Sunday, August 23, 2015

Eyes Wide Shut : WildStar

My blindfolded amble through Nexus continues. It's going rather well. So far the lack of telegraph markers doesn't appear to be much of a handicap. Playing as a Warrior, with absolutely no ranged attacks at all, almost every fight consists of Leaping into a bunch of mobs, spamming Relentless Strikes to build kinetic energy then hitting Rampage, Ripsaw and Whirlwind as fast as they come off cooldown. Throw in the odd Kick for a bit of crowd control as required and there you go - job done.

Even the NPC couldn't believe I was dumb enough to say "Yes" to that one.
Just as well I did because spiders mean bags. Apparently.

It's hardly subtle but it seems to work. I've really had no trouble at all completing any of the solo content so far without using much in the way of consumables. When I die it's generally because I haven't noticed the mob I've targeted is some kind of special with five times the hit points. That's very easy to do, since the visual recognition system for mob difficulty is absolutely awful. I believe it's getting an overhaul for the F2P conversion. It bloody well needs one.

As well as playing with blinkers on in combat I'm also playing blind in that I'm doing very little out-of-game research as well as skipping many of the in-game tutorials. It's been a refreshing and immersive experience up to a point but it's sobering to realize just how much there is to come to grips with and just how unintuitive much of it is; all the things even a player with considerable experience in other MMOs is going to misunderstand, or just plain miss, until they're pointed out to him.

It was only after Jacob mentioned in the comments to an earlier post that some of the Challenges give bags as rewards that I realized I'd misunderstood how the inventory system works. Because the default UI shows all your available slots in a single display I'd been seeing the "bags" on sale as expanders not discrete containers.

I hadn't even spotted the tiny button in the corner that opens the window that shows the actual bags in their slots. That was why I couldn't understand the huge pricing differential between two, three and four slot bags; why wouldn't you just buy a whole lot of 2-slots and expand your inventory with those?

A lot of the set-pieces are very WoW, albeit scaled up to impress.

MMORPGs must be incredibly daunting for genuine first-timers and WildStar is far from being the most straightforward example. While it has some very obvious, superficial similarities to WoW in both approach and appearance, it seems to be orders of magnitude more complicated in almost every respect.

Here we go again.
I do wonder if one of the prime reasons WoW became so successful initially might not have been that all the newcomers to the genre were able to work things out together at a their own pace, over a prolonged period. As the population grew exponentially it dragged in a wider and wider audience of complete novices, all of whom were learning the ropes together and that process must have continued for many months if not for years.

These days it's something that only seems to happen for the first two or three weeks after the launch of a new game. After that suddenly everyone's an expert and many of the self-appointed Guardians of the Knowledge are far from shy about shame-calling anyone who doesn't have their amazing intuitive insight into game mechanics. It makes for a very hard shell for newcomers to penetrate.

It begins!
To avoid alienating new customers and to minimize future-shock WildStar uses the method GW2 introduced a while back to almost no-one's satisfaction - level gating. I'm not sure how hard the caps are but each fresh level sees a list of new skills and processes, some of which are entire new game systems. Last night Crafting arrived at level 10 and for no good reason I chose to become a weaponsmith.

I can't explain it but I always seem to end up being either a weaponsmith or a cook. My Berserker in EQ2 is a level 100 weaponsmith. My first 400 skill crafter in GW2 was a Chef. In Rift I was so into making weapons that I even got server first for making a Shady Netherforged Slicer the day they first added new recipes at the cap.

Somehow I don't see that happening here. I haven't even worked out how to locate the ore nodes to use the Mining skill I took to go with weaponsmithing. Shouldn't we get some kind of radar for that sort of thing? Surely I'm not supposed to just run around until I fall over one? This is the future, dammit!

It's a right old journey of adventure that's for sure. One thing I did step out of the game to double-check, though, was when I can get my house. For a game with, arguably, one of the top three housing systems in the genre, WildStar certainly doesn't go out of its way to plug home ownership in the game itself. If it wasn't for the fact that "Decor" items keep appearing as challenge rewards you could easily remain entirely unaware that a home of your own lies waiting for you somewhere round the corner.

It's waiting for you at level 14, to be precise, which seems very late. Did I read somewhere that the bar is being lowered for the slavering F2P hordes? It definitely needs to be. Think of all the potential decorators who won't ever make it to level four let alone fourteen. And everyone knows decorators spend a fortune in cash shops.

Don't make them go to their capital city to get it, either. Give 'em a house in the tutorial! Don't you want money, Carbine? I found my capital a lot sooner than anyone there was willing to give (or sell) me a house but only because I wasn't doing what I was supposed to be doing.

And while we're on the subject of housing, what's with all the level limits on the housing items themselves? Do I really have to wait until level 28 before I can put down a cup of tea or 46 before I can plant some pine trees? That seems harsh.

No doubt its just another misunderstanding. One day we'll laugh about all this. For now, though, it's no laughing matter. Back to work! Onwards and upwards to level 14 and the key of the door. Only another two levels to go!


  1. The level on housing items is not a real level, as soon as you get your plot you will be able to add them to your crate.

    1. That's good news. I kind of figured it couldn't be a real "can't place until you are this level" rule.

      The question then is why have a level marked on the item at all? If it doesn't mean what it appears to mean does it mean something else? If so, what does it mean? And why are items marked "Level 46" being given as rewards from content in level 6-12 areas? Quite a lot of questions in fact.

    2. IIRC, It's a side effect of how vendor price is set. Why is vendor price linked to level requirement? I don't have a clue. Maybe it's piggybacking on the rules for gear pricing. But the end result is they had to add the level req to get the vendor prices they wanted.

    3. Yep, that's it alright. I googled and found a thread on it from back when it was introduced. Seems to be a workaround that should have stayed out of sight.

  2. Funny thing about that item lvl is that until you mentioned it, I was completely oblivious it existed lol.....shows how much I focus on fineprint!


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