WildStar First Impressions - Early Access Launch
When one door closes, another one opens. In this case, with the downfall of many MMORPGs imminent, Carbine Studios has seized the opportunity to provide the Massively Multiplayer Online community with the fix we have been craving for.
WildStar, fantasy/science fiction massively multiplayer online role-playing game, was released for early access Saturday, May 31st. This action-packed, highly customizable PC game takes place on the planet Nexus, where the main inhabitant race, the Eldan, has disappeared, leaving players with limitless enemies, quests, and lands to explore.
After delving into the world of WildStar for the pre-release weekend, I was intrigued, captivated, and overall impressed with the Blizzard employees turned Carbine Studios rendition of this new and inviting MMO that's stealing the scene.
If I could discuss the aspect of character customization the way I would like to, it would be significantly more ecstatic. Unfortunately, writing articles in all caps breaks the golden rule of the internet.
By far one of the most impressive facets of WildStar I noticed was the remarkable character graphics. After choosing between the Dominion (left) or the Exiles (right), a rivalry similar to World of Warcraft's Alliance and Horde, you are then able to customize every tiny aspect of your character's face, skin, hair, and body.
There are an four equal race options for both the Exiles and the Dominion.
Exile Human Cassian
I chose an Aurin, the most popular race during the closed beta, and spent close to 15 whole minutes customizing every miniscule, insignificant characteristic down to the size of her eyes and the angle of her nose.
Familiar with other MMORPGs, the character's race description allows you to make an educated guess to what class was meant for what race.
Of course, only certain classes are available to each race, but the 6 available options offer a wide selection of potential that left me with the bittersweet decision of what class to choose for my first adventure into WildStar.
Neither too few, nor too many, these 6 options (Warrior, Engineer, Esper, Medic, Stalker, and Spellslinger) give players the choice of a personalized, unique experience than just the brute force vs. mage vs. healer decision every seasoned MMO veteran is accustomed to.
To differentiate itself even more than other games, WildStar includes yet another customization feature that gives off a bit of a Sims 3 "aspiration" feel.
Choosing between a Soldier, Settler, Scientist, or Explorer, you give your character another level of goals besides the level grind and side professions.
I chose a Soldier which gave me access to special weaponry and objectives, whereas other paths will grant you reputation, lore, and territory goals depending on your individual play style.
User Interface HUD
After countless hours of MMORPGs, It's safe to say that I'm familiar with the default layout of the interface. Like most, WildStar comes equipped with a chat module and options menu at the bottom right corner, a skills bar at the bottom, a quest log at the bottom right, and a MiniMap at the top right corner.
This is a classic example of "If it isn't broken, don't fix it." Although the UI seems like a carbon copy of all the rest, what else can really be improved on? I am an avid fan of the simplistic, futuristic twist WildStar puts on a worn out interface concept.
The only negative aspect I've found it that the tooltips are split into two different designs located on two different parts of the screen. Not only is confusing, but players now have exert more energy into figuring out which windows are which and how to close them.
Despite many negative MiniMap comments I've heard and seen, I'm a confessed supporter of the WildStar MiniMap.
The MiniMap creates the perfect balance during your inevitable questing. Some players will complain that games make questing too easy or hard which arguably takes most of the fun out of the game.
What I enjoyed was that there was no huge, constant arrow on my screen (it does appear momentarily if you click on the quest), but just a small circular number available if players are having trouble completing any part of a quest.
As I mentioned earlier, the tooltips in WildStar have two faces. The first of which is to the left, this window can easily be disabled using the buttons provided.
What I thoroughly enjoyed about this particular type of tooltip is the involvement of pictures. Most of the time you are left to fend for yourself, with only a description and a sense of idiocy if you don't understand what's going on.
The second tooltip I encountered was not revered as much as the first. These are almost annoying because of the miniscule size and how randomly hard they are to close. The first tooltip had a very large, obnoxious button to get rid of the obstruction; however, this little red "X," does way more harm than good.
