WS – WhiteVale and Thermock Hold

I made it to the next zone in Wildstar, midway through level 23.

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I enjoy following the zone story and picking up a few side quests here and there; however I’m going to backburner this MMO.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is good game. The training dungeon I did months ago was a lot of fun. I like the graphics and art style, the music (especially the tracks Cold Supremacy of Science and Systematic Domination). It’s a theme park MMO with a bunch of stuff to do like expeditions, path quests, etc. I like the skill system – points to spend in traits (AMPs) and the LAS (limited action set; 8 skills you choose from your complete menu, also possible to put points into higher tiers of skills).

But, combat is exhausting. So many mob skills are telegraphed; my OCD demands I try to avoid them all. Thus, I hop around, kite, and am very active evading all harmful AoEs. Oddly, I haven’t had many problems aggroing extra mobs while doing this, which you would expect.

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Anyway, after 30 mins to 1 hour of playing, I need to take a break. I could spin this as a positive – here’s a game I like that I only want to play for a max of an hour at a time! This would be great if it were the only game I were playing and I could somehow figure out how to play every day. Then I’d get ~7 hours a week in, maybe more depending on what I was doing, and be satisfied.

But that isn’t my situation. I’d like to group more, as a healer or DPS, and try for more of a 80/20 or 70/30 balance between soloing (convenience, scheduled when I can) and grouping (using the dungeon/group/duty finder or a guild if I happen to find one) and now that I think about it, the very active combat here might stress me out more than I find enjoyable, in end game content. In this respect, the 2.5s GCD in FF14 makes soloing just a tad sluggish, but for group content with more to watch for, it feels better – lots to do and enough time to consider options. Rather than dodging telegraphs constantly.

This looks like a situation where I enjoy the leveling, in one hour doses, and would probably not find the end-game enjoyable when I reach it. So, I’ll take a break and concentrate on other games for a while – rather than play Wildstar consistently I’ll just pop in for an hour or so once in a while.

WS – Galeras Zone Story

I haven’t played Wildstar in months, so I decided to take it for a re-spin with my new graphics card.

I left off with Summer in Galeras, so I continued to zone story. It’s a basic plot about fighting the enemy (Dominion), helping settlers (civilians), doing minor quests here and there, etc. The actual zone story quests involved attacking an outpost, destroying enemy artillery, moving the advance position forward and things like that.

As a medic, I found a nice compromise with the full blown action combat and jumping/dodging all over, and the standard tab-target battling of planting on one place and slugging it out: moving slowly backwards!

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Here I’m fighting 6-8 little creatures, trying to keep most in the cone of my ability while also backing up. I might move my keybindings slightly as I hit my abilities with the number keys while “S” is backup. This is fine but in extended battles my hand cramps.

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Another fighting innovation is timing my interrupt properly. Yes… level 20+ and I just figured this out. 😉 Basically, if I interrupt a mob while it is casting/telegraphing, that starts a Moment of Opportunity (MoO). When the mob is in this state, its health bar becomes purple, which means it is stunned, can’t defend, and takes bonus damage. That’s the best time to unleash the hardest hitting skills!

Here in the zone story, I had to kill Stormwing. So I hit him with an interrupt while he was casting, leaving him in a MoO…

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… which made it easier to me to finish him off.

I wrapped up by reaching level 22 (started from level 20.7 ish, so I gained about 1 and 1/3 levels while playing for an hour or so) and stopping before the final assault. I probably have a few more quests for the zone story and plan to finish that up later on.

WS – Chua Return

Now that WildStar is F2P, I decided to hop back in and peek around. I liked the game well enough to subscribe to it, but I stopped because I didn’t really have much time to play. That’s a problem with me and sub MMOs in general – I can really only get 2-5 hours a week in and that’s not really enough to justify a subscription. Not that games aren’t a good value, it is that they aren’t compared to other stuff I could be doing instead.

My old chars are still there, including my Granok medic, Autumn Tian. I only ever got to level 20, so there isn’t really a giant barrier to restarting. So I rolled up a Chua medic, Eve Tian. I figure what the heck, check out the Dominion side. I like the looks of the Mechari better, but decided on a Chua after reading about a guild named “For Science“. They advertise as a “Chua-centric guild”, so I figured why not make a Chua, in the very long term goal of possibly joining them. 😉

Intro quest
Intro quest

I poked around and the game as fun as I remember it. I’m still getting a low frame rate, roughly 30 fps, slightly better than before. If it bugs me I might consider upgrading my video card (currently a GeForce 650 GTX).

