INNOVATION – 7
This is the biggest detractor I’ll place on WildStar’s score. It does some truly interesting things with its setting, combat, movement, and even crafting and character builds. Not to mention the economy itself is made pretty interesting with the Commodity Exchange system rather than straight up auction house for all player goods. But when it all comes down to brass tacks, WildStar’s foundations are very much built upon the groundwork laid by the giants that came before them. There’s not a lot here that hasn’t already been done, even if Carbine does much of it better than the others. What shines is the modular and customizable crafting, the movement and combat mechanics, and the excellent and varied housing system… did I mention you can put dungeons on your own plot of land?
POLISH – 8
There were not a lot of bugs, at least big ones, when it comes to WildStar. You can tell that the Carbine team has been hard at work throughout the lengthy beta to make sure quests work, servers are stable, and people can play the game without hassle. That said, there are still a few niggling concerns. The first is minor, but ties into the UI. The entire UI was overhauled just prior to launch, and because of this little issues like potion choices, teleport choices, and mount choices resetting are still an issue. As I said, it’s minor stuff, but still annoying. The bigger issue facing WildStar right now is its framerate problems. It’s not the most graphically advanced game in the world, and when we can run ESO at 60+ on Ultra High and only get 30+ on High in WildStar, we know there are some optimization issues. It’s been a known issue since beta, and Carbine is working on it, but it still counts against them here.
LONGEVITY – 9
As stated at the outset… there’s a metric tonne of content in WildStar. The same worries over content-based games still exist: can Carbine keep up with player appetites and content locusts, delivering new gameplay every month as promised? Still, at launch this is the most complete MMORPG in recent memory, and as of July 1st they’ve launched their first big content drop: The Strain. The Strain adds two new end-game zones, a large public dungeon, new loot, new costumes, new housing items, new stories, new challenges… if even half of this patch is what we see every month from Carbine, WildStar players will have plenty to do for months to come. The bit question is whether they can live up to their 4-6 week promise, but at launch there’s plenty to do in Nexus to keep players busy for a good long while. You also can work towards many different kinds of rewards (froum housing to cosmetic and battle gear) at level 50 via earning Elder Gems. The Elder Gems bar replaces your XP bar at the cap, and lets you earn gems simply by doing any of the things you enjoy. It’s a nice and clever way to keep progress happening when players hit that level cap.
SOCIAL – 9
The social systems in WildStar are top notch, from Circles (reminiscent of FFXI’s Linkshells) to Guilds with leveling, to Housing Neighbors, LFG cross-realm and on your realm only, Friend Lists, Rival Lists, and more… there’s plenty of ways to connect with people in Nexus. The bonus? You actually are rewarded for grouping. Experience is increased, you earn Renown (social currency) to spend on items, and what’s more is that Carbine has seen fit to litter the landscape with plenty of group-oriented mobs and quests. Add to this the instanced content, PVP, and Path systems and you have a ton of ways and reasons to meet up with other players. You can still solo all the way to the cap if you so choose, but like any MMO WildStar is a whole lot more fun with friends or even strangers.
VALUE – 8
As mentioned above, there’s an absolute deluge of content to sift through in WildStar. Your $60 purchase is well-spent considering how much there is to do in this game for the price of admission. And while others may disagree, this is one game I feel is worth the monthly subscription of $15, especially if Carbine can keep pace with their content drops. And what sweetens the pot even more is that if you’re an enterprising or even moderately hardcore player, you can probably earn enough Plat and then some to buy the in-game CREDD: a consumable item that gives you 30 additional days of gametime. Players buy it for real-world cash, and sell it in-game for Nexus gold. It’s a brilliant system that not only puts money in the hands of the Devs, but allows subscription averse people to play the game without paying a fee other than their time. If only it would deter the gold spammers… which are still an issue a month in, though WildStar’s given us easy ways to report them and filter them from every angle.
WildStar has been an ambitious undertaking from the start. Carbine could have easily bit off more than they could chew, and yet here we are watching its community grow, its fans take stride, and its live experience evolve. There have been very few bumps in the road, at least from our armchair vantage point, and we can only hope Nexus lives a very long and prosperous life. WildStar is, without doubt, one of the most feature complete and content packed MMORPGs in recent memory. It may not do a whole lot new, but what it does is done so with aplomb and grace. WildStar is at once similar to and unlike any other game in the market. It pulls from worlds gone by, while forging new mechanics all its own. No one can know if this new universe will stand the test of time, but for now… I’m just going to dig in and explore Nexus, Cupcake.
Bill Murphy / Bill Murphy is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.