With the free-to-play launch calming down somewhat (look man, I can log onto the server!) and fall events kicking off in WildStar, I’ve been enjoying watching a new crowd come into the game and coo over all of the little details that make this game special.
While we can never get a completely fresh first look at any particular game after that initial run, there is the next best thing of looking at it through someone else’s eyes. In all of the discussion and questions and excitement of the past few weeks, I’ve noted that this enthusiasm is having a revitalizing effect on the veteran community.
Of course, it’s not as if we can’t get out of our rut and take the effort to notice the small things that make WildStar a great place to be. Today I’m going to list, in no particular order, six little elements that I love about this game. Just because I’m that much of a fanboy.
In discussing WildStar’s virtues and vices, one of its most positive attributes almost always goes unmentioned: its movement. I’ve played a lot of MMOs in my time, and few have characters that move and control the way that WildStar’s does. I’m not saying it’s the best, but it’s certainly one of the better games out there in this respect.
Perhaps it’s due to the double-jumping or custom-made animations for each race/class combo, but I love moving my characters around. Fighting, zipping on a hoverboard, emoting, or trying to reach out-of-the-way areas are all a lot more fun because of the attention the devs gave to this area.
2. Being neighborly
Housing is too big of a category for a “little element,” so I’m going to single out one aspect that surprised me in WildStar, which is how instanced housing is actually quite social. Some players decry instanced housing as not as immersive and social as open world, but I think that WildStar proves it can be quite the opposite, thanks to a neighbor system that encourages you to visit others, gathering privileges that allow players to harvest on each other’s plots, and best of all, housing zone chat.
You see, the housing nuts in WildStar spend a lot — and I mean a lot — of time on their plots, and perhaps foreseeing this, Carbine created a chat channel that spans all housing areas. There isn’t a friendlier and more interesting channel in the game because of it, since folks tweaking their homes are of the mindset that they want to visit and be visited by others. Lots of great advice and chatter make this the place to be when you want to unwind.
3. The skybox
This is silly. I mean, I know it’s silly to list it. But I love skyboxes in MMOs, and some simply stand out more than others. WildStar has a lot of great visuals in the game, but one of its best is almost always overhead.
Morning, noon, or night, the sky has such personality and stunning visuals that I can’t help but snap a picture or two every time I’m out. My son, who is getting into astronomy, loves how you can sometimes see the twin rings of Nexus moving in the night sky, while I really love the dream-like clouds that waft in and out of the scene.
4. The rush of loot
I love looting in WildStar. I mean it. There’s a great combination of meaningful, exciting loot to be had and a visceral, fun way that it’s delivered. Loot explodes out of corpses like a Diablo-type game, while hitting the V key vacuums it all up with a satisfying woosh. Really good loot is telegraphed by better colors and more intense looting sounds, which gets you all excited before you open the bags.
And there’s so many types of loot to get. My favorites include new pets, any good-looking costume piece that I haven’t collected yet, bonus AMP upgrades, anything purple, and especially housing decor.
5. Nameplate icons
A friend pointed this out a while back, how WildStar adds icons next to enemy name plates to give you a quick visual reference whether that mob is part of a quest or challenge or path you’re doing. And when he mentioned that, I realized that I don’t often see this in MMOs and have taken it for granted in this game. It’s incredibly helpful when you’re juggling a lot of objectives at once, cutting down on the time spent hunting through packs for the one or two mobs you really need.
6. Alien melting pot
I’m going to go more into detail on this in a future column, but boy howdy do I love me WildStar’s wide array of alien races that have converged on Nexus. Some are natives, some friendly, some hostile, some playable, but all with buckets of personality.
When you start rattling off all of the races — the Lopp, the Freebots, Protostar, the Torine, the Skeech, etc. — you come to realize that Nexus is home to an enormous melting pot of diverse races and factions, each with their own histories, quirks, attitudes, and ongoing storylines. And what’s even better is that most of them are refreshingly different from your stock fantasy races that inhabit most MMOs. I think it all deserves some recognition at least!