We’re less than a month away from the most anticipated MMORPG launch since Guild Wars 2.
As I wrote earlier this year, WildStar game developer Carbine has thoughtfully diverged from traditional combat mechanics. They’ve been savvy about taking the community through the walk of their design thinking in a series of Dev Speak videos on YouTube.
WildStar is now in Open Beta, so anyone can download the game and play. People have been asking me on social media about my Beta experience. The answer is that it’s been intentionally short.
There are multiple reasons:
- I’ve been really busy IRL. My priorities are work, spending time with my wife, kickboxing, gaming, and when I have time, blogging about gaming
- I’ve been disappointed with the majority of MMORPGs I’ve played since 2008. This is not a new theme for me nor for many of you. I have spent hundreds of hours playing games in Beta; the list includes: Warhammer Online (WAR), Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR), and Guild Wars 2 (GW2). All of these games came up short in the eyes of the community and what I was looking for personally after they launched. I’m careful to not get my expectations up too high nor to over-invest in Beta. If a game doesn’t grip me within the first hour (e.g. Age of Wushu, Elder Scrolls Online) or lack sufficient polish (e.g. WildStar back in February Beta), I wait til it launches. Or I skip it entirely, as I did with Neverwinter, Final Fantasy XIV, and based on your feedback ESO. I don’t want to play a game because it’s new. I want to play a game because it’s good
- I’ve finally found one MMO that has skill-based combat: World of Tanks (WoT). WoT is not an MMORPG, and I do miss having character(s) to build up and relate to. That being said, WoT is the highest skill PVP I’ve ever experienced: positioning matters, spotting matters, aiming matters, flanking matters, awareness matters, terrain matters, etc, and there is no way to heal your HP. I’m not into pure FPS games because I find them to lack realism and they’re heavily twitch-based, whereas WoT is a nice mix of twitch and tactics. This isn’t to say WoT is perfect – I think the game has balance issues and gold ammo trivializes dealing damage – but I’ve found it challenging and enjoyable, and I’m working my way towards account-level Unicum (top 1% of players)
- The gaming community has greatly evolved in terms of the content it produces. I’ve been writing gaming guides since 2005 and making narrated videos since 2008. When I started publishing my narrated videos in 2008, it was something that very few people were doing. Most PVP videos back then were instagib videos with music, not narrated commentary like my videos. Thankfully, there are many thousands of gamers who are cranking out videos and guides about upcoming games, so there is no lack of content on games
I am looking forward to WildStar. As with RIFT, I’ll be going into launch basically knowing very little about the game.
I leveled 3 classes to about 6-7 in WildStar (in order): Medic, Warrior, and Stalker. Right now I’m leaning towards Warrior or Stalker, as both classes are MDPS, and in PVP this means I’ll have the opportunity to circle-strafe keyboard turners and in PVE I’ll be able to tank, which has always been the PVE role I enjoy most.
Not that interested at this point. I’ve gone through three betas. I’ve gotten up to level 15 in this beta, but it’s getting harder and harder to stay with the game. However, that has to do with a really dragging PVE experience with brief moments of cool/fun. I imagine you are more interested in the PVP side of things.
It plays too much like a MOBA for my tastes. Despite the 3d camera, the combat plays out as though you’re on a flat plane. The Y axis does not come into play much. For example, the only Battleground in the beta has two floors. If you see someone below you on the bottom floor, you can not shoot down upon them from up top. This is a weird step backwards in MMO combat. It exists because everything is telegraphs. Attacks fly straight forward.
And dear lord all the telegraphs. You end up playing the dance floor moreso than your opponent. Feels like a game of don’t step in the hot lava.
The game also includes hidden dice rolls for hit checks with deflect and strikethrough stats. Again, this is a step backwards. Why do you have these hidden dice rolls in action combat? You should be able to see what will hit or miss and be rewarded for it. You shouldn’t line up your attack just right, hit a moving foe and see “deflect” because the game’s lottery balls didn’t fall your way.
There is also CC Resilience stats, PVP Offense and PVP defense stats. These always lead to trouble.You are starting out with gear imbalance and then creating a stat to create a new balance war. There’s just so much in the game that is a holdover from the previous gen of MMOs that I continually get let down by the choices the game makes.
