Wildstar: Different, engaging, and beautiful. This is a game with a lot of potential. It is easy to pick up, hard to put down. There are features that cater to all gamer personality types, and more to do then just play your class.
My review will be based on my gameplay experiences in Wildstar, and not about the bugs I have encountered; we all know there will be bugs during Beta tests!
Character creation: With multiple options for build, face and the ability to fine tune facial features. Easy to navigate, easy to correct errors in adjustment; the only problem I had with it was an inability to adjust height. Still, perfect in my opinion, 5 out of 5!
Class and Path: This is something I have never seen before in a game, and I loved it. Not only do we get to play a Class, but we also have a “Path” which gives us a Job we perform in the game. The part that is really nice about the Jobs is that it basically encourages cooperative gameplay in the sense that your Job allows you to do things that affect other players’ in the game world. Your Job opens up areas, devices, and objects that help everyone. Explorers opening hidden areas that all players’ can access, Settlers building machines that give buffs, buildings that provide feasts, and merchants with Tiered items for sale. Scientists open locked doors in Labs, work with Settlers to repair mining robots found around the map, which provide the Settler with materials for the buildings and devices they construct. Soldiers start area battles that ll players’ can participate in. Those are the discoveries I was able to make in the short time I was able to play Wildstar; there very well could be more! Being the first I have experienced this feature in a game, 5 out of 5!
Classes from what I saw were able to be played two ways. Medics, Espers, and Spellslingers can be played as DPS, or as Healer’s, which I found rather enjoyable; those were my favorite classes. Warriors, Engineer’s and Stalker’s can be played as DPS or Tank’s. Where I spend a great deal of time soloing content, the latter three classes were not as good a match for me as the first three were. I found that with the Healing classes, I was able to sometimes solo the five man area quest monsters with a fair amount of effort. With the DPS classes however, it was not happening. For soloists, Medic, Esper, or Spellslinger is great! 4 out of 5, mostly because a Tanker should have an easier time soloing then they do.
Graphics: Admittedly, I am not really one to be judgmental about Graphics as a whole. If the models look good, then I can forgive minor background defects that might occur. The graphics in Wildstar are beautiful, even though the character models are a bit on the “toony” side; I think it adds to the appeal of the game. I’ll say 4 out of 5 for graphics.
Sound: Well, I can’t rate the graphics and not the sound right? Loads of background noise made it believable for me. Everything from the sound of churning Slush to the distant voices in the towns; honestly, some of the sounds got annoying after a while and I was glad to finally be out of the area they were in;. Still, they enhanced the game just by being there. 4 out of 5!
Gameplay: Yeah, the big one. I think of gameplay in terms of ease of progression in a game. Am I halted at a certain point in the game because the path to advance requires willingly joining a group setting to tackle a Dungeon or other large task that cannot be soloed? Am I forced into an open PvP environment as part of normal gameplay? Will there be things to do on the side that will enhance my experiences as I play? There are so many more questions that I can ask when I am looking over a player’s guide, but sometimes it is easier to just dive in and see for myself.
While playing, I never really encountered anything that halted my progression (or that would have). Even the five man quest mobs were not a hindrance, since you can join an ongoing battle with one and get credit for the kill. Open targeting is a great feature in games, and it makes it easier for solo players to still advance through their normal gamplay solo. While the idea behind MMO’s is to promote group activities, more and more players prefer to go it alone so to speak. Allowing open targeting on group mobs is great, and promotes teamwork without actually grouping. There are enough group based content in games as it is (Dungeons, PvP battles, Raids), more of the PvE open world encounters in game’s really should be open target in my opinion. My experience in Wildstar shoes that open targeting is there.
