Familiarity breeds contempt in the video game landscape. That’s only half-true, as preserving the fun essence of a played-out genre while bringing in established tropes from another genre can make a world of difference.
Enter the upcoming PC title Wildstar, a sci-fi themed MMO that borrows a lot from action RPGs, open-world titles and fighting games to make the most well-worned out genre elements such as combat, exploration, and story feel fun and exciting again.
After we spent hours sweating it out on the closed beta, here are the top five reasons why we’re banking on the success of this new kid on the block.
1. It’s A Fresh and Beautiful Kind of Sci-Fi
Remember the 80s Wild West/Sci-fi series BraveStarr? We bet some of you wished it was an MMO? An actual BraveStarr MMO might not be anywhere near reality, NCSoft's Wildstar would be the closest thing to a cure for your Western/Sci-Fi itch.
So on to the basics. There are two side to choose from. You can either join the space cowboys-and-pilgrim group called the Exiles, or the British Colony/religious sect type group called the Dominion. Each of the groups have their own specific races, ranging from the rabbit-eared, nature-loving Aurin to the short rodent-like, mad scientists Chua. And yes we do realise that they do bear some similarities to some of the races in the BraveStarr series. Alas there’s no way to create an overweight porcine looking avatar though.
Playing the game makes you feel like you're in a high-res digital cartoon. From tjhe Eldan ruins to a village filled with water-bending aliens that look like the Skeksis in The Dark Crystal, the stylistic art choice makes the world come alive.
Animations from the Aurin’s ears and tails to the Mecharis’ robotic gestures gel together as though the animation staff had a hand in the Disney Renaissance back in the 90s. If World of Warcraft’s simple-yet-colorful art direction can still withhold the test of time since 2004, the same can hopefully be said for Wildstar.
2. “Old” Classes Made Anew
You may have your archetype tanks and damage-per-second mages represented in Wildstar, but they’re given a pretty cool sci-fi retooling that makes the starting experience seem oddly familiar yet fresh. Each of the six classes (Warrior, Spellslinger, Engineer, Medic, Stalker, Esper) have their own special traits and resources to amplify their skills.
The Spellslinger can enter a spell surge that adds in additional magic abilities to their existing arsenal. The Engineer can build up its Volatility resource with their ranged launcher weapons to use exclusive area-affecting and heavy damage-dealing abilities. They also can go in a super-charged mode where they deal twice as much damage but receive a lot more.
There’s a class tailored for every MMO playstyle out there. The Medic or a heal-focused Spellslinger can help out that particular group lacking in the life-sustaining and buffing department. If you prefer going all-out with magic at a safe distance with an energy-stacking mechanic that lets you unleash a huge payload, the Esper is perfect for that specific blend of sniping and spellcasting.
You can also pick one of the four XP-earning paths: the soldier, the settler, the scientist and the explorer. A majority of side missions on the Nexus are open to specific paths, with each of them tailored after open world optional goals from GTA V and inFamous.
Tired of just killing things in different ways? Choose the Explorer’s path and go for some Tomb Raider-style platforming and Civilization-style map-unraveling. Do you like collecting every speck of junk you come across? Pick the Settler’s path and use those scraps to build and fix things for extra rewards.
Paths are tailored around gaming habits of a typical MMO player so that all that extra time can be used to gain more XP and coin. As far as the closed beta is concerned, there isn’t a time on the Nexus where you’ll be bored and feeling empty for faffing about.