This past weekend at New York Comic Con I had the chance to play some WildStar before the crowds came in. The more time we get with the game the more we enjoy its fast-paced play style and mechanics. WildStar has some original ideas wrapped into its MMO design which make you want to explore and find out more about the world of Nexus. This time in the demo I played the Stalker class. The Stalker is a futuristic take on the rogue archetype with all kinds of stealth abilities and quick-hitting attacks. Here is what I experienced.
I chose the Draken race for my stalker, mainly because they look cool and use their enhanced melee claws in attacks. I felt like a demonic, futuristic Wolverine. I did not waste time on character customization because I wanted to get right into the gameplay, but the options seemed typical for most MMOs: different hair, colors of skin, etc. Nothing earth-shattering about the customization available so far. To get to playing, I just hit randomize and entered the world. I also chose the Explorer as my Path. The Paths are one of my favorite features about the game and work alongside, but separate from the class system. More on the Explorer later.
First entering the world, I was able to immediately go into stealth mode with my Stalker. Instead of some magical Harry Potter cloak, the world of Nexus gives you a stealth device that looks more like something the Predator of Hollywood fame would use. Stealth is the key to this class. I did find quickly that the movement while cloaked was not as hindered as in other MMOs, so I could move around quickly... a nice change of pace.
The opening zone had me defusing mines and killing some rather large insect wildlife that looked like giant scorpions. Navigating through the first two quests was easy. But combat took a little getting used to. You have to use the number keys to attack. So I was hitting 1, 2, 3 in order to strike. The R button gave me stealth, which can be used in combat. Here is how that works: the stealth skill unlocks certain attacks for the Stalker. If you get into a fight, you can up your stealth to use those abilities even though you will not go completely invisible in the middle of combat. It made fighting go much faster and kept the rotation of skills fresh, like switching between two “stances” in the fight. The demo started me at Level 3 (skipping the eventual tutorial I’m sure) so I had a few skills to use in each fight.
One of the important things about combat is spacing. A lot of abilities work off of an arc placement in front of your character. Monsters do the same thing. So movement is critical, and all skills can be used while moving. For your enemy a red arc will appear where they are going to place their attack just before they hit, and as most of you know Carbine is calling these “telegraphs”. It gives you the quick chance to move out of the way and set up for a side or rear attack. You also have skills that work in the same way, and it reminded me a lot of SMITE from Hi-Rez and the combat in that MOBA. WildStar really sets the pace of fights with this system. My first try I was horrible, but once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed the movement and attack opportunities it presented. So after defusing a few mines and killing some alien scorpions I was ready to move on to the power generators.
Following quests and using the map interface was intuitive. I was able to click the quest text on my screen to get an arrow on which way to go. It did not draw a line on my map, just gave me a general direction. I liked this feature because it guided you to explore instead of just following a line, something that other MMOs have lost. Plus, after taking the Explorer path I wanted to see what was around the lush world the art teams have created. David Bass, one of Carbine’s Community Managers, and I had a chat about how Paths would work. Each one has a set of missions and goals to achieve. One of the early missions for the explorer is mapping out a cave nearby. I decided to continue my regular quests instead because I only had limited time on the demo, however if I had more time at home, I would have absolutely explored the cave. The Paths really do set Wildstar apart from other MMOs and add an extra dimension to your character and its progression. There are even special skills for your Path, and the things you do affect the world at large, not just for your character.
So off to the power generators I ran, only to discover that they were protected by giant robots. As I approached, I noticed another player working on some kind of console in the area. I ran over to see what was up and watched as hordes of robots came charging in to attack. I jumped in the fight and helped the Warrior defeat the incoming hordes. David explained that the other player was a Soldier (another Path) on a quest they had unlocked. The event worked similar to a public quest and I got XP for my part even though I was a Stalker/Explorer. The Warrior and Stalker worked very well together. Using the targeted attacks I had I was able to hit about three to four robots from behind and do some serious damage.
I ended my time with the Stalker fighting some of the robots and shutting down the power generators. The stealth device helped a lot, but robots were still close to the displays on the generators, so once I started to shut them down I was attacked. Blimey.
WildStar really won me over with this demo. I was excited for the game, but wasn’t really following it too closely before. Now I am really excited for the eventual Beta and release. The main reason? While at its heart the game is very much an MMORPG of the theme park variety, there are such strong elements of science fiction, exploration, world building, and discovery added in. It is not just the fantasy world with a cave of goblins and wizards casting fireball. There is something new and different to be found around every corner. I’ll be following up this article with a look at the Warrior class and Soldier Path tomorrow. So stay tuned for more on WildStar this week.
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