Into The Wildstar: Should You Re-Visit The Cartoon MMO?

It’s a strange feeling coming back to WildStar. I played it when it launched back in June 2014, both for professional reasons and personal curiosity. It really did feel… different. The bright, bold aesthetic, the humour, the ambition, the fresh setting, Carbine’s pedigree, it all combined to project a powerful air of confidence about the game.

Despite myself, I was swept up in the pre-launch hype. That gorgeous Pixar-esque trailer! I started planning my characters, their races, classes and names. An Excel spreadsheet may have come into play. Unfortunately, while I very much enjoyed my colourful space western adventures on Nexus, it was surprisingly easy to untether and float away as soon as a distraction presented itself. How has WildStar changed in the past eight months or so? Is it successful? Populated? Has the original vision stayed firm, evolved, or been compromised? Let’s find out.

After a surprisingly small patch, I log in. There’s an immediate change that tugs an eyebrow quizzically skywards – my characters all get two names now. I have no idea how long this has been the case, but it’s kind of a big deal. Stamping any kind of distinct identity on your characters is critical to keeping players in a game long term. The name is a huge part of that, and now I have way more opportunities to pick something that suits the fantasy I want to create, rather than just going for Darrrth_m4u1 because the name I really wanted was taken.

So far so good, and I haven’t even started playing yet.

I’m on a new server for some reason, but that’s fine. The guild I was in has assuredly booted my sorry arse to the spacekerb months ago. Here we go. I appear, blinking, on some snowy ground in a forested area, surrounded by enemies and alien technology.

A Soulcore Interrogator is heading right for me, accompanied by two Doomtide Corruptordrones. Presumably they are just returning from their record-breaking fourth consecutive victory at the annual Sinister Name Championships. Honestly, it takes mere seconds to feel like I’m back in the saddle. My abilities are still neatly arranged in a line, and hitting one after another is going to do me just fine until my muscle memory fully returns.

It’s a wonderfully bouncy game, WildStar. Your character sprints, leaps, rolls, jumps, double jumps and soars in a way that I have rarely felt in a game like this. It’s responsive, and the moment-to-moment combat is more engaging and satisfying than the vast majority of other MMOs I have played. Of course I’m coming in fresh and haven’t just spent a hundred hours using the same sequence to kill a million hapless foes. So there is that.

Running around, I’m reminded that this game always felt very assured, very complete. There’s tons to do, with distractions a-plenty – in a good way – luring me off every beaten path. Frankly, playing WildStar now feels exactly like playing WildStar then. I’m only level 27, and I know that the focus of the three Ultra Drops (significant content patches) so far have been at endgame players. I can’t begrudge them that. Those are your dyed-in-the-wool supporters, your evangelists.

I want to dig a bit deeper. The capital city for my faction is called Thayd. Let’s see what’s happening over there.

I’ll be honest, I’m expecting a ghost town, but it’s packed. Heaving, even. Players zoom all around me on a variety of impressive mounts, wearing crazy outfits. I’m both impressed and relieved. Of course, literally everyone is level 50. I mean, without exception. The game hasn’t changed, but the players certainly have. They all seem to be at a very different part of the journey to me, which doesn’t bode well for low level group quests, dungeons and the like.

About those Ultra Drops. The first one, Strain, had a goopy, infectious vibe. It covered almost every base but did not bring anything new to the table as far as PvP is concerned, which was a shame. Strain did happen in July, pretty damn soon after launch, so my guess is that sticking to an aggressive content release schedule (something Blizzard struggle with) was deemed a higher priority than ticking every box.

Ultra Drop 2 was called Sabotage. It seems to have consisted almost entirely consisted of the PvP stuff that didn’t make it to Strain. It’s a pretty involved new match type, but unfortunately all the battlegrounds are level 50.

Ultra Drop 3 – Mystery of the Genesis Prime – is the most recent (November). It’s a lore-heavy beast, but took longer to arrive than the previous two. It also failed to fix or introduced more bugs than many players were happy with.

Ultra Drop 4 is fast approaching at time of writing. Before we dig into that, let’s step back and look at the bigger picture. Let’s look at the way WildStar was originally pitched.

Carbine knew better than most that WoW’s shadow is impossible to avoid completely – not least because the company was formed by seventeen ex-members of Blizzard. They used a ‘new leaf’ narrative that had an undeniable visceral appeal. ‘We’re going to build on successes, learn from every mistake, and bring back the good old days!’

