Beta Time: Wildstar

For those living under a rock, the Wildstar Open Beta began today. I haven’t been following the game all that closely, though I have read a few impressions posts and seen a bunch of screenshots. The immediate reaction is that it looks like WoW in space. I’m not the first person to make that correlation, nor will I be the last. The trouble with that statement is that it isn’t entirely true. On the surface, yes, Wildstar does share a similar graphical style. It’s interface is only slightly similar, with action bars at the bottom, a mini-map in the upper right hand corner, and some of the hotkeys match up. Otherwise, the targeting fields and other bells and whistles are similar to other games moreso than WoW. Really, if I had to choose an already established game that Wildstar seems to copy more than any, it would be TERA. I haven’t played TERA, and it was actually my Dad who told me that the two seemed very similar, and upon further investigation, he’s right. Wildstar isn’t “WoW in Space,” rather it’s “TERA in Space.”

Character creation was rather straight forward, and like most MMOs that are just starting out, what faction you choose determines your race choices, and your race choices affect your class choices. Looking at the available options, the choices for me were obvious. I have an affinity for short, non-humanoid races, and the Chua met those parameters perfectly. From my days of playing as a Dwarf (D&D, EQ2), Froglok (EQ), and Ratonga (EQ2), the tradition carries on (if there was something comparable on the “evil” side in Rift, I’d be there too). Among the class choices for the Chua, Engineer sounded pretty cool, and I chose the Scientist path. Behold, another version of Izlain:

Izlain.140508.152242
He’s a cute little fella, but he bites.

The starter area in this game is one of the worst I’ve experienced. There’s a jumble of doo-dads everywhere, an overflow of flashing this and shiny that, and overall it was not an engaging experience. I clicked through quest dialog without reading it, and I really didn’t feel that I was missing anything. The hand holding is extreme: the quest tracker points you to where you need to go every step of the way, and constant tutorials explain everything that you should already know if you’ve ever even glanced at an RPG. My trouble with this beginning zone is that it’s too busy, and despite the dev’s efforts to immerse you in the lore of their newly created world, I simply didn’t care. I’m sure there’s a lot to be read/examined/explored here, but nothing made me want to learn more. The only part of this game that I was even remotely interested in was the combat, which is supposed to have an emphasis on action. Preview videos lead me to believe that skillshots and the like were present. Really, the only skill involved is pointing the highlighted area that shows where your area of effect will take place, at the enemy, and watching stuff happen. With the engineer, I was equipped with a heavy gun, and sure, it seemed cool enough to blast my enemies, and theoretically avoid their attacks. The problem here is that at least at the beginning, you only have so many abilities, so you’re basically spamming your basic attack and trying to avoid the enemy. However, enemies chase very closely and you are still constantly bombarded with their attacks, until they charge up a “special” ability. At that point they stand still and you would have to be pretty stupid to stand in the area of effect.

I would hope that eventually once you get more abilities that the combat becomes more dynamic. I would also hope that enemies are more difficult and unpredictable at higher levels, because the early mobs are just dumb. I realize that the newbie experience is meant to ease players into the mechanics of the game, but outside of combat, there is nothing new here. We have all seen it before, and the themepark grind is rather dull. Yes, there are other games that I am currently playing that are following the same themepark path, really there aren’t too many MMOs out there that aren’t, but the ones I have been playing have still been more engaging. Of course, I haven’t gotten all that far, and there is still over a week to go in the open beta, so I will attempt to get farther along and see if my opinion changes. I have a feeling it will not.

There was an article a while back written by Scree about how game reviews and reviewers were a dying breed. That article had to do with the fact that the early access periods given by games these days eliminate the need for a post-release review due to the fact that those who were truly interested in the game to begin with would have already tried it. Those that have not tried it would most likely go to community blogs to get their information, so by the time a magazine or website reviews the game it’s already old news. It is also known that most game reviewers don’t play the games for more than a couple of hours, just to get a basic grasp on the game’s story, mechanics, and overall gameplay. Unfortunately, I’m doing just that: giving my impressions after only playing the game for a couple of hours. This is part of the reason why I said I would report back after playing for a while longer to see if my opinions change. However, I tend to know within a few minutes if a game is worth my time or not. The reason for this is that I know what I want out of a gaming experience. Going into this beta, I already knew that the most interesting facet of Wildstar was it’s combat. Having experienced that in a limited form, I wasn’t impressed, and that being the only drawing factor I can conclude that Wildstar isn’t a game worth buying, in my opinion.

From my experience of playing many different MMOs, I know that there are games that I have played and was instantly addicted. I was drawn to the lore, the world, the combat, or any combination of those facets. They just clicked, and as a result I knew that I wanted to play them long term. Others suffered from “three-month-er” status, or even less. Many of the MMOs I played over the years were uninstalled from my computer by the time the free 30-days included in the box price expired. Wildstar isn’t worth the box price, nor the subscription fee. I had a feeling that I would feel that way, but I wanted to give it a shot  just to make sure. I wish I would have had the opportunity with ESO as well, but I missed that window. I think I’d be more drawn to it because I enjoy the established lore, and I was a huge fan of Skyrim, despite so many people believing it was inferior to some of its predecessors.

