Wot I Think (Part Three): Wildstar

By Philippa Warr on June 26th, 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 (part one, part two). Part three covers player housing, long-term roleplay and the subscription fee.

There is a giant monstrous snail guarding the entrance to my space house. The house has a doormat made from bread. From that you can surmise that I’ve been experimenting with the decorating and cosmetic functions in Wildstar.

Early in the game you purchase a plot of land which hovers in the sky from a literal corporate clone. The land has a number of empty sockets wherein you can plug your home itself, plus various buildings, puzzles and structures to augment the area. They can also provide rewards and benefits in the form of items.

I went with the Cosy Draken House for my dwelling because it looks like a woolly mammoth pretending to be a house and with a big hump on the top for no good reason. The hump is currently augmented with a Spire of Doom but I’ll eventually get rid of it. This is because the Spire of Doom doesn’t really go with the Gaping Maw (a fanged mouth I would like instead of a traditional door) or the Vicious Creature porch which would then lead into the Gaping Maw. Unfortunately progress has stalled on this front because I need to pay for it using Renown. Renown is the game’s social currency which shows up as green hexagons marked with a claw (or maybe a crown).

I will need tens of thousands of claw hexagons and must earn them through group tasks. Presumably the philosophy behind this system is that the more you play with others, the more you’ll need an impressive house in case you need to show off to any of them. (Side note: it would be great if there was a back door which followed the same biological logic as the Gaping Maw, thus enabling me to ask friends who have overstayed their welcome leave via the Moon Door. The Moon Door would be a butt, in case this was too subtle).

For the surrounding sockets I have a jumping puzzle which gives me rewards for completing it within a certain time, a crafting bench where I can create items, a garden for growing plants and a couple of empty spaces I’m saving for future use. Decor for the space comes via item drops, purchases and my tradeskill: architecture. As an architect you’ll need a lot of crafting resources but you can create fuel cans, fences, trees using basic recipes. By adding some hardware bits and pieces to the basic recipes you can find more interesting objects. A bit of experimentation turned what was going to be a sack of golden wheat into unburnt toast. That’s what I plopped down in front of my door and enlarged to doormat size. Eventually I want it to look like my monster house is enjoying a nice breakfast.

This, clearly, is the part of the game where I start setting my own goals (hello, befanged breakfast monster house!) and start dipping in and out of quests. I’m far more interested in PvP and leveling up through that side of things or via dungeons, satisfied to dip in and out of the world storylines as I wait for parties to form.

The combat system – the telegraphed attacks and abilities which build and scale when you chain them correctly – is the primary reason I keep coming back to the game. The capture the flag game of Walatiki Temple particularly, as it’s the right length for a break between writing articles. The customisation elements have also caught my imagination, although the resources and in-game finances required mean it’s a far slower endeavour. Good for building relationships, though. I have a friend in the game whose tradeskill is as a tailor. He made me a cool set of clothes which I use as a costume so as not to lose the stats of my armour. In return I sent him a set of vintage beer mugs for his sky house.

At this point, Graham (you know the guy, beard, Scottish, managing editor of RPS – that guy) asked “Do you feel like you’re roleplaying in a meaningful way? Do you know who your character is? Have they developed in ways that make you feel connected to them?” He also asked a question about cheesecake but that’s probably less relevant.

It’s an interesting point. Honestly, I’m probably not roleplaying her at this point. She’s not a distinct entity from me and I’ve spent my time tinkering with her build to bring her closer to being a cipher for my own presence in the game. To put it another way, I’m adapting who she is to fit me, rather than the other way around. It’s the opposite of what happened in the Mass Effect series. In those games my Commander Shepard made decisions I never would have because they fit the character I wanted her to be. By the end I was kind of hero-worshipping her, playing and thinking, “Man, I wish I was half this cool and decisive”.

Cassielle, my main, has a backstory of sorts which I built when creating the character, but it’s not a particularly in-depth one. She’s part of the Dominion faction because I was fed up with playing as an underdog. She’s an Esper because I tend to pick mage-type characters. I guess this means the character would have had to undergo intense psychic training but it isn’t a point I’ve used for characterisation or which has been highlighted by Wildstar. Oh, and she’s a scientist because I liked the idea of finding out more about the world. Actually that last part did inform her name – Cassiel was an archangel known for watching events. So there’s a story there, but it’s a not-very-fleshed-out one rooted almost entirely in my own interests and irritations. There hasn’t been anything in the questing or the combat which has taken my perception of her in a different direction, and all the customisation I’ve been doing has moved her even closer towards just being a direct representation of my own whims and wishes.