It’s too bad, because some of the PVE stuff is fun, and the combat is good despite being disco-floor flat, and I think they did a good job with class design. (Though point builders and point consumers seems to be the playstyle of every class.)
I’ve just become accustomed to a WYSIWYG sort of PVP with Guild Wars 2. I can trust what I see in that game to deal with situations. I won’t ever worry about some statistical gear check failing me. If I see my character hit, then the character will hit.
Yes, it’s a step backwards.
It’s not fair to RDPS or healers trying to target players above/below them.
Yes, that is something that I kind of expected as well. World of Telegraphs.
This is news to me.
I was unaware that there were passive checks, as there typically are in non-telegraph based MMORPGs.
I wish WS didn’t work like that. If I correctly aim to hit or CC you, the attack should land. Having passive stats makes the game too stats-focused instead of skill-focused.
No game IMO has really figured out how to implement PVP stats in such a way where there isn’t a tedious grind and/or where stats have a disproportionate role in determining outcomes. Well, except for GW2’s Structured PVP.
To quote Tom Cruise from Days of Thunder, I want to lose to a better driver not a better car.
A lot of players are fine with stats-based grinds because it’s what they know and they can’t think of the freedom of having PVP not based on stats.
I heard many of your concerns echoed by a guildee named Sujitsu, and he and I tend to appreciate the same things in games. We want games to be meaningfully challenging. We want PVP to be based on skill and not who has the best gear.
I agree with that sentiment. Games or MMORPGS like WoW and some of the other MMOs, which have the gear grinds for 50% resilience, or whatever stat is popular, are totally mind-numbing. I enjoy PvP and would like to see more skill based combat opposed to stat based models. Personally, I don’t have the time to join a 25 or 50 man group wait 2 hours for a ready check, wipe and repeat to get top end gear; the same goes for the arena based model. It would be nice to have some stats, but not have the gear completely dependent on X number of this or that. Even better have character based stats, that level up based on the type of character you play. Ex: Warriors get more Strength and toughness, Hunters get more Hit and Crit, etc, etc.
I agree, in most games the grind is pretty tedious.
Sadly there are a lot of players who need the grind to feel a sense of progression.
I’m more for horizontal systems, competitive ladders, and stat tracking.
There is a group of people who do want gear progression in their PVP. There’s also a group who want world PvP where they kill lower level players. I’ve just never been a fan of either mode of play. I think people tend to lump all PVPers together, but there’s rather different types that don’t mesh together.
I can’t quite figure out Wildstar’s hit mechanics, at least not fully. As for vertical differences, telegraphed attacks will fly up ramps and hit targets up a ramp or down a ramp in front of you, but won’t go down to lower areas or pass vertical barriers. There seems to be some sort of pathing mechanic for whether you can hit a target higher or lower than you. However, the pathing doesn’t include barriers such as trees or rocks, as attacks will hit targets on the other side of trees or rocks. Bigger barriers will block the attacks.
On the other hand, I have been doing the PVE adventures as a Healer and there is a section where you ride a hover-train. Most of my group failed to get on top of the train and ran below it. I was still able to heal them from atop the train as long as they were in the AoE area of the heal, even though they were below me.
However, I could not do the same in PvP areas with vertical differences. So it’s kind of odd.
If I could ask a Wildstar dev a question, it certainly would be why they included old dice-roll mechanics in an action combat game. I always felt those mechanics were there because the game itself could not replicate action combat. That goes all the way back to pen & paper RPGs. You are simulating combat with numerical values and randomly generated numbers because your tools are a piece of paper, a pencil, some die and your imagination.
Have you tried Galactic Starfighter for SWTOR? It plays A LOT like World of Tanks, including XP gains, daily bonus, etc. Everything you mentioned about WoT is in GSF. There’s also no premium ammo!
No, but I doubt that GS has the kind of depth that WoT has.
Is there PVP combat?
Are there measurable stats to track your progress, and that of others?
Are there different classes of starfighters, with many dozens of starfighters to choose from?
Are all the tactical factors I mentioned above *really* implemented in GS? I mean armor, physics, angling, terrain, spotting and view mechanics, etc.
