Wot I Think (Part One): Wildstar

By Philippa Warr on June 13th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

We always feel that MMOs are difficult to review in a single article, and Wildstar is even larger than most. To give a broader sense of what playing it is like, we asked Philippa Warr to venture inside and report back in three parts. In part one, she covers the first 18 levels of combat, questing and exploration.

“Help! Bees! Bees everywhere! HELP ME!”

This recent Wildstar experience reminds me of that bit in My Girl where Macauley Culkin angers a bunch of hostile buzzbings several levels higher than him, realises his questing partner Anna Chlumsky has wandered off to sell loot and tries to escape by falling into a lake. He dies, tragically and so do I. But where Macauley Culkin stays dead and loses his glasses I am resurrected and resolve to give those weaponised bees a combat-based telling off that will become the stuff of legend.

I’ll get back to why I decided to pick a fight with the bees in a moment but first, an introduction to Wildstar. Its Carbine’s sci-fi/fantasy MMORPG set on the contested planet of Nexus. The two factions vying for control are the Dominion (who enjoy militarisation, capitalism, religious zealotry and, like, walks on the lightning-frazzled beach) and the Exiles (who enjoy not being under Dominion control, hating the Dominion, being the scrappy underdog to the Dominion and walks in the forest). Nexus itself is festooned with quests, landmarks, collectables and other opportunities to explore as well as other MMO staples like PvP, dungeons and crafting and trading systems. I’m writing this having reached level 18 and spent about 26 hours on my main character and level 8 on a secondary with 3 hours of play time.

In terms of how it feels to play, it’s not a million miles away from World of Warcraft. That’s not surprising given a) WoW’s status within the genre and the fact that as it approaches its tenth birthday it still has a subscriber base larger than the population of Bulgaria and b) Carbine was founded by seventeen former employees of Blizzard including senior and lead developers from the WoW team.

I confess I quickly fell away from World of Warcraft – a combination of finding the early questing monotonous, not warming to the art style and living off partially defrosted Scotch pancakes and dubious clotted cream because of 6am bedtimes and not being awake when the shops were open. Wildstar’s tone reminds me of the joyous humour of old Cartoon Network shows as well as throwing up echoes of Joss Whedon’s Firefly. That’s not to say it does everything perfectly but it’s this mood – this sense of fun – which permeates the entire game and is threatening to bring the Scotch pancake problem back into my life.

Once you’ve picked a faction in character creation you’ll need to pick a race. These differ slightly between Dominion and Exile. Dominion includes robots and tiny goblin creatures, Exiles have the undead and furries. Humans are common to both sides and I have one of each. For the Dominion there’s Cassielle, an Esper which is the game’s equivalent of a mage and uses psychic attacks and illusions. She’s also a scientist which means each area will have a collection of objects and data entries for her to find in order to discover more about the planet and its lore.

On the Exile side there’s Jenah (named for the America’s Next Top Model contestant Jenah Doucette who was unfairly exiled from the show’s ninth cycle by Tyra Banks – how Saleisha won that season I will never understand). Jenah’s a Medic, a class I picked so I could join parties as a healer but which also seems to be fantastic as a DPS. She’s a settler which means that her path involves collecting objects in order to construct things like stations which dispense buffs. These can be used by anyone, not just Jenah, meaning you have a positive impact on other people’s experiences without even fighting alongside them.

Going back to the My Girl situation, the reason I was taking on those bees was to experiment with the combat systems, seeing if I’d understood them enough that I could take on something just a little out of my level. Combat works using telegraphed attacks. Red patterns on the ground appear telling you where an attack is going to hit and allowing you to either try to interrupt the attack with a stun or to move out of range. There are also non-telegraphed attacks which do less damage. The idea is introduced early on with big simple circles denoting where lightning or monsters are going to strike in one of the starter zones and gets more complex as you level up. You’ll sometimes find yourself zipping about trying to dodge what looks like a crop circle or a disco dancefloor. Landing a stun or knockdown during this point can switch the enemy health bar to purple indicating it’s unable to defend itself and will take increased damage.

But although the complexity of the system increases gradually, it’s not introduced as well as it could be. As far as I could tell there was nothing in the tutorial for either faction which ever explained how the stun and moment of opportunity mechanics worked. You can likely work it out but I can’t see any reason for not explicitly arming new players with that extra nugget of information from the start. There are a couple of other things which I would have appreciated being made explicit too as someone who doesn’t habitually play MMOs. I didn’t realise that I could add recipes and AMP to my repertoire from my inventory by right clicking them, nor did I realise I could add decor items to a separate system by doing the same. It’s not a problem that’s likely to affect people familiar with how MMO systems work but little things like this can hamper a newcomer and are easily fixed with a few lines of explanation.

There were also a couple of bugs I encountered. One is a quest which simply can’t be completed at the moment as it doesn’t reset properly, the other was to do with the game’s taxi system. The system itself is lovely, transporting you across zones fast while a hologram taxi driver offers up taxi driver anecdotes but it relies on you having activated all the taxi stations en route to a point. I’d missed one but still managed to get to the taxi point beyond it and became stranded with no way back to my starting point except a long walk. It wasn’t in any way game breaking, but it was a little frustrating. Obviously that’s no longer a problem, partly because I’ve activated the offending taxi point, but mostly because I now have a super speedy dinosaur mount which I love using and wish was my friend in real life so we could go for long rides and I could brush his scales and we could sit on benches and eat jam sandwiches in companionable silence.