Obviously I am now worrying that I have been doing this woman a huge disservice and overriding the will by neglecting to construct any kind of life for her prior to my appearance. Perhaps she, as a scientist and a practical woman, would loathe the idea of a toast doormat. Too many crumbs and mice. She might want a house that was easy to keep tidy and had awesome technology rather than having to worry about brushing her front door’s teeth.

See, this is why I was hoping Graham was emailing to be all “Could you tell me more about the technical side of things? How many graphics does it have?” Now door dentists might need to be a thing. Actually, to answer the question Graham never asked, I’m on a 3.4Ghz i7-4770 with 8Gb of RAM and a GeForce GTX 760. I’ve seen a couple of people in chat talking about some textures behaving strangely, particularly the water, but on my rig I’ve not experienced anything funky on that front. The only big problem I’ve had is trying to enable the multi-auth security system which uses Google’s Authenticator tool. I can’t get it to recognise any of the verification codes it generates so I can’t even activate it let alone use it. I’m the only person I know who has had that problem and an email exchange with NCSoft states that they’re not aware of any problems with the setup.

The first major content update, Strain: Ultradrop, will arrive in July with two new zones while a PvP focused update is expected later that month. The MMO is very early on in its lifecycle but how those updates work and what they bring to the game will be helpful in showing whether the monthly subscription fee is one worth paying. Alternatively there’s the C.R.E.D.D. system which is like EVE Online’s PLEX. C.R.E.D.D. give you 30 days of game time. They cost £11.99 to buy from NCSoft and can be traded in-game for game currency, thus it’s theoretically possible to maintain your Wildstar subscription simply by earning enough in-game gold..

Looking at the C.R.E.D.D. exchange at the moment, they’re currently going for around 6 or 7 platinum. There are 100 gold in a platinum and, to give you a sense of perspective, I have 17 gold to my name at the moment. I’ve put about 42 hours into Wildstar (ENORMOUS FLASHING CAVEAT: that includes time spent faffing with screenshots, trying odd things, frittering money away to investigate items and generally not focusing on things which would generate money). Once the first free month for everyone runs out I’d expect the price of C.R.E.D.D to go up so I’m not sure how pleasurable it will be using that as your primary method of gaining play time.

The enjoyment I have got out of the first month so far has been worth the cost of the game and there’s also still plenty to do. I’m only halfway to the level cap and when you hit that you’ll get access to things like the 40v40 PvP Warplots which feature customisable and destructible fortresses. It’ll be the strength of the updates which will govern whether I’d recommended subscribing long-term, but so far Wildstar is looking great.

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41 Comments »

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  1. bangalores says:

    It’s been a month an you’re only level 25…? An MMO review should have a significan portion dedicated to end-game content, and so far were three parts in to this one and you’ve only mentioned end-game in passing.

    Also, no mention of the HUGE performance issues people with AMD processors/GPUs are experiencing. There are numerous thread on the wildstar forums about this right now (including one that is 40+ pages, IIRC), with little more than a “when we get around to it” response from the devs. This has left many people with rigs far beyond the recommended specs to play the game at a 20-25 fps average on lowest settings.

    I appreciate that you are taking the time to enjoy the game and playing at your own pace, but a month after release I think we should expect a review that is a little more in-depth than this, even if it is a content-heavy MMO.

    • bhauck says:

      If you want a quick top-to-bottom review, I’m sure the internet can provide one or two for you. This is the only place I know that’s writing a slower, more meandering review that better reflects how I, at least, would play a new MMO. I joined WOW when the patch notes were about adding weather effects (1.8? 1.12?) and didn’t actually hit 60 with any character until a week before Wrath came out.

      • bangalores says:

        Exactly which part of my comment gave you the impression I wanted a “quick, top-to-bottom” review?

        • HothMonster says:

          All of the words except for the ones about ATI problems.

