20 little things I’ve grown to love about WildStar

loppAs I adventure along, I find really cool little features or what have you about WildStar that make me go, that’s pretty awesome.  So why not list them?

1. How the game automatically puts any medishots in your inventory into the healing slot on the hotbar.  That’s saved my bacon more than once.

2. The emotes on the characters are really terrific — some of the best I’ve seen in any MMO, probably because they’re cartoony exaggerated.

3. Tending my little garden and then selling the crops for profit.

4. How loot explodes out of mobs and nodes — and how you suck them all up afterward.  It’s very visceral and feels exciting every time.

5. Speaking of goodies, every so often you see a glowing cracked patch on the ground.  Clicking on it results in either a buff station or a chest of loot.  Score!

6. I love how my bots have different animations for swimming — their legs spin together like a focused propeller.

7. The idle animations for many of the mobs are hilarious and well worth checking out if you can avoid aggro.  One of my current favorites are the walatusks (walruses) that go on an eating binge and then puke/burp all over the place.

8. Movement is great.  I get so spoiled by WildStar’s sprint and double-jump that I get a little angry with other MMOs for not having them (especially the latter).  Doing a little double-jump kick with a hoverboard makes me so dang happy.

9. Housing zone chat.  People are so inviting and talkative here, and it makes being in your house more social by default.

10. Quests that let you super-jump.  I missed doing this in City of Heroes, so it’s great to have a taste of this in WildStar every so often.  Whee!

11. Repeating fun challenges for even more loot.

12. Every last little thing that the Lopp say.  I love Lopp.  So much.  “Buy from Lopp, deals never flop!”

13. The whole Squirg zombie aspect — it’s a fun take on B-movie zombies and alien brainsuckers (reminds me of the ones from Futurama, actually).  And getting a “hat” that covers your entire head and talks to you still cracks me up.

14. Special quest weapons that are a blast to use, like cryo-grenades and stink bombs.  My only complaint is that you can’t keep them afterward (too powerful, I reckon).

15. The little lore logs you find all over the place.  Some are tragic, some are illuminating, and some are screamingly funny.  The TV guide ones are usually a hoot.

16. The music.  I’m not *quite* prepared to say that this is the greatest MMO soundtrack ever until I finish listening through it, but it’s certainly a strong contender for the title.

17. The sentient veggies… dunno what it is about them, but they’re so odd that they’re compelling.  I want to know what makes them tick and if they have a Christian-themed animated show (props to VeggieTales).

18. Shiphand missions are really engaging, even if the first three that I’ve encountered more or less rip off Aliens.  Their design is cool and the scripting and mission variety keep them interesting throughout.

19. Seeing a gathering node try to run away or turn into a giant boss monster to fight so that you can kill it and invade its tunnel for even more mats.

20. The NPC dialogue and characterization feels refreshingly different than the fantasy fare.  More down-to-earth (down-to-Nexus?), more contemporary, and more relatable.

WildStar: I make this look *good*

hoverI haven’t spent a lot of time with WildStar’s costume editor, which is odd considering how much I do the same in games like Guild Wars 2 and LOTRO.  This is partially due to the very questionable decision of requiring you to go to a certain vendor in order to make any modifications (which is usually proceeded and followed by trips to the bank to pull out cosmetic gear) and partially thanks to a not-always-responsive interface that likes to fight me when I’m attempting to swap out gear.

But last night I realized that I had a few pieces that would look good put together, so I swallowed any gruntment I have with this UI and made the outfit that you see to the right there.

I really like the short jacket/tank top combo, and being able to use the cosmetic screen to disable both shoulder pads and helmet helps to give my Engie a more casual cool look.

diminisherLast night was notable for two big events in the game for me.  Well, three if you count dinging 26.  The first was going through my final interview for our guild after a two-week trial period.  They are pretty serious about making sure that they get quality folks who understand the whole structure, a process that I tolerated the more I heard internal testimonies about how long and strong this guild’s been going.