I’ll be delving deeper into how the game progresses beyond level 15, the dungeons, the crafting and the home building in a couple of future updates, but the broad strokes of Wildstar are that it’s starting its MMO lifespan with engaging storylines, a neat sense of humour and solid mechanics. It’s most obvious to me in the fetching and collecting quests where the difference between fun and tedium lies in how the quests are framed in terms of engaging dialogue and in varying the interaction mechanics, both of which Wildstar manages well.

The standard edition of the game costs £34.99 and includes 30 days of game time. After that there’s a subscription model or you can use in-game gold to purchase C.R.E.D.D. as you might PLEX in EVE Online. The latter system has only just been put live so it’ll take a while to see how that shakes down in terms of its community-set market value and how viable it is as a way of sustaining your game time by simply playing regularly. The subscription is a flat £8.99 per month. I’d say it’s definitely worth the initial cost. The ongoing subscription value will depend on how the team continues to develop and maintain the game and how the community treats C.R.E.D.D. At launch, it’s clear that the development team care deeply for Nexus and its inhabitants and that bodes well for the future.

Part two will arrive early next week.

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101 Comments »

  1. Orija says:

    Article’s kinda short even for a Part One.

  2. SophiaButler says:

    A thing I’ve been surprized about with RPS’z coverage of this game so far iz the lack of talk of the bad tropez that pop up in MMORPG’z almost universally. (The Fantasy genre too, in general…)

    Specifically, this issue or 2;
    http://www.usgamer.net/articles/wildstar-and-the-case-of-the-too-pretty-alien-females
    http://metalgaia.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/armor1.jpg

    Haz anything actually happened with this? Can I play an MMORPG without the fact that the female gender option iz there solely becauze titz? Getting sick of the WoW stereotype still lurking in this genre.

    Getting sick of this kind of stuff occuring so much, pretty alienating when the dimorphizm here lookz more appropiate for Pornography aimed at hetero men. Covered and censored malez alongside the actress you really want to see, right?

    Not bashing porn, just getting sick of gamez not actually admitting to beeing porn. It’z just enforcing the normalized trope of Male Gaze when it’z got a Teen rating, and every bit of it’z media focusez on the gameplay. The porn iz just kind-of.. there, and not talked about at all.

    At least in the Witcher 3 we know there’ll be brothelz, specific areaz for this (Let me know if there’z a BDSM themed one). I can get behind porn having it’z own corner, az it should be, like every other genre with it’z own tagged corner. MMORPG az a genre has become synonymous with this problem far too much, maybe it’z an area of game development that happenz to contain a lot of ex-porn director game developerz or something.

    • Orija says:

      Faulty keyboard?

      • kaloth says:

        Keyboard’s fine (as evidenced by use of the ‘s’ key elsewhere), just obviously looking for attention. Block fixes that.

        • The Random One says:

          The only word in the post that has an S is ‘Specifically’, so obviously their S key works, but only on very specific conditions.

        • toxic avenger says:

          Looking for attention? What she wrote warranted a block? What is it, opposite day? I may not agree with her/him 100 percent, but simply bringing up gender issues in a game being grounds for silencing another person henceforth, implying that she has nothing important or worthwhile to say is a little, how should I say, boorish (?).

          • SomeDuder says:

            It’s because he/she is trying to use a gimmick which is neither funny nor helpful.

          • Richeh says:

            Yeah, but she was irritating, and seeking to irritate. The only way to win that game is not to play.

          • Flopper says:

            Cute… Acting like anyone dismissing the post had anything to do with the content and ignoring the fact it is annoying as shit to read becuz they wanted to end all their wordz with Z’s.

            Plus we all love tits. Fuck off.

      • JimmyG says:

        Actually, interestingly enough, SophiaButler’s just replaced some of her ‘S’ letters with the more phonetically accurate ‘Z.’ If you say a hard-S word like “kiss” or “surplus,” you can hear the difference from the softer ones like “his,” “has,” or most plurals (ducks, boxes, bananas) — all of which make a sound that is, honestly, more accurately portrayed as ‘Z’ if the English alphabet/spelling really is supposed to work by sound. I don’t know if she’s just having fun or if it’s part of some progressive linguistic revisionist movement to deconstruct the skewed phoneticism in our alphabet, but there ya go.

        One of my favorite examples of this is the way most Americans say “petroleum.” There’s a loud “ch” between the ‘T’ and the ‘R.’

        About her post, she’s just identifying a trend of inequitably sexualizing female characters. Easy to see, easy to fix, but developers weigh their options and almost always decide that sex sells.

        About the article, game looks interesting. I like the realtime combat stuff, and I look forward to reading the next couple of pieces from Philippa.

        • The Random One says:

          I’m not a native English speaker, so I may be talking out of my ass here, but I was under the assumption that the S in ‘has’ and ‘this’ sound the same. And yet, look at the first line after the links.

          Your argument about the phonetics might hold some weight if the only S changed were thoze that were alone in the middle of a word, in which caze it could in fact be argued that their post had changed all S’s that sounded like Z’s to Z’s, making it, while awkward to read for a native English speaker, eazier for a non-native one to pronounce correctly. But it goes to far – you may have noticed I’m doing that in this post, and I’ve only had to change three S’s by now, on my second paragraph. And I’ve had to leave the S’s in the word English, even though they don’t sound like S either – I’d have to write them as ‘Englich’ to follow suit.

          In summary, we should all be speaking interlingua. Have a nice day.

