Carbine Studios, the developer behind the MMO Wildstar has unfortunately undergone a number of layoffs.
Most players with previous experience in MMORPGs have felt cheated by a particular title at some point. Often, new MMOs make a strong showing in one facet of the gameplay or another, but it’s a delicate balancing act to offer something for everyone with a fresh MMO, while offering enough of any one thing to hold the interest of players who may be coming in from other games and bringing their high expectations with them. Far too many big name MMOs in recent memory have attempted to address minor flaws within established giants like World of Warcraft, while missing the larger picture and leaving their players feeling the dread of an empty or uninspired game world.
WildStar comes to the table with some of the most delightfully beautiful visuals I’ve ever seen in an MMO. The stylized art is simply stunning, and feels like it perfectly embodies the tones and themes that the story sets out for the player. Stylized graphics also have the critical benefit of aging well. The colour palette ranges from vibrant and inviting to expressively grim, all with a cartoonish veneer. It’s silly, without being childish, and stylish, without being boring. The environment also pulls off the clever trick of being its own mechanism for storytelling. As players progress through the story, the world shows signs of the events that are unfolding. Different zones in the game aren’t just about different flavour and a change of scenery, but instead reflect the passing of time and different stages of colonization on the world of Nexus.
While on the topic of clever tricks, WildStar‘s Path system, one that sees players choosing to specialize as a Scientist, Explorer, Settler or Soldier, gently nudges players in the direction of extra tidbits of information, affording juicy morsels of lore about the Nexus, the game’s world. Paths are the first of the game’s time sinks, but they offer practical benefits as well, ranging from unlockable group summons, to the creation of buff stations that benefit anyone who visits them. With the exception of the explorer, which is aimed at players who play form a completionist perspective of seeking out every possible nook and cranny, the paths can easily be levelled up through regular progression, never taking you too far from the action, but leading you just far enough to feel like whatever you stumble upon is a reward.
As for WildStar‘s combat, it’s important to note that none of it is simple right-click auto-attacking. Every attack and every heal lays a “telegraph” on the ground, showing a zone that it will affect. These can be moved and manipulated by positioning your character during the casting, right up until the moment your ability connects. As a result, every bit of combat, even with the simplest of trash mobs, is both engaging and dangerous. Crucially, though, unlike other games that have attempted this, WildStar does so in an incredibly responsive, and beautifully intuitive fashion that actually works. In that regard, WildStar feels like the thinking man’s (or woman’s) MMO and it doesn’t take long for the system to become second nature in PvE content.
WildStar offers an excellent assortment of group content to its players, ranging from the traditional dungeons to the game’s interesting choose-your-own Adventures that bring some much needed replayability to help counter the tedium of traditional group content. Both Adventures and dungeons also reward bonus loot at the end to all participants based on a rating system that evaluates time taken, bonus objectives completed, and number of deaths incurred, which adds yet another layer of challenge and replayability. At the other end of the spectrum, the Raids in WildStar are made for 40 players, and while this does offer a truly end-game experience, easily grabbing the attention of classic WoW players, they are also among the games more restrictive content, as anyone who has tried organizing 40 players will no doubt tell you that it’s rarely easy. This falls in line with WildStar‘s overall more challenging appeal, though, as simply levelling from a fresh character to the cap of 50 is no easy task, often requiring players to more thoroughly explore the options available to their class in order to tackle the increasing difficulty as they rise in level. All of this means that even small feats in WildStar turn out to be deeply rewarding, which is yet another clever trick to WildStar‘s credit.
As for structured PvP, two battleground-style options are on offer. One is a single-flag capture the flag style setup with the ability to steal from the enemy’s base. The other is an advancing attack and defend style mode, with satellite control points to speed up capture of main bases. Both are fresh takes on familiar game modes, and are frantic and chaotic at early levels when the telegraph system is still new, and varied and strategic at the higher levels as players start to master their class. The game also offers the PvP equivalent to Raids in what it calls “Warplots.” These are massive 40v40 undertakings in which teams build and customize their base using items both purchased or created through the in-game crafting systems , and lay siege to that of their enemy.
And now we come to what are perhaps the most important elements in any MMO; the customization and the time sinks. On both a micro and a macro level, WildStar is all about owning the experience. Even the vanilla user interface can be independently scaled, moved and even disabled as the user sees fit. The crafting in the game offers some very fresh methods of progressing as well, opting for a branching tech tree, rather than level-based unlocks that a player must grind. In addition, every item that a player creates has his or her personal touch imparted upon it, ranging from individual stat-point allocation on gear, to tweaking a cooking recipe with additional spices to discover new benefits from the resulting food. For the truly dedicated, though, the game’s Architect tradeskill will see players creating hundreds of different possible items for use in both the giant Warplots PvP mode, as well as Player Housing. This is where WildStar stands out from the pack, as the housing is both decorative and functional. Players can have hundreds of placed decorations at a time, in addition to larger functional sections called Plugs. Plugs a pre-fab kits that that have the added benefit of a teleport to other zones, and numerous challenge event locations that reward players with items, decorations, gear dye and more. There are even plugs that generate the game’s resource nodes. Some of these can be purchased, but most of them will be rewarded by the game’s other great time sink, the challenges. These range from mini kill-count feats, to gather-fests, to hilarious item-use events and typically only last a couple minutes. Once completed, a challenge presents the player with a series of rewards to choose from and assigns a weight to their chance of receiving their choice based on their performance.
