On Tuesday, I talked about how the overall presentation of WildStar devoured me whole, convincing me of the powerful playground the game is. Today, in this second part of Live from Nexus, I want to talk about what makes the gameplay of WildStar so strong, and why you should give this MMORPG a go.
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.
My mind works in strange ways. Yesterday, while waiting for the washing machine to finish and browsing my favorite gaming sites, I was reminded of the fact that Trion is bringing ArcheAge to the west. This makes my tingle with joy, especially knowing that the company is offering different “Founder packs” to get into the alpha. I’m all about getting into a game earlier than the unwashed masses, so I went and checked them out. Alpha access…the thought of that made me wild. Would I already be knees-deep in ArcheAge this weekend? Would I already see what all the fuss is about, sailing my own ship and tending my own farm?
I would…had I spent €140.
Complexity is one of the most discussed topics in MMO country, and with good reason: in an age filled with simple, mass-pleasing click-games like Candy Crush Saga and Farmville (does anyone still play that?), we “true” gamers desire games that cannot be immediately understood by our grandmas and little brothers. We want titles that take time to ease in to, that have us browse the Internet in search of the perfect “build”, force us to take a crash course in Excel to make that spreadsheet and make us talk with abbreviations like “DPS”. We want to get lost in the numbers, we want to be made dizzy by the possibilities…we long for complexity.
We? Well, to be honest, I don’t.
Yesterday, Mentum died. Who’s Mentum? Well, Mentum is…uhm, was, my hardcore Crusader in Diablo 3. He was strong, willful, proud. Most of all, however, he was stubborn. Raised to fight evil in every corner of Sanctuary, Mentum would not retreat from the hordes of demons standing between him and the Prime Evil that must be put to rest. No matter how large the pack, Mentum would leap right into the fray, smack his shield into an ugly visage and strike with his blade, calling upon a wrath fueled by divine purpose. No one could stop him from smiting evil. No one…but death.
There’s just some things too damn embarrassing to do. One of them is playing Twister without any clothes on. Next to deciding to play a game that forces you to grope your fellow players in order to not fall with your (now naked) buttocks on the ground, you will also show everyone all of your mortal husk. As much as we think of our own bodies as beautiful works of art (at least I do), the reality is different: everyone’s corpus is littered with imperfections and flaws. Standing around butt-naked is already bad enough, exposing all your weaknesses to the world around you. The only thing worse is to play a game like Twister naked, forcing you to throw around every bit of excess fat, loose skin or abundant body hair. Everything that people can criticize about you is flung around, as you try to win a game that is already pointless to win.
This year’s April Fool’s, Blizzard thought playing butt-naked Twister was a good idea.
It started of well, with a barrage of cool announcements, all of them obviously jokes. My personal favorite were the patch notes for WoW 6.0, which showed that the developers know what their target audience is about. One-liner after one-liner, Blizzard delivered a cool prank everyone could laugh about. A few other obvious April Fools followed, and soon a link to a new ArtCraft article popped up. ArtCraft! Heck yeah, finally we’ll see some new models! Right? Right?
This was the moment where Blizzard thought they were doing well in their game of April Fool’s Twister. Right hand on good joke, left foot on brilliant fake patch notes; so far so good. Why not up the ante? People are laughing about how we’re bending our body ever so gracefully, why not show them all of it? So Blizzard decided to pull down its pants, throw of that XXL shirt and come out with the big guns: a fake ArtCraft article.
Now, a fake ArtCraft article isn’t bad. It’s nice to play with your audience expectations. What’s bad is to illustrate a sensitive topic in it: gender depiction. I don’t feel attacked by it, trust me. In fact, I could get a good laugh out of it. A little bit of satire doesn’t hurt me, so when Blizzard decided to continue playing in their bare skin, I was the guy in the audience laughing about how ridiculous they look. To Blizzard’s regret, most of the audience didn’t like seeing them naked. Most of the audience wasn’t entertained by that ArtCraft article. Most of the audience was at least mildly enraged.
So, while Blizzard’s busy getting dressed and recouping from a backlash no April Fool’s joke of them has ever seen, all I can tell you, dear readers, is that there’s two things not worth your time: writing satirical, out-of-taste April Fools articles about gender stereotypes and playing Twister butt-naked.
Oh, also, asking your Twitter followers for article ideas is also dangerous. You might end up writing an article like this!
Music makes everything better. Absolutely everything. Annoying chores you should have done two weeks ago? Pump some Rise Against through my speakers and I’ll do them like my life depends on it. Having to wait at the bus stop because the drive decided to show up too early for a change? No problem, my homeboys from The Gaslight Anthem got me covered. Ideal background music to faff your way to 90, playing a blond elf hell-bent on carnage and bloodshed? Electric Six!
I don’t know what it is about the silliness of their lyrics or their actually pretty cool instrumental work, but for some reason, grinding your way through the levels goes a whole lot faster when I’m being told that electric demons start fires and someone has naked pictures of my mother (no matter how wrong that sounds). I can actually imagine Lorellis humming some of their tunes while doing the dirty work of the Argent Crusade in the Eastern Plaguelands.
Talking ’bout those fellas…I really love the Eastern Plaguelands. Well, scratch that. I love the people I meet in them! Fiona’s traveling band is fun to travel along with, though most of her companions don’t get much personality. The focus is on Tarenar and Gidwin, who want to join the Argent Crusade for…reasons. Well, they’re fun to have beside you, and the fact that Fiona offers you free transport from one quest hub to the next (along with entertaining dialogue) is a nice bonus. Plus, one single quest to get my reputation with the Argent Dawn up to Revered? That’s service, Blizz. Lazy service, but service. Also, the Brotherhood of the Light (see screenshot below).
I parked Lorellis in the Badlands yesterday evening, after wrapping up my journey with Fiona, her ambitious paladins and the other members of her band (Fiona & the Paladins should be a real band). Outland is just a rough ten levels away, though I won’t mind staying in Azeroth until level 60. Questing in ex-Draenor is such a chore and I will probably need some strong support to make it through that part. But heck, as I said: music makes everything easier.
What do you say? Electric Six has a new album? Heh, this will be smooth sailing!