Wednesday, June 25, 2014


So this post has been a long time coming.  I've been waiting a bit to write it, as I wanted to experience multiple aspects of the game, try out a few different things and let it settle into a groove.  So get ready, because we are going to jump into this thing.

So for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, Wildstar is the new MMO out of Carbine studios.  It's been in development for awhile, and went live at the beginning of June.  So far from what I have seen it seems to be doing well for itself (I was unable to get sales numbers, since it's not been out a month yet, but judging by the hit counts on reddit and other forums, the game seems quite popular).  It tells the tale of two factions fighting over control of a long lost planet, Nexus.  The Dominion (aka evil empire) rules the galaxy due to the Eldan giving them advanced tech and telling them so.  They've spread out and have conquered most of the worlds, and since Nexus is the home world of the Eldan, they believe it is their divine right to rule from it.  The exiles are a group of refugees, having lost their respective homes to the Dominion, and see Nexus as a chance to start over.  Players begin by picking a side, and off they go into the game.

Once players pick a side, they must choose a race, a class and a path.  Races are for aesthetics, ranging from bunny people and human, to android like robots and tiny, furry killing machines (the chua).  Classes run the gambit from huge sword wielding warriors, to mages with dual pistols in their pockets.  Every class can fill two roles during gameplay, and seem to do both well so far (for the record, I'm a Mechari warrior).  Path is a bit of extra flavor one adds to your character.  Class and race independent, paths let you interact with the world in various ways.  A soldier can summon up fights to protect a location or test their mettle, while a scientist can scan and analyze various tech and writings to unlock mysteries and lore.  A path is optional to use while playing, but does offer benefits such as special abilities, costume gear and titles, so I'd say it's worth a look into actually going along with your path.

So of course, once we have character creation out of the way, the big question alot of MMO vets will ask is, is this game like World of Warcraft?  Are we just going to be playing re-skinned WoW in space?  I can say the game definitely referenced Wow in it's base design, it did not just copy it.  It took what made WoW fun, stripped out other stuff, slapped on a ton of customization, added fun and spin to everything, lit it on fire and is letting it run around the office.  Ok, weird analogy I know, not my strongest area.  To best explain this, we're going to break this down into questing, combat, grouping, character customization and pvp.  So first, let's begin with questing.

Questing, good for the body, good for the xp bar

In every zone you make it too, there are a few story lines going on.  You have a world story, which takes you from place to place, along with region specific story lines that pertain to the area in hand.  Along with these you also have tasks, which tend to be one off, smaller quests or random tasks you pick up along the way.  On top of this, challenges litter the world, and can be found/initiated almost anywhere.  Challenges will give you a timer and a task, and possible rankings for completion.  Upon completing a challenge, a roulette style loot box will appear, you select the item you prefer to get, it rolls off and you win an item.  These range from crafting materials,  to equipment, decor(which we will get too) and even very rare equipment.

So your quests follow a specific pattern, go complete some task.  Instead of kill 10 of an enemy though, they will ask you to just kill them.  So you walk up and kick down a door, and rough up say, some rats.  You get 2% per rat killed towards 100% completion.  You find a bigger rat and drop it, and instead get say, 15%.  So it gives you different ways to finish a quest.  Killing lots of little mobs, to going after bigger targets.  You will also get quests where you have to use a special item, stealth in tiny robots, pilot a vehicle or even just talk to people.  On top of all of this, you can also get off world quests, which take you to instances off the world to perform longer quests.  So while they did not re-invent the questing system, they've spruced it up enough to keep it interesting.

Now, how do I kill this thing infront of me?

One of the most vaulted features of the game is the combat.  Every move your character does, and almost every move an enemy does is telegraphed.  What this entails, is every attack has an area of affect that displays on the ground.  From a cone, to a line, big circles or random shapes, every attack has a pattern.  So even my basic warrior attack hits out in a cone, whacking everything in the cone.  If an enemy tries to shoot me, I can move, or dodge out of the way of the attack, thus saving myself some damage.  Along with this is the concept of interrupt and interrupt armor.  In most MMOs, you are unable to control bigger monsters or bosses, thus making abilities that stun, slow or root enemies useless in boss battles.  In Wildstar what they did is give an enemy what's called interrupt armor.  So let's say a boss has an armor of two.  That means if you perform two attacks that would interrupt them (such as a stun or a pull) the third one will take effect, thus stunning the monster in place.  This can help you set up combos, stop a big attack from coming in, or even give the healer a breather.  By the way, healers moves also telegraph.  So while tanking a fight, you also need to be in the healers range of attacks, or the healer needs to move with you.  Makes fights alot more interesting, and gives the players alot more control over how things go.  Just remember the old saying, red is bad, green is good, blue is where death lies.

I can do what with my outfit?

So combat is a big part, and is also helped by character customization.  This arguably is one of the bigger selling points, to me at least.  So let's begin with your basic character.  Every character can have 8 class abilities, one path, one gadget and a healing kit equipped (you can have more healing, but the base action bar gives you a spot for one).  Abilities are selected from assault, support and utility slots for a character.  They function as you suspect, assault does damage, support tends to tank or heal, and utility is where crowd control, defense buffs and the like go.  So once you've selected your eight abilities, you also have ability points to spend.  By applying points to abilities, you can rank them up, giving them more damage, more threat, lasting longer etc.  At ranks 4 and 8 of an ability, they gain an extra feature ontop of what they already perform.  So for example, my base tanking move, menacing strikes does damage and extra threat.  If I upgrade it to rank 4, it lowers the rate of my energy decay, what I use to cast my abilities as a warrior.  If i rank it all the way up to 8, it now has a chance to heal me every time I use it.  Every ability has two extra upgrades, so it's good to find out where you want to spend your points.

