Choose My Adventure: Mad science and spellslinging in WildStar
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the formulaic introduction to yet another installment of Choose My Adventure. As is tradition, let’s start with a quick recap of last week’s vote. As I’m sure you recall, last week signalled the start of a fresh run of CMA. This time around, my adventures will be taking me into the world of the newly free-to-play WildStar, and last week you voted on the gender, race, class, and path of the character through whose eyes I will see the planet Nexus and with whose hands I will callously end the lives of countless of its denizens.
There were far too many options in last week’s poll for me to go into a vote-by-vote breakdown, but suffice it to say that there seems to great deal of love for the Chua. The Dominion’s fluffy, adorable, certifiably sociopathic race of rodentfolk managed to reel in a commanding majority of the votes, trailed very distantly by the Aurin. You folks also seemed to have some rather strong opinions on my character’s path, and Explorer beat out the next runner-up, Scientist, with plenty of breathing room. The gender vote was a close race, but y’all decided by a narrow margin that my wittle Chua should be male. The vote for my character’s class was likewise relatively close, and while Engineer, Esper, and Medic all put up a decent struggle, apparently the combination of magic and guns proved irresistable and Spellslinger emerged victorious. So, without further ado, allow me to introduce Bonongo Jazz the Chua, novice Spellslinger and would-be explorer.
Before I recount my weekend’s adventures, I should provide a bit of background: Although I am by no means new to WildStar, having played it voraciously when it launched back in 2014, I began to lose interest in it shortly after the Mysteries of Genesis Prime update went live. I haven’t touched the game since around patch 1.1 (WildStar is on patch 1.4 as of the switch to free-to-play), and that is the perspective from which I’ll be approaching these columns. As a result, there may be things that I discuss that aren’t necessarily new, just new to me. You’re welcome to ridicule me in the comments when I get excited about things that have been in the game for ages.
Now then, let’s shift gears and get into the game itself. After I took entirely too much with character creation, most of which was spent agonizing over which customization options I should choose from the impressive buffet that WildStar provides, my brand-new Chua — who is beautiful and perfect in every way, thank you very much — is rudely awakened from his cryosleep aboard the Dominion arkship Destiny. It turns out that those meddling Exiles have tampered with the arkship’s cryosleep program, and worse yet, they’ve also managed to brainwash some of the Dominion’s subjugat — err, loyal — citizens. In order to prove my totally-not-brainwashed devotion to the emperor, I’m tasked with running some scans on the arkship’s passengers to weed out any traitorous scum.
In a shocking and completely unexpected twist, I discover an Exile saboteur attempting to pass herself off as an upstanding member of the Dominion. Using her underhanded Esper trickery, she conjures a swarm of spectral creepy-crawlies that buy her enough time to escape. As has been the case in countless RPGs since the dawn of the genre, my first job is to act as a glorified exterminator, so I whip out my magpistols and get to shootin’. At the start, my combat options are limited: I have a single bread-and-butter ability, Quick Draw, which deals a small amount of damage to all enemies in a cone in front of me, and my Spellslinger innate ability, Spellsurge, which allows me to expend my accumulated spell power (it regenerates over time while Spellsurge is not active) in order to empower my other abilities with increased damage and various additional effects. In the case of Quick Draw, however, Spellsurge just grants a flat damage boost.
It’s not much, admittedly, but it’s more than enough to squash some phantasmal bugs, and I do so with pleasure. Although one-ability combat isn’t exactly the pinnacle of excitement, even in the early game you can start to see how WildStar‘s combat system, with its emphasis on telegraphed attacks, character placement, and active dodging, will soon become an involved, frenetic affair. But perhaps my perspective on that matter is tainted by my previous experience with the game. For the sake of playing devil’s advocate, I think an argument could be made that, while starting off slow is all well and good, the player’s first few combat experiences are rather dull and do a pretty poor job of immediately highlighting the engaging, action-oriented combat that I believe to be one of the game’s greatest strengths.
I do have to say, however, that the new-player experience has been streamlined considerably since the last time I played, and I personally think it’s a pretty major improvement. I know some people hear “streamlined,” and think “dumbed-down,” but that’s not really the case here. My memory’s not perfect, but I seem to recall that the new-player zones — both Exile and Dominion — involved an excessive amount of unnecessary, tedious footwork. Now, the starting zone seems to serve the purpose of introducing players to the basics of the gameplay and the story and sending them on to bigger and brighter adventures in the outside world.
An unforeseen consequence of this, however, is that there’s very little else for me to discuss in this week’s column. Since the starting zone is so streamlined, it was very early on in my playtime that I came to my first fork in the proverbial road, and since this column is called Choose My Adventure, I had to stop playing until you folks could do exactly that. In case you’re wondering, during my remaining time aboard the arkship Destiny, I helped Mondo Zax perform some “experiments” on brainwashed citizens (spoiler alert: That didn’t go well) and apprehended that pesky Exile saboteur, earning Bonongo a commendation from the Emperor himself. No big deal.
Anyway, with that little episode behind me, we have a decision to make: Where should I begin my journey on Nexus? On the one hand, we have the arid deserts of the Crimson Isle, where Dominion forces are amassing an invasion in search of hidden Eldan technology. On the other hand, we have the verdant, misty forests of Levian Bay, where Cassian racial leader and explorer extraordinaire Artemis Zin is leading an expedition to discover an artifact known as the Elder Cube. Zin also happens to be the star of her own television (or whatever they have in WildStar‘s high-tech universe) show, and making such an important archaeological find would boost her ratings significantly. Purely a coincidence, I’m sure. At any rate, the choice is yours: Should I pursue glory in combat on Crimson Isle, or ride Artemis Zin’s coattails to fame and fortune in Levian Bay?
CMA: Where should I begin my adventures on Nexus?
- Crimson Isle (42%, 93 Votes)
- Levian Bay (58%, 126 Votes)
Total Voters: 219
And while we’re at it, I should take the opportunity to rectify a mistake I made in last week’s poll. In my seemingly unfathomable negligence, I failed to allow y’all to vote on whether I should play on a PvE or PvP server. Fortunately, as I mentioned above, I’ve made it only to the end of the new-player zone, so it’s not too late to reroll. And if you so desire, that’s exactly what I’ll do. So go ahead and take your pick in the poll below, and we’ll see if I get to traipse through the game unhindered or put my PvP ineptitude on display for the world to see.
CMA: PvE or PvP?
- PvE (65%, 154 Votes)
- PvP (35%, 82 Votes)
Total Voters: 236
Remember, get those votes in by Friday, October 9th, at 11:59 p.m. EDT, and be sure to stop by next week as I take my first steps on planet Nexus and forge my path into the wide world of WildStar. Until then, folks!