There’s been a lot of hints at the possibility that WildStar may be transitioning into a F2P or B2P model, though there’s been no official announcement. Of course, ESO didn’t say anything about their B2P transition until long after the community was already speculating the move. So, it’s hard to say what’s going on right now.
Update: Wildstar has just announced they’re going F2P!
I put in a few hours of playtime on both Exile and Dominion sides during the WildStar beta. Back then, I concluded that the game wasn’t for me. One of the major things that kept me from playing was that I was dedicated to FFXIV as my subscription game, and couldn’t justify adding another sub (and the pressure subbed games bring).
State of Gaming
I’ve been taking a little break from FFXIV now that I’ve finished up the Main Scenario and got both my characters in a good position for the expansion. I’m still visiting daily, doing cactpot, checking on guild buffs, managing things in the guild and doing my weekly runs, but I’ve decided a little breather from constant dungeons and leveling is a good thing to help me feel more refreshed for when Heavensward arrives.
In the meantime, I saw that WildStar was offering a Mystery Box Promotion with a chance at one of three special items – two of them being a mount. And who doesn’t want a giant floating cat mount that you ride inside of? So, with hints of possible payment model conversion, the promotion, and the fact that I found a cheap $16 box copy on Ebay (no worries, it all worked) the day the promotion was announced, I decided to take the plunge.
Character Creation Conundrum
The first issue I ran up against was in character creation. I had a pretty good idea that I wanted to play an Engineer. However, on the Exile side, I was limited to Human, Granok and Mordesh races. I have no interest in Granok or Mordesh aesthetics (I tried rolling both). Not only did I not really care for any of the human females I tried to roll up, I thought it was a real shame to play a plain human when there’s all kinds of crazy things to play in the WildStar universe.
Aurin would have been my go-to race, but I didn’t like the class choices. I also did try an Aurin during beta, and I remembered not really liking the feel of their lore and society. This was odd, because I thought it would have fit my personality well. But for some reason, Aurin just grated on my nerves. So, I wasn’t going to sacrifice my choice of class with a race that was not that engaging to me.
That left me with rolling a Chua. I really like Chua. I really like that Chua can be Engineers. However, I knew before I rolled that my personality would not lend me to enjoy the Dominion side very much.
Still, I went Chua and rolled Nipp Nimble, a blue Chua Engineer. And, yes, I did get the floating cat mount (Snarfelynx), which I was really stoked about. Having a mount from level 1 made things a lot easier… I think I would have gone nuts having to run everywhere.
Why WildStar Still Isn’t For Me
So, I hopped in the game looking to give it another chance to wow me. Afterall, the last I played was beta. So that means lots have changed in a year. However, I found myself facing the same things that annoyed me with the game back then.
I actually really like the cartoony art style of WildStar. In fact, it’s one of the things that draws me to the game. So that’s not what bugs me.
I’m not sure how to best explain what I don’t like. It isn’t the art as much as it is the use of space in this game. Everything feels so claustrophobic to me. The starting tutorial had too much going on visually, and that sent my senses into overload. This was probably on purpose because WildStar is all about going overboard on everything. However, it turns me off, rather than makes me excited.
The open areas of the starter savanna were a lot better. However, the starter town again suffered from too much clutter, making it difficult for me to navigate and find anything.
Way too often did I find myself getting lost or frustrated with quest lines that didn’t do a good job of pointing me in the right direction.
An example of this: the housing introduction quest. I was super excited to unlock my house (it’s another main reason I wanted to try WildStar), but the quest was really confusing. It told me to talk to the housing guy (so I did), then use the hologram next to him to go to my floating house island. So I did. Then it told me to interact with the housing displays, which I couldn’t find anywhere on my house island. I went back to the teleporter platform (where the quest arrow sent me), tried to interact with the board and the vendor there to no luck. I even dropped the quest and picked it up again. No luck.
After Googling it and watching videos, I finally discovered the displays were back in the housing building in the main city, not on my housing island. Super confusing! Why didn’t they tell me to interact with the displays first, and then go to my house island? That would have alleviated the issue.
I also had issues with quests that required you to press the “T” button to use a tool. I discovered that quests can conflict if you accidentally pick up more than one that required you to use a tool in this way. After Googling it, I was sure I was doing the quest the right way… it just wasn’t working. Then, I decided to drop one of those “T” button quests, and what do you know… it worked.
There were a lot of other quests that had poor flow or were difficult for me to follow, but those are two examples that really stood out to me.
You knew I’d have to talk about story. That’s just how I roll.
Overall, the story, as far as I’ve experienced it up to level 14, was nothing that drew me in. I guess I’m more of a fantasy person, so space ships, exiles and empires really don’t excite me very much. I appreciated the environment and world building, but the storylines themselves fell short mostly because they were so disjointed, and there were so many NPCs and names thrown at me at once.
Unless I watched my quest journal carefully, there was no indication that what I was doing was a “main story” quest. The flow of the main story was poor, often leading me to forget characters and situations. There’s just too much going on in this game that it’s hard to focus.
When something interesting did start happening, complete with voice acting, the quest just dead-ended without any direction of where to go for the next part. I was really perplexed that they’d spend so much time building up to something that seemed exciting just to let it drop. A few levels (and hours) later, I must have picked up the follow-up quest to the one that dead-ended, but I didn’t even realize it was a continuation until I started piecing it together. By then, I’d already forgotten the names of NPCs, so it was more like “Oh, right. I remember that guy we took captive. So this is part of that story that dropped off the face of the earth four hours ago!”
