WildStar Online: Out West, In Space

WildStar Online: Out West, In Space

A review of WildStar Online

by Matthew E. Semrau

 

Tighten your belt and pull up your boots. There’s a new kid in town and his name is WildStar. Wildstar Online.

WildStar is a Massively Multiplayer Online game (MMO) developed by Carbine Studios. WildStar is Carbine’s first game, but don’t let that fool you. The ranch may be new, but the ranchhands are no greenhorns.

The studio boasts impressive talent from some of the biggest names in the industry: Everquest, World of Warcraft, and the late Warhammer Online—just to name a few.

Not Re-inventing The Wheel

Those accustomed to the genre won’t struggle to find their bearings. The user interface is the usual fanfare: healthbars, minimap, and action bars.

Each class has many skills to customize the experience. You’re limited to using nine at any given time, so you’re forced to strategize. It’s fun. Getting the right combination takes trial and error.

For those new to the genre, Carbine includes a plethora of useful tooltips and eases players into game concepts.

The tutorial area does a good job of introducing players to the basics. It would be nice, though, to have an option to skip it after the first time.

UPDATE: An option to skip the tutorial zone has since been added.

 

New Tricks

Carbine Studios / Matthew E. Semrau
Carbine Studios / Matthew E. Semrau Unlike other MMOs, Wildstar uses a “telegraph” system. You have to actually aim your attacks and so does your enemy.

Absent is the familiar medieval facade of fiefdom, fortresses, and forges. In its place, spaceships, laser saws, and robots.

Wildstar is unmistakably science fiction. But, even that gets its own unique spin with a wild west flare. The Exile humans have a thick drawl, and aliens run around with six-shooter inspired lasers and ten-gallon hats. It’s a regular game of cowboys and aliens.

Pick A Side

You can play as one of two sides: The Exiles or The Dominion. The Dominion believes it has an obligation to rule the universe—you know, for it’s own good. This is somewhat of a sore spot for the Exiles, driven from their homes by the Dominion.

Yeah, the Dominion are kind of jerks.

Flashpoint

The game revolves around a mysterious planet called Nexus. It’s the long-abandoned experiment by a race of super aliens.

The Exiles see it as their new home. The Dominion see an exploitable resource. See the problem?

The Path Less Traveled

The “path” mechanic is an interesting feature. Independent of your faction or class, you can pick between one of four paths: Soldier, Scientist, Explorer, and Settler. Each path influences how you experience the game world.

The tasks often encourage players to work together. For example, a Settler can rebuild a robot, and then a Scientist can reprogram it. The robot then reveals a hidden reward. This is just an example.

Choose wisely. You are locked into your path at character creation. Frustrating. Players unaware of how a path influences their experience may invest hours only to discover they hate their choice. Your only options are to deal with it or create a new character.

 

Carbine Studios / Matthew E. Semrau For an MMO, Wildstar provides amazing customization—especially for faces.
Carbine Studios / Matthew E. Semrau
For an MMO, Wildstar provides amazing customization—especially for faces.

Not Too Serious

The art is cartoony and the humor matches. When a player gains a new level, it flashes across your screen, a gruff voice congratulates you, “Way to go, spanky!” The Dominion starting area includes human experimentation that results in Exile prisoners dying in morbidly humorous ways. Again. Dominion. Jerks. Everything is a caricature. It works.

Got Class

The classes fill the usual archetypes of healer, damage, and tank. Each class is capable of two roles.

The classes are familiar, but all are given an original take. For example, the engineer is a ranged tank with heavy armor and robot pets. This is unusual in the genre.

Having played many MMOs for over a decade, this game stands out as being the weirdest, strangest, yet most familiar game I’ve played. I like it.

I’ve only begun my adventure on Nexus and there is still much to explore. It’s nice to experience something original in a genre that’s often stale.

I highly recommend jumping on the wagon.

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