I quested along, following the zone story, and leveled up… and right afterwards hit a network error. I decided to stop and take care of some other stuff and let the initial post-f2p crowd and other issues settle down more.

Network Error
Network Error

WS – Misc Quest Notes

WildStar has typical quest hubs, but those don’t generally have too many quests available when you first show up. That’s because the game gives you more as you complete them, even if you are out in the field adventuring.

After all, this is a sci-fi game and the quest giver just calls you up on your communicator (hotkey ‘C’) and lets you complete a quest and get another one. Guild Wars 2 is similar in that you usually don’t have to return to the quest giver after heart completion – it just lets you finish right there in the middle of the landscape.

So in WildStar, a quest will have you investigate a prison camp (for example, I just did this chain in Galeras!) and that leads into a prison break, which leads to sabotage and an option to poison the air supply and assassinate the prison warden. Not too revolutionary that you naturally continue without returning to some fixed location.

What is slightly different is some quests have you tap keys at certain times. Take the prison break example above – when you interact with the prison gate, you get a note about hitting the action key (‘F’) at specific intervals

Precision Tapping
Precision Tapping

and then when you start, the slider moves from left to right and you have to tap within the marked locations:

Halfway Open
Halfway Open

It isn’t too difficult to pull off, but I can also imagine higher level or more difficult scenarios where the active region is tiny and the slider moves very fast!

Another type of quest I’ve seen is hitting a key rapidly for some effect:

Rapid Tapping
Rapid Tapping

I’ve also seen some enemy skills that stun me, and I’ll get a brief message about holding or tapping a key to break it faster. Unfortunately, I haven’t been fast enough to get a screenshot of that.

I’ve run across puzzle quests as well – one had me collect 4 pieces of an ancient artifact and then report to someone. Once there, I turned in the quest and up popped a little game of Mastermind:

Mastermind
Mastermind

In this example, I was lucky with my first two guesses so I solved it in 3 moves.

Anyway, I am still enjoying WildStar very much!

WS – Protogames Initiative

Someone on Reddit put out a call for people to join a guild for newbies (or returning vets) so I responded. We got together one evening and 5 of us decided to check out the Protogames Initiative and the level 10 instance added recently. I had never seen it and was excited to check out grouping and instances in WildStar. All of us were above level 10, but the instance downscaled us to level 10, something I noticed when I moused over everybody in the group UI.

TL;DR – this was super SUPER fun, even though we wiped a few times.

From what I’ve seen on YouTube videos of higher level instances and raids, this level 10 instance gives a fair preview of what instancing and boss fights in this game are like. That’s what the blurb on the website says

This level-10 dungeon will teach less experienced players the tricks of the trade, introducing them to complex group content mechanics

and that’s what was delivered.

It was so fun 4 of us did it again, including me. Even better was that I got to try healing the first time and dps the second time.

There were several fights, which got progressively harder. We started with a boss that needed multiple interrupt to stop his “wipe everybody” skill that slowly charged

Invulnotron
Invulnotron

and then got a similar mechanic but the boss leaped across the room and we had to run, dodging flamethrower damage.

Flamethrowers
Flamethrowers

The next boss added moving hotspots on the ground to avoid

Tricky Footing
Tricky Footing

and we switched venues to battle a boss with a large AoE

AoE damage
AoE damage

and then a boss with a bunch of swirling “tornado” damage adds

Swirling Adds
Swirling Adds

and then finally, the “final exam” of all these mechanics put together in a dinosaur boss, Wrathbone:

Wrathbone
Wrathbone

I mixed my healing and dps screenshots from the two runs, since it was hectic and I didn’t always get the screenshot I wanted. I probably left out a fight or two as well.

WildStar’s AoE skill system made for active, engaging, mobile battles, with dodging, jumping and aim required to keep the enemy in range for attacks and friendlies in range for heals. Even as a healer I had to fight in order to charge my class mechanic (actuators) in order to pop off my healing skills. And as DPS, my action set included an AoE healing skill (healing probes of some sort) so I did a reasonable amount of that too. The class felt more blended than other games, for example WoW, which separates the roles much more.