In a time when we see a decline in subscription-based games, and a rise in quality free-to-play titles, WildStar strikes a happy medium. An MMO is an incredibly expensive thing to maintain, and gating content in a F2P title is often regarded as an underhanded method of solving this issue. WildStar offers a $15 monthly fee, but unlike most subscription-based titles, it also offers the option to purchase what it calls C.R.E.D.D.. The primary function of C.R.E.D.D. is two-fold, allowing players to trade in-game currency for play time, should they have an excess of platinum. Perhaps more importantly, though, it eliminates the viability of third-party gold farming, as any player looking to make some quick in-game money can purchase a C.R.E.D.D. directly from Carbine and sell it for platinum using the game’s market exchange. This allows players with an excess of time or resources to pay for the game by playing while, critically, keeping the money going back to the developers where it belongs and will hopefully keep WildStar up and running for a long time.
WildStar is a brilliantly satisfying experience. Everything about the game is designed to be rewarding, from the sound of the reward selection, to how enemies physically explode in a shower of loot when slain, or the fact that simply progressing through the game requires you to understand your class and do more than simply mash buttons to survive. Paired with the wonderfully rich story and environments, beautiful art style and colours, and outrageous sense of humour, WildStar feels from the very first moment like it was all designed to make you happy. While it’s had its teething problems as almost any game has, Carbine’s vigilance in squashing bugs, balancing classes, wrangling exploits, banning hackers, and even adding two entirely new zones within its first month shows a dedication and a passion that gives me real hope for the game’s future. Like everything in life, it’s not perfect, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t close.
Addons are contagious, and we have the best ones to download for your next WildStar adventure. Whether you’re easing your game-playing quality of life, shoring up your list of guild leader demands, or trying to sneakily gain an advantage, they’re probably going to find their way into your WildStar existence. Whatever your aim, this list will provide the best addons you can download for a top-notch romp.
Need a little help getting these to work? The simplest method might be to install Curse’s client, then hit the “Install via Curse Client” button at the top right of each of the following links. If you’d prefer the manual touch, you can download each individually and extract them into their install location at “%appdata%/ncsoft/wildstar/addons/”. You may need to create and rename a new folder by hand.
If your addon button is greyed out or otherwise not working, you might have forgotten to unzip them or emptied the contents of the downloaded folder into the /addon/ directory. It should look like /addons/MyAwesomeAddon/Awesome.lua”.
Probably the most common script used to track each player’s damage output over time. Be careful about trying to top the charts, though: it tracks player deaths too!
Slices the default single-line health and shield gauge into two separate bars. If you’ve played any other game that involves energy shields, its capacity was probably presented Biji style.
Most of you are going to be hauling around more than one set of gear. MrFancyPants endeavors to make the swapping process far easier by allowing the creation of custom sets and automatically swapping everything involved when you’d like a change. This can be tied to changes of limited action sets as well!
Auto-sell buttons for useless bits and baubles are becoming commonplace. Junkit brings WildStar into line with other modern role-playing games and lets you set custom quality thresholds for easily selling non-junk too.
AMPs can be a pain to track down. New players may not even have a clue. This addon will point the way to nearby salesmen who might peddle in the buggers, elucidate how to unlock others, and shout useful comments like “you’ve already got this AMP, dummy” at you. In so many words.
Making life easier for the men and women keeping us on our feet, Heal Buddy points healers toward our torn and bleeding hides. Any nearby friend with a chip in their health bar will enjoy a nice, obvious indicator calling attention to them.
Had enough Simon or would rather not mash s’more of that F key? TapThat will take care of those for you. It will not, however, break you out of crowd control effects. Be careful messing with combat advantages if you want to avoid developer wrath.
If the entity you’re interested is within render distance, Ayth_Quest slaps a great big flashing neon sign on them. Or something similar. The user defines what they’d like the addon to pay attention to – for example, slaughter challenge targets.
Interested in playing the market? Staying on top of natural price fluctuations is an essential part of exploitation, and CommodityStats will poll and graph the numbers as they change.
For when you’d like to know when those specific, important effects are present. Got an ability that can only be used after a critical hit? AuraMastery makes it obvious. Does this boss have a status that might render you properly squished if you miss it? AuraMastery makes it obvious.
Those MMOs are numbers games, don’tcha know. WildStar’s numbers are a bit odd, what with milestone bonuses, weird names, and different stats achieving the same thing. EtoolTip will pop whichever of these are relevant onto your equipment mouseover tooltips and crunches multiples of the same bonus together to make gear selection easy and understandable.
Are you and your buddies absently skittering about and splitting up when you ought to be playing together? You might be surprised how large an effect some simple arrows pointing out the distance between players might be. Alternatively, you could view this addon as keeping closer tabs on the children if they’re getting themselves into too much trouble.
This one does away with the fancy shmancy tree-style quest menu and reverts it to something more familiar to massively multiplayer veterans.
Simple, basic metric of how desperately that big nasty your group is fighting wants to cave your face in. If you’d like, it’ll blow a whistle when a monster’s about to blow out your candle.
The leading way of turning your game into an Excel spreadsheet or, perhaps more accurately, displaying the state of your entire raid’s health in an orderly format. Healers will likely make the most use of Grid, but it’s a fine way to check the group at a glance for others as well.
Replaces a bunch of default interface elements like your health bar with simplified versions. These can be dragged and resized like regular ol’ Windows windows. It appears that no actual tuberous crops are involved.