It's safe to say that I'm enjoying the game a whole lot. Server loads seem to have largely stabilized, at least from my end, and the fullness of time has given me more opportunities to run more stuff and really enjoy a wider variety of what's in the game. There's some good stuff, some annoying stuff, and some things that kind of cut both ways at the same time. So let's just dive in, shall we?
Stormtalon's Lair: The problem is people
My first run of Stormtalon's Lair turned miserable after a certain point, but the thing is, I'm not sure it's the fault of the dungeon. I'm pretty sure it's entirely down to the people in a group where I was the sole pick-up member.
If I were asked to judge Stormtalon's Lair solely based on mechanics, it would get extremely high marks from me. The dungeon makes good use of interrupt armor as a mechanic and of interrupts in general, making every boss fight feel like a fun experience. Yes, there's stuff that you will die to if you don't interrupt, but you always get plenty of warning, since the bosses frequently have unlimited armor before that and then suddenly drop into the range of player interrupts knocking them out of it. And there's a great onus of personal responsibility. Ranking high on the end-of-dungeon charts for staying alive is a really satisfying feeling, because it shows the game is acknowledging your work at staying out of telegraphs rather than just running through them.
Not to mention the fact that the actual bosses feel unique and fun. The last boss particularly has two neat mechanics -- a big knockback followed a need to rush in and interrupt, and a very cool storm-summoning in the end that requires you to stay in the eye of the storm whilst dodging other telegraphs at the same time. A slow rotation around the boss helps in this phase.
The problem, however, comes with other players. I can't count how many times an interrupt failed because myself and another player fired off our interrupts properly... and the third person didn't pay attention or had fired his too early. Or the wipes we had on the first boss because of people failing to dodge one or the other of the big AoE attacks toward the end of the fight. It was a recurring theme, let's leave it at that.
This may well become less of an issue as time goes by. As it stands, running dungeons is a challenge mostly on account of coordinating with other people, some of whom resolutely avoid learning lessons. (Everyone's going to miss interrupts on the first try at a boss, that's normal. The ninth time? Not so much. And yes, that's what happened.) Set aside a good chunk of your day for these things.
Adventures: A bit disjointed, yes, but still fun
If dungeons are the "set aside a good portion of daylight" content, adventures are much more fire-and-forget. Leveling via group content is better suited to spamming adventures, and even moderate success isn't too hard to achieve with a little bit of coordination. Plus, since the layouts have a fair number of deviating points, you can wind up with different experiences from run to run.
Riot in the Void is generally a pretty fun introductory adventure if you're on the Dominion side, with a fun scenario and a chance to really cut loose on a bunch of Exile prisoners with good cause. Sadly, I've seen a lot of tanks not really sure of how to deal with the onslaught of enemies in certain objectives, and there are times that the actual objectives themselves aren't terribly clear... but the overall adventure does a great job of making use of a limited map to produce diverse experiences. A couple wipes happen here and there, but nothing to get upset over.
The average run seems to take about half an hour, and while you'll need to have your dodging skills on call, you're not dealing with the sort of complex mechanics you see in dungeons, at least not at this level. The promise of veteran adventures is also a fun one. As content goes, it's a bit more disposable, like a step between shiphand missions and dungeons, but that's an important space for content to occupy. I'm a fan.
Questing: Solid, motivating, fun
Naturally, a lot of time is going to be spent questing. For the Dominion, at least, questing seems to really move into its own once you reach Auroria. I mined out pretty much the entire zone out of a sheer love of what was on display. It's designed to not hit the usual hub-to-hub notes precisely, and in that regard it works fairly well through a few interesting tips.
First of all, there are very few breadcrumb quests from a hub. What's far more likely is that as you're doing another quest, someone will call you in the area and ask you to come help. You don't have to do so, obviously, and you can in fact opt to completely ignore these calls, but they pull you in new directions in a way that feels far more organic.
Second, while you have little areas of questing, complete with spots for settler improvements, these areas are quick. The quests in a given mini-hub will take you 10-15 minutes or so most of the time, and by that point you'll have two or three other places to go anyway. Moreover, where you go next depends a lot on what you tackle first. After finishing one micro-hub, you have a few calls in different directions; go in one direction, you start getting more hubs, and so on.
Third, very few of the quests overstay their welcome. A few do; there's one kill quest where every kill provides far too little completion, for example, and another one that requires farming a lot of random drops from Eldan constructs. But by and large, the experience is less "ugh, I have to kill another dozen things" and more "oh, here's a quest to kill these, something I'm going to be doing anyway whilst fulfilling these other objectives." Individual quests tend to have smallish rewards, but they stack up and dovetail nicely.
In short? It's fun. And it gives you as a player plenty of chances to really experiment and try new things with builds and tactics, plenty of lore to pick up, and lots of challenges to really light a fire in the hopes of more rewards. The experience feels engaging.
You don't, at this point, have a lot of choice about where to go in leveling in terms of zones, but there are enough options that you can ditch stuff you don't feel like doing without too much trouble. I quested all the way through Auroria with only a few bits of content left undone, and it brought me past the point when I could enter the next zone; I also skipped out of Ellevar as early as I could. You don't get to choose between dozens of leveling areas, but you have options.
So much to do...
There really is a lot to talk about with the game right now. I still haven't touched upon battleground -- I mean that literally, I haven't yet even jumped into one. There's also the fun of playing with builds, spotting abilities that naturally work well together, and the joy of shiphand missions. And do I need to specify that I love housing?
But there's only so much time and so much space. Even when you break the usual column order to talk about it early.
As always, feedback is welcome down below or via mail to email@example.com. Next time around, I want to start talking about developing a build and figuring out how to advance your character, assuming we don't get some big news drop in the next couple weeks. Which isn't out of the question, I know.
Here's how it is: The world of Nexus can be a dangerous place for a tourist or a resident. If you're going to venture into WildStar, you want to be prepared. That's why Eliot Lefebvre brings you a shiny new installment of The Nexus Telegraph every other Monday, giving you a good idea of what to expect from both the people and the environment. Keep your eyes peeled, and we'll get you where you need to go.