WildStar Hands-On Preview for PC

WildStar Hands-On Preview for PC

WildStar Hands-On Preview

System: PC
Dev: Carbine Studios
Pub: NCsoft
Release: 2013
Players: MMO
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p

A Game Without an Identity
by Jake Valentine

I feel like I played a different game than everyone else did at PAX East.

Everyone I talked to at the expo about WildStar loved it. Unlike them, I found NCsoft’s newest MMO to be more style than substance. I’m not going to deny that the game pleases the eyes. Using a visual mix of World of Warcraft and Pixar, WildStar creates a stunningly gorgeous game. Despite the visuals, I have my doubts about WildStar’s quality. A game needs to be more than just aesthetically pleasing to be good. My hands-on time with the game at PAX doesn’t convince me that WildStar’s gameplay depth will live up to the standard set by the visuals.

WildStar Screenshot

WildStar borrows too heavily from MMO tropes. The gameplay mechanics feel both instantly familiar and instantly stale. Nothing I saw from WildStar made me believe that this MMO offers anything fresh that I can’t get from a different, superior game.

The crowd pleasing combat system wowed PAX participants with its fluid, real-time combat engine. MMO games always please when they refuse to use a variation of turn-based combat, but WildStar’s combat hype doesn’t equal the achievement. To see a true, real-time combat system in action, check out TERA. By comparison, the battles of WildStar look lame.

I feel like I’m giving the wrong impression, though, because the fights of the NCsoft MMO greatly entertain. During my time with the game, I played as a soldier class. The up close and personal fighting style of the soldier lent itself well to the real-time combat. I don’t feel like WildStar is a bad game; I just feel like it has nothing new to offer.

WildStar Screenshot

WildStar’s humor also hit it big at PAX. The self-aware humor can be instantly recognized from Borderlands. The game’s demo had a splash page that mocked the traditional faction choice nearly every MMO forces players to make. I really enjoy the humor of Borderlands, but it felt like it came easy to that game. WildStar’s humor tries way too hard to be funny. By trying too hard it prevents itself from actually being funny.

I’m willing to forgive the bad humor because I want to play a game, not watch it.

An MMO can be judged on the quality of its quest system. All the super cool gameplay and dazzling visuals in the world won’t do a game any good if it isn’t delivered in an entertaining way. WildStar tries hard to deliver a unique questing experience to the player. Unfortunately, I feel the same way about WildStar’s quest system that I did about its combat. I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed it more elsewhere.

WildStar Screenshot

Most of the talk about WildStar’s questing system discusses something the game calls “Momentum Mechanics.” WildStar aims to give quests to players in a dynamic manner where one quest naturally leads to another. If successful, “Momentum Mechanics” will allow players to experience a fluid, living world. I enjoyed what they tried to do, but the entire time I played the game I kept comparing the quest system to a similar one in Guild Wars 2. Guild Wars 2 does it better.

Despite its recycled mechanics WildStar possesses two qualities that could make it a huge hit. The first quality is that it’s free to play. A free to play game allows most people with internet to test out WildStar. The second, and more important quality, is an in-game system that changes routinely. The NCsoft team has promised different challenges on a weekly basis to players at the highest levels. It’s an interesting concept that, if it works, might finally spark in me the same passion for WildStar that I saw in everyone else at PAX.

WildStar Screenshot

If you’ve been out of the MMO game for a while, then WildStar is going to be the perfect place to jump back in. It mixes the best of various entries on the market into one convenient free-to-play package. For anyone familiar with an MMO, however, WildStar offers nothing new. Maybe that’s why I played a different game than everyone else at PAX East: I’ve seen it all before.

I’m interested, but not intrigued.

Jake Valentine
Contributing Writer
Date: April 18, 2013

Game Features:

  • Completely free to play.
  • Features a real-time combat engine.
  • Dynamic questing means the quests you receive are dependent on the actions you take.
  • A visual style to rival that of a Pixar movie.

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