Investing In My Character
I knew picking Dominion would be an issue for me, and it was. I couldn’t get into random acts of cruelty that the game wanted to pass off as zany science or part of the Dominion’s “character.” Not only did I blow a lot of things up (which was okay), but I dealt with cruelty to animal test subjects, the annihilation of a race that refused to give into Dominion subjugation, and lots of other distasteful things. On the other hand, the Exiles weren’t doing a lot of nice things, either, so I’m not sure that I would have fit any better over there.
I don’t know what it was about characters in WildStar, but I could never put myself into my character’s shoes. Games like GW2 imposes speech and voice acting on your character, but I still felt connected to the choices I made. FFXIV and The Secret World provided silent protagonists, but they still responded through facial expressions and body language in cut scenes – I could invest in them and take on their persona while I was playing.
In WildStar, I feel like I’m watching stuff happen to my Chua. He responds to NPC dialogue in fairly generic ways that were written to blanket characters of all races, and doesn’t sound anything like a Chua should. In the end, my Chua is a part of this WildStar universe, but not someone I can personally connect to. That disconnection makes the game really impersonal to me.
Lack of Information
I did figure out that I was earning abilities as I leveled up, and that I had to buy them to unlock them. But then they started giving me AMP points and ability upgrade points with no explanation that I saw. Or maybe they did try to tell me, but so much information was bombarding me that I missed it? Dunno.
On top of that, I started earning AMPs as items… and had no idea what to do with those until level 13 because the game never directly indicated these were important. I thought they might be some crafting component or something. Lucky I held on to them.
Then there’s these shields and items you can slot into weapons and stuff and all sorts of things I never got a grip on that the game never explained. I was mostly winging it.
I’m a lot better at action combat now days than when I first played WildStar beta – thanks to raiding in FFXIV. The telegraphed combat style used to really blow my mind. It’s not so bad now, and can even be exciting – at first. But it takes a toll on me over time, especially as I got higher in level and fights lasted longer. I found myself just exhausted by combat in the game… it’s the first MMO I had to put down because I needed a mental break from fighting quest mobs.
I did really enjoy my Engineer a lot. I don’t regret my choice of class at all. I just can’t maintain that kind constant action combat for long periods of time.
Along that same line… I can’t stand all the constant interruptions in the WildStar communication system. I like that you can use the communicator to turn quests in rather than running back to the NPC. I like the idea that quests can start organically by entering a specific area (NPCs contact you out of the blue to offer you a quest). I don’t like when that stupid communicator starts bombarding me with text that I want to read in the middle of battles or unopportune times… which is almost always when the communicator pops up.
It just jars me out of the experience and frazzles my nerves… because I’m trying to stay alive during one of the exhausting action combat battles and this thing is popping up… ringing… or throwing boxes of text over my screen. Then, I miss half of what’s said since it doesn’t appear to be printed out in my text box…
But then, all text in WildStar moves much, much faster than I can actually read. And that’s another problem for me cuz I actually… you know… want to read the text!
I came to WildStar with the idea that I was going to try it out and give it more of a chance than I did in last year’s beta. I didn’t come to look for a community yet (which is why I didn’t announce my intention to play). I wanted a pure solo experience where I could mess around uninterrupted… aside from the blasted communicator, of course.
I rolled on the PVE server, naturally, which is the higher pop server of the two. I rolled Dominion, which is the lower pop faction. Still yet, the number of other players I saw in the intro zone in the 15 hours I played I could probably count on two hands. It was a stark difference from games like FFXIV and GW2 where there are players everywhere, even in starting towns and zones.
Yeah, I know I should have /joinedwhateverchatchannel… but I wasn’t really there to look for people. It’s just that I couldn’t help but notice I was pretty much alone in the world 98% of the time.
Did I… Actually… Like Anything?
I know up until now, I’ve focused on all the things that bugged me. This wasn’t supposed to be a WildStar bashing post. So I’ll note things I did like.
- Art Style – Mentioned this before.
- Engineer Class – I really liked this class, despite the combat, and felt pretty powerful with it. Wish my bots behaved better, though.
- Settler Path – I tried the other two paths during beta, and this one is my favorite. I loved building stuff and setting up buffs. I was confused about how I was supposed to level it, though.
- Sense of Humor – For the most part, I was mildly amused by the game. But sometimes, it was LOL funny.
- World Building – I can sense that there’s a lot of lore and world building behind this game. I can feel that the dev team genuinely loves the world of Nexus. When I did have time to listen to the lore cubes, I was always interested in what they had to say. I just wish everything else made sense.
- Housing – I like what I see overall in housing and got really excited when I realized I could earn housing add-ons from finishing challenges.
- Ship Challenge Instances – Don’t remember the exact name for these. I like that they scaled up depending on the number of people in your group. The one I tried was pretty fun.
- No Forced Dungeons – A big plus to me since I’d probably not run them anyhow. XD
- Snarfelynx – I’m riding inside of a big floating kitty, and I like it.
I don’t regret trying WildStar again and giving it another chance to capture me. But like when I played it in beta, it just didn’t do it.
I’m sure this game is great for folks who want that quirky sci-fi feel. Those who love action combat and don’t mind the fast pace of the game probably enjoy the things that exhaust me. I don’t think that it’s a bad game by any means, but it’s just not the game for me for so many different reasons.
I’ve decided to put WildStar down for now because I have a ton of single player games I want to work on during my FFXIV lull. I might revisit it again sometime if the game does change payment model. Until then, I’ll leave my Chua and Snarfelynx happily chasing each other on my floating house island.