Wildstar Impressions

As someone who has poured hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours into WoW and has had a hard time fitting into another MMO, Wildstar quenches that MMO thirst. Carbine’s MMO takes elements both familiar and new to the genre and blends them together in an engaging, highly stylized package that, so far, has me excited for the game in a way that few games have. Fair to say I’ve only leveled a character to 11 in the beta, but what I’ve played has mostly left me impressed with what Carbine has managed to create.
The sci-fi tale told is a familiar one: two factions are warring over the naturally-lush planet of Nexus for colonization. In a nutshell, the imperialistic Dominion wants to level it and use it for its resources while the rebel alliance-esque Exiles just want a place to call home. Of course, one does not simply land a ship and call it “home” as Nexus is as dangerous and mysterious as it is beautiful and bizarre.
Each faction has 4 races to choose from (both with robot, human and cat-people things) as well as 6 classes to choose from. The classes fall into “healer, DPS, tank” elements, but that’s an element that still proves to work well. As someone who prefers ranged DPS to melee (though melee classes are still fun), I chose the ESPer (Exile cat person race) who conjurs telekenetic weapons and spells to deal damage and heal with.
Combat is where Wildstar really starts to stand out, aside from its brimming personality. Both you and your enemies attacks are telegraphed before they’re casted, the marked area being where the majority of damage will be aimed. This makes dodging and jumping (yes, jumping) during combat vital tactics, especially in post level-5 quests, not just in butt-kicking, but merely surviving. Dodging out of a telegraph also doesn’t mean that the enemy totally misses, but it also means that you won’t neccesarily be buying a farm either. The result is a frantic and fluid feel to the action that requires strategy and relying on line of site attacks rather than simply tabbing an enemy and hitting a number. The evolution of the action makes the game feel more, dare I say it, hardcore. I’ve died a lot, complete with a voice over mock, and feel like I have no one to blame but my own stupid self. For long-time WoW players, the questing mob difficulty is on par with pre uber-nerfed WoW (it could be difficult).
Speaking of brimming personality, Wildstar is brimming with it! This game does the best job of making you feel awesome every time you level up, no holds barred. Huge lightning bolt letters and sparklers go off every time you Level Up, complete with voiceover commentary, and presents fantastically. The quest themselves are pretty cut and dry, but the writing (that of which you can read, which I’ll get to in a bit) and cartoony artistic style makes me smile and help keep me drawn in. The episodic feeling to each zone adds a comic book or TV show vibe that’s pretty unique to MMO’s.
Lore and plot are there if you want it, but you have to seek it out, especially for the plot. Often after turning in a quest to a quest-giver (I much prefer the ones that can be turned in over communicator for this very reason), a dialogue bubble appears that’s often hard to read because it’s either hidden behind the quest-rewards screen, or it’s just hard to see. What also pours salt in the wound is if you’re in a zone with an active chat community, relying on the text box for the dialogue can be a drag and kills some of the immersion that the game obviously works hard to build.
Wildstar is something special and I’m glad I’ll be there for its launch. I’ve ran into very few performance issues and am impressed by how well everything holds up with me playing the game on low-settings. I’m excited for the dungeons, I’m excited for the adventures and I’m excited to see what craziness Carbine has in store for me.

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