WildStar Burst: Beta Preview

Updated Fri, Dec 13, 2013 by Lewis B

Having been playing WildStar for a while now, Ten Ton Hammer were fortunate to be one of the limited press sites to play the game as freely as we wished. Luckily for me, not only could I play WildStar, but today I'm able to talk about it. If that wasn't good enough, I'll be covering the Beta in a diary from here on out so if you've any burning questions, let me know. 

The Good

One of the main things I really care about during an early play of a games Beta is to establish how well the game performs. It's always a good benchmark to see how well your system will cope at launch and thankfully, I can honestly say the game runs exceptionally well. My current system is the following:

  • i5 2500k Sandy Bridge Overclocked to 4.3ghz
  • Geforce GTX 560 Ti
  • 8gb DDR3 (1333mhz)
  • 120gb SSD (to which WildStar is installed)

With the exception of the starting zones (notably the Dominion Ark Ship) where my frame rate dropped to around 40, the rest of my entire experience has been fixed at 60fps and never budged, even at maximum detail. That's a really great sign at this stage in the games development. Although the starting zone is a concern, I suspect much of the frame rate issues there are as a result of the sheer enormity of the area and the number of players flooding in. 

Both starting locations are great at allowing you to learn the ropes, while involving you in early lore and storylines. Admittedly it's all relatively easy but I think the game needs that level of accessibility in order to capture peoples attention. Dependent on whether you choose Dominion or Exile also offers a different approach to your early levels. The Dominion area is relatively leisurely and involves you undertaking training against Holograms as an early recruit, whereas the Exiles is much more frantic in its pacing as you and Deadeye Brightland try to help survivors.  It's an interesting choice to differentiate them both as Carbine have, but one which works. There is an element of repetition if you want to choose an alternative character, as you're forced to replay the same starting area again and again, but I can forgive that based on how polished and well presented it all is. On a speed run through, it only takes around 15 minutes from start to finish, so you're out in the game world in no time at all. 

Talking of polish, have I mentioned how bloody polished WildStar is? With the exception of a few missing sounds or images here and there, the game is in such a good state I often forgot I was playing a Beta. Spells look fantastic, the UI and menus are all loaded with everything you could ever possibly need and the game just works. I haven't had a single crash since playing or experience any lag. I'm still not sure how, but Carbine have either got their fingers on the pulse or I've just been very bloody lucky. 

With the exception of the Warrior, I've dabbled in all the classes that WildStar has to offer. I must admit, they all play absolutely fantastic. Originally I was convinced I'd be playing an Esper at launch because they not only look brilliant but offer a play-style I'm akin to. It turns out that the Spellslinger has caught all my attention based on the fact it's bloody amazing to play. Fast, agile and capable of dealing massive damage, it really has surprised me how much I love playing the class. Gate (where you teleport through enemies to stun them) followed by Wild Barrage (imagine machine-pistols) is an exceptional combo against huge groups of enemies. Surprisingly, I've actually taken Charged Shot off my bar as I found it too restrictive against the fast pace the game offers. I've had some success with Charged Shot and it's wonderful to turn enemies to chopped meat when you blast through them, but I like to keep my enemies on their toes. 

Speaking of skills and classes, I really should take a moment to rant and rave about how fantastic the skill system is in WildStar. Without a doubt, it's the best I've ever seen in an MMOG and one which is already causing me massive headaches. I'm not sure where to even begin with my load-out having experimented heavily already, but the fact it's a limited action set and also free-form (unlike Guild Wars 2 that sets your skills based on the weapon you wield) is music to my ears. Deciding on which Assault, Support or Utility skills to use when there are 30 to choose from in total and only 10 spaces on your bar has caused many sleepless nights. I haven't even discussed AMP's which wormed their way into the game on yesterdays patch (though I'd like to discuss those in another diary entry.)


Supporting all of this is the combat system, which is hands-down the best there is on the market. Following the likes of Guild Wars 2 (comparisons here are inevitable) it improves upon it dramatically by its use of telegraphs, movement and combat “oomph!”. There's still some minor improvements to be made in the sound department for physical attacks and spells, but combat feels challenging and slick. There's no standing still here for any lengths of time, it's all about keeping moving and rounding up enemies when you can. My Spellslinger and Esper builds excelled here and I was more than capable of taking on 6 or 7 enemies at a time. Admittedly if I miss timed a dodge or clumsily aimed my attacks I'd be in a whole world of pain, but have your game face on and the satisfaction from defeating such numbers is immense. 

Hey Lewis!

