Wildstar (PC) Review
Posted by Doug Yates on 08.22.2014
Can Wildstar steal the MMO crown or is it just another imitator? Find out inside with 411's Doug Yates
Title: Wildstar Publisher: NCSOFT Developer: Carbine Studios Players: 1 - a lot
Upon first hearing about Wildstar I was intrigued by both the premise and the promise of turning MMOs on their head. While not turning them on their head, it does a great job of polishing already established mechanics.
Wildstar takes place both above and on the surface on the planet Nexus. You choose sides in the conflict between the evil empire style Dominion and the downtrodden Exiles. Most of the story focuses on smaller stories in each region as opposed to a cohesive overarching story.
Upon choosing your side you must then choose a race. Depending on your affiliation you will have different options available. The exiles consist of the Humans, the golem-looking Granok, the feline Aurin, or the cyborg Mordesh, while the Dominion consists of the Cassian—Dominion humans—the dragonesque Draken, the robotic Mechari, or the angry hamster-looking Chua. Each race has strengths and weaknesses and only certain classes available to them.
The class system is familiar to anyone with any MMO experience with various twists on the tank, mage, and healer, with the difference that each class is capable of being either damage-per-second (DPS) or support.
One of the interesting twists is the job selections which consist of soldier, explorer, settler, and scientist. These selections will help determine the type of sidequests you will be taking on. I found the settler and explorer to be the most interesting as the settler can build helpful waypoints to assist all players, while the explorer is often tasked with finding hidden areas unavailable to the other jobs and uncovering every inch of the map.
The stylized presentation will most likely turn some away without first giving it a chance. I personally enjoy the cartoony look and feel of the world and it fits the humor and tone of the game. The game is broken up into semi themed regions such as desert, snowy, and forest. Once you reach the hub city for your faction most of these areas become available.
Upon reaching level 14 you will be given the ability to begin the housing aspect of the game. On your plot you have your house 4 small slots and two big slots available to build different FABkits which can range from the mundane well to a distillery where you can complete a mini-game to make moonshine. Some FABkits are more useful than others, allowing you to farm or harvest minerals, while others are purely for decoration. You can also place décor around these areas as it does not require the slots like the FABkits. The downside of the FABkits is that many of them don’t unlock until higher levels.
Housing is a glorious distraction all by itself, and if you enjoy games like Animal Crossing you will inevitably spend hours arranging your items both inside and out. You can also allow friends to visit your home by adding them as your neighbors. Neighbors are then able to utilize the different FABkits on your land and obtain items or renown. Renown can then be used to purchase new décor or environments for your plot of land. It’s a vicious cycle of retail therapy.
Adding different items and FABkits to your home also gives you various bonuses to XP, and logging off while on your plot will grant you a rested bonus that allows for easier leveling. It is also nice to be able to craft on your own land without the hustle and bustle of using the public crafting tables.
Crafting in Wildstar is another way to easily sink hours into your character, albeit with more payoff such as powerful weapons and armor. The crafting system is broken up into multiple types such as mining, survival, or weapon smith. You will be allowed to choose two of these, on top of cooking (everyone can cook). For the most part one will decide the other, for instance the gunsmith uses a ton of metal and the miner obtains metal from nodes throughout the map. The crafting trees are well set up and easy to follow, making it easy for newcomers without simplifying it too much.
Gameplay is fairly standard fare with the addition of visible damage zones both friendly and enemy alike. Different attacks have different shapes and lengths of zone making for a bit more dexterity necessary to hit your target. Later in the game dodging the damage zones becomes a necessary skill as stronger enemies can quickly sap your health, making this game a more kinetic experience than your typical MMO.
For those who love raids and dungeons, upon reaching level 20 the first two dungeons become available. Most of the game is quite accessible for new players but the dungeons really separate the greenhorns from the veterans with bosses that can wipe out a party in a couple hits without proper preparation and execution. For those who prefer playing solo for the most part, finding a group for a dungeon that will survive is rather difficult as I’ve had multiple parties annihilated before the first boss, so a group you know is advisable.
The music throughout the game is well suited to the environment, giving it a very space western feel. What little voice work there is is well done, but if you are looking to experience the story and lore, expect a ton of reading.
• Great art style and world design.
• Damage zones make for better aiming and dodging.
• Job classes make for some interesting side quests.
• There is a subscription fee.
• Dungeons with random players often go very badly.
I came into Wildstar hoping for something new and refreshing and ultimately came away not disappointed. While many of the mechanics are grounded in genre tropes, there is still enough here to make it worth the look and is extremely well-polished to boot. Plus, with plenty of player-vs-player (PvP) action and endgame content being added frequently, this will most likely be a subscription that I hold on to for a while to come.
Stylized cartoony style may be a detractor to some but I really enjoyed it
Well polished but fairly standard.
Fun space western feel to the soundtrack, but a bit lacking in the voice department
Plenty of content to level and a slew of endgame and PVP will keep you busy.
Catering to all play styles works well in Wildstar giving everyone something to do and making them feel useful in a group.