In conclusion, I believe that Wildstar will do well enough, because there has already been so much hype surrounding it, and it has a similar formula for success that other themeparks have employed. I won’t go so far as to say it’s only a three-month-er; I don’t think it will be a complete flop. Will it maintain a subscription price for very long? It’s not very likely, because it’s an outdated model. Will I play it again later when it goes free to play? I don’t think that’s very likely either, but time will tell. Overall, I’d say that you should make sure to try it during beta and make up your mind, because paying for a box and sub will be disappointing if you don’t enjoy the game.

#wildstar #openbeta #impressions #opinion

10 thoughts on “Beta Time: Wildstar

  1. That starter area is rather terrible, hated it. The story elements are so forced and it way to directed.

    As for Tera, I actually played a lot of that after release, all the way up and through the dungeons and wildstar feels nothing like it. Tera has a slower pace, is more focused in actions and asks more from the player. You have to know the enemies and their specific attack animations in order to avoid them, not talking about flashing ground telegraphs either but maybe, tapping the left foot quickly.

    I think it’s closer in feel to gw2, same active movement combat style and restricted action bar… just with trinity

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    • Well I did say that I haven’t played TERA, but I saw more TERA than WoW in Wildstar. I haven’t played GW2 either, so that was just a sort-of comparison. Wildstar is its own beast, but it’s not original by any means.

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  2. If you can stomach it, get to 20. It gets way better there.

    Just saying that is silly though, If you have to get to level 20 in a game to really get the game, then something is wrong.

    I have several classes up there and the group content is really fun. I ended up pre-ordering. I probably wouldn’t have if I only played to level 10 though.

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    • I will probably play it some more before the beta is up, but I might not. As of right this moment I don’t have the interest.

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  3. I liked it well enough, I suppose. Only minor quibbles. But it didn’t have that “it factor” that makes me go “I want to play this over anything else either” and since I’m happily invested in ESO and TSW right now…….

    Perhaps when ESO and TSW’s Tokyo are burned through I’ll give it a look-see, but for now, it’s back off my radar.

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    • Agreed. It has some bits that seemed likable, but no “it factor” for me either. I just recently started playing Rift though, and I actually enjoy it. Perhaps when I’m burnt by that game, wildstar will be f2p. I think I’d prefer ESO over it though.

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      • I loved Rift when it came out and for quite a while after, and was subbed straight through until I was dual-subbed to it and SWTOR both, but then SWTOR took up all my gaming oxygen for a while, then I moved on to TSW. When the Storm Legion expansion dropped I went back and went “Wow! How’d I ever leave this?!?!?!?!” and then about 4 months later I’d drifted off again. Though I had warrior, rogue, and cleric all to 60 and the mage was at 57 before I burned out, at least.

        For now, I’m enjoying ESO but i’m already getting “sameness of the themepark” fatigue, a bit. OTOH, the stories associated with the quests are quite engaging, and I laughed my ass off at the Undaunted in Coldharbour’s Hollow City. Best laugh I’ve had in a long time. And that is what keeps me coming back. Plus it’s fun to be a dual-wielding Khajit and have everyone think I’m a nightblade until I drop an Atronach or an Absorption Field on them, all while healing myself while doing the stabbity death thing on them with my 2 swords 😉

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      • Nice. I was a Khajit rogue in Skryim. I loved the hell out of that game, which is why I assume ESO would suit me. I just don’t have the funds at the moment to get involved. Unfortunately themeparks are all we have right now. As such, Rift is my themepark for the time being.

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  4. Well, I remember back in 2011, when they first announced it, (I think it was around then anyway; there were some videos circulating the web at that time for sure, such as this from 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4fIruA4fxo ), Wildstar got me all hyped up. Took some time before it actually arrived, but when it finally did, it was a pretty good experience tbh.

    I had some beta invites, but by the time I got those, I was a bit on the fence. Nevertheless I picked up the game on launch day and started running around with a Warrior. The whole experience of it was pretty decent (I am saying this as a long time WoW player). The story is compelling and the areas (zones) are well made. Lacks a bit in some of the sub-systems such as trading/crafting/auction house interfaces, but I suppose that will all be ironed out as time goes by. The PvP is pretty decent too.

    As an MMO, I can put it this way: If this was the first MMO ever made, people would be over the moon about it. It IS a great game in itself. The raiding has an unprecedented approach, for example ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lr5wzAviCQ ). Thing is, over the years we have seen so many games fall into the trap of trying to copy one another or do the same, only better – well, this might be a good thing actually – because it creates competition and we all know competition is good for the end user. But none has really “risen to the challenge” of becoming a “WoW killer”. Honestly I do not think anyone ever will. A new, successful MMO has to be a good experience in its own right and for its own reasons.

    As for the economy there is one thing that really separates Wildstar from other MMOs; the C.R.E.D.D. system. The way they laid out this whole feature is pretty unique. It is about taking power away from the 3d party actors and transferring it over to the players. I know that one can get a good deal on some sites, such as g2a: https://www.g2a.com/r/wildstar-category-global – but if one can make big bucks in game (being sort of an in game tycoon), one can actually end up paying for the subscription by just playing the game.

    In the end I think it is safe to say that the impressions one gets from playing a new MMO depends on where you are coming from. If you have played MMOs for 15 years, you will not easily get impressed. But if you are just starting out, and Wildstar is your first MMO experience, it is as good as any.

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