Wildstar level 15

So I made a promise to myself to play Wildstar exclusively until I hit level 15 just to give it a chance, and this morning I made it. So now what? Will I keep playing or am I done?

I’d hoped to be able to decide but honestly I’m still on the fence. I guess the truth is I’m leaning more and more towards sticking around but I haven’t fallen off onto the “Wildstar is awesome” side just yet. If I had nothing else going on then I’d definitely be subscribing but I have to decide if I like it more than Landmark, ESO and ArcheAge, basically. Clearly trying to play 4 MMOs is ridiculous.

This weekend I’ve spent messing around with my house a little. Housing doesn’t grab me as much as I hoped, but I have a relic mine and a farm on my housing plot and they’re both handy. I also added a crafting station so I have all the ingredients I need to make medi-packs and stuff without leaving home. I think I’ll buy a house, though. The freebie pre-order house is, IMO, stupid looking. (It’s a fat round spaceship that looks like it came from a kid’s cartoon.)

Meanwhile out in the world I helped take down what I guess was a zone boss. All I know is someone said in zone chat “Everyone come to StemDragon!” and then a chorus of “WTH is StemDragon?” Turns out it’s a big dragon-beast with somewhere over a million HP. I ran there to help and it was pretty fun, though really just a matter of spamming attacks along with 15-20 other players. For my trouble I got an Achievement which is nice I guess.

A lot of the content I’m moving through now is pretty group-desired. You can solo your way through but you have to have a care not to aggro too many mobs, or even a single mob that is heroic. The good news is you can just organically join other players when doing this content. It makes things both easier/faster and more fun and so far the community seems prone to helping each other which is kind of awesome. So over and over I find myself traveling with another player or two and while we don’t talk or Group we help each other along.

One of the types of Settler missions is gathering materials for an NPC builder to build some structure. I’ve been doing these and moving on, pretty much ignoring the ‘construction site’ since to finish the quest you only have to contribute a fraction of the materials needed for the site to be completed. This morning I decided to stick around and after I finished the quest I kept gathering materials until the project was done. Along the way I was also harvesting relics and crops plus killing lots of mobs so I got the benefit of that too.

In this case the completed project was a de-probing center (shown in the image at the top of this post). In this area of the world an alien race has been abducting people and using probes on them. Then they’re returned with the probes still inserted. (This gives you a good feel for the style of humor in Wildstar.) Once the de-probing center is built you can take a quest to remove the probes from some patients. It was a really quick quest…took under a minute. The de-probing center also has a vendor. I’m not sure if another class could enhance it or not. I’ve done some things as a settler that are “Step 1” of a project and require a Scientist or a Soldier to do Step 2, but I’ve never had anyone on-hand to do step 2 so I’m not really sure how all that works.

I’ve been pretty grumpy about the Lore in Wildstar but I have to say that now some of the story questlines are getting more interesting. I still don’t bother reading the books and files you find but if instead of working ‘horizontally’ and doing every level 10 task and quest before moving on to level 11 tasks and quests, you grab a story quest and just follow the series and ignore distractions, they can be a lot more interesting. One I enjoyed started with having to sober up some dude in a bar and took me all over the place and finally into a kind of secret base. Fun stuff!

So that’s all the good stuff. I don’t have a lot of bad stuff honestly. There’re still bugged quests and the game UI goes wonky often, though generally a quick /reloadui fixes things. I get terrible lag spikes now and then and random disconnects but frankly these are the kinds of things I expect from a newly launched game.

I think at this point the one thing missing is a large group of people to play with. I’m in a guild but seem to keep different hours from most of the members. Last night when I was playing there were only 5 people online; this morning I was the only only one! This is during the free month and I’m really concerned about what will happen when subs kick in. It’s hard not to compare this to ESO when during the first few weeks there’d usually be 20+ people from the guild online. As far as I could tell, each of the 5 was doing his or her own thing and no one was talking in chat except for me and Chris. So if I’m going to keep playing I’ll probably quit this guild and go in search of something bigger.

I don’t think Wildstar is a good solo game; it’s just not how it was designed. I mean you CAN solo but everything is more fun with more people in this one. I’m really happy playing ESO solo; I’m really invested in the story and the lives of the NPCs and all of that. Wildstar though is all about ACTION and jumping around like crazy during combat and generally the more the merrier. If I’m alone in an area for too long just fighting by myself I tend to get bored and log out. Happily just the addition of random players helps to stave that off.


