A great alternative MMO
I undertook a Review in Progress of WildStar at release, and due to a number of distractions and surprise announcements, it’s taken me a while to see almost everything there is. But here I am with my Dominion Mechari Warrior, having experienced the leveling process, the community, and a number of endgame activities.
I’m pleased to say that although WildStar didn’t blow me away, it’s a fine MMO if you’re looking for another realm to call home.
Developer: Carbine Studios
Released: June 3, 2014
MSRP: $59.99 ($14.99 flexible subscription fee, with 30 days included in base game)
After reaching the mid-levels of the game, WildStar gets more grindy, but not more than the average MMO. The key is you have so much to do while you enjoy the process of getting to max level — tend to your house, explore, PVP, do regular quests, or go in a ton of instances. The world itself is more interesting than most, offering up a hearty helping of humor alongside its purposefully cartoon veneer.
The quests don’t change for better or worse, and teeter along the line of “innovative for the genre” and “standard fare.” It’s fun to do vehicular quests and wacky tasks that ape popular culture, but at the same time it can feel methodical, which isn’t a good thing for people who want to break free of the bonds of standard MMO play.
WildStar still heavily leans on a method of vertical progression, which is great for people who love to see that “ding,” along with the personal satisfaction that comes with it, but again, it’s a very traditional system. With a lot of sandbox MMOs trying horizontal and more seamless methods, WildStar will scare off people looking for something new.
The last time I stopped our Review in Progress was at level 30, at which point more starts to open up. Level 35 sees a new dungeon (Skullcano Island), which is just as lively as all of the other instanced content so far. Level 40 and 45 introduce The Crimelords of Whitevale and Malgrave Trail respectively, in the form of Adventures — which as we know, are more open-ended dungeons designed for multiple runs. At this point I’m a little more on board with the Adventure scheme, but at the same time the sheer lack of dungeons isn’t ideal.
It’s admirable that the WildStar team would put more effort into PVP than most MMOs, but for those of you who enjoy PVE, your options are limited. Again questing is fun, but it isn’t all that different or exciting compared to the rest of the genre, so players are going to naturally funnel into instances and PVP. Either way the questing process continues — Level 46 sees the Grimvault zone, which really preps you for all the “Elder Game” content (also known as “endgame”). Leveling up doesn’t stop at 50, as you can earn “Elder Gems” to spend on gear. The grind continues! Just a little more horizontal this time.
Of course, many players will want to move on to raiding — the most hardcore goal of any MMO. The Genetic Archives (20-man) and Datascape (40-man) are herculean tasks, and you must attune to them before you even enter. This process is meant to weed out people who aren’t serious about undertaking this massive commitment, and even though the attunement questline has since been nerfed, it’s still a major time sink, though there are “no plans” to nerf raid difficulty.
It might turn you off, but Carbine Studios is steadfast about its intended audience. Let me be clear — to even attune to these raids you pretty much need the help of a static group of friends or a guild, and it will take you a long time to even do “upkeep” on your character so that you’re “raid-ready.”
These fights take me back to the golden age of WoW, and are worth the squeeze if you have the time. The only problem is over the course of a few months, the amount of people willing to do these raids have dwindled. So if you’re looking for a group, it may take more time to find players who will match up with your requirements. Not only that, but real endgame gear and character progress outside of these raids isn’t nearly as engaging or viable — so if you don’t raid, you might run out of things to do if you aren’t into PVP.
WildStar is a very traditional MMO, and it doesn’t attempt to hide that fact. As someone who enjoys both the new- and old-school means of thought, I found WildStar to be both a solid foundation of tried-and-true methods and an all-too familiar retread. If you’ve finally grown tired of WoW and want another hardcore MMO, this is it — but everyone else may want to wait for a free trial period.