Perfect Ten: The top 10 things we loved about WildStar

    
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Perfect Ten: The top 10 things we loved about WildStar

WildStar was a really neat game that was run by people who had no idea what was good about it. I’d apologize for that statement, but it’s true. Seriously, even the stuff that seemed like it was a neat idea for the game’s uber-hardcore endgame like Warplots may not have ever actually worked; Warplots were there but also not there? I don’t remember ever seeing any? They must have existed, right? If anyone here ever saw one, please say so in the comments.

But the point is that there were actually a lot of really neat things that were in the game and that did, in fact, deserve love and attention and frankly a better game. So since I was reminded of this (and the game’s enormous problems with its endgame) recently thanks to our editor-in-chief, and since the game would’ve turned six years old in a few weeks were it still alive, let’s take a look at the stuff WildStar did really well that deserved a lot of love – even if, in many cases, it didn’t get it.

We're here. We're queer. And it is all right.

1. Housing

What in the world else can be said about WildStar’s housing? It was powerful, fun, flexible, universal, and one of the best elements of the entire game. I loved having a house in this game. I loved having multiple houses on my characters. I loved being able to make use of several different things on my house, upgrading the main building, decorating, and so on. If there was one element of the game that people should be tripping over themselves to copy and/or just buy outright, this is it.

Seriously, I would bet good money that housing did more to actually sell this game to people than raiding ever did.

2. Challenges

The game’s little flashpoint challenges had problems, definitely. They were tuned too hard, could burst out of nowhere, and were sometimes distracting or unfun, but the concept here is brilliant. Instead of having big dynamic things that spawn all over, you just stumbled upon a sudden new objective and had the option to clear or ignore as you see fit. There are rewards to be had, but they’re more flexible than just “clear this to get experience.” And they tie into another area in which WildStar excelled.

In many ways, they rewarded just momentary exploration of spaces you otherwise didn’t need to see. This, not coincidentally, ties in perfectly with another idea that sadly never found as much traction as it deserved…

What do I do?

3. Paths

So the simple reality is that Paths were always half-baked from their initial conception. The original idea was that Paths were, essentially, like an entirely different form of class that informed your gameplay; what they actually wound up being was side content. And yet what they still were was excellent, even if we were sadly not given the full glory of what Paths could have been and were originally meant to be.

Giving players ways of interacting with the world that weren’t strictly about combat acumen but rather general types of content was awesome. The four paths included – which allowed you to focus on combat challenges, exploring odd corners, building little settlements, or uncovering lore and puzzles – were clever and positive additions. While I’d have loved to see the whole class/path interface more developed, what we did get was good on its own, and resurrecting this idea would be welcome.

4. Factional conflict

The factions in WildStar were not arbitrary, but neither were they divided into something as simple as “good guys vs. bad guys.” It wouldn’t be entirely wrong to paint the conflict as Chaotic Good vs. Lawful Evil, but Chaotic vs. Lawful would be more broadly accurate; even the Dominion wanted to still remain true to its stated (generally noble) virtues, and the fact that the Exiles struggled to keep a coherent and unified government was definitely a recurring issue.

That was what made the factions fun, though. Rather than being handed a situation where one side kept doing awful things and the other side reacted, you had the feeling that this was a divide born of ideas, a chasm not easily bridged. It felt real.

Oh, hey guy.

5. Quest snippets

Yes, there were downsides to the fact that WildStar opted to deliver all of its quests in bite-sized formats. But restrictions breed creativity, and there’s something to be said for keeping stuff in a compact format for maximum impact. You know, like this line item.

6. Movement

Going places in WildStar was fun. You had mounts, many of which moved in very unique ways, and you had hoverboards, which were just mounts in practical terms but felt very different. You could double-jump, and it was glorious. You had low-gravity areas that let you reach insane heights. You could often get movement abilities letting you explore strange vistas as you were so inclined.

The simple push and pull of getting from place to place felt like a joy across Nexus in ways it rarely does elsewhere. Heck, the fact that your flight points were wisecracking cab drivers itself made even the flight from spot to spot worth listening to.

We all began with good intents.

