First Impressions: The Wildstar Beta

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attachmentHello there, Uzers! I’ll be coming to you today with a spur-of-the-moment article. Over the weekend, I had the chance to play the up and coming Sci-Fi MMO “Wildstar” during their beta weekend. “Wildstar” is a new game being developed by the Carbine Studio that takes place on the recently discovered planet Nexus. The game is going to be to be a subscription based MMO, very much in the style of “World of Warcraft”, and I thought I would talk about it because I was given the chance to play.

Right off the bat a lot of people are going to say, “This game is just a Sci-Fi “World of Warcraft“,  so why should I care?” I understand that concern, let’s address that first. Many people have played “World of Warcraft”,  and since “WoW” is the big daddy of all the current MMO’s, it’s understandable that every MMO released will be compared to “WoW“, and people always wonder if it’s better or worse than “WoW“. I think that the game feels like a more polished and finely tuned “WoW“, so if you were looking for a brand new concept MMO, I’d turn away because “Wildstar” is not that revolutionary or groundbreaking in terms of style or format. The game has the normal questing style of most other MMOs, as well as the kind of character design and level progression you would expect from these kinds of games.

I enjoyed “Wildstar” due to the fact that the game had a lot more pros than cons. Let’s talk about what I liked, what I didn’t like, and what I am hopeful for on release.

The eight races of Wildstar
The eight races of Wildstar

Let’s start with the creation of  your character, because that’s the first thing you do in an MMO. There are eight races in the game, although if we’re getting technical, it feels more like seven because both factions have humans. In “Wildstar“, there are two factions: the Exiles and the Dominion. The Exiles are rebels who have had their homes taken from them, and they went to the planet Nexus to try and make new homes for themselves. The Dominion are a hierarchy that want planet Nexus because they believe it is their legacy to conquer. The races are on two different sides. The Exiles have humans, Granok, Aurin, and Mordesh, and the Dominion are made up of the Cassian (humans who think they are superior to regular humans), Mechari, Draken, and the Chua. Each of the races are unique and look at the world very differently.

Let’s get into the classes you can pick from. There are restrictions to the race class combinations, with the exception of the humans and Cassian, who can do everything. A lot of people may see race class restriction as a bad thing, but I like the restriction. To me, it makes sense that a race like the Draken, who are savage animal-like men, couldn’t be a class like the engineer. I think these restrictions fit well and fit nicely with the lore of the game. There are six classes in the game: the warriors, spellslingers, espers, engineers, stalkers, and medics. The classes are all very different from one another. The warriors are your usual blade swinging tank fighter and are the simplest race. The spellslinger is a duel pistol damage mage or healer that can  fires magic shots of various kinds. The esper is a mage or healer that creates psionic weapons and creatures to throw at the enemy. The engineer is also a tank that uses large guns and battle robots to attack. The stalker is a stealth fighting class that uses two large arm blades to shred the enemy, and finally the medic is a technology based damage and healer that uses solar panel-like objects in their hands called resonators that fire energy waves.

One of the most interesting parts in creating your character in the game was choosing one of the four different paths. The paths are like a subclass that give you different quests. The four paths are soldier, explorer, settler, and scientist. These paths are designed to fit different kinds of players. The soldier is for the player that’s all about the fighting, the mission you get involves defending points, assassinations, and saving captured NPCs from monsters. The explorer is for the guy that really likes to find amazing places in the land and does challenges like the jumping puzzles in “Guild Wars 2“. Unfortunately, I’m not sure about the mission they receive, as I did not play an explorer. The settler is for the social kind of players who like to build and create. Since I didn’t play as a settler, I don’t know about their mission either. The last path, the scientist, is for the lore loving players who want to get in touch with the world and learn everything that they can about it. The missions for a scientist involve scanning and inspecting objects in the areas to learn the history of the world. I think the four paths add an interesting extra level to your character, and allow you to do extra things that you may not get to do in other MMOs.

