A Tailored Buffet [WildStar]
Every since WildStar was announced in 2011 I found myself intrigued by the game. Perhaps you could attribute this to the art style but, I was genuinely interested in their design approach. Over and over, Carbine Studios stated that they just wanted to make a fun game and cater to as many people as they could. To create an environment that not matter what the played did, they could enjoy themselves. This lead to development of content rich areas, unique play experiences and, sandbox-like features that enables players and guilds to create their own footprint.
When I played the game at Pax East this year I was able to experience some of that philosophy first hand. Getting a taste of the Dominion faction in the Dredune starter are, a Draken tribal area, I started out playing as a Cassian Spellslinger who specialized in the Solider Path. Right out of the gate, I seen the wealth of content and how it all melding together. The first quest I received tasked me with proving myself by hunting nearby creatures, a basic quest to introduce combat. However, since I chose the Soldier’s Path during character creation, I also had the opportunity to test stick grenades on the same wildlife I had to hunt. Essentially I was completing two quests at once but I was receiving a tailored experience from my path.
The combat varies with each class but the fundamental rules apply, don’t stand in the fire and be aware of your situation and surroundings. The game has dodge mechanics as well as, free form moves that allow you to DPS as you manuever. Do note however, that there are skills that will root you in place. Monsters will telegraph any big moves they are about to unleash, they vary from conal attacks, charges, and some skills randomly target the surrounding area. There is a mix of strategy and on your toes reactions. Utilizing your skill set, you slowly learn what a monster is capable of and adjusting the way you do combat to take it down efficiently.
For example, fighting a ram-like creatures in Dredune, I noticed they used a charging attack. So as a Spellslinger, I had the option of interrupting the charge or creating distance and calculating a way to counter the attack after it was performed. Since it was telegraphed I knew the end location of attack allowing me to dodge, create distance and use one of the Spellslinger’s ability to snare the target after the attack to create an easy kill before it was able to get into melee range of me.
The way combat works in WildStar I found myself strategizing a bit more and really thinking about how to deal with multiple monsters. A lot of attacks in the game can hit more than one enemy, so positioning is key and learning what options are available to you and when to use them are key to high level play. Overall I enjoyed combat quite a bit, it’s not as free form as action oriented game but not as restrictive as combat is in classic MMOs.
What impressed me the most about the game was the small touches made throughout the area. When I killed the neutral mobs in the area, vulchers would come down and pick over the corpse. When they did I had the option of eliminating them as well. The Soldier’s Path mission I mentioned before, when I used the stick grenades on the hostile wildlife, they would take it and bang it against the ground until it exploded resulting in comical explosion of fictional bones and meat. Throughout the zone monsters were being dropped off in cages not native to the area for the Draken and players to hunt.
I also had the opportunity to see what the Explorer’s Path was about. It gave me the opportunity to climb intrigue tree formations to get a good look around my surrounding area as well as, discover a hidden area only accessible by explorers that not only give me a neat underground area to explore but, I could also use it to traverse across the zone.
There are other features of the game I wanted to see in action but was unable to experience first hand. Housing is one of the staple features in WildStar. It allows players to not only create a footprint by designing a home to their tastes but to also use the surrounding land to plant crafting nodes, raid teleports, jumping puzzles, etc., and share it with the public, friends, or keep access solely for themselves. Akin to housing, they are also implementing Warplots, which are custom made PvP areas that guilds can use as a fort that can be pitied against and group or guild in custom PvP matches outside the structured PvP or open world PvP combat.
WildStar like Guild Wars 2 has managed to grab my attention well before launch because they showcase elements that I want in a MMO. In Guild Wars 2, I adore the level scaling system because it gives me the ability to play with friends who are lower level then my characters. I love to create a certain look for my character and the system they have in place allows me to do that. I’ve asked a developer on the show floor about creating a custom look for my character and I was told they are working on something to allow that.
WildStar provides a smorgasbord of content that mingles together quite nicely. The starter area gave me a lot of options to how I wanted to level and with the Path system I can tailor that further depending on the playstyle I want for a certain character or my personal preference. I believe if a game, MMOs in particular can have features that allow it to create a more intimate experience with players, they will tend to stick around for the long haul because a piece of them exists in the game. So aside from character creation creation, Housing, and Warplots I feel are important features that I’m glad they are developing for launch.
Overall, I enjoyed the sessions I was able to get with WildStar, I liked the art style, the combat was enjoyable, and the path content was unique and provided a unique taste of what the game had to offer during my various play sessions. I want to see what else the game has to offer in the coming months.