Yes to almost all of that. It is solely PvP combat. You can track all kinds of stats like WoT. Average damage, assists, kills, hit accuracy, etc. Per game, per ship, and overall. They added a really nice element to the UI for it. Come 2.8 they will have 4 ship roles, with 3 ship types each. Exactly one dozen, but its only been out 6 months. Each ship has multiple components with 3-4 options per. There are generally one or two acceptable builds, but each patch so far has tried to improve the viability of some less desirable components.
There is armor, shields, armor pen, shield pen. Blasters, missiles, EMP, siesmic, and Ion damage. The view/communication system works exactly like WoT. There are asteroids and satellites to fly around, capital ship superstructures, and so on. I use these terrain elements quite a bit to kill other players, or dodge around them.
No spotting mechanics because there are no artillery class ships. The gunship class is pretty close, and really thrives on precision aiming. There are tracking penalties for moving to the edge of your firing arc…yeah, it’s a lot like WoT. The first few games I played it, I instantly recognized the playstyle.
I played GS when it first released and unless they changed it completely, stat tracking is about the only thing that the two games have in common. It was a super arcade flight game with nothing special to offer. Frankly I’d go back to Rogue Squadron on the N64 before booting up Swtor on the basis of playing GS.
Have you actually played both games? The similarities extend way beyond stat tracking (which wasn’t around when you tried the game). You’re grossly exaggerating with your N64 reference.
I didn’t mean to derail the conversation, was just curious if Taugrim had tried GSF.
I think Sujitsu’s point is that it’s hard to compare a game where there is one chunk of content in a much bigger game (e.g. GSF in SWTOR), versus a game where that type of content *is* the core of the game (e.g. WoT).
Have you played WoT? I’d be curious to hear what you think of it.
I’ve played WoT since before SWTOR was around. Great game, just couldn’t find the right group to play with. I stopped just as WvW S1 started in GW2 last year.
I enjoyed GSF during early access but dropped it, partially just because I have no faith in Bioware to balance anything. How have Bombers worked out?
Always enjoy your posts btw, Taugrim.
Bombers have worked out pretty well. They drive the scout pilots nuts. Rage like you wouldn’t believe. The balance is really good right now. Surprisingly good. They haven’t really messed with balance a lot yet for the next patch, so we’ll see how things go I guess.
Definitely glad to hear you keeping an eye out for WildStar Taugrim. Your PvP videos, and presence in the MMO community in general, was always enjoyable.
Personally I’m pretty stoked for WildStar myself and have been doing a ton of coverage on it for Zam.com.
( If you have any questions about any aspect of the game, feel free to ask! I’d be happy to answer.)
The game has a ton of content, and I’d say it’s easily the only MMO ever to launch with as much content as they have going on. From following the game for a few years now at this point, I’d say it’s definitely been picking up traction, and it’s well deserved in my opinion. It’s still a new IP however, so they do have a ways to go as far as spreading the word is concerned. But if I may take a quote from one of my Jeremy Gaffney interviews:
“Good games sell, and well-marketed crap games die.”
So I think as long as Carbine sticks to their guns and their philosophies so far, then they’ll be successful with WildStar. According to Jeremy Gaffney, they already have pre-production finished on the next 16 updates post launch(they teased some of it during their 6 hour livestream on Friday). So with their goal of dropping big content updates each month, that’s about a year and a half’s worth of stuff to do not only post launch, but at endgame. Which I think is huge for a MMO’s success.
With all that being said though, it’s definitely important to set expectations. At the end of the day WildStar is a MMO for players who like MMOs I feel. They have traditional questing, mixed in with some dynamic events in certain zones, and it’s a heavy gear progression based game.
I think one of the most important things you can do if you’re a new player, is to read absolutely every thing that comes up as far as tutorial dialogue, level-up unlocks etc. Or even just opening up the different UI tabs and see what menus they have to offer. With there being so much content in the game, it can definitely be easy to miss things. It’s very common from new players I’ve seen in beta. On that note, I’d definitely make sure you check out the devspeas, the raiding video will be out Tuesday, and they’ve released a few PvP devspeaks as well.
All of the content the game will have at launch, is testable in beta currently, except for the solo-player story instances. But you gain access to certain features as you level up, closer to World of Warcraft’s model and not Guild Wars 2.