The second was the completion of a full Stormtalon dungeon run.  Wednesday nights are dungeon nights in the guild, and highbies often gather groups of us mid-level folks to run us through these instances.  WildStar downlevels you to the instance, so having a 50 with you isn’t an automatic win, although they do get to keep their gear and skill edge.

Our leader asked that I take out my bruiserbot due to his aggro-pulling tendencies, so I swapped it for the odd-looking diminisherbot that you see up above there.  He’s… not quite right in the circuits, I fear.  In theory, I should have welcomed more DPS, but this first time around with him I was less than impressed due to his finicky special ability that didn’t always fire off (and do so quickly enough) when I needed it to.

stormtalonThe run went fairly well.  We had a couple of wipes but plowed through to the end within 50 minutes or so.  Since skill interrupts are so important, even for fighting trash mobs, I successfully argued to bring back my bruiserbot for his interrupt, figuring that he wasn’t really going to pull aggro from a tank anyway.

Stormtalon himself only took two tries, with the second one being mostly him versus three of us.  I seriously appreciate the engineer’s longer range with the gun and my increased durability — both served me well here.  However, my DPS was pretty lacking (I was #3 in damage, with a stalker and spellslinger besting me), so I need to work on a dungeon build that is as dedicated to damage as possible.

I did get a couple of new AMPs and a new chest piece, so loot-wise it was a solid run.  It was just nice to see a dungeon all the way through, my first successful one since launch.

WildStar: Putting a bow on Galeras

My goal during this past weekend was to put a wrap on Galeras with my Engineer and move on.  Galeras isn’t a horrible zone… but it isn’t my favorite, either.  The “pretty” parts don’t really stir any feelings in my soul, and the war-torn battlefields and grey canyons are depressing.  All the more so that I know that gorgeous Whitevale lays ahead.  So I pressed on and finished up the last dozen or so quests.

All I had to do after that was to finish up my Scientist path missions.  I try to be vigilant in doing these as I go through the zone, but I had three unfinished, with one of those being 14/20 datacubes found.  Big sigh and then I hunkered down with an out-of-game map to track down everything, do a puzzle to open a door, ta da, I’m done.

It actually was pretty beneficial.  I got to level 15 with my Scientist and level 24 with my Engineer (hello bolt cutter!).  I’m feeling so much more confident with this class than I was in the first month after launch, not to mention that I’m settling in well with my house and guild.

I poked my head into Whitevale this morning before work and my daughter climbed on my lap and helped me spot pearls as we went on a diving mission.  She really likes to be my game “spotter”, so I’ll tell her to point out giant spiders and clickies and so on.  It’s a good wake-me-up when you have a four-year-old shrieking “THERE!  THERE IS ONE!” in your left ear.

It really will be nice when my Engine laps my Medic and forges on to a part of the game that I haven’t seen yet.  I’m not feeling incredibly anxious about it or anything, but I’ve rerolled enough as it is.  It’s time to see new frontiers.

WildStar: Home epic home

emoteJust a quick post to say that I had a really terrific night in WildStar yesterday:

  • I blasted through about a third of Galeras and an entire level, really getting into the groove of my Engineer and her eternally buggy pets
  • My boombox of the day (of which I only have 14 left) graced me with an epic mining fabkit for my house, which I definitely will use
  • I sold a ton of mats and made over two platinum on the exchange
  • Then I discovered that one of my most-wanted housing items — pocket dungeons — were on the auction house.  I bought two of them to use at level 30 and 40, which gives me something great to look forward to
  • And I’m really gelling with this new guild.  Good folks who keep piping up to do stuff together.  I asked for help with a 5+ group mission and had a level 50 quickly swoop to my aid.

I love nights like that.

What WildStar should be doing with paths

pathsOne of WildStar’s big talking points prior to launch was its path system.  This was supposed to be a “second class” that you could level up independantly by pursuing a specific type of content tailored to your playstyle (fighting, exploring, lore, building), and would add to the replayability/customization factor quite a bit.

