Wildstar was an MMO that got everyone excited with its initial announcement trailer, which showed both humor and personality. Its marketing campaign gave people ideas of a original MMO set in new wacky universe with over the top characters and ridiculous cartoon violence. As the game moved closer and closer to release, Carbine gave more and more information on it and kept showing off Wildstar’s unique brand of humor and interesting sci-fi world. Everyone seemed interested in playing it and early beta tests came back with positive reports of its gameplay and structure. Things were really lining up for this MMO and a lot of people seemed excited for it at launch. So with all the support from fans and veteran developers of the genre, is Wildstar finally the new definitive MMO that will set the standard for all future MMOs? Well yes and no.
Wildstar is set in a sci-fi based universe where the main plot is centered on the conflict between the Dominion, an interstellar empire that has been tasked by an advanced race known as the Eldan with unifying the galaxy, and the Exiles, a misfit band of rebels of various races, who come from different planets that the Dominion has conquered and kicked them off of. This whole conflict is centered on a planet called Nexus, presumably the Eldan’s homeworld. The Exiles found it first and are claiming it as their new homeworld while the Dominion see it as their presumable right to have, since the Eldan established their empire millennium ago. The Dominion are villains in the truest sense with evil just pouring out of their every action, with their portrayal as villains largely comically inflated. The Exiles are portrayed purely as the underdogs but not so much that it’s nauseating, these rebels are itching for a fight with the Dominion and are looking to make Nexus their new homeworld since you know, the Dominion kind of kicked them off all their original lands. Both sides have a nice mesh of races that really differentiate from each other and add a lot of unique flavor, which results in both factions feeling different from one another rather than seeming like two sides of the same coin like in other MMOs.
Wildstar has 6 distinct classes to choose from and all of them are divided between the races pretty evenly. Warrior is your basic fare except with a sci-fi twist in the arm cannon. Spellslingers are mobile damage dealers that use dual blasters and teleporting magic sigils. Espers are damage dealers that use illusions and psionic abilities to tear up their foes. Engineers are a heavy armor wearing class with a energy launcher and bots that help them out. Stalkers are your basic rogue class that can turn invisible and have retractable claws and finally are the Medics, which can actually be damage dealers with their shock resonators and damaging medic fields. All classes have the ability to play as DPS or Healer/Tank making it a lot easier to find said roles, although everyone is probably going to play as DPS anyway.
The game also gives you some kind of control over what moves and abilities you want your character to use and lets you swap out an ‘Action Set’ of moves so that you can customize your playstyle to your liking. It helps keep the combat focused and simplifies it so you don’t have to worry about all those extra abilities like in WoW. Moves are never down for long, so the combat feels rewarding as you are constantly pressing buttons and have no boring basic attacks you have to use between abilities.
Leveling starts out in one of two zones for either faction and it gives you a choice between which starting zone you want to pick. The two starting zones are split between 2 of your factions races so picking the one your race is supposed to start on is logical but the option to go with your friend if they choose to pick the other starting zone is there. Leveling feels natural and goes along with an evolving ‘world story’ that moves naturally between most questing zones keeping you around or above the current quest level. I had a problem where when I was leveling I was nearly two levels behind the story quests and because of this I struggled. I asked other players how leveling was for them and they didn’t have this problem so I assume that it was just me that was affected by this. The leveling areas themselves are gorgeous and really show off the games personality and style, while also keeping the missions and areas within the leveling zones varied. Most of the time once I was getting tired of an area I’d move onto the next one, although the missions still have the same old clicking through text boxes feel that most MMOs have had for years and doesn’t really move forward in that regard.
Customization takes a huge leap forward with the ability to use any armor and weapons in the game to create your own custom costume sets, of which you can have up to four different ones. This is also made better by the fact that you can then use dyes that you unlock by purchasing them from vendors and finding them throughout the game. This opens up a whole new dimension of costumes you can make as being able to change the color of things is huge and a big step forward for customizing your character.
Once you reach the max level of 50, you open up a whole new section of the game called ‘The Elder Game’ where you still have a leveling bar but instead of leveling when you fill it you get rare currency called Elder Gems, which you can use to unlock some of the best armor and equipment in the game. All quests swap and give you Elder Gems instead of experience as well making trekking back to old content to finish undone quests actually an incentive. All of the polished content really shines through and while there is more content to talk about I really can’t do it enough justice in this review.
The big question that everyone is probably wondering though is ‘Is Wildstar better than World of Warcraft?’ In a way it’s kind of like comparing apples to oranges. Wildstar is an MMO but that’s really all it has in common with WoW. The combat system is drastically different, its Sci-Fi instead of Fantasy, and its art style is a lot more cartoony, while its humor is over the top and wacky so it’s really down to personal opinion. Wildstar is an insane, sci-fi oriented MMO with interesting races and lots of room to grow and add more content and I can honestly say that I can’t wait for more.