I would like to withdraw that opinion entirely and offer my apologies to Carbine and their artists and designers for my rush to a hasty and inaccurate appraisal. Moreover, I would like to acknowledge that Tobold was entirely correct to point out that "the game only opens up in the third zone" and that, by implication, I probably should have waited until I got into what you might call the "game proper" before passing judgment. In my own defense I can only offer that, if you don't want your new MMO to be judged on what players see in the Tutorial, you probably shouldn't make your Tutorial GO ON FOREVER!
|Every hair of the bear reproduced.|
I like WildStar.
I wasn't expecting to like it. I didn't especially want to like it. It just so happens I do like it. It's gaudy, goofy, and just plain daft but it has...something. Specifically, it has lots and lots of somethings from other MMOs, most of which I liked the first time round and am happy to see given another airing. It's like watching one of those movies where you can spot all the director's influences yet without feeling that you'd rather be watching those movies instead.
|No longer the ugliest but definitely still the busiest.|
In this case what I was staring at appeared to be a two-foot tall moustachioed rabbit with three-foot long ears and eyes the size of dinner plates, wearing a fez and carrying a spear. Even in the avowedly non-realistic setting of Nexus this introduction came as something of a surprise but that particular example of the species turned out to be a sartorial conservative compared to his Chieftain, who appeared to have been dressed by a five-year old girl on a Haribo high and to be rather pleased about it.
|Why do you call us "Big Folk" when your ears alone are taller than I am?|
The Lopp, then, don't closely resemble anything seen in a Western MMO before, or not by me, at least. Long-tailed rabbits in fancy dress that walk around on their hind legs (although come to think of it, none of them do "walk". They all stand in place and...jiggle.). Never seen anything like them at all - until they open their mouths.
I forget where I first heard the word "shiny", now such a recognizable MMO trope. It might have been among the Ratonga in EQ2 or maybe it comes from WoW or the Goblin Beast-Tribe in either of the Final Fantasies. I do know, however, that for the past two years I have associated it most closely with The Skritt, GW2's race of bipedal rats, who spend most of their time running about squeaking about "shinies", at least until enough of them gather in one place to generate the hive mind intelligence that allows them to focus on something beyond the surface sheen of objects (most likely World Domination, if you believe the Asura, although you can put that down to professional jealousy. Probably.)
A short conversation with Chieftain Aleli at the Lopp camp at Glitterfur Caravan later, however, and it's like we've slipped sidewise into Tyria. They talk in fractured English (with a cod Eastern European accent, which may be in dubious taste but at least makes a change from all the cod British accents that make The Dominion seem not so much like an Evil Empire, more The Dick van Dyke Memorial Home for "resting" character actors).
The Lopp (and yes, I do see what you did there...) exhibit less than stellar intelligence (when asked how they got to Nexus they reveal they hitched a lift with some other race because they have no "Vroom ships" of their own).
|Umm...I am a Chua, in case you hadn't noticed.|
Whether this appeals all depends on your tolerance for whimsy, repetitive actions and barely competent voice acting. No device with the capacity to measure my tolerance for at least two out of those three has yet been invented, so I was in Hog Heaven, as no-one in England has ever said, even ironically.
Moving from Quest Hub to Quest Hub is not my thing so I mostly just ran around, spoke to anyone with the traditional exclamation hat, said "I can do that!" to them all in blithe disregard of my capabilities (largely unknown) or their intentions (largely ignored). I'm already playing my Chua as a bumbling innocent, a kind of cross between Benny the Ball from Top Cat and John Finnemore's character Arthur Shappey from the magnificent Cabin Pressure so helping people without knowing why or what for counts as roleplaying.
In the process there was a lot of fighting. Mob density isn't uncomfortably tight in WildStar but neither are agro ranges insignificant. Also, I have a Big Gun and an Artillery Bot - I'm going to go around a cow? I don't think so! And anyway, here's another surprise:
I like WildStar's combat.
|It's not pretty but then why should it be? This is War!|
Turns out the telegraphs are quite fun to play with and before long they look no less jarring than spell effects and explosions. The double-tap dodge is easy to use although I'd prefer a hot-key like the divided hemisphere GW2 provides as an alternative. Dodge is a bit of a luxury at these levels anyway. A spritely Chua can often simply scuttle to one side and get out of the box without having to dodge and that old favorite, back-pedalling with both barrels blazing, hasn't stopped being highly effective yet.
|You'd never guess it to look at him but there's nothing he likes better than a kick-around. |
And he didn't even want to use me as the ball!
There's much, much more I could say about WildStar even at this very early stage. Like how dense and packed the Lore appears to be, with books filled with lengthy text lying around all over the place and NPCs just falling over themselves to go into detailed, if pithy, explanations and explications. Or how complex (maybe just complicated but let's give it the benefit) the progression appears to be, clearly enough to keep a player like me occupied for a good, long time). Or how visually intriguing (if seemingly flat in places and over-busy in others) the world is, full of curious little details and quirks just begging to be examined at considerable leisure.
Over the remaining week I'd like to get to level 10 and take a look at both crafting and housing, then to level as far again on the Exile side (where I just bet every voice actor speaks with either an authentic North American or cod-Spanish accent...) to see how that grass grows. Even at this very early stage, though, I can say for certain that, were WildStar launching with a F2P model I would be playing it at launch and if it were Buy To Play I'd have pre-ordered.
|Over 'ere son! On me 'ead!|
For very much the reasons Jeromai outlines in his reply to my comment at his post linked above, however, there is no chance I will be buying WildStar as a subscription game. I would like to play it but I would not rather play it than the MMOs I am already playing (or not playing...) and therefore a subscription makes no sense for me at this time.
That's not to say I don't think it's worthy of a subscription: as a main MMO it almost certainly is. Meanwhile I'll play it as and when there are free trials or offers and bide my time until either the game changes payment models or I'm at a sufficiently loose MMO end that a subscription would make sense.