WildStar is an exciting new space opera MMORPG from NCSoft and Carbine Studios. It’s available for preorder now, with headstart opening on May 31, 2014 and the official launch on June 2, 2014. Carbine has a lot to offer in this very sandboxy style RPG that seems to have learned from the mistakes of some of the more recent MMORPG releases, and is offering a lot of style, play style, and payment choices for the discriminating gamer to choose from. PvP and PvE realms will both be available.
This is not a superbly in-depth review, but a beta review. I played almost every class and almost every area available, but was only able to level my avatars to about level 15 before making the next avatar and taking on the next class. Both sides were actively played, and enjoyable, but there are, of course, pros and cons to each side.
The character models are male and female except for the Chua, which are small rodent-like creatures that are essentially whatever gender one intends them to be (apparently). The models range in size from waif to pretty athletic, with corresponding waist and hip sizes in the female size, and slender, nondescript male to buff linebacker in male sizes. They do seem to be more customizable, although there are a decent number of template choices if one prefers to grab and go. There aren’t a lot of ethnic hairstyles, and although I’m ethnically white, my preference is to play dark-skinned characters (I find them much prettier), and I prefer to have braids, dreads, or other ethnically-correct hairstyles. Those just aren’t available in this game, at least at this point. The Draken do have some lizardy/odd hairstyles that might count, and a few of the Mordesh have braids and dreads, but it would be nice to have them for the Aurin, Human, and Cassian avatars.
There are two factions in this game, Dominion and Exile. The Dominion are the ‘classic bad’ faction, with the emperor bent on galactic domination, the secret police who suspect everyone of treason, and the constant need of the common people to prove themselves loyal. The Exile faction is the ‘classic good’ faction, with the displaced people who only want to be left alone to live their lives, and who have been wronged by the Dominion. Having not gotten far enough along in the story to find out whether or not this is all true, so far the classic good/bad scenario seems to be about the same as it is in SWTOR. One can choose to be an honorable Dominion, but the side is the ‘bad’ side. It’s unfortunate that the side seems to attract most of the young people that choose to behave badly. During the beta weekends, the Carbine staff did a pretty good job of delivering the smack-down to people behaving badly, but during the open beta, the ignore button got a good workout. The Exile side was considerably less work on this front, and for this reason, it was much more enjoyable to play.
There are four species to play for Dominion, and four for Exile. Dominion allows Cassian, which is a human type species, chosen by the Eldan, an ancient Master race, to lead the Dominion long ago; the Mechari, a bio-android type that was constructed by the Eldan and can live over 1000 years; Draken, a lizard-like species whose leader was bested by the Emperor in single combat and swore the Draken to him as warriors; and Chua, psychotic rodents who have limited morality and worse grammar. Exile has Human, which is pretty much self-explanatory; Granok, which are a type of Earth elemental who market themselves as mercenaries and have chosen to join the Exiles; Aurin, a group of rabbit/catlike nature people whose homeworld was decimated after a treaty with the Dominion; and Mordesh, a race of alchemists who worked on a cure for aging a little too hard and turned themselves into zombies. They joined the Exiles looking for a cure, and are taking Dominion interference a little bit personally.
Six classes are available at launch for the player to choose from, and there’s one to fit every play style, from up-in-your-face fighting to kite-and-run dps. All classes have a choice between tank/dps or dps/heal. The Warrior, Engineer, and Stalker have tank/dps modes, and the Spellslinger, Esper, and Medic have dps/heal modes. The modes can be switched pretty easily after a certain level, when the avatar automatically receives a secondary specialization. There is the problem with keeping that second weapon and set of armor all the time, however. Bag space gets to be premium pretty early, as in every game, although in beta bags dropped pretty well.
The really intuitive thing that made this game different from anything I’ve ever played before was the attention to play style with the path system. Most people are familiar with the path system in which people find themselves rated as explorers, killers, achievers, or socializers. Carbine took this information and put it into the path system. When rolling an avatar, one can choose one of four paths: Explorer, Soldier, Settler, or Scientist. Explorers explore – they check out every nook and cranny of an area, find every little place, climb every mountain…stopping singing now. It’s a cartography path, and a lot of fun for a player who likes to check out every little bit of scenery. Soldiers come across soldier kiosks every so often that, when activated, send out waves of enemies and a boss enemy. It’s a pretty quick way to level up. And die. A lot. Not that I did or anything, because I didn’t. Much. Settler is a really neat path. While traipsing around the countryside, supplies are lying around. The avatar picks these up and sticks them in a special bag. Carbine thankfully did not make this count against bag space. When the avatar gets to a settler kiosk, they can build stuff to benefit other players. Health, XP, speed, taxis, and all different kids of kiosks to help other players can be built. Scientists use their scanbot to scan natural formations and datacubes. Scientist is a great choice for players that are really into lore. A huge amount of lore is available through this path.
The game is $59.99 for the regular version, and $74.99 for digital deluxe. At this point, a preorder will get you an exclusive rocket house, a housing trophy, an in-game title, an in-game storage bag (not sure how many slots), 30 days of free playtime, and three guest passes with seven days of playtime. The deluxe edition will also give an Eldan-themed hoverboard (free mount!) an Eldan augmentation costume, a special Eldan title, and some special Eldan dye for armor. There are two ways to pay for your subscription. One way is through traditionally subscribing at $15/month (less if you buy more months at a time). The other is to buy subscriptions through the auction house for the equivalent of $20 in in game cash. Depending on one’s success in the auction house, it’s possible to buy the game once, and never pay with a credit card again. I understand this was the model used with Eve Online, and it was pretty successful, so I wish Carbine the best of luck with this.
The game was really enjoyable even in beta. I preordered this game, and am looking forward to release. Unfortunately, May 31st is a Saturday and I’m working doubles, but on June 1st at 11:00 PM I’m most definitely going to be online rolling my avatar. See you nerdy, flirty gamergirls on Nexus! Check out the game for yourself on the official site, the Facebook, and the Twitter.
About The Author
Roninbear (AKA Amy Wilson) is a long time gamer girl who started playing computer games when her dad brought home a Texas Instruments computer and the game Alpiner in the early 1980’s. You can follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.