For some reason I have been holding off on putting together a proper WildStar post, partly because I am lazy but also because it feels like I have scratched so little off the surface of the game. Leading up to the launch, I’d read from numerous bloggers that WildStar feels a bit manic or frantic – things everywhere to do, everything vying and screaming for your attention as a player. For me personally, this is the game’s strength. I have only played one race, one class, and one path up to level 10, and I feel like the world is huge and there is enough to do in the game that I will not find myself running out of content. In a world where very few MMOs hold my attention longer than a week, this is a very positive sign for me.
I’m a wee level 10, which is certainly not high enough to write a ‘review’ of the game by any means. However, I can comment on a few things that have stood out to me as particularly good or not-so-good. Let’s start with the bad, shall we? So far, I only have two qualms with WildStar. The first is that despite MMO technology having come so far in the past 15+ years, we’re still doing conventional servers. While other games have innovated on this, bringing players together, Wildstar is stuck in the past here. So far, everyone seems to be so spread out across different servers. I ended up picking the Evindra RP server for my Exile characters, but I’m already feeling kind of sad that I’m not playing with coworkers or other friends from RL that I know. But I can’t please everyone here — there is no megaserver, there are no cross-server circles or guilds, there is no quick seamless transferring or guesting a la Guild Wars 2 or RIFT. This downside is magnified by the fact that launch queues over headstart on the popular servers were 6+ hours in some cases! However, I did join a guild with some Twitter folks & feministy blogger types called Chili & Cornbread, and I’m sure it will be funtimes.
The other negative thing that I have to complain about are challenges. Challenges, for those who aren’t playing the game — are little mini dynamic solo events that popup and require you to complete an objective in a certain amount of time. Most frequently, it’s “kill X specific creatures in 5 minutes” with X being a number that is greater than feasible with the amount of other players in the area and the lack of eligible population to kill for the challenge. I find them frustrating and stressful. Even when there are enough mobs to kill, I don’t feel like my dmg-specced Esper is able to kill the required amount. Perhaps they’re tuned for a group? Or maybe I just need to come back when I am higher level, but that seems to defeat the purpose of these dynamic events.
However, those are literally the only two things that I could find to complain about so far. From where I am sitting, WildStar is a truly amazing feat by Carbine. I don’t know what I expected since I didn’t devote much time to the game in alpha/beta, but I’m pretty much blown away by the level of polish, the attention to detail, and the sheer beauty of the world that has been created here. I care about the stories and the lore and I want to know more (which in contrast to Elder Scrolls Online just isn’t even a fair comparison — that’s how far WildStar exceeds all expectations here) and I can’t wait to level up so I can see the new areas. The biggest thing to highlight here is the music. The soundtrack for the game is just brilliant. Each zone has several tracks based on where you are, and they fit the feel and the magic of the environment that you’re in. They’re memorably, catchy, and truly a great feat to be proud of. MMO soundtracks tend to be forgettable, but this one is definitely worth turning up the volume and turning off Spotify.
The other thing that WildStar has captured for me that I haven’t felt since WoW is the diverse feel of the different areas. When you’re in Everstar Grove and you’re helping out the tree guy, everything about the experience has been crafted to make if feel like a unique experience compared to a different quest line in a different zone. This is hard to explain. But each area FEELS different. The environment has a depth, personality, and character to it that makes you want to be there and find out more. The story matches the music that’s happening. The props in the world are detailed and tell a story as well. The lighting sets a particular mood you’re supposed to feel at a given point in your character’s journey. The pacing is good as well — you don’t linger too long in one place and outgrow it. It’s like the difference between a zone like Winterspring and a zone like Feralas — totally different, rich in their own ways, unique and refreshing when you discover them.
Paths is the most surprising bit of enjoyment I’m having in WildStar so far. I’ve only been a Settler but my husband has been a Scientist & Explorer so I’m getting a sneak peek at those as well. I thought paths would be cheap diversions tacked on to the main experience of the game. But they’re actually so well-woven into the experience that you want to partake in them and they actually change how you feel about your character. My Esper *feels* like a helpful contributor to the community, and I’m really enjoying building resources that buff my fellow Exile on Evindra. I like how I can repair things and then Scientists can make things from it. I love collecting the resources everywhere and it’s fun to help beautify areas.
I could keep going into detail about things I love, but there really isn’t any need to. I love the combat and the telegraph system. I’m sure housing will be fantastic. I like my class and her particle effects. The world design is gorgeous. The humor cracks me up and is a really nice change. The space/fantasy hybrid is a welcome change as well, and there are some memorable NPCs and stories. It’s lighthearted, it’s fun, it’s just so damn well done.
Basically, compared to a game like ESO, WildStar feels like a complete package with a pretty bow on top. It has that top-of-the-line production quality that WoW has, and I can honestly say at this point that WildStar might be the game that replaces WoW in my heart….much as WoW replaced EQ. That’s a bold statement considering I’ve never even ran a dungeon yet, but I’m willing to say it anyway.