Since the NDA has been lifted on Wildstar, I thought we’d discuss it briefly. I can’t say as much as or provide the gorgeous pictures like Syl of MMOGypsy, so I really recommend reading her write up, as it’s both much better than anything I can provide but also, in the end, a nicely different perspective.
The difference comes from a very basic observation related to the core game play. Her title, “Wildstar ain’t WoW – Wildstar is Heavy Metal” is quite apt for her interpretation, but mine’s a little different. Hers is also quite glowing, and, actually, mine is too, so it’s not that we came away with different feelings about it; I think we’re both quite positive, but I disagree with her core concept. Wildstar is very much based on the core gameplay of WoW, but to me, that’s not necessarily a problem.
To clarify, Wildstar functions on the “tab-targeting, hot-button” mechanics of countless MMOs. However, it also vastly improves on them. So to be clear, when I say Wildstar plays like WoW, I simply mean that at it’s core, it plays more like WoW than DDO, TERA, or Skyrim.
That said, as I mentioned, there are many improvements. There’s much more mobility in Wildstar than WoW; if we’re being frank, it plays more like The Secret World than WoW. There’s active dodging, the ability to cast -some- spells while moving, and a much more lucid “ability” UI that paints quite clearly which abilities will land where, instead of the big red splotches we’ve grown accustomed to in WoW.
The character development, too, is based heavily upon the WoW model, but again offers many improvements. As has been lauded plenty already, there’s a race choice, a class choice, and a path (like an occupation) choice. The occupations are based on the Bartle archetypes; there’s a settler, explorer, soldier, and scientist. Each of these paths provides a secondary set of objectives that overlays the other quests within the world, like some old computer RPGs had class- or alignment-specific quests that only certain characters could get. The benefits of each path vary, as well, so each character has an added level of customization available to it.
The setting is quite different from WoW. I can’t make any kind of “built upon” comparison at all, really, except that I think it could be as “lore deep” as WoW. The setting is a lot more sci-fi than WoW, very reminiscent of Firefly with an emphasis on the tongue-in-cheek nature that the show presented in between the action sequences (“Plus, I can kill you with my brain”).
The graphics are very cartoony, which again relates more to WoW than a lot of the other MMOs that seem to be aiming for photo-realism. I prefer that, actually; I like the cartoony nature of WoW, and Wildstar again takes it further, hamming it up with some of the silly design. Silly, in fact, is a core theme of the game, which I think will help make it popular, especially since the “serious” or “brooding” nature of The Secret World was largely rejected.
So overall, I do think that Wildstar’s like WoW, but it’s not in any way a “WoW Clone.” It is, instead, a WoW descendant, evolved and aged to produce a more refined and enjoyable product than its ancestor was at start.
That said, I won’t be pre-purchasing or playing it at release. I think it’s going to be a great product, and I do truly think I’ll get in there some time, but I’ve had it up to here (I’m making a line now, picture it, at about brow level) with being “still in beta but calling it release” tester for games, so I’ll wait a few months and jump in once the water’s a bit nice and warmer.
I’ll reiterate, too, that the media campaign of Wildstar is one of its greatest successes. If you haven’t watched the multitude of videos they’ve produced, I encourage you to do so. The silliness is well captured in them (though the most recent, “Adventures,” was of a weirder and somewhat off-putting nature).
Stubborn (and no longer wild, and never a star)