I played the Elder Scrolls Online Beta last week and initially though it would be bad then I tried the game more and realising it was ok but after spending more time with the game I realised the game was pretty average. Now I am playing WildStar and The Elder Scrolls Online seems like it positively modern in comparison. I will go over what I think of the Elder Scrolls Online soon but what do I think of WildStar (Beta)? The following is My Scrambled Thoughts on WildStar.
At time of writing this (7th March 2014) the games NDA is still in place which means most people can’t talk about the game unless you are some big media outlet or YouTube personality. I understand the reason for NDAs but when you got popular people on YouTube being allowed to stream and discuss the game while also telling their viewers how much they are or not enjoying the game, surely that defeats the whole purpose of protecting your game? Wouldn’t it be better if everyone could discuss the game because some will say it is bad and some will says it good. Instead there a letting some press say its good while some are saying its bad. It makes no sense if that is what I assume the NDA is for, because the game isn’t finished (NDA is however lifted now).
(Click an image to see a larger version) [Mine are ruined by the NDA marks]
Looking from the outside WildStar looks unique with its art style and some of its gameplay but when you actually play the game it quickly becomes apparent that without these two things the game wouldn’t be better than Allods Online and that game is abysmal. These are some of the problems with WildStar (beta):
There a choice of about four to five servers but the latency and ping on them are outrageous. I assume the servers are based in America and with me being Europe that might be expected but people from America and Canada were also having problems with lag. It makes the game near unplayable in some spots.
The game is badly optimised with the game needing more resources than you would initially assume and It also doesn’t scale well for lower end machines which games like World of Warcraft and even The Elder Scrolls Online do well.
The characters design and voices are initially visually striking, unique and charming but it all quickly becomes apparent that they are all simple stereotypes of British posh/evil, American redneck types and a few others. The game uses voices in cut scenes and in some dialogue but most of it requires you to read which is fine but after playing The Elder Scrolls Online is like getting your hearing back then someone sticking a knife in your ears. You could say the free-to-play arena shooter Loadout suffers from the same fate and I enjoy that game but the difference is Loadout uses its theme as a simple wrapper while WildStar uses it as its core theme with everything revolving around it. If you dislike its theme and style then you can’t really even enjoy the game from even a mechanical standpoint, unless if you are blind and deaf.
It’s good to have two main factions (Dominion posh, evil lot and the Exiles redneck, bum licking types) in the game compared to the Elder Scrolls Online three as this keeps any PvP or rivalry focused but both are pretty uninspired and filled with annoying races. There are six classes (the Warrior, the Esper, the Spellslinger, the Stalker, the Medic, and the Engineer) which are all the usual warrior, rogue, mage, healer and support types. The Dominion faction races are the Cassian, Draken, Mechari, and the Chua while the Exiles get the Humans, Granok, Aurin, and Mordesh. Most of the races are unoriginal and either completely absurd to being annoying to look at and listen to. With only the Humans and Cassians fitting the overall theme of the game while the rest seem there to fill some sort of potential market niches or fetishes.
Combat is probably the best thing in the game but because combat uses a real-time system any type of lag or delay can mean the difference between life and death. If the game doesn’t have any lag then combat can be fun with you requiring to aim and dodge enemy attacks (like a game of futuristic space baseball) which is all good but leads to weird moments where you can avoid the enemy attack and they will just stand there waiting to finish their attacks. This shows that they don’t react or adapt to combat situations and just spam their attacks. Classes have different combat factors to consider and how to approach combat but usually it means charging head first and trying to out damage the enemy which becomes quickly repetitive and even more so because of the nature of the combat. It also means classes like the Engineer who have guns end up shooting them one foot away from their enemy which negates any reason to have long-range weapons, at that range you could poke them in the eyes with your fingers. While active combat in PvE can be tactical and manageable when playing in PvP it becomes a mess of blue and red cones, triangles, lines and flashing effects which all add, play and give off an impression of a button mashing fighting game.
