Tobold's Blog
Monday, April 21, 2014
 
My Wildstar Easter weekend experience

This Easter weekend was a Wildstar beta weekend, which Wildstar does instead of an open beta. Now the first thing to say about this specific weekend is that technically it was a step back: Carbine had done a complete overhaul of the user interface, and the UI 2.0 still has some bugs and issues. Friday I even had some crashes to desktop, but that was fixed by a patch by Saturday. But there are still visible bugs like the "do you want to use this mount/taxi yes or no?" window only showing the yes and no button, but missing the rest of the window. Or messages not disappearing, or old, wrong, message flashing up again. Or the datachron automatically popping back up every time you minimize it. At the start I was even missing my quest tracker. And weirdly enough I was able to fix that by using a /command from World of Warcraft: /reloadui. I don't like to call Wildstar a "WoW clone", but under the hood there are some surprising similarities in the engine of the two games.

So this weekend I played my warrior and medic to level 15, and then started an esper, which I probably will finish at a similar level today. One surprise in that experience was that the esper turned out to be a more suitable healer class for me than the medic. Better flow in combat, with and without the use of self-healing. The warrior remains my choice of main, but at this point esper would be my second choice. I also did a detailed comparison of my preferred two paths: Settler and explorer. And I decided to go explorer, even if some of the jumping puzzles can be annoying. I never found out how to get up that tower in Exo Site N22 in Celestion, even after going a long way around and climbing a different tower with flowing green platforms, which for me were impossible to jump to. The settler path has more useful perks, like buffs and better path powers, but the path missions are all kind of boring. Explorer is less useful, but more fun.

By playing the different classes I learned a lot about the Wildstar combat system. The good news is that you don't need to be a circle-strafing, mouse-turning twitch gamer to play Wildstar. In fact, much of that action combat system is fake. If you think that your superior movement skills will enable you to dodge all mob attacks, you are in for a bad surprise. The monster standard damage will always hit you and can't be moved away from. Movement helps against the "telegraphed" special attacks, but a well-timed interrupt achieves pretty much the same without the need to move. If you are old school and just stand there and do your spell rotation, you will still do fine, provided you have a good spell rotation.

I much improved my spell rotation after realizing something important about the so-called "innate" ability, which is the only ability you can't select or change or modify on your hotkey bar, it is fixed to the "R" key. For some reason, probably as an experience from other games, I had thought of that as a get-out-of-jail ability to be used sparingly. But it turns out that the cooldown is only 30 seconds, so there is really no good reason not to use it in every fight. As that innate ability often replenishes your resource bar, using it at the right time in your spell rotation makes a huge difference to your damage output.

At level 14 in Wildstar you get player housing. That turns out to be a huge money-sink, which probably is a good design decision. To be precise, you don't just get a house, you get a whole floating island in the sky of which the house is the central part. That house can be decorated, and some of the decoration adds to the rate at which you gain rest xp. But for me the house wasn't actually the more interesting part of your floating island. Because there are 4 smaller and 2 larger other plots on your island, and you can do other useful stuff with those. You can decorate them with FAB kits you find, or you can put things like gardens there, where you can plant seeds and harvest them. Or you can have a plot on which mineral nodes spawn. Or a crafting station. All very useful.

For crafting I also changed my mind. I originally wanted to go armorsmith with my warrior. But it turns out that all the tradeskills that make gear are money sinks. Even if you spent hours gathering resources, you still need bought resources to make gear, and the cost of the bought resources is higher than the selling price of the gear. I like the system where you can choose for yourself what stats your crafted items should have, but for a first tradeskill for a first character when money is still tight that is not such a good idea. So I will go relic hunter / technologist. Most of the potions and buffs you can make with that combo are much less useful than crafted gear. But you can craft a lot of stuff without bought components. If at the end of the day you craft all your found resources into potions and sell those, you will make money. As I found money to be tight in Wildstar, at least while the economy is young, that is how I will start out.

Overall the beta weekend left me content that I have pre-ordered the game, and with a much better idea what I want to play and how to play it. Can't wait for release, but that is still 6 weeks ahead.