          • bill says:

            I’d say ‘has’ and ‘this’ pronounce the s differently. Using Zs still looks dumb though.

          • vexis58 says:

            As a native English speaker, ‘has’ is pronounced with a z and ‘this’ is pronounced with an s. It’s frustrating that I can’t find any pronunciation rules to explain why ‘this’ has an s sound while ‘his’ uses a z. ‘Hiss’ is pronounced with an s, so why is ‘this’ not spelled as ‘thiss’ to be consistent? English is weird.

    • Hydraulic Meerkat says:

      Blame the guys who always play female characters in MMOs because they don’t know how to find porn online. That’s why the female characters are more tailored to what men want, and not women.

      And is your ‘s’ key broken, or?

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        Wait, what? Why shouldn’t I be allowed to play whatever sex I want?

        • jrodman says:

          I think he means me. I can’t find a good source of quality gay porn, so I play almost entirely females in MMO games.

    • Philomelle says:

      This is my character. Her name is Melusine; she is a badass Explorer for the Dominion who specializes in pumping alien wildlife full of blaster fire. The Han Solo cosplay you see her wearing is the most revealing outfit I found for her during the first 15 levels of the game.

      There are admittedly some bad cases there, in particular the female Mechari. Those designs are horrible (they universally have stiletto heels) and the way they run is so awkward that the majority of players avoid playing as them. I was also a bit unimpressed with how female Draken have very straight-backed regal postures in comparison to the hulking wolverines that are males, but eventually discovered that Draken culture is heavily matriarchal (their hunting parties are invariably led by women), so figured it fits their mostly leadership-oriented roles.

      I was also very pleasantly surprised by finding the first case of sexual dimorphism where the female part of the species is bigger than the male. Namely, female Aurin are much taller and stronger proportioned than males (their culture is also completely female-dominant).

      Unfortunately, the big problem is in proportions. You only have preset variants of body shapes and height slider simply doesn’t exist.

      • RedViv says:

        Yeah, they improved the situation a bit from closed beta, as far as I heard. Then I only waited to finally see pictures of the surely inevitable battle-damaged Granok lady faces. Then the game came out and I saw the lady Mordesh walk and… uh…
        I’ll wait a bit more. GW2 is enough right now.

        • Philomelle says:

          Do you mean the Mechari? Female Mordesh run cycles are very decently animated.

          Female Mechari are firmly in the area of “what were they even thinking,” though. AFAIK a lot of people avoid them because that arse-shaking run is completely ridiculous.

          • RedViv says:

            Nope, Mordesh ladies with their butt and hips doing the equivalent of them animes and their gainaxing.

          • Bull0 says:

            I made a Mechari yesterday (Archon EU btw) and yes, can confirm the animation is sketchy. Can’t comment on the female but the male run is all over the place. I’ll stick with Cassian for now, thanks

      • SophiaButler says:

        That lookz pretty decent, I think. I’ll probably have to look at some armour galleriez first though to get a full impression.

        It’z great that guild warz 2 haz it’z char and asura racez looking so sensible for once, a nice break from tradition, but personally I still cant justify giving them money with the medium/light humanoid armour setz (so about 2/3, maybe 1/3) of the armour iz still so.. mmorpg traditional. Guess I’m strict that way I guess.

      • SophiaButler says:

        I’ve found an armour gallery that lookz brilliant. I feel pretty good about this game so far.

        http://www.gamebreaker.tv/games/wildstar-mmorpg/wildstar-t1-t2-pvp-armor-sets-look-simply-amazing/

      • vexis58 says:

        I have a friend who really dislikes many fantasy MMOs specifically because the female characters wear really ridiculously skimpy outfits all the time. She constantly complains how difficult it is to find a simple pair of pants. (even single-player games do this — putting on a pair of pants as a female character in TES: Oblivion will magically turn it into a super ugly skirt.) WoW does it with many breastplates that cover the entire chest when worn by a man but are shrunken down to a midriff-exposing bikini on any female character.

        WildStar is not one of those games. Sure, the female body proportions are all thin hourglass shapes (ranging in size from “skeleton thin” to “why is her behind so ridiculously huge”), but every single outfit my aurin has worn has consisted of combat boots, very sensible pants, and shirts that show neither midriff nor cleavage. I think I’m actually wearing overalls right now.

        It’s far from perfect, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction when you compare it to most other MMOs. Gotta give them some credit for that.

        • Faxanadu says:

          You complain about skimpy armor in MMO’s and then raise an example from Oblivion and WoW? I’ve literally thousands of hours on both, Oblivion armor by default is far from skimpy, ugly skirts fine, but nothing remotely sexy. WoW has a DOZEN chainmail bikinis MAX, I’ve hunted for every single one of them, they’re great, but a dozen out of 213124354512 pieces of armor? Oh wow I’m so annoyed by all this skimpy armor… ‘-’

          Wildstar armor is looking boring so far because it looks the same on males and females. Not that I blame ‘em for it. I don’t go batsh*t crazy because I don’t like something. I just say I’d like ‘em with more variety.

          • vexis58 says:

            Sorry. I was mainly trying to point out the ridiculousness of games where the same exact items look different when worn by male vs female characters, not that there’s anything inherently sexual about oblivion armor. WoW’s situation is much better now with the advent of transmog, and there’s nothing wrong with giving people the option of wearing revealing outfits if that’s what they want to wear, as long as you also let them avoid such outfits without losing gameplay effectiveness.