From what I have seem from the several hours I played combat is too easy and because of this you are able to run around with no clothes on and still not have to worry about your health. I don’t mind the game starting out easy but I can see the game having a steep difficulty curve, one minute you will be one hitting enemies then a few minutes later your will take about ten minutes to kill one enemy. Other games have suffered from this and I don’t see WildStar being any different.
Compared to the Elder Scrolls Online and some other MMORPGs the world of WildStar feels alive with plenty of NPCs and a busy chat log with some quite useful and interesting discussions being had. However both quickly become an annoyance with the constant downpour of text being a distraction and getting in the way of any useful information that might be added there. You will quickly hide the chat log and wish there were fewer pointless NPCs cluttering the often small landscapes. The WildStar world does have a coherent theme and a weird believability which is good. For example early on while playing as an Exile I had to choose which transport ship to board to start a new zone, it was a small thing but it made the game feel like it actually been thought out and it felt a bit like I was at an airport. However like I said before it would be even better if the world wasn’t completely riddled with clichés.
A major problem with new MMORPGs is that they aren’t learning enough lessons from their previous falling comrades (even with taking years to build). It’s hard to stomach paying for a full price MMORPG these days and then having to pay an expensive subscription fee for the privilege to look at your digital characters. Either they should lower the initial cost and/or more than cut in half the subscription fee. Better still offer the game for free with a cheap subscription fee or just go for a full on free-to-play model (which will likely happen). A lot of publishers have failed in the way they support their MMORPGs but if done correctly it can be profitable and fair for everyone.
At this point Carbine Studios and Zenimak Interactive are asking for which I assume will be more than £45 (Elder Scrolls Online is currently digitally for £50) for a game that may end up being rubbish (WildStart preoders start soon and expect to pay between £40 and £50). A game being digitally the same price or more expensive than physical copies, containing pointless exclusive preorder bonuses and probably getting abandoned by 70% of the players after the first month all means asking to pay an expensive subscription fee on top is insane.
Apparently WildStar will offer C.R.E.D.D (aka Greed) which you can buy with real money or in-game gold and sold or redeemed for extra game time or more gold. C.R.E.D.D just seems like a good way to ruin the economy of the game by allowing outside forces to affect the in-game currency. It’s like governments allowing banks to accept your Monopoly money. Both are silly ideas and will mean the people with money and Monopoly boards stay on top while all the poorer people stay on the bottom and therefore will create a two tired community.
I am disappointed with WildStar, it’s not like I was expecting much but to see Carbine Studios just make a more modern version of World of Warcraft with active combat is pointless when World of Warcraft still exists, continues to grow, thrive and feed on the failure of other MMORPGs. World of Warcraft could easily add the same combat system as WildStar if they wanted to and then why would anyone play WildStar? Maybe WildStar will be bigger and better than World of Warcraft but if it is or not I don’t really care after my experience with the game. At some point new or unexperienced developers should concentrate on making good single player or small multiplayer games rather than try to make the next expensive big MMO game.
If the various technical difficulties are worked out with lag and system requirements being lowered then some people will find some enjoyment from WildStar, however there is plenty of better games out there that do WildStar’s main selling points better and cheaper or for free.
World of Warcraft taught me to that I am pretty tired of MMORPGs, WildStar has taught me to play and like World of Warcraft more and the Elder Scrolls Online has taught me to appreciate the single player Elder Scrolls games more. Overall World of Warcraft and single player RPGs are the winner here and that’s a bad thing for the games industry but It’s not like the video game industry is trying to innovate much in the MMORPG space. If making an identical gaming experience as current games and the only thing that is different is the combat which is being hailed as revolutionary then maybe we should all go back to playing with rocks and sticks.
There is only so many identical games you can play before you feel like you are wasting you time and money and WildStar fits perfectly into that category.
My Other Scrambled Thoughts: