Level 5-15 – Review in Progress – Read Part One Here.
The majority of my time between levels 5 and 15 were spent in the green fields of Celestion. Even though the first zone I visited on Nexus – Everstar Grove, had its fair share of beautiful flora and fauna – I wasn’t prepared for how amazing Celestion would be. The place is gigantic, sporting all manner of quests, but also interesting and varied environments to house those quests. In one corner the Dominion is trying to torch a forest as raging fires spread out of control. And in the other, a half-sunk ancient ruin teems with robots and monsters hiding the secrets within. The variety in locales alongside the knowledge of there being more to come was especially exciting as new mechanics and ideas were being introduced.
While quest lines led me somewhat unknowingly into new areas, I noticed WildStar’s many time sensitive challenges – offering up different rewards based on the level of achievement attained within short intervals. Nearly all the challenges I’ve run across thus far have been cleverly worked into other relevant quests. A farmer wants me to kill the giant bees nearby, so I may as well do it quickly for the corresponding challenge. Killing two bees with one Ben if you will.
It’s possible I’m just bad at games, but I’ve found most of the challenges to be really difficult so far. I almost never had a chance of getting the gold reward, often settling for bronze or silver at best; then in rare cases, challenges would be so easy they were pathetically laughable. The incongruity left me confused. At least difficulty isn’t a drawback as these challenges are completely optional, but I’d like to know how other players are faring, compared to my repeatedly kicked ass.
At level 10 WildStar introduces its take on MMO crafting, managing to eke out some originality in the process. The crafting system was praised by many in beta, but I remained doubtful that I’d find enjoyment from it. With my sorted history of tedium, confusion and general hatred towards MMO crafting systems, there wasn’t much enthusiasm going in. Thankfully WildStar’s crafting is generally great, even a tad addictive. There was a sense of satisfaction as I slowly worked through my armourer’s tech tree, filling out each segment, unlocking different items to craft, and advancing through the familiar tiers of novice, apprentice and so on. In each craft, power cores can be added to the mix, granting boosts to the final item’s stats depending on its quality. Low end cores can be purchased at crafting vendors, but the best ones come from salvaging unwanted equipment. Next you pick a particular stat type for the item to focus on, and then boost it until a limit is reached. While sounding average on paper – in practice it creates an experience that focuses on customisation and control for the player. Just keep in mind I haven’t had the chance to try the other crafting skills yet, so my views are limited to the armourer and miner trades.
By the end of exploring Celestion, not only had I equipped myself with yet another robot friend, (whom I named Johnny Five) but also gained access to the Exile capital city, Thayd. Being someone who can be easily overwhelmed, moments like these tend to freak me out. Bam! This guy wants to talk to me about housing. Bleep-bleep! Have you heard about runes? Hey come over here…
And all this with a consistent frame rate in the high 20s to boot. It certainly wasn’t WildStar’s most glamorous showing up to that point, but it did unlock some interesting things as compensation.
For starters I could finally put to use the rocket ship house I was given for pre-ordering the game. Backing up for a moment – every player is given their own plot of land floating in the sky, which they can then place all manner of decor items found throughout Nexus onto – customise their surroundings (going as far as changing the skybox) and even build a variety of structures that offer different functions such as specialised challenges and conveniences like personal crafting stations for a price. Straight after arriving for the first time, WildStar asked me what I wish to call my land. And as if the name descended from the very heavens above, I dubbed it Respawn Ninja Land.
Afterwards, you can head over to friends’ houses to complete challenges and use the equipment they have. The hilarity and community bonding this provides, is almost trumped by the fact the confines of my little rocket house is the only place I can go to for a smooth 70 frames. I wish I could take that damn house with me everywhere.
Speaking of which, the launch issues are still alive and well as of this writing. When the head-start ended and the proper launch began it was bedlam trying to get on a server, with game-wide downtimes for hot-fixes and other updates. Now, a few days later things have calmed down, but I’m still seeing regular high latency and smatterings of bugs, such as broken quests that need to be restarted and the like.
Moving along like a child who lost half of the paper for his flip animation book – I explored Thayd, discovering the auction house and commodities exchange. WildStar is trying something bizarre with the inclusion of C.R.E.D.D – a form of currency that can be bought with in-game gold from real players, prolonging your subscription without having to pay actual money. The theory being a twist on the payment models of competing games with the notion of “play-to-pay”
Aside from the obvious moral implications of encouraging perverse play times in order to afford C.R.E.D.D (In a genre known for addiction) and then linking it to a monetary reward that furthers an endless cycle – It simply can’t be done at this time. No one is selling the stuff. While not a surprise at this early point in the game’s lifespan, it does highlight the ridiculous coordination and efficiency it would take to make this approach even remotely plausible. Among WildStar’s many moving parts, the mechanics of this one will be revealed in time.
So here we are again. I still haven’t tried Adventures, Dungeons, PVP, or even visited the new zone that follows Celestion. There’s an abundance of content just waiting for me, and I’ll meet it head-on with all the gumption and bravery this wonderful stop-motion-animation MMO journey deserves.
Developer: Carbine Studios