The Path feature opened up a boatload of side content for us as well, with the out of the way hidden areas, objects that provided limited duration boosts for the wild mega jumping we did in certain areas (can’t count the number of times I laughed at myself for skyrocketing into the air, then dying on impact with the ground because the limited duration ended on the way back down! So much fun though!), hidden paths that we could open to help get us up to a higher location where an objective was. It was really nice to see that the Path wasn’t just something put in to help us in a couple of quests, but rather something we could actively pursue in game aside from normal questing. Questing can be fun, but everyone needs a break for constant questing. The Path feature helps with that.
I admit, I played 6 different character’s during the 5 days I managed to play (I’ll cover that later), so I only got to level 15. But I never did encounter an area where I was forced to PvP. Open world PvP is alright if it is what you are in to, but for someone who is just trying to work on their quests, or gather materials for their crafting, it can be annoying. So I was glad to see that I was not forced into PvP. With my highest level being 15, I really am unsure if at any point in the game you are actually forced in to PvP though.
Progression through a Zone didn’t seem to flow really. When you have a giant map area to cover, it tends to get annoying having to go all the way to pone end of the sliver of a map, and then go to another in the opposite direction. My personal preference in Zone progression is to not have new quests open up until the story quests for an area have been completed. Since for the most part, Story driven quests are not totally undoable (most are designed to be soloable by all classes in my experience) it tends to help you complete a particular part of the Zone before you move on to the next, and allows for the full exploration of the map. It feels less chaotic that way as well, not like you have to do the quest 1200 meters to the West before you can come back to start the quest you picked up in town that is right up the hill and behind the wall of rocks. Lack of transportation options and grave markers were bad too. When you did get all the way to the other end of a Zone, you were forced to use your teleport ability to get back to town, or fight your way back through the mass of mobs you cleared out to get where you are. There is no hidden portal, no out of the way hermit with a giant bird he will let you use for s fee. Also, when you died WAAAAYYYYYYYYY out there, you respawned in town???? Then you had to foot it back out there. These things slowed things down a bit for me; it didn’t make the game unplayable, just annoying.
I didn’t get a chance to try a Dungeon, or the PvP (for the PvP, it was due to a bug that caused the nameplates of players to disappear when they would get around each other) so I can’t really comment on that; I do know those features are they however, so they will still fall into the side things to do part of the game. 5 out of 5 for Gameplay!
Questing: Pretty straight forward here; Story quests and “side” quests as they are called in a lot of games on the market. No complaints here aside from one that I encountered that was bugged and had not been fixed since the Alpha testing from what I read in the forums. The quests I did were standard really, but not boring. 5 out of 5 for the questing I was able to do up to level 15!
Guilds: I never joined a Guild in Wildstar, nor was I able to create one. The cost to start one was too high for me to afford in the limited time I was able to play. So I can’t give an accurate rating on Guilds and the Guild system.
Crafting: This is the big one for me; I rate game playability on the crafting they have. If the crafting system of a game is bad, I lose interest in the game and move on. With that said, allow me to provide my impression, then speak my mind about things.
The crafting in Wildstar is actually very well thought out. The system itself is easy to understand without a tutorial once you start playing around with it. So the crafting system is great! The items you make are functional (ie, you can use them over some of the quest items you pick up) and once you unlock a section (I love that you craft a certain number of items to unlock new patterns) you advance; no buying new patterns! Getting the materials however, is not as great.
