Nexus Telegraph: Why I play WildStar

    
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Back on the old Massively-That-Was, we used to feature a sporadic series called “Why I Play.” The idea was for each of the writers to share why he or she enjoyed playing an MMO, past or present. To discuss what was it about that game that appealed so strongly. To recount past favorite moments.

For my second turn at bat here with Nexus Telegraph, I wanted to do my own reprise of Why I Play, only with this particular title. I feel its slightly scandelous to state before the MMO community that you like WildStar these days, especially following all of the drama, fallout, and shaky state of the game from this past year. After all, isn’t this just a hardcore-fest that bombed and deserves to be buried in the desert outside of Area 51?

As rough as a year as it’s been, I still contend that there’s a terrific game here that was crafted with artistry and fun in mind and has the potential for a bright future. It’s a title I log into daily, eager to see where the next stage of my journey takes me. Why I play WildStar might not jibe with the bullet features on the back of the box, but I think that what I have to say speaks to the title’s true strengths. Here we go!

1. It’s a fully realized world that I want to explore

There are game worlds and then there are game worlds. Some are painfully generic and lackluster. Some are patchwork creations of ideas that don’t fully mesh with each other. And some, like Nexus, are well-conceived and crafted.

From the first screenshots that I saw back when WildStar was announced, I knew that I wanted to comb over this virtual world. It had a visual style that I dug, but more than that it wasn’t the same, old trip down fantasy lane. Nexus is the wild west frontier with an element of ancient ruins, retro sci-fi themes, and galactic politics in one exciting package. Every zone I’ve traversed so far has been memorable and brimming with its own personality, full of secret niches and stunning sights.

It’s just not a boring place to adventure, and the fact that there is a world-spanning story that starts to come into play in your higher levels only adds to the desire to want to see it all.

2. The housing. Oh the housing.

I know that gushing about WildStar’s housing has been done oh so many times before, but it seriously deserves all the praise it gets. This is about as perfect a system that I’ve seen in MMOs, save for slightly annoying placement controls. Giving players not only a tract of land to decorate but use in a real, functional way makes housing an intregal part of my gaming sessions instead of a place that I occasionally visit as if it was a long-forgotten relative.

While we’re supposed to be looking to PvP or raiding as the big endgame activities, I already know that housing will be the goal I’ll forever be chasing. I begin every login session running Thayd challenges to get more housing items and end every session heading up to my plot for mining, farming, and even more decorating. This is the slice of game that’s wholly mine, and I think nothing of spending an hour customizing my home while chatting with the folks in the housing channel.

Carbine’s done a terrific job continually improving the housing element of the game, with more features, decor, and size limits. I hope that this continues to be a priority for the team, because it’s one of WildStar’s greatest assets.

3. The NPC races add color and charm

It might be weird to say this, but I’m in love with melting pot of races in this game. Nexus features many sentient species, some native and some transplanted, and most all of them are fully realized with customs, speech patterns, attitudes, and goals. Seriously, in so many MMOs I can’t be bothered to pay attention to the NPC races, partially because they’re forgettable and partially because I know that when I leave an area, I’ll probably never see them again.

WildStar’s alien line-up is really the game’s cast of characters, each playing a part on the grand stage of the planet (and beyond). There are the eight player races, of course, but even more outside of the character creation screen, including the adorkable Lopp, the Protostar clones, the uber-sincere Freebots, the brain-sucking Squirgs, and the Amazonian Torine. They’re often ridiculous and silly (Freebot cowboys?) but pay attention and you’ll see deeper motives, darker decisions, and greater virtues emerge.

Playing WildStar is like hanging out in Star Wars’ Mos Eisley cantina… forever. Why wouldn’t I want to be here?

4. There’s a good feel to it

The feel of a game — how it looks, handles, animates, and responds to controls — is a hard thing to define (and plenty subjective too). I just know that some games fight against me to play them and some fit like a glove.

