So, as mentioned in my recent Patreon
post, I've been playing a bit of Wildstar.
I had been following the progress for Wildstar for sometime while it was in development. And the more I saw, the more I liked what was being shown. However, it had a rocky beta and even rocker development. NCSoft* gutted the entire team right before launch. And when launch did happened, it was filled with bugs and shackled with a bad credit processor who was double and triple billing people. As such, I, along with many others stayed away in droves until things shook out.
It did not take very long for the game to go F2P and I was all for trying then. But had already gotten sucked into Guild Wars 2 at the time, so my toons sat on their server, waiting for me to return.
Now was that time.
I am very, very conflicted.
I'm actually really fond of the characters I created. My two "mains" are Flounce Cravat, an Exile Aurian Tanky Stalker (paired with Rindis' Aurian Spellslinger), and Palladi Bixbyte, the Dominion Mechari DPS Warrior (Solo). I am really fond of the design since of this game and how much personality both character have just standing around. It is just out right fun to play them, both in and out of combat. I do have issues with how shallow, stuck-up, and snobbish the Dominion can be. They are the bad guys you love to hate. And I've always had issues with anti-heros. But when you set up a two-sided faction thing for gaming, someone has to have the "babies on spikes" quests....
I am fond the world, Nexus, that has been presented, with all it's little hidden charms. The fact that they didn't do just another European Fantasy** Game and make it so cohesive really tickles my world-builder fancy. I love of the detail they gave each of their toony models and animation. Each mob/creature all feel like they are part of a greater whole, no monster or mount, or clothing feels out of place, despite how wacky they can get. Of all the things I think this game did right, it's the world building.
I am fond the fact that the game itself does not take itself seriously. From the Arly Erny wannabe sound off when you level, to the outrageous mounts, to hover-boarding on the moon***, to Protostar's blatant, in-your-face marketing schemes, this game is the polar opposite of gritty SERIOUS MMOs****. The humor can be pretty snarky at times and a little rude, but rarely sexist. Which for gaming is kind unusual.
And I am fond of their more simplified combat style that, if rebound, does not have you playing keyboard pianist. Once I got rebound to something more like Neverwinter's***** setup, I was in happy land. It still has some minor issues, like the key-binds not being happy when I turn "mouse look" (also known as an action camera) on and off. This can be an issue when for some things you HAVE to click on them to activate and it takes me forever (in game terms) to toggle the mouse look on and off to click. This has led to me having to skip a quest as I simply cannot click on things fast enough to make it work. But the tells on screen are wonderful. I hope more games do things like that.
Yet, oh so annoyed that the system is soooo geared to the hard-core raider that it makes doing simple, basic things like questing convoluted, trying, or (in the worst case scenario) out and out bugged. From a UI that is too busy, to text that is very hard to read******, to important story elements scrolling by way too fast, it's impossible to keep track of things on screen. NPCs will talk over you trying to read the text (and saying completely different things from the text), then the text would blink away, only to be followed by another verbal snippet and huge text block that would be on screen for 2 seconds at most, then the NPCs leave. And it's a crap-shoot whether any of this shows up in the chat-log. Unless you are a super speed reader, good luck following the story lines with that. Oh, and the text for quest objectives is sometimes so vague you spend 1/2 your time wandering around trying to figure out what you should do until you randomly stumble on the answer.
This has frustrated me and Rindis to no end. Yet we keep coming back like masochists.
It's as if the decision was made to try and speed the questing up (which for me *IS* the game) so that people can get to the high end content (ie raiding/PvP) as fast as humanly possible. Text is just obstruction so, lets speed that up! Lost in the zone? No worries, skip half the quests and fight your way out, that should get your the level points you need. At that point, you might as well just have everyone start at max level and be done with it. Oh, wait - that was last week's promotion....
The questing is contorted. This has led to more than a few occasions of me playing the area story backwards as they keep shoving quests at me for just falling down a small incline or jogging to a vendor that just happened to be tied to a different quest hub. It has left me with a feeling of being constantly lost and not sure if I've lost plot threads. Like picking up a Tom Clancy novel then randomly turning to a different page every-time you hit the bottom of the one you just read.
This might not have been so bad if the world story hadn't been so shallow. A lot of things can be forgiven if the story is strong and you actually care about the characters involved. But no, the story got no love. And that lack of love manifested in not very well thought out questing paths and hubs. The main meat of the game in Wildstar feels more like the red-headed stepchild to the raiding crowd than the actual game itself.
I think the only thing that keeps this in check is the player housing, which is awesome. They did a really good job there, making housing something more than just a digital doll house. From gathering nodes to portals to different regions to challenges and dungeons in your backyard, they made something there worth playing with. Rindis and I have been really making good use out of the crafting stations. Craft in peace and quite instead of having to do so in the middle of one of the faction cities. Lot easier on the screen clutter and much, much easier on the processor.
All and all, I think this game still has potential it's got a lot of really good things weighted down with some bad execution on others. And at the end of the day, I am enjoying my time ingame. But I wonder for how long. Not just in my game time, but before NCSoft decides to pull the plug on something that could have shaken out to be really nice.
In the meantime, I will continue to play for now. and occasionally do sketches of my guys. But it might not be long before I head back to Guild Wars 2 or FFIX, two games that are much, much more solid with story and game play and are getting the support they deserve.
Final conclusion: Wildstar
, fun game for the more advanced MMO player. Had a really rocky start. Has many small, nagging issues. NCSoft wholesale gutting of development team being one of the highest. I fear it might go the way of City of Heros.
If you want to see some of how this all plays out, I've been streaming Rindis' and I's group game sessions on Twittch
. The latest two should be us trying to two man the first "dungeon", Protostar Academy, and us taking on the first of the Sim Cores. Spoilers - we failed at both. Protostar because we just don't quite have enough DPS for the last push of the last boss. Annoying but understandable. Sim Core: the Hycrest Uprising, we literately could not figure out where the bombs where we needed to to the last scenario. We were both really frustrated with that.
*My general opinion of NCSoft is not a good one. My original account with them was hacked from City of Heros after it closed. They used it to create a login into a different game NCSoft hosted to sell gold, then blocked me and would not let me reclaim it. This is why I never got into the Wildstar beta and was really leary of playing any NCSoft games. After all, City of Heros was closed out. If the gold farmers got into that database after the fact, what other security leaks did they have?
**Don't get me wrong, I love European Fantasy settings. I write them all the time. But world-building outside of the box is always a good thing.
***Oh, come on, who doesn't wanna try hover-boarding on the moon? Think of all that air you won't catch!
****Looking at you, Lord of the Rings Online! Conan too.
*****Neverwinter (Online) is my current high benchmark for combat. It's quick, snappy, and bound entirely to the left side of the keyboard and mouse left/right. As such, I spend all my time watching the combat and reacting, instead of having to look at the keyboard or UI and desperately try and figure out which key I'm suppose to be punching before I get my ass handed back to me on a silver platter.
******Seriously, who thought 1px wide, 9pt, light blue text on a medium blue background was a good idea? I know there will be folks crying "But why don't you use a UI add-on to change it?" My reply: Why don't they build a good UI in the first place so I don't NEED and add-on?