Another beta weekend gone by with WildStar and some significant time was spent within the game. The extended weekend was helpful as I had both Friday and Monday off of work *and* my wife was out of town so it was a perfect storm of gaming.
I got to beta-max level (20) on my Exile Medic and level 10 on all other classes. This has created a small conundrum for me – I *love* the medic and levelling the class, but as I got higher I noticed a few issues that many are going to find at launch (without major tweaking – it *is* still beta after all).
Healing is a two way street. I hit heal but the tank/dps has to actually stay in the telegraph to receive it – very few are instant. So, running more challenging content I’d get off a clutch heal only to have the tank/dps rotate out of it. DPS and tanks are only used to moving out of the bad, not as well trained for moving into the good – years of training. This is going to be an issue with the Medic moreso than the other classes. They can hit from far way while medics are a melee healer. Also – everyone is jumping around like they are on crack or Ritalin. (do crackheads jump around?). Wildstar is like GW2 and others that have active dodging – most players are taking this as the opportunity to circle strafe even when it isn’t necessary or important and is making healing harder. This is of course a PUG perspective. I am sure organized groups don’t face this as much.
DPS on the Medic is much more rewarding and smooth. Still learning and sorting out optimal rotations but it is a very simple system. Some abilities are tied to actuators (points) and you build them (up to 4) and use them (1 or 2 at a time). Other abilities are off the actuators and purely cooldown based. Same premise for the healing. Hence the conundrum – none of the other classes spoke to me in the short time I played but I am interested in sorting out a tanking class. The engineer felt clunky and I just didn’t get the feel of the stalker or the warrior. Tanking is going to be so much more important than healing in this game as you can negate most of the big damage if you are paying attention. That is the way the first 20 levels felt. I have to give them more than the 10 levels of test time obviously. Still – interesting take on how to find your class in an MMO world of all sorts of class options. That is for another post.
I mentioned in my first WildStar post that I felt 5 classes were too few – and it is feeling that way as I struggle to find my way with it.
The Levelling Experience
The Levelling experience was great and I really enjoyed it. Since I am leaning towards Dominion (I always play the pansy alliance side types) I figured I would only play Exile side quests to preserve the levelling experience when the game goes live. The questing is slick and the story is full of potential. A huge, mysterious planet once inhabited by an ancient race that has long left the galaxy. There are datacubes and lore points all around. While the writing is not supposed to win an Oscar it still adds some nice flavor and color. Check this gem out.
[The final dictated diary entry of an unfortunate explorer has a singular focus and is burned onto the broken, blood-encrusted screen.]
MY LEGS! Oh gods it hurts it hurts it HUUURTS why did I ever try that jump? Why did I think it was a good idea to – oh gods is that bone poking through the skin? And is that my – sitting on top of my – oh gods, it is. GYAAARGH! The pain the pain the PAIN why the stars did I come to this gods-forsaken planet in the first place?
Okay just – just calm down. Medishot… numbing pain enough… to talk. Legs… shattered. My attempt to reach the heart of the Sanctuary… doomed to fail. If you are reading this, turn back. TURN BACK before you take one lousy STINKING MISSTEP and plummet to the floor of this hellscape of a – oh stars the pain’s coming back. Too much to concentrate. Must reach… medishots. Belt. Where’s my belt. Oh, it’s on my – with the – oh no. Hey! Get away from that! I need it! Well… I will need it. If I can – why are you looking at me like that? Oh gods. Your eyes. Why are they like that? Please, I need help. Don’t – please, no – not my legs. Not my legs! What are you – don’t eat that! Gods – nerves must be – totally severed – or pain would be oh NO GODS NO THOSE ONES AREN’T SEVERED gyagharghGODS ALMIGHTY the chewing the chewing oh gods OH GODS HELP ME the horrible chewing and crunching and GYAAAAAAAAGHHHH –
[The remainder of the screen is filled with the autorecord AI’s valiant attempts to write out the sounds of violent predation.]
Picture a Morgan Freeman narration on that scene. All sadistic kidding aside, a lot of quests have tidbits like that – people getting lost (and dead) exploring the planet trying to find fame, riches, and/or sanctuary. It’s a nifty backdrop.