One of vanilla WoW’s key retention mechanics was 40-player raiding (long since broken up into tiered raid difficulties). That’s a ton of people and a high degree of challenge – not just from the encounters, but herding all those cats. The metagame became ridiculous. It’s a big part of the reason playing WoW developed a reputation for creeping into ‘second job’ territory.

WildStar was pretty keen on bringing that old school feeling back. Forty people! Huge, difficult raids! They’re back, baby! But here’s the thing: MMO design is a brain-scramblingly complicated business. Teams of people spend years and years conjuring up an intricate matrix of intersecting systems which shimmers, delicately. Ooh. Ahhh. Then the game launches and a throbbing mass of players descend. They push, pull, stretch, snap. They have an inherent, irresistible power to course correct based on their own (sometimes hard to fathom) desires and needs. Sometimes they know what they want, but not what they need. Sometimes vice versa. That power, the ability to apply warping pressure, happens regardless. I have been on both sides of this phenomenon, and it’s endlessly fascinating to observe.

Those 40-player raids didn’t last long in WoW. Lengthy, demanding attunement processes were also introduced with Burning Crusade, the first expansion, but as soon as Blizzard realized how terribly few people were actually reaching, let alone completing their carefully crafted endgame content, those were quietly taken around the back and shot too.

WildStar committed to bringing both 40-player raids and strenuous attunements front and centre again. So far, they only have one raid of that size, called Datascape. This is where we skip back to Ultra Drop 4, which I believe still lacks an official name.

One of the biggest changes, as per the information available right now, is that Datascape is being re-balanced down to a 20-player raid. This is huge. Carbine has listed lots of really good reasons why this is happening, and it’s probably the right move, but I can’t help but think… Couldn’t they see this coming? WoW players already went through this journey many years ago. They showed that the metagame is simply too much. It’s not a matter of boss mechanics, of class abilities, of balance. It’s a matter of human patience, and a tipping point was inevitably reached.

Carbine have already reduced attunement requirements across the board, and seem happy with the dramatic spike in players who are now able to run the raid. But once again, this is history repeating itself.

My suspicion is that an important chunk of WildStar’s original mission statement – to recapture the feel of the ‘golden age’ of MMOs – was doomed to meet this fate. You can absolutely harken back to the day when raids were desperately punishing, when it took weeks and weeks of eye-shrivelling grinding to make the tiniest step forward. You can talk about risk and reward. You can yearn for savage death penalties, enforced grouping, walking uphill both ways in the snow. This is a completely valid playstyle, and offers unique emotional peaks (and troughs) that the current, gentler MMO market generally can’t – or rather won’t – deliver.

Why? Because that’s not where you find a critical mass of players. The players you absolutely need to come to your game, and more important stick with it long term, in order to offset the absurd cost of having hundreds of people make it for over six years.

WildStar is exceptional. Playing it again has absolutely rekindled my love for this endearing world. So while it may not stray terribly far from the formula, its update schedule might be frustrating for its most committed playerbase, and it may have been beaten back from its nostalgic experiments, but if you have any interest whatsoever, now is as good a time as any to give it a trial.

52 Comments

  1. HothMonster says:

    The two names thing is because of underpopulated servers being merged. Name reservations were per server so when they merged there would have been multiple people with the same name so they had to add the last names.

    I stopped playing after the first content drop. The amount of grinding you had to do to get into the end level dungeons and raids was ridiculous but otherwise it was a fun time. I should give it another month and see if they made those requirements more reasonable now that there is more end game content.

    I’m all for challenging requirements to get in the raids but it wasn’t hard it was mostly just boring repetitive grinding to unlock the next step of boring grinding to eventually earn the right to do something new and fun.

    • Shadow says:

      I wouldn’t call the “old school” WoW raids a positive thing worthy of being resurrected from its well-deserved grave.

      My WoW period took place in the Burning Crusade era, and I still remember the utter pain in the ass the largest raids were. Unless composed of like-minded guildies, they were hell to organize, hell to get into unless you were a high-demand class (i.e. priest, maybe mage; fucking forget it if you were a non-tank warrior or a rogue), hell to coordinate, and hell to keep together and operational until the end.

      It was barely okay the first couple of times you did it, but a grueling experience afterwards: 3 hours stuck in a single run that could fall apart at any key point, all for a handful of dice rolls at the end to determine whether you or some chump got the items you wanted.

      Utterly terrible. Unearth this only to cremate it and scatter the ashes over an ocean (of magma).

