Putting WildStar into cryogenic storage

lockSometimes when I stop playing an MMO, I feel a little bashful saying so on the blog lest it be turned against me (“Ha, you used to like this game!”) or wielded as a weapon in the “Proof This Game Sucks” Olympics (est. 1997).  But all of that is wrapped up in caring a little too much what other people think of me and my game time, which is weirdly narcissistic and not confident to tell the truth.

So my six-plus-one month subscription ran out on WildStar and I decided not to resub.

There’s a lot of factors that went into the decision, but I’m confident that it’s the right one for me right now.  Basically, I’m not playing it enough at the moment to justify a sub and I’m ready for a break from its exhausting combat system.  Really, I just about love everything in this game other than its combat, which I gradually realized when comparing my current experiences in WildStar to those in RIFT and SWTOR.  Too many telegraphs, too long of fights, too much hopping around.

But there will be a lot I’ll miss, starting with my guild and going on to the wonderful housing system, the delightfully wonky world, and not having seen any content past Farside.  The last is really my fault; I’m kicking myself that I had to be all “the grass is greener with this class” and rerolled too many times, as I could have seen most all of the solo game by now.

Of course, it’s never a goodbye (unless NCsoft shutters it, which that studio would never, ever do?  Right?).  It’s an “until later.”  Like most experienced MMO gamers, I fully expect to see a free- or buy-to-play transition announced within a few months.  NCsoft doesn’t run strong on sub-only games, especially in the west, and it’s invested too much not to try.  A switch to either business model would open up the possibility for continued play on my own time, not on a subscription’s, and I wouldn’t object to that.

For now, it feels like a good move.  I have enough to play as it is and there’s plenty more I want to try.  WildStar was a, erm, wild ride for 2014 — not necessarily the game I was hoping to get, but overall pretty engaging.  I will continue to root for its success and comeback, if so slightly hypocritically from the sidelines.

My 10 favorite geeky things of 2014 #6: WildStar

jemI can’t look back at my year in MMOs without giving tribute to the gravitational pull of WildStar.  It was such a major event in 2014 for me, with its build-up, launch, and live game.  I developed a huge crush on its art style, world building, and housing system (not to mention its soundtrack) and greatly enjoyed my time gaming on Nexus this year.

WildStar probably gets the award for Syp’s most re-rolled characters in an MMO, because egads did I mark the first few months with restarting over and over and over again.  The grass was always greener on the other side of the class fence or the path fence or even the server fence, and so I pretty much forfeited my chance of hitting level 50 this year by making a small army of middle-level managers.  But hey, that was fun for me and for the experience alone, I don’t regret it.

I won’t lie and say that WildStar is perfect, of course.  It’s a very mixed package full of great highs and pretty sobering lows.  I was hoping that it would have had a stronger launch and even stronger legs, but a combination of Carbine’s misreading of the MMO industry (“HARDCORE 40-MAN RAIDZ!”) and the sub model seemed to push many away that might have otherwise stayed.  So it’s kind of limping out of 2014, still alive, still updating, but finding itself more of a niche title than a mass-appeal one.

I do have to thank WildStar for hooking me up with my incredible multi-game guild, Remnants of Hope.  I’ve been hanging with them in several MMOs for the latter half of 2014 and really enjoyed their warmth and penchant for friendly group activities (and parties, oh the parties).

Here’s to WildStar in 2015, that it may find a better business model, cater more to the crowd that actually wants to play it, and cultivate a come-from-behind success story that it could indeed have.

Battle Bards Episode 40: WildStar Redux

While we did a Wildstar episode back in show #6, we felt as though we didn’t do that soundtrack justice (not the least of which was the fact that we didn’t have access to the full OST yet!).  Now that the Bards have listened to almost 200 WildStar tracks, it’s time to pull their favorites and discuss this wild, zany musical romp!

Episode 40 show notes

  • Intro (featuring “Main Theme” and “A Golden Field”)
  • “The Weave”
  • “Protostar Theme”
  • “The Awakening”
  • “Bandits, Thieves, and Epic Loot”
  • “Smooth”
  • “This is Our Song”
  • “Genesis to Revelations”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Mail from Shay
  • Outro (“BEER!”)

Listen to episode 40 now!

