Welcome to WildStar! There’s a lot of hype surrounding Carbine Studios’ upcoming MMO. Having played the first 15 levels (and more, but in this preview we can only talk about the first 15), I’ve come to learn the ins and outs of the game. In this WildStar preview, you’ll find out some of what there is to love about the game, as well as its few flaws.
**Note: We will be doing a separate feature on the game’s crafting system sometime soon, so that will not be detailed in this preview.**
Overall, questing in WildStar feels very similar to that of World of Warcraft; many of the quests are simply go here, kill 20 of these mobs, turn in the quest. But it is the nature of the game’s combat that makes these typical MMO quests feel less like a grind. Never did I feel that the quests were too easy, and some of them were actually quite difficult.
Not all of the quests are typical, though, and there are quite a few incredibly enjoyable quests that stand out. I won’t spoil it entirely for you, but one specific quest sends you to another planet of some sort to explore a mine that is unlike any mine that you’ve seen before, and the quest is one of the most immersive experiences in an MMO to date.
Questing from levels 1-9 is a lackluster experience, for the most part. But once you hit level 10 and get yourself an awesome hoverboard mount, you’ll certainly enjoy questing much more.
One thing is certain: You’ll never run out of quests. There are always a ton of quests available, and there are always quests that pop-up for your path or for crafting that need completing.
The biggest complaint I have about WildStar is with its quest presentation, mostly that the quest text is way too small. Because of the text size, I have to squint my eyes and focus on it which takes away from the immersion. And, well, that’s not cool.
But the quest log is also problematic and feels unorganized, so it can be a bit overwhelming. I think this issue lies with the fact that it tracks your crafting quests as well as your paths and your normal XP quests; there’s just too much being tracked on the screen at any given time. Unfortunately, you can only minimize each individual quest on the screen, as opposed to being able to completely remove the quest from the tracking on the side of your screen. Some quests you simply don’t need to track, such as crafting 3 fiberflex gloves.
Sure, you can click on any quest for an awesome guiding arrow helper, but with 15 quests in your log it can certainly get confusing.
There’s also a disconnect with some of the quests that lack immersion. Click this NPC, get a quest, kill 10 spiders, turn quest in. How about some clever cutscenes to match the clever DevSpeak videos? Maybe those spiders are plotting to destroy the universe…who knows? But I’d certainly like to know why killing these spiders is important other than a simple text explanation.
But, one of my favorite things about WildStar comes from the phone call communications with some quest givers. While out in a field slashing at crafting mats or killing those 10 spiders for a quest, you’ll receive a voice transmission from another quest giver asking you to complete another task in the area, usually relating to your path. It feels delightfully similar to Starfox, having the same style of conversation and mild humor.
Combat in WildStar is very satisfying, and you’ll certainly be challenged when playing. The combat mechanics in the game aren’t just a simple point, click, rinse, repeat type of deal. Oh, no no. You’ll need to dodge out of the way of your enemy’s attack, roll to the side of him, line up your shot and take it. And, it’s satisfying as all hell. The dynamic combat is what most separates WildStar from those other MMOs.
I spent most of my time testing out the Esper class, and there’s definitely a learning curve you’ll need to overcome in order to reach your potential. There are so many different abilities for you to choose from (and luckily, you get to choose your own mix). You’ll likely become overwhelmed by how many different types of abilities you’ll have, and that is just at level 15. I can be a healer, a support player, a damage-dealer, or a wonderful mix of the best abilities that each class has to offer. You can further upgrade these abilities to different tiers with each level you earn using points. You’ll also be able to use what are called AMPs (whatever THAT means) that allow you to augment your stats even further to better your combat skills.
At its core, housing is probably one of the coolest aspects about WildStar. I surprisingly found myself caring more about upgrading my house than I cared about leveling. You can buy a plot and a house once you hit level 14, and at first, it’s all a bit overwhelming. There are different types of houses you can buy, all of which have different costs. On top of that, there are an incredible amount of additions that you can purchase (or find out in the world) for your house. There are many different things for you to add to your plot of land, such as a crafting kiosk, BBQ pit, kiddie pool, festival area and even an anti-air defense tower. Other landscape options include an ice pond, and even your own hobo train or ferris wheel. Apparently, the hobos will leave cans and garbage on your doorstep, although I have not personally unlocked the hobo train yet.
There are also mannequins to dress up and use to show off your old armor and weapons. Yeah, mannequins.
You can even customize the sky surrounding your plot of land (WARNING: don’t pick ‘Tornado’!)
There are also some additions that will give you buffs and other similar benefits. By default, players have a ‘housing board’ that offers a few different useful buffs for a full 24 hours. There are, as previously mentioned, other items you can add to your landscape that will grant you other benefits.
You’ll have to repair these items, though, and it can definitely get costly. You aren’t making money left and right in the game (although I’m sure you will once the economy is properly up and running), but at level 15 I only had less than 3G in my pockets, and housing repairs cost 75S. I had 5 landscaped units already that needed repair, which would cost me well over 3G. If you don’t repair these items, they simply won’t work.
Renown is earned through social gaming, basically. Anything you do in a group or with a friend earns you what is called renown. Renown is a form of currency that players can use to buy objects for their house. If social gaming isn’t really your thing, than you might take issue with its current iteration. But, it’s likely that Carbine will add more ways to earn renown so that non-social gamers aren’t punished.
While the bigger picture for WildStar is outlined above, there are some great little charming aspects of the game that deserve a mention. And, it’s the little things that mean so much. For example, when your character eats something, “Nom! Nom! Nom!” pops up onto your screen over his/her head, which made me chuckle when I first saw it.
Another great inclusion in the game, although it’s already been widely shown-off, is hoverboards. They’re smooth. They’re high-flying. They’re fun. It’s a little different from other MMOs, and that goes a long way.
There’s also a hamster on a wheel during a longer load time. Clever, Carbine, clever.
Although WildStar isn’t all butterflies, cupcakes and rainbows, it certainly shows a ton of promise and is likely to become the hottest MMO in 2014. Carbine hasn’t reinvented the wheel here with one big BOO-YA, in-your-face mechanic we haven’t seen. But, instead makes A TON of minor tweaks to the current MMO formula that add up to one big picture—a picture that I’m liking quite a bit.
If the game were to launch right now, it is already a must-buy, even though it is still in the closed beta stage and there are some minor bugs. Carbine has clearly paid attention to all types of MMO players: role-players, PvPers, crafters, and the adventure-seekers. I’m all of the aforementioned, and I enjoyed every minute of being in Nexus.