WildStar: Joining in the F2P Crowd

This will be the third time I’ve tried WildStar, and they always say the third time is the charm, right?

The first time was during beta, and the game just didn’t speak to me back then. However, WildStar was a different game targeting a different audience and had a long way to grow before it could capture me for many reasons.

Back in April, I picked up a cheap box copy because I had a hunch during its box promotion that it was going to make a transition to either B2P or F2P, though it wasn’t confirmed then. I played a Chua to level 14, checking out all the changes in the game since launch. I concluded that with FFXIV’s expansion coming out and a number of sticking points WildStar still had with me, I still couldn’t justify a subscription at that point.

Things Change

So, now I’m back for the third time with the coming of the F2P transition. This was something I’d planned to do since they finally confirmed the change, though I don’t at all regret the fact I purchased a box copy before the switch – I ended up getting some neat cosmetics, pets and a mount out of it. Not to mention more “free” character slots than a F2P account would have. Character slots always make me happy.

I’ve been keeping up with the information that the W* team has released over the past few months. I’ve liked what I heard, especially where they chose to spend some time fleshing out the story elements and making questing smoother for a new player. This was one of the things that bugged me most about previous playthroughs – I have the feeling that there’s a good story hiding somewhere in the depths of Nexus, but the game never let me sink my teeth into it early on. If this becomes more of a focus, there’s a much higher chance of engaging me from the start.

F2P Launch Experience

I saw that the servers were being slammed on F2P launch day, with lots of queues and issues rolling characters. So I decided to skip my after work errands and come straight home to try to roll a new Exile character before everyone else in the world got home from work.

This… was a fail plan. I got home and the servers were down for maintenance. The message said only 30 mins, but then it got extended a while more. I decided to follow the WildStar Operations Twitter account on my phone so I got the updates as they happened. This worked well, and I was alerted the moment they brought the servers up again.

I rushed in and rolled my new little Aurin Esper on the NA PvE server. I’m still not totally won over by Aurin, but I do like the way they move, and I get to have mouse ears, so it’s as close to a ratonga as I can get in this game. I’m also not sure if Esper will be for me, since I’m usually more of a melee DPS class, but class options for Aurin are pretty restricted (which I didn’t like).

I was dumb and claimed my special Badlands Velocirex mount on the character before testing the class out, so I’m dedicating myself to play her. I read that Esper is a pretty good solo class that really picks up after level 24. I’m in no rush to level or worry about group content, though, as I’m just here to casually explore.

I was able to get into the game without issues and connect with the Black Dagger Society guild, which was introduced by my blogging friend Chestnut. Thank you!  They seem like fun folks, so I’m happy to join up and have the feeling of other people hanging around as I’m working through my noob levels. 🙂

All About the Story

I did roll an Exile during beta, so I can make some comparisons with the beginning experience. They certainly have put up front the concept that there was some cool ancient race that was doing mysterious things on Nexus for mysterious reasons. I got hints of this when I played on my Chua back in April, but this time around, they’ve really put this in front of me.

This is a much more interesting story (IMHO) than the whole Exile/Dominion struggle. While I think this struggle is important, it didn’t work (for me) to be the main and only focus of the early story. It was hard to be 100% sympathetic to either side. I always felt that it was setting up a transition for your character to question this whole war… because there must be something bigger to this fictional universe.

Don’t tell me if I’m right. But if I’m wrong, I’ll be disappointed at the lost story opportunity.

Anyhow, I’m more curious about Nexus this time around. I still don’t give a flip for the whole Exile/Dominion thing, though. Of course, I only got to level 5-ish last night due to massive lag and numerous server restarts (to fix the lag). So it’s still way too early to judge.

The tutorial did get me in and out to Nexus pretty quickly. I appreciate that they’ve abbreviated the experience and made it more user friendly overall. I almost feel it may have been a bit too disjointed, however, as they were obviously trying to shove a lot of content in a quick little package. But I won’t be too picky.

I will say that I feel more sympathetic towards the Exiles than I did in the past. They did start this thing where I was getting directed between a bunch of new NPCs once I got to Nexus, which gets overwhelming, so I was glad when they brought Deadeye back in as a familiar grounding face. At this point, he’s the only NPC I really know, so hopefully they’ll keep him around for future development.

I also chose to head to the Northern Wilds as my starting area since I’m pretty sure I was herded into the Grove back when I played this in beta. I have an uncanny ability to remember starting zones in MMOs, so I wanted to be sure that it was 100% new to me so that I wasn’t constantly trying to compare this to a previous experience. I really like that they now offer a choice… especially because during beta, Syn and I were separated from playing with each other simply because we chose different races. 🙁

Hopefully they’ll get the servers more stable in the next few days. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to invest in W* but I certainly plan to blog my experiences and opinions on the F2P launch.