WildStar: Party oasis

oasisOne of the benefits of switching back to my Medic full-time in WildStar is that I get to enjoy the benefits of the Settler path.  It may not be the free-form building that I envisioned from pre-launch, but there are fun touches such as building projects.

Last night I was toting bottles of water to a lumpy blue dude (I do not know that alien’s race) in Farside when the project reached completion and a party-hopping oasis sprung up.  Tiki bar, hot spring, lounging beach bunnies (of both genders), and a quest that had me using a device to read people’s minds.  And there were buff-happy drinks, so my character may have gotten a little tipsy.

I’ve been expending effort to figure out a better combat build and rotation for my Medic in my non-oasis hours.  It’s been taking me too long to kill things, and on top of that, what I had been using was far too, for lack of a better term, “fiddly.”  Instead of a smooth rotation, it was a lot of placing fields, looking for reactive skills to proc, and the like.  And as we’ve already established, I want combat to be more of a “point and die” kind of thing.

So a-tweaking I’ve gone with my build, and I think I may be on to something that works — at least for me.  I’m now killing most mobs (including packs of them) within a single quick rotation that involves the following:

  • Starting off by throwing up a pair of probes (HoT on me and DoT on all enemies within range).
  • Use my standard cone attack for some initial damage while I heard a group of mobs into a tight bunch in front of me.
  • I keep firing off that attack 1-3 times until I see the enemy start a telegraph, then I hit them with a stun.
  • The whole idea is that while they have that interrupt damage bonus going on (around six seconds) to cram in as much DPS as possible.  I have a trio of skills that I can fire off rapidly, and two of them proc one of my AMPs, which ends the HoT probe with a big burst of damage.
  • If they aren’t dead, I can refresh Quantum Cascade and use it for another AoE round of attacks.  Usually this isn’t an issue.

This build and rotation has brought time-to-kill way down and subsequently raised my enjoyment.  When combat isn’t a slog, MMOs are actually fun.  Who’da thought?

Quest Text Tuesday

Every once in a while a bit of quest text or lore will stick out to me enough that I’ll take a screenshot of it for posterity — and today I’m going to share a few of those with you with some commentary!

quest1Skeech poetry is so, so beautiful, man.

quest2One of the Protostar clones breaks free from his corporate conformity and celebrates.  Spoiler: It does not end well for him.  I think he explodes by the end of this lore entry.

quest3Chesh the Plushie needs — NEEDS — to have her own feature movie.  Also, let us pause to realize that someone at Carbine got paid to write “Snuggywums Cutie-Tootie Wubwub Widdle Huggable Longbranch.”  And I’m very glad they did.

quest4Lopp combat techniques.  Good advice.  We really need Lopps as a playable race.

quest5I love story morals!

quest6I couldn’t crop this down because it really needs to be read in its full glory.  Freebots write bad fanfic too.  “My husband… IS YOU” should be some sort of meme, I declare.

quest7Moving on to RIFT, this is from a newer early quest chain that petered out at some point, but had to do with investigating the fact that history had been altered, somehow, at least compared to official written records.  I thought that this text hooked me pretty well.

quest8In all fairness, Selnar did kill this guy’s wife and feed her to his beasts.  But I don’t think that his reaction here is very healthy…

quest9Yeah.  Okay.  Sing to the saplings.  I’ll get right on that.

quest10I kind of liked this quest chain because it showed that even in a fantasy world, there are still people who grossly misjudge others’ romantic intentions and possibilities.  It seems very relatable to me.  And this guy is a dolt.

WildStar: Domestic bliss

h1Out of the four MMOs that I am playing right now, three have pretty good housing systems.  RIFT is giving me more items and locales to work with in addition to really user friendly tools, although it’s mostly just for show with no functionality.  I just got a house (sorry, “stronghold”) in SWTOR but I haven’t messed with it much yet to figure out the weird hook system.  But WildStar is still head and shoulders above the rest — or above any other game housing system that I’ve seen to date.