      • Blackcompany says:

        I have ceased looking at MMO games the minute they mention “end game content.” Because I honestly think that the notion of trying to improve ‘end game content’ is the very definition of trying to solve a problem, while thinking at the same level that created the problem in the first place. It simply will not work.

        Its time to change our perspective on long term commitments to games on the part of players. We dont need raids and gear grinding. We have more games than ever to play these days; I highly doubt grinding the same raids over and over for higher tiers of gear is going to keep a sufficiently large number of people engaged in this day and age.

        If you want players to commit to your game long term, you need to give them something to commit to. Something player-created. Something they are invested in.

        I truly believe that if the MMO is going to succeed it has to evolve, and that it must do so in the direction of sandbox gaming. Everquest Next talks about a world where players can construct buildings or even whole cities – and where enemies can destroy those locations. It promises enemies with their own preferences and agendas and consequently a world that evolves and changes around the player daily.

        End game content in a game like this may be helping to construct larger and more defensible cities and towns, and then making sure they stay on the map despite the very real possibility of their destruction. It might mean using your character’s hard earned gold and other resources to fund the construction of better defenses, or hire player and NPC characters to improve and repair the town over time. Allowing players to actively participate in the creation and maintenance of player driven worlds, featuring player created locations that actually require time and investment to build, is the “end game content” I am looking for.

        So yeah…when MMO’s start to talk about multi person raid bosses and such, I just…tune out and look elsewhere for entertainment.

        • Hex says:

          Indubitably.

          I’m of the opinion that restricting MMOs to this kind of “run around with your avatar and kill NPCs” stuff is distressingly and unnecessarily limiting of what an MMO could (should?) be.

          There are so many options for giving players a broader context within which to interact with the world — and more importantly, with other players — beyond stab-and-be-stabbed.

          I feel like a possibly promising direction to move would be to make…well. I was about to type some stuff but then it just turns out I was thinking of how EVE Online works, more or less.

          But there is certainly plenty of room to have an EVE inspired non-space game that’s WAY dumbed down. For instance, if you want to stick with the Fantasy setting, just have everything take place on a planet. Allow players to become land-owners, owing fealty to higher-rank players in a feudal system. Give them operational control of NPC guardsmen, serfs, artisans, etc. Let a certain “class” exist in parallel with these players, functioning in a church-officer capacity.

          The game can be about territorial control, ostensibly. If your district is wrested from your control, you can flee back to the lands of the Earl/Count/Marquis/Duke/what-have-you and bolster his own forces.

          Less violent players could play as unaligned Merchant classes, setting up trade-routes between areas, possibly bankrolling the war efforts of militaristic players, or starving them of funds through economic sanctions. These players could increase “rank” both by acquiring wealth, and by spreading their home culture in foreign lands in which they regularly trade.

          A meta-game of tug-of-war with both physical territorial ownership and cultural identity could ensue.

          I mean. I guess that would be pretty ambitious. But it’s hard to believe that MMO’s have to be as boring and stagnated as they currently are. I guess it’s cool that people still have fun with stuff like WoW and Wildstar…but you have to admit that they’re pretty bereft of creative advancement.

          • Loam says:

            Sounds like Nation-States or something, but with more magic and more graphics, presumably.

            At least, I think it was called Nation-States. Something like that.

            edit: so that line of thought prompted me to check, and no, it’s not Nation-States at all, it was a different game. Dammit.

          • Vastial says:

            You just described Ultimate Online.

          • Kala says:

            Gets a +1 from me.

            I’m a little spoilt, really, because the first MMO I played was Ultima Online. Of course, it all eventually went tits up, but the original ideal was excellent (sandbox, highly customizable character rather than pre-set classes, pvp and thievery with real loss and consequence) and then later, EVE Online had a similar approach.

            I think there’s room for both approaches; I don’t necessarily see why it needs to be a war between linear and sandbox, and the EQ/WoW model is absolutely fun, the latter being incredibly polished and refined. But for something deeper, a linear model where you progress through grinding levels and gated areas and do quests for loot and xp doesn’t – and can’t – deliver the depth that self-directed play with consequence/player-made content does (for me, at any rate).

            I suspect it’s more of a market issue currently; the genre is perhaps still a victim of WoW’s success. So other models can exist, but it’s hard to sell as a prospective financial success, unless it emulates the primary example of this.

