Saturday, 17 May 2014

Wildstar Beta: In the Name of Dominion

The Dominion is powerful interstellar empire that considers Nexus its rightful legacy and will conquer it at all costs.
That one line says it all. If that is not enough, than the video manages to present this glorious faction such as it is. Proud, powerful, cultured, condescending and uncompromising. Those would be just few of the many adjectives that fit well with the Dominion. The other side of the coin would be pragmatic, sociopaths, bloodthirsty, without constraint, and without even a shred of mercy. Dominion Empire is in its essence such as a pack of wolves. They stick together, but they do not tolerate neither incompetence nor weakness.

But before we go on about the Dominion and how really awesome this faction is, (De gustibus non est disputandum) first a few words about the game in general. The music of the game is amazing and resonates with the theme of the game and the actual environment, and the tone of the quest or mission you are currently on. The music spans from melancholic to joyous, always retaining its light-sided mischievous soul. Many games try to convey lots of things, try to immerse the player into the world, few of them actually accomplish this. Wildstar actually manages that, and the music is one of the reasons that make it possible.

Now, onto my adventures as the courageous warrior of the Dominion Empire. I hit level 15 yesterday. My Cassian Warrior that chose the path of the Soldier finished all the quests in Deradune and moved to the second zone. But there is no point to start telling the tale from end back to start. So let us start with the beginning.

When you first enter the world you are put through one test after another. These are all precautionary measures. As you were chosen by the emperor himself, you must prove your worth, and with that, the very infallibility of the emperor. The interaction with the NPCs surrounding you is entertaining, as you are set on questioning the citizens aboard your starship. That is not because the Dominions are paranoid, but because an Exile spy managed to corrupt the thoughts of some individuals while they were in the deepsleep. The cure is always electroshock. It seems to work as well.

After the job well done, you are granted the audience with the emperor, which ends up with him not being there. Through the interaction over the hologram I got the feeling that the Dominion Emperor is a lot like Kellanved of the Malazan Empire (Malazan Book of the Fallen), and Emperor of Mankind in Warhammer 40K. Distant, not really available but still in the thick of things. As the latter two are actually very good reference in my opinion, I think the Dominion is on the good path to success, and eternal glory and dominance they want to attain.

After that I was given a choice, go explore things on some island, or go blow things up on the same island (I think). I decided that in order to serve the emperor to the best of my capabilities, I had to go and wipe the floor with the Exile scum who dared set foot on the heritage of the Dominion Empire that is the planet Nexus. I managed to do my job as a loyal soldier of the Dominion Empire without flaw. Proof of that, is that I was able to survive the whole offensive without dieing to the many wondrous weapons of mass destruction, courtesy of DRED and its leader Mondo Zax.

Carbine has a special talent for creating likable characters that are actually murderous sociopaths. Mondo Zax being the prime example. Now, to the questing itself. I must say I am impressed. The zones and the quests in them seem to flow without problem. Most of the time you will always have something to do. The quests are entertaining, they let you know what Dominion is all about, who and what makes the Dominion for what it is, and what that means.

Draken as the powerful warriors that fervently serve the emperor, but still retain their own traditions, rituals and customs. Chua as the maniacs that would stop at nothing in order to make a breakthrough in the field of mass destruction. Mechari as the loyal subjects who calculate all possible things in order to give the Dominion the edge in their conquest of Nexus and all the universe. And then, last but not least we have Cassians. Filled with pride, honour, and pragmatism. It is their humbleness that makes them great. They did not choose to rule, they were destined to rule. As they say, Destiny leads the willing and drags the unwilling. And who are they to oppose the destiny?

All that the quests manage to hammer through in this initial fifteen levels. You see how the Dominion diplomacy works. And when diplomacy does not work, you get to be the sword that makes things right. There is no such thing as an overkill when it comes to the Dominion. They will burn down the houses of their enemies by using the orbital strike. They will cut down the eco-terrorists that infest the beautiful savanna with lush green forests.

It says a lot about the Dominion. Even though they use orbital strike, they are able to pinpoint it, and destroy only the designated target, nothing more, nothing less. It feels like a heart-transplant with a chainsaw, and the patient made it out alive. While Draken do hunt all the living things down, the Dominion is making certain to have all the animals stored in order to repopulate the area when the time comes. The Dominion likes things to be in order. If there was no forest in savanna before, there is no reason to let one be after the terrorists of the Aurin grew one and forced all the local fauna into retreat.

With the Dominion everything has its own place and purpose. And what does not fit, gets cut off and thrown away. It is never smart to provoke the Dominion, and for continually doing so, Exiles deserve the grudging respect. Yet in the end, even they rascals as they are, will meet their end and embrace the benevolent rule of the emperor Myrcalus the Vindicator.

Even though the Deradune is a savanna, at times clearly a desert it still has enough colour about it to make it feel alive. This is one of the things that I appreciate the most about the game. The ability to retain more than one colour at all times. This is what cartoon style should always be, and I feel it lacks at times in World of Warcraft. I like to see beautiful world, and Wildstar does not disappoint.

I love the breaking of the fourth wall. Most of the time. When transporter, or the ressurecter comments on my state it is fun. Mostly because the voice and the commentary reminds me of Marvin from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and who could ever hate Marvin? What I do not like about breaking the fourth wall, even if it makes most sense to do it then is the flashy level up. I could live without it. I have Marvin already.

Now, what remains, is forcing myself to go and level up a character on the Exile side. That is because I am currently really enjoying the Dominion, and I feel like every minute I would spend as an Exile would be a minute I could be having fun as a member of the Dominion. I know, I know, it is something I have to work on. Who knows, maybe I find a shred of charm in those ragtag group of bandits, pirates, and criminals.

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