Review in Progress #2
After a week off due to E3, we’re back with a second diary looking at my experience towards our final review of Carbine’s WildStar. At over 40 hours played, I’m sitting at level 25 (almost 26). I’ve completed the game’s first Adventure, first Dungeon, and partaken in a few rounds of Walatiki Temple PVP. I’m crafting a ton of weapons for Rob and myself via the Weaponsmith trade, rounding out my Tanking and DPS builds, and I’m getting warier and warier about entering the first contested PVP zone around level 30. But the main takeaway? I’m having fun. For me WildStar is like chocolate. If you overdose, you can get a stomach ache, but damn will it taste good going down.
That “candy” analogy comes into play with the visuals, too. There are folks here on our forums who can’t seem to get past the cartoon-like visuals. It seems that’s one of the game’s more divisive elements. Personally, even since the first CG trailer when the game was unveiled, the style of WildStar’s visuals have been one of the game’s largest successes. It cannot be said enough by this reviewer: WildStar’s world and cast of characters are a creation all their own. Add in a very robust and mod-able UI, the soundscape and the score created by Jeff Kurtenacker, and the aesthetics of Carbine’s flagship title are top notch. But they’re also a matter of taste, we can agree.
There’s no denying that WildStar takes a lot of what has made MMOs popular since 2004 (quest based progression, oodles of content options, tons of rewards, and a theme park atmosphere) and put their own spin on each feature they’ve included. Everything in Nexus feels “WildStarry” in its own way, but that doesn’t change that fact that if you’re tired of the questing to cap idea, you’re going to be tired of it here. For my personal experience, it’s the freedom of movement and combat that makes questing fun in WildStar. I still rarely pay attention to the quest stories on most “kill this, collect this” quests, but there is the occasional objective that really makes me take notice of the Dominion objectives.
Riot in the Void
One example is early in Auroria when you’re helping rid Hycrest of a plague caused by the Exiles. This is Chemical Warfare we’re talking about here, and it’s heavy stuff. Especially as you read the lore books found throughout the zone and find pieces of propaganda from the Emperor requesting all able bodied citizens to join the fight against the Exiles… but especially the lowborn, as they’re obviously more expendable. WildStar’s lore is deep, complex, and actually very serious at times. It’s almost a shame you have to dig past the neon lights and comedic flare to get to the gritty stuff.
The feature list of WildStar is incomparably huge. When you take a look at the trailer below and consider this is a game that just launched… it makes you wonder why it takes other developers years post-launch to get this much content. I know, it’s not like W* was made in a couple of years. But from reports, the game was scrapped and restarted a few times before it went into full production about five years ago. Most MMOs take about as long, and often come so barren of content and features. There are definitely going to be content locusts in WildStar, as there are in all theme park games, but most average gamers will find a lot to chew on for several months before running out of things to do. And if they’re luck and Carbine holds true to its word, there will be even more stuff waiting for them by that point. The first big patch, with two new zones a new public dungeon, new crafting stuff, new mounts, new gear, new housing stuff and more lands in early July. But can Carbine keep that pace?
Dungeons in WildStar are a treat. Adventures, a sort of “casual” version of Dungeons, are just as good – if not better. Riot in the Void, the first Dominion Adventure, is an aptly named dungeon because you become part of a task force quelling a riot in a prison in SPAAAACE! There’s gravity effects, multiple paths to progress through, and if you do well you’re rewarded with more loot. This is for level 15 players, but there is a level 50 Veteran mode too. Just don’t bother too much with the level 15 version beyond once or twice at level, because the loot does not scale. At 50 though, you’ll earn plenty of loot and Elder Gems (end-game currency), so expect to do these often at the cap.
The first Dominion dungeon, Ruins of Kel Voreth is a lot more challenging. Opening at level 20 (along with Stormtalon’s Lair for Exiles, but players can choose either/or in the Group Finder), Kel Voreth pits you against the menacing and imposing race known as the Osun (derived from the Eldar name of OS-1). They’re barbaric stone-like creatures, reminiscent of Conan on even more steroids than Conan’s probably on. I loved this dungeon. It’s about an hour long, has three main bosses and one mini-boss, so it’s perfectly suited for a quick run. It also winds up being challenging, even when you bring rallied level 50 players with you.
The Ruins of Kel Voreth Playthrough
Rallying is the term Carbine uses to allow higher level players to level down to their friends and play with them. You keep your skill points and AMPs, but your character’s HP, gear, and all of that is brought down to be more in line. This also works in the form of “Mentoring” in the open world, so your higher level friends can come down to you and play with you. And though their loot won’t be as great, they’ll still gain XP and Elder Points if they’re capped.
Plainly put, WildStar is more the same… but it’s a really tasty take on “the same”. Sorry for another food analogy, I must be hungry. We’re all sitting around these forums, waiting for some new hot game that does everything different and makes us feel the same way we once did about EQ, or Ultima, or even WoW. But what we’re missing while we wait are perfectly, genuinely, fun MMOs. In a couple more weeks, I’ll be comfortable assigning a score to Carbine’s game. But for now, I’m content just saying this: WildStar is fun. And sometimes, that’s all you need.
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.