Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Wildstar beta: First Impressions (part1)

So if you haven't heard, there's a new MMORPG on the block calling itself Wildstar. They recently had an open beta, inviting players to come and break stuff before the final release on June 3, 2014. And because breaking stuff is fun, I thought I'd give it a try. Also, because this was going to be a really long post, I chopped it into two.

Like any MMORPG, there are factions, usually two, sometimes three. Wildstar's two factions are Exiles and Dominion. I played both sides, but most of my time was spent playing Dominion, because damn, they're fun. I love the black humor of Dominion; they're an evil empire and not afraid to flaunt it.A lot of times you'll be answering orders from higher ups with a prima donna complex, but it's all so over the top (as is most of the game), one wonders if this empire is run on swagger alone.

The Exiles are, well, the exiled people of Dominion. They're basically tree-huggers. No, really. They seem to want to do general good, and their missions tend to revolve around saving this or that, and preventing the destructive forces of the Dominion. Whereas Dominion quests will deal with more political intrigue, betrayals, empire infrastructure. Which is good that each faction feels distinctly different in both goals and philosophies--it's just I prefer evil overloads to goody two-shoes.

Yes, there is even a quest to save sentient root vegetables!

Basic story is that this new planet, Nexus, has been discovered, and is considered very valuable to both factions, thus becomes the apex of galactic conflict. And that's as much story as you need for an MMORPG.

As for combat, there is no auto-attacking (yay!). You also don't have a bazillion abilities on hand like in WoW. There's no skill tree, you just buy abilities and slot them, but you have a maximum of eight slots, which are only unlocked as you level. Why yes, that means you need to think about what you slot. Combat is much more active, requiring you to dodge out of enemies attacks, which are made visible with red areas on the ground.

Not sure how I feel about the quick time events that occur whenever you get stunned. You need to hold down a key--and fast--because they will be a lot of hurt coming your way. Personally, I don't care for quick time events, but some people might find this an interesting mechanic.

The two classes I played were esper (aka psyblades) and medic, and both had a pretty good rhythm to their combat. I'm quite use to The Secret World's combat where, depending on your weapons, you build resources before firing off a consumer ability, or start with full consumers and build resources back up. Esper has resource building while medic starts with full consumers. Both are different and both work well. I probably lean toward esper just because seeing my character throw phantasmal swords at foes was pretty awesome, although do like how the medic's weapon is a defibrillator. Both of these classes can heal, and all classes have duel roles. Once again, it just depends on what you slot.

Stats are, err, interesting, but not entirely clear to me. Especially how they translate between classes. Like for my esper character, I mainly focused on moxie and finesse, because moxie would give me more assault power to hit stuff harder, and finesse would give me crits. However, when playing my medic, tech gave me assault power and moxie gave me crits. Which I guess makes sense because medic does tech damage while esper does magical, but on the other hand...that's going to be a challenge to keep track of, especially if you have multiple characters. Perhaps this is a way to make gear a bit more unique to each class, because in other games, similar stats could be used across multiple classes which would inevitably lead to fighting over gear.

So last but not least: character creation. There are seven races (humans are in both factions), and the differences are all cosmetic. No special race abilities of the sort. I went with cassian human on Dominion side, making her in the image of Mirage from The Incredibles. Funny enough, the cartoony look of the game could easily go along with any Pixar movie.

Also, cassian were the only other race that can be esper; the other is a race of psychotic rats with tourette's syndrome. Dominion also has giant robots and a dragon-like species. For Exiles: furries. Well, not exactly, but expect most players to be running around as humaniods with fuzzy ears and tails. They also have rock people and cyberpunk zombies. I of course chose the zombie.

Part 2 coming soon!

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