            I enjoy switching between style and function myself when choosing the look of my armor, and I’ll agree that none of the wildstar armor sets really ‘wow’ me (I’ve long since gotten bored with new WoW tier sets too for the same reasons, they’re always so… busy, too much detail, too many colors), but I really appreciate that they’re the same across both sexes rather than magically gaining an exposed midriff or cleavage window when worn by females.

    • rexx.sabotage says:

      One handy workaround for having non-functional keys on your keyboard is to use the on-screen keyboard that’s included with Windows.

      • thebigJ_A says:

        Their keyboard works fine (see where they slipped up in a couple words and actually accidentally typed “S” and “s”).

        She’s just kind of sad. I pity her. And never want to read a comment written by her ever again in my life.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Zzzzzzz…

    • Jenks says:

      Suddenly I feel as though I’ve been transported back in time to a 1993 AOL chatroom.

      A/S/L? ur typing iz titz

    • ffordesoon says:

      I would like to say I agree that RPS should talk about WildStar’s female character models.

      I would also like to say that your worthwhile point is obscured by all the Zs. They’re tremendously irritating to read, sorry.

    • OmNomNom says:

      Zzz

    • merbert says:

      Your spelling is zhit.

    • Foosnark says:

      While I agree with you, I was already thoroughly sick of the substituting-z-for-s in product names as an attempt to be edgy in approximately 1994. Doing it as much as you are makes me wonder if you’re one of the Outer Church aliens from The Invisibles.

  3. Ace Rimmer says:

    Oh don’t mind me, I’ll just leave this here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ee7CZSZV0i8

  4. Trithne says:

    Wildstar felt like it took the phrase “Theme Park” MMO literally. It’s a constant, noisy stream of things to do and effects, trying so hard to ensure you never have a dull moment that it deafens you.

    • Hydraulic Meerkat says:

      It being so eager to entertain might be what interests me most.

    • Bostec says:

      I think I can relate to this, I stopped playing, the combat I can not get on with, its loud, its flashy its in YOUR FACE. Its all too much, too soon.

      • Smoof says:

        I’m with you on this. I’m not sure what it is about Wildstar, but something about it keeps driving me away. I’ve spent about as much time with it as the reviewer (One character at 13 and another to 17), but I just can’t stay interested in it, but I haven’t been able to put my finger on why. The best I was able to come up with is that it’s visually chaotic and constantly trying to grab my attention in every direction. Don’t get me wrong, the game is beautiful and the animations are great, but it’s this constant visual overload that gets me.

        But I think you may have hit the nail on the head for me: It’s just too much going on. All the time. Both in the graphics and things vying for my attention, I feel constantly overwhelmed, which is driving me away. I love that the game wants to appeal to all types of players and really would love the fact that I’d have all kinds of things to do after 50 (I loved designing my house), but I just can’t imagine myself getting there.

        I’ve been debating whether or not I should resub to FFXIV, as I got almost all the way to 50 in that game (47), because I really enjoyed it. I really wanted to spend the $15 just to compare it to Wildstar and see if I can figure out what I find so off putting, as I feel as though I should absolutely love it.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Just little things like the RSI inducing “this ability requires you to mash the button 4 times” and other things like that. It’s like they are trying to promote skillful gameplay that requires you to land an ability 4 times. In reality the “skillshots” in Wildstar are so basic and ridiculously easy to land that they just become a chore and make the gameplay more boring.

  5. Axyl says:

    “tiny goblin creatures”

    TINY GOBLIN CREATURES!?!

    We’re genetically enhanced Space Hamsters, thank you very much.

    Or Chua to you, Ms Rebel Alliance. :P

    Pfft, bloody Exile. ;)

    • aleander says:

      The specific uplifting you got from Dominion was feeding you after midnight, eh?

    • Myrdinn says:

      ya’ll wouldn’t stand a chance against miniature giant space hamsters though.

  6. Philomelle says:

    I’m a bit disappointed that you didn’t provide a quick note about the differences in narrative structure between Exiles and Dominion. Namely the fact that the way their first 15 levels are structured is so different that it can paint one’s impression of the game.

    Namely, Exile campaign feels tailored more like a single-player journey. I’m not sure if this also applies to Humans and Granok, but as an Aurin or Mordesh, you start off somewhere on the edge of the map and have to take a long, winding journey toward the area’s capital city, tackling a good five-six “episodes” along the way.

    As a Cassian or Mechari, you’re thrown straight into the area’s capital city (which is positioned smack in the middle of the map) and then undertake various missions that help you reinforce your place in the region. It has more of a traditional MMO tone, with the player being treated like a cog in the machine rather than the wandering hero that the Exile campaign presents you as.

    I generally recommend starting as the Dominion. The Exile side is fun, but it presents Dominion as cartoon-ish mustache-curling villains who just like destruction, pollution and suffering. Dominion side is more morally gray and helps the player understand the consequences of their actions a bit better.

    • Bull0 says:

      Well, that’s not strictly right. Your general point about the start zones being different is right, it’s just details – that isn’t actually the dominion capital city, it’s just a town. The capital city is further off in another zone and you don’t go there until level 14-15 or so. Also, as Dominion you have a stop-off in another, short zone, where you explore an Eldan ruin, before you get thrown into the middle of the zone you’re talking about.

      • Philomelle says:

        I said “the area’s capital city”, not “Dominion capital city”. Every area in the game has a bunch of small villages and that contain very basic necessities such as vendors and an occasional taxi, and then a capital that contains the bank, the stylist, taxis, crafting trainers and tables, the local faction’s leaders and so on.

