That, to me, is why I'm on board the WildStar train.
Listen, I'm not one of those people who feels that a game needs to "win" or dominate all of the rest of the landscape. I don't care whether WildStar is more or less popular that the rest of the field or whether it goes free-to-play or not (obviously, I would like it to do well so that it doesn't close up shop!). If it's not your thing, fine, but that won't stop me from being giddy as its release approaches.
WildStar is definitely my most anticipated MMO for 2014. Hit the jump and let me tell you 10 reasons why!
Fantasy, fantasy, fantasy as far as the eye can see: This is the landscape of the MMO industry today. Even those newfangled Kickstarter projects that have everyone excited? Most are fantasy too. I like fantasy well enough, but in my heart I'm more of a sci-fi guy. Lasers and space ships and interplanetary adventures arrest my attention and hold it captive. The technology and trappings are far more interesting to me than the 500th blacksmith or Cinderella castle.
2. I dig the pulp sci-fi western vibe.
WildStar isn't just sci-fi; it's a particular brand that's intentionally calling back to many of our childhoods and the fun of imagination back then (y'know, before we got so dang serious about our games). There's the high-falootin' feel of a western, but it's more than just World of Fireflycraft. The designs and over-the-top technology is quite atompunk to my eyes (or zeerust), more Lost in Space than Star Trek.
When I was growing up, I read a lot of much older sci-fi from the '50s and '60s, including Heinlein, Asimov, and the Tom Swift series, and there was something infectious about that era, kind of a spirit where technology could do anything and be wielded with surprising ease by the common adventurer. This is what I'm getting from WildStar's world.
3. It's really dang funny.
I've been in the beta for a while now, and while I do try not to spoil myself too much, I've experienced enough quests, heard enough dialogue, and seen enough events to know that there's a wicked streak of humor that runs through this game. Heck, you probably picked up on that already just from all of the dev speaks and the website.
Now, this humor is polarizing. I've seen friends really turned off from the game because it's too jokey and goofy. For me, it's a major plus. I don't take games that seriously, and I appreciate when a game is serious about what it does but not necessarily about how it goes about doing it. Plus? The Lopp are hands-down hilarious. I anticipate that they're going to be the breakout characters from the game.
The jury is still out as to the overall effectiveness and importance of the path system in WildStar, but from what I've exprienced and read so far, I am really glad it's in the game. At the very least it ups replayability and offers content tailored to one's playstyle, and I'll be really interested to see the demographics of what people choose (I'm guessing Soldier will be most popular, but time will tell). Picking a class and picking a path has a City of Heroes mix-and-match feel to me, and I like the extras that the path system unlocks. I love picking up extra details on the world with my Scientist, and using all of the Settler stations has made me fond of my builder comrades.
5. The lore is engrossing.
Lore doesn't usually get a lot of mentions in upcoming MMOs, but I've seen more than a few mentions of how testers have gotten sucked down the rabbit hole of the in-game story and descriptions in WildStar. It's not just fluff; there's a fully realized world here with civilizations, history, secrets, and all manner of interesting stories. I actually get excited when I come across lore drops in the game, especially if they feature a voice-over.
6. The music is amazing.
For those of you who have long since been in the habit of turning off in-game music, WildStar might convince you otherwise. Composer Jeff Kurtenacker's score is absolutely stunning and thrilling in the right amounts, and I've been a fan of this OST since hearing early pieces over a year ago.
There actually might be too much to do at any given moment in WildStar, which is not the worst problem in the world to have. There's traditional questing, path advancement, crafting, dungeons, adventures, housing, challenges, PvP scenarios, shiphand missions, warplots, achievements, and raids. I'm going to have to seriously pace myself to not race ahead like a kid in a candy store when I get in the game, but I am going to try to give each appropriate levels of attention so that I don't sprint past the good stuff.
8. Oh my gracious, the housing.
That sentence fragment was brought to you by Ways to Annoy My Editor, Inc. Anyway, the housing in this game might just consume my life. As I said in the intro, it's almost as if the devs took my own personal wish list and put it into the game. Not only do I get an abode to fix up exactly the way I want, but I can trick out my yard with all types of functional additions. And with the neighbors feature, it's easy to visit back and forth and help my friends out with their homes. In beta, I was far more excited about getting housing items as dropped loot than gear upgrades, if that gives you an indication where my heart is at with this game.
9. I appreciate the emphasis on customization.
Housing, mounts, and costumes are the customization trinity of WildStar -- ways that we can give ourselves unique looks and trappings. I can't think of many MMOs that allow you to adjust the look of your mount, and I would have revolted if I couldn't dress up my virtual dollie the way I wanted. The UI makes this and other aspects (such as saving and loading multiple builds) a breeze, which is something not to be poo-pooed.
10. I greatly enjoyed the beta.
While I have no idea how WildStar will play out in the long run, I do know for certain that I had a terrific time in beta. It's not perfect, but I could get my head around it and enjoy it without any significant obstacles. I also got addicted to double-jumping, a feature that every MMO needs now that I've used it. I wasn't forced to play the beta and I have nothing to lose professionally if I walked away from this game altogether; I'm playing it because it's a fun game to play. Period.
Justin "Syp" Olivetti enjoys counting up to ten, a feat that he considers the apex of his career. If you'd like to learn how to count as well, check out The Perfect Ten. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.