Sunday, 11 May 2014

Wildstar Beta: First Steps

So after long and arduous path that included missing the first beta weekend because of me not having time, missing the second weekend because of all technical difficulties having to do with me being from the Old Continent, now I was finally able to take a look at Wildstar and asses the situation the game is currently in. I was satisfied to be honest.

First I heard of Wildstar was some years back with that witty little trailer that was a silent promise of all possible misadventures you might take part in by just exploring. You know, that trailer with dashing young spellslinger, bunny hopping scientist, and grim bored with life and having no tolerance for all the shenanigans stone warrior. It was a grand vision that played on the strings that responded to Firefly, and Warcraft. It was a vision that promised both at the same time. I was sold.

Now back to grim reality. Truth be told, it is not so grim after all. I will start with the races and the character creator. The races are different enough to be recognized on the spot. You might have some problem with humans, as they are on both sides but in general there is enough diversity among them. Even the two human factions do not share the same looks. Exiles look more mellow, nice, wide-eyed. Cassians under the Dominion on the other hand leave the impression of a stern, arrogant, no-nonsense, aristocratic individuals. They have their own hairstyles, accessories, etc.

If lacking in any way, I feel the character creator could be better with the addition to adjust the size/look of the cheek bones and cheeks. While solid, the size of eyes is not sufficient in that regard, thus most of the characters, if not the appropriate race, might look a bit puffy. I would like to have some additional choices, such as scars and tattoos. It is the small things that count.

The body types seem to be in favour of assortment of idealised builds. When I was creating Granok male, I could have sworn that my options were between stone block and stone block two. While different, they feel too similar. The same is true for other races as well. You might choose between different types of body. But the end result is always bulky, muscular character. I can live with that.

The aesthetics of the game are cartoony, and this exaggeration of character is what makes it compelling. It is full of that simple charm. Nothing stands out. Everything and everybody fits in the world Carbine built. The game is everything the debut trailer from years ago promised it to be. I would say it is a perfect blend of Warcraft and Firefly.

What bothers me are the quests. There is the usual assortment that does not surprise anyone. I actually like it. It old, tested, and it works. Even the reward system is good, and manages to provide the things you need. What bothers me about the quests is the lack of quest text. I know, it is not the usual complaint. And I will say that I usually just accept quests and go on my way. But while I am on my way, I like to read them. In Wildstar I am denied this enjoyment. All the quests feature are the objectives. If you want to know why you are doing a particular quest, you must stay around and read what that NPC has to say to you. Another thing that bothers me is the chaotic nature of the communications with NPCs.

While you are about to take quest there is separate window for the quest containing only the objective and your reward, while the quest giver babbles about everything in his own bubble on the other side of the screen. And that makes it unnecessarily difficult to track the quest and figure out what needs to be done. Also, the font size. While you can change the size of UI, you cannot change the size of the font of the names of questgivers, quest text, and the other objectives. I would not mind if those would be a bit larger. I would actually prefer if they were a bit larger.

The combat is engaging, responsive, and in general feels satisfying. I am still trying to figure out the AMPs and all the talents, but the current array of skills I have on my disposal seems to do the job just fine. I do not really know what to say about the challenges to be honest. While I see their point, I do not ever linger long enough to actually complete them. It feels as if they are the unfortunate side quest that is not worth the effort. To elaborate. While you are questing out in the wilds, every so often you will get a challenge. As far as I figured it out, you get a challenge once you kill a certain type of enemy. While that is great, the challenge in general is not hard, at least it should not be, there is no real incentive to complete it. At least not to my knowing. The challenge, you see, is kill X until the time runs out.

As the X is unknown, you have to just either slaughter your way through that one particular type of mob until the bar is full, or you move on. Because you have completed all the quests and want to see what is next. Quests are actually fun, challenges not so much. Challenges appear to me as a bad distraction from entertaining story and quests.

That would be about my first taste of what Wildstar has to offer. I plan on making more detailed post focusing on the journey my Cassian Warrior Soldier is on, and later on the journey my Granok Warrior Explorer is about to embark on. I must say, the Warrior class is so much fun to play, that I feel no need to check any other. It feel powerful, devastating, and most of all, it is engaging to play it.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with pretty much all of that. I'm also certain that WildStar is a complicated affair (overly so, most likely) and therefore an awful lot of what we think we know about how it works from the first few levels will turn out to be wrong.

    I also find challenges disruptive. I've already stopped trying to complete them - I just click them off as though they were annoying pop-up ads. They come in more forms than just Kill X, though. I had one to ring bells to call NPCs to church, for example. The Kill ones I've had have also given the kill numbers. That doesn't make them any less annoying, though.


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