7. General minigames

Minigames are fun. Minigames give you a chance to do something other than just kill stuff or pick up other stuff. And WildStar did this better than most, partly by virtue of that movement, partly by the addition of Challenges, and partly by housing. But also partly just by leaning in on the idea that it was important to have stuff to do that didn’t always require leaning on the same major content types. I always felt that WildStar handled minigames well, and while these days another game seems to hold the title for best letting you step outside of the main game for a side distraction, Nexus was littered with those options.

8. Customization

Body types. Body sliders. Mount customization. Cosmetic armor. Housing. Dyes. Tree-style class enhancements. Ability enhancements. The whole late-game leveling system… look, while WildStar might have stumbled in providing an endgame that was rigid and bad, it certainly didn’t want for different things to play up until that point. It was astonishingly easy to make two characters of the same race, path, and class… and have them look wildly different and feel wildly different in play. That’s worthy and a good thing.

Play ALL the people.

9. Style

All of this means that you have to note one of the most strong points in WildStar’s favor, and that’s the fact that the game simply oozed style and personality. It still does. This is not a game that looks like anything else before or since. Between the music, the explosions on leveling up, the humor, the very direct approach… it’s a game awash in a distinct feel and placement. It sounds, looks, and feels distinct.

Do I want another game to copy that feel? Kind of, yes, but more than that I want other games to recognize why this worked. Because that was the really important point. It’s not that this was the only style you could take, and the “wild west in advanced space opera” is only one potential flavor. It’s the fact that there was a concerted and consistent effort to make the game distinct, even if the indistinct parts were what ultimately overwhelmed it.

10. Developer humor

Hey, it was really nice to have a development team making jokes, putting out videos that were willing to admit that these games could be silly, and so forth. It lost a lot of its charm when it became clear that those videos were in direct contradiction to the game actually being sold, and “the devs are listening” became much less endearing when we learned the followup was “but not actually acting on what people say,” but hey.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”

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GamingSF

Movement and the mounts was a real high for me. The snarfelynx was a thing of comic beauty and was such fun to use as a mount. Double jumping and dodging also were great additions to the gameplay, and done very well compared to some other MMOs. I miss my snarfelynx so much :”(

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NeoWolf

I liked the housing, I liked the idea of Paths (even though they never went anywhere with it based on their stated intentions), I liked the races and I liked the quirky cartoon’esque setting of it.

Beyond that, the game was a disaster the first time and the post-re-do, they failed to monopolise on the few good ideas they had by ruining it with other dumb ideas.

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maydrock .

11. Ended the WOW clone era.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

Outside of stylized graphics though, I wasn’t really a WoW clone. In fact, aesthetics aside, I think it would be hard to find more similar than divergent between the two games. It was a themepark, yes — but closer to a choose your own adventure book than shopping at Ikea.

The path system – WoW didn’t have, Housing – WoW didn’t have, Hybrid Action/Tab combat – WoW didn’t have; Verticality in Gameplay – WoW didn’t have.

Sure, they initially went all-in on facemelting-hard content and 40-man raids and then … realized no one wanted that and started to pivot.

In my mind it was a WoW clone only in the sense that it was a game that let you pick classes and play with others.

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Anton Mochalin

Quests were very much WoW style just without the need to return to quest givers.

Grimalkin
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Grimalkin

At least you didn’t include the combat in this list, I hated that nonsense with passion.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

If it was so good then why does it no longer exist?

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Utakata

Because it did something right, it doesn’t mean it did everything right. Also see: Hardcore, cupcake!

And because it try in earnest to correct those flaws, doesn’t mean players who got burnt by it where willing to forgive them for it.

As well as, because something is good, doesn’t mean it will be popular. Nor guarantee it’s success.

And finally, even if it’s successful, doesn’t mean it’s creditors will be happy with it. Also see: What happened to City of Heroes.

…although, most of these should go without saying.

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Anton Mochalin

Notice how gameplay isn’t in the list. They were expecting to somehow attract many players with hardcore instanced content which is basically most common content in MMOs. And all those dungeons are basically the same – you learn mechanics, you make sure your party members have learned the mechanics, and then you just run the instance again and again till you’re bored and then you start whining about content drought.

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Michael McGrath

I loved wildstar. I liked the art style and the humour. The challenges were annoying but I just didn’t do them if I didn’t want to. The dungeons and combat were really fun and housing was excellent. Also the best ftp business model I’ve ever seen.

