Wildstar: open beta wrap-up

The Wildstar open beta ends tomorrow (6:00 am GMT), although in the end I only played a couple of short sessions this weekend on my Mordesh medic.

Eat green squares of doom, fiend!

Eat green squares of doom, fiend!

I’m left with a generally good impression of this new MMO; it’s pretty polished and graphically immersive. Not much has changed from my initial thoughts and the observations I made on the old-school feel of certain systems still applies.

I didn’t get that far, finished both characters about level 8, so I still cannot say I’ve seen enough to review the game. But the open beta wasn’t that long and I wasn’t prepared to make this my “one game” for that time.

It’s interesting how the game is so very like World of Warcraft in many ways, yet has big doses of old-school game design thrown in. Questing feels very competitive with other players as you race around clicking on interactive objects or trying to tag credit on creature kills before they melt. The game has open tapping but things die so quickly often that you can’t get into range in time. It’s probably a function of the early content that creatures die so quickly, in later levels, perhaps there is more time to get credit?

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The questing feels fairly “matter of fact” with the twitter-style short form quest text. It’s actually not as jarring as I thought it might be, perhaps it can be somewhat abrupt at times, but often there are a few steps of dialogue and the shortness of each sentence makes it seems more like a natural, if rapid, conversation than a series of monologues with little interaction between those involved (see LOTRO for comparison!). There are often some questions you can ask for more info before you take the quest, again this makes it seem more conversational than in other MMOs. There is a danger with such short text that you start skim reading it as it feels like you’re reading just the summarised version that WoW and LOTRO both present alongside full quest texts. It left me not caring as much about the quests as I tried to push further into the game in such a short time span.

Other activities such as the many combat challenges are less appealing to me, I’m not a fan of timed content in general (GW2 jumping puzzles being a particular pet dislike) and I often failed the challenges at first because I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing or because there were too many other players farming the creatures for me to complete in the time available. This was the same with a jumping challenge near Woodhaven – using mushrooms to jump up to gather clouds of fireflies could be a fun activity, quite different from the norm, but when there are even a couple other players with more dexterity or experience at doing said quest, it suddenly becomes a stressful race to try to get enough in time.

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It’s a shame I didn’t get far enough to see the housing, but I didn’t feel excited enough to race through six more levels of content to get that far (people in zone chat were saying you get housing at level 14). Otherwise I think I’ve seen enough for now.

The combat feels better than WoW’s in terms of the targetted abilities but it is similar to Tera’s – I wonder if I would tire of the constant movement and positioning as I did with that game? I didn’t really feel like any of the abilities I had on either class were particularly memorable, Neverwinter does a better job of making the classes feel very different even at an early level – perhaps Wildstar just takes a bit longer to achieve this?

Overall, it’s a good, well polished MMO for sure. But I’m pretty sure I’m not the target audience for Wildstar. The whole time playing I felt slightly rushed by the over-busy UI, the sense of urgency of the rapid-fire quests and the challenges and jumping puzzles. Perhaps if I’d had a guild group to play at a more leisurely pace with it might have been a better experience, but no-one I know is actually playing the game so I’m not tempted to dive in at this point.

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3 Responses to Wildstar: open beta wrap-up

  1. zaphod6502 says:

    I am playing this on release and treating it as a fun action MMO. For me it ticks the right boxes for interesting combat, hilarious comic style characters, highly detailed graphics, great sound effects, and a great variety of crafting styles. As a non-raider though I reserve judgement as to the longevity of this game for casual players.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    I agree with most of that. “Not the target audience” really sums it up, I think. I do wonder, though, if the Devs who made it would consider themselves part of that target audience. It seems to one that one of the key things about some of the really successful, early and mid-period MMOs (UO, EQ, WoW) is that they were made by people who were making the games they wanted to play. The same could probably be said of later games like GW2 and The Secret World.

    MMOs like SW:ToR, Rift and now WildStar seem much more to have been made by people trying very hard to make the games they think other people would like to play. I think that may be why some of them can feel a little soulless and flat.

    • Jeromai says:

      Nah, I really think some of them are making the games they would like to play. Some of those game designers probably cut their teeth on WoW raiding and are now looking back with great nostalgia on those times – though I wonder how many realize that it’s probably a function of the time they had in college to commit so many hours to a game, building community as a result, being content to spend 6-11 hours a day raiding…

      …hardcore.

      (*ahem* Had to interject that. Sorry.)

      But times have changed and the zeitgeist is moving on. The younger generation is more a social media MOBA / minecraft / facebook games generation, the critical mass (hysteria) that helped World of Warcraft become what it was can only strike once in MMO history as we’re talking about even mainstream non-gamers having gotten pulled in, and repeating the WoW formula is not an easy guarantee of wild success.

      It’s a safe choice, certainly. There are substantial numbers of players who will only try a game if it’s familiar to them. If SWTOR and Rift can hold an audience, Wildstar definitely will have its own supporters. But overall retention… well… Not as bad as ESO, would be my guess.

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