June 3, 2014

Thinking about Wildstar (warning: geeky game nerd stuff)

What I like:

  • The soundtrack: https://soundcloud.com/inhisgroove/sets/wildstar-mmo-ost-cues – this is probably the best MMO soundtrack I’ve ever heard.
  • The combat – second best I’ve encountered. DDO was better (and probably will still hold the title for some time). But this is really good. The telegraph (floor ‘templates’ that show where the enemy is going to cause damage) makes the game more dynamic than other MMOs (again, other than DDO) and changes rules – you can have bosses with obliterating hits that other non-telegraphed MMOs simply can’t afford to include because they would be game-breaking without a template model.
  • The humor – wonderful job here – from the leveling, to the voices, to the monsters and random mobs, the items: Pants of Fealty (!) – the humor is consistent and delightful.
  • The depth – I am astonished at how much they’ve put into a just-launched game, in terms of content and features. It really puts other MMOs to shame.  Housing, guilds, crafting, paths, top-end raiding, challenges, reputation, costumes, mounts, arena PvP all at launch?  For shame, other MMOs.  For shame.  Considering it’s just launched, it also has a staggering amount of lore (more on that later)
  • The philosophy – I *love* that you progress in the pick-up quests based primarily on participation, rather than getting the final kill. It’s a brilliant twist – instead of only getting credit based on being the one to make the kill, you get some credit as long as you do any damage at all. This means that if I see someone fighting a tough monster, it is in both of our interests to work together to finish him. I can’t steal his kills, and he can’t steal mine. We both get loot. In addition, this frees Carbine to mix in tough monsters with the weak ones, since two people working together are far more than twice as effective as each of us working alone.
  • The lore – I can tell that there’s a deep underlying secret about the Eldan and Nexus – there’s some sort of major secret out there.   I’ve seen hints of it (some sort of lurking purple horror), and I can tell by the way that random NPCs make random comments that they’ve put a lot of thought into the overall storyline of the planet.
  • A sense of the epic – Several times, there’s something that appears to be part of the background, but then it turns out to be an active, interactive object in the game.     And then there was the time I walked over a rise to find myself face-to-face with a Godzilla-sized robot trying to climb out of a pit.   WOW.

 

Areas of improvement

  • Grouping is a mixed bag.  Usually, you can share in accomplishments, but sometimes, almost at random, you can’t, and so all three of you have to repeat the exact same step.  DDO again stands at the top of the pile here.
  • Too many things to keep in your inventory – seeds and such are valuable, but take up space.  I may have to experiment with farming, maybe it’s not as bad as it seems right now.  There’s some variations – monsters that are way out of your league are glowing red, but it’s not uncommon to attack a monster, only to realize after you’ve engaged that it has 4x-6x the HPs you were expecting.
  • Difficulty variation – it can be tricky to realize that the reason I’m struggling – is that I’m in an area meant for higher level characters.  I wish it would make that a bit more obvious, but that may just be a matter of paying more attention to the quest log.
  • Challenges – I like the *idea* of challenges, but mostly now I just turn them off immediately.  Too many failures, and can be very distracting/frustrating when I’m at 99% when the timer runs out.  Especially if that failure was because other people were competing with me to complete the challenge.
  • Visually, it’s a bit frantic.   Can be tedious to try to sort through all the vendors and interactable objects and people and quest givers and, and, and…
  • Achievements – there’s an achievement log, but it just has the name, and no way of reading more about how I earned it, or what it might reward me with.
  • Thayd – big and spread out, with no real payoff