Disclaimer: This is an early impressions review of the Wildstar Beta. The game is due for release on 3/6/2014 and is currently available for preorder.
The parallels between Wildstar and Warcraft are obvious, both have eight letter names beginning with W for example, but where Warcraft is a brightly coloured, heavily stylised fantasy roleplaying game with swords and guns in a medieval setting. Wildstar is, in fact, a brightly coloured, heavily stylised fantasy roleplaying game with swords and guns in a SCIENCE FICTION setting and so it’s completely different.
Talk about any MMO and the comparisons to the great behemoth that is World of Warcraft are inevitable. Over the past decade there have been many contenders to WoW’s slightly sweaty and Wotsit scented throne and all of them have come up short. This year sees two hopefuls: The much publicised Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar. If you’ve managed to get this far without reading the title I should clarify that this article is about the latter.
Wildstar is set on the recently discovered planet Nexus as it becomes the new cool place for intergalactic armies to slug it out after the Transformers booked up Earth for all of their scraps. The player chooses between either the Dominion – whose name says it all – and the Rebel Allia- sorry, ‘The Exiles’.
Each side has four different races available, the Exiles have the Humans, the Granok – big rock people, the Mordesh – weird science fiction zombie things and the Aurin – nature loving cat/bunny people all voiced by the cast of My Little Pony. The Dominion, unwilling to drop the role of evil bastards have the Mechari – living robot people, the Drakan – bloodthirsty aliens who look exactly like the Deathclaws from Fallout, a race of psychotic mad scientist chinchillas called the Chuar, and the English – because we’re just so damn villainous.
Each race has access to a selection of the 6 classes and 4 ‘paths’ – secondary classes, which cater to the more esoteric tastes of the player. Want to stomp more heads? Try the Soldier path for extra, more combat orientated missions. Interested in the lore? Choose scientist and have fun scanning things. Fondly remember the jumping puzzles of Guild Wars 2? (I, for one, loved them) then Explorer is your best bet. There’s also the Settler path if you like building vending machines.
The most striking difference between Wildstar and Craft of War is the combat. Unlike the old-fashioned shin kicking competitions of most MMOs Wildstar sports a more active system. Every attack has an area of effect so combat becomes a more frenetic affair as you try to stay out of the enemies’ attack zone while trying to line them up to your own. It makes for a more involved affair that could hopefully stop all that twaddle about ‘rotations’ that World of Warhammer-rip-off revelled in.
Wildstar features many of the usual MMO staples: Crafting, PvP, Dungeons – including 1-5 player scenarios called Adventures. I havent managed to test these features to any great extent as yet but they seem to be capably implemented and there’s nothing short of a Saw-inspired torture regime that would have me join the mewling buggercunts that populate the PvP arenas of most MMOs.
It also features player housing – the new thing other MMOs are all jumping on but unlike Warcrafts fortresses or Star Wars’ houses the Wildstar Plots are part of the game from the start and are meshed with the rest of the gameplay. Whereas once the Warlords of Draenor expansion is finished I expect Warcraft to consign the fortress feature to the same irrelevance as the farm in Pandaria.
I’m quite hopeful about Wildstar, a lot of effort has gone into its creation and there’s plenty for a player to do as they throw hours of their lives upon the altar of the MMO gods. Of course this is only a preview from my time with the open beta, but unless they completely cock it up by making PvP essential or adding a race of anthropomorphic kangaroos, this looks like a worthwhile , or at least entertaining, way to kill a few hundred hours between now and the grave.