Published on June 30th, 2014 | by Edwin Millheim
Wildstar MMO Review
Summary: Unique Sci Fi fun.
Developer: Carbine Studios
Reviewer: Michael Riling
Wildstar is the latest MMO hitting the market and its developed by Carbine Studios. To those that don’t recognize the name, Carbine Studios was formed by members of Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft development team. While Wildstar is the first game made by the studio the development team itself is not new to making games.
In short, Wildstar is set in a sci-fi universe staring a giant empire that believes they are destined to rule the galaxy and a group of exiles trying to survive as the empire tries to crush them. The Exiles come to the planet Nexus to find a new home, while the Dominion comes to conquer the planet. Both find traces of an ancient civilization and struggle to unearth the secrets and powers underneath while fighting a war against each other. The game consists of all types of classes and follows the classic tank, DPS, healer lay-out. It also adds a series of “Paths” that serve as side-jobs that give unique goals and side-quests if you wish. These are almost like a job (Scientists, Soldier, Settler, etc) that give a player a second optional sub-class to level.
Wildstar has had a lot of hype recently and now that the game has been released one of the big questions to ask is ‘Does it live up to the hype?’ The answer to that question isn’t a simple one, however. Wildstar is indeed a good game and can be lots of fun. However, for those looking for a revolutionary new spin on MMO’s and believe that Wildstar was going to the be the ultimate MMO different from all the others, you’ll be a bit disappointed. Wildstar has a nice cover and it looks new and exciting and might seem different at first, but beneath the skin lies a few minor touches and the core of the game is still a normal MMO. Now, that’s not to say the game is bad. Again, the game is a good game and it has a lot of fun features and it presents things in a fun way that will mix things up. While nothing is revolutionary, it does put together a lot of good from various sources, mixes them together, and makes a great combination.
One important thing to note is that Wildstar is a bit over-the-top. Those who have followed Wildstar and watched the trailers or done some research will be aware of this, but those who haven’t might want to look at some trailers first. The art-style is very cartoony and ridiculous to the point of silliness at times. I initially had planned to create a male character, but I didn’t personally care for how the art-style on the arms looked. This, however, is a personal artistic choice and not a negative reflection of the game. I ended up making a female character, though the choices there were fairly ridiculous as well.
I ended up grabbing a slightly ‘fatter’ look to look like a somewhat normal human being since some of the designs were so skinny they looked scary and others looked like one too many visits to the plastic surgeon. In the end I was rather satisfied with how my character looked. The over-the-top style doesn’t just fall to the “giant muscle men, big breasted women stereotype x10”, but also is reflected in dialogue, attacks, and the overall feel of the game. The game has no problem firing explosions everwhere, firing mortars out of pistols, and more. In fact, the level-up text alone is giant and flashy with an announcer flipping out when you level. For those that want a more down to earth style game, Wildstar won’t be for them. However, those who enjoy cartoon physics and some humor, they’ll feel right at home.
The combat in Wildstar is probably one of its two best features. The combat is action oriented, involves a lot of movement, and places a strong emphasis on each fight being engaging. While the telegraph system is claimed to be a revolutionary new mix-up and a way to showcase an action-styled combat, in actual practice it isn’t as revolutionary as one might think. MMO’s have frequently given bosses cleaves or AoEs with targets on the ground so the idea of positioning and moving out of attacks isn’t anything new. What Wildstar does to add to that, however, is place them on most attacks.
While enemies do have a basic attack, all player attacks and the majority of enemy attacks all use the telegraph system which plays the AoE on the ground and warns people to get out of it before they are hit. This means that players will find themselves moving, dodging, dive-rolling, and jumping all over while fighting. Or at least, that’s the intent. While the idea is that with these telegraphs even the most basic of enemy mobs will become something exciting, the truth is gear and level will still mean that weaker mobs can simply be killed by standing still and shooting. Now, this is not common and definitely isn’t the case in dungeons where mobs are much deadlier, but the fact is that like most MMO’s fighting the same random mobs while traveling around doing quest can be boring depending on level and gear. Again, this is nothing against Wildstar and is typical of MMO’s, it merely serves to debunk the myths going around. Overall, the combat is fun and enjoyable and the emphasis on moving around while stabbing or shooting means that it adds a new level of depth.