And not to bash the gentlemen who posted about PvP above me or anything, but the game is definitely a gear progression based game in both PvE and PvP and they don’t hide that fact. There are few different stats for PVP and PVE, and there are more traditional RPG combat stats like “deflect”, which is essentially “block chance” in other games. It’s definitely possible that not everyone will be a fan of that, but personally I don’t think it takes away from the combat experience at all. Mixing the telegraph system in, I think WildStar combines the best parts of WoW and Guild Wars 2, especially when PvPing with more organized groups at level 50.
While leveling In PvP they do use a rallying system to boost up your gear and stats with the highest level in your PvP bracket(similar to SWTORs leveling PvP). Once you’re at max level, the game uses a combination of the League of Legends elo system and your gearscore to match you with players of equal strength. And if you’re a player who likes mixing it up with different PvP types, then the game will have 2 battlegrounds at launch(they teased the 3rd one already being worked on), 2v2, 3v3 and 5v5 Arenas, and Warplots, which are the 40v40 fortress building PvP modes. Warplots use some of the same systems as housing in order to allow teams to build their own fortress and pit it against another team’s fortress.
But in any case, I hope you enjoy the game! While I do enjoy PvP I’m definitely looking forward to progression raiding again with my guild, so I hope to see you in a few dungeons tanking!
That sounds great, but what does “pre-production finished on the next 16 updates” actually mean?
The game I played in February did not feel ready to launch, too many FPS issues, quest bugs, client crashes. I’d rather a game get to a polished launch, then invest in a lot of stuff that is coming later. First impressions count. I’ll never forget how fast WAR hemorrhaged subs in the first 3 months.
I imagine pre-production means initial concepting and design of content, but my guess is that that content hasn’t been play-tested thoroughly yet.
When I read things like this, in 2014, it makes me feel that we haven’t progressed much beyond 2007 / WoW TBC.
I have a much lower tolerance for gear progression than I used to. If it’s 80% work and 20% fun (which is how I describe WoW’s TBC xpac), I’m not doing it.
Thanks for the advice.
I will do so at launch.
I totally agree with Corey. I’ve been playing Wildstar beta on and off (also ESO to make a comparison). Wildstar seems to keep me engaged and it is fun. ESO was not very engaging and just didn’t have what I wanted.
Unless they have changed the gunslinger since closed beta (Feb) it was a very mobile ranged DPS. You should check that class out if you were looking for mobile ranged dps, who can also heal if needed.
Wildstar was interesting when I first started playing it in the closed beta but it had some performance issues that helped me back away from it; I didn’t want to get burnt out on it before it officially launches.
As far as the game retaining and audience I was kind of on the fence about it, but we will just have to wait and see.
I think the next mmo that I will have a major interest in will be Camelot Unchained.
Yes, I just read Lewis B’s nice guide on Spellslinger, fits what you described:
Yes, I get crappy FPS with WildStar.
Folks tweeted me this Reddit thread that has helped some people with improving FPS:
Now that the server lists are out and headstart is upon us, have you decided on a server you’re leaning toward?
Hopefully you’ll be able to get in.
The PVP servers are jam packed!
Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be playing Wildstar at launch. I’m still getting mostly the same framerate issues in open beta that I was seeing in closed beta earlier this year. It’s a bummer, as Wildstar was my most anticipated game this year and I love many other things about it. But 10-15 fps just doesn’t justify $10-15 per month. Granted, my machine isn’t the newest and shiniest, but I don’t seem to be the only person with this problem. And what’s really odd is that changing the graphics settings seem to have no real effect at all. The only thing that does is downgrading the render resolution. Having that on its lowest setting can get my fps into the 30’s, but you’re essentially playing the game through smoked glass at that point. Setting everything else as low as possible, but bringing the render resolution back up to normal dumps my fps back to 10-15 again.
So, unless I get new hardware, Carbine fixes the issue or the game goes free to play, I’ll be passing on Wildstar, which really kinda sucks. :\
I’m in the same boat as you.
My gaming laptop is 2.5 year old, but I play other games such as GW2 and WoT fine on it. Not so with WS.
I’ll probably order a new machine sometime this year, but playing with a low framerate affects the experience.
I’m worried that if I play wildstar I am going to be left with the feeling, “I’ve played this game before.” I have yet to see anything that says next generation MMOrpg. It might be the best MMO ever, but that won’t be enough for me.
How much time did you spend in WS Beta?
If it doesn’t work out, we can always keep platooning in WoT.
