WS – WhiteVale and Thermock Hold

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


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.


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!


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.


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…


… 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:


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


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


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:


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.


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.

WS – Combat

I am enjoying Wildstar. The writing is humorous and some of the effects are over the top – for instance, the animation when you level up.

But what I like most of all is the “active” combat. It is refreshing after playing so many tab-target MMOs. You can tab select an enemy but doesn’t mean your attack will hit. You need to position them in the effect area of your skill. Selecting is useful for things like telling your scan bot to scan them.

Effect Area
Effect Area

In the pic above, my skill takes effect in a frontal arc. It’s a pale blue wedge in front of me which is hard to see given the color of the ground/snow. Anyway, as my skill charges, a line moves to the far edge and when it hits the perimeter, the skill fires.

Mob skills are in red, in the pic above it is a red square. Same thing, when the line reaches the edge (far edge from the mob, close edge to me) the skill fires.

The key is: if you aren’t in the effect area, you don’t take damage. Or at the very least you take much less. All the mobs I’ve seen telegraph their attacks this way, so rather than standing still and plinking away, Wildstar encourages you to dodge and move out of the way by telegraphing upcoming attacks. In some ways the combat movement makes this a hybrid of MMO and FPS style fighting.

So combat in this game is hitting your skills and moving so the enemy in your skill’s effect area by the time the skill fires, and avoiding their skill’s effect area by the time their skills fire. And as a Medic, planting a field (a small AoE DoT effect, more or less) and then trying to keep the mob in the field as well, so it makes the most of the field’s duration and effect.

It’s kinda fun so be moving around while fighting. It’s a bit like GW2, but as I remember there only the serious mobs telegraphed attacks, plus some skills weren’t usable while moving.

I’m not sure how good/bad that would be for PvP, but it turns out: I don’t care. It’s fun for me in PvE and that’s what I’m playing. Maybe other classes can’t do this, maybe some skills have to be usable while stopped, but I kind of hope it is the same for every class and skill: every skill can be used while moving and you can avoid the bulk of the effect by being out of the way. That’s just awesome. And as far as PvP, as long as skill usage while moving is consistent, then it should be fine (assuming other balancing is taken into consideration).

Actually, for PvP I think this would be far preferable to other MMOs (that shall remain nameless) where some classes have ranged attacks they can use while moving, and other classes are melee range and have some skills that can only be used while standing still. That design mechanism totally sucks, because enemy players move and dodge while fighting, they just don’t stand there and eat attacks at melee range like mob AI; classes might be balanced fine for dumb PvE AI but then have significant disadvantages in PvP making the whole thing kinda miserable because you generally can’t change classes.

Whoops, sorry about the mini-rant. 😉

Anyway, another cool thing about Wildstar are zone improvements that other characters can make, if they are the Settler path and go through the trouble of doing it, etc.

Critical Strike Station
Critical Strike Station

Here, I’m taking advantage of a “Critical Strike” buffing station that someone built. I’m sure the stations don’t last long but it is a nice mechanic if somebody was questing ahead of you and built an improvement.

Dominion vs Exile

After playing my Mechari and Granok, I decided I liked the looks of the Granok more. Yep, that’s what it comes down to. And the reality is I’m only going to have time to play one char in Wildstar, so Granok Medic on the Exile side it is. 🙂 Maybe down the road I’ll work my Dominion char along, or play when I have a bit of spare time.


I made it to level 6 (about 85% to level 7) and the 2nd zone, Algoroc.

I unlocked Action Set Builders. I’m not even sure what they are. The UI looks… wild. Like WTF is this?! Need to hit the wikis and interwebz for more information.

Action Set Builder
Action Set Builder

It vaguely looks like the skill/ability wheel in TSW, which was also confusing at first. I’m sure if I fiddled around a bit it will make sense.

WS – Checking it Out

Wildstar was on sale over the holidays, and I couldn’t resist picking it up. I’ve been wanting to check it out since it released. I’ve also wanted to check out Elder Scrolls Online, which was also on sale, but the thing is I’ve had my fill (at least for a bit) of fantasy MMOs, so that tipped me over to trying out Wildstar.

I made a Dominion character, Aurora Tian the Mechari Medic (scientist path), and an Exile character, Autumn Tian the Granok Engineer (settler path).

I haven’t gotten very far, just through the intro on both characters, and so far I’m enjoying it. The graphics are sharp and futuristic looking.