The second best thing about Wildstar is the housing. The housing is definitely a money sink and players who enjoy housing will find themselves easily spending all their hard earned questing gold making elaborate and unique houses. The housing allows you to place all manners of decorations, build ladders, add fences, and more. I’ve seen players build pillowforts, tree-houses, bunkers, and more.
The amount of customization and fun that is contained in the housing meant that each time I logged off, I was excited to run back to my virtual home and jump right in bed. The only negative that can be said about the housing is the fact that it is in a separate instance and thus feels very cut off from the rest of the game. The reasons for this are obviously size and numbers of players building in the world would flood it, but at the same time the isolated nature of it is a slight bummer. Nonetheless, the housing itself is amazing and lots of fun.
Those(like me) with little patience and/or skill to nit-pick and build unique structures out of existing ones will still have a blast customizing the lighting, buying new decorations, upgrading your house, and making it look nice. Those with great skill and imagination who can turn a simple series of fences into a massive tree-house will find that there is little they can’t build. I was baffled by what people could make at times out of the simpliest pieces of decorations, yet I still enjoyed my house despite not being super creative with placement.
The questing with Wildstar is very mixed. As with most MMO’s a lot of quests are simple “Go to X location, Kill Y enemies” and then return to the quest giver. There are off-course various unique quests to mix them up, but the traditional MMO questing style is there. Once again, Wildstar tries to dress it up with a different look to it. In the case of questing this is in a percentage bar.
Rather than tell you to kill 5 of an enemy you’ll have a progession bar. This bar will fill up different amounts based on the strength of an enemy. Kill a powered up enemy and the bar will fill way more than killing a tiny lower level version of the enemy. This means that players have a risk vs reward mentality when doing these quests. While I overall enjoyed the quests, there are some quests that can be terribly miserable.
Luckily, most these quests are optional, but at the same time playing the game should be fun, no matter whether you are doing optional missions or required ones. Certain ones can be miserable due to in-game mechanics making things a pain while others can just tend to drag-on for ages. Luckily, these quests are rare and most tend to be later in the game.
The crafting system of Wildstar is also fairly interesting. A tech tree exist for crafting that allows you to do certain types of crafts in order to unlock different recipies. Some might require you to craft a certain number of a weapon, others might require you to salvage (take apart) a certain number of weapons. At higher levels of crafting, players have extensive control over the weapons they create and can pick the stats they like most. This adds for some unique weapons while leveling.
The audio for the game is beautiful and you can get a good feel for the theme of an area by the style of music. NPC dialogue is not fully voiced over, but when they are talking they will frequently give a short summary of the dialogue. This is typically fine when picking up quests, but it can be a bit boring when you are waiting for two NPC’s to talk as part of a quest and its just speech bubbles popping up every so often without being able to be sped up or listened to. These happen infrequently, however, so they don’t take too much away from the game.
Now, while Wildstar is a fun new game with interesting twists on things, it is a new MMO. What this means is that there are bugs that can pop up quite often. Typically a simple log-out will fix them, though they can come up at annoying times. This is typical for newer MMO’s due to the massive size, but those new to MMO’s should be warned that they might find a few things occasionally not working. None of the ones I personally encountered were game-breaking, but they could be annoying at times. In addition because it is a young MMO it is missing some various features that could make things easier (such as a “Sell Junk” button).
However, Wildstar is very open to add-ons and other players have made add-ons for most things. At the same time, it isn’t a player’s job to fix these and you have to find them outside the game to add them. This can be a bit annoying at times, but is to be expected with an MMO. However, none of these missing features or bugs are massively game-breaking and the game is very enjoyable even with some quality of life issues. As long as a player isn’t expecting perfection so soon after release (or ever as it is with MMO’s frequently changing nature) they should have no problem playing and enjoying the game.
In summary, Wildstar is an enjoyable game with its ups and downs. It isn’t breaking new ground, but it is taking existing ground and moving it in fun and unique ways. If you go in wanting a fun MMO, this will serve its purpose. If you go in wishing for something that replaces every other MMO out there, well, you’ll always be looking. Nonetheless, the game is worth playing and it is worth a subscription.