Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wildstar Beta: Is it the Warcraft Killer?

     Over the years there have been several multiplayer online games that have tried to knock World of Warcaft off it's gold throne. Most recently, Elder Scrolls Online had some HUGE hype and amazing graphics but just kindof...fell flat. With Wildstar, a game from the makers of Guild Wars 2, the gaming community is excited but doesn't want to give their hopes up just to have their heart-shaped keyboards crushed again. Will Wildstar be the MMO that finally kills WoW?

WTBGold's Wildstar Beta Review Pre Order

     To find out, I participated in the 3-day Open Beta on Friday the 21st through Sunday the 23rd where they let everyone try out the game and level from 1 to a cap of lvl 17. So, will Wildstar knock off the king? Short answer: Naw, probably not. Long answer? This. Game. Is. Fantastic. I play things to explore them, test them, and try to break em. And for a Beta, this was absolutely amazing.

     Wildstar is an unusual MMO, and combines a futuristic and cartoon atmosphere in an alien environment. While most games make you pick one or two stereotypes, the character selection here allows you to choose between anything. If you're a hypermasculine warrior, go for it. If you want the super-sexy (read: busty) female character, you have options. If that offends you though, you have strong female achetypes. There are also more realistic models for both genders. If you want something cute, cuddly, and furry, you got it! And if you prefer a sleek, ferocious agile killer, there's that. Each of course has 20 or so slider bars with endless customization. But, then there's the gameplay.

     See, each of your and your enemy's ability are shown on the ground in a blue/red design depending on where they'll hit. So, if an enemy has a circular AoE attack with a 2 second cast, a light red circle appears on the ground, and a dark red circle expands over 2 seconds, after which you take damage. This mechanic, so different from Warcrafts cast bars, seemed too much like training wheels at first, and I was really really (really) bored from sidestepping the damage. What's funny though is that come about level 10-15, the quest mobs start to get faster in their cast times, and more creative in their patterns. What used to be a circle is now a bullseye pattern or a rotating one-shotting lightning strike pattern. The patterns also gets to be really interesting when you accidentally pull four or five (or eight, oops!) mobs as an Esther, the equivalent of a mage/priest. The best thing about this is that you die!

Wildstar Beta combat ground effects

     Why do I love dying? In a lot of games, there is horrible balance. I played Rift, and it has this neat mobile app where you get a virtual scratch card that rewards Rift coins. If you don't play for a day, you can come back in, trade in your coins, and essentially have full epics on a level 15 toon. When you pull an entire field of boars on a dps toon without knowing how to play and you don't die, it takes the fun out of the game. At each level of Wildstar, I was consistently impressed with the difficulty scaling of the armor and the enemies, at least for the two classes I played (and ignoring the level 3-4 outdoor Skeech mobs, fix those if you're reading, please). After testing the gameplay, I leveled all of the professions to see what the goldmaking aspect had in store, and I hadn't seen anything quite like it.

     On the surface, the Wildstar Professions are laid out like most other MMOs. There are gathering professions and crafting professions, and for your crafting you learn new crafts in three ways: patterns, through leveling up, and through the tech tree. The latter and the crafting process itself are the new additions that really set apart professions in Wildstar. If you craft 3 Serviceable Steel Shockers, a Resonator weapon and part of a crafting quest, then you unlock 3 new patterns that are better than any quest gear you're likely to get at level 12. I'll leave the crafting process itself for a later guide but it's essentially the same as WoW. The main difference is that if you put in more materials, you can have better stats, but you have a chance to fail in the craft. Nice twist! Also, interestingly, this tech tree builds down and rewards talent points, so raiders that care about min/maxing will have to craft their hearts out to get every last bit of dps, healing, and mitigation they can.

Wildstar Beta Tech Tree Tradeskills Crafting

     So, I loved almost everything about it. But, as I said, I don't think it will topple Warcraft. The graphics aren't mind-blowing enough to call for a mass exodus (although Age of Conan has shown that graphics doesn't necessarily equal subscribers). The main reason is that Wildstar doesn't seem to not know what it is. This may not be a fair representation considering the, literally, thousands of pieces of lore scattered throughout the game, but hear me out. In the level 1-15 starting zone I played, Algoroc, you experience the following environments: grasslands, pastures, city, swamp, lake, ice cave, mining cave, acid pit, frozen mountain, excavation site and a few others. Couple that with each quest mob moving in and out deciding to be a witch doctor, an alien technology, a member of the Horde (its equivalent), or just a piece of slime, and you're left feeling lost. Compare this to WoW, where you start off leveling in Elwynn Forest, which is...a Forest. It's like the game is trying to pack too much awesome into its opening level.

     On the other hand, these first levels are awesome and I'm totally getting the game to see what the rest has in store. See y'all there!

Thanks for reading my little WoW blog! You can follow me on Twitter here and Twitch here. My YouTube channel is growing and has lots of great guides over here. I recommend that all goldmakers download the TSM Suite and the UndermineJournalGE addon for all goldmakers. You can read my setup guide if you'd like. And remember that the key to making gold in WoW is just to 
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