I’m about five days into Wildstar now. I’ve advanced my Esper to level 24. Managed to complete an adventure and a dungeon. Most importantly, I participated in two world boss raid events to get a glimmer of what actual raiding will be like at max level. Wildstar does bill itself as Hardcore and there may come a day where it could even challenge WoW for the lion’s share of subscribers.
But not any time soon.
Simply put, this game is just not ideal for the casual player. Doesn’t matter if you want to attach the term casual to a player who doesn’t have the requisite skill or interest or time.
If you suck at moving from plainly obvious telegraphed markings on the ground, you will die.
If you suck at timing your key presses, you will not be able to take advantage of certain bonuses.
If you can’t invest the necessary time to grind out the cash or develop your character, you won’t be very effective.
The stark comparison between Wildstar and vanilla WoW is uncanny. I remember farming for Tubers. I remember farming for Dark Runes. I remember making the choice between spending my gold on new abilities or a mount so I can move around faster (Mount wins). This game just isn’t going to be as accessible to a more casual oriented audience. Not unless significant changes come later on in the game’s life. WoW has multiple modes of raiding and dungeon difficulty that allows players to pick and choose their poison. With Wildstar, you only get one and if you’re group isn’t good enough, tough. You’ll have to come back when you get better.
Almost all aspects of the game are gated against the casual player. If you fail at timing your key presses or hitting them at the right time, you can still perform the quest. It’ll just take ten seconds later. Combat itself can be unforgiving. If you die, you can find yourself resurrected at the opposite end of a zone (unless you shelled out some cash).
Let’s talk about raiding
I love it. I was a proponent of AVR back in the days of Icecrown Citadel. I assume Wildstar devs were too. Now this game has AVR mechanics (called telegraphs) all over the place. I was conversing with one of my raiders who hated Blade Lord Ta’yak (Heart of Fear, 2nd boss). They completely despised the tornado running mechanic. The raid bosses have different abilities like that which will make the game un-fun for people who aren’t able to handle it.
Here’s a quick image set to showcase how telegraphing works:
See the red lines that are expanding from the middle? If you stand in it, you’ll get struck down by something like this:
At the end of the fight, there’s an encounter breakdown which ranks you by your contribution. How much healing did you do? How much damage did you deal? How much damage did you take?
I would like to just say that I took zero damage in that attempt. But I didn’t screenshot it. Therefore, according to the rules of the internet, it did not happen.
Interrupt mechanics aren’t as simple as hitting a key to actually interrupt. No, sometimes you need more than one and they have to be synchronized. In the below image on the bottom right, you can see Metalmaw’s target frame. Just left of it, you’ll see the number 9 over a shield. Metalmaw is casting a large firebreath type ability. It takes 9 different interrupts to actually interrupt the breath. Everyone has to coordinate and hit their button at the same time. Otherwise the interrupt shield will re-activate after a few seconds. Some bosses have more.
With respect to healing, it is a different game. There’s no raid frames to click on or players to mouse over. Most of your spells have to be aimed or placed. Find the biggest clump of players and unload your healing spells. If there’s a player at low health, you better hope they’re near you or else they won’t get healed up. In fact, I think the only way to heal is to activate friendly name plates which is going to be overwhelming at the 40 man level. If you had a hard time standing in Efflorescence, then you’re not going to have fun either. In WoW, I usually stand at max range to minimize prospects of getting hit by stuff. But healers could simply target my bars and keep me healed that way. Here as a DPS player, I’ve had to pay attention to the ground circles and arcs and actually stand in them to ensure I get topped up when I needed.
It’s not just the healer’s responsibility to dish out heals. It’s your responsibility to stand in them.
I know Tobold doesn’t think the game can be healthy long term if the state of the game is like this. I don’t agree. You can appeal to a certain subset of a population. I don’t see Wildstar hitting 8 million subscribers anytime soon. But it doesn’t need that many to stay financially healthy. All it needs is to hit that X number of subscribers which can power the infrastructure and provide resources for the devs to continue delivering on content. If it can hit that number, it’ll be fine. I haven’t seen any microtransaction models yet but there is that ability where players can swap in game credit and purchase game time (and vice versa from other players). I see many guilds in Wildstar advertising themselves as casual raiders. I give them 3 months tops (and that’s an optimistic number). But Warcraft has a diverse number of activities that will appeal to players of different varieties.
I am fully expecting Mythic raiding to offer the same challenge as what I’ve seen so far in Wildstar. I hope not to be let down.
If this the world bosses above are any indication, then raiding in this game is going to be challenging and fun. I would have loved to start a Wildstar chapter for Conquest but I can’t stretch myself out in that sense. No one wants to be an officer much less a guild leader. Can’t wait to reach end game though!
For those interested, I’m Mattycus on Stormtalon (Exile side).