Having played a month of Wildstar, the game time included in the box purchase, I’m feeling in equal parts positive and cautious about the game and my likely involvement in its future. I’ll review my beta experiences briefly and consider if anything has changed or improved since then for a starter/leveling perspective and will also give my thoughts on the game’s free to play future.
I certainly feel like I’ve had a better look at the game now having played for longer sessions and over a longer period of time than the brief weekend-only betas I last participated in. I wrote three posts back in mid March last year while playing in the beta (links: 1, 2, 3).
Re-reading these posts the following issues stand out for me.
The combat is actually better than I’d thought and had read about in other blogger impression pieces. Bear in mind I’ve been playing Engineer again and have a pet tank-bot and pet DPS-bot to help me slay stuff and most importantly to attract all the nasty attacks while I can stand still once in a while to attack. Watching other players around me some are moving constantly (Stalkers, Spellslingers?) so the feel of combat does seem to vary quite a lot based on the class you play.
Love/hate classes and zones
A strange element to this game is that it seems that I either really like or really dislike certain elements. Perhaps that’s a good thing, the game has enough character to inspire a stronger reaction? I love playing Engineer in the game but really disliked Medic. It’s a game where trying different classes is well worth it because you might have a bad first impression if you play the wrong class. Same with the starter zones, each faction has a choice of two initial zones when leaving the tutorial and then there’s another two zones for the next level band. I much preferred some zones over others, so just quickly sampling the first two might make a big difference to your early impressions again.
Questing pace and the lore
The game is very action-oriented and the various mechanisms relating to questing do keep this pace going – missions pop up as you travel around, challenges trigger automatically and the combat keeps you moving as well. This can very easily lead to a feeling of being ‘rushed’. Reading the lovely lore texts that are scattered everywhere can be an issue if you allow the pace of the gameplay to rush you. I’ve been pretty bad at taking the time to read books after combat is over or during a lull. That’s something I’d like to rectify, the lore is worth reading but, like in The Secret World, it’s all too easy to be too rushed to actually read it!
Free to play potential
Likely the game will benefit greatly from the coming Free to Play conversion. I may even start a new leveling duo up at that time with my husband – we could have fun playing a pair of Chua again I’m sure. If the model is like Tera’s brand of F2P (i.e. generous and not intrusive) then I can see the game making a gradual come back from the current population-woes. There’s plenty of concern on blogs, forums and the gaming news about just how “in your face” free to play cash shops can become (e.g. Lotro). Perhaps this would be less jarring in Wildstar since most of the game content is pretty “in your face” already but nevertheless players often tire of being constantly asked to open their virtual wallet. With the excellent housing system and the colourful art style of the game the shop could make good on increasing the availability of cosmetic options; they seem to be pretty popular in The Secret World.
What’s not to like in Wildstar?
Well actually that’s a hard question to answer for me at this moment. I’ve enjoyed playing, in fact I’ve only tailed off from playing this last week because TSW had the anniversary event and because I’ve had a time-limited reason to be jumping back into SWTOR.The other doubt I have is a perenniel problem of quest-centric MMORPGs – is it enjoyable to level multiple characters in a short space of time?
Wildstar has some great questing content. There’s a slightly above average mix of types of activities given the inclusion of competition events and the path activities (I’m playing Scientist yet again). However the bulk of time is still involved in questing through the zones stories and faction story. My big concern is that come Free to Play conversion we’ll jump into the game to play a duo of Chua and I’ll suddenly hit a “wall of deja vu”. Just like in WoW, Wildstar’s racial/faction specific zones of the early levels converge into shared zones after level 22 – already in Whitevale I can see Dominion players running around at the same shared quest hubs that I am working from. So a chunk of the content will be the same on any repeat run through if I continue any further. To be honest with so many games vying for my time (especially FFXIV and TSW) do I really want to be spending time playing Wildstar now when I could be enjoying it even more in a few months time playing with my husband?
It’s likely I’m on pause in Nexus for now, not necessarily due to any fault in the game’s design or content, but rather because I’m waiting on the payment model transition to open up possibilities of playing with friends.