        • Baines says:

          Firefall tried an open world, where you could just wander around and pretty much join in or leave whatever was going on. Right before official ‘full’ release, Red 5 released a massive overhaul that removed a lot of that, greatly increased the power curve and added other penalties so that you’d need to stick to a limited level range of enemies to be productive, took all thought out of equipment choices and upgrades, added mindless quest boards that had you wandering back and forth to complete mindless tasks, cut back on dynamic events, and various other changes. Why? Red 5 said the original design of the game just wasn’t popular enough to warrant sustaining it, so they made it more like the stereotypical generic MMO. (Of course the whole generic MMO level-gated content idea pretty much kills the idea of a real dynamic battlefront, one of the ideas hyped early on in Firefall’s development.)

          The killing thing about designing around ‘end-game content’ for an MMO is that in doing so you’ve already accepted that people will not want to keep playing your game otherwise. That should be a warning that something is wrong in the base design of the game, in the base concept of the stereotypical generic MMO, but MMO publishers choose to focus on the symptoms rather than the disease. The focus on creating and adding ‘end game’ content can actually make the underlying issues worse. You get the idea that the game doesn’t ‘start’ until max level, which should be an extremely worrying belief. After all, it means all that work spent on all the game before max level is seen as a time sink grind by a lot of your players, a chore to be rushed through to reach the ‘real’ game. And it means that your end-game content has to sustain the interest of players who just blasted through years and who knows how many millions of dollars of work..

          Eventually, you start getting short term bandaid after short term bandaid that only make the whole structure more and more unstable and unsustainable, as your game sheds players faster than it gains them.

      • jrodman says:

        Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that you are describing raids of size 10 or 25 (not sure), which were comparably managable. At 40-player sized, it was as often as not that someone had gone afk or disconnected before every boss pull.

        • Shadow says:

          I was talking about 25-person raids. I never got to see 40-person ones, thank God. If assembling and managing a group of 25 was hell, it might have been a paradise compared to doing the same with 40.

    • Syno says:

      Why? Why are SOOOOOO many people just blatantly lying about Wildstar’s endgame? How in the name of god did you have to do “endless grinding” to get into the high level dungeons? You hit max Level, press “O”, click on the dungeon you want and off you go!

      Also, the whole attunement step had almost no grinding whatsoever. It was all about skill, and that is a fact. You can complete the whole attuenement process in like 10 hours, if you are good enough. Average players were occupied from 4 to 6 weeks with the attunement. But they were just learning the ropes, perfecting the playstyle. They never grinded (well maybe for like 5 hours, when you have to max the reputation with your faction). The hardest part were the medals you needed to earn in the dungeons. It required you to play good. Really good. And many people hated this. Hell, they did not merely hate it, they were infuriated that they were absolutely incapable of doing it. So many people, including high profile WoW players (Kungen) just couldn’t handle it. So in order to not lose their faces, they quit and called their experience a boring grind. It was laughable – and lovably human at the same time. Most people just don’t know what grinding means. For most people it is grinding, if you have to work for your goals.

      But those times are gone anyways, the attunement now is way more doable.

      I recommend Wildstar to anyone who wants to experience a expertly crafted, traditional theme park MMO with an incredible fluid, fast paced and fun combat system (don’t feel discouraged by few people in leveling zones. literally everyone is lvl 50). Carbine is kind of playing catchup at the moment (fixing PvP, transition Datascape to 20 man etc.) but it sure as hell is only getting better and bigger after that. I am playing Wildstar without interruption since the day it released and I am still incredibly entertained by the inventive and challenging raids, the awesome combat system and even the decent storyline.

      • captainparty says:

        Yeah, only 5 hours of my time grinding for rep just to reach content, thats cool

      • Jumwa says:

        It never ceases to amaze me the massive heaps of time gamers will dismiss as not worthy of mention. That sounds like an agonizing (and foremost unrealistic) amount of time to have to sink into just getting ready for raids.

        But yeah, on the original topic, that’s the one thing that really astonished me about Wildstar. How they actually thought appealing to the “hardcore gamer” demographic of internet forums would lead to success. WoW hit its greatest heights by appealing to casual players in Wrath of the Lich King. Then when they tried to take a step back towards catering to “challenge” demands, it plummeted and was forced to eventually make an about face.

        Wildstar’s a beautiful game, that really pulls me in, but it missed some very big, very obvious, mistakes of the past.

    • Ajh says:

      They meant to have the massive servers at launch but they weren’t ready so it sent the wrong message to many people. Megaservers mean we have one for pvp and one for pve and they’ve actually been amazing for Wildstar. I wish they had delayed the game and STARTED with them, but they didn’t close the servers because of underpopulation. They planned the megaserver thing.

      I can’t argue with the grindiness though.