I understand the need to be different, I really do. For example, I prefer to be polite, kind, and helpful to people I encounter online. You never know when you are interacting with your best friend, someone on an alternate character that belongs to the guild you are in, or someone you know from another game. It just pays to be nice. That isn’t the case with a lot of the people you encounter online however. Still, it does make me different. In the case of crafting, different is sometimes good, but sometimes not good. It is good to set a minimum level for starting crafting; you should not place that same level on the ability to gather the materials you will need for that crafting. The way it is set up, basically halts your progression through the game; for a limited open beta test, it takes valuable play time away from people that are interested in exploring the crafting system. You first have to reach level 10…THEN you can get your trade and the gathering skill to go along with it. But you CANNOT just jump right in to making your gear, because you now have to run back into the first areas of the game you were seeing all of the gathering nodes in to farm the materials you will need to make the gear you want. It’s a form of backtracking, and it does really take away from the feeling of progression. It used to bother me in other games when I was able to start gathering at say level 5 (though I have played more games than I can count on both hands and feet that allowed gathering at level 1) but not craft until level 10; until I had an epiphany about the system. The early gathering allowed you to collect the materials you were going to need once you did start crafting, so that you could put yourself (often times) in to better gear then you had. Sure, the argument can be made that you have no idea what you are going to want to do as a crafting trade before you explore the crafting system. To which I rebut that if there were no restrictions on the ability to gather all material types, and learn more than one actual crafting trade, then that problem would not exist. For the Crafting system I have to go with 3 out of 5, due to the limitation; for the actual crafting however, 5 out of 5 for it being so different and so cool!
So in conclusion, Wildstar is an awesome game, one of the best I have seen in a very long time. The theme is a nice change from the traditional sci-fi or fantasy; the Western feel about it is great! Overall, I give it 4 out of 5! I hope to give it a 5 of 5 in the future!
My impressions: (Not part of the review, this is just my opinions)
It has been a long time issue for me really, trying out a new game, liking it at first, but then the crafting system as it is drives me away. It could be the most spectacular system ever conceived, where you are made to first create components for the items you wish to make, then combine them together (wait….Guild Wars 2 did that) to make your item. Even with a system as awesome and engaging as that is (and as the one in Wildstar is) if I am forced to play 4 or 6 characters to fully supply my MAIN character with gear and items, I will suffer burnout and quit. As I see it, if you are able to use it, you should be allowed to learn how to make it. Firefall, where you upgrade the components of your Battleframe by learning the schematics and then constructing the items with the materials you are always finding as you play the game, is an example of allowing a player the freedom to craft. The downside however is that some of the upgrades require a lot of materials that are not so easy to come by. Still, you are not restricted to only learning weapons, or armor or accessories. If you can use it, you can make it. THAT is the way a crafting system should be set up in my honest opinion. Runes of Magic allows you to do it all, but only allows you to raise the mastery levels of a limited amount of the trades, with the highest level being restricted to only 1 trade. While it helped you out for a while, eventually the self sufficient player would have to rely on others to gear up. It was either that, or make several characters, level them all up at the same rate, and work on their crafting to be of equal level with all of the characters. Regardless of how much you like a game, having to do the same thing over and over and over and over and over again to reach the goals you are trying to reach gets BOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRIIIIIIINNNNNGGGGGGGGGGG after the 5th or 6th time! Burnout.
The fix for this, is to allow us the option of paying for additional skill slots (as we can do on Rift). Honestly, paying for the skill slots I did on my Main and my Alt, I spent as much as I would have paying for a 6 month subscription to almost any game out right now. If I understand it correctly, that option was available even before they made the switch to free to play. How it helped me is that I did not have to level 5 additional characters just so that I could have the ability to gather all of the materials I needed, as well as craft the items I needed (accessories, runes, potions, weapons, bags, and armor; armor being the first trade I had on my main). I stopped the Beta early, because I felt I had seen as much as I wanted to. My characters are to be deleted anyway, so there is no point in trying to really continue. What I saw, aside from a game with a lot of potential, was another game where I would have to roll several characters to be able to play my way; providing for myself. While the rest of a game could be the most spectacular thing ever conceived, if I am not happy with my ability to craft, I tend to leave a game. Crafting is important, and should not only provide functional items even once you reach endgame content, but should provide just the right amount of distraction to help break up the constant questing cycle. Every trade should provide the endgame crafter with a full set of endgame gear that will help them get into the more advanced group content (not Raids though, that should be gear you work for). World of Warcraft provided patterns for full sets of endgame blues during their Cataclysm expansion; those patterns were for PvE gear as well as PvP gear. These sets were designed to give you basic endgame gear, which would help you get the more advanced gear. In Rift, there is no such design. They basically force you to farm World content and dungeons to get the currency required to buy the gear you need to get into the expert dungeons, so that you can farm ONCE AGAIN to get the currency to get you the gear that will FINALLY get you into a Raid. I understand the need to have player’s experience the game content, that’s fine. But a reward for reaching endgame and maximum level of your crafting trades should be a full set of gear (whether it is a full set of accessories, armor, whatever) that you can craft. I have not seen that in a very long time.