Before I jump into some of the pros and cons, I want to talk about a few quick facts I learned that may answer any questions brought on by what you may have heard about the beta. The max level is speculated to be level fifty on release day. The max you could hit in the beta was level seventeen, which had some people worried, but I don’t think that was unreasonable. I do think there was a possibility that leveling was slowed down in the beta to gate things and make it slower. In addition, I was informed you get your house at level fourteen, your first mount at level fifteen, and the first dungeon at level seventeen. Lastly, the first PvP map is at level nine or ten.

Exile logo
Exile logo

Alright, time for the game’s pros. I liked the fact that there are two fighting factions and class race restrictions, it gives a great sense of battle, and races with different stories for each of them is very much like the feel that “WoW” gave. The character customization is on par with something in a game like “Mass Effect”, so I think it’s pretty good, and since this is a beta there’s always the possibility of the creators adding new and exciting things. The graphic style is a very colorful cartoon style that’s vibrant and full of life. Personally I loved this graphic style, much for the same reason that I liked “WoW“‘s graphic style. Thankfully, there is a quest tracker that points you in the right direction and gives you an approximate distance of how long it would take you to get there, much like a GPS. I was happy to see this because I wasn’t a fan of having to find your quest locations in the old days of “WoW“. The game also has a great sense of humor. For example, when you level up you always get a funny comment from the announcer of the game that’s full of profanity and sarcasm. I think the game’s sense of humor has an adult feel to it, which I think is great. The combat system is based on hotkeys, but all of your attack must be aimed and most of your attack

The Dominion logo
Dominion logo

can be done on the move, although when playing the esper I did notice that class is a bit less mobile. Regardless, quick movement and skill is going to be extremely important in “Wildstar“. Enemies have several big hit attacks that can kill you if you don’t pay attention, which gives me hope for a very important part of all MMOs: the raids, where even the most basic enemies have attacks that require some paying attention to dodge and many different kinds of targeting. Based on what I’ve seen, I think the end game raids of this game will be amazing. The Sci-Fi design and look of all the characters and enemies you face are great; they have a nice sense of humor as well as many enemies that still look threatening. A part of the quests that I really love is that many of the quests can be handed in through a communicator, so oftentimes you don’t have to run all the way back to the quest giver. The game also has a very nice, full vanity system that allows you to design your character in any way that you want. For those who don’t know what I mean by vanity, it means just that you can make the armor you see on your character be different from the actual armor that you are wearing. Something you can collect in the game that I found to be super fun and very interesting to collect were the data cubes. There are data cubes all around the world that that, when collected, will give you a bit of voice acted lore telling you about the area you are in. There are also many different books you can discover and read filled with lore about the planet Nexus. I found these to be very interesting.

The four paths Scientist, Soldier, Explorer, Settler (left to right)
The four paths Scientist, Soldier, Explorer, Settler (left to right)

Now, the flip side. The first big issues I had came down to the fact that many of the quests drag on a bit longer than I would have liked. It seems like rather than “kill ten rats” you get something closer to “kill twenty rats”, which could get annoying at times but was bearable. There are challenges that appear throughout the game that are quests you just happen upon and then get loot for them, now these challenges I found to be pretty fun but they seemed rather hard to complete. To me, it seemed unreasonable to only have three minutes to kill thirty monsters. However, this may have been because there were many people playing during the beta, taking all the needed challenge requirements, so it’s hard to say. One thing I was very sad about is none of the quests are voice acted, although the quest text is fairly short so I often found myself reading the text anyway. One technical thing I noticed is that the FPS (frames per second) were a tad sporadic going very much up and down from sixty all the way down to fifteen, but I believe this comes down to it being beta and needing some work. Something I didn’t mention before is that there was a talent tree system called AMPs, because these AMPs are fairly boring bonuses such as flat extra damage or more critical strikes, it simply wasn’t as interesting as the talent tree in “WoW“.

I very much enjoyed my time in “Wildstar“, and I think the MMO has a very good chance of succeeding in the MMO scene. Rest assured, “WoW” fans, it won’t surpass “WoW“. I think the game is very much in the vane of WoW but the funny thing is, I think a polished newer version of “WoW” is exactly what I was looking for so. I was very happy with what I played and I didn’t even get to the best parts of a MMO like dungeons and general higher level fights, so I’m very excited to see what that will be like. Keep in mind that everything that about the game in the beta stages so anything I have said here can change at any point in time.