Thanks to both my dad and my brother, I grew up playing RTS games like Starcraft, Age of Empires, Total Annihilation, and Warcraft. In 2004, when the MMORPG World of Warcraft was released, I jumped at the opportunity to actually be a part of a the Warcraft lore that I had come to enjoy so much. Namoria, my feral druid (a nightelf gone tauren), became part of my online identity.
To avoid stating my exact /played time, I’m just going to go ahead and say that I played the game a lot. I leveled to 60, joined a hardcore raiding guild, and eventually worked my way into becoming one of the guild leaders. I was only 15 at the time, so the fact that I took part in leading raids of 40 people, most of which were older than me, is still a little crazy. In a way, it shows the capability that MMORPGs have to positively affect their players: inspiring people to step into leadership roles they may have otherwise abandoned, building confidence, organizing people and items in both an economical and tactical setting. Some may see WoW as a waste of time, but I see it as something that that helped me get to where I am now. As I said in a previous article, while games can provide an educational experience, it is up to the player to live that experience or not.
Anyways, I played WoW through Cataclysm. By that point the game had lost its initial zest; exploring became less adventurous and leveling became easier. Between having to maintain a monthly subscription and school, I simply didn’t have the time to put into World of Warcraft anymore.
If you have played WoW, then you know that once you quit there is a hole left in your gaming heart. I tried to find other MMORPGs that could possibly fill the gap that WoW’s experience created. Recently, I thought this gap would be filled by Guild Wars 2. Many of my friends in graduate school were playing it, so I thought it would be a great way to pick things back up. Although Guild Wars 2 is a great game, it didn’t satisfy me enough to stick with it. I then realized that I needed some sort of version of vanilla WoW.
Enter WildStar. I had never heard of this game, but then I got invited to a press release at E3 regarding a new and upcoming MMORPG. Curious, I looked up videos from PAX about the game, and was immediately intrigued by it’s overall style. Made by Carbine Studios, WildStar looks very similar to WoW in terms of art, but is a bit more unique in that it blends both science fiction and fantasy. From what I have seen, the game is extremely vibrant and colorful. Although the graphics are not exactly next-gen material, they still look fantastic and can easily be run on PCs that would otherwise lack the ability to play the game.
There appear to be quite a few things that set this game apart from other MMOs, though there is still much to be discovered about it. You actually get “player housing,” in which you can make and customize your own house (I got WAY to excited about this). Similar to inns in WoW, you can get rest experience in your home to enhance your character leveling or invite your friends over for a beer. Pretty awesome stuff.
Within the game itself, there are two factions and eight races. So far, the races and characters of the game are light-hearted, diverse, and refreshing. They range from the Aurin, who appear to be an adorable hybrid between a human, fox, and bunny, to the Granoks, giant golems made of boulders. Similarly, the classes, though they do fall into the traditional warrior, mage, and rogue spectrum, each offer the player a unique experience through different class-based personalities and stories (similar to the class-based quests in Guild Wars 2). Each time you create a character, you can also choose a path for them to follow, which will allow you to explore different story-lines within the game. In addition to housing and unique characters, Carbine created a dynamic world that begs to be explored, each video I have seen of the game having a completely different setting.
Right now we know that there will also be PvP and that 40-man raids (GAH!!!) will be available in WildStar’s end-game content. Will this be a WoW-killer? Who knows, as it seems that prediction is often made and never met. However, it does seem like a promising and exciting game, even in comparison to the Elder Scrolls Online. We still do not know if it will be pay-to-play or not, which is often a major factor that can make or break the popularity of an MMO. Regardless, color me intrigued. We will be keeping an eye on it at E3.
Wildstar has been in development for a while now, and is said to be released sometime in 2013.
*E3 Update: My great friend and fantastic writer, Robyn Miller, will be covering E3 with me this year. Be sure to check out her blog, Nerd-Person Narrative , for updates and other compelling reads!