I spend several minutes tinkering with my house each night, from planting my garden to running a couple of challenges.  I have a pair of pocket dungeons that could use some explorin’, although I keep prioritizing questing above that.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the spaceship house ever since launch.  On one hand, I love the exterior look and the concept, as well as its initial low price tag and generous (compared to the other basic houses) space.  On the other hand, it’s a difficult space with which to work: two of the four walls are curved and it has hanging light fixtures that makes finagling a second level difficult and cramped.

h2After going through several elaborate designs, including an 8-room, 2-story house, I’m settling with something a little more simple and cozy.  Pretty much the only crazy thing I’ve done is to create a raised platform in the middle (foreground) that functions as a bit of a loft, with space underneath to run around in.  I particularly like the fireplace area and the giant glowing pillar that I’ve tucked into a corner.

This past week’s Drop 3 was a boon for housing fanatics.  Probably the two biggest changes was the addition of selectable housing music (although, like most other options, it has a cost) and a marked increase in the number of items that can be placed both inside and outside.  Also, many seats now can be activated to have your character sit on them, which for roleplayers is a big thing (or so I am led to understand from SWTOR’s past uproar on the topic).

Another nice Drop 3 touch is that the devs added a couple of new buttons that encourage visiting strangers and friends with a single click.  One of these days I’m going to go on a bender of a tour to get ideas for inspiration.  In the meanwhile, I’ll enjoy housing chat and fiddling with getting everything “just” right.

WildStar: Fighting fatigue

sypppppppLet’s talk about fighting today.

No, let’s talk about my Medic.

Actually, let’s talk about my altoholism, first.  Don’t worry, I’ll get around to the rest in due time.

So probably the biggest reason that I am not sitting on a level 50 character in WildStar many, many months after launch is that my progress in the game has been impeded by a scattered brain that is riddled with self-doubt over my current class/path pick, jumping between servers to hook up with various guilds, and flip-flopping between several characters in an attempt to nail down a main.  Depending on the week, my main has changed, but as of late I’ve been growing increasingly annoyed with myself for letting my altoholism overrule what I know I should be doing.

Thus, I had a heart-to-heart with my heart while listening to Heart (feat. “Crazy on You”).  “Syp,” I said to myself while glancing around to be sure that no family members were listening, “You really need to stop circling the carpet and just plop down.  No more alts.  No more flip-flopping.  Pick a character and stick to it.”

Fair enough.  I won’t bore you with the rest of the discussion (although colorful metaphors were used), but I ended up picking my Medic, Syp Tsunami, for several reasons.  It’s my oldest character and has a really great house, the settler path (scientist was bugging me with how annoying it is), fun attacks, and a high desirability factor in our guild.  Plus, she’s level 30, which is only 5 levels below my highest, so I’m not really that far behind.  I got her through the rest of Whitevale last night and parked her butt at the start of Farside.

One of the biggest factors that has gone into picking a main is the way that WildStar handles combat.  It’s by far the most actiony of any MMO that I’ve played, which has several upsides and downsides.  I’ll admit that it looks fantastic and that it can be enjoyable to deftly avoid enemy attacks and use reflexive skill in the process.  However, because one’s eyes need to be watching the screen at almost all times, it’s a lot harder to keep flicking the eyeball down to the hotbar to see what skills are available during spur-of-the-moment opportunities.

It’s actually a little tiring to fight after a while.  I’m not really an action combat gamer at my heart; I’ve done my fair share of it, but it’s not what I seek out these days.  Part of the appeal of MMO gaming to me is that I can quest and fight mobs without needing to sit forward and engage 100% of my attention.  Sometimes I just want to plow through waves while semi-mindlessly going through skill rotations.

Really, my combat attitude is, “I want to point at something and make it die with minimum fuss.”  WildStar, however, is all about the fuss.  Every fight is some sort of small epic war played out on a tiny battlefield.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that’s pretty cool.  But now that mobs are taking longer to die, it’s starting to rob some of the fun of the fight for me.  That’s why I’m going Medic, because that skill rotation is really straight-forward and can usually chew through a mob in one full run without requiring seconds.  I wish that mobs would go down faster like they did in the earlier portion of the game, since that wasn’t as fatigue-inducing.

As it is, I can do about 30-60 minutes of WildStar at a go right now before I feel too drained and in need of a simpler combat style that isn’t consumed with red patterns exploding all over the ground.

By the way, you might have read this post title thinking, “Syp’s finally getting tired of WildStar!” but no, that was a sneaky double entendre on my part.  Only that I meant the second part of the entendre (the “dre”) but not the “enten” portion.  I apologize for the confusion but not really.