Next up is the AMP system.  This functions like a talent system in most games.  It looks like a circle, splayed out with parts labeled pvp, support, hybrid etc.  The inner most ring are your basic talents, and provide flat bonuses to stats.  1% to shield, 2% to hit, etc etc, not very exciting.  Once you've put enough points into one area, it unlocks the second tier.  This is where you get options, such as if you hit 100% kinetic energy on a warrior, you perform an aoe attack that hits everything around you.  Or an ability where above a certain shield %, I start stacking defenses ontop of myself.  This gives the player more customization to flesh out how they want to perform their roles in combat.

So even with all of that, we have more customization.  When you get equipment, it has various stats, health, brutality(assault power) and the like.  Every stat has what's called milestones.  If you hit a certain amount of points in a stat, it gives you a bigger bonus towards whatever the stat gives your class.  So if you pump a certain stat, you get extra bonuses to whatever the stat gives you, thus ensuring you can only get better at what you want to be good at.  Speaking of equipment, crafting is different in this as well.  You have multiple types of crafting, but they fall into two categories, schematics and discoveries.  Schematics function like traditional recipes.  You get a blueprint for say, a new pair of guns and begin crafting.  You apply the base materials, a power source and stats.  What makes it fun though is you get to pick the stats.  So if someone is tanking, we want to make a weapon for them with lots of health and support stats, while using the same blue print, we could turn around and make a straight pure damage weapon.  This gives the crafter alot of leeway with how they make their weapons.  Oh, did I also mention crafting can get you talents, that help you further specialize and customize what it is your making?  Ya, that happens too.

The other type of crafting, discovery functions a bit differently.  You start with a base recipe, let's say soup.  It tells you that you can discover two other recipes from it.  So you start making soup, and add some salt for savory, and peppers for spicy.  The discovery chart appears, and if you fail to find a new recipe, it will direct you where to go to try to uncover the new recipe.  I've not done this type as much, but seems to function like that.

So along with all of that, every player also gets a house.  A floating house above the planet, that they are given the option to do with as they please.  You start by building a house, and putting down decor(hey that thing from earlier, look at that).  Decor can offer bonuses such as rested experience, and can also give your house a certain charm or quality.  Along with that, every house has 6 plots.  Four 1x1 plots, and 2 1x2 plots.  These plots let you put down things like crafting stations to craft at home, or a mining node that will spawn mining nodes for you to mine.  You can also get mini dungeons that people can run, or put up laser turrents to protect your house, or festivals to pass out food and drink.  Along with all of this, you can resize and shape almost anything you put down.  Also people can come to your house, farm your materials, they get a small cut and the rest is mailed to you, how awesome is that.

Even with all of this, you can also customize your mounts, your outfits, dye your armor, unlocked costume pieces to make  toon look however you want, it's intense.  I can also guarantee, I've left things out of here.

Let's group up and roll out

So you've got a group, and are itching to do some things together.  Well, there is of course, questing challenge.  But anyone can do those by themselves, you want something meaty.  May I suggest, dungeons and adventures?  Dungeons function like they do in most MMOs, slightly linear path, few bosses, get some loot, have a good time.  The dungeons in this though are hard, I cannot stress this enough.  They've designed dungeons (and raids) to be much harder then what is found in most MMOs.  Thanks to our friend the telegraph system, they can put complex encounters into the game, as the players are already given the tools to dodge and handle such encounters.  You want something different though, I can tell.  So let's look into adventures.

Adventures are simulations created by the Caretaker, a mysterious entity left behind by the Eldan.  As such, they take place in completely different zones, and can even have different mechanics.  They can range from DOTA style combat, to tower defense maps, to tank and spank battles.  Along with this, they offer branching paths.  So every time you play them, what your team chooses to do unlocks different options, leading to different events happening during the adventure.  This ensures they stay fresh longer, and provide more content to people playing through the game.  Since they can also be whatever the developers want, it gives them the ability to craft and design unique experiences in small chunks for players to try out.

Let's kill some players

So PvP.  To alot of players, this can make or break an entire game.  To those of you looking for a good pvp time, I say unto you, welcome aboard.  Wildstar offers multiple types of pvp.  You have battlegrounds, big battles with specific goals such as take a point or capture the flag.  Arenas, which function in teams designed to go into smaller dogfights, with various options tied into them.  Along with this you have open world pvp, and of course, warplots.  War plots are big bases that players get to design, and then implement in huge 40v40 battles against other warplots.  You design how yours is going to work, from offensive to defensive powers, layout and everything else.  Once you plop your base down, it's time to power it up, and take down the enemy.  You can level entirely from PvP by the way, so there is that option.  It can also reward you with unique items, mounts, housing features and cool looking gear, so rock on.

So, with all of this, you can tell I really enjoy my time in this game.  What's scary is how much I've left out, with some of the odder quests, guild features, a fully customizable UI with a decent mod community already thriving.  All this, plus there is a huge patch coming in July with even more areas, more content and just so much more stuff to do.  If your looking for a game with a ton of things to do, something new to try, or even just wanna run around in space, you owe it to yourself to grab a copy, and give this game a whirl.