          • Tiffer45 says:

            ^^ Hehe :)

          • bangalores says:

            “…should have a significant portion dedicated to end-game”, “…you’ve only mentioned end-game in passing”, “…expect a review that is a little more in-depth…”

            Did you just skip those ones over, or is your reading comprehension just that poor?

          • HothMonster says:

            Maybe it is just your horribly grumpy tone.

          • bangalores says:

            Now we’re getting somewhere

        • bhauck says:

          I think my phrasing was pretty fair and not as negative as you took it. Your point, as I read it, wasn’t that the things the review focused on should be omitted, but that by this point after release (“quick”) you’d like to have a complete overview of all the game has to offer (“top-to-bottom”). That’s a perfectly reasonable request, but it’s one that has been filled by just about any gaming publication you can name.

          • ssh83 says:

            Quick = Brief. He wants thorough, not quick or brief. Quick top-down is not the same as thorough top-down.
            he’s also right that this series is a nice “Philippa’s Wildstar Adventure” than a full game review.

          • bhauck says:

            I can see how that reading of “quick” makes sense when talking about game reviews. I meant “quick” as in the speed of gameplay (so as to experience as much as possible), not the length of the article doing the reporting.

    • nanophage says:

      I’ve been playing since headstart and I’m only level 27. Some people just can’t dedicate all of their free time, or even just their gaming time, to a MMO. I’m sure Phillipa has other things to do and articles to write.

      • Bull0 says:

        Who races to the level cap in an all-new MMO anyway? Stop and smell the flowers. How big of a hurry can you be in to run the same few raids over and over!

      • Dawngreeter says:

        I also played since early access and have two level 10 characters and one character level… I want to say 8. And I think I deleted two other characters. There’s a lot happening in the game so I keep changing my mind about classes and paths. Also, I don’t have a shitload of time to spend on the game at the moment. But it’s been very, very fun. Every time I log in, it’s a joy to just jump around, do some light fighting (I mean, level 10 content and all), etc. Hopefully by the end of the next month I’ll get a lot farther now that I decided to focus on my Engineer.

        Additionally, I don’t think they’re handing out free money if you get to max level in under 5 hours or something.

      • Ungenious says:

        Maybe if all games journos reviewed MMOs this way, the non-endgame content would actually be fun.

    • Tacroy says:

      As someone who’s never reached max level in any mmo ever, I’m glad for a review which doesn’t spend most of its time taking about stuff I’ll never see.

      I don’t know why people have decided that “the game starts at level 60″ is the only way to play.

      • malkav11 says:

        Because the people that stick to a given MMO and play it consistently for years tend to be hardcore raiders or PvPers, and in both cases that’s generally focused on endgame content. But it’s usually where the game ends for me, personally. Endgame content is invariably hideously tedious and grindy. I don’t mean to bash raids, per se. The only ones I’ve ever experienced were WoW’s, but those were pretty neat with involved fight mechanics and some fairly epic story content. But I enjoy them as one-and-done experiences, or at best something I futz with intermittently, and that’s not how they want you to play them. They want you to first do the small group dungeons for hundreds of runs to get the proper gear, then tackle each boss fight in each wing of a raid hundreds more times (or maybe even thousands, if you count wipes) to build up to the next step, then wait until they release another raid dungeon and do yet more hundreds of runs. Screw that.

        • bhauck says:

          It’s hard for me to describe or make sense of, but I think a very large part of what I liked about WOW (and why I felt betrayed by Cataclysm) was the sense of “history” built up by hearing about other people’s thousands of wipes and hundreds of dungeon runs. I loved stealthing through BRD and DM at 80 because I could feel how important they used to be, and being able to solo the first trash in AQ made me feel like a god, despite, as mentioned above, not even hitting 60 until Wrath came out. I don’t really remember raiding, which I did semi-seriously for six months at 80, but I definitely remember soloing Strat over and over to get my Dungeon Set 1 helm, and I’d love the chance to earn Lorekeeper and Explorer again. This is why I’m trying to read a lot about Wildstar, so that maybe it’ll take root and in five years I can mine extra enjoyment out of exploring a world that feels lived-in.