Graphics, Frame rate, Connectivity
Let me tell you about these graphics
The comprehensive playability of WildStar was as smooth as the top of a brand new mouse you've saved 5 paychecks and the past week's lunch money for.
While the chat was flooded with players complaining about frame rate, disconnects, and other potential graphics issues, my gaming experience was smooth sailing. Don't get me wrong, it's possible that paying for the highest available internet speeds that Brighthouse has to offer had something to do with my lack of issues.
My computer, however, is an average gaming laptop that has no significant aspects allowing games to run faster or better than any decent desktop. This leads me to believe that many others were like me, and were fortunate enough to experience the game to its intended aesthetic entirety.
Too much success for the servers
The downside of the first day was that if you waited till Saturday morning to try to play, you were too late. It's no surprise that many eager gamers were up late waiting for the highly anticipated Wildstar release until (for us Easterners) 3 in the morning.
These players were so abundant that, I kid you not, every PvP server was full to maximum capacity and queue times were up to 7 hours. Fortunately, I chose to begin on a less occupied server, even though it meant leaving some friends behind.
Even though this was quite a hinderance for players already in guilds or with friends on other servers, Carbine Studios had its game face on and came to the immediate rescue.
On Saturday alone I began to see notifications that new servers were becoming available and they haven't stopped appearing days later. Claps for you, Carbine.
My Asus laptop comes equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 64-bit Operating System. Not the most impressive, but certainly not the worst.
My little-laptop-that-could proceeded to run WildStar flawlessly on the highest settings. To me, this means WildStar should be a gorgeous for most people.
Story and Lore
Yes, I'm one of those people. The type of annoying gamer who spends half of their time reading little pieces of lore and taking in the cut scenes and the other half actually playing.
As for the story, it's notable. I wouldn't go as far to say there as anything noticeably spectacular, although I was expecting something a little more thrilling after the WildStar PAX East panel presentation.
Don't get me wrong, there is an absorbing storyline to the game, but you have to search for it. In my opinion it came off as a secondary priority, and I'd much rather have a fantastic storyline right up in my face, like StarCraft for example.
Nevertheless, I wish Carbine would have made the story line much more apparent in the early levels of the game as to add another layer of fascination to the game and to keep players interested. World of Warcraft never hit anyone over the head with its story, but it was kind of hard to miss. As a lore enthusiast, I'm missing that important element to WildStar.
With combat being the most stressed element of the PAX East panel, I was expecting to be blown away, and I was.
For those of you stuck in the old, boring ways of MMO combat, prepare yourselves. The fighting style of WildStar takes elements from most of the other games you've played, and fuses it with an enormous amount of skill.
Jen Gourdy, lead PvP designer, warned the PAX East audience that you will no longer be multitasking while grinding your levels, and I am delighted to inform you that she was correct.
Not only will you be keybinding your attacks, moving, and jumping, you will also be aware of what's going on around you, where your opponent is attacking, and aiming your own attacks.
It's a thrilling new spin on the PvP I'm used to, and the strange part was that it was actually difficult to master. Rather than jumping up and down and spamming 1, you're double tapping to dodge your opponent's area of effect, unleashing your wrath, and making sure you're safe at the same time.
It's equal parts tiring and frantic, and enchanting and sensational.
All in all
I set the bar high with my expectations, and boy did Carbine deliver.
Besides the average delivery of lore and abundance of help windows, WildStar is a riveting MMORPG that could in fact take a rightful place on the multiplayer online throne.
With exquisite graphics, unique customization, and a contemporary combat system, WildStar leaves hungry players wanting more and I haven't been able to tear myself away.
Being able to choose your own path and adventure is a new concept that creates an exclusive element I've never seen before in an MMO. I'm excited to explore further into the world of WildStar. Since my first impressions of the game were impressive, to say the least, I can only imagine how much more will be unlocked as the game continues.
For tips on beginning your journey to the planet Nexus, GameSkinny has compiled a hardcore list of AMP locations, attribute guides, and more here.