While I’ve never been the biggest fan of action combat, I have to admit that WildStar is pretty engaging with its fights. The weapons have good oomph to them, enemies react to being hit, it’s not hard to figure out what’s going on in a fight, and having loot explode at every victory makes for a good time. Even better are how the characters move, emote, and traverse the landscape. The entirety of Nexus is my personal hoverboard skate park, and you will usually find me thrashing and grinding my way across the landscape. Double-jumping? One of the best things ever, in my opinion.

WildStar’s become the gold standard that I’ve unconsciously been comparing other titles to when it comes to how I wish those characters would move and handle.

5. And eight other things

A quick list of other reasons why I play WildStar? OK, I can do that. The soundtrack is — and I employ no hyperbole here — one of the best video game scores I’ve ever heard. I really dig doing challenges and shooting for those rewards. The discovered lore more often than not is quite well-written and can be chilling and hilarious in turns. I get to play out my space cowboy fantasies. Neat cutscenes that help to tie the narrative together. Every Lopp quote ever. The crafting system is kind of neat once you get into it. Character costumes — shared across one’s entire account — are so much fun to create and customize.

Even with a shift of business model and downplaying the “HARDCORRRRRE” attitude that WildStar adopted upon launch, this will never be a game for everyone. It could just come down to what clicks with you and what doesn’t. WildStar clicks, hard, for me. There are a lot of avenues for improvement, to be sure, but this is a game that appeals to my playstyle, my sense of humor, and my desire to create as much as destroy.

So that are some, but not all, of the reasons why I play WildStar. What are yours?

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DPandaren
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DPandaren

stiqy Welcome to every MMO ever.

StClair
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StClair

stiqy that’s literally every MMO.  Some are just better at it than others.

sray155
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sray155

I’m quite aware of the contracts and such. It’s more RNG loot bags with an extremely small chance of some type of raid quality gear. My original post covered the fact that I played after that was introduced: it’s a good thing for the game. But that doesn’t change the fact it’s just more of the same.
All of these things that Wildstar’s fans keep saying “yeah but there’s this now” I have tried, and I still find Wildstar to be derivative. Now it’s a more inclusive game, and that’s good, but it doesn’t make it significantly different from anything else on the market.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

Lights_andMusic Lethality sray155 
Because someone was proven wrong on something, even in such a spectacular example of /fail as claiming WS would never go F2P, doesn’t mean they’ll disappear for good. If this where true, the Massively collective would have long forgotten who SoMuchMass was. Just saying.

Lethality
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Lethality

sray155 Lethality They never tried to claim to be anything else… they are an improvement on the theme park; they were making a better WoW, and they did.

They didn’t deliver on the promise of a solo or small group elder game, really, at launch… but surely you’re aware now of the Contracts and Veteran ship hands systems to help facilitate that? Plus Glory from Adventures (and dungeons).

sray155
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sray155

Lethality sray155 Solo oriented leveling with raiding pushed as the pinnacle of PvE progression at max level: that’s the exact same as everything else out there. You’re looking at all the trees and telling me “they’re all oak”, and I’m looking around and saying “sure, but it’s still a forest”.

Lights_andMusic
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Lights_andMusic

wolfyseyes I found the combat to be good, on par with Tera or Neverwinter…in PvE. 
PvP was and continues to be a complete disaster imo

Lights_andMusic
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Lights_andMusic

Lethality sray155 Oh, a lethality post…I’m actually surprised…I…I thought you disappeared after the F2P announcement that you said would never happen or of it did happen would completely ruin the game

Lights_andMusic
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Lights_andMusic

stiqy This…was a fantastic analogy.  I remember feeling like there were literally 9 things flashing on my screen at all times – I overlooked most of the quest text/lore etc. not because I don’t enjoy those things, but because they were presented like strobe lights in the middle of a rave

stiqy
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stiqy

I couldn’t get past the fact that I felt like I was in an expertly designed casino / skinner box. The bells, flashes, achievements, breadcrumbs, arrows, etc… all guiding you from one achievement hit to another with as much forced excitement and induced adrenaline as they could muster. It was a treadmill of level, gear, quest, achievement progression that they were determined to psychologically strap you to and hope you never notice there are no windows, clocks or obvious exits.