Wildin' Out
One of the most talked about MMOs in the past couple of years is launching in a little over two weeks, and I tried it out during its brief open beta period.I knew little to nothing about WildStar going into it, other than the near-universal praise of people in my gamer circles. From what I could gather, the design philosophy is that World of Warcraft is too easy mode, so here's a little something for the hardcore players who value achievement. They're even bringing back 40-man raids. There's also a bit of snark and attitude thrown in. One of my favorite beta moments was hearing an announcer go "OH S**T! You leveled up! Way to go, cupcake!" Comically charming.

The most unique thing I noticed about this game was the art style. It resembles a cartoony, futuristic, sci-fi western, and it looks very pleasing to the eye without needing Skynet-level hardware. Most everything else is pretty familiar fare. You'll go to quest hubs populated by people with exclamation marks over their heads, then run off to collect space slug remains or something. There is some variety in the form of group quests, open-world event mobs, and timed challenges, and while they're all done well this is nothing really new to the genre. The combat system is of the action+movement variety similar to games like Guild Wars 2 and Tera, though to me it didn't feel as fluid or flashy as either of those games. The UI didn't stand out either, it was just sort of there, as an inoffensive arrangement of angular lines presenting information.

While the experience wasn't a bad one, I was looking for the hook of WIldStar, the feature that makes it stand out from the pack, the reason I would choose to spend time with it as opposed to the dozens of other MMOs out there these days. After ten levels, I wasn't finding it. A couple of people advised me to get to level 20 and finish the first dungeon before writing it off. While I take issue on a personal and philosophical level with games that make you play for hours before you get to the fun part, getting to level 20 wasn't going to be torture by any means. I pressed on.

Or at least, I tried to. I never made it to level 20. The game's programming decided not to allow it. WildStar will unfortunately be forever remembered by me as one of the buggiest gaming experiences of all time. Seriously, I was actually categorizing the different ways I could be randomly booted to the desktop.  When that wasn't happening, I was dealing with NPCs who had no idea what altitude the ground was at, built-in addons crashing until I couldn't tell who or what I was fighting, and the inability to turn in quests because the UI decided I shouldn't be able to interact with some guy. I gave up on playing at all before reaching level 11. Given that this was technically still a beta, I should probably be more forgiving of the bugs and glitches. However, when I'm constantly being asked to pre-order this game for $59.99 plus $15 a month (from the launcher to the loading screens), I'm gonna expect something of a better show.

WildStar has enough rabid fans that I'm not too worried about the success of the game. Still, I guess Blizzard has spoiled me in that I'm used to a bit more of a polished experience--as in having a game that actually runs for more than an hour without crashing. I'll be back when the bugs are fixed and they've gone free-to-play.
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I just saw that I was the rabid fan LMFAO!