        Dominion campaign is generally structured so you have the local capital as your base of operations from which you perform various missions. Exile campaign generally has you travel from village to village, only using the capital as a temporary stop before it sends you off on the road again.

  7. nrvsNRG says:

    Nothing about performance/optimization?

  8. malkav11 says:

    “It’s most obvious to me in the fetching and collecting quests where the difference between fun and tedium lies in how the quests are framed in terms of engaging dialogue and in varying the interaction mechanics, both of which Wildstar manages well.”

    I would agree with the first part of your statement and disagree with the conclusion you reach about how well Wildstar manages. It is enormously important that an MMO (a genre where the gameplay is nearly never the exciting bit) manage to deliver engaging quests and a convincing, absorbing world and in my time with Wildstar it managed neither. I think partly I’m a bit put off with just how jokey it is. WoW likes to have its fun, certainly, but it does so as an adjunct to a coherent world with some really interesting stuff going on, and while humor is of course a personal taste sort of affair, I find Blizzard’s sense of humor pretty amusing. Wildstar’s seems pretty scattershot and obvious, with minimal attempt to present any sort of real worldbuilding or narrative drama.

    • Osmedirez says:

      Not going to defend the game, but it does pick up. waaaaay up. The early game is early game, and I sincerely don’t remember giving half of a crap about the wow quests.. pretty much anything before The Burning Crusade, and it became somewhat wide-shot hit or miss beyond. But the early game quests tend to introduced you to a lot of quest mechanics that you really need to understand later, without having to be told. Which is really good design.

      There’s also a huge difference between Exile and Dominion though. Dominion gets some ‘big story stuff’ right off the bat, but the actual early game quest content is a lot of … building the image of the dominion? I can’t think of the term. Whereas Exile questing feels like it’s tossing you right into an epic space western without really giving you a whole lot of major story elements right away. It really is a very different type and feel.

      Having said that, I got a little bored with the Exile sides, but i’m having a blast with the dominion.

      • malkav11 says:

        I started with the Dominion, for what it’s worth, because by golly, if you give me the chance to be a jackbooted thug for a horrible pillaging space empire, that’s what I’m gonna do. But it was just so flat and dull. I dunno. I agree that early levels in an MMO are rarely all that exciting, but I’ve been far more entertained by the early levels in most of the other MMOs I’ve played than those in Wildstar (and we are talking things like WoW, EQ2, and SWTOR here rather than games like The Secret World that buck that trend – heck, TSW is arguably most interesting in the early Kingsmouth zone, which is not to say that later areas aren’t cool). And while I might be convinced to go back and give it a second go if it were free to do so, at $60 + $15/month? No, no thanks.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        I just don’t understand though why MMO’s are STILL in this day and age making their game so that it’s boring for the first 20 levels. Boring fetch and carry quests, not really any engaging storylines and lots of “this farmer needs help clearing space rats off his land” type nonsense. A friend has already quit at around level 12 because he’s so bored of it and literally cba to keep playing. I got to level 20 and the game definitely gets better but games shouldn’t have to do that, just make it fun from the start and stop persisting with this “start with spamming one button” nonsense that every MMO feels the need to do, the game isn’t that bloody difficult, I don’t need to be introduced to the gameplay one ability at a time.

    • gwathdring says:

      I found the quests in Wildstar excruciatingly dull. Maybe I gave up too soon, but christ, first impressions matter and if they couldn’t be bothered to make things click from the off that’s their loss.

  9. Arglebargle says:

    Good to see some coverage for those interested. Though it will be a cold day in hell before I invest any money in an NCSoft game again. They’ve made their bed and burned their bridges, to mix my metaphors.

    • SillyWizard says:

      What does that mean? Tabula Rasa was the only MMO I’ve come close to enjoying, and I was sad to see it shut down.

  10. The Random One says:

    An interesting approach, to pace out the review for MMO’s. Kinda makes me wish it was even more paced, since the consumer’s question for MMO’s isn’t ‘is it worth it to pay money for this?’ but rather ‘will I still find it worth it to pay money for this next month?’

  11. gwathdring says:

    I was really disappointed by this game during the betas. It just didn’t have anything going for it, mechanically. I loved the color and chutzpah of the world, but as with most MMOs it was a world that looked surprising dull and lifeless for all it’s superficial graphical nicety. A world with a million Most Important People running around doing the Most Important Things in big arenas with re-spawning enemies. The action mechanics didn’t end up being anywhere near as interesting (or action-y) as I thought they would be, either. It didn’t feel different or interesting. The original Guild Wars gave me a more doing-it’s-own-thing feel than Wildstar did.

    I enjoyed my time with it more than my time with SWOTOR, but that’s not saying much. It’s such a shame, too; the love is clearly there. I wish that it was spent on a smaller, more contained game. I would love to see the effort and care that was put into SWOTOR and Wildstar go into something that didn’t subvert its own ability to be affecting at every turn.

    The quests are particularly abysmal. Perhaps I wasn’t patient enough, but first impressions matter especially at a monthly subscription rate. Kingdoms of Amalur held my attention at least as far as the end of the House of Ballads arc though then I got bored. Skyrim manged to have some really rather cool and quirky things going on with enough regularity that I stayed hooked for a long time. I loved the 3D Fallout games. There were bad quests in all of the games I mentioned, but there were also great ones and most of them were at least inoffensive.