People who bother with the crafting systems in the MMO’s they play should be rewarded at endgame. We invest time and resources (and in some cases, even real money buying parts or items to sell to other players’, to help us get the parts and materials we need) into leveling up our trades; I feel and always have felt that we should be rewarded with top of the line gear out of the deal. We should be able to craft ourselves some of the best gear in the game. BoP gear, for our use; or a better idea, BoA gear so that we can use it on our Alts as well. But it seems that game developers are either too afraid that if they implement this into their games; it will take from the desire to participate in endgame content, or just do not care about the Crafter personalities in the gamer community. For some of us, that might be true; I for one am not always in a position to sit for hours on end in a Raid group. I have some responsibilities I have to attend to on occasion. Does that mean I should be left out of the good gear? Badass gear should require badass materials. Fabrication of materials to increase their durability, and enhance their properties would be an easy way to accomplish this. If you had to create 6 refined bars of endgame ore, and the refining process took several different gatherable’s and one or 2 rare quality items that you needed to get from say…an advanced dungeon, you would keep crafter’s busy farming mats for quite a while. Some would decide against doing that and just run the raids, but some would choose to build that armor. If each piece of the set took 6 days to craft (due to the cool down that SHOULD be implemented for the refined materials of at least 20 hours) then not only will crafter’s have to work for their gear, they could be proud of it once they finished it. They would have equipment that would get them through the endgame content while they work on getting their “Raid gear”. But as I commonly say, the best gear should be that which a crafter makes for themselves. If you think about it, when you decide to make something for dinner, are you going to half ass it to get it done, or are you going to make it the best that you can? That concept seems to be overlooked all the time when a crafting system is designed.
It was a downer to not be able to experience the controlling end of the Guild system myself. 10 gold is a bit steep for a new player with a new level 12 character and no source of income other then the coin from the quests he or she has done and the vendor trash sold. Sure, a Guild should be more than 1 person, I get that. But expecting other people to give you their coin to help start a Guild is a bit excessive, and unless you have real life friends or people from another game you play coming to help you out, it’s an uncomfortable experience.
It would have been nice to be able to explore the PvP in Wildstar too. If it wasn’t for the nameplate addon issue, I would have probably been doing it before the Beta ended. While there are always going to be bugs to work out during a beta test, in my opinion, a game that palns to release as a P2P game should have an option to people interested in playing, but unsure if they are ready to buy. So I do hope that after release you allow a 7 day trial, so that we can try to play the game after release with (hopefully) less gameplay affecting bugs.
Big issue here. When I first heard about Wildstar, I immediately signed up for the Beta. I forget exactly how long ago it was, because after you sign up for them you sometimes forget about it until you get an email. I NEVER received an email about any of the Betas’. Not for the Alpha I guess it was, and not the closed Beta. I know, I probably was not selected for the closed beta; but I really think I should have gotten an email a few weeks before the OPEN BETA telling me to get ready for the OPEN BETA in a few weeks. I never did however, so I got a late start playing Wildstar, the game I was really looking forward to trying out. In fact, the only reason I knew it was in OPEN BETA was that a friend on my Raptr app started playing it and a message popped up. I mention this, because I hope it helps with future beta’s you might run with other projects. If someone signs up for a Beta, they are obviously interested in the game; if you do not select them for the closed, the least you could do is inform them about the OPEN!