  2. RedViv says:

    But can I play a Granok lady with a smashed-in face by now? I heard something about new models and faces with patches a while ago, but can not quite track anything specific down on the web. Anyone?

  3. Shakes999 says:

    Ok look. Ive been looking for a MMO to try. I played Runes of Magic for 6 months, blew 400$ in that time after swearing id never spend real money on it, deleted it from my hard drive and swore off MMO’s forever.

    Well, enough time has passed that I want to try one again. Loaded up a trial of WOW and barely got to level 10 before it beat me down and got deleted. Just dull and felt like a damn job.. Wildstar is piquing my interest because it SEEMS like you actually play the game and requires input as opposed to just waiting for cooldowns.

    Based on the very limited info ive provided, is Wildstar worth checking out or is it just another WOW in a semi-interactive shell.

    • farrier says:

      Maybe give Guild Wars 2 a try? I started playing right before launch and played for a couple months before I got drawn away. I’ve never been a big MMO person, but it felt fun to play, not like a job since grinding enemies as you level is not really an option (or it’s nowhere near your best option).

      I just started playing again this past weekend after deciding to truly commit to an MMO. Figured since I already owned it, and it requires no subscription, it’d be worth another go. I love it. The sense of exploration is fantastic, and there’s something about the fantasy world that I enjoy, even if I know little of the lore; it balances being colorful and being serious. I play as a thief, which is a very active profession in terms of movement (EDIT: thief has no cooldowns, btw, only a resource that most skills pull from, so it’s a much more active class), but I also played as hunter and it was great.

      I spend my time PvE world-exploring and have a blast. I don’t know if they do any sort of free trial, but do check it out. It doesn’t feel like a job to me at all, and I’m progressing quite fast. I just do the “missions” (little hearts with goals scattered across the maps), find all the exploration points, and do all the events (escort missions, defenses, gathers) as they pop up.

      It’s not as serious I guess as other MMOs, maybe due to lacking a subscription. I hear the WvW (server PvP) is pretty happening. I did that on launch and it wasn’t intimidating, but I prefer the PvE for now. It’s just a lot of fun. Which is quite refreshing.

    • jenkins says:

      As a Wildstar player, I suspect a lot of it depends on what you bring to the game in terms of expectations. I started with Everquest, played WoW from launch through the first expansion, then stopped and haven’t touched a single MMO since precisely due to ‘second job syndrome’.

      I played the Wildstar beta, got excited enough about it to upgrade my rig for the first time since HL2. Played it at launch and enjoyed the heck out of it. Took a break because so many other great games were popping up left and right. Came back to it after three months and enjoyed taking it for another spin. For my money:

      The Good:
      – The telegraph-based combat is very dynamic and a heck of a lot of fun. Even an ‘easy’ mob can give you trouble if you get careless about avoiding big attacks.
      – The visual style is a joy and and lore is really well crafted. Time and again, I find myself enjoying the process of just exploring the world, taking screenshots as mementos, and just feeling like part of a world. It’s just that beautiful. I never felt that with WoW.
      – Solo play isn’t a problem for any class, and for the first time in my life I have alt-itis.
      – Space opera. I think the world needs more space opera, period.

      The Less Good:
      – It’s still very much a theme park MMO. If you’ve outgrown the theme park, I fear no MMO can rekindle that love.
      – If you approach it as a grind to be overcome as efficiently as possible, it’s probably not for you. Players went from lvl1 to lvl50 inside of 72 hours on opening weekend.
      – It’s still an MMO, and I think a lot of folks have aged out of MMOs. You can’t rekindle that golden age without going back to that phase of your life when one had the luxury of playing games for 30+ hours per week. With so many different amazing games these days, it’s harder to let a single one dominate your playtime exclusively.

      Plenty of folks enjoy harshing on Wildstar, but haters gonna hate. If you’re more inclined the enjoying the game as a journey, and not getting to 50 ASAP as a destination, you may want to take it out for a spin.

    • briktal says:

      While questing, it’s basically a less polished/refined WoW, except you’ll probably need to sidestep out of fire more often than in WoW. Oh and a lot of the quest areas also have a bunch of elite mobs that are often too much to deal with solo.

    • Shakes999 says:

      Thanks for the replys. So in otherwords, it sounds like someone needs to mix guild wars questing with wildstar’s combat. I think im going to pass on wildstar even thou the combat sounds fun cause the WOW style questing will have me deleting it off my hard drive and grinding my teeth in no time.

      That said, im gonna try out Guild Wars since it seems a little more dynamic and better at hiding the Themepark. That and its a one time fee. Thanks guys!