Comments:
I'm sure you have other things to do and on your mind, but if you could do a detailed WildStar dairy like you did for World of Warcraft when you were starting out, I'm certain I wouldn't be the only one to appreciate it :)

Those posts are still some of my favorite blogging I've read anywhere :)
 
I don't think a daily Wildstar journal is going to happen. I don't even plan to play Wildstar every day after release, having a lot of real life things planned for June already.

I like writing my D&D campaign journal, because even if it is me who prepares the adventure, I cannot say before we play what is going to happen. In a MMORPG I feel that is less and less the case. What happened to my beta characters in Wildstar was mostly running on rails, an endless series of quests.

And compared to let's say SWTOR, Wildstar isn't even very good at story-telling. You can get quests "phoned in", while you are in a dangerous area, which pretty much encourages you to accept them without even reading the quest text. There aren't many cut-scenes and the like to tell the story either.

So ultimately a lot of my activity in the game was stuff I didn't care much about. Generic questing, monter killing, clicking on stuff, nothing to write home about.
 
I'm so curious why Wildstar piques your interest! What makes it better than, say, Guild Wars 2? The DPS-Tank-Heal trinity inclusion?

Just very interested why you have so much confidence that you'd pre-order while most of the time you're fairly critical of MMOs. I just don't see that much different in this one.
 
"If you are old school and just stand there and do your spell rotation, you will still do fine, provided you have a good spell rotation"

I found this to be true in both The Secret World and GW2, at least for ordinary leveling-up open-world content. Not so much in instances and dungeons, though.
 
Just very interested why you have so much confidence that you'd pre-order while most of the time you're fairly critical of MMOs.

Mostly a question of excellence of execution. Many new MMOs try to do things differently, and then fail to do anything right. Wildstar is more in the World of Warcraft philosophy of first trying to get everything right, and worrying about originality later. I couldn't point to a single feature in Wildstar where I would say that I have never seen it before anywhere else, but every feature there is in the game is well thought out and executed.
 
Tobold, you mentioned that you leveled a couple of toons to level 15. Try leveling one to 17. The game is hugely more difficult once you move beyond the capital city. 1-14 is easy mode; above that is very difficult if you don't have a group. I'm not so sure that you could stand in place later on in the game.
 
"The settler path has more useful perks, like buffs and better path powers, but the path missions are all kind of boring. Explorer is less useful, but more fun."

I came to the same conclusion between Settler and Scientist. Scientists is less useful (especially since they gave port to capital city to everyone), but more fun.

RE: Crafting - I'm a Tech/RH on my Beta (Level 22). There is still a requirement for the additives which take money to make anything but the most basic medsprays. All the variants (Sustained Healing, Delayed Healing, Group Healing) require the vendor bought components.

@Rick as I mentioned above, I'm level 22 and I haven't grouped at all. There are certain areas where the difficulty ramps up, but that is mostly a function of how close the mobs are. As long as I remember which skills to use, I don't usually have any trouble. Maybe Engineers are OP soloers. I don't know. I don't have another toon over level 10.

(I am glad that Wildstar rebalanced group xp so it is no longer a penalty to be in a group!)
 
crafting is always a money sink in newly released MMOs. The question is how much they worth your time and how much they help you in leveling...

For example, the gear you craft is it better than quest rewards? Like in Lotro, ESO, FFXIV? Or it is like wow, where you do 100000 garbage in order to get prof to max level and start making things that worth?


 
I had been watching the game with interest.

When I saw you had pre-ordered I figured I'd give it a try too.

I found it rather odd at first as it seemed that many of the standard MMO UI elements you expect as standard were switched off by default? I mean I didn't have a spell bar?

I see it had the usual MMO traits of not explaining anything so I had to go googling to find out that my Esper doesn't need to use its weapon. I wasn't sure if it was like TESO where you still you use those mouse button attacks.

The combat seemed very WoW like. I've found I quite like that style as it requires less attention which means I can watch TV whilst playing. I find that MMO's aren't engaging enough to warrant turning off the TV/Youtube and giving them 100% attention as I would a regular game.

I used to be 100% in favour of the move to TERA style action combat but the problem with action MMO's is that the repetitive timesink gameplay is still there. After a couple of hours action combat just tortures me by forcing me to focus hard on something that on its own is dissatisfying. When MMO's as a whole become more engaging I might show an interest in action combat again.