Wildstar update – level 14

some_hatLast Sunday I was at level 10 in Wildstar and determined to play it exclusively until I got to level 15, at which point I’d make a decision about whether or not I was going to add it to my roster of games. Level 15!? Bah! I’m a lightweight! Both Scopique & Scarybooster are committing to a year of only playing Wildstar. Apparently the game is scratching a major itch for both of these gentleman.

I’m still aiming at 15. Last night just before signing off I hit 14 (I don’t get a lot of time for gaming during the week). I have to say I’m enjoying it more than I was but I’m still on the fence. I have managed to ‘let go’ when it comes to the lore and I’ve stopped reading all the books and files because frankly most of them aren’t worth the time it takes. For every file that gives you info about the world there are 4 that are just intended to be funny or something.

A lot of the quests still feel pretty mundane but I have now gotten the chance to do some that have a bit of a twist. It’s a sad reflection on the state of MMO gaming when adding timed button presses or a mini game of “Simon” to a quest solution feels like a refreshing twist, but well…that’s the genre. MMO players, myself included, are so desperate for variety that adding a super-simple mini-game gets us excited.

Over the course of the week I’ve started to better understand character building and as I’d suspected, the more I understand it, the more interesting it becomes. I’ve started to veer my Engineer from the “Assault” (DPS) path to the Tank path.

Combat has become more challenging, at least at times, which has added to my interest in the game as well. Up to level 10 you can pretty much sleep walk through combat without any fear of death, at least if you’re an engineer. I can’t speak to other classes; remember the Engie has 2 robot pets to help him out.

Following the Settler path continues to be good fun and I still feel good when I can spawn a Taxi Stand (or some other boon) for other players.

Speaking of other players, I had one bad experience with the community on Dominion-Evindra so far, but plenty of good ones. I turned off the Advice channel but have left on Zone. There’re too many bugged quests in the zone I’m in and it’s nice to see players helping players when it comes to identifying gameplay problems. I’ve joined a few PUGs and they’ve been civil as well. In fact my PUG experience has been good enough that I’ve been offering to help people complete quests that I’ve already completed, just to try to be an asset to the community and make some new friends.

I joined the Alliance of Awesome guild but so far it’s been pretty quiet. I have the feeling I might play later than everyone else, or maybe it’s just that everyone is on voice chat. I’m not sure it’s going to be the right fit for me but I’m giving it time.

At level 12 or so I unlocked crafting but I haven’t done too much with it, though I have been gathering things. For both Farming and Relic Hunting you ‘gather’ by shooting something in the world. Since my guns have a fire zone that is wide and long, invariably I aggro mobs while I’m trying to gather, which leads to some chaotically fun moments of trying to dodge some beastie while I shoot the crystals off a relic. And sometimes the relic gets up and starts running around for a few moments before vanishing. I suspect I’ll get some goody if I can ever kill it before it poofs but so far no luck.

So as I say, still on the fence but enjoying the game more than I was at 10. I do feel like I suffer from “quest fatigue” pretty often. Any given area just seems to have endless quests that keep you in one spot killing variants of the same mobs for far too long. But I’m also out-leveling quests so maybe I’m not supposed to take them all.

Tonight I’ll see about doing the quest that gives you a house. Everyone seems to LOVE the housing in Wildstar and it might be the hook that keeps me around. I enjoy the housing in EQ2 but honestly aside from crafting there’s not a lot to DO in an EQ2 house, but in Wildstar it sounds like houses can be outfitted with a variety of activities. I also have a secret hope that Angela sees the housing and wants to play; having her interested in the game would go a long way towards keeping me interested as well.

I guess I’ll probably hit 15 this weekend some time and then I’ll have to decide if I want to press on or if I’d rather focus more on ESO, ArcheAge, Landmark, or single player games. My plate is pretty full and if a game isn’t really doing it for me there’s no sense in trying to force it. I know at the least I’ll celebrate 15 by taking a break and getting back into Watch Dogs! But last night I was playing Wildstar and glanced at the clock and it was after midnight and I realized I’d completely lost track of time. That’s generally a good sign for me. So maybe Wildstar is working its way into my heart.

Here I am again, Wildstar Level 10

bartWildstar’s Early Access kicked off this weekend and a lot of my friends are apparently having the time of their lives. Me, I’m stuck in the level 10 blues.

