I played around with Wildstar the other day, which felt like a rush at first, since the massively multiplayer online (MMO) game was high on my list for the longest time. From the publishers of Guild Wars 2, a space adventure of this size with cheerful art and tons of options sounds like a blast. It is, but it’s also not for me. Sadly, I know that now. Bummer.
This isn’t about the whole subscription thing. Yes, Wildstar needing a monthly fee is going to require a lot of updated content to help justify that, but it’s a big gulp to start on already. Different areas offer multiple tiers of activity, hiding events on its plains, in its caves and atop its mountains. There’s also a nice merger of nature and technology, leading to some creative new areas and expansive level design.
Why I won’t be joining the fight anytime soon is because Wildstar is a fully skill-based MMO. Controls are tough to manage, as it requires aiming in third person off a certain area of effect, to maximize attacks. For instance, a cone is divided in three parts; one central strip for the most damage, a wider area around it for normal effectiveness and the shorter range outside of it that still hits a little bit.
Meanwhile, the character and camera also move independently and there are hotkeys for special skills to manage as well; all with control mapping that is quite restrictive. Still, this isn’t too upsetting. In fact, I don’t think Wildstar should change anything substantial about its current layout. Maybe it can tone down on the info overload on screen, while getting assaulted from all sides in rapid succession. It could also allow for more lenient mapping or devise a minimal control scheme that works for controllers. That last one would be great to overcome any issues. Outside of that though, what the roleplaying game (RPG) is showing is exactly up the alley of someone willing to put in the effort.
That’s another point why I’m not diving in. Even if I were to manage with the fast-paced action mixing with complex controls, it’s not what I want in an MMO. I don’t want to concentrate constantly with taxing combat, since I’ll be doing that for dozens of hours. I’d never get to the level cap, because I’d be exhausted. I like taking it at a leisurely pace through giant lands and Wildstar doesn’t really allow that. There’s too much of it to even get a break during non-combat sections. It’s an overwhelming feeling, seeing all of its bells and whistles.
Those who do want highly involving action, however, are going to go absolutely nuts with this one. Not only is combat fast, requiring good reflexes and tactical approaches, it’s also diverse and incredibly deep; too deep to just mess around with. Skills are tied more to the proper currency than any fixed build requisite, making specific purchases a lot easier for truly unique characters. Moreover, there are multiple ways to customize, with additional grids that have more skills that can be unlocked. Don’t like a certain skill? Don’t get it and hop on down to something else. There’s going to be plenty of things to grab, don’t worry about that. It’s clever, it really is. I totally get the fully enveloped system, even if I’m looking at it from afar, unable to wrap my prowess around it. Just imagine the sheer amount of planning it must’ve taken to get all those options working together. That’s going to make for really interesting characters once the game is out and in full motion. In my mind, I like to compare it to Magic: The Gathering decks; coming up with the most creative ways to build powerful combos that I would’ve never figured out, whenever a new edition is out.
It might not be a casual ride through space conquest, but Wildstar knows exactly what it’s doing. It wants its community to work for their loot; sweat and toil for their progress and it does so in a unique, energetic system that not many MMO’s share. I might be let down that it’s not thinking of my slow butt, but I also understand that not every game is catered to my personal needs, however big that game may be. Wildstar’s scope is set on high activity and I’m not, but you might be, so you’re welcome to it. I look forward to living through its world vicariously then; through the eyes of those who do want to be ducking, weaving and twirling around like crazy. You do the work; I’ll just hang back here, being comfortably lazy.