I watched your bro’s YOLO pancaking of that T54E1 with his E-75. Freaking hilarious…
I haven’t tried WS Beta. Talked to Sujitsu about it and he had positive things to say about it, but also underwhelming things to say about it. So I’m going to wait until it’s a finished game and do my research post hype.
And that was me doing the pancaking the E-75. My brother was the one in the other E-75 and carried the match after my YOLO shenanigans. He’s the one that thought I should upload it though.
I played a bit in beta and I am sad to say that huge issues have not been addressed. Recently I received a black screen and my toon died and cannot play with it anymore. I know it is “just” a beta, but it is so close to release and I was hoping these kind of critical issues would be addressed by now.
On the other hand, I keep my eye on ArchAge and I am amazed on how the game looks and how it was thought to be in PvP. I am looking forward to see how the beta is and maybe try it out on release since it is F2P.
My guildee @_Sujitsu recommended I take a look at Black Desert, an upcoming Korean MMORPG.
Spent about 20 minutes reading up on it and watching video, and it does look very impressive. Graphics look amazing, and the combat is fast-paced. Kind of like a Street Fighter or better Aion. No tab targeting, lots of movement.
Here’s a Sorceror video:
Sorry to sound like such a suck up, but you sir are the gold standard for video guides. True, there are a lot of folks creating videos nowadays, but most of them have very poor communication skills. I am playing Wildstar because I enjoy the combat and the humor the developers try to imbue into many aspects of the game.
Thanks in advance if you do decide to create guides for Wildstar. They need to get you back on Gamebreaker for the Wildstar show.
Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it.
I’ll be in the same boat as I was in RIFT – i.e. noob to the game at launch. To the extent I enjoy the game and feel I have useful stuff to share, I will :)
Hosting shows with GAMEBREAKER was fun and a great learning experience, but from a career standpoint the progression (to use an MMORPG term) for me isn’t there. Whatever precious free time I have to spend on gaming will be spend on playing them and blogging about it.
Reading all this without having played just over 10 minutes in one of the Wildstar beta events, it sounds like a less mature Smite in pvp. Smite has that skill cap you are always on about, and is a lot of fun, and has no gear grind. This coming from someone with very limited moba experience….now if they’d just make a huttball map…..
Just wanted to chime in on my few hours in the open beta so far taking me to level 14. Sorry I haven’t touched dungeons or PvP yet. I know there were concerns about combining active combat with defensive stats, so here are some observations.
Firstly there’s the two way telegraphing. So far the NPCs don’t seem to keen on staying out of your telegraphs, but I’m pretty sure the case won’t be the same with players. On the plus side you can cast while moving more often than not iirc.
Action combat. You get “Dash” which is essentially a carbon copy of “Dodge” in Neverwinter. Double tap a direction key to dash in that respective direction. Not a single keybind like GW2. You start with enough resources for two Dashes. Regen of Dash can be increased with AMP.
There are 30 stats altogether by my count. And yes we have “action combat” combined with things like Deflect Chance, and its counterpart Strikethrough Chance as well as resistances, piercing, PvP offense/defense, etc.. For some reason (and I may have just missed the reasoning for this) the primary stat to secondary stat associations aren’t uniform across the classes. They do spell everything out well enough, but I can’t figure out why they did it in the first place. The exception being Grit the health stat.
Primary Stats: http://www.deathsfist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/class-stats-2-sm.png
Secondary Stats: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-d9Gey5E_aRU/UsBwcYorsuI/AAAAAAAAC7M/aAC180MIaGI/s1600/Secondary+Attributes+Panel.png
That aside the game does have a decent fun factor even though a loaded quest log combined with Path quests can bog you down at times. I’ve had to stop more than once to check on Path objectives so that I don’t have to backtrack too much because some don’t appear on the map (I chose Explorer). There are public Challenges with a reward system similar to the WAR event reward system.
The only thing in my experience I can compare the art style to is Allods Online, which is a good thing.
I’m really interested in how high level PvP is going to play out. I have a feeling there will be a point where stacking enough defensive stats will allow action combat to be ignored.
I haven’t had any serious graphics issues like framerate dips or freezes.
That’s all for now. I probably won’t be playing once it goes live just because I really can’t justify a sub based on how much I’d actually play when there are F2P and B2P games out there I can just as easily play.