I really like the art style and graphics. It seemed well optimised although I was disappointed that yet another new game doesn't seem to support SLI (TESO, Titanfall) and I don't imagine it being fixed by release (TESO still ain't fixed and Titanfall wasn't at launch).

Anyway I enjoyed it and have quit playing betas now as I don't stomach repetition very well and don't want to ruin the final release by experiencing it now. The main thing was that I got that good early vibe.
 
Sigh. I'm really sick of trade-skilling and crafting as money-sinks for MMO economies.

I really cannot remember the last MMO I played where any character anywhere would EVER be able to level up their crafting at a rate that allowed them to craft gear that was actually an upgrade instead of 'gear for alts'.

I've never seen one where you craft your own upgrades from gathering incidental to questing and have that be a viable alternative to spending the same amount of time leveling and getting even better quest rewards.
 
...I take it back. I was able to craft upgrades in FFXIV without much hassle, if only because the crafting professions are a bona fide class of their own, with their own mechanics and skill trees etc.

I should go play that again.
 
Sigh. I'm really sick of trade-skilling and crafting as money-sinks for MMO economies.

I really cannot remember the last MMO I played where any character anywhere would EVER be able to level up their crafting at a rate that allowed them to craft gear that was actually an upgrade instead of 'gear for alts'.


Aren't you mixing two very different things here? The good news is that in the beta at level 10 with my armorsmith I was well able to craft gear of level 10 to 14. I even carried some crafted gear around while leveling, putting on the crafted stuff as soon as I leveled. So from a "can crafting in Wildstar make useful gear for my main" point of view, this is definitively a yes.

But for me crafting also has a second, economic component. The question is whether I can make virtual money with the things I craft. And even if I can make useful stuff in Wildstar, I am losing money on that, because I can't sell that useful gear for more than it did cost me to make.

So crafting is Wildstar is both useful, and a money sink.
 
Re: "it turns out that all the tradeskills that make gear are money sinks."

Tobold, are you quite sure about that? Granted, this was my first weekend playing, and I didn't get very far (level 12), but the tier 1 Weaponsmithing I was doing was actually net profitable when selling the weapons back to a vendor. The fluxes were around 5s, the cheap cores around 10s, and the early weapons were selling back for 20-26s each. I was able to craft through about 60 iron without my cash dropping, and 3 weapons went into a crafting quest, so I didn't get to sell those. Does this change at tier 2+ (if anyone got there) ? Or is it different for armor? Of course, they could still tweak all the pricing, but from what I saw the only thing holding back my crafting progress was iron supply.

My gut feeling is that currently it's a bad deal to salvage what you make for skillups, as the average return is worse than the cash you get for vending. Looted gear seems to be worth a little less, so that may be better to salvage. Still very early to tell, though.

BTW, Reddit rumor has it the devs have leaked that another "surprise" extra test weekend is coming this Friday!
 
Reddit rumor has it the devs have leaked that another "surprise" extra test weekend is coming this Friday!

Confirmed, Carbine sent out mails to all beta testers announcing that today.

The fluxes were around 5s, the cheap cores around 10s, and the early weapons were selling back for 20-26s each.

Hmmm, I should look specifically at the lowest level items you can make. I tried tailoring, but the level 14ish gear I could craft used up 4 fine threads, while the product sold for less than the cost of those 4 threads. Cores not even included.

It might also be that a level X weapon sells for more than a light armor of the same level. Frequently heavy armor sells for more than light armor in MMORPGs, even if the effort to produce it is the same. So maybe weaponsmithing and armorsmithing are better for making money than tailoring.
 
It certainly wouldn't be too surprising if the economics between the various gear-making crafts were quite unbalanced. I just hope that if it's so they find some time to tweak the #s before release. This kind of "soft" problem tends to slip between the cracks as its priority level pales in comparison to actual bugs and obvious exploits.

The weapons I was making were around level 12-13. I'll keep an eye on it this weekend when I get further up the crafting tree. Especially if I can reach the 2nd tier, where it could easily reverse.
 
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