I really did try to avoid playing in the Wildstar beta. I knew any character I made would just get wiped when the game launches in a couple weeks. I figured it was smarter to just wait until it’s actually out and then dive in.
That didn’t happen.
I kept jumping back into it all last week and then over the weekend. I just couldn’t help myself. At first I was just going to check out the character creator. No harm in that right? The characters all ended up looking so awesome though that I had to jump in and play with them a little. I ended up justifying this by playing the Dominion faction (bad guys) since I intended to play the Exiles (good guys) at launch. I made myself a Draken Stalker and started playing.
Levels one through three are all pretty much tutorial and if you’ve played an MMO before I think you’ll find it a bit tedious. At level three they drop you down into the world though and I was hooked. As a Stalker I was essentially a rogue type class using my stealth ability to strike from behind and put out lots of damage. I’ve played plenty of rogues before in various MMo’s but Wildstar’s take was super fun. Today’s comic strip is 100% true and I want to try and break down what happened.
In Wildstar your attacks (and enemy attacks) are telegraphed by highlighted zones on the ground around the character. A monster might show a red cone in its front arc, letting you know anything standing there is gonna get slashed. These zones come in all sorts of shapes and sizes depending on the types of attacks. My Stalker had an ability that was a target mark. Any character I hit with it got tagged and I dealt extra damage to characters that had the mark on them. This is pretty standard but the fun part was it was a skill shot like you might see in League of Legends. When I went to use the ability a blue column stretched out in front of me. It was a long thin rectangle that I could aim as I moved around. So I would stealth myself and then slowly creep up on a group of enemies, waiting until their paths converged in a way that let me line up three of four of them at one time and then tag them all at once.
The best part was using the ability didn’t break stealth, so then I dive in on the first guy dealing bonus damage because I was stealthed and bonus damage from the mark. Most of the time the first monster just exploded in a spray of guts and then I’d jump on the next one. I had another ability that let me drop a marker at my current location and then leap backwards out of the fight. The second time I hit that ability I dove back to the original location and did an AOE attack that knocked enemies down. By now the mark has worn off so I’d dodge to the side and line up all the knocked down monsters with another skill shot and tag them all. Then jump back in and do slashing attack that hits all the enemies in front of me. They are all marked so they are taking crazy damage. I was having so much fun figuring out the best combos and just playing that I forgot I wasn’t on a quest. After about thirty minutes I thought “wait a second, I have no reason to be killing these dudes. I’m just playing!” I don’t know, I think that’s pretty cool.
I ran through a bunch of levels over the course of the beta. The game is just packed with so much beautiful art it’s hard for me to log out. I kept wanting to check out one more zone or just see what was over the next hill. From their animations to the designs you can tell how much love was poured into each monster you fight. I even found myself just watching other classes fight because it looked so cool. Obviously it comes down to a matter of taste. For me a game like Elder Scrolls Online just looks boring. After only a few levels I was already tired of looking at it. I know there are people who go hard for that “realistic” style but to me it’s just drab. the visuals in Wilstar grab me and don’t let go. There are people who don’t like “cartoony” stuff but as a professional cartoonist, I have to say I’m a fan. Maybe I’m biased.
The open beta is over now and the game will drop on June 3rd. If you pre-order (like I did) you will get a headstart with servers opening up on May 31st. You should check it out if you’re in the market for a new MMO. As for me, I’ve already reserved my character and guild names.