When someone asks you a question such as "Why do you love WildStar?" it deserves a proper response. Here is mine.
That’s the question my brother asked me over the weekend. He’s not into massively multiplayer games though he has been known to dabble in them from time to time. I have to admit the question caught me off guard and while it didn’t help that he was well and truly annihilating me at Twisted Metal (it's a classic!), I thought it best that I put my answer in writing.
Combat in massively multiplayer games is usually a dull affair. You click on a target and then proceed to use your skills while the game aims for you (as long as you look in the enemies general direction). While efforts in recent years have been made to increase the “action” feel of fighting through systems such as dodging, very little has changed. WildStar mixes things up much more than its competition by having every skill in the game become a “telegraph”. For the uninitiated, this basically means every skill has an area of effect. You aim in the direction of your foe or ally, use your skill and if they’re in your telegraph they’ll receive damage or health. It’s super simple, highly confusing at first and makes an enormous difference to PvE and PvP. Skills no longer act like homing missiles and aiming accuracy is super important. What makes telegraphs even more fun is the fact they come in all different shapes and sizes, placing even further emphasis on accuracy.
The recent WildStar flick demonstrating Warplots serves as a perfect reminder that WildStar is funny and it doesn’t take itself too seriously: “Warplots are like your favourite food, wrapped in a six pack of beer, wrapped in another six pack of beer!”. The humor of WildStar creeps into the game in bucket loads, with one of the early quests seeing you avenge a Chua who’s being cooked alive. Even when you ask to rescue him he’s more than happy to burn. It’s been a long time since I’ve genuinely laughed in a massively multiplayer game and if people actually take the time to read the quests, they’re filled with dialogue that will make you laugh.
Art and Aesthetics over Graphics
WildStar might not rival Crysis in terms of visuals but it does look exceptional. I’ve heard plenty of people moan about the fact it looks worse than this game or that game and I actually find that quite frustrating. WildStar has a playful, colorful appearance that will not only age well but allows it to be identified easily. The oddly proportioned characters and wonderful game world bring life to Nexus. The art direction might not appeal to everyone but I’d much rather see something as original as this than the generic approach taken by the likes of Black Desert Online or Elder Scrolls Online.
Work Hard, Play Hard
Most modern MMOG’s seem to want to make everything easily accessible for absolutely everyone. From a business perspective this is sensible (it widens your audience) but from a personal perspective, it’s not something I’m looking for in a game. I want to know that my time invested in my character makes me better than someone who plays very little. I want to be able to control the Auction House by getting off my backside and farming materials and I want to be able to min/max my character through super tough raids and dungeons. Games are too easy and the fact that WildStar is going a little bit old-school has massive appeal.
Providing The Basics
Far too many MMOGs launch with skeletal features and if they do launch with things we now expect as a minimum, they're often buggy or fail to function as they should (see Guild Wars 2's Trading Post). What I love about WildStar is the fact that it’s launching with so much and what it’s launching with works so well: an auction house, dye system, battlegrounds, Arenas, Warplots, dungeons, raids, currencies for item exchanges, housing and much more. Everything might not yet be perfect and I’m sure Carbine will continue to improve on these cornerstones well after launch, but to have them from day one is a huge bonus.
On paper the idea of raids sounds terrible. I’ve tried explaining them to my brother many times and he just doesn’t understand what the attraction of them is. Sadly for him he’s never experienced the sheer joy at overcoming a ridiculously difficult boss with 40 friends and it’s a feeling you just can’t explain. The fact WildStar has raids is awesome but the fact they’re super difficult makes them even more appealing. Bring on the challenge.
Open World PvP
Lord I’ve missed open world PvP. I know it’s not for everyone and some people enjoy questing without fear of interruption but for me, there’s nothing better than the constant fear of being “jumped”. Playing on a PvP server provides a totally different experience to that on a PvE variant and while it might be frustrating to be ganked every now and again, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Chance encounters or running for your life as a group of opposing players chase after you is a buzz like nothing else. I’ve very fond memories of PvP servers and it’s so refreshing to see a developer willing to do them from launch.
WildStar isn’t perfect (yet) and there are a few bugs here or there but for the most part it’s incredibly polished. From the wonderful emote animations to the nuances of each class, it all just feels right. It might be a game that’s much more traditional in nature than Guild Wars 2 or Elder Scrolls Online but if that means it isn’t a buggy mess and simply works, I’ll settle for that everyday of the week and will happily pay a subscription fee for the pleasure.
Limited Action Set and Customisation
I love Limited Action Sets and while they’re tricky to balance to ensure all skills have their place, they offer a tactical approach to combat and your play. If that wasn’t good enough, we get to play with Tiers to customise skills further and AMP’s to personalise our class' focus. On top of that we also get path skills, gadgets and potions. For new players I’m sure it’s a little bit overwhelming but in the long run, it’s well worth it.
Last but not least is housing. Its not quite on the scale of Landmark but it’s a brilliant middle ground. Perfect for wasting hours upon hours as you customize the inside and outside of your plot, it’s a highly accomplished addition to the game. What I love so much about housing is the fact it serves a purpose for you and your guild, allows for a variety of activities and is genuinely addictive. I know for a fact I’ll spend far too many hours customizing my house and I dread to think at the amount of gold I’ll waste.
So that's my response to my brothers question (even though I could list much more!) now the most important question: What do YOU love about WildStar?