          • hitnrun says:

            Heh, that’s interesting. It’s nice see someone who actually took a look around and realized how much all that stuff mattered once. Most people who came later to WoW seem to take the view that the game really took off with the version they played first. This includes me and my friends who started in Beta. Truth be told, I never got over the last mage nerf before launch, though I wouldn’t give my first “This Legitimately Sucks” label to anything before the BC itemization (which first introduced the staggeringly ridiculous and lazy HP totals starting at level 58).

            As for Wildstar, I wish it well, but I just couldn’t get over how intensely boring the gameplay was. It seems like This Month’s MMO is always convincing a segment of the old WoW population who are certain that THIS is the chosen one to make the genre fun again, but I’ve played nearly all of them and they all seem the same. The worlds are so transparently slaves to the mechanics and the mechanics to your linear progression that my brain can’t stay on.

            It’s also coupled with this weird notion that has been inherited from the ancient days of unplayable EQ classes that being pushed to socialize in an MMO is bad, and that therefore every character should be able to do everything. I wouldn’t wish playing a Norrath Warrior on anyone, but for God’s sake there’s a reason this genre exists and it’s not the elves, space or otherwise. I’m glad Wildstar seems to leaning away from that, in its stressing group content at least, and I might give it a second look once its tactics get a little better understood.

          • Sakkura says:

            “As for Wildstar, I wish it well, but I just couldn’t get over how intensely boring the gameplay was.”

            Go for a silver/gold run in a veteran dungeon and say that again.

          • bhauck says:

            To be fair, hitnrun, I’m one of those people who thought WOW was best when they came to it, I just came to it during patch 1.10 but didn’t play consistently enough to get anywhere for years.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Your perspective of endgame raiding from a gameplay standpoint is spot on. MMO endgame content is made by the social aspect of it. Breaking down time spent in a pub to “all you do is sit there and drink beer for 4 hours” sounds bloody boring too, but it’s interactions with others and time spent with friends that make it fun. MMO raiding is the same.

    • 12inchPlasticToy says:

      It’s not a review, it’s wot she thinks!

    • Paul.Power says:

      To be fair, the toast doormat and “Eventually I want it to look like my monster house is enjoying a nice breakfast” piqued my interest more than any discussion of endgame content would have.

      • SeismicRend says:

        I love seeing the housing creations people post on Reddit. There’s a lot of inspired stuff. Skate parks for the hoverboard mount, player created 3D mazes to navigate, and expansive homes themed every which way. The cool part is that players make their homes publicly accessible so you can visit them in-game and try them out for yourself.

  2. skyturnedred says:

    I hope to see more articles at level cap. I quite liked what I saw in the beta, but I don’t really have the time or energy for an MMO with a monthly subscription.

  3. tylergoodguy says:

    Made an account just to say this:
    In regard to your two-step authenticator issue, make sure that you sync your device to the servers via Time correction for codes from the menu.

    Authenticator > Settings > Time correction for codes > Sync now

    This should fix your issue. Good luck and enjoy Nexus!

  4. Koozer says:

    The problems with ATI cards is ridiculous. The only way I could get ti steadily over 20 FPS was to turn the render resolution down to a point where taking my glasses off made no difference to the quality of the image.

    I’m not sure why, but I’m just not feeling the combat, with the purely AoE system. Why is it a good thing? Walatiki Temple feels like a complete mess too.

    • Premium User Badge

      xao says:

      Speaking only for myself, I love the Wildstar combat simply because it both requires and rewards more involvement on my part. As someone who’s played a fair few MMOs, the idea of targeting a mob and spamming a key rotation has grown staler than two giant stale things. Despite improvements over the years (reactive abilities, priority rotations rather than fixed rotations, etc) I’ve pretty well burnt out on the target lock system. Wildstar’s leap wasn’t in adding AE to abilities but in making most of them freely targeted. It adds a level of challenge, along with a commensurate reward, that target locks do not. I like the fact that if I play well I can solo a three-player mob, and if I play poorly a one-player elite can have me for breakfast.

      Ultimately, I guess it comes down to increased player agency. With Wildstar’s combat system my actions and choices matter more to a combat’s outcome than they do in other MMOs.

  5. altum videtur says:

    The only MMO I ever played for a significant amount of time was Champions Online.

    …I can explain!