      • vexis58 says:

        I found Guild Wars 2 to be more similar to what I think of as a real-life theme park or carnival whereas WoW and similar MMOs are closer to a guided tour. There are little stations scattered throughout the world and you go to one, complete its activity, get a prize, then move on to the next. These stations aren’t really that much fun, just fill up this bar by doing “stuff” to help whatever NPC is in the area, usually killing the mobs or picking up items. They feel like chores.

        It was trying to bill itself as “do whatever you want” but in practice, I wanted to do the story quests, which don’t give enough experience for you to keep up with them in level. I kept running into brick walls where the game wouldn’t let me do any more story quests until I wandered out into the world and completed odd jobs for the commoners first until I was high enough level for the next part. By the time I finally leveled up enough (possibly days later) I’d forgotten what happened in the previous quest.

        I keep coming back to the game because it’s beautiful and it doesn’t cost me anything to just hop in and play again, but I invariably quit again in a week or two because of how grindy it is. I feel like GW2 would have worked better in a lot of ways if it had been a single-player game.

        • Merus says:

          Guild Wars 2 recently gave up and moved all the story quests to a round level. So an entire storyline, three or four of the old steps, takes place at level 10, and then you have to get to level 20 to unlock the next story.

    • malkav11 says:

      Wildstar, in my very limited experience, felt like WoW minus several layers of polish and content. I also found it impossible to engage with the setting, which felt mostly “wacky” in a forced sort of way. I’m pretty sure I didn’t give it a fair shake, but the beta ended before I could try it again and I’m just straight up not interested in buying another box plus subscription MMO, so I’ll probably wait until it drops the subscription before going back. If it ever does. And doesn’t fuck up the replacement business model enormously, like a lot of former paid MMOs.

      My suggestion would be The Secret World, which has a highly original setting, great writing, a significant proportion of quests that involve more thinking than rote objective marker orienteering, and a pretty interesting and flexible skill system. It’s also a one-time purchase with no required subscription. It’s easily the MMO I come back to most.

      • Rizlar says:

        Everything this person said. Except… Wildstar’s combat was rather nice. It was like GW2’s intense, movement-heavy combat taken down a notch, so that you could actually see what was going on.

        The Secret World is definitely worth a look though, it’s also the MMO I keep returning to.

        • malkav11 says:

          The combat was fine, but I’ve played a number of other MMOs recently that have similar impetuses to move around and do more action-y things during combat, including The Secret World, and my feeling has been that combat alone is never sufficient reason to play an MMO because none of them will ever be as good at it as something like Dark Souls or Bayonetta.

          • Rizlar says:

            Fair enough. I find The Secret World’s combat to be a bit stilted, personally. But the underlying systems and freedom in picking and combining skills is what makes it interesting. I just wanted to agree with all your criticisms of Wildstar but point out the one thing I think it does really well.

          • malkav11 says:

            TSW’s combat isn’t perfect by any means. It may not even be as good day to day as Wildstar’s. I wouldn’t really know for sure. I just don’t think Wildstar’s combat stands out as particularly original in light of the similarities to how TSW, GW2, ESO, etc handle things.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      I played Final Fantasy XIV for a little while and I enjoyed it for a short time. I have come to the conclusion I am just not an MMO player.

      It improves and streamlines a whole bunch of MMO concepts into a nice package with a Square-quality plotline. They basically Blizzarded Blizzard.

  4. Spider Jerusalem says:

    Sigh.

    Every time I read about an MMO and it’s raiding I just get nostalgic for Asheron’s Call.

    • Martel says:

      I’m sure that I’m odd but I loved AC and I think my favorite thing was the jump skill. Man did I love cranking that up and jumping all over the place.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Word. I would love to read a well-written retrospective of the first year of AC (and Darktide), but for some reason even though I’ll meet random gamers over the years who were there and know all about it, journalists must have missed it completely.

  5. Oneknown says:

    After trying many and failing to be hooked by MMOs for the past 12 years or so, I ended up playing Wildstar because I knew a few of the devs. That was back in June, and I’m still playing now.

    I finally reached the point where I was raiding about two months ago, after three months of getting attuned and it’s incredibly engaging. The closest way to describe the endgame combat is “Dark Souls with 20 people”. It’s not quite as punishing as that, but it’s unlike pretty much any other MMO I have tried or seen. The attunement process for raids is about getting good at the skill-portion of combat, not performing meaningless tasks for weeks on end.

