Updated Fri, Dec 13, 2013 by Lewis B
So what else is good in WildStar? Well, for me, it has to be the questing and the delivery of content. It's traditional in many ways and still involves a great deal of quests littering your to-do list, but you know what? I'm back to absolutely loving it. I've stated in the past I couldn't imagine ever going back to a quest based method of play and yet here I am hoovering up all the quests on offer in order to absorb the world I'm playing in. I think a large part of my enjoyment of the quests in WildStar is the fact they're fun, but also incredibly well written. Not only that, but Carbine have made minor changes to how you cash your quests in (which you can do via a cell-phone) and it's the first time in a long time that I've actually read quest text. One in particular during the early levels sees you have to escort cute little vegetables to a greenhouse while fending off Chua. How can that not be fun? Other notable quests have been to avenge a Chua that's burning at a stake (I won't spoil the dialogue but it's hilarious) or destroying some Artillery cannons.
This brings me nicely onto my two favorite things about WildStar: the game world and the soundtrack. Honestly, the game world looks incredible. Visually unique and bursting with life (though I can forgive people for seeing similarities to WoW) it's eager to be explored and enjoyed. Accompanying all of it is the best soundtrack to an MMOG I've ever heard. Jeremy Soule has always produced excellent pieces for ArenaNet and the Guild Wars series and I never thought he could be surpassed, but I think he has. I have genuinely found myself listening to just the soundtrack while standing still for great lengths at a time. It really is that good.
Just to recap:
1. It runs amazingly well
2. The starting zones are fantastic
3. Classes are brilliant and lovingly made (though I've not yet played Warrior – sorry!)
4. The game world looks and feels incredible
5. The accompanying soundtrack is one of the best I've ever heard
6. The combat and skill system is exceptional and has no rival
7. Questing is a joy and made even more enjoyable by slight changes Carbine have made to streamline them
All sounding too perfect? Well there are a couple of niggles...
If there's anything “bad” about WildStar, I'm struggling to find it. There are some niggles though and I would hope that Carbine can remedy them before launch. The first is the fact that there are no sounds when you jump or land. It might sound like a small thing, but it's a little odd for nothing to be there. I'm not expecting a huge “thud”, just a similar sound to that which already exists in the game when I'm moving. Better still, I'd really like to hear my character “humph” every now and then when he or she jumps. I'm not talking every time, but intermittently would be nice. As for other bad things, it would have to be the fact that as an Aurin or Chua Esper my Psyblade goes through the back of my head. Hardly game breaking, but annoying all the same.
Before I finish this 'Beta Preview' I wanted to talk about animations. There's been a lot of talk regarding them and for the most part, they're all great. The Medic's are a little lacklustre and need sexing up, while I'd welcome some more variety on Spellslinger (admittedly there's only so many ways you can fire pistols) but what bothers me the most is the sexualisation of all female animations. Somewhere between a lady of the night and a fem-bot, all female movement animations are agony to watch. As someone who has always played female characters in massively multiplayer games, this might actually be the first where I switch to a male.
Using the Aurin as an example, the males squat down and sprint when they run whereas the females skip along like a prancing pony. Why? Why must we differentiate so heavily when they're both killing machines. Worse still are the Mechari females that left me shaking my head in disapproval. I'm all for femininity where it's needed, but it's just inappropriate here when I'm playing a hulking robot armed to the teeth. I don't want to play a Medic or Engineer that prances into battle, I want to play one which bounds in and melts faces.
Lastly before I dive back into the game, the Aurin faces and ears really need some work. The males and female variants all look pretty terrible and lack cohesive art direction. How did we go from butterfly ears, to bat ears, to bunny ears, in a single race? I struggled to find any that I particularly liked from a limited set, so am dreading launch when I have to bite the bullet on them if Carbine don't expand the selection set.
All in all then, WildStar is shaping up to be the MMOG of 2014 and is already leagues ahead of all other competition, especially The Elder Scrolls Online. If Carbine continue down the path they're treading, they'll surely attract all the players they need. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with an Esper in preparation for my next Beta diary update. Stay tuned!