WildStar (PC) Review
Kalvin Martinez / Aug 21st, 2014 No Comments
In 2005, 17 former Blizzard employees formed Carbine Studios. Nearly a decade later, WildStar, the studio’s first game, has been released for PC. The MMO role-playing game features tons of content, vast environments to explore, and quests to take on between the two factions, the Dominion and the Exile. The game’s combat is surprisingly active due to directional attacks from enemies and players alike. This prevents it from being a click-happy experience, but the problem with gameplay comes in the form of ho-hum quests.
While WildStar has plenty to see, at times it feels too MMO-y, which is both a boon and a curse. WildStar is well made with an imaginative world and distinctive art style, but enjoyment of the game is entirely dependent on players’ willingness to grind out the experience.
For Pride and Country, or For Rebellion
Nexus is a vast and diverse planet with a variety of environments to explore and discover. The planet is the home of the legendary Eldans, a technologically-advanced alien race that mysteriously vanished thousand of years ago. The abandoned Nexus became the home planet of an expansionist empire, The Dominion. This group feels the lost technology of the Eldan and everything on Nexus belongs to them. The races of the Dominion embark on quests to further the goals of the the empire while attempting to uncover the secrets the Eldan left behind on Nexus.
The planet is not simply the intergalactic Manifest Destiny of a powerful and greedy empire. It also houses unaffiliated hostile alien races, space pirates and other intergalactic corporations all vying for a piece of Nexus. However, the biggest opposition to The Dominion is The Exiles, an uneasy alliance of outlaws, mercenaries and refugees. Members of The Exiles were driven from their home worlds by the avarice of The Dominion. The Exiles are aiming claim Nexus as their new home and discover the secrets of the Edlan for themselves.
WildStar places players on either side of the conflict. Being an agent of an imperialistic empire furthering the expansion of said empire is an interesting side to play for, while being a rebel aiming to stick it to the empire that made you a refugee is also compelling. Despite giving both side two worthwhile goals, the story itself doesn’t call much attention to itself. There are few moments where the game wants you to pay attention to the specific missions you are undertaking and the larger conflict going on.
WildStar mostly moves quickly between mission to mission. Most information is passed through swift communications at the top of the HUD between an NPC and the player. The general abruptness of most communications makes most of the episodes you embark on seem to have little weight. It lacks small cinematic flairs that’d help anchor the weight of the story and give some importance to even the more trivial moments. It is a shame too because there are some fascinating moments.
Not Just Clickbait
There is a huge split in WildStar’s gameplay that makes it hard to love despite of having some quality combat. Directional combat makes the game an active experience, even during smaller conflicts. Both players and enemy characters perform actions with a set area of attack in WildStar. This means if you’re not aiming in the right direction, you’re not damaging an enemy. On the other side, if an enemy is preparing a powerful attack, you can dodge out of the way to prevent taking massive damage and return it in kind.
A more active style of combat makes the experience less about passively clicking on stuff and collecting experience, and more dynamic and involved. There are plenty of customization options when leveling up your character and a wide variety of specializations. It gives players a way to create an avatar tailored to their gameplay style.
The MMO of it All
Quests lack variety and generally turn into fetching, collecting and killing missions. Players will wind up spending the majority of their time killing various creatures and collecting the spoils they drop.
It is the same issue that plagues most MMOs where the game becomes a courier simulator, without the benefit of being the mayor of a bunch of catchphrase spouting monsters. You will spend plenty of time grabbing trinkets or documents for NPCs as you kill and collect stuff. If you can get deep enough into the game, there is more challenging content, but it is a tough slog to get to.
WildStar does plenty of things right. It has engaging combat, a distinctive and vibrant world with a cool visual style and a good adversarial premise. However, it sticks too closely to the MMO formula, which does not work for this game. Early quests and missions lack variety and devolve into redundancy, and the storytelling is fails to make good on a solid premise.
For those looking to get into a new MMO, WildStar may be a bit too grueling to get to the good stuff, but converted MMO fanatics looking for a new fix will find quite a bit to like in WildStar.
tags: carbine studios , mmo , mmorpg , ncsoft , review , WildStar , WildStar Review