    Having seen the changes over these past six months, I think reducing raids to 20 players is absolutely reasonable, and the new Drop 4 content looks awesome. If you haven’t given it a try yet, enjoy action-combat and find challenging games rewarding, I highly recommend it.

  6. jonfitt says:

    If they switch to a pay-once-no-subscription-minimal-micro-transactions model I might be interested, but I’m over subscription or “F2P” MMOs.

    Too many games, not enough time.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Same.

      WildStar is a very solid MMORPG, I think Carbine has a lot to be proud about there but, as a player, I just don’t feel like I can justify a monthly subscription to MMORPGs anymore. Partly because it’s not like MMORPGs are all that unique these days. Mostly because I just don’t have time to play consistently. I’d actually be tempted to sign on for 25 cents an hour, but not $15 a month, because I’m pretty sure months would go by in which I can’t make time to play the game.

      • SomeDuder says:

        Im of mixed opinion on this. Both models have their pros and cons. A paid subscription keeps out the scrubs and poors (usually non-English speakers) and ensures that those playing are at least somewhat interested in doing well, whether it be PvP or PvE. Generally, it makes for a more fun game experience, both in quality and entertainment. And it gives the developers some guarantueed income. Microtransactions in F2P usually means buying some cosmetic piece of shit for €50,-, and, while there are idiots who obviously exist and buy this stuff, the general player won’t spend a penny.

        But like you said, there’s plenty of alternative games – that 1 month of subscription now pays for a whole lot of games. Thinking back, I can’t believe I paid €13,- (?) a month to play WoW, back in the day, and €11,- for Eve Online. Looking at Steam’s sales’ section, or during a big sale event, that buys you 4 decent games easily.

        Whether Wildstar is worth that amount of monthly cash depends on the content, of course.

        I do wish they’d launch some sort of trial – I’ve been looking at WS since its announcement, but I’m not buying it + subscription until I get an actual chance at playing it.

        • geldonyetich says:

          A paid subscription keeps out the scrubs and poors (usually non-English speakers)

          That’s the theory but, in practice, I have found this was no longer the case in the last couple of subscription MMORPGs I played.

          Part of the problem is that money isn’t as much of a maturity gate as you’d hope. Not only are there as much jerks in the high income brackets as there are in the low, but this was never much of a stumbling block anyway. There’s no shortage of kids who can convince their parents that $15/mo is cheaper than babysitting, and then go act like unsupervised horrors online.

          But the bigger problem is the gold farmers have devised ridiculously effective ways to hack accounts. You can keep a good-sized customer service team employed 24/7 to ban gold spamming accounts and your players will still be subjected to spam!

        • Premium User Badge

          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          Your reputation at the country club will surely be tarnished if they find out you are associating with the poors.

      • NZLion says:

        CREDD was a noble concept for WildStar, but it’s still not quite in line with how I want to play. Something like a prepaid cellphone plan would be my ideal… buy (for example) $20 blocks of credit, but you eat into it in tiny nibbles based on usage rather than being a flat monthly fee.
        I think geldonyetich was on the right lines with 25c/hr, but I would potentially even go even more granular/expensive: for how much I play, buying larger blocks but using them at a rate of 1c/minute would probably suit me quite nicely.

        • cthulhie says:

          I have been obsessed with the idea of this model for years, and it’s insane to me that nobody has tried it! Monthly subscriptions reward obsession and frankly always make me think I’m wasting my money when I–god forbid–dabble with other games while I’m paying for the one. F2P has all the associated issues that F2P can have. But what if I purchased playtime in advance and it only counted down while I was actually in-game? I would buy my time in hours and not be penalized for doing other things with my life.

          This is a pretty solidly single player perspective, of course. I suspect that a lot of the drive of the sub model is that it doesn’t punish idly socializing, and no developer wants to provide a disincentive for the network effect.

          Still, the sub fee keeps a lot of perfectly-willing-to-pay customers away, and anecdotally the people I talk to who won’t play MMOs are in part kept away by the prospect of wasting money on a game. These are the same people who will buy games they never play because of sales, which is pretty solidly wasted money. I don’t see why this wouldn’t be a nice *additional* option for a game with a sub, just as a sub is an additional option on a F2P game for those who don’t want the F2P mechanics to harass them.

          • deadfolk says:

            APB launched with this business model, and I thought it was the perfect way of doing things. Everyone else hated it. Literally everyone – I never came across another soul who liked it.

            Then EA pulled the plug and when it was relaunched, they had changed to (if I recall) F2P.

