When I first wrote about WildStar approximately two month ago, I described the game as a fairly standard MMORPG packed in beautiful graphics. After surviving the Headstart (which went better than expected. Big up, Carbine!), I have come before you to revise my opinion. In this and the next post on Thursday, I’ll be reporting live from Nexus why WildStar is more than your run-off-the-mill endgame treadmill and why you should bother checking it out. Today, I want to tell you about what made me change my mind from a more aesthetical point-of-view, while Thursday’s post will dive deeper into the different convincing gameplay elements.
I’ll admit, of all the Beta Weekends, I’ve only used one to check out the game. As my post about that proofs, it was amusing, but not really mind-blowing. To me, WildStar felt like a very well-made MMORPG with some nice packaging, so I put it on my pile of “games that deserve my attention, but not now”. I wasn’t even planning on diving into the game during Headstart, believing that my experience would be spoiled by server crashes, unstable connections and a myriad of unresolved bugs. However, curiosity got the better of me, and before I knew it I was landing on Nexus with my Exile human Spellslinger.
When diving into the Headstart, I said to myself: “Chin, play this game like you know nothing about it and just allow yourself to be consumed by all the in-your-face stuff it does”. Let it be known that WildStar does A LOT of in-your-face stuff. Nothing about this game is subtle, from the color palette to its humor. Being consumed by it is thus not really hard, since you either run away screaming from its loud presence or allow yourself to be devoured. I guess that during the Beta Weekend I was trying to run away, allowing the colorful beast that is WildStar to just nibble at my legs. This time, I stood my ground and did not flinch when its maw descended on me. However, instead of finding myself in the digestive track of this monstruous rainbow, I saw an amusement park full of bright, awesome rides.
WildStar is to me the definition of a theme park MMORPG: from the very start, the game takes you by the hand to take you from one exhilarating experience to the other. Of course, you can decide in which order you want to do things, but in the end, you have to get onto those rides to reap their rewards. Some features give the game some minimal sandboxy elements, but there is no denying WildStar is a theme park. However, it is one of the best, most stylish and well-planed ones I have ever visited. Where many other MMORPG’s are great at being glorified checklists, WildStar at least has the decency to give you something great to look at while checking off boxes. Colors, animations, visual design: everything works together to create this vivid world for you to roam around in, almost allowing you to forget that you are still not doing anything else than killing ten rats or collecting twenty blueberries for Jonas McQuestgiver.
That is how WildStar convinced me. By allowing myself to be devoured whole by its loud, playful nature, I discovered that the game wants to make classic gameplay more enjoyable to me by providing a colorful playground full of over-the-top swings. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t run away from big bright beasts trying to eat you, but if the monster’s name happens to be WildStar, you should leap right into that mouth!