s success has shown that players are ready for this.
Lore & Flavor – This part is often overlooked but is the heart of the game. How the various pieces interact and the reasoning for moving forward. The storylines aren’t throwaway, they are consistent across the entire faction. While SWTOR set the bar on story delivery it lacked a fair amount of cohesion. ESO lore is excellent and I can easily compare Wildstar to that. Lore pieces are everywhere. Each nook and cranny holds something new. All the paths except Solider also provide a fair amount of insight into the lore. I do like that NPCs consistently appear between zones and mean something. Hemmit Nesingway resounds with people. I expect to have dozens of those examples within Wildstar. Plus housing. I could write an entire post on housing.
Social – The grouping tools were pretty smooth, guilds too. You can downlevel to play with friends and instances use a Rally system to level you to the correct level for dungeons and PvP zones. There is little phasing that blocks grouping too and since there are so many open quests that you can re-run, there’s plenty of opportunity to find other folk. Downside is the spawn rate on some of those open quests. I think that GW2 and FF14 use this system very well and it seems to work here too.
Economy – This one is a bit different. Auction house is similar to GW2 with buy and sell orders. It also separates commodities from items, which is pretty neat. Beta was not a good example of how this system will work, just due to poor volume and low level characters. It’s a solid thought but I’m curious as to how volume will “bottom out” the market as it is in GW2 currently. Crafting is solid though, with 2 separate streams, similar to the AH. Consumables use a hot/cold mini game to craft. Items can be mass produced or customized. They are also generated every other level like ESO, which avoids the “item gap” present in most other games. A talent-like system is also there, which provides some customization.
Now I know this comes off as very fan-boi and there’s a whole lot of truth to it. You basically have to like the art style, the “theme” of off-the wall zaniness (which I personally find closer to irony than otherwise) and the combat model. If those 3 click for you, then you’re in for a fun ride. If they don’t, then there really isn’t a point in trying. For me, I’m really quite looking forward to a new take on the themepark model.