  7. Chuckleluck says:

    The last paragraph or so captured why I’m generally not into MMOs. By their very nature, they HAVE to have a large fanbase. So they cater to the mainstream player’s tastes, no matter how casual or easy or repetitive it is.

  8. Frank says:

    “Revisit?” I hadn’t even realised it had been released.

    Also: Hello, Mr Mayo. Welcome to RPS. (First I’ve seen you in these parts.)

    • Tom Mayo says:

      Thank you, Frank! I have written a couple of other pieces for RPS, on Warlords of Draenor, but I might be doing more in the future. Who knows.

  9. pfooti says:

    So, FWIW, I rolled on the role-playing server. I played for a few months and then got distracted by another game and forgot to log in for a few weeks, and when my monthly resub came up, I decided to boot it. The big server merge also kept me from being excited about logging in- I didn’t really want to mix RP with non-RP servers, although to be fair, the RP was kind of limited.

    Having a last name is intriguing, and I enjoyed the gameplay (I didn’t make max level) a lot. The telegraph and mostly-aoe style of play is something that I really enjoyed. It made the game have just a bit more skill than (say) WoW. That said, I ended up back in Draenor for my MMO fix, largely because I knew like one person in wildstar. I think if there was a guild and social support, I’d have stayed. Or I’d return, for that matter.

    I’d definitely log in and play now and again if it weren’t for the subscription fee. It’s a bit too steep for me, for a game I only kinda like so far.

  10. Simbosan says:

    I love really big raids, old EQ raids with unlimited numbers which occasionally got into 3 figures. That was a game! It’s now down to a 54 man limit, still enough to make the ‘herding cats’ factor big enough. Herding cats I think is the point of MMO raiding, it’s a huge part of the achievement for me. Getting a large number of people to work together as a team and defeat the latest crazy Simple Simon raid is the whole point of raiding (to me). It’s all about the people, more is better

  11. satan says:

    Game was really punishing me in dungeons for having a high ping, having to lead/compensate is ok when you’re avoiding telegraphs, but when you’re trying to land your healing telegraphs on people and you have to predict their movement and allow that 300ms gap for where you think they’re going to be… after a few very frustrating days of trying to make it work I quit.

  12. BenLeng says:

    A Soulcore Interrogator is heading right for me, accompanied by two Doomtide Corruptordrones. Presumably they are just returning from their record-breaking fourth consecutive victory at the annual Sinister Name Championships.

    BRILLIANCE.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    Dungeons, raids, mounts — after reading the article, I’m left with a feeling that it might have been about a new expansion for WoW.

  14. longlivelee says:

    As an Everquest raider, back in the day it’s hard for me to take any raiding in this or WoW seriously. I wanted to like Wildstar but it was just too out there for me. I only played the beta and was close to buying it. I can’t do the cartoony thing anymore.

    Good article though.

  15. PandaPants says:

    I didn’t get hooked on this game when I tried it out (I quit WoW when Lich King dropped, not that it’s relevant). I wanted to but just didn’t.

    Really enjoyed this article though for whatever reason. :)

  16. Kinth says:

    The Burning Crusade was the golden age of MMO’s. It’s mostly people who never experienced 40 man’s that get nostalgic about them.

    TBC just hit the balance near perfect and I’ve never enjoyed an MMo anywhere near as much as I enjoyed WoW in those days.

    • Jumwa says:

      Totally spot on about the 40-man content. 40-man content was NOT challenging either, despite what this article states. For the bulk of members in that raid, it was a cake walk. For a small core who did the necessary tasks it was tiresome. And for the raid leader? Utter hell.

      I played the game in Vanilla, where scrounging together enough gold for my mount was a big accomplishment, on through BC, WotLK, and Cataclysm. Quit then, returned to try Pandaria briefly only to quit after a level of revulsion.

      To me, the pinnacle of the game was definitely Wrath. That was when my guild of RPers was actually able to experience ALL the game offered. We were able to do all the raids, even downing the Lich King himself. Instead of like in BC, where we were confined to the only two 10-person raids, and for anything bigger we had to latch onto large impersonal blob guilds.

      I remember my hope that after the progress of BC and WotLK that Cataclysm would introduce even more life-friendly ways to do raids, only to have my hopes crushed as they took an abrupt turn towards ‘challenging content’.

      With that said, I still see far too much room for improvement to be satisfied just by going back to the WotLK model. There’s been a lot of progress in MMOs in specific areas since then too. GW2 introduced some nice aspects, Wildstar did too! Secret World had some great ideas too.