The Gear Mistake
I know WS has been in development for a long time and it is too late to make the move now but I believe the way gear works will be frustrating for players – especially with WoW moving to a one gear system. In WildStar you have PVE-DPS gear, which is different from your PVE-SUPPORT (tank/heal) gear, which is different from your PVP-DPS gear, which is different from your PVP-SUPPORT (tank/heal) gear. In Warlords of Draenor gear is getting smart and changing to your spec. This makes sense instead of complicated storage and gear swapping issues when you can change specs on the fly.
I said this was a good idea in 2008 for Blizzard and am glad to see they are finally getting around to my old blog posts. Hopefully WS does too!
While levelling I did PVP, PVE and healed and dps’d throughout both. The experience would have been far better for myself (AND the people I was grouping with) if my gear fit the role I was playing. This is even more important in lowbie levelling where you are upgrading gear at a rapid pace. Doesn’t make sense to carry around four sets (and you won’t have the room anyway). Calling it now – once WoW WoD comes out Carbine will have to backtrack on this decision and make it work the smart way.
The Convenience Factor
Similar to the above – WS is awesome in that they give you action sets where you can literally change your specs in between pulls. You have room for up to 8 standard abilities and you can choose how you fill your action bar. The problem here is that you can’t save a second set until you hit level 15. I don’t know when you get a third set. The workaround is that you take the time and click the button 20x to swap it out – but why provide a convenient option if you won’t let us save multiples? I believe this will be a cash shop item when the cash shop is finally released. Sure, you can live without it, but why would you want to?
Levelling is slow in WildStar. It takes effort, but thankfully, there is tons to do.
The level 20 dungeon Exile will be retuned (very difficult to PUG) and money is sparse and repairs are painfully expensive. The rewards are currently slim for the effort required which will make them avoided by the optimizer. The encounters I did (got through two bosses in a PUG, took us an hour to get those sorted) were fun but nothing you haven’t seen before in other 5 mans. Still, worth playing out. 5 mans are one of my favorite parts of MMOs.
At level 15 you can do your first adventure which is a choose your own adventure style dungeon. The Exile one is really fun. Basically 5 go in to an over-arching story line and group members vote what things to do – so you could have the choice to rescue the farmer’s daughter, kill a certain spy, or disable supplies. Each leg of the adventure has those choices – and in the Exile one there were 3 choice sets. Each played out in the same backdrop which gives custom options and running through the same instance isn’t so boring because of it.
Shiphand missions take you offworld but are scalable mini dungeons for 1-5 players. The first I encountered was an infestation of a moon station and it was really fun – but also hard to complete solo. Took me a few deaths to sort out what I was doing wrong. The story was fun, and it was a neat way to solo it out. Would have been more fun with a couple friends, but c’est la vie.
I also did a few PVP runs which was fun and fast while being familiar.
It is amazing, fun, easy, and very, very personalized. I loved finding things I could put in my house and on my plot of land through quests, adventures, and dungeons. Its an awesome feature full of personalization and creativity (there are a ton of manipulation of objects capability built in). There are going to be some awesome homes in WS and hopefully they keep cranking out the props to support it. There are functional things as well – I did a relic garden, which is a planet-harvestable resource. Sure it is limited to once per day (in game day) but every time I ported back to my house I could farm some. It was handy. I also did a garden, and planted some seeds I found in the wild. (I didn’t take farming, so I couldn’t harvest them). Finally I did a moonshine unit in my backyard and had to make a batch in challenge mode – and I won a giant neon BEER sign for doing so. Which I then hung on my Moonshine still. The possibilities are endless. You can have one home that all Alts can edit I am told so that is a big bonus.
The Pre Order
I pre-ordered. This game is WoW-polished and on rails, with a heavy dose of phasing. It will be great for solo questers with a lot of areas to explore and the grouping options are plentiful and interesting. There is nothing here that screams innovation in the sense of world building or MMO gaming but sometimes its okay to just have a great game that caters to the masses. If you are comfortable in WoW, but want a different backdrop, this game will work for you. I am still not excited for the sub fee (and believe it will be gone at some point) but with the discount I got on the game I basically get two months free. If I eke out 30 hours of gameplay in those two months I get my money’s worth based on today’s single player campaign hours.
Besides, I can always cancel the sub fee and wait for the value to catch up or the time to play.