I was in the beta of Wildstar for a few months and honestly the game never hooked me. The only reason I’m playing is because I got a good deal from Green Man Gaming and so many of my friends were excited I figured what the heck. In Beta I never got very far on any single character; I think I topped out at level 12. With character after character I’d get bored and drift away.

But when I played The Elder Scrolls Online in beta it never hooked me either, and I love that game now that I’m playing ‘for real’ and was hoping the same would be true for Wildstar. So far that isn’t the case.

The thing that changed ESO for me was the lore. During beta I ignored it and at launch I embraced it. With every random scroll and book I read a little bit more about the world and history of Tamriel was uncovered. I loved it! LOVED IT. I tried the same thing with Wildstar which also has lots of book and files to read but… most of them are just kind of random and an attempt to get a chuckle out of you. I’m not finding the lore here to be very interesting at all.

That actually extends to the quests which seem really shallow most of the time. I know at least one person who loves Wildstar and who uses an add-on that automatically skips quest text and just accepts the quest. That’s one person but I think it illustrates something. Wildstar is 100% game, 0% virtual world. Which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for.

It’s also intended to be pretty funny. Most of the jokes fall flat with me, but that’s a personal thing. I know people that find it hilarious. I admittedly have a very narrow sense of humor though, and I am not generally drawn to humor.

So that leaves basic gameplay, and y’know combat is pretty fun and it’s the one thing keeping me playing. It’s very kinetic and (assuming you’re not just mopping up trash) requires you to keep moving. You also tend to take on groups of mobs which I always enjoy. I am getting really sick of hearing “DOUBLE KILL!” “TRIPLE KILL!” “SUPER KILL!!!!” constantly though. That got old back when Unreal Tournament did it in the last century. Actually I should check the settings to see if I can turn that off.

Character building is pretty deep and I think there my problem is a lack of understanding. My level 10 character has 6 slots on his hot bar. He potentially has I think 8 or 9 skills, but I haven’t purchased them all. I figured why spend money if I can’t slot it anyway. Then he earns Amp points which go into a skill wheel and do things like +1% critical chance or +2 assault power. Amp points feel super tweaky to me and I find it hard to care about them at this point. Finally there are ability points that let you power up your skills. Skills come in 3 trees (for my class, engineer) and I’m not entirely sure why. But I know there’s a Support tree and some things power up Support skills, but not Assault skills, so that’s part of the reason. But under Support I have robots and I’m not sure if their actions are considered support or not.

Bottom line, if I want to play this game at all seriously I need to research character development.

And then there is questing. Wildstar is old school when it comes to questing. You find a hub, take about 78 quests (slight exaggeration) that are all a derivative of ‘activate a glowy object’ or ‘kill a thing,’ then you head out into the world. None of the quests make enough of an impression for me to remember them so I just randomly run around and activate anything I see that is activate-able, and kill anything with an icon over it’s head. After a while of doing this maybe a quest gets completed and I turn it in.

Eventually the number of quests remaining gets manageable and you can start to focus what you’re doing. And finally you’ll complete a quest that sends you to the next hub where you repeat the process. Personally I get really bored of each area well before I’m sent along to the next.

More interesting are Paths, or at least my Path which is Settler. As a Settler you pick up random materials in the world and can then build vending machines that offer free buffs to anyone. Doing this both increases your Settler experience and helps other players and it’s so far the most fun aspect of Wildstar for me, though there are aspects of it that I’m finding confusing and that I’m still working out.

There are also Challenges that pop up when you’re out in the world. I hated these in beta since they were super-disruptive to me, but now I’ve learned I can restart them from my quest log. So when I first get a challenge I ignore it until I’m ready to do it, then I start again. What’s nice about Challenges is that they can be pretty Challenging. I’ve had to try some of them 3 or 4 times before beating them. (Questing so far has not been challenging aside from the issue of competing for resources with other players…I’ve died once when I tried to solo Wildstar’s version of a heroic mob.)

So there you have it. Back to level 10, pretty damned bored, and thinking I should go play Elder Scrolls Online or Watch Dogs or just read a book. I THINK there’s a lot more to Wildstar once I get past these low levels. I know both mounts and housing open up not too far past where I am. I did just unlock crafting but I’m not sure I care about that, this time out.

To be clear, a LOT of my friends are ga-ga over-the-moon-in-love with Wildstar, so my issues with it are clearly just that: MY issues with it. I’m going to try to drive through this dead zone that I’m in and get to where the good stuff happens. If I find MMO gold, I’ll send word.