    Wildstar had me bored to tears within minutes after leaving the character creator and it never gave me a moment’s fascination after that.

    • Adel says:

      Is it perhaps just possible that you might not find MMOs enjoyable in the first place? When designing quests meant to be completed by several million people – usually at the thousands at once, on the same “physical” world – you just end up having quests like these. Questing in MMOs like these just depend on how good actually the combat is.

      MMORPGs always have been about the things you do together such as group quests, PvP, dungeons, raids and anything else in between. Quests are just there to teach you the game, get you to grips with the character and give some context to the world.

      • malkav11 says:

        On the contrary, quests represent the majority of most MMOs’ content, and certainly the vast majority of their lore and worldbuilding. And their quality is much more important than the quality of the combat, since MMO combat at its height barely reaches mediocrity, and it’s never broken up and varied enough to sustain a game of that length on its own. This is why I bounced off TERA hard, despite that game supposedly having (or at one time having had, perhaps, I couldn’t tell you) the best combat system in an MMO.

        Raids and dungeons and such are certainly interesting (though fuck PvP), but they are never present in sufficient numbers to become a significant part of the experience without also becoming grindingly repetitive and soulkilling, and because they necessitate a full group (or raid group) of at least moderately coordinated and competent players, they can be rather inaccessible under many circumstances, especially if the groupfinder tools are insufficiently robust.

        There was certainly a time when MMOs were about grouping first and foremost, but that hasn’t been the case for well over a decade. It’s kind of a pity, because that’s what they had to recommend them over just making a decent singleplayer and/or small-scale coop game, but that ship has kinda sailed. I’m not sure I’d have the patience for mandatory grouping anymore myself.

  12. bangalores says:

    Holy run-ons.

  13. Bull0 says:

    I’m playing, I’m enjoying it a lot. I’m still quite into WoW, though, so I suppose I would. Putting the gags to the forefront works to its’ favour, I’ve gotten a few chuckles out of it. I really like the challenges – who knew that the way to make an incidental quest more interesting was to stick a timer on there and, crucially, to allow you to restart straight away if you think you’re going to fail?

  14. Erithtotl says:

    Edit: I accidently typed ‘Sandbox’ when I meant ‘theme park’

    I’m sure I’ll catch some crap for this, but every single theme park MMO that has come out over the last 5+ years gets the same response. There’s an initial flurry of excitement and fun as people venture out into a new world, experiment with character builds and participate in the 1-2 new features (Rifts, fully voice acted quests, LOTR setting, etc) and lots of high review scores come in:

    Metacritic scores:
    Wildstar: 85
    Final Fantasy XIV Online: Realm Reborn 86
    Guild Wars 2: 90
    Star Wars: The Old Republic 85
    Rift: 84
    LOTR Online: 86
    Age of Conan: 80

    Wow, so EVERY major theme park MMO in the last like 10 years has been excellent or better apparently.

    And yet most of these lost the majority of their playerbase and/or went FTP within a year.

    It feels like we suffer from collective amnesia. Or perhaps all those who loved WOW or Everquest when they first came out are desperately hoping to recapture that magic again. But they can’t because the world was a lot different then and our expectations were a lot lower back then. Just like you can’t keep releasing Doom over and over with better graphics and slightly better controls, the same goes for MMOs. We just keep getting slight reskinned variations with one or two very minor innovations.

    The same people who are raving in these comment threads about how much ‘fun’ they are having with Wildstar we can find in the comment threads for all those games above, that turned into bitching and disillusionment after a couple months of realizing they were playing the same old same old.

    • malkav11 says:

      I didn’t care for Wildstar and I suspect I wouldn’t like FFXIV either, but all of those other games (which are not sandbox MMOs, incidentally) -have- been excellent or better in multiple respects. But in a market where you have to choose between playing WoW, which is a juggernaut of content, polish and features, and one of those other games, WoW tends to win. Because ultimately, WoW ends up copying a lot of the things these other MMOs bring to the table, but it also has the complete rest of package and they never quite do. SWTOR, for example – cool classes, pretty, cool stuff with the henchmen and RPG-style dialogue trees and personal stories and such, even the space combat was entertaining enough….but the quest design itself was straight out of 2004. And there’s been a lot improved since then, alas. (Also it didn’t seem like their dungeons really did the interesting moral choices stuff to speak of after that first one, but maybe that came back into play at high levels.)

      But as long as they ditch either the subscription or both the box price and the subscription, it’s not so much of a forced choice anymore, and that’s why F2P has been so good to most of those games. I know I regularly go back to TSW and GW2. I would be going back to SWTOR if the F2P model weren’t kind of asinine.

      I consider most of the bitching to be the usual “well, this isn’t brand spanking new so we’re going to shit all over it now” fare that I see about any major game, really. Hype backlash, just as monotonous and ill-founded as the original hype.

    • Myrdinn says:

      Think you need to switch ‘sandbox’ with ‘themepark’.

    • goettel says:

      None of those are sandbox games. Most evidently have a solid enough player base to run as a business. Each of them has its fans. You’re talking about you.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      You keep using that word (sandbox mmo). It doesn’t mean what you think it means.

      EVE is a sandbox mmo. The ones you mentioned are theme-park mmos, the EXACT opposite.

      Look just, just google the term, yeah?