From what I’ve heard, the original plans for paths got toned way down, although that’s hearsay on my part because I’m too tired to do actual research into that.  In any case, what we have in the game is a neat system that shows promise yet underdelivers.  I’ve enjoyed leveling up my settler and scientist paths, but as I’m doing so I keep making a mental list of how Carbine could improve these paths to be more like they were advertised in the first place.  After all, paths SHOULD be a major topic when players share thoughts on the game, but it seems as though most of the discussion has drifted into either housing or raiding.

So what should be done about paths?  Here are five ideas.

1. One of the coolest parts of paths is how it lets you interact with the game world in different and sometimes surprising ways.  Once in a while, I’ll get an option to activate a scientist object that can benefit me in ways other than adding to my path XP, such as opening up a locked door or exploding a barrel so that enemies take more damage.  Those make you feel as though your path has a purpose, and we need a LOT more of them.  WildStar isn’t very consistent with placing these, so they really are a rare occurence.

2. The devs should be adding new types of path missions into future updates.  Scientists need to be doing things other than endlessly scanning the environment (why not let us perform experiments?) and settlers should be able to creatively build things instead of merely activate buff stations.  I’m less familiar with soldier and explorer paths, although I’ll bet that soldiers are probably tired of the constant holdouts.

3. We need more and better path skills.  Paths are worth pursuing for the additional utility skills, such as creating portals or summoning vending machines.  But there are only four or so per path, and you get three of those relatively early on.  New path skills trump pretty much every other reward on the path reward track.  Some paths have better utility skills, period — soldiers get the short end of the stick here.

4. Scientists aren’t explorers, so help us find these things.  From what I hear, explorers get helpful arrows pointing them the way while scientists are often left wandering around hoping that they find all of the datacubes and scannables.  It’s so frustrating to finish up a zone and realize that there are two more datacubes you haven’t found, requiring a trip to a wiki to cross-check with your in-game list so that you can locate those remaining objects.  It’s not what this path is about and it needs to change.

5. There’s a pretty common refrain on the path forums: Let us be able to change and swap paths.  Maybe that would cut down on alts, but not everyone wants to alt anyway, and allowing players to pursue multiple paths would extend the available content for a character.  It would be neat to max out a path and then retain those benefits while starting over on a new path — which would also give me a good reason to revisit old zones.

WildStar: The magical floating buffalo of Galeras

buf1I don’t like to peg myself with labels, but I’m partial to taking off and just wandering during an average evening of adventure.  I like seeing what’s around the corner and taking trips to places that are devoid of meaty content (such as quests or important mobs).  If that makes me an explorer, fine, but it’s not a driving force behind my gaming.  I merely like being nosy and aimlessly meander from time to time.  It’s relaxing in the way that grinding on mobs can be.

So yesterday I finished up a set of quests and was ready to teleport back when I decided to hold off on that while running around the bend and up a mountain shard… thing to get some plant seeds.  Hopping from scavenging node to scavenging node is another good way to get exploring without even realizing it.  That led me to encounter this buffalo (WildStar probably has some sort of fancy name for it, but c’mon, it’s a buffalo) serenely floating in mid-air as if this is a typical thing for buffalo to be doing.

It’s proooooobably a glitch, but since Nexus is a weird place, I can’t always put weird possibilities past the creators.  Especially when I went further up and found a whole herd of airborne bovine:

buf2I envy their lifestyle.  They don’t let a lack of wings or the demands of gravity boss them around.  They are free and we are the beasts of burden, chained to this terrestrial ball.

I really didn’t get as much time as I would’ve liked to have played WildStar over the weekend, but at least an hour or so saw me propel my Engineer further through Galeras.  I’m still fiddling with skill rotations a bit, although I’m generally pleased with both my survivability and killing power.  I’d like to actually run a dungeon sooner or later — I still haven’t done any, not including adventures — but questing and leveling feels more important to me.

I did net a few more housing items during challenges and mob drops, including a nifty Chua desk that I hadn’t seen before.  Give me housing drops and I am a happy, happy man.