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Schmidt.Capela

Paths are part of the reason I gave up on the game before starting. Why? Because they were used to arbitrarily lock players out of content unless they were roaming the world in groups that included all paths. That the devs even thought this was a good idea was already enough indication that our views on what consisted fun and engaging gameplay was irreconcilably apart.

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Bruno Brito

I disagree. A lot.

1- Housing was great. It’s only issue was being totally detached of the world. But it was great.

2- Challenges were boring. They were ok as complementary content but i’ve met no one who thought it was any good.

3- Paths were awful, terribly implemented, and the only one worth a damn was Scientist because you could inspect things for what i think xp and maybe NCbits. And lore. They were an good idea concept-wise and nothing more.

4- Let’s be honest here, it was cowboy Alliance vs pompous Horde. Nothing more. The good part of the conflict was lost because Wildstar had a TERRIBLE UI to read quests and most of it were conveyed into tweet-form. It was bad. It was dumpster-fire bad.

5- See 4. Same issue.

6- I agree. Movement was one of it’s stronger points.

7- Eh. They were there. I feel like WS had more systems to keep you engaged than it’s minigames.

8- Yes. Wildstar customization was pretty good, and had a lot of room to improve.

9- A lot of people hated the style, and in my conception, they just weren’t made for the game. Wildstar style is what makes it Wildstar. I can’t disagree here.

10- I feel like people shit on WS humor too much. I actively liked it, even the crass parts.

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Anton Mochalin

I wouldn’t say challenges were great but they were fun to do as a distraction sometimes. Most were too easy but in higher level zones some were more challenging, I was glad they were there. Sometimes (at lower levels) the rewards were even useful.

Same for paths and tweet-form quests – one could ignore the path tasks or go to the quest giver for more lore. The problem was there were many elements which were good for some parts of playerbase like instanced content (not for me) or paths (I liked the explorer path very much) but not much in between. There wasn’t much of a game, just a pile of “content”. That would work for a more casual game but WildStar was easy, not casual. Leveling was still long but just with no risk and challenge and sense of becoming stronger and getting good. Challenges were non-challenges and didn’t bring useful enough rewards. Etc etc.

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Bruno Brito

I wouldn’t say challenges were great but they were fun to do as a distraction sometimes. Most were too easy but in higher level zones some were more challenging, I was glad they were there. Sometimes (at lower levels) the rewards were even useful.

Depends on the timeframe. After the F2P conversion, challenges were mostly a frustrating repetitive task that gave you pretty negligible, easily replaceable equipment ( one of the issues with Wildstar leveling, the pacing was bad ). Before it? Sure. It was decent.

Same for paths and tweet-form quests – one could ignore the path tasks or go to the quest giver for more lore.

The UI was poopy-garbage for lore reading tho. Wildstar conveyed lore horribly. WoW doesn’t convey any better but the questlog is at least readable. WS UI was bad, which is not to forget that it was also buggy.

The problem was there were many elements which were good for some parts of playerbase like instanced content (not for me) or paths (I liked the explorer path very much) but not much in between.

Agree, to an extent. There were content for everyone honestly, but it felt disjointed. This is where i’ll praise GW2, since it’s similar in WS in that regard: It has content for EVERYONE, but it conveys it really well, and it’s not disjointed.

The only problem that GW2 has right now for me, content-wise, is the lack of Housing, and more sandboxy systems in place to keep people playing all the time.

here wasn’t much of a game, just a pile of “content”. That would work for a more casual game but WildStar was easy, not casual.

Depends, again. I feel like PvP and Raiding was pretty good in WS. The problem is that the game started suffering heavily not long after it’s launch, so it lacked resources to devote to Dungeoning, and openworld.

Leveling was still long but just with no risk and challenge and sense of becoming stronger and getting good. Challenges were non-challenges and didn’t bring useful enough rewards. Etc etc.

My biggest gripe with Wildstar was the classes themselves. I don’t like locked Classes. I feel like each class using one weapon is pretty idiot. Wildstar was supposed to be, and marketed as, a sandbox experience, where the sky was the limit. Yet, when i realize their classes were limited in their specific ways, i felt like i knew it wasn’t going to be as open as i wanted to be.

It’s a problem that it’s also prevalent in Guild Wars 2, albeit on a lesser degree.

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Utakata

11. Lots of pink options. <3

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hurbster
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hurbster

The title screen music was awesome. That’s about it for me.