    Y’see… er.
    Oh, yeah. Character creation was kinda well done with the lots of sliders (actually have the exact body shape you wanted for a character for instance) and I loved using the powers with knockback (my main character was a brawler and she regularly sent groups of enemies flying 50 feet away with a charged punch, the landing from which did in fact deal massive damage depending on how much they fell, traveling by super jump was stupidly fun and the lunge power was cool too, and just the idea of chucking a freaking tank at some unlucky mook is in itself hilarious).
    I can’t defend it as a decent MMO but I don’t think I care to. It provided interesting things to do that literally no other game does, and that’s nice.

  6. Polifemo says:

    Enough with High fantasy and Sci-fi I say! Enough with easy access and forgivable “feel good” gameplay!
    Give me an MMO set in a low-fantasy gritty medieval setting were youre just another faceless meatsack in rusty chainmail for the high lords to throw at one another with an unforgiving gameplay that punches you in the groin and punishes you for mistakes. Also, make it have proper necromancy. Because games these days dont have proper necromancy.

    • Crowbar says:

      I believe you’re after an MMO called Mortal Online.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      The thing is I want a proper Sci-fi MMO, something that feels gritty. Wildstar felt like a fantasy MMO with mentions of space. Not to mention the fact that the class types still boiled down to basic MMO tropes like Warriors who use swords, spellcasters, a hunter using guns. It all felt very generic and not very sci-fi at all to me.

      • Bull0 says:

        Spellcasters who use guns, etc. Which class is the “hunter” class? Sounds like you noticed there’s a warrior class with a sword and jumped to a conclusion.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Something like Mortal Online, or that one the guy on the forums keeps mentioning, Something-bane?

    • Sakkura says:

      You mean Age of Conan? That failed miserably.

  7. AJ says:

    I’d been following the development of this game since early 2013 and was eagerly awaiting the release so i could begin my adventures on nexus… I’d learnt from my previous mistakes and NOT preordered just to make sure i wasnt falling for yet another series of unobtainable goals.

    Tho Wildstar seems to have fulfilled its mandate. Being a heavily actionbased mmo, low latency is vital for an even slightly competitive gaming experience and by all reports the ping from Australia ranges anywhere from 250-400. Lots of complaints about being hit by telegraphs you’d clearly avoided / rolled out of in PvE encounters.. As for PvP you barely stand a chance against people closer to the Dallas server farm.

    So as much as i’d anticipated sinking stupid amounts of hours into Wildstar. I’m just gonna have to let this one slide unless.. by some freak of nature, Ncsoft / Carbine decide to push even a single server into the oceanic region.
    In an interview with Jeremy Gaffner (carbine executive producer) on mmorpg.com they acknowledged the issues facing oceanic players and vowed to judge weather sales data demands localized servers. I for one am not spending money on this in the vein hope that sales data pans out the way i’d like .. :(

  8. Tei says:

    KILLL ME, KILLLLLME PLEASE!!!

    I was a tax counselor in 1915. My name is Gregor Samsa. Something happened to me, and I got slowly turned into a gigantic snail. Then one day awakened in a strange house floating in space. My “owner” is a socyopath, every day returns with hundreds of tokens from the people and things he kill down in the planet. Life is unbearable. Please, KILL ME.

  9. thelastpointer says:

    The discrepancy between the title and the URL bothers me to no end
    *shakes*

  10. therighttoarmbears says:

    I once used Strain Ultradrop on a stopped up toilet, and it transformed into a throne of gold that could flush a bowling ball. STRAIN ULTRADROP. Before it existed, we used to resolve mechanical small bowel obstructions surgically, but now we have STRAIN ULTRADROP. I knew a guy who accidentally got two drops of it in his morning coffee and his colon exploded, but he died happy because STRAIN ULTRDROP.

  11. Sakkura says:

    With regard to the CREDD system, there’s a guy in my guild who has so far bought 11 CREDDs with in-game gold. So he can basically play for free for a year for one month’s worth of effort.

    He’s been playing crazy intensively though, so normal people won’t get anywhere close to that.

    Personally, I have picked up a single CREDD. With CREDD prices rising in-game, I probably wouldn’t be able to play entirely for free in the long term. But I can certainly lower my investment substantially.