      • Erithtotl says:

        It was a typo, I have corrected it. would be more interested on your comments on what I wrote rather than the misuse of a term. Doesn’t change anything else in my comment.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Awarding an MMO a “score” is just absolute fucking nonsense in the first place. Different people get different things out of them. People bash SWTOR like crazy, I had a lot of fun playing through a couple of the storylines and thought the questing was fun, the endgame wasn’t there but I played it for a few months and enjoyed it.
      ANY other game people would consider a success if they enjoyed it consistently for more than a month, finished storylines and were done with the game. However MMO’s consistently get bad press when they don’t turn into a game that people play for fucking years.

  15. goettel says:

    I tend to play MMO’s as a drifter: roll in, pick up some quests, do some, skip others, get distracted en route to the next one. I rarily read quests texts and just go where the arrow points and hit what’s marked for me by the quest tracker. I don’t care about completing anything unless I have to do.

    I get ganked. Return the favor. Help out a /zone request, get in a random raid trying for a world boss achievement. Stand around doing nothing, enjoying music and the general soundstage of the location, then veer off for a spot of resource gathering. Queue a battleground on a whim, then leave to take naked pics on a mountain.

    I love to play the auction house, especially in a game where everyone’s new, with some selling stuff below vendor price. Get rich. Spent a ton on vanity (it’s all vanity, in any case, ask my buddy Marcus Tullius). I love to help out randoms, or choose to watch them gain a repair bill – random kindess is random.

    I love fast, fast combat with a careful selection of skills in my bar, with constant repositioning and aiming and a nice spray of loot for my troubles.

    And I’m up for getting my ass handed in any dungeon a couple of times, to bask in the pay-off of eternal, virtual and meaningless (but highly satisfying) glory. Wipes fill me with glee and determination.

    Wildstar is my game.

  16. Tei says:

    My biggest problem with this game is that theres a lot of grinding. On a quest where the lore, story and action would make it worth to kill 3 mobs, you have to kill 30. So you have to be 10 times more time fighting that what you really would do. I think some people want that, so the game is for them.

  17. Dewi says:

    On a related note, RPS has a community guild setup on the Eko server, Exiles faction. You can check us out over at this subforum: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?33-Wildstar

    Come join us!

  18. 2late2die says:

    So RPS, are you guys ever going to cover ArcheAge? Also known as that korean MMO that actually looks like what ESO should’ve been, i.e. a giant sandbox where in between the quests and the fighting you can grow your own trees and build boats. Seems like exactly the kinda thing you guys should be about.

    • drinniol says:

      I’d guess when it stops costing $150 to get into the alpha.

  19. aircool says:

    tl;dr – It’s fun. There’s good, there’s bad. A few frustrations and bugs which will no doubt be addressed. I do like the limited action bars (similar to the original GW) and the combat system; it’s much more fun that looking at a bunch of icons and cooldowns whilst ignoring the action on screen.

    It’s a fun game alright, but with more than a few frustrations. I’m not exactly new to MMO’s (Eve, GW, GW2, Rift, CoH, Champions Online, WAR, SWTOR), but this game confuses the hell out of me sometimes, I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing some of the time.

    Credit to Carbine for their colourblind modes (absolutely necessary with the game based on telegraphs), but it’s far from perfect as I can’t quite find the right mode that works for me. Whichever one I pick still gives me large problems on certain backgrounds, and I still can’t differentiate between enemy attacks and team buffs.

    The enemy health bars are unreliable. Often not responding to damage for a few seconds, and often disappearing altogether. There’s addons to replace the Carbine health bars, but they’re unreliable at the moment.

    As for addons, there’s at least two that are vital. Junk it makes selling and repairing soooo much quicker and far less hassle, whilst ProcsHUD should have been in the game already.

    Other faults include all those pop-ups that require you acknowledge them, usually loot or missions, but you can’t minimise them if you get attacked whilst reading them. I’ve often clicked on the wrong loot because my attention was on the mobs beating me to death. Then there’s challenges stacking on top of each other. I gave up one challenge as the game informed me I’d failed. However, I’d done no such thing, but it was too late to realise that it was another challenge that I’d picked up that had failed, so I could have completed the original.

    I also can’t seem to find a class that I feel comfortable with; a lot of the game reminds me of Champions Online, but without the ability to choose from different ability trees. My favourite class in Champions Online was a mix of pistols and martial arts.

    I like the Spellslinger, but wish it had a few pistol whip moves (maybe it does, I’m only lvl 14) and the Warrior, but I wish the Arm Cannon was more of a dps things than a utility, but I’m only lvl 13 with that dude.

    Most MMO’s are a bit rough around the edges when launched, and I feel that, for all its faults, SWTOR has ruined us with all that voice acting.

    It’s early days and is a good game overall (so far), and I love the look and vibe.

