Monday, March 31, 2014

Farside of the MMOon

   I was sitting at work on Friday when I saw a post from JS Rowe about the surprise Beta Weekend. Needless to say, I was very excited and immediately regretted an earlier decision to work the whole day.  It turned to out to be a horribly rainy weekend so riding bikes was definitely out. Virika and I ended up investing most of our weekend questing on Nexus.

   Wildstar continues to impress me every time we play. There is so much I want to write about from the beta this weekend I will probably have to break it up into two posts. Most important is just how entertaining the game is. Every aspect of the game displays a fantastic sense of humor and never takes itself too seriously. However, the story lines, lore and zones still suck you in. We started off this weekend in Farside and so far this was my favorite zone. It was fun to explore and the questing was fun. I mean really fun. In other MMOs I have played, questing and leveling can often feel like a chore. Wildstar makes every bit of it exciting even when it's not really challenging. Sure, like any MMO there are the kill [x] number of these baddies kind of quests, but the zones themselves are so compelling that exploring and questing is even more fun. And there is ALWAYS something to make me laugh. So far, every zone is very unique and has it's own sort of character.  One neat aspect of Farside was that being on the moon, there was lower gravity. Jumping and floating made the whole area feel different. The missions were fun and there were some really awesome Eldan caverns to explore. We got to fly a bomber, slap around a bad guy prisoner and oh man are the shiphand missions AWESOME (I'll come back to these later). The soldier missions were challenging enough and we had a good time doing them.  

   The active style of combat is another thing that keeps me going through long play sessions. In games like WoW and SWToR, I often felt as though any player could face roll on the keyboard and still win most fights while leveling. Because of the dash and telegraph mechanics, Wildstar mobs will kill you if aren't paying attention. I'm not saying that its difficult but players have to be on their toes and take a very active role in every encounter. Spamming buttons while standing still will only cause the snarky narrator to make fun of you after you inevitably die.  

   The final item I will address is this post is the Shiphand Missions!  They are incredibly engaging story-wise, decently challenging and often hilarious! In Wildstar, the shiphand missions scale for one to five players so you can get the feel of doing an instance without having to use group finder or spend time recruiting other players to participate. However, in an at least one instance we encounter an optional boss that
needed 5 players. We'll go back and get him later. One particularly fun mission had us aboard a doomed ship where life support went crazy.  Our toons started hallucinating when they ran out of options which made for a trippy landscape and getting attacked by imaginary monsters the other players couldn't see. We even fought a vending machine boss. Overall, I kept thinking, this is what scenarios should have been in WoW- story driven and fun.

   Another thing worth mentioning is this addon Virika found from curse. Radar helps you find those lore objects you might otherwise miss. It doesn't lead you right to them on a map or anything but it does point you in the right direction once you get close. It will also track gathering nodes but these are so easy to find anyway, I disabled that feature. Thanks to Radar I was able to increase my collection of Tales from the Beyond the Fringe. I realize that to some this feels like cheating or taking away the fun, but I've been ending most zones missing one or two of each book.

   So another old WoW friend was asking me a few questions before he pre-ordered and probably the most interesting was, "What don't you like about Wildstar?"  So far there is not much but a here's the negatives and desired improvements I came up with:
  • When questing with a group, some objectives are shared, others or not and often without rhyme or reason. This causes some quests twice as long to accomplish because you are leveling with someone else.
  • The auction house has some neat features but is very confusing at first. The way you search and how some things are a commodity and on a separate exchange doesn't always make sense.
  • Starting zones can be very long. This isn't inherently negative, it can be frustrating when you want to play in a group. On the exile side, Virika and I ended up in different areas of Nexus when we first got down to the planet and for all practical purposes would not have been able to meet back up until level 12-13ish.
  • The crafting looks like it will be fun for those who enjoy that aspect of an MMO. For me it felt overbearing and something I will not really bother with until there are more guides readily available. The tech trees and how you acquire new patterns by crafting earlier ones is a very good system however.
  • The mechanics of playing Simon (the color matching game) and clicking F at the right times or spamming it quickly is a neat idea.  Players feel like they have to do something in order to hack into that computer or work that special device when in another MMO you would just click. Great idea... a little over used in my opinion.
  • For the love of all that is holy, please add an icon to the mini-map to show where the mailboxes are! 
More positives are:
  • The abundance of challenges with cool rewards.  They are mostly doable and force the players to act quickly. It adds a momentum to leveling that feels exciting.
  • Great NPC's that really carry the story.  Awesome voice acting and narration
  • A friendly and helpful player base so far. Great online community.
  • Easy to get back and forth to locations. I've hated other MMOs that force you to spend lots of time traveling before you get to play. 
  • Gear and stats are easy to figure out.  
  • Switching up specs and abilities is easy to do.  Re-equipping is a pain but I am sure addons will allow you to do that.
  • Costumes. Controlling how your character appears and not always mismatched is a nice touch.
That's all for now... we hit level 40 tonight!  Next post will be fun to write about Tersayne Toria and the Torine- key players in another awesome zone.  Have fun!

As always, thanks for reading.


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    1. We were only running into that questing problem when we were trying to complete everything... it's just hard to know which quests you can skip and which ones lead to other major quests upon completion. Our rest bonus was making us level very quickly too, which we probably won't have in such abundance after launch.

      Did you do shiphand solo? I was wondering what that would be like. V and I had tried one and failed hard. I don't remember what level we were? Did that one have you going into a mine?