MMORPGs, with few exceptions, have all been following the same model in the past few years. Rarely does a game deviate from a few set rules, despite the fancy hats it might wear.
WildStar Online, the latest sci-fi action MMORPG from Carbine Studios, tries ever so hard to depart from the norm. With a unique style and pizzaz, WildStar sets itself apart… barely.One of our first looks at WildStar Online.
It’s difficult to be both unique and successful in the MMORPG genre. The dawn of WoW changed the landscape of it forever, after all. Apart from the oddballs like Planetside and a few smaller free-to-play games, the style of gameplay remains unchanging for fear of departing from established success.
WildStar has long hyped itself as an MMORPG that will shake up this landscape, although, so far, it falls short on this front. It highlighted action gameplay, a settlement system, class and path variances, and a unique PvP structure to make gameplay continuously fun and exciting. I was excited to see how different WildStar would be.
In general, I find recent MMORPGs boring, repetitive, and samey. You name it, it’s the same thing: a massive game with a narrative that fails to make a player care, with gameplay that consists of mashing the same couple keys over and over again until the numbers become larger numbers so I can mash keys against other things to get better numbers and sometimes a neat sword. Mashing keys is great, but these games typically fail to incentivize a player beyond becoming stronger.This is what my badass spellslinger almost looked like. Rrrrrrow.
Every game that claims to have action gameplay doesn’t. Every game that claims an immersive story doesn’t. With the notable exception of Vindictus (which is built on the Source engine and plays like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta), action gameplay in MMORPGs doesn’t really exist.
It doesn’t exist in WildStar either, despite their claims, but we’ll get to that in a second. Rewind to a period of time when my cynical butt thought WildStar would be different and that being a dual-gunslinging spell-flinging sorcerer would be fun (though I already was in Mabinogi).
WildStar begins like most MMORPGs with character creation. Trending towards WoW, everything is decided at the outset. I was given the choice of joining the Dominion, an empire with the “divine right” to rule, or the Exiles, a ragtag group of rebel-types. Selecting Dominion with a gleeful smirk, I proceeded to select my class and path.The Dominion flagship and starting area.
WildStar operates on the traditional class/path system. A character’s class represents their talents and roles–spell-slinger, warrior, etc.–while paths are synonymous with professions, in this case. From explorer to settler, a character’s path represents the road they’ll travel in life. A spell-slinger on the soldier path made sense for my Dominion fanatic.
Of the many races, one of which being human and rest alien, my spell-slinger became a horned Draken who looked more like a representation of goat-Satan than anything else. And yes, like WoW, certain races are only available for each faction. Cautiously optimistic but already jaded, I entered the world of the game.
After a cutscene that singled me out as the most important character in the Dominion, a fact I found hard to believe given the millions of other players online, I was brought out of cryosleep and told to report for duty.Showtime!
No, we weren’t on the planet of Nexus yet. The starting Dominion area was a humongous spaceship larger than some countries, and my little Draken soldier set about his training with no small amount of glee. That glee swiftly turned to apathetic drudgery by the second “kill/collect x/x y” quest. No matter how pretty everything was, put a fancy dress on unoriginal MMO gameplay and all you’ve got is a well-dressed clone.
But, of course, combat played a major role in training, and this was where WildStar was supposed to excite. For one there are absolutely no “normal” attacks, only skills. The basic skill for any class serves as a basic attack. It must be aimed, and with every use an area of effect appears showing where the skill will take effect.Combat. In all its psuedo-real-time glory.