About the wipes… some bosses had a slowly charging skill that wipes the group if it finishes. This skill takes multiple interrupts to stop, perhaps even from multiple players depending on how fast a player’s skill recharges. We missed a few times, meaning not enough interrupts landed to stop the skill. This mechanic is reasonable and requires a little bit of coordination – mostly, bring an interrupt and use it; don’t depend on someone else handling the interrupt needs of the group.

Another wipe mechanic is what I’ll call the “giant AoE skill of doom”, whereby the boss would charge a skill that literally covered the entire field, with one safe spot under a bubble. I didn’t get a screenshot of it because I was too busy running to get there! People that didn’t notice fast enough, or were turned around and started running the wrong way, generally didn’t make it. 😉

I also noticed a few bosses had “infinite interrupt armor” – that’s what the floating text said if you try to interrupt/stun them. That mechanic is across many other games – the boss that is immune to player skill X – but WildStar is nice about telling you that straight up in the fight. When you see that text, go all out on attack and avoidance!

There were a few other twists – boss knockback that made you drop your weapon. Not that it disappeared out of your inventory, but the weapon was represented on the field and you had to run over it to pick it up and be able to use your skills again.

Along those same lines was the tether, a popup that kept you in range of it like an elastic band. It was simple to turn and destroy it in order to regain full motion.

Tethered
Tethered

Anyway, I am looking forward to higher level instances. I had a lot of fun as healer and dps, keeping mobile and juggling the need to dodge enemy attacks while staying in range to use my own skills.

WS – Housing

I reached level 14 (I kept going until 15) in WildStar – so I can get a house (level 14) and a mount (level 15)!

Actually I’m not all that excited about the house. The chief benefit for me is that certain housing items grant rest xp bonuses, but those cost money and I’m saving up for a mount. Thus, my housing is bare. I decorated with the handful of items that you get when you get a house.

Simple Granok House
Simple Granok House

Here I am admiring my simple Granok house and a crafting station I built on another plot.

The housing system is pretty fancy, with multiple plots available for building, and all the usual decorations. Each one can be rotated along 3 axes, linked to other items, etc. Compared to LoTRO’s rather simple housing where fixed sized items are hung on hooks, this one is super fancy.

But, I am not going to spend a ton of time fiddling with the housing. I placed a bed and rug for the slight rest xp bonus, and logged off in my housing plot.

Questing and combat is still pretty fun; the game has great graphics and combat effects:

Robot Combat
Robot Combat

There is one major problem I have with WildStar: I only get ~20 FPS. My card isn’t cutting edge – it is a GeForce GTX 650, latest drivers and all that – but 20 FPS?! That’s terrible. The game plays just a tad choppy but it is still reasonable enough for me to get by.

This framerate issue makes me want to measure the FPS in other games I play just for some comparisons. It could be WildStar has some optimization issues so before I go off and splurge on a newer card I’ll do some measuring and comparing. I upgraded to an SSD a few months ago so perhaps I can talk myself into another upgrade.

WS – Gallows Hub Questing

I hadn’t played Wildstar in a bit so I was eager to get back in and quest. I left off Summer standing in Gallows, an early outpost (quest level around level 10-12).

It took a few minutes to remember how to play – more specifically, that moving around and mobility is an important part of this game. Unlike others where you kind of just plant yourself, target the enemies, and fire off your skill rotation. You do that too here, but you can jump, dodge, and move out of the way of incoming attacks which makes it a nice break and fun for me.

Quest themes, for the Exiles at least, center around Wild West tropes but set in a sci-fi future. I rescued some miners from sentient rocks, sabotaged illegal distilleries (a feud between NPC factions), stole information for my allies, and advanced the storyline a quest or three.

Sizing up Agnes
Sizing up Agnes

I received some nice gear upgrades and most importantly, a coat that covers my buttocks. Looking back at some old screenshot it appears the gear I had for a few levels was basically a bikini bottom. Now I have a nice overcoat, much better. 😉

New Outfit
New Outfit

I figured out the Action Builder and AMP screen, the two screens where you customize your build by picking skills, their upgrade levels, and further percentage tweaks. I’m still fuzzy on crafting (cooking, gathering, processing) but I’ll get to that another time.