Thursday, 29 May 2014

Wildstar Beta: Final Impression

And so the time has come, to say farewell, and write my final thoughts on Wildstar before the game comes out and hopefully for the first time really threatens the well-established king on its throne. I like Wildstar, the open beta I took part in was one of the most entertaining, and funny MMO experience I had the chance to experience in recent years.

Unlike the most MMO games in this day and age who tried to "copy" World of Warcraft in one aspect or another, they all failed in copying the really important part, the spirit of the game. This is something Wildstar has in spades. It is full of humour, its cartoony nature suits it, and it does not shy away from it, instead it embraces it. I find this to be great approach. If you establish that the prime goal of the game is to have fun through the presence of characters and their emotions, then you make a manoeuvring space where you can approach even more serious topics without deviating from the formula.

But before I go and sing praises to Wildstar that would ring all the way to high heaven, let us focus on a few other key components of the game, such as crafting for example. I tried crafting in Wildstar, and I am probably not the right person to talk about crafting, as I find it one of the most tedious things to do in much of the most games I had the chance to craft in. But I will do it nonetheless. You know how it goes. The good and the bad, as they say. (one day I should really reexamine who these "they" are)

Crafting, it is different. I decided to try my hand in the ways of the Armourers and Miners. Basically, I was making armour for my Warrior with the materials that I gathered on the surface of Nexus. The crafting is pretty simple. At least this is the feeling I got, but for it to get simple, you must "get" it. Once you understand what needs to be done I would guess it is even entertaining. Although the profession quests leave a bit of bad taste in mouth. They do not appear to be worth it. When you make four pairs of gloves for an NPC and get in return a pittance of coins, you do get a bit bitter.

The crafting itself works on the principle of salvage. You destroy the gear and stuff you do not need, take out the still useful parts and combine them with the ore and some additional stuff you can get from your local trader, to make a supreme specimen of crafting. You can adjust the stats on the gear you are crafting, I would just recommend that you first truly understand which stats are for you. I for example was making a hybrid gear for the most time, since I thought the stats do not differentiate much from World of Warcraft. Thus my gear served me well, but not as well as it would, if I made pure DPS piece, or pure tank piece.

The interesting part is the "juicing" component of crafting that I mentioned before. You can make a pretty overpowered piece of equipment i you so desire. But there is drawback. When you cross the barrier, there is a chance for the piece of equipment to be destroyed. There is the "harmless" 1% chance of failure, and there is much more. As I tend to prefer the safe side of things, I chanced 1%, that was enough of excitement for me in regards to crafting.

Those who play World of Warcraft will be familiar with the system of transmogrification. Wildstar has something similar in the system of costumes. But I feel the Wildstar version is much more rigid and outdated. Yes, I know, it feel weird to call a feature tin a game that is not out yet outdated, but it is. Certainly having a list of armour sets is a splendid idea, but how the whole thing is incorporated feels wrong. If I change the look of one piece of gear, that in most instances does not mean that I want that piece of gear to be visible forever. It means I do not want to see that peace which I covered up, not the next one.

Granted, if you asked me do I want for a complete transmog I wear fall to pieces every time I get a better item, I would certainly say no. So, what I am asking here is, that they need that added option. To see how you look and then choose a costume on the fly, not running back to something that resembles a mailbox. Aside from that, I really missed the preview gear option. I tried, I looked but I did not fin it anywhere. I know it is not something really needed, but this sort of a standard feature, that you do not just go and disregard. I am still hoping I was blind and just missed it, even if I  in desperation did right click+ctrl.

Another thing that Wildstar has, is housing. This one depends entirely upon you and the money you have. More money, more items, less money, more spartan look. I will just say that because of all messing around I did with the house I ended up broke for a short period of time, so be careful at start. There is no need to buy everything at once. I would recommend even that you buy nothing at all until you reach max level. First take a look at the world, experience it to the fullest, and then go and build your little (or magnanimous) retreat from all the crazy that goes around on Nexus.

There is a recall button that to my knowledge has three locations. One is the standard such as hearthstone in World of Warcraft. It transports you to whichever gate of some outpost in the wilderness you designated for your preferred location. The second is (for Dominion) Illium, I presume this is meant as recall to capital city, so I guess the Exiles have their own equivalent, even if it probably does look like bunch of tents all thrown one over the other. The third recall, is to your very own house high in the clouds.

I love the double jump. This is something that plays on the comical side of things that seems so perfect for Wildstar, you can double jump, nobody asks why, everyone takes it for granted, and we all enjoy it. A perfect match I would think. This leaves us only paths to examine. I talked about how playing the Dominion Warrior Soldier was a perfect combination.

I like the Soldier path. Maybe it is my nature, and I truly enjoy all the mindless slaughter that comes with this violent path, but I would think this is the one I understand the best. It is simple, straightforward, and there are no additional or hidden hooks around it. The soldier path is the epitome of veni, vidi, vici. I came, I saw, I conquered. It is brutal yet effective. Unlike the explorer path, that one I hated even before I left the tutorial zone on the Exile ship. I hate jumping puzzles. What I hate even more are timed jumping puzzles.

Give me a mountain with no obvious path, and I will enjoy spending my time figuring out how to climb on top of it. Give me a timer, and I will prefer blasting the damned mountain to the oblivion. I did not try the Scientist path, it appeared boring, but I did check out the Settler path. This one seems one of the eternal struggle. You complete the quests and requests, but they never go away. Settler's job is never done on Nexus, and I hate that aspect. I like that you can help building/rebuilding the outpost, but the magic disappears when you already helped renovate the local bar, but the next time you log in, the bar once again requires renovation.

All in all Wildstar is an awesome game. This is based on the experience of the first 15 levels. That means that it could happen that once you get to mid or lategame situation changes. I hope that never comes to be. I love Wildstar, I will not buy it, at least not at the start, but I love the game nonetheless. I have my doubts about their endgame approach, and certainly a fair point is the question of longevity if all the content at the endgame is meant for hardcore audience.

What I do hope is that Wildstar succeeds. I think a good competition is healthy for World of Warcraft, and at this point really needed. World of Warcraft has grown complacent and deserves a strong wake-up call. I would not mind if that wake-up call came in the form of Wildstar, after all the game is made by former Blizzard renegades.I just realised that I criticised TESO for not being innovative enough, and now I praise Wildstar for their great grasp of iteration. All I have to say that one is not the other, and that Wildstar has more humour to it than TESO. What can I say, this is after all my opinion of the game.

If you missed my previous posts about my experiences in Wildstar Open Beta, here is the list:

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