Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wildstar Beta Impressions: Tutorial and Combat

Previously, I’ve talked about Wildstar’s classes, races, and character creation. Next let’s talk about those first few levels. Your first three levels (or so) serve as a tutorial and introduction to the game.


One of the strong points is that it does a good job of grounding you in the culture of your chosen faction. On the Exile ship, everything is broken down and falling apart. She really is on her last legs. On the Dominion ship, everything is pristine and well oiled.

 The Exile quest line has you doing a rescue mission, while the Dominion quest line has you first torturing suspected Exile sympathizers and then basically declaring that the Dominion Emperor is a god. The Exiles have you fight off a Dominion attack, while the Dominion has you kill simulated Exiles.

Both experiences do a good job introducing the lore of the various races, but by this point you’ve already chosen a race. I guess since you are less than an hour in, rerolling isn’t a huge deal if you decide you like one of the other races better.

Both sides also have you gather a bit of lore and teach you how to use the datacrons and lore comics. Datacrons are short voice over reveals while the lore comics have to found piecemeal and then put together. Once you unlock them all, you get a long block of text full of lore goodies.

It demonstrates a defining feature of Wildstar which I’m calling ‘play the way you want.’ If you aren’t into lore, and get bored reading pages of text, you can go after just the main pieces of lore with the voice over datacrons and the short quest text. If you are a lore junky, then you can dig deeper, search out the comics and get even more lore.

Jump and Duck, I mean Aim and Dodge

If you are familiar with MMOs, much of the tutorial will seem trivial to you, however; the big takeaway from those first few levels is learning about Wildstar’s telegraph based combat. I call it Aim and Dodge. This isn't tab targeting, although you can use tab to select and enemy. But you don't have to have an enemy selected to damage them.

Nearly every ability in Wildstar paints a telegraph on the ground. Blue telegraphs are yours. You have to move your telegraph so it overlays an enemy for the ability to hit. If your telegraph isn't over an enemy, you cast your spell, put it on cooldown, but you won't do any damage. It's a little bit like some spells in other games where you get a graphic to put on the ground (Glyphed Concencrate or Orbital Strike).

Red telegraphs are the enemies. You don’t want to stand in them. It hurts.

Green telegraphs are heals. You have to try to target your friends to get them healed. 

Let me show you:

When I first heard about aiming and dodging, I was a little nervous about it. I didn’t think I would like it. I’ve got years of good ole MMO tab targeting experience.

Then I played it.

It was the most fun I’ve had with MMO combat. I felt more connected to the my character and the game world than I ever had. Maybe after a hundred hours it will get blasé, but for the first twenty levels or so, it never did.

Aim and Dodge is what sets Wildstar apart for me. It’s the one feature that I missed the most when Beta ended and I had to go back to SWTOR. Regular MMO combat felt slow and frustrating after playing Wildstar.

After the opening levels, you take a shuttle down to the planet and begin your adventures in earnest.

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