Eurogamer Expo 2013: WildStar First Impressions
WildStar is an oddity. I played it before Skyrim and having followed it loosely, have always loved its humor, art direction and professions. My hands-on time with it (several hours across two zones) was positive, though not without nagging doubts about its long term prospects.
WildStar reminded me a great deal of Champions Online. I can't quite put my finger on why, but I suspect the reason for this is the combat log and the way numbers whiz off enemies when they take damage, as well as its system for attacking and the fact that almost all weapons and skills can be fired off without targeting. Combat is definitely fresh and you'll feel right at home if you've played Guild Wars 2.
That isnt to say the combat is perfect, because it isn't quite 'there' yet. Feedback between you and enemies is poor with little in the way of satisfaction when landing successful attacks and the game provides far too many visual cues on the ground to let you know when an attack is about to land. I hope that there is an option to disable this when the game goes live.
As a Chua Spellslinger, the game plays, by and large, just like World of Warcraft even down to the exclamation marks above quest givers heads. In many ways this isn't a good thing (though it isnt terrible by any means) as it feels outdated to be having dull conversations with lifeless NPC's who, predictably, are handing out kill 10 rats quests. I'm not sure at this point in my MMOG career if I can face another game in the genre where I have to tread through quests of this nature, right up to the point of cap.
Considering the world WildStar is set in and the obvious influences the team behind it have taken on board, it seems strange that they've stuck to something so traditional and something which the majority of the genre's player base no longer supports. The decline in World of Warcraft's subscription numbers is evidence enough that the rot has set in with that approach to leveling and advancement. With such a glorious world it would have benefited so much more from something such as Everquest Next or Guild Wars 2's 'quest' system. Instead, I found myself laboring through a clumsy user interface that lacked finesse and one which was awash with bloated menus all this harking back to a too greater influence from its predecessor.
As to whether I enjoyed WildStar more than The Elder Scrolls Online, I really don't think I did. It might have more polish, be much slicker and be full of glorious humor, but it's just a little devoid of life. For all the roughness of TESO, I want to play it again where as WildStar I would happily give a nod of approval for being a solid game but that's about it.
I think part of the reason behind the fact that WildStar doesn't quite grab hold of the player is because of the above it's pretty, it's funny, but it isn't new. The addition paths are welcome and while there wasn't enough time to experience these, I don't think that any of these additional perks will alter the game enough to provide longevity, although I hold out hope for its raid content.
On the flip side, there are still millions of people who play World of Warcraft so perhaps there really is a market out there for WildStar. Taking into account its commercial art direction, polish and fast paced combat (as well as player housing and business model) it does have a lot going for it. Unfortunately for me, I've played too many similar games beforehand to be overly excited about it, I will, however, continue to watch with interest and will be revisiting it in several months time.
If nothing else, it deserves to be played for five minutes just to see the Chua. They're absolutely hilarious.