I devoured both your articles about WS already and I’m eagerly awaiting for your next one! Meanwhile, I have some questions for you. I honestly think there are a lot of people wondering about the same things, as there’s just not so much information about the game out there yet and on the other hand there’s so much love for it already!

I should first underline that generally I do not like Limited Action Sets. I prefer for example Aion’s (or any generic MMORPG’s for the same matter) multiple skill bars than GW1’s 8-slot fixed-during-combat skill bar. I like to be able to load the skills I like on my skill bars, at will, in a way that makes sense to me. I like to have the option to use any and every skill learned –it doesn’t really make sense to un-learn them once you’re out in combat, does it?- even if I will eventually only use 4 or 8 of them. However, I can totally understand and appreciate what GW does and why: Anet built both games with the aim to make them eligible for e-sports. In that aspect they wanted to ensure that a player’s superiority and skill would be based solely on their ability to use a (sub-)set of their skills. Much like PnP RPGs I suppose, where you use a deck made up of a carefully selected subset of your collection of cards. I can totally dig this; naturally, between the two I much prefer GW2 whose skills system is, in my humble opinion, the work of a genius. Yes, it is still a LAS system. Yes, it is rigid –especially the first half of it (the weapon skills). But one way or another you can swap out these skills for a second set –either in the form of a classic weapon swap or the attunement swap (Elementalist) or Tools (Engineer).

My question then to you –yes, there is a question after all!- is this: how is WildStar’s LAS better than GW2’s one?

My second question is about telegraphs. I’ll make the following discrimination here: pain telegraphs and gain telegraphs. The first are those originating from the enemy and I expect everyone in the area/fight can see them. I wonder about the latter though. I’ve seen in videos that some (most?) player skills lay down their own telegraph, grading in color to indicate range and intensity of effect. I suppose each player can only see their own telegraphs, am I right? What about those AoE or ‘gain telegraphs’ laid down by, say, a healer? These must be visible to all players, obviously. What if there are 2 or more healers laying down such ‘gain telegraphs’: isn’t the combat too cluttered with AoE effects colors of every kind overlapping, to the point of making it impossible to decide where to stand and what to avoid? I hate to admit, but GW2 suffers a lot in this aspect during large scale battles :(

Having mentioned healers, I could not be but amazed at what they did here: aside from the typical, branded healer class, there are additionally 2 more classes that can function as healers! I like this because obviously it offers some short of solution to the ‘looking for cleric’ problem – or does it? I’ve seen in those streams of dungeon runs released prior to unveiling the Cleric both Spellslingers and Espers functioning as healers. The correct phrase to use would be “struggling to function as healers”, as more often than not the party wiped at some point or another. Understandably neither of them can be as competent a healer as the Cleric, so my question is which one is closer to it? Given the proper selection of skills, AMPs (Support) and whatnot, can either of them be as capable a healer as to single-handedly keep their party alive?

Next question is about Paths. All other things aside, this feature alone is enough to make me place WS at the top of the list of MMOs-to-play in 2014. Although some may argue that is is a redundant filtering of the available quests to any one character, I personally believe it does (will do!) a great job at promoting player interaction and collaboration. How does it work exactly? Are Path quests unlocked at certain character levels? Are they triggered at fixed points in each area –meaning that the next character of the same Faction and Path will find that same trigger point in that same spot of that given area? I know Paths level up using their own XP-bar. What does each ‘filling’ of this bar reward you with? For example, in your 1-15 experience, how many Path quests have you come across? I realize of course that there’s a possibility that you did not ‘discover’ each and every one of them.

Housing. This is a HUGE topic and still greatly unexplored. I only have a simple question here –a couple actually: at what level does one get their first house (hub?), in what way (as a quest reward? purchased with game money? other?) and does it come bundled with ‘maintenance costs’? (such as monthly rent or tax).

Last question and this one is about crafting. It’s just a very generic question really and probably too soon to know already, but anyway here goes: how good are crafted items as compare to dropped ones of same level? For instance, should I bother level some crafting discipline in order to craft me a good (rare, unique, call it what you like) or is it easier and –admittedly- more fun to run dungeons and hope for a reward?

Speaking of which, I would really love to know if dungeon rewards are random like in most MMOs or built the same –superb!-way GW2 has done them: you get a number of tokens from the boss chest and use these to buy your item of choice. But I guess it’s still too soon to know about that, so I’ll get back to you later on this :)

Thank you for taking the time to read through this! I know it’s a lot, so I would vastly appreciate any answer(s) you may offer! Or even guesses ;)


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