Dominion Intro
Dominion Intro

After finishing up the tutorial and landing on the planet Nexus, I was greeted with a cool starter town with a gigantic satellite dish that looks awesome.

Dominion Start
Dominion Start

Over on the Exile side things look great too.

Exile Landing
Exile Landing

The game has a nice feature where if you click on the quest, it draws arrows which point straight at the objective… which might not be the way you have to travel to it (e.g. inside a building and you can’t walk through walls), but the mechanism is helpful. Especially since it gives the distance too.

Too Many Games

This marks a first for me – I have 3 subscription games going. EVE Online, World of Warcraft, and Wildstar. However, I don’t expect to keep that for very long. I plan to let my EVE sub lapse, because while the game is awesome, there is too much overhead to doing anything – time spent fitting ships, flying back and forth to buy modules, loading cargo and hauling to market, etc.

I can get something useful done in as little as 30 mins in WoW – taking care of garrison duties, such as harvesting from my mine or herb garden and then sending followers out. With more time, I can queue for an instance or run something with friends. 30 mins in EVE isn’t worth logging in, it takes that much time just to reset planetary interaction (which is a huge clickfest) since I have 6 planets each on 2 chars. I need more time to load up cargo, scan for the wormhole exit, travel to market and back, and lets just say that for me, travel and selling stuff isn’t fulfilling gameplay in and of itself. That’s what you do to make money to do something more fun.

If I had more time, I’d join a combat corporation like Red vs. Blue or Brave Newbies or something, to take part in fleet operations and shoot stuff. But that is an ISK drain plus it would be extra coordination to make scheduled events…

Anyway, I’m thinking of trying to juggle 4 games in 2015: WoW, LoTRO, TSW, Wildstar. I’ll see how that goes. 🙂

Upcoming Games

I’ve managed to find a decent balance of play between LoTRO and EVE. Yes, two games that are very different, but that’s part of the appeal. If I can manage, I will add another game into “the rotation”, but I know that will be very difficult to pull off.

However, I do have an eye on some upcoming games. I’m sure everyone is aware that Wildstar Online and Elder Scrolls Online are coming out in the next few months.

I haven’t played either one (no beta participation) so I just have impressions from various others, ranging from blogs to official websites, scouring whatever info I can. I also know that pre-release hype tends to be sky high, only to crash to reality in the immediate aftermath of release, so I’m tempering everything I read especially if it is drooling enthusiasm.

That being said, I’m more interested in Wildstar Online than Elder Scrolls Online.

Why is that? Honestly, it is entirely due to “fantasy fatigue” – I’ve played a bunch of fantasy themed MMOs and Wildstar Online looks sci-fi enough to hook my initial interest.

Notice I said sci-fi enough… that’s because as Clarke said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. It’s all going to be in the overall feel of the game, which is hard to quantify until I actually play it.

For example, I barely considered SWTOR to be a sci-fi game. It’s fantasy with a sci-fi paint job over it, if you really look at it. Light sabers replace swords, blasters replace bow and arrows, jedi masters with force lightning replace wizards with lightning bolts, etc. I’m just a so-so Star Wars fan so playing a fantasy MMO in the Star Wars universe wasn’t much of a draw for me. This really isn’t the Star Wars team’s fault – the movies themselves are a mix of spaceships and jedi “wizards” so the implementation was faithful. But if I’m going to play a fantasy game I might as well play one in a setting I enjoy more.

My desire to play a sci-fi game is fueling my interest in EVE, and there haven’t been that many sci-fi MMOs. Anarchy Online, Matrix Online (shutdown), Earth and Beyond (shutdown), EVE, perhaps even Fallen Earth… these are off the top of my head, I’m sure there have been others. Meanwhile, there are at least 10 to 100 times as many fantasy themed MMOs.

And where does Wildstar Online fit into that? Well it looks like a sci-fi game with a sense of humor along the lines of Ratchet and Clank, my favorite console franchise. The catch for me being – how much of a sci-fi game does it actually feel like? And the usual stuff for any game – is it fun?

That isn’t to say I’m uninterested in Elder Scrolls Online. I played the heck out of Morrowind, and also enjoyed Oblivion and Skyrim. I enjoy the universe and setting of Elder Scrolls, it’s just that I’m going to prioritize something different first.

So, I’ll keep toggling between LoTRO and EVE while trying to follow the latest news on Elder Scrolls and Wildstar. Who knows, maybe I’ll get so busy in LoTRO/EVE I wind up delaying checking either of these new games out until much later after they release.