When the fantasy/sci-fi MMO launched earlier this month, I had no idea what to expect. I had watched the preview trailers and knew the general premise of the game's feel, but didn't dive too deeply into game mechanics or lore because I like to discover these things myself as I go. WildStar is the perfect game for this, in my opinion, because it's full of surprises... in a good way.
In last week's article comments, several of you pushed for me to explore housing since I was at level 14. Well, I did, and I think the fact that I stayed at level 14 all week shows how much I enjoyed spending almost all my time in my housing plot.
Housing decor can be obtained from drops, traded with other players in the auction house, or bought for cash through the Housing Item Vendor. The items can be resized, rotated, and moved to your heart's content so you can make sure everything in your abode is perfectly placed. The plot of land itself can also be decorated with goodies and you can create gardens, crafting nooks, and other stations that are beneficial to your character. Housing gives you special enhanced rest XP and buffs, depending on decor. Heck, you can even place access to group dungeons on your land.
I haven't even scratched the surface of what's available in player housing yet, but you can bet that it will be my main focus for a while.
There really are a lot of things that WildStar got right. I actually like my characters. I like how they look, how they act, how they move, and what they can do. This is a huge part of the MMO genre that many developers get wrong. Customization is not just about nose and ear sliders; it's about providing the player with a tool to build and grow his avatar as far as he wants. This helps with eliminating burn-out and making us want to come back to the game when we're away from it. And that's huge.
The crafting is also fun. I described it in greater detail in last week's article, but I really like how the whole crafting system seems to fit with the "tinker" flavor of the game. And once you get past the initial learning curve, you're so excited that you figured it out that you can't wait to go further into it. And then you discover that it goes even deeper!
Then you add in things like housing, PvP, paths, adventures, mount customization... the list goes on. It's not so much that WildStar invented anything new with these features (because it didn't); it's the implementation that is so appealing.
There are still quite a few bugs in the game, as is expected of any launch title, but many of these severely hinder my enjoyment. Bad camera angles, resetting mobs, and bugged quests seem to be at the top of my list.
The graphical style burns my retinas at times, but that may just be the post-apocalyptic fan in me talking. I'd argue that "cartoony" isn't always a bad thing, but sometimes I just feel as if I'm too old to be playing this game. And then there are times when the style absolutely blows me away, like in the header image for this article.
Personally, I'm also not a huge fan of the game's linear progression, but I think it's still done well. I have to remind myself to look at this game not as a sandbox fan but as an MMO fan. And for an MMO in the traditional sense, WildStar does it well.
Medic (11): This one is my favorite because I traditionally enjoy ranged attacks, high DPS, and the ability to heal while not completely focusing on healing. The Medic can strafe attack, which I learned to love after playing the non-strafing Spellslinger for 14 levels.
Engineer (5): The Engineer is another one that can strafe attack, and that mobility goes a long way for my enjoyment of the combat. I lovelovelove the bots and gadgets, so as a pet class, the Engineer really plays its role well.
Warrior (7): I don't usually like the melee tank role, but I do like me some crazy armor and ginormous energy swords. The Warrior seems to be much more than the usual close-combat tank-n-spank, so I respect the flexibility in the class.
Esper (5): The Esper combines several things I love about the Guild Wars Mesmer, the Allods Online Psionicist, and any sniper class. I love the Esper's range and its whole concept, but I don't care for her inability to strafe attack or how slow her attacks are.
Stalker (5): The Stalker is like your traditional rogue class, except instead of dual-wielding daggers, he sports some wicked claws. I love the stealth abilities but am not crazy about such close combat all the time. Maybe that changes in higher levels, though.
Spellslinger (14): OK, so the fact that this is my longest-played class might have something to do with some possible burn-out with it, but this is my least favorite class. The main reason is the limited mobility during combat, but I also feel that he doesn't offer enough variety. Maybe that will change in higher levels, but I don't see it yet.
Paths are basically enhancements to your gameplay that allow more quests based on your own preferences for playing an MMO. If, for example, you feel that generally running around in the game isn't enough exploring for you, follow the Explorer path for more rewards while climbing to the highest mountain peak.
Settler: Settlers are builders who can greatly enhance an area by building buffing stations, crafting tables, banks, mailboxes, and more. I think I enjoy Settlers the most because they're doing so much for other players rather than forging a personal achievement path.
Scientist: Scientists are built around the concept of information discovery. You have a little bot that follows you around and scans Scientist nodes for that information. You can take on missions that focus on biology, archaeology, botany, chemistry, and more. Some of the best benefits include the ability to summon a group of friends and create portals.
Explorer: Explorers are rewarded for going off the beaten path, which I love. You can track enemies, stake claims, spy, unlock the map, and much more as an Explorer. I expected the path to be more about finding hidden nooks and crannies, but much of it focuses on Guild Wars 2-style jumping puzzles. There are too many camera angle issues for me to really enjoy these puzzles to the full extent.
Soldier: I rated this one last for the simply because something had to be last, but I don't dislike this path. It focuses more on killing a bunch of stuff, and sometimes I just want to give my killing arm a rest, ya know? But if you love defending control points, assassinating big bosses, and creating the biggest explosions, then the Soldier path is for you.
Next week MJ will be taking over the column for July to focus more on livestreaming the adventures. So be sure to come back next Wednesday to get her started on her way!
Shawn Schuster is now at the helm of Massively's Choose My Adventure with you as the co-captain. It's going to be a rough ride, so put on your seat belt! Join him every Wednesday for a reader-guided deep-dive into a new MMO every month. Farcical puns about cars and farming sold separately.