  20. Nibblet says:

    Got to lv 32 in wildstar and am rather unimpressed with what i have seen so far.
    The questing is a down right chore with a seemingly endless supply of uninspired fetch/click/kill stuff quests that lacks the witty dialogue of wow. The only “innovation” they have brought on this front is that instead of having you click something many of the quests force you to do an annoying qte or memory puzzle.
    In addition to being bombarded by tons these inane quests you are also given lots of “challenges” which usually involves killing or clicking X amount of things within a certain time limit.
    Every 50+ quests or so they do break up the monotony by letting you do something fun like play around with a jet pack or kill stuff using a vehicle of some kind but those kinds of quests are few and far apart and wow typically does them a lot better.
    Having played The Secret World there just is no going back go that archaic form of leveling.
    A bigger issue is the atrocious combat. Dodging telegraphs can be fun on occasion but when every single mob has you running and dodging all over the place it quickly becomes very irritating and the fact that it seems to take ages to get a single regular mob down only exacerbates the problem.
    They also seem to be a tad confused whith regards to their design direction.
    In the last 6 months or so they have been claiming that they want to cater to the hard core raiding crowd wow abandoned several years back but then they go and limit your number of hotkeys to 8. Guaranteeing that combat will be spammy and repetative and thus will quickly become boring.
    One thing you will never hear a hard core raider complain about is having too many tactical options in combat.
    The more options you give a skilled player the more they will stand out from the crowd and the greater their overall enjoyment of the game will be.
    The only people you will hear complain about having too many buttons (up to a point obviously) are generally casuals or people with a low skill level.
    Limiting you to a measly 8 bindable buttons makes no sense what so ever unless trying to cater to casuals.
    Even then it really makes no sense since the longer it takes someone to master a combat system the more attached they will become to the game once they do and thus they are likely to stick around longer.
    That is not to say there are not plenty of things to like about the game.
    Graphics, world design, housing, war plots (death fortresses!!) and the myriad of customization options for your character are all pretty excellent. Hell you can even customize your mount.
    I hear the dungeons and raids are very well made and quite challenging but i doubt i will stick around long enough to find out.

    • aircool says:

      Nah… countless hotbars full of icons is a thing of the past. Setting up a limited skillset for a particular role is far better. Guild Wars did it years ago, although you could only adventure with one skillset, you could only change it in outposts. It was a great system as it allowed personal builds. Many people don’t use min/max builds, but tailor them to their playstyle and the people they play with.

      I’m neither casual or of a low skill level. The skill element comes from making a limited skillset for certain situations. You can change them between combat, so you’ve no excuse from having the wrong skills equipped.

      • Nibblet says:

        There is no skill involved in picking out what abilities will be needed for any given fight, it just requires knowledge of the fight (or access to an internet browser).

        • Lancezh says:

          I don’t think you understand the reason to go for only 8 skills. It’s like saying why can’t i have all my weapons available in Dark Souls. There is a point in limiting you so you have to fall into a certain role. It makes no sense in Wildstar to open everything at the same time. It’s not question fo Skill / Hardcore or whatever. You might not enjoy it, thats fine but to think it’s just to cater to the casuals is downright naive.

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s kind of ironic that you seem to have a high opinion of TSW’s levelling and then criticize Wildstar for its 8 slot skill bar – TSW has 7 for most of the game until you unlock an eighth with the auxiliary weapons. I think I get the difference, though. I’m with you in that I generally like more options and having a full array of abilities at my fingertips – my four row deep hotkey bar in EQII was a thing of beauty – but there is something to be said for assembling a carefully selected combo, like a mini TCG deck. It’s one of my favorite parts of TSW. I can’t say that I’ve felt that with Wildstar, though.

      • Nibblet says:

        You may want to do some tinkering on that irony detector.
        I was criticising Wildstar’s quests and comparing them to the only thing TSW gets right.
        I never said Tsw had good combat or even that it was a good mmo (it is not, it is however an excellent single player experience until you have finished the various quests).

    • goettel says:

      I love the combat, I love the questing.

      And…witty dialogue in WoW?

      Opinions, eh?

  21. ruperto says:

    Someone made a browser game (2D platformer) based on the movie My Girl. It’s…… bizarre.

    http://mygirlthegame.com/

  22. GamerOS says:

    Part of me really wants this to be my next MMO fix, but I just don’t like the setting and the combination of a comically looking universe that at no point takes itself serious (or that’s just the dominion.)
    Most MMO’s at least take themselves and their plots serious some of the time while only occasionally letting the play know that yes they are aware they are in an MMORPG and make fun of it, Wildstar seems to do it quite often and it just annoys me.

    Quests are the usual chore and they don’t make them interesting early enough for me to actually stop and read them later on, The killing and Gathering quests also drag on for to long, much longer then needed.
    It also never seems to stop to try and give you things to do, I understand they don’t want me as player to get bored but it feels like I got a small kid with me in a Themepark constantly saying ‘Look look, let’s do this!’ and it’s incredibly annoying.

    Eitherway, as far as themepark MMO’s go the game is solid, it doesn’t seem to be lacking in features, the world is big enough and the gameplay and classes are solid.
    It’s just not a Setting and World I can find myself playing in for extended periods of time.

  23. Richeh says:

    I’m a little disappointed with it. The tone of it’s just… a bit off. It’s trying really hard to be zany a lot of the time and then suddenly shifts gear to TRAGEDY. WoW does a lot of tragic corruption of heroes, but it’s got the general tone and backstory to pull it off.

    And speaking of the backstory, the plot to Wildstar is almost comically cliched and shallow. Dominion are the authoritarian baddies, Exiles are the anarchic goodies, and none of the characters have any real personality beyond Having A Funny Voice.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s competently executed, there’s lots of stuff to do, and I love the exploration based objectives. It’s just that I wanted it to be another game that would feel like exploring a vast new world, like WoW did when I first started playing, except with more action-based combat. And it isn’t that. It’s just WoW in space, with some more clothes, the ability to (slowly) furnish a house and a little more interesting combat.

  24. Neutrino says:

    Bit pricey for a new MMO isn’t it? 35 quid to buy the game plus another 9 quid a month to play?

    I thought Wow and Eve were expensive both still being full price subscription but even with them you don’t have to pay extra to download the client.

    Charging 35 quid for the game on top of a full price subscription model is taking the piss imo.