Actually, to be entirely accurate, Wildstar actually IS your grandaddy’s MMORPG. Specifically the old, hardcore MMORPG you may or may not have grown up on. Except turned up to eleven. How does it play? If you knew about Wildstar from earlier, you might have gotten into open beta which lasted for slightly more than a week and just ended a few days back. But if you haven’t, we’ve dipped our toes into it and came back with some thoughts.
At first look, Wildstar will instantly be compared to WoW. It isn’t all that inaccurate, to be honest. After all, it’s a pay to play. Graphics-wise, I like the stylistic, colorful world of WoW, and I feel it’s a lot more fun looking at some wildly amazing visuals than hues of browns and greys. Atmosphere wise… I’d say it’s closer to Borderlands, with its over the top gesticulations and Sci-Fi window dressing. It’s funny, which is always good.
Gameplay is a bit of a double-edged sword. Wildstar is predominantly marketed as HARDCORE, and rightfully so. Rather than your traditional point and click and hotkey MMORPG, Wildstar touts a limited action set, or a smaller group of actions, and a much MUCH more mobile combat system. With double jumps, dashes and special attacks, the gameplay feels a lot like Monster Hunter, where timing, tactics and coordination will win out over relentless hotkeying and button-mashing. The biggest change as compared to normal MMORPG combat? The telegraph system. Essentially, every PC and NPC has abilities that lays down AoE templates. These templates vary in size, shape and effect, but they always tell you where to stand and where not to stand. Even your basic attacks. So yes you can miss your attacks now, and it won’t be because of your stats, but because either you didn’t aim as well as you should have, or the other guy managed to dodge out of it.
How hardcore can it be?
Granted, raids are end-game 40 man disasters in the making, so it shouldn’t really be that bad in casual play right? Well, even the elites in the normal game are pretty tricky to take down. I know. I have died to one single non-champion mob multiple times in play, so much so that I got annoyed and almost wanted to just leave the region. But there’s where the flip side comes in. Because of the telegraph system and the limited action set, if you die to a mob, it’s usually because you stepped into a telegraph, or you didn’t bring the right abilities to deal with him. It becomes an obstacle to analyze and then overcome, rather than just a mindless grindfest.
Races and Classes are also pretty fun. I won’t talk about races (their differences are all visual and story based), but the classes seem healthily well rounded. Every class has two builds; a DPS build and a second build, be it tank or heals. Between their secondary function, the choice between ranged or melee, or how mobile a class is… it seems there is enough variety in Wildstar. Adding more variety is the Path system, which is like an archetype with additional sidequests that provide different abilities. If you like killing things, you can be a soldier with more shooty stabby sidequests, that provide you some out of combat healing. If you like exploring, your quests will involve parkouring and free running all around the map, and your ability will be a much needed ‘don’t die from jumping off that crazy cliff’ button.
Between the combat, paths, customizable player housing, adventures (kind of choose your own adventure group instance/dungeons) and warplots (self-made PVP maps that you get to fight in) I would normally immediately recommend you guys try the game, but there are some caveats to bear in mind.
Firstly, the combat really is quite difficult. As someone who usually is on the bottom rung of FPS kill/death scores, and someone who refuses to play anything that requires reflexes competitively, I wonder if I may have bitten off more than I can chew, and that might be the thought of some other players out there. Secondly, Wildstar is an MMO, so it comes with the traditional MMO problem of grind-festiness. The combat does take the edge off, but I still felt the ‘kill X this bring Y there’ slog as I played the game. Apparently, Wildstar really comes into its own when you break the 15-20 level mark, but to be honest, I didn’t manage to get that far during the beta (I ended up testing classes and paths more), and it’s kind of sad to have to inflict a few solid hours of tedium just to ‘get to the good stuff’.
The last thing I have a problem with is something that is pretty unforgiveable. A shitty UI. The quest text and log layouts are eye-burningly small, and very very annoying. Yes, they have lots of UIs to fix that (and help with your questing and combat and stuff), but it’s something that you shouldn’t have a problem with at all.
So… in the end, should you get it? The combat really looks fun, and I’m hankering to play something with my friends for a bit. If you have a bit of expendable money lying around, I think you will be able to get a decent amount of entertainment out of it, at least for a few months. It’s by no mean a MUST